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The Mother of All Witches - but what were her politics ?
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Posts: 2672

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2016 3:54 pm    Post subject: The Mother of All Witches - but what were her politics ? Reply with quote

"The extreme negative and positive reactions to The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, as well as its legacy in religion and literature, register as responses to its fantastical form and content and especially to its implication of an alternate, woman-centered history of Western religion. At least one contemporary review turns Murray's suggestion of continuity between the premodern witches and contemporary women back on her in an ad hominem attack." - Mimi Winick, 2015.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray

" Margaret Alice Murray (13 July 1863 – 13 November 1963) was an Anglo-Indian Egyptologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, historian, and folklorist. The first woman to be appointed as a lecturer in archaeology in the United Kingdom, she worked at University College London (UCL) from 1898 to 1935. She served as President of the Folklore Society from 1953 to 1955, and published widely over the course of her career. ...

... Murray also became closely involved in the first-wave feminist movement, joining the Women's Social and Political Union and devoting much time to improving women's status at UCL. Unable to return to Egypt due to the First World War, she focused her research on the witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials of Early Modern Christendom were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God. Although later academically discredited, the theory gained widespread attention and proved a significant influence on the emerging new religious movement of Wicca. ... Murray's work in folkloristics and the history of witchcraft has been academically discredited and her methods in these areas heavily criticised. The influence of her witch-cult theory in both religion and literature has been examined by various scholars, and she herself has been dubbed the "Grandmother of Wicca". ...

.... The historian Amara Thornton has suggested that Murray's Indian childhood continued to exert an influence over her throughout her life, expressing the view that Murray could be seen as having a hybrid transnational identity that was both British and Indian. During her childhood, Murray never received a formal education, and in later life expressed pride in the fact that she had never had to sit an exam before entering university. ... In 1870, Margaret and her sister Mary were sent to Britain, there moving in with their uncle John, a vicar, and his wife Harriet at their home in Lambourn, Berkshire. Although John provided them with a strongly Christian education and a belief in the inferiority of women, both of which she would reject, he awakened Murray's interest in archaeology through taking her to see local monuments. ...

... Murray began her studies at UCL at age 30 in January 1894, as part of a class composed largely of other women and older men.There, she took courses in the Ancient Egyptian and Coptic languages which were taught by Francis Llewellyn Griffith and Walter Ewing Crum respectively ... ( the department was run by the pioneering early archaeologist Sir William Flinders Petrie ) ... Murray soon got to know Petrie, becoming his copyist and illustrator and producing the drawings for the published report on his excavations at Qift, Koptos.[19] In turn, he aided and encouraged her to write her first research paper, "The Descent of Property in the Early Periods of Egyptian History", which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in 1895.[20] Becoming Petrie's de facto though unofficial assistant, Murray began to give some of the linguistic lessons in Griffith's absence. ... Among Murray's students — to whom she referred as "the Gang" — were several who went on to produce noted contributions to Egyptology, including Reginald Engelbach, Georgina Aitken, Guy Brunton, and Myrtle Broome ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#Feminism.2C_the_First_World_War.2C_and_folklore:_1905.E2.80.9320

Feminism, the First World War, and folklore: 1905–20


On returning to London, Murray took an active role in the feminist movement, volunteering and financially donating to the cause and taking part in feminist demonstrations, protests, and marches. Joining the Women's Social and Political Union, she was present at large marches like the Mud March of 1907 and the Women's Coronation Procession of June 1911. She concealed the militancy of her actions in order to retain the image of respectability within academia. Murray also pushed the professional boundaries for women throughout her own career, and mentored other women in archaeology and throughout academia. As women could not use the men's common room, she successfully campaigned for UCL to open a common room for women, and later ensured that a larger, better-equipped room was converted for the purpose; it was later renamed the Margaret Murray Room. At UCL, she became a friend of fellow female lecturer Winifred Smith, and together they campaigned to improve the status and recognition of women in the university, with Murray becoming particularly annoyed at female staff who were afraid of upsetting or offending the male university establishment with their demands. Feeling that students should get nutritious yet affordable lunches, for many years she sat on the UCL Refectory Committee. ...

... To aid Britain's war effort, Murray enrolled as a volunteer nurse in the Volunteer Air Detachment of the College Women's Union Society, and for several weeks was posted to Saint-Malo in France. After being taken ill herself, she was sent to recuperate in Glastonbury, Somerset, where she became interested in Glastonbury Abbey and the folklore surrounding it which connected it to the legendary figure of King Arthur and to the idea that the Holy Grail had been brought there by Joseph of Aramathea. Pursuing this interest, she published the paper "Egyptian Elements in the Grail Romance" in the journal Ancient Egypt, although few agreed with her conclusions and it was criticised for making unsubstantiated leaps with the evidence by the likes of Jessie Weston. ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#The_witch-cult.2C_Malta.2C_and_Minorca:_1921.E2.80.9335

The witch-cult, Malta, and Minorca: 1921–3

"When I suddenly realised that the so-called Devil was simply a disguised man I was startled, almost alarmed, by the way the recorded facts fell into place, and showed that the witches were members of an old and primitive form of religion, and the records had been made by members of a new and persecuting form." - Margaret Murray, 1963

Murray's interest in folklore led her to develop an interest in the witch trials of Early Modern Europe. In 1917, she published a paper in Folklore, the journal of the Folklore Society, in which she first articulated her version of the witch-cult theory, arguing that the witches persecuted in European history were actually followers of "a definite religion with beliefs, ritual, and organization as highly developed as that of any cult in the end".[58] She followed this up with papers on the subject in the journals Man and the Scottish Historical Review. She articulated these views more fully in her 1921 book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, published by Oxford University Press after receiving a positive peer review by Henry Balfour, and which received both criticism and support on publication. Many reviews in academic journals were critical, with historians claiming that she had distorted and misinterpreted the contemporary records that she was using, but the book was nevertheless influential. ...

... As a result of her work in this area, she was invited to provide the entry on "witchcraft" for the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica in 1929. She used the opportunity to propagate her own witch-cult theory, failing to mention the alternate theories proposed by other academics. Her entry would be included in the encyclopedia until 1969, becoming readily accessible to the public, and it was for this reason that her ideas on the subject had such a significant impact. It received a particularly enthusiastic reception by occultists such as Dion Fortune, Lewis Spence, Ralph Shirley, and J. W. Brodie Innes, perhaps because its claims regarding an ancient secret society chimed with similar claims common among various occult groups.[50] Murray joined the Folklore Society in February 1927, and was elected to the society's council a month later, although stood down in 1929. Murray reiterated her witch-cult theory in her 1933 book, The God of the Witches, which was aimed at a wider, non-academic audience. In this book, she cut out or toned down what she saw as the more unpleasant aspects of the witch-cult, such as animal and child sacrifice, and began describing the religion in more positive terms as "the Old Religion". ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#Murray.27s_witch-cult_hypotheses

The later folklorists Caroline Oates and Juliette Wood have suggested that Murray was best known for her witch-cult theory, with biographer Margaret S. Drower expressing the view that it was her work on this subject which "perhaps more than any other, made her known to the general public". It has been claimed that Murray's was the "first feminist study of the witch trials", as well as being the first to have actually "empowered the witches" by giving the ( largely female ) accused both free will and a voice distinct from that of their interrogators. The theory was faulty, in part because all of her academic training was in Egyptology, with no background knowledge in European history, but also because she exhibited a "tendency to generalize wildly on the basis of very slender evidence". Oates and Wood, however, noted that Murray's interpretations of the evidence fitted within wider perspectives on the past that existed at the time, stating that "Murray was far from isolated in her method of reading ancient ritual origins into later myths". In particular, her approach was influenced by the work of the anthropologist James Frazer, who had argued for the existence of a pervasive dying-and-resurrecting god myth, and she was also influenced by the interpretative approaches of E. O. James, Karl Pearson, Herbert Fleure, and Harold Peake....

... In The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, Murray stated that she had restricted her research to Great Britain, although made some recourse to sources from France, Flanders, and New England. She drew a division between what she termed "Operative Witchcraft", which referred to the performance of charms and spells with any purpose, and "Ritual Witchcraft", by which she meant "the ancient religion of Western Europe", a fertility-based faith that she also termed "the Dianic cult". She claimed that the cult had "very probably" once been devoted to the worship of both a male deity and a "Mother Goddess" but that "at the time when the cult is recorded the worship of the male deity appears to have superseded that of the female". In her argument, Murray claimed that the figure referred to as the Devil in the trial accounts was the witches' god, "manifest and incarnate", to whom the witches' offered their prayers. She claimed that at the witches' meetings, the god would be personified, usually by a man or at times by a woman or an animal; when a human personified this entity, Murray claimed that they were usually dressed plainly, though they appeared in full costume for the witches' Sabbaths. ...

... Murray asserted that a pre-Christian fertility-based religion had survived the Christianization process in Britain, although that it came to be "practised only in certain places and among certain classes of the community". She believed that folkloric stories of fairies in Britain were based on a surviving race of dwarfs, who continued to live on the island up until the Early Modern period. She asserted that this race followed the same pagan religion as the witches, thus explaining the folkloric connection between the two. In the appendices to the book, she also alleged that Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais were members of the witch-cult and were executed for it, a claim which has been refuted by historians, especially in the case of Joan of Arc. ... The later historian Ronald Hutton commented that The Witch-Cult in Western Europe "rested upon a small amount of archival research, with extensive use of printed trial records in 19th-century editions, plus early modern pamphlets and works of demonology". He also noted that the book's tone was generally "dry and clinical, and every assertion was meticulously footnoted to a source, with lavish quotation". It was not a bestseller; in its first thirty years, only 2,020 copies were sold. However, it led many people to treat Murray as an authority on the subject; in 1929, she was invited to provide the entry on "Witchcraft" for the Encyclopædia Britannica, and used it to present her interpretation of the subject as if it were universally accepted in scholarship. It remained in the encyclopedia until being replaced in 1968. ...

... Murray's work was increasingly criticised following her death in 1963, with the definitive academic rejection of the Murrayite witch-cult theory occurring during the 1970s.During these decades, a variety of scholars across Europe and North America – such as Alan Macfarlane, Erik Midelfort, William Monter, Robert Muchembled, Gerhard Schormann, Bente Alver and Bengt Ankarloo – published in-depth studies of the archival records from the witch trials, leaving no doubt that those tried for witchcraft were not practitioners of a surviving pre-Christian religion. In 1971, the English historian Keith Thomas stated that on the basis of this research, there was "very little evidence to suggest that the accused witches were either devil-worshippers or members of a pagan fertility cult".[163] He stated that Murray's conclusions were "almost totally groundless" because she ignored the systematic study of the trial accounts provided by Ewen and instead used sources very selectively to argue her point. ...

... In 1975, the historian Norman Cohn commented that Murray's "knowledge of European history, even of English history, was superficial and her grasp of historical method was non-existent", adding that her ideas were "firmly set in an exaggerated and distorted version of the Frazerian mould". That same year, the historian of religion Mircea Eliade described Murray's work as "hopelessly inadequate", containing "numberless and appalling errors". In 1996, the feminist historian Diane Purkiss stated that although Murray's thesis was "intrinsically improbable" and commanded "little or no allegiance within the modern academy", she felt that male scholars like Thomas, Cohn, and Macfarlane had unfairly adopted an androcentric approach by which they contrasted their own, male and methodologically sound interpretation against Murray's "feminised belief" about the witch-cult. ...

"No British folklorist can remember Dr Margaret Murray without embarrassment and a sense of paradox. She is one of the few folklorists whose name became widely known to the public, but among scholars, her reputation is deservedly low; her theory that witches were members of a huge secret society preserving a prehistoric fertility cult through the centuries is now seen to be based on deeply flawed methods and illogical arguments. The fact that, in her old age and after three increasingly eccentric books, she was made President of the Folklore Society, must certainly have harmed the reputation of the Society and possibly the status of folkloristics in this country; it helps to explain the mistrust some historians still feel towards our discipline." - Jacqueline Simpson, 1994

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#Legacy

Hutton noted that Murray was one of the earliest women to "make a serious impact upon the world of professional scholarship" ... Murray's reputation declined following her death, something that Whitehouse attributed to the rejection of her witch-cult theory and the general erasure of women archaeologists from the discipline's male-dominated history ... Catherine Noble stated that "Murray caused considerable damage to the study of witchcraft" ... In 2013, on the 150th anniversary of Murray's birth and the 50th of her death, the UCL Institute of Archaeology's Ruth Whitehouse described Murray as "a remarkable woman" whose life was "well worth celebrating, both in the archaeological world at large and especially in UCL" ... The historian of archaeology Rosalind M. Janssen titled her study of Egyptology at UCL The First Hundred Years "as a tribute" to Murray.[202] Murray's friend Margaret Stefana Drower authored a short biography of her, which was included as a chapter in the 2004 edited volume on Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists. In 2013, Lexington Books published The Life of Margaret Alice Murray: A Woman's Work in Archaeology, a biography of Murray authored by Kathleen L. Sheppard, then an assistant professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology; the book was based upon Sheppard's doctoral dissertation produced at the University of Oklahoma. Although characterising it as being "written in a clear and engaging manner", one reviewer noted that Sheppard's book focuses on Murray the "scientist" and as such neglects to discuss Murray's involvement in magical practices and her relationship with Wicca. ....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#In_Wicca

( Legacy ) in Wicca

Murray's witch-cult theories provided the blueprint for the contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca, with Murray being referred to as the "Grandmother of Wicca". The Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White stated that it was the theory which "formed the historical narrative around which Wicca built itself", for on its emergence in England during the 1940s and 1950s, Wicca claimed to be the survival of this witch-cult. Wicca's theological structure, revolving around a Horned God and Mother Goddess, was adopted from Murray's ideas about the ancient witch-cult, and Wiccan groups were named covens and their meetings termed esbats, both words that Murray had popularised. As with Murray's witch-cult, Wicca's practitioners entered via an initiation ceremony; Murray's claims that witches wrote down their spells in a book may have been an influence on Wicca's Book of Shadows. Wicca's early system of seasonal festivities were also based on Murray's framework. ...

... Members of the Wiccan community gradually became aware of academia's rejection of the witch-cult theory. Accordingly, belief in its literal truth declined during the 1980s and 1990s, with many Wiccans instead coming to view it as a myth that conveyed metaphorical or symbolic truths. Others insisted that the historical origins of the religion did not matter and that instead Wicca was legitimated by the spiritual experiences it gave to its participants. In response, Hutton authored The Triumph of the Moon, a historical study exploring Wicca's early development; on publication in 1999 the book exerted a strong impact on the British Pagan community, further eroding belief in the Murrayite theory among Wiccans. Conversely, other practitioners clung on to the theory, treating it as an important article of faith and rejecting post-Murrayite scholarship on European witchcraft. Several prominent practitioners continued to insist that Wicca was a religion with origins stretching back to the Palaeolithic, but others rejected the validity of historical scholarship and emphasised intuition and emotion as the arbiter of truth. A few "counter-revisionist" Wiccans – among them Donald H. Frew, Jani Farrell-Roberts, and Ben Whitmore – published critiques in which they attacked post-Murrayite scholarship on matters of detail, but none defended Murray's original hypothesis completely. ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Murray#In_literature

( Legacy ) In literature


Simpson noted that the publication of the Murray thesis in the Encyclopaedia Britannica made it accessible to "journalists, film-makers popular novelists and thriller writers", who adopted it "enthusiastically". It influenced the work of Aldous Huxley and Robert Graves.It was also an influence on the American horror author H. P. Lovecraft, who cited The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in his writings about the fictional cult of Cthulhu. ... The author Sylvia Townsend Warner cited Murray's work on the witch-cult as an influence on her 1926 novel Lolly Willowes, and sent a copy of her book to Murray in appreciation, with the two meeting for lunch shortly after. There was nevertheless some difference in their depictions of the witch-cult; whereas Murray had depicted an organised pre-Christian cult, Warner depicted a vague family tradition that was explicitly Satanic. In 1927, Warner lectured on the subject of witchcraft, exhibiting a strong influence from Murray's work. Analysing the relationship between Murray and Warner, the English literature scholar Mimi Winick characterised both as being "engaged in imagining new possibilities for women in modernity".
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marianneh



Joined: 30 May 2013
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 11:07 pm    Post subject: Can we rehabiliatate Margaret Murray? Reply with quote

For a woman born in the 1860s, Margaret Murray would have seemed very avant garde in her earlier days though perhaps not later when the world caught up with her, for she lived a hundred years, finally checking out in the 1960s. She was part of the first wave of feminism, a fervent supporter of the suffragettes.

She's mainly remembered for her interpretation of what witchcraft was at the time that everyone believed in witches, and it was a capital offence to be one in Europe. She was an anthropologist and a folklorist.

I was a little peeved when Karen Armstrong, an ex-nun, writing in the 1980s, said that 'we now know' that Margaret Murray got it all wrong. There was no witch cult in Europe.

Perhaps I'm resorting to the ad hominem or ad feminam fallacy here, but latterly, I wouldn't take Karen Armstrong's word for anything. She has become an apologist for Islam who will say anything to paint it in a good light.

She has written a tendentious, condescending and unfactual biography of Mohammed in which she claims her source said the opposite of what he actually said, at least once. There are discussions on the internet on whether Karen Armstrong is a fool or a liar.

But I'm afraid to say that Rationalwiki has no time for Murray either, dismissing her as 'an annoying conspiracy theorist.' They admitted she might have been on to something in 'The Witch Cult in Western Europe' in a very small way, and that her writings were based in part on genuine research.

They said, though, and it is a fair point that she took literally things that people said under torture, not taking into account that people will say anything to make the torture stop. Apparently, she introduced the words 'sabbat' and 'coven' to the English language. 'Coven' had previously been a Scotticism for convent.

I think they were much too dismissive of what she had to say about the Horned God. But I accept she probably did let her imagination run away with her when writing about the 'Divine King' in England who could be sacrificed.

She gave William Rufus as an example. While I don't think this theory is correct, the fact is that William ii was not a Christian, and was presumably a Pagan, an apostate from Christianity.

She said that substitutes could be sacrificed in the king's place eg Thomas Becket and Joan of Arc. Again, this seems rather unlikely.

Margaret Murray got to write the 'Encyclopedia Britannica article on witchcraft in 1929, and her version of events wasn't really challenged until 1968. The article was rifled by novelists and film makers in the course of producing fiction such as 'Lammas Night', 'The Devil and King John', and 'the King is a Witch'.

I sure read two novels in impressionable adolescence with witchy themes. In one, it is the time of the English Reformation. People risk death by burning by having English Bibles in their house. Their even more daring neighbours attend covens in the spirit that we might go to a night club at the weekend.

The other novel had Joan of Arc as the principal character. She is confused as a child because everyone attends church but they also practise the old religion as they call it.

She asks her elder sister Catherine for an explanation. Catherine answers very sweetly that the differences are not important. She also says that they have worshipped Christ long before he was born in the stable in Bethlehem.

This sounds like the hero with a thousand faces, a version of the Christ myth theory. In the novel, the Gentle Dauphin greets Joan with a hand gesture which proves that he is also of the old religion.

I accept reluctantly that Murray did get a bit carried away in her later career. But I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Rationalwiki sneers at the contention that Maypole dancing or Morris dancing could have Pagan origins but this seems quite feasible, even likely.

Perhaps Murray has created a cultural hodge podge, linking the Plantagenet kings, Gilles de Rais, Robin Hood, fairy tales, King Arthur and Merlin and paleolithic art for no good reason, not unlike a present day exponent of New Age woo.

Yet out of this lot, only Gilles de Rais was a definite historical character who was presumably brought up a Christian but most certainly believed in sorcery. All the other tropes and characters have good claims to Pagan origins.

Rationalwiki notes sardonically that Murray wrote the foreword to Gerald Gardner's 'Witchcraft Today'. Gerald Gardner would have us believe that Wicca was a continuation of an ancient religion, persecuted and driven underground in Christian Europe. In fact, he had invented it himself, drawing on a variety of sources including the writings of Murray herself.

Rationalwiki says that Murray's ideas about the witch cult in Europe have been 'just about exploded now.' Only Wiccans and Druids take them seriously.

I'll put my cards on the table. I don't think Murray was entirely wrong. Nor do I think she was entirely right. I'll discuss the evidence in later posts.[/u]
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dai



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch ! - I have just arrived to post these which I skimmed to support a bit of writing which I may add to the above later and so I have not read what you have written yet - sorry Marianne !

YALE COURSES :

19 - The New Historicism - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IwdiNvzlU40

20 - The Classical Feminist Tradition - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FZjHEk0FmLw

18 - The Political Unconscious - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=GQvp5z0Zbvo

16 - The Social Permeability of Reader and Text - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YtK18ImMkp8

--------------------------------------------

What I have in mind is the alliance between Republicanism and radical religious groups i.e. the business of challenging the beliefs prescribed by The State where individuals are dismissed as either harmless lunatics or when others begin to propagate their ideas as dangerous subversives e.g. John Wycliffe is only condemned as an heretic after his death when The Lollards spread his beliefs more widely. The gentlemen freemasons were dismissed as eccentrics for adapting the ceremonies of Operative Freemasons to create charitable Speculative Freemasonry - but the The Restoration Monarchy became very hostile once they realised that The Freemasons were transmitting Republican morals and ethics disguised as mythological tales which rejected the authority not only of The Established Church by which The Monarchy imposed its own ideology upon The People - but also the authority of Christianity itself in favour of making Muslims, Christians and Jews and therefore potentially all adherents of any other Monotheist religions equal within The Fraternity - the idea that was later embraced by The Republicans in America and written into The Constitution of The United States of America. What then followed in The French Revolution was the attempt to destroy first the power of Catholicism and then the whole of Monotheism and to replace it with The Cult of Reason - which Iolo Morgannwg introduces into Wales in the form of Neo-Druidism, an obvious subversion of the power of The Established Church as an arm of The State as a weapon against The People.

Other attempts to resist The Church of England dress themselves up as Christian in character - and Iolo wisely takes a step back from a full blown rejection of Christianity to argue that Druidism and Bardism are compatible with it - and becomes a founder of Unitarianism which was about as radical as it was safe to be at that time. But this compromise which enabled Druisism to be respectable in turn made it possible to study the other religions in The World and that enabled such groups as Theosophists to advocate religious inquiries into spiritual experience, and that in turn made it possible to recreate, synthesize and improvise past religions - and that in turn created the receptivity to the ideas of yMargaret Meade and to the creation of modern witchcraft and other dubious cults ... just because Republicanism unleashed these cults does not mean that Republicans approve of their craziness - only of the right of individuals to express their experiences through their spiritualities and to transmit their ideologies to others by portraying them in religious activities. Because Republicanism critiques religious activities it has been denounced as anti-religious or Atheistical but it actually sees religion has a necessary and normal human activity which can either be done badly or well - hence " The Cult of Reason " was so divisive as to whether it was well done or badly done - but the idea of it is rarely disputed and generally taken to be a good one.
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Moritz



Joined: 10 Mar 2014
Posts: 232

PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:37 am    Post subject: Re: Can we rehabiliatate Margaret Murray? Reply with quote

marianneh wrote:
For a woman born in the 1860s, Margaret Murray would have seemed very avant garde in her earlier days though perhaps not later when the world caught up with her, for she lived a hundred years, finally checking out in the 1960s. She was part of the first wave of feminism, a fervent supporter of the suffragettes.

She's mainly remembered for her interpretation of what witchcraft was at the time that everyone believed in witches, and it was a capital offence to be one in Europe. She was an anthropologist and a folklorist.

I was a little peeved when Karen Armstrong, an ex-nun, writing in the 1980s, said that 'we now know' that Margaret Murray got it all wrong. There was no witch cult in Europe.

[color=red] 1) Perhaps I'm resorting to the ad hominem or ad feminam fallacy here, but latterly, I wouldn't take Karen Armstrong's word for anything. She has become an apologist for Islam who will say anything to paint it in a good light.

She has written a tendentious, condescending and unfactual biography of Mohammed in which she claims her source said the opposite of what he actually said, at least once. There are discussions on the internet on whether Karen Armstrong is a fool or a liar.

But I'm afraid to say that Rationalwiki has no time for Murray either, dismissing her as 'an annoying conspiracy theorist.' They admitted she might have been on to something in 'The Witch Cult in Western Europe' in a very small way, and that her writings were based in part on genuine research.

They said, though, and it is a fair point that she took literally things that people said under torture, not taking into account that people will say anything to make the torture stop. Apparently, she introduced the words 'sabbat' and 'coven' to the English language. 'Coven' had previously been a Scotticism for convent.

I think they were much too dismissive of what she had to say about the Horned God. But I accept she probably did let her imagination run away with her when writing about the 'Divine King' in England who could be sacrificed.

She gave William Rufus as an example. While I don't think this theory is correct, the fact is that William ii was not a Christian, and was presumably a Pagan, an apostate from Christianity.

2) She said that substitutes could be sacrificed in the king's place eg Thomas Becket and Joan of Arc. Again, this seems rather unlikely.

Margaret Murray got to write the 'Encyclopedia Britannica article on witchcraft in 1929, and her version of events wasn't really challenged until 1968. The article was rifled by novelists and film makers in the course of producing fiction such as 'Lammas Night', 'The Devil and King John', and 'the King is a Witch'.

I sure read two novels in impressionable adolescence with witchy themes. In one, it is the time of the English Reformation. People risk death by burning by having English Bibles in their house. Their even more daring neighbours attend covens in the spirit that we might go to a night club at the weekend.

The other novel had Joan of Arc as the principal character. She is confused as a child because everyone attends church but they also practise the old religion as they call it.

She asks her elder sister Catherine for an explanation. Catherine answers very sweetly that the differences are not important. She also says that they have worshipped Christ long before he was born in the stable in Bethlehem.

3) This sounds like the hero with a thousand faces, a version of the Christ myth theory. In the novel, the Gentle Dauphin greets Joan with a hand gesture which proves that he is also of the old religion.

I accept reluctantly that Murray did get a bit carried away in her later career. But I see no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Rationalwiki sneers at the contention that Maypole dancing or Morris dancing could have Pagan origins but this seems quite feasible, even likely.

Perhaps Murray has created a cultural hodge podge, linking the Plantagenet kings, Gilles de Rais, Robin Hood, fairy tales, King Arthur and Merlin and paleolithic art for no good reason, not unlike a present day exponent of New Age woo.

Yet out of this lot, only Gilles de Rais was a definite historical character who was presumably brought up a Christian but most certainly believed in sorcery. All the other tropes and characters have good claims to Pagan origins.

Rationalwiki notes sardonically that Murray wrote the foreword to Gerald Gardner's 'Witchcraft Today'. Gerald Gardner would have us believe that Wicca was a continuation of an ancient religion, persecuted and driven underground in Christian Europe. In fact, he had invented it himself, drawing on a variety of sources including the writings of Murray herself.

5) Rationalwiki says that Murray's ideas about the witch cult in Europe have been 'just about exploded now.' Only Wiccans and Druids take them seriously.

I'll put my cards on the table. I don't think Murray was entirely wrong. Nor do I think she was entirely right. I'll discuss the evidence in later posts.[/u]
[/color]
1) She sounds more like Koran Armstrong to me. But you hate nuns more than I do.

2) No, the post of Lord high Substitute is very likely.
Paganism = good news: you are king; bad news ifn you fuck up you get sacrificed. versus
Christianity = Divine right of Kings = fuck up as much as you please, you are the Lord's anointed.
Surprise surprise, Kings vote for Christianity just like turkeys vote for Christmas because otherwise, they would not exist. iik tlc

Therefore, during the transition period, when there is Plague and we need to sacrifice a king, but we're not allowed to sacrifice the Actual king because he is the Lord's Anointed and all, the office of Lord high Substitute - that's logical captain = it is known.

3) It makes a nicer story if the Pretender is a nice guy.
Joan's Voices told her to save France from the Brits.
Ifn Joan's Voices had truly come from God, they would have told her to save France from the French iik.

5) Indeed, a lot of modern Witchcraft and Druidism is of recent origin.
Likewise, a lot of modern Christianity is of recent origin: Women Bishops, Gay Marriage.

On the other thread was the menstruous woman who defiled the Islamic priest by talking to him and thus defiled the profit. Menstruous Bishops touch the flesh and blood of Jesus, but Christians have changed the rules, Jesus is undefiled
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:03 am    Post subject: byng bong Reply with quote

Of course some medieval kings were killed after they screwed up, Edward ii in a particularly eye watering way, Richard ii maybe starved to death, poor old Henry vi with a knock on the head, the tragic princes in the Tower probably suffocated.

Have I left anyone out? - oh, Richard iii at Bosworth shouting, ''Treason! Treason!'' But this is usually interpreted not as a Pagan sacrifice but as realpolitik.

Scottish kings have been even more accident prone, especially if they were called James, James I murdered after his wife or some noblewoman failed to bar the door, James ii blown up by his own cannon, James iii assassinated by a stranger claiming to be a priest, after being thrown from his horse, James iv recklessly in the midst of battle but amid rumours that he had survived and would return, James v apparently of disappointment after losing a battle.

I don't think Charles I was a sacrifice although he was a screw up because the transcript of the trial is not really open to that interpretation. The only convincing example of a Lord High Substitute I can think of is Admiral Byng.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moritz - you had me laughing out loud - Laughing - but Marianne ... what about William Rufus - did not Margaret Mead propose that he sacrificed himself to the ancient Norse god Loki ?

Somebody surely did ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_II_of_England

" ... it is reported that his "customary oath" was "By the Face at Lucca!" It seems reasonable to suppose that such details are indicative of William II's personal beliefs. ... William made two forays into Wales in 1097. Nothing decisive was achieved, but a series of castles were constructed as a marchland defensive barrier. ... William went hunting on 2 August 1100 in the New Forest, probably near Brockenhurst, and was killed by an arrow through the lung, though the circumstances remain unclear. The earliest statement of the event was in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which noted that the king was "shot by an arrow by one of his own men." Later chroniclers added the name of the killer, a nobleman named Walter Tirel, although the description of events was later embroidered with other details that may or may not be true. ... The king's body was abandoned by the nobles at the place where he fell. A peasant later found it. William's younger brother, Henry, hastened to Winchester to secure the royal treasury, then to London, where he was crowned within days, before either archbishop could arrive. William of Malmesbury, in his account of William's death, stated that the body was taken to Winchester Cathedral by a few countrymen. ...

... To the chroniclers – men of the Church – such an "act of God" was a just end for a wicked king, and was regarded as a fitting demise for a ruler who came into conflict with the religious orders to which they belonged. Over the following centuries, the obvious suggestion that one of William's enemies may have had a hand in this extraordinary event has repeatedly been made: chroniclers of the time point out themselves that Tirel was renowned as a keen bowman, and thus was unlikely to have loosed such an impetuous shot. Moreover, William's brother Henry was among the hunting party that day and benefited directly from William's death, being crowned king shortly thereafter. ... William was an effective soldier, but he was a ruthless ruler and, it seems, was little liked by those he governed. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was "hated by almost all his people and abhorrent to God." Chroniclers tended to take a dim view of William's reign, arguably on account of his long and difficult struggles with the Church: these chroniclers were themselves generally clerics, and so might be expected to report him somewhat negatively. His chief minister was Ranulf Flambard, whom he appointed Bishop of Durham in 1099: this was a political appointment, to a see that was also a great fiefdom. The particulars of the king's relationship with the people of England are not credibly documented. Contemporaries of William, as well as those writing after his death, roundly denounced him for presiding over what these dissenters considered a dissolute court. In keeping with tradition of Norman leaders, William scorned the English and the English culture. ...

[ NOT TO MENTION THE WELSH ! ]

A NOTE - " An alternative, pagan interpretation of this oath proposed by Margaret Murray is that William II swore by the "face of Loki": Murray, Margaret A., The God of the Witches, OUP, 1970, p. 164. "

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http://www.mjwayland.com/index.php/king-william-rufus-killed/

The Divine Victim?
Many researchers believe that many of the facts seem to portray a well planned assassination organised Rufus’s younger brother, the future Henry I, but there seems to be a more chilling explanation.

The idea of the Divine Victim was a widespread pagan belief that lasted well into the Christian era. The King is seen as a deity, who when called upon was expected to give his life and his blood to rejuvenate the earth. Rufus openly scoffed at Christianity and that on the day he died, he made several remarks that indicated foreknowledge of his death.

We must also look at the date of the slaying; August 2, the day after Lugnasad, the Celtic harvest festival and a traditional time of sacrifice. Interestingly, as a seemingly feeble offering, Rufus’s illegitimate son had died in very similar circumstance on the day of another Celtic festival, May Day Eve. It’s alleged that the boy offered himself in his father’s place but the old religion demanded the sacrifice of the king himself. William Rufus was buried without ceremony and refused the last rites of the church.


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http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/dragons/esp_sociopol_dragoncourt02_05.htm

[ OK - DO NOT LOOK AT THAT : GOBBLEDEYGOOKEYGOOHGOOH ]

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=06FkpD0ihzMC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=william+rufus+loki+sacrifice&source=bl&ots=rYk3IcJBIW&sig=HfPr-uqXw_UAml0VwvbtH7HvInM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0oti0kf7NAhXsJ8AKHU7pAZIQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=william%20rufus%20loki%20sacrifice&f=false

" ... It actually measures 150 yards, which was a Gaulish measurement of 150 paces, called a leuca, leuca or leuava. This term is remarkably close to Lucca. Professor Margaret Murray states that this god was the one that the reputed royal sacrifice, William Rufus, invoked in oaths. Lucca is related to Loki and Lucifer, the bringer of light, also known as Mazda or Ormuzd. The Cult of The Mistletoe Bard and his journey to The Elysian Labyrinth of Persephone is clearly documented in the author's notes on Cai ap Emrys and the Vere dying kings. ... "

[ SO THERE - ALL SORTED : WHAT IS THE NEXT PROBLEM TO SOLVE ? ]

" ... If one multiplies the gematric sum of a mile ( 14 ) by the number of feet in a yard ( 3 ) how many druidic bards will it take to change The Enlightenment ? ... "

OH - um - er ... pass ?

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marianneh



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2016 11:48 pm    Post subject: evident persecution Reply with quote

It is quite obvious that Christians persecuted Pagans once they became the dominant religion. To give an example, Hypatia, a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and keeper of the library at Alexandria was lynched by a Christian mob at the instigation of the Patriarch Cyril.

This was partly because she was a Pagan and partly because she was an academic and lecturer. It was considered unseemly for a woman to 'teach or have authority over men.'

Cyril's act of rabble rousing was rewarded by canonisation. He is now St Cyril of Alexandria, and he is available to receive your prayers. According to Freke and Gandy, Pagan priests were chained to their altars and left to starve.

The execution cemetery at Sutton Hoo is thought to contain the remains of Anglo-Saxons who resisted becoming Christians. This is speculative, but we know Charlemagne gave Saxons the choice between conversion and death. 4,500 chose to die for their Pagan faith.

In the Scandinavian countries again, male shamans were staked out in the sea at low tide so they would slowly drown. Ruard the Strong had a particularly imaginative death. He was bound to a board with his face upward. A drinking horn with a hole at the end was forced into his mouth. A snake was induced by red hot pincers to find its way through the hole. Whether he was poisoned or suffocated is not clear.

Then in - was it AD 900 or 1000? - Russian peasants were given the choice of being baptised in the Dnieper or drowning in it. How could any of these conversions possibly have been sincere? Would they even have understood the first thing about Christianity?

It must be that for some generations, Russian peasants would have been Pagans at heart. What we have to inquire about is what evidence is there that Paganism survived into the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance era in Europe? - and if so, has this any connection with the European witch craze?

What we are in no position to deny is that Christians did persecute Pagans in Europe, whether or not Murray had her timing right, and whether or not this accounts for the 'burning times.' It can't be dismissed as something that never happened at all.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:15 am    Post subject: lok Reply with quote

Dai, I've only just seen your post. I didn't know about William Rufus' oath collection, but I read of a woman in England trying to cure her grandson of something as late as 1858 by banging something with a hammer, 'once for someone I've forgotten, once for Christ and once for Lok!'

According to some sources, a bridge over the Thames was finally dismantled and found to have human and animal bones in the foundations. The amazing thing is that the bridge was completed in 1762, indicating a continuance of human sacrifice to prevent a structure falling down, at least as late as the time of George iii.

It must have applied to earlier bridges too. I think this is what the nursery rhyme, 'London Bridge' is all about. It keeps falling down until the builders 'set a man a watch to keep.' How creepy is that?


But in the case of William Rufus, it could have been an accident; it could have been an assassination which seems more likely, and it was very convenient for his brother who seized the throne as Henry I. You don't have to look beyond the 'cui bono?' question. A Pagan sacrifice is an unnecessary inference.

Some writers are rude about Margaret Murray, saying she is an embarrassment. Sometimes they graciously concede that some of her hypotheses could be true, just as there could be a substratum of cheese below the lunar surface.

It's not a fair analogy. Murray's theories are much more feasible than Russell's flying tea pot, let alone that the moon is made of green cheese.

I shouldn't get uptight about Christians persecuting Pagans while maintaining a blasé detached stance to human sacrifice in Paganism. Yes, people were once sacrificed to Tiw. It wasn't good. Then think of the bog corpses!
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There does seem to be something paradoxical and contradictory about The 16c & 17c Witch Hunts because at more or less exactly the same time that these took place The Aristocrats were sponsoring The Alchemists and The Monocrats were sponsoring metaphysical magicians like Dr John Dee etc and this did not stop at the end of the 16c : when Cromwell overthrew The Republic and replaced John Bradshaw the famous jurist who had tried and condemned Charles I with his puppet president Henry Lawrence >sigh< the latter was appointed to rule the country because he claimed to be able to consult with angels and Cromwell wanted a Godly Government ... but to be fair though Henry Lawrence not only got a book out of Milton through doing this but also governed The Protectorate considerably better than any modern Prime Minister has managed to govern The United Kingdom by using consulting economists and focus groups for scrying ... and if you ever watch The Welsh Assembly debating you can see that both consulting angels an economists is disregarded in favour of consulting nobody - I think that they just spin a bottle or toss the mace to decide what to do because they have discovered that this results in better decisions than they could make by actually trying to think ... and it has the added advantage that unlike The House of Commons in The Welsh Assembly they all arrive early in order to open the bottle and they do not have to hang around or keep popping in and out waiting to find out when there is a division as a excuse to go and have a drink afterwards ... and hell - as we have all witnessed - The Welsh Assembly passes its legislation at break-neck speed without pausing for scrutiny ... they all gather early in the morning to polish off a crate of the stuff in short order just in order to be able to face the order of Carwyn's Cuestions ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Lawrence_%28President_of_the_Council%29

Lawrence was author of:[23]

... " Of our Communion and Warre with Angels: being certain Meditations on that subject, bottom'd particularly on Ephes. vi. 12 ... to the 19, 4to [Amsterdam], 1646; " - another edition, bearing a different imprint, was issued during the same year. The treatise is commended by Isaac Ambrose in the sixth section of the prolegomena to his Ministration of, and Communion with, Angels, first published about 1660, and also by Richard Baxter, in his Saints' Rest, 12th edit. p. 238.

... " On 21 October 1628 Lawrence married, Amy, daughter of Sir Edward Peyton, of Iselham, Cambridgeshire. They had seven sons and six daughters.His wife's extraordinary piety proved a fertile source of cavalier satire. To their eldest son (Edward or Henry) Milton addressed in the winter of 1656 his twentieth sonnet, "Lawrence! of virtuous father virtuous son". Their younger son John emigrated first to Barbados, then Jamaica where he founded a wealthy dynasty of plantation owners. "

[ I.E. THESE LAWRENCES' FAMILY VIRTUE - PRAISED BY MILTON - WAS TO FOUND THE SLAVE TRADE - PRESUMABLY AS INSPIRED AND SANCTIONED BY ANGELS ... OR ELLWOOD ? ]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Lost ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradise_Regained

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Milton ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Ellwood
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:45 am    Post subject: rufus Reply with quote

BTW, I'm surprised to hear William Rufus had an illegitimate son. I had been under the impression that he had been not even bisexual but exclusively and flamboyantly gay. That was one thing the Church disapproved of in him.

He was unique as an adult king in remaining unmarried, even though a direct heir would have seen off all claims to the throne by his brothers. Even James vi of Scotland who became James I of England, forced himself to marry a woman, Anna of Denmark, and produce heirs. I presume they were his own children as James had porphyria, judging from his doctor's notes and it continued in his descendants.

James showed no interest in woman otherwise. He was as gay as a treeful of parrots, but he did the business. William Rufus wouldn't even do that. He said that he hated priests, peasants and women.

Well, maybe he had a slip up as a young man and woke up with a surprising partner after swigging too much mead. His parents showed at least outward piety, founding a monastery and a convent, and of course Battle Abbey. At least one of his sisters was a nun.

He was probably seen as the black sheep of the family in becoming a Pagan. He said that he would be prepared to accept the merits of Judaism over Christianity if anyone could prove them to him. This was some time before Jews became the whipping boys of Europe, and it was taken seriously.

But Rufus was irritated when a deputation of rabbis offered to take him up on it. He hadn't really meant it. He had just said it to wind up the Christian priestly hierarchy. It is even possible that rather than being a sincere worshipper of the old gods, he would be considered an atheist today.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:23 am    Post subject: horned god Reply with quote

The Wikipedia article on the horned god takes a conflicted approach, saying that there is no real evidence of him before the mid twentieth century in Gardnerian Wicca, and also that Margaret Murray picked up the idea of him from James Frazer. So maybe he is referenced in 'The Golden Bough.'

The article then says that there are both historical and pseudohistorical sources. There were probably a few horned gods in the ancient world including Pan. Pope Gregory the Great had a total rethink about destroying all Pagan traditions as it wasn't working.

He urged missionaries to incorporate pagan customs into Christianity where it was feasible. He even agreed to bulls being sacrificed at the altar if that was what the locals wanted. As late as the early Tudor era, a bull was paraded through London on St John's Day and then beheaded.

Under Gregory's guidelines, gods could become Christian saints. But some were left out in the cold and became demons instead. According to Carl Sagan in 'The Demon Haunted World', it was never a question of simply saying that they did not exist.

In the second year in secondary school, we had a history text book called 'The Middle Ages' rather memorably. It took the view that the Christianisation of Europe was a good thing, and that it was a pity it took so long.

When mentioning that those Saxons, who declined Charlemagne's polite offer to become Christians, were executed, this was followed by an exclamation mark. Violence was not to be expected of Christian missionaries.

The book told us that one priest in England had an altar to Christ at one end of his church and an altar to the horned god at the other. This was a sober history text book for children, not something a Wiccan came out with when stoned.

I can't accept that there was no concept of a horned god before the mid twentieth century because, in Christian art, this is how the Devil is depicted, and it must come from somewhere. Margaret Murray mentions confessions extracted under torture in which people, mostly women, said they had attended covens presided over by the Devil who was not half man and half biscuit but a goat headed god with horns.

Murray's take was that it really happened but the Devil was not a supernatural being who materialised at the feast. He was a Pagan priest in a mask. She may have been wrong about this, but it is clear from the trial records that the goatman figure did exist in popular culture.

In the Bible, Satan does not appear until the Book of Job. His name means the adversary, and he is something like a Devil's advocate. He points out to God the imperfections even of good people like 'my servant Job.'

Later Christians thought it was the Devil who tempted Eve in the form of a serpent, but that is not what Genesis says. It just mentions a serpent who makes trouble of its own accord.

In the book of Job, Satan is on intimate and friendly terms with God. Towards the end of the New Testament, when it is getting like an acid trip, we hear of Lucifer, the fallen angel who led a rebellion against God, and was expelled from Heaven with those angels who supported him.

It doesn't look at all obvious that he is the same character as Satan, but by the time Milton was writing 'Paradise Lost', it is taken for granted that he is. So why is the Devil, in the writings of Daniel Defoe, for instance, visualised as half man, half goat?

This is not how he is described in the Bible at all. It is obvious that syncretism has been at work.

He had become identified with the horned god. Perhaps this was a deliberate policy by Christian missionaries. They couldn't get rid of the horned god altogether, so they literally demonised him.

About flying through the air to Sabbats, with or without a broomstick, Carl Sagan had something to say about that in 'The Demon Haunted World.' He said that in ancient times, women mentioned casually that they flew through the air at night.

They must have been deluded about this but it didn't mean they were insane. It was something that was accepted as a fact in their culture. They may have been recounting vivid dreams. I think Sagan linked this to the Dianic cult.

He added that this belief was carried all the way through to the 'burning times'. People may have had Christianity imposed on them , but that didn't alter their basic beliefs.

Sagan's attitude was that the whole cosmology of demons and other supernatural beings that people took for granted in the Greco-Roman world continued well into the Christian era. Often, even the names were unchanged.

There might be great upheavals in the theological world as far as the ruling class was concerned. Pagan Europe became Christian Europe. But for so many people living off the grid, this meant nothing or very little. You could argue that out on the heath, where the heathen dwelt, it was business as usual.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Marianne,

a lot there to think about - I am trying to remember the name of a book about the number of violent incidents used to propagate Christianity ... they certainly compare in number and scale to those reported about Islam and it just goes to show that when you enter a Monocratic stasis it will use all methods to coerce others in society ... Back in The Roman Empire perhaps they were doing what was done in The British Empire when they presented a gift of a portrait of Queen Big-Mamma-Over-Ocean-Loves-All-Peoples-Of-Her-Empire-Which-Protects-All-Peaceful-Peoples-Who-Go-Quietly-And-Give-Her-Friends-Their-Lands-Because-God-Says-So-See ? ... In primitive societies where religio-political relationships are defined by actually knowing other people, those conquering them needed to convince the conquered that they were offered a personal relationship with their far away god-king ... and The United Kingdom is a religio-political sysem which is of course the same kind of hat primitive society which the rest of The People in The World rejected and progressed from in the 19c if not the 18c. ... The fact is that when you strip off the layers of The United Kingdom you are unfortunately likely to meet with the violence of The Monocracy which still exists albeit under the thumb of The Aristoocracy which masquerades itself as The United Kingdom ...

... As to sacrifices made in the process of building works, they still happen in a variety of ways : my Dad worked on the M1 when the methods of working were not sophisticated ... amongst his tasks was monitoring the placing of concrete, directing the team involved and having them make samples for him to take for strength testing ... he used to tell me several stories about this because they were working in terrible conditions due to a very severe winter in which they had to dig the workings out of the snow each morning and were boiling the aggregate for the concrete to get it to set properly ... whenever we were driving that section of the motorway where he was responsible for the concrete in the bridges he used to cringe as he drove beneath each one ... at the end of one long day's long pouring of mass concrete into an embankment wall in which a rotating convoy of lorries were brininging the mix and dumping it into a shoe / canister to raise it to the top of the shuttering ... one of his tasks was to take the register at the end of the day to note the hours worked so that the crews' wages could be worked out and he found himself cursing that Paddy must have slipped off again some time during the afternoon ... he not seen Paddy since that morning come to think of it ... had he not seen himlast just standing around yawning on the top of the shuttering - ready for the first shoe ... ? ... No wonder they had seemed so short handed all day - although it was difficult to keep track of anybody on such a vast project as the M1 which sprawled for miles ... Paddy never claimed his wages ... and the ... ahem ... the company then pocketed them ? ... We will of course never know - unless in the future some archaeologists excavate Poor Paddy and - having gone through his pockets and finding them mostly empty - declare him to have been a human sacrifice made to The Ancient God of The United Kingdom as will be evidenced his entombment in concrete with a couple of the metal discs used by that cult. ...

... Of course those were The Dark Ages i.e. the 1950s whereas we now live in The Post-Enlightenment Times of Y Milleniwm Newydd - where upon the completion of any major building project ( which will invariably mean that a lot of tax-payers money will be involved ) there is a " topping up " ceremony where The Client, The Contractor, The Engineer, The Surveyor, The Building Inspector and all of The Subs Involved meet The Lawyers in order to dedicate themselves together once more in The Anciente Rite of Sacrificing The Architect ... which involves nothing so cruel as The Druids in Wales publicly cremating the victim alive any more - even incineration in The Municipal Facility has now long since been superceded by the much cheaper and ego-friendly process of insinuation using the non-legal system of The United Kingdom as a non-political system ...
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:25 pm    Post subject: land and bible Reply with quote

Poor old Paddy under the tarmac! He was sacrificed but in an offhand, absent minded way. It's even more insulting than if it had been deliberate. He was seen as expendable as are the people who worked on the North Sea oil rig where investigators found no sign of life. It's disheartening.

I think the missionary work in medieval England is exactly analogous to that in the British Empire, especially SubSaharan Africa. Belatedly, people realised that it was a scam. Somebody in Rhodesia told the BBC, ''When the white men came, we had the land and they had the Bible. They taught us to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them again, they had the land and we had the Bible.''

This was not just in Victorian times but into the twentieth century. Church goers would give money to foreign missions automatically. They didn't question whether it was worthwhile.

I've quoted some awful Welsh hymns on the subject in 'Sugar and Slate and All Things Great' in the historical column. I'll just repeat what I said there about the missionary books for children I found in my adoptive grandmother's house.

They had pictures of black and brown children with captions like, 'Ubi's father is still cruel and savage, but Ubi has become a Christian.' Missionaries must have done a hell of a lot of harm, destroying cultures, teaching people to despise their past.

I heard of one elderly couple who kept their flock in huts in a compound, referred to them as boys and girls although they were grown up and expected them to drink only coca cola.

I mentioned at home that I didn't think much of missionaries. My adoptive father said, ''They civilized the savages, didn't they?''

It shows how he had been brought up. Europeans of his generation honestly thought, 'We civilized these people!'

Think of the disconnect between an old person in the Congo who feels lingering resentment about King Leopold's missionary scam which meant that his uncle's hand was cut off for not being able to work fast enough, and an elderly Evangelical Belgian who expects him to be grateful!

At least one missionary was cured by somebody he was trying to convert. The person asked, ''So, this Jesus, was he white like you or brown like me?'' The missionary had to answer, ''I don't know!'' He then had to ask himself, ''If I don't even know that, how can I be confident that I know anything about Jesus?''

I saw a bit of colour film on TV that had been made as late as the 50s. It showed extremely black people moving in the same direction through long grass. The voice over commented solemnly that they had never heard the name of Jesus.

Perhaps now we would think, ''So what?'' But the speaker obviously thought it was terrible.

The Brexit mob may think it is awful that foreigners come here and breathe our air. They may not be entirely wrong in the case of those who want to proselytise us at all costs - and yes, I am looking at you, Abu Hamza! - but there was one benefit.

If you watch the 'Life of Brian' interview where Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood were allowed to bully John Cleese and Michael Palin in a deceptive, sanctimonious way - and no one stands up to them! - you can see a cultural shift even since 1979.

Now that Christianity is not the default position in this country, we can see through them with no trouble. They could not get away with it today.

I should say that Queen Victoria came quite well out of the conflagration formerly known as 'the Indian Mutiny' She was told this would be a great opportunity to 'undermine native religions.'

She rejected it. She said, ''Firmly believing ourselves in the truth of Christianity, we disclaim alike the right and the desire to impose it on [our subjects.] The 'we' was monarchical, and her words of wisdom did not form much of a precedent.[/u]
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

M-M-M-Mariane ... On the one hand I share your anti-imperialist prejudices ... but on the other hand ... surely there is a sort of sense of superiority that we ourselves are reaching for in thinking of those poor natives as duped or forced ... if Wales is an example of imperialism - which I think that it is - it is not as simple as that ( surely ? ) ... The People in Wales and The World make choices and they are usually neither being duped or forced ... it is a bit like drinking Coca-Cola or chewing Wrigley's Gum : unkown in Europe until distributed by G.I.s in World War Two and thereafter ? ... The advent of television in many impoverished - let us not say ' backward ' - societies has apparently had harmful effects yet The People in X were not forced to watch it any more than I am forced to watch only the BBC 24 Hour News Channel ... The People in X are entitled to make their own choices : refusing to visit their countries in order to preserve them in a pristine sociological state is another form of imperialism in that those who deem themselves entitled to decide for others usurp the political authority which I am forever harping on about ... The People in Manchester are an interesting example in that they suffered greatly due to The Cotton Famine during The American Civil War yet held out against Dixie winning because they were against slavery ... furthermore they welcomed Ghandi who in advocating that The People in India wore clothes made from cotton that they spun themselves caused a second and permanent decline in their cotton industries ...

... If anthropologists and missionaries arrived on the same remote island and together encountered a previously unknown tribe suffering from a simple vitamin deficiency - who would you side with : those who insisted upon a scientific detachment in observing the grieving rituals surrounding the horrible deaths that regularly ensued - or those who declared that Jesus wanted everybody to be saved and substituted multi-vitamin pills for the sacrament in their communion services ? ... " Discuss " - !
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:52 pm    Post subject: wicca week Reply with quote

My eldest son noticed without being specifically told that the days of the week in Welsh are named after the same gods or planets that they are in English. They are in French and German as well.

At least the gods can be seen as analogous. In some languages there is a tendency to go all pious and call Sunday the Lord's Day, Austrian German has Sonnabend, Sunday Eve for Saturday instead of Samstag as in Germany proper.

Then German goes belly up with Wednesday and calls it Mittwoch, midweek instead of Odinstag as you would expect. Considering that the worship of Odin was seriously revived by the Nazis, I wonder if this coyness shows a fear of mentioning him lest he appear. It obviously wasn't that he'd been forgotten.

Our very dynamic history teacher - one of the few good teachers in the school - told us why we kept the names of Pagan gods for the days of the week after we had gone Christian. He said we weren't really at all convinced that we'd backed the right horse.

What if we journeyed through the long dark tunnel often travelled in near death experiences and didn't wake up at the pearly gates or were confronted by Jesus on a rainbow, come to judge the quick and the dead?

What if we woke up in the anteroom of Valhalla, confronted by angry bearded gods in Viking helmets? What if they said, ''You traitors! You worthless scum! You betrayed us! What have you got to say for yourselves?''
All we could reply would be, ''Er well, we did name the days of the week after you, your honours!''

This insurance policy wasn't considered necessary in Eastern Europe apparently. I think it's right that in Serbo-Croat the days proceed: 'Day One, Day Two on a conveyor belt of quotidian mundanity. And it may be the same in Polish and other Slavic languages. Their old gods Chernobog and Belabog are long dead. No one even remembers them anymore.
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dai



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WPS !

We posted within twenty seconds of each other ?

I like Terry Pratchet's fictional solution : when the dead " wake up " not in their bodies and look around to find themselves neither in their Hell nor in their Heaven they ask Death what to do and He explains to them that they can go off and look for the kind of afterlife which they had always dreaded or dreamed of ... as I understand it a large number of the deceased then promptly change their religion ... or possibly a large number realise with horror that they have always been pre-occupied with the idea of Hell and can not do other than imagine themselves not in Heaven - and so as a result of their own pre-occupation with the negative exclude they thus themselves from ever experiencing the positive ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnaQXJmpwM4 = 'Belief' as according to Death

SEE 15.00+ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG8xh9q1jBc = Terry Pratchett: 'Imagination, not intelligence, made us human'


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:24 pm    Post subject: o bugger Reply with quote

Oh bugger, it looks like we cross posted again. We don't know if the missionaries would have distributed food or not. In Tasmania, they were co-opted into becoming part of the extermination programme.

Rudolf Hoss' parents hoped he would be a missionary. Instead he became commandant of Auschwitz. But he said wistfully that he would prefer to educate inferior peoples rather than exterminate them.

In the New World Spanish priests tried to have it both ways, baptising native babies, and then clubbing their brains out. One native king elected to be burnt at the stake as he afraid of going to Heaven and meeting no one but Christians.

I'm not being a cultural relativist here. For all I know the native religion was just as bad. It might have been worse.

I heard a Sikh on 'The Big Questions' expound the view that the British Empire was indefensible. He made some good points.

But he changed his tune when it was noted that some Sikh potentate whose name I can't now remember had a memorable funeral in - I think - 1839. Quite a few concubines and a wife or two were thrown on the pyre. At least, the British had tried to put a stop to that sort of thing.

He began to say that that had been voluntary. But even if it had been, society has a responsibility to save people from themselves. I was disappointed as I did not think this was a Sikh thing at all.

We could have a philosophical discussion on whether the Spanish Inquisition in the Americas was worse, better or just as bad as sacrificing people to Quetzalcoatl which it replaced.

But it's beside the point in a way. Religion has a strong tendency to make people do stupid and evil things while feeling virtuous.

It's not just Christianity. But if we assume that someone with a dog collar must be bountiful and well meaning, we could well be on the road to being duped.

I have to assume that you've never met any duplicitous trouble makers in holy orders. I have. I wish I could forget them.
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dai



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Marianne - " I have to assume that you've never met any duplicitous trouble makers in holy orders. I have. I wish I could forget them." ... ha ha ho ... Actually - mostly I think that religious people do tend to be " better " because they do from time to time make progress in their self-understanding, but then I define " religion " in terms of the universal human activity of getting together to compare points of view - generally by hanging that activity on some popular narrative, with no great attempts at great philosophy - and generally speaking just positioning themselves re each other than forcing others to agree ... science is mostly conducted in the same way, and each belief system may then develop an ideology i.e. start to demand a certain internal consistency according to a set of rules which are governed by key beliefs ... a successful ideology will result in effective behaviour i.e. a practical useful ethic whose result in turn re-inforces the belief system because the ideology is successfully interpreting the results in order to adjust the belief system to produce a more successful ideology ... the trouble with most failed ideologies is that they are designed not to adjust their belief system but to reject the evidence that the ethic prescribed by it is of no use and to reinforce the belief system by explaining away contrary belief systems e.g. that those who do not share it are inferior, stupid, dangerous - and probably Welsh ... My problem with religious people is that they are caught up in " super-version " in which they refuse to accept the consequences of the ethics which they prescribe and thus rant at political people as if they are immoral because their ethic is the result of adjusting their morality as a consequence of the result of examining a failed ethic ... likewise of course an ethic may be adjusted either " clockwise " or " anti-clockwise " - and corrupt religious morality.

I have no problem with The People Who Believe In God ... but I prefer to observe that whilst " god " is an idea which they use to refer to something which I too experience - there are other ideas which can be used to explain that universal human experience and if you start asking what they mean by such things as " The One True God " it turns out that there are as many of these being imagined as there are of those imagining them : to say that our " gods " are merely ourselves writ large is not a bad thing if you understand " god " to be a natural organising principle in the psyche which integrates and unifies our personalities ... It is just wise to accept that that is all that it is, and that spirituality and religion are just the private and public aspects of the social activity of organising minds i.e. of transmitting culture as a way of creating a shared consciousness ... as we are doing here : our personal experiences ( spiritualities ) lead us to search out the cultural activities ( religions ) which resolve them by providing meaningfulness and catharsis - which result in our receiving and transmitting the moralities of our communities ... but it is difficult if not impossible to simultaneously belong to communities whose moralities contradict each other : we opt to join communities on the basis of our existing moralities ... morality however is not ethics and those who profess their love of lambs can happily praise them in the field in the morning and on their plate in the evening - provided that they do not find themselves experiencing any cognitive dissonance when visiting the butcher's shop in the afternoon ...

... One thing that I have begun to harp on about is my recent experiences of religious people thinking that their public assertions of morality have political consequences - this annoys me as much as my past experiences of political people thinking that their public assertions of ethics do not have religious consequences : The Human Psyche is not to be divided in this way - " a wholly political person " is by definition immoral and " a wholly religious person " is by definition unethical and both are by definition defective and de facto there can in fact be no difference between them - both by definition will be both immoral and unethical because they have no way to reflect upon their consciousness of their behaviour and therefore can not develop into well adjusted successful individuals : The People Who Are Wholly Religious and The People Who Are Wholly Political can not be regarded as having any capacity to act like The Responsible People who - by definition - are responsive to the situations which they are part of and reflect upon their consciousness of their behaviour and use their imaginations and initiatives to experiment and thenceforth adjust their moralities and ethicalities in the light of their experiences ...


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marianneh



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:16 am    Post subject: full disclosure Reply with quote

I accept that some religious people really are sincere and wonderful but as I said elsewhere, it's very polarised. Most people are neither very good nor very bad. But with those in holy orders, it seems - in my admittedly limited experience - that they are either tremendous or the complete opposite.

If you mistake a psychopath in a hassock - or is it a cassock? - for a living saint , you're going to be hurt and maybe ripped off. When I was a child and still unthinkingly accepted the Christian set up, I was nevertheless surprised about the stories in the tabloid papers about priests who were cruel, rude and just awful human beings. I could not understand it.

Roger tried to get a priest involved in helping a girl with anorexia. It wasn't just that the priest didn't deliver. He was actively obnoxious.

Roger had started out with high expectations, based on a view that priests are spiritual and wonderful people. He became so disillusioned that he swung to the opposite extreme.

Although he has no evidence to back it up, he later became convinced that this individual was one of these paedophile priests we hear about all the time these days. He said it was written all over him!

I've found priests and the equivalent very helpful when I was looking for people to fill in my everlasting surveys. They were helpful like that.

But in pure self defence, you have to recognise the existence of the bad ones. How much evidence do you need that the Christianisation of Europe and other places was not a pretty sight?

I suppose we're coming at the subject from different directions. Long before I heard of Richard Dawkins, I'd come to the conclusion independently that it was absolutely wrong to bring a child up to be religious. I don't mean this in a spoilsport way. I've nothing against fun things like Christmas, Purim and Divali or even Eid.

But to teach them to believe five impossible things before breakfast, no! If they independently express an interest in religion and want to attend church or some other place of worship, fine. But you should go with them, especially if it is a Catholic church.

Let the initiative be theirs always. My attitude has been seen as extreme and even intolerant. But to me, it is just sensible.
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marianneh



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:45 am    Post subject: Baltic Crusade Reply with quote

Lithuania used to be a much bigger country than it is today, taking in parts of Poland, Prussia, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It may once have been the largest country in Europe. It was also the last country in Europe to remain officially Pagan.

Grand Duke Algirdas of Lithuania used this as a bargaining counter with other nations. He held out tantalising promises of Christianisation. But he died a Pagan in 1377. I am sorry to say that 18 - presumably living - horses along with other possessions were burnt with him on his funeral pyre.

After crusaders lost Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, they decided to try their luck in the last Pagan places in Europe. The Teutonic Order which had been established in Acre in the Holy Land relocated to Swabia in Germany.

They slowly began to take over Prussia and to Germanise it. The last speaker of Old Prussian, a language similar to Lithuanian, died in 1700.

Plunder and religious opportunism turned their attention to the Baltic tribes. Young noblemen were attracted to the Northern Crusade as a means of winning their spurs. Humphries said 'a young nobleman who defeated and killed infidels was highly esteemed back home.'

The Crusaders 'tried to convince the tribes to accept the one true God' but 'this rarely worked.' So they would 'come back with the sword and force conversions.' The new Christians were forced to work as serfs for the nearest Archbishop.

1300 to 1400 was a time of particularly 'nasty' and 'uncompromised' warfare. The Lithuanian etymologist, Ginasteas Berenevicius estimates the death toll as a million Balts.

The crusaders had slightly better castle building technology. After they seized the castle of Kaunas in 1362, only 100 kilometres from Vilnius, the Pagans began to acknowledge that defeat was only a matter of time.

Grand Duke Jagaila had been offered a prestigious marriage with an Orthodox princess, but he knew the Teutonic knights saw the Orthodox as heretics, little better than heathen. He accepted instead the opportunity to marry Queen Jadwiga of Poland. He agreed to be baptised first.

The Teutonic knights were enjoying the invasion so much that they didn't want to stop now. They said the conversion was insincere, even blasphemous.

I know Queen Jadwiga was canonised in 1997. I am not sure why.

Could it have been connected to the Christianisation of Lithuania in 1387? The western parts of the country stood out until 1413, and it was then that Europe became synonymous with Christendom.

Incidentally, one of the crusader knights was Henry Bolingbroke who had been exiled from England by Richard ii. In 1399 he usurped the English throne, and in 1401, he brought in the burning of heretics in England.

Henry iv, as he now was, contemplated exterminating the Welsh. He invented instruments of torture.

Terry Jones thinks he may even have murdered our old friend Geoffrey Chaucer! Chaucer noted in 'The Canterbury Tales' that the knight on the pilgrimage had fought 'for our faith' in 'Pruce' (Prussia) and 'Ruce' (Russia). Perhaps Chaucer was being ironic in describing him as 'a verray parfit gentil Knyght.'

Ken Humphries tells us that after the nobles of Lithuania accepted Christianity, folk resistance was intense. This brought peasants within the sights of the Inquisition.

So peasants turned to passive resistance. They turned up at church and showed extreme piety in the presence of the priest, but went home to worship the old gods.

The penalty for secret Pagan worship was death, but it became difficult or impossible to destroy Pagan shrines. The workmen sent to cut down sacred trees were reluctant to do so.

This is interesting as there can be no doubt that in Lithuania at least, because of its peculiar history, crypto-Paganism continued well into the burning times and beyond.

Johannes Pollander of Konigsberg wrote in 1535, 'At first many of them (Prussians) reluctantly gave in to the Pope, and today they accept the [Lutheran?] evangel, yet they continue to keep their old wicked ways in secret.'

In 1583, Jacob Latinski, a Lithuanian Jesuit wrote, 'These people were always drawn to religion. But bad faith and fallacies have spoilt them so much that they differ little from Pagans.'

In 1636, an evangelical Lutheran wrote, 'People were and remain idolaters, because Jesuits did little else but force people to listen to their masses and to cry out for their saints...hardheaded idolators were tricking them because when before their eyes they would play sincere Catholics, would listen to their sermons with great piety, and would kneel down with sheer humility. But once the priest would go, they would return to full Paganism. Priests did not understand anything, and people would laugh at them.'

In 1775, G Ostermeier wrote, 'This is the most superstitious nation among all Christians. They are so persistent that no measures bring desired fruits.'

On it went into the 1800s. The last Pagan in the unbroken tradition died in 1908. The twentieth century also saw the advent of a strong Neo-Pagan movement in Lithuania. So the criticism, 'They're just making it all up!' can't apply here.

Ken Humphries tells us of 'a unique branch of art' - statuettes of Jesus as an idol, looking 'sad and withdrawn, consumed by his inner sorrow.'

Humphries says that even after independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, the nation hasn't seized freedom joyfully with both hands and come into its own. The people are typically distrustful of authority and outsiders, but have little concept of taking control themselves, expecting a saviour figure.

Instead, they get cheating, abusive politicians.

The scar in the national mentality manifests itself as what Humphries calls 'holy inactivity.' If someone wrongs you, you sit passively, do nothing to defend yourself, but clench your fists and 'idly enjoy your moral superiority, convincing yourself that you are somehow better than your oppressor.'

Oh God, I think I'm a Lithuanian! According to the writer of 'Who Really Killed Cock Robin?', horses' skulls have been found under Christian altars even in England, dating from the late 1380s, the time that Lithuania reluctantly went over to Christianity.[/u]


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