Does Bad History Make it Worthless?

I have written in the past about my concerns about channelled books and about information passed on by those who have left the path, but now I’m wondering about those works which clearly contain “bad history” and other things that are widely known to have been disproved.  Examples that come to mind here are Margaret Murray‘s works or that good old Ancient Potato Goddess featured in a book on Celtic spirituality published (and obviously  not fact-checked) by everyone’s favourite new age publisher.

Right now I’m reading The Sacred Tarot, a book published by The Church of Light (an occult organization that offers correspondences courses).  This book falls into the trap of promoting the Tarot as something created by the Ancient Egyptians.  I’m not talking about the ideas of the Tarot, I’m talking about the actual cards.  I feel, though, that most of the other information in this book is valid, like the discussions on the Kabbalah (from an occultist’s point of view, of course), numerology, and Tarot card meanings.  But does a little bit of misinformation invalidate the entire work?

In this case, I think the wisdom of the time needs to be considered.  In 1936 it was generally believed that the Tarot did come from the Ancient Egyptians.  Or, at least it was a belief generally held by occultists.  However, if a modern work were to present this history as fact, I would be very concerned about the work as a whole.  I think when reading any non-fiction work, especially those of an esoteric or occult nature, we need to be on the look out for things that don’t mesh with what we know to be true.  Yes, they generally are supposed to be dealing with “secret knowledge”, but when they can’t get what is common knowledge right, something else important may be wrong too.

I would love to be able tell anyone instered in Wicca to read Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon or Philip Heselton’s Wiccan Roots.  (I understand that Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration by Philip Heselton is also very good, but I don’t have a copy yet.  That’s a hint, quanta.) And I think anyone interested in Tarot should read Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination by Robert M. Place as well as Decker, Depaulis and Dummett’s books A Wicked Pack of Cards and A History of the Occult Tarot.  Those books, I think, provide great foundations.  And from there you can build on more esoteric knowledge, knowing that you have the real world basics down.