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ffetcher
February 10th, 2009, 05:10 AM
Last year, I got involved in a discussion on "History" which included reference to a series, by the Hungarian researcher (University of Central Europe) Eva Pocs, published in English as "Demons, Spirits, Witches".

Said discussion fizzled when some members became more interested in name-calling. But, I'm still interested and still haven't managed to resolve the issue myself, so I thought I'd float it here.

Pocs' work, and that of her collaborators, is sometimes cited as giving credence to the survival of organised paganism in certain areas of Europe, and my reading of the material in English supports that viewpoint. Other scholars dismiss the work, and in particular Hutton, in a debate published in The Cauldron, called it 'controversial'.

Sadly, although I speak several European languages, my Hungarian is really only 'get you by when stranded and/or order a large beer' level, so I'm unable to determine whether the work is indeed 'controversial' in Hutton's sense (he seems to imply 'can easily be dismissed'), or is still the subject of scholarly debate, or does indeed, as some have suggested, represent a consensus.

Does anyone here have anything to add to the discussion?

blessings
ffetcher

rufio
February 10th, 2009, 02:11 PM
I myself didn't read any of her research in english, so I can not comment on those, but from what I understaind she is a very respected folklorist and academic teacher, mainly dealing with Hungarian and Central European folk beliefs and practices, especially about religion, spirituality, witches and fairy beliefs.

Controversial or not, well, I never heard or read anything negative concerning this or any other work of hers.

On the other hand I've read many not so kind reviews about Hutton and his work. Like this (http://cleticpagan.tribe.net/thread/ef14ab20-a8ff-4307-97a2-06248e21c180) one. If it is the same Hutton you are reffering to.

ffetcher
March 5th, 2009, 07:54 AM
Okay, I found another reference in an essay by Hutton in "The Scottish Witch-Trials in Context", which does not at first sight seem to be a good place to find stuff about Hungary. But Hutton is comparing versions of shamanism, night-journeying etc and trying to place them in the context of fairy-lore.

The main thing appears to be the suggestion from Pocs, drawing on Ginzburg, that the Hungarian journeyers, later to become witches, drew on a pan-European tradition. He summarises Ginzburg and Klaniczay in a succinct passage, and then starts the next paragraph with "Some Hungarian scholars have taken a different view."

He proceeds to present the options for dispersion of the tradition, coming down on the side of this counter-argument. So I think the choice of the word 'controversial', whilst perfectly acceptable academically, actually means 'there is an alternate way of interpreting the data which I find more reasonable. I don't think he's denigrating Pocs's work overall.

Having read the passage several times, and despite knowing the geography fairly well, I'm unable yet to decide one way or the other. Has anyone else read this and formed an opinion?

blessings
fetcher

ffetcher
March 25th, 2009, 07:10 AM
I've gone as far as I can with tracing sources. I can't find any academic reviews of Pocs, Ginsburg or Klaniczay that criticise the scholarship. In his Scottish Witch Trial essay Hutton simply says "Some Hungarian scholars have taken a different view.", so I'm presuming that either that his use of the word 'controversial' in the debate with Jani Farrel-Roberts was accidental, or that by 2002 he had softened his attitude.

And since the essay (they're all a good read for anyone interested in the history of witchcraft) actually concentrates on parallels between Europe and Scotland in the area, I think it safe to assume that Hutoon now accepts that evidence from mainland Europe is worth consideration when studying Britain. So if he ever did believe that it could be ignored, as he tends to imply in "Pagan Religions..." and "Stations...", then again he's softened his line since then. I know that both of are explicitly titled as being confined to Britain, the Goodare book is explicitly titled "Scottish" (which is how I missed the essay in the first place).

blessings
ffetcher

Deerwoman
March 25th, 2009, 01:35 PM
Hutton's probably still just upset that Emma Wilby proved him wrong in creating a connection between shamanism, Cunning Folk, and witchcraft (showing evidence of Pagan survival up until fairy recent times) - things he said in various works couldn't possibly be connected or true - and then here comes Eva Poc with the same story and evidence of her own. He couldn't have been happy about it. I respect Hutton, his scholarship and wealth of knowledge, but he does tend to only agree with scholars who agree with is own conclusions and ignore the rest who have contradictory conclusions and evidence. I've also noticed he doesn't regard folklore or oral lore as evidence - and so I've found many of his works are wanting for the lack of these. Just one folk-magic practitioner's opinion however.

Margaret Murray is probably laughing in her grave...

MacMorrighan
March 26th, 2009, 10:37 AM
Hutton's probably still just upset that Emma Wilby proved him wrong in creating a connection between shamanism, Cunning Folk, and witchcraft (showing evidence of Pagan survival up until fairy recent times) - things he said in various works couldn't possibly be connected or true - and then here comes Eva Poc with the same story and evidence of her own. He couldn't have been happy about it. I respect Hutton, his scholarship and wealth of knowledge, but he does tend to only agree with scholars who agree with is own conclusions and ignore the rest who have contradictory conclusions and evidence. I've also noticed he doesn't regard folklore or oral lore as evidence - and so I've found many of his works are wanting for the lack of these. Just one folk-magic practitioner's opinion however.

Very well put, DeerWoman! But, to play the Devil's Advocate, from the perspective of the Historian, arguments are calculated at the outset to mitigate or either they do not acknowledge the existence of oral heritage because the their training tells them that oral history cannot be trusted; indeed, Hutton's own research even as far as recent oral history has proved to him that it's very spurious and unreliable approach because he found in his examples that they did not accirately preserve history accurately over time. Hence, perhaps undue emphasis is placed only on that which is in writing. Though, it must be admitted that, frequently, Hutton takes far too hard a line where, for example, if I were giving a lecture at a Pagan gathering where my photo was taken nd I had witnesses that woiuld testify to me being there, Hutton would probably say that because there's no written documentation it must mean, then, that I wasn't at that specific festival. But, I digress... In defence or orature, it has been pointed out by Garrett Olmsted who researches Indo-European traditions, and has found that sometimes written traditions can actually drift further from their foundations than oral traditions can. Despite this research, it is basically assumed that oral traditions are percieved of as very ephemeral, as something that does not (or cannot) preserve history and tradition accurately.

And, just for the record I absolutely agree with you re: Prof. Eva Pocs and Dr. Emma Wilby (I thought I heard she was a Dr., last I heard). However, their research has not convinced many within the British academic institution, such as Prof. Owen Davies, one of Hutton's own protiges (according to an article he wrote: "Cunning-Folk: Recent Research" [Pentacle, Summer, 2007: pp. 28-30])! Of course, Davies seems to be a proponent of Oxbridge orthodoxy, which may be a crime one could charge Hutton of to one extent or another.

That being said, I have found research previously uncited in Witchcraft history, that can trace the European Familiar back thousands of years in Japan! It was an article by Prof. Carmen Blacker in V. Newall's "The Witch Figure". Yet, those scholars of Witchcraft that are aware of this article have either ignored it, or have not acknowledged it when discussing the Familiar motif, which is a real shame; because you have very similar-to-identical motifs found all over Europe that are found in Japan as well which Prof. Blacker has been able to trace back thousands of years due to I Ching documents, etc. How, then, can this data be ignored? Under what methodology can it not be germane?


Margaret Murray is probably laughing in her grave...

I'm sure she is, too. :crown: Still, the varacity of this evidence has not stopped countless Pagans (particularly a belligerent ex-member of this Forum) from bashing any research that might be construed as defending any of her work. It always seemed to me like he was imposing onto one that would find evidence to support certain variants of her thesis that they were, then, acepting and advocating for the most extreme ideals of Murray's material. Of course, it doesn't help when the likes of Norman Cohn demonstrably lied about her!

Take Care,
Wade MacMorrighan

LadyeFalcon
April 11th, 2009, 02:18 PM
Last year, I got involved in a discussion on "History" which included reference to a series, by the Hungarian researcher (University of Central Europe) Eva Pocs, published in English as "Demons, Spirits, Witches".


Pocs' work, and that of her collaborators, is sometimes cited as giving credence to the survival of organised paganism in certain areas of Europe, and my reading of the material in English supports that viewpoint. Other scholars dismiss the work, and in particular Hutton, in a debate published in The Cauldron, called it 'controversial'.

blessings
ffetcher

I am not familiar with the Author or her books, but I think if you do some research into the Rovas you will find that there is indeed a thriving Pagan tradition in Hungary. Though the rune script seems to be public knowledge the more esoteric uses of the Runes still remain hidden from view. From my personal research it seems very few scholars have made much progress in their research of these 'pagan' traditions. Though many claim they ( the Rovas) are of Turkish descent I have my own personal doubts about that claim