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Author Topic: revisionist history  (Read 1719 times)

Wulffwynne

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revisionist history
« on: December 28, 2011, 01:24:59 am »
sorry... I'm a noob and everything... but as a history nerd myself... I had to take contention with the description that "revisionist" history does not do well on this forum.  History is revised all the bleeding time!  Historians discover long hidden documents, archaeologists discover lost human settlements, and anthropologists unravel mysteries of humanity fairly regularly!  There are always new takes on what we thought we knew... ESPECIALLY when it comes to old pagan practices that were stomped out by over zealous Christianization...

meh.  Just a thought... carry on.

monsnoleedra

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2011, 02:46:38 am »
Quote from: Wulffwynne;36678
sorry... I'm a noob and everything... but as a history nerd myself... I had to take contention with the description that "revisionist" history does not do well on this forum.  History is revised all the bleeding time!  Historians discover long hidden documents, archaeologists discover lost human settlements, and anthropologists unravel mysteries of humanity fairly regularly!  There are always new takes on what we thought we knew... ESPECIALLY when it comes to old pagan practices that were stomped out by over zealous Christianization...

meh.  Just a thought... carry on.


Since you do not reference the thread or paragraph that inspired this its sort of diffiuclt to address the facet of revisionist history your refering to here.  Though I'd have to guess your mixing the notion of revisionist and pseudo history,

Most people I have dealt with on this site are very willing to not only discuss but consider "revisionist" history when the details are being presented.  When scholary material is presented and shown to be based upon critical analysis of facts.  When deductions are supported by verifiable material.  Granted at times the material being presented is subject to personal biases but usually enough factual material to analyze thier deductions and conclusions is present.

However, psuedo history is a different situation all together.  Things like the Irish potato goddess is one such psuedo historical fact that is "slammed" when presented.  The "Burning Times" is another such psuedo historical fact that is torn down on most pagan sites I am familiar with, especially the number of witches killed.  Then some pagan authors are hotly debated and discredited due to their "Psuedo" historical data.  But to my way of thinking that is not "revisionist" history at all, that's pure BS psuedo made up history.

But I would be curious as to which "revisionist" history or thread inspired this thread.

Seren

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2011, 05:51:18 am »
Quote from: Wulffwynne;36678
sorry... I'm a noob and everything... but as a history nerd myself... I had to take contention with the description that "revisionist" history does not do well on this forum.  History is revised all the bleeding time!  Historians discover long hidden documents, archaeologists discover lost human settlements, and anthropologists unravel mysteries of humanity fairly regularly!  There are always new takes on what we thought we knew... ESPECIALLY when it comes to old pagan practices that were stomped out by over zealous Christianization...

meh.  Just a thought... carry on.

 
History is revised all the time, but there are a lot of neopagans who don't move with those changes; I think that's the issue here. I've met many who cling to the idea of paleolithic matriarchy to justify their interpretation of spirituality; those who rail against The Burning Times (Never Again!); those who still insist that Wicca is an ancient religion and cite Margaret Murray etc, or crowbar goddesses into Maiden, Mother and Crone and insist that it's historically justified. Potato goddesses!

Some people may choose to interpret deities in a MMC way, and it works for them while they acknowledge that it has its roots in the late nineteenth century. Some people might acknowledge that Margaret Murray et al were way off base, but still think that Gardner was initiated into a genuine coven and was privy to knowledge and practices that might really go back centuries or even millennia, but which he dressed up and tried to flesh out using the sources he had to hand (with a little help from the likes of Doreen etc). Nobody can prove it, but even the most skeptical of folks acknowledge that it's possible. There are some things historical records can't prove. As yet. And so on...

Nobody can argue with any of that. The contention starts when people start insisting that their beliefs are backed up by those revisionist histories that have been thoroughly debunked.

RandallS

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2011, 08:02:43 am »
Quote from: Wulffwynne;36678
sorry... I'm a noob and everything... but as a history nerd myself... I had to take contention with the description that "revisionist" history does not do well on this forum.  History is revised all the bleeding time!  Historians discover long hidden documents, archaeologists discover lost human settlements, and anthropologists unravel mysteries of humanity fairly regularly!

The types of "revisionist history" being decried here are not the "discovery of new information which causes change" type but the "psuedo-history" type already mentioned and (much of the time) what is sometimes called "Historical Revisionism" where someone decides that the orthodox vision is of history are wrong in that the events are correct but that the motivations, decision-making processes, etc. surrounding the events in question were different than they have been assumed they would be -- not because of new evidence changing those positions but (usually) because the orthodox understanding of them does not fit the person or group's agenda.
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AmberHeart

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 11:40:01 am »
Quote from: RandallS;36691
The types of "revisionist history" being decried here are not the "discovery of new information which causes change" type but the "psuedo-history" type already mentioned and (much of the time) what is sometimes called "Historical Revisionism" where someone decides that the orthodox vision is of history are wrong in that the events are correct but that the motivations, decision-making processes, etc. surrounding the events in question were different than they have been assumed they would be -- not because of new evidence changing those positions but (usually) because the orthodox understanding of them does not fit the person or group's agenda.


If I paraphrase Ronald Hutton, a well told tale is remembered far better than dry historical facts.

These two, the well told tale and the dry historical facts seem to be always entwined whenever 'history' is examined. After almost three decades of study and practice, I have come to regard both versions as utterly entwined, deeply interdependant on each other and when considered in isolation seperately, equally prone to positions of extremism. Even oral history, long regarded as a source of historical facts, has been proven to be re-told anew within each generation and adapted to differing agendas.

The dry historical facts about 20th century Paganism, Witchcraft etc are a strong foundation, I believe, for any practitioner to understand how such came to be and why. That said, I don't think one can truly understand the how and why of facts without also studying the pseudo (what I call the mythic and inspirational) history that is entwined.

The purpose of each differs. The dry facts explain what can be documented and proven of interlocking contributory events. The mythic explains the how and why people were and are inspired, moved, resonate and thus are drawn to find their spiritual homes as Pagans, Witches, Wiccans etc.

I would add this, which I think might be what Randall was just saying. That within a spiritual or religious context and framework, the mythic and inspiration history has a validity of meaning and purpose that is meant to inspire, illuminate and transform. It needs to be there for everything to be as it should, regardless of the dry historical facts that refute its validity. Outside of that context or being mis-presented as if the mythic were also dry historical facts, then the mythic loses both its meaning and validity - in the new context at least.

As a Dianic Witch, I can point to the Burning Times myths and the GAM theory mentioned as two examples of how mythic history has been used and needed within specific contexts and frameworks to inspire, illustrate and transform. The mythic is not historically factual but without the mythic, certianly Dianic Paganism as well as modern Witchcraft across all its traditions would have developed differently.  Another example might be pre-Calvinist European Christianity (pre-pews inside the church as it were) where that mythic history/tales of this faith were celebrated joyfully in songs, processions, dances and enactments of stories inside and around the churches. When that religion subsequently diminished its mythos by making the written into the dry historical fact and removed the participation of its practitioners by turning them into the passive audience, I consider this a good example of what happens to any faith when these two are seperated.

Amber

RandallS

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2011, 06:58:51 pm »
Quote from: AmberHeart;36939
I would add this, which I think might be what Randall was just saying. That within a spiritual or religious context and framework, the mythic and inspiration history has a validity of meaning and purpose that is meant to inspire, illuminate and transform. It needs to be there for everything to be as it should, regardless of the dry historical facts that refute its validity.

So long as people don't claim that the mythic history is what really happened™ and therefore it should be treated as historical fact, I don't have a problem with it. However, I see many Pagans (and Pagan 101 books) who do want to treat mythic history as those dry historical facts and I object to Pagans doing that just as strongly as I object to Fundamentalist Christians who insist that the mythic history of the creation given in Genesis to factual and demand that it be taught as fact in history and science classes.
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yewberry

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2011, 07:28:31 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;36978
So long as people don't claim that the mythic history is what really happened™ and therefore it should be treated as historical fact, I don't have a problem with it.


I do have a problem with it in general.  It seems fundamentally dishonest (or deluded) given the provenance of the "myths".  I'm not the Belief Police, so I don't go picking fights about it.  But I'll never understand the need for it.

Brina

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2011, 07:34:47 pm »
Quote from: yewberry;36979
I do have a problem with it in general.  It seems fundamentally dishonest (or deluded) given the provenance of the "myths".  I'm not the Belief Police, so I don't go picking fights about it.  But I'll never understand the need for it.

 
Agreed.


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Fagan_the_Pagan

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Re: revisionist history
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 08:40:31 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;36691
The types of "revisionist history" being decried here are not the "discovery of new information which causes change" type but the "psuedo-history" type already mentioned and (much of the time) what is sometimes called "Historical Revisionism" where someone decides that the orthodox vision is of history are wrong in that the events are correct but that the motivations, decision-making processes, etc. surrounding the events in question were different than they have been assumed they would be -- not because of new evidence changing those positions but (usually) because the orthodox understanding of them does not fit the person or group's agenda.

 
As a student of history, I am well acquainted with historical revisionism.  Back in school, learning revisionist interpretations of history was just a part of the curriculum.  We got the traditional view, a revisionist view, and sometimes even a third interpretation.  It was our job to make a case for the hows and whys of history based on all of these interpretations, as well as the raw facts.  It was all making an argument for what idea works best, as we saw it.

I personally don't have problems with looking at the events of history in a different light, as long as that doesn't mean we are disregarding the facts.
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