Well, my mention of the Druidic fraud, Lebor Feasa Runda, has sparked the biggest conversation yet here on My Little Blog. Nice to see folks like John Greer and Erynn Laurie chiming in - thanks for writing, guys.
Stephen Akins, the author of the Lebor (despite its pointless claims of ancientry) is obviously unable to provide the smallest scrap of evidence for his claims that the book originates in an ancient Irish manuscript. His sock puppet, the character who calls itself raven-wildewood began with a simple assertion: “It is so!” and then went to a series of “well, it *could* be” sort of arguments that are the usual resort of people trying to cover a lie. Obviously if the author had any actual evidence, he would produce it. If none is forthcoming, it is safe to assume that there is none. Despite a frequently recited cliché, lack of evidence *is* strong evidence of a lack of factual basis.
This morning the wildewood character found itself driven to the last resort of occult fakers, asserting that even if the book is fake, it’s cool and could be a cool thing for Irish Pagan types. This is a typical half-baked post-modern assertion, and one I find particularly empty. My comparison of this book to Simon’s fake Necronomicon seems even more apt – defenders of that volume are likely to exclaim “So what if he’s lying, it works!” From a practical standpoint this is hard to argue with. However, wildewood makes a rather different claim.
My own personal interpretation is that … the book is a gift to those who have long wished for a sacred text at least in the arena of Irish Druidry; and whatever it's origins, it is no less original, no less authentic, no less real, than the sacred texts of other religions - all of which were conceived by the mortal minds of humans and composed of stories from different sources at different times all brought together and written by the hands on men.
To me, this is kind of strange. Why, exactly, would Celtic polytheists need or want holy scripture? The whole notion of a religion based on a specific book has been such a bad thing for the systems that do it, has produced so much conflict, so much disregard for the real, that I can’t see why it would even be sought. Systems such as Hinduism or Taoism or the ancient Greek religion, which produce a variety of holy books, often in some degree of conflict with one another, are somewhat less likely to produce foolish results, I think. But in those systems the authorship of specific books is fairly well known, though some are so ancient that the ‘real’ author has been lost in a cloud of history-dust.
In my opinion the days when a teacher can actually gain status for his teachings or writings by falsely claiming an ancient origin are over. Paganism could use a large selection of holy books, but modern people should be too bright to be interested in fake claims of ancient manuscripts. (And of course you have to be a moron to think that associating such a thing with the Nazis would do anything beyond giving it a certain nasty stink.) If we’re to have new scripture I think it must come from the creativity and inspiration of modern people. Even if we found an ancient book on “How to be a druid” I feel sure it would have to be taken with a grain of salt for modern times. Modern efforts do well to look to the past – it’s where we get the inspiration for our work – but we also need to guide past ideas into the modern, replacing such things as social hierarchy with equality.
To me, the two things that make Akins’ book unlikely to amount to anything in the movement are first his obviously false claims about an ancient manuscript and second his claim that the content was interesting to the Nazis, connecting it with the most vile and stupid ideas of the last 200 years. If Akins wants to be taken seriously he should simply admit his initial hoax, and take the heat when he does. A fake ancient book is worthless to the movement. A new book about how to do ancient style Druidism could at least be judged on its own merits.