what are the oldest written sources for Pagan theory and ritual?
DF: Well, the oldest Pagan texts in the West are myths, like Gilgamesh. But if you’re talking about texts ABOUT Paganism, then late Neoplatonic theurgy and late Classical material provide some of the earliest material–we’re referring to the writings of Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus, among others. In their search for the most ancient sources of Pagan “theory” or history, most Pagans today don’t look at Neoplatonism. When modern Pagans look for their Pagan ancestors, they pretty much restrict their search to tribal peoples living in the woods of Western Europe. The Neoplatonic theurgists, on the other hand, were highly educated, urban, intellectual Pagans–the end products of a Pagan academic system spanning over two thousand years. There’s an Arabic connection here as well; one I’ve written about at some length in an article called: “Harran: Last Refuge of Classical Paganism.” [see appendix]. I am also in the process of organizing a symposium on this at UC Berkeley for Spring 2002.