I'm not sure how to approach the questions that currently are before me. These questions are profoundly simple, and yet very complex in their implications. I suppose I should share with you all the research that I have recently been engaged in and the results that I have found thus far.
Recently, I've been attempting to track down "primary documents" that the major authors in the Wiccan community uphold as their sources. This has been an interesting task and has lead to quite a bit of interesting reading. Unfortunately, I find myself very shaken in my beliefs because of the unstable basis that I have uncovered in my research of the body of literature available to a student or practitioner of Wicca.
I noticed that many of the contemporary authors will cross reference each other. It fills up quite a bit of white space, but it doesn't really give the source of the concept that is being present as fact when these authors lead you on a search of 50 to 60 texts to start getting to references that are outside of this group of authors. Interestingly, this cross referencing happens the most within the authors published by Llewellen.
Eventually, I found myself getting to authors that referenced earlier texts and drew from them for information. This lead me initially to the work of the late Joseph Cambell. Several authors, I found, drew very accuractely from his interpretation of mythology. Others, however, seemed to list his name and what they wrote had little, if any basis, in his work. Then I found myself lead to the late Victorian texts of anthroplogy, history, and mythology.
As a student of history, I am aware that much of the Victorian standards of research in these fields were based on how many people you can impress and just how shocking could you make the tale. Like the Wicker Man and gruesome human sacrifices that are now part of the stereotype of the practitioners of Druidism. It makes these texts very poor sources. Also, the heavy taint of the Victorian baises makes it virtually impossible to accurately recreate some of the materials they presented in a method that could possibly be in accordance with our more stringent and exacting modern standards of research.
This, combined with the excessive verbage of several authors, made these works very difficult to read. Unfortunately, I found myself in a position where I had to diregaurd many of the Victorian source documents as historically or anthropologically valid as discussions of an earlier period of time because of just how flawed the information presented was when compared to current re-examinations of these documents. It was very fustraiting, because viertually all of the authors that I read relied heavily on several Victorian historical texts and texts on mythology.