One of my big pet peeves is people who say that we cannot judge the history of the occult and the esoteric traditions by the paper trail alone. You know the people---those who insist that unless we know what the oral traditions were, we cannot know what was actually going on.
And always, they know what the oral tradition was, therefore their pet theory is right despite the fact that the paper trail tells a completely different story.
Now, I am not saying that the oral tradition does not exist. I am saying that the concept of the oral tradition is being abused nine ways to Sunday. There is a difference.
Take for instance, the oral history of my own family. This semester I got to work on a project that dealt with the oral history of my family. I got assigned to interview three family members about my family history, then write a small paper about it (I recieved a low A).
What did I learn? That when all four of us had heard a story or explaination for something, none of the four stories would agree with one another. I also learned that the stories being told to the younger members of the family were not the same stories that the older generation recieved.
Conclusion---you cannot trust the oral tradition.
Now, I would love some parts of the oral tradition of the Western Mystery Tradition to be true. Unfortunately, the very parts I would most like to see proven correct are the very parts that I suspect are the most false. And so it goes.
The reason I am thinking about all this is the fact that the Open Full Moon ritual that I am going to be conducting in June is going to be based on the telling of stories. And some of the stories are going to be changed to suit the purposes of the ritual that I am doing. I am currently at the stage where I am fine-tuning certain elements of the stories, much like my father used to tell the same jokes over and over while changing certain parts to heighten the effects of the joke.
Think about it. If I know that I change parts of stories to suit my own purposes (and what is the oral tradition if not a collection of stories and some rather strange ideas), then what prevented the previous tellers of the stories and traditions from doing the same?
Oh, I know there were all much more noble souls than I was. And if you believe that, please leave your email address in the comment section because there are some people who would like to sell you a nice bridge to nowhere---after all, they know the true oral tradition of the mysteries---they would never lie to you.