Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Source

Know the source!

I don't mean "The Source Of All Things." Just the source of information you cite. Today on facebook, a friend posted something about a festival of Venus being celebrated tonight and tomorrow, August 9th. He didn't cite his source. He usually doesn't, but most often I recognize the information's source, like a Gardnerian calendar or Dunwich's Wiccan Book of Days. For this post? No clue. I asked for the source of the information, haven't gotten a reply. Will update in comments if/when I do. (I think I found it. I only scanned through a few of the listings on the page, but I noticed at least 5 mistakes.)

The only Venus celebrations I know of in August is on the 19th, the Vinalia Rustica, which celebrates the founding of Her oldest known temple in Rome. She was also honored at a festival of Jupiter in late August. The only Roman celebration I know of tomorrow is the Opalia, in honor of Ops, and even that date is questioned. Let's remember that what is now August used to be sextillus, the sixth month. The ancient calendar was screwed six ways till nones and has been rectified over and over and over again through the ages. We still tinker with the calendar- 2012 is leap year!
"A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." --Mark Twain
Posting misinformation about an ancient festival date isn't immediately or terribly damaging to our society, but in the long run, it undermines who we are and ultimately what we do. There was a huge outcry years ago about how Pagans should "own" that Wicca is made up. Sure it is. But it's made up of pieces of indigenous, pre-christian traditions. Some of the methods are new, but the ideas are the same, ie: We drive cars now instead of use wagons to get around. Several authors and teachers felt the need to make up a lineage and grand claims, so much so that I sometimes get eye rolls when I tell people I practice my family tradition. Because people have made up information in the past, I currently get shit for it, and so do many Strega. It's one of the reasons why I started this blog. So I get sensitive about misinformation. Especially on my home turf.

If there is new information to be had, something I didn't know before, I want to learn it! So please give me the source of your information because if it is true, then I have a new source and reference and I am the better for it. This is why I respect Nova Roma: They do their work and their research and eek out new sources in the ancient record and in current archaeology finds. If it's about Venus and the Nova Roma folks don't know about it and your source isn't new, it's probably not true. This isn't to say I object to people posting information on topics when they aren't experts, just cite your sources, even if it's Personal Gnosis (especially when it's personal gnosis!)

If we are to be taken seriously, and by "we" I mean Pagans, then we have to know from whence we came: including what we celebrate and why we celebrate it, or why we choose to not celebrate something anymore. If you, as a teacher, or initiate, or general disseminator of information are to be taken seriously, you should cite your sources, or at least make them available to others. If you, as a student, take yourself seriously, don't believe everything people say without investigating the sources for yourself.

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's true! This goes for me too! Call me on my bs if you see any, ask me to cite missing sources if you find any lacking. This just makes me a better blogger, a better expert and a better person.


  1. Excellent point. So many times I find interesting info or artwork, but no source for the info. Makes me crazy! That should be the worst of my troubles, eh?

  2. Absolutely true! Unfortunately, even in Italy some people write in blogs or forums soups that who like me is at the beginnig of the path can only be disoriented and confused. Bad books, rituals that mix of everything without taking into account the origin of a myth or a particular pantheon ... Wicca for me has really caused damages.

  3. I haven't been the best about posting artwork credits. I try to add a caption or a link, but alas, late night postings leave me a bit scattered!

    Agrimonia: Same thing happens here: Some folks think it's ok to throw everything into the blender and write a book about it, even when they have little or no experience in the subject.