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An introduction to the origins of wicca the forgotten religion

One version is now understood to be more mythological than fact. Because Wicca draws on practices and traditions traced far back into ancient history, Wicca was once believed to be an ancient - the first - religion.

In researching the history of Wicca, we begin with a look into this mythological history. We then explore the reality of this religion's early days.

  1. This also explains why Wicca is now viewed as its own separate religion while Witchcraft is viewed as being a practice that comes in many forms and paths. It was the variation both in literacy and in economic status which would stigmatize the lower classes as 'primitive' in the eyes of 'scholars' for many years.
  2. The Wicca and Wicce members of the surviving covens were the magicians, healers, teachers, poets, midwives, and central figures in their communities.
  3. Wicca was not a revival of an old religion, it was yet another ritualistic secret society; albeit one with a great amount of effort put into it by its helmsman, who had himself already moved amongst occult and magical groups of the era for some time. Most scholars view the history of Wicca as being relatively short, or at least contained to the modern period the last few hundred years or so.
  4. Many scholars - and many Wiccans themselves - discount this lengthy history of Wicca and the historical link to ancient religions.
  5. In cultures where offspring were needed to work the land, to hunt, and to care for the elderly, women were, of course, vitally necessary. However, Wicca and Witchcraft today are two separate things.

The Mythological History The following is the history of Witchcraft or, more specifically, Wicca as it was presented in Wicca's early days. Since then, the theories surrounding this story have been disproved. This story, in all its variations, is merely mythological. It is not a true history of anything.

The History of Wicca

I include it here only for its mythological value. Most Wiccans I know do not follow this an introduction to the origins of wicca the forgotten religion, but as it was believed in the early part of the real Wiccan history, I feel it deserves a space here. Witchcraft [Wicca] began more than 35 thousand yeas ago, when the people believed in the Mother Goddess and Horned God. Hunters performed sympathetic magic to enhance the success of the hunt by dressing in animal skins and horns.

As isolated settlements came together to form villages, they grew together as communities. They shared knowledge and used their inner power to work together. These were the first covens. These covens were deeply attuned to plant and animal life. They bred animals and planted seeds. The God was less associated with the hunter and instead associated with the grain that is sacrificed only to be later reborn. The Goddess was seen as less wild and associated with the fertility of the land to reflect the settled nature of the civilizations.

As villages grew into cities, shrines depicted the Goddess and her connection with the God as consort and son. Trade from Africa and West Asia brought new mysteries.

They learned of ley lines power of the earth and how they could be enhanced through the placement of stones. The Witches used these stones to develop methods of marking the seasons and their cycle.

This lead to the creation of the Wheel of the Year, the Sabbats. These holy days were celebrated with feasting and bonfires. Resulting from the settlement of the people, many advancements were made. From studying the land, the sky, the turning of the Wheel, they increased their knowledge in the areas of mathematics, astronomy, poetry, music, medicine, and psychology.

The deeper mysteries, then, provided keys to understanding the Universe. However, in other parts of the world, cultures devoted themselves to the arts of war. They would come across the people of the Old Religion and attack them. From the time of the Bronze Age, Indo-European invasions swept through, driving out the Goddess peoples. The Goddess was "married" into the existing pantheons of the times.

Some aspects of the Old Religion were incorporated into the mysteries of victorious warrior cultures. The Celts adopted some beliefs into the Druidic mysteries. Meanwhile, the followers of the Old Religion preserved their beliefs through mock plays of the old rites, celebrating the holy days with old and new traditions, and mingling with and marrying the invading people to combine beliefs.

When Christianity was born, it brought little change in its infancy. The story of Christ was viewed as a new version of ancient tales of the Mother Goddess and her Divine Child who would be sacrificed and reborn in the cycle of the seasons. The Wicca and Wicce members of the surviving covens were the magicians, healers, teachers, poets, midwives, and central figures in their communities.

History of Wicca—a (Very) Brief Guide

Persecution was slowly implemented and the beliefs of the Old Religion were sent underground. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Old Religion resurfaced through poetry. The figure of Mary was honored and revered in much the same way the Mother Goddess had been in previous centuries. She became the new face of the old deity. In an effort to stop the revival of the old ways, witchcraft was declared heresy by the church.

Wars, Crusades, plagues, and peasant revolts occurred throughout the centuries, threatening the stability of the medieval church and feudal system of the time.

Churches of Christianity lost tolerance toward its rivals as the messianic movements and religious revolts took place. In 1484, the Inquisition began. Only two years later, Kramer and Spriger published the Malleus Maleficarum that brought a reign of terror to Europe. Up until the 17th century, persecutions led to the execution of hundreds of thousands of witches. This was a time of terror, fear, violence, intolerance, greed, and hysteria. Some of the followers of the Old Religion managed to escape and fled to faraway lands outside the reach of the Inquisition.

They maintained a strict adherence to rules of secrecy to protect one another and their traditions. After the 18th century, the Craft faded from the memory of civilization as the horror and atrocities of the Inquisition were left behind.

However, many of the stereotypes created during that time period remained, even into modern day. The Old Religion remained underground until the 20th century. When the final Anti-Witchcraft laws in England were repealed, those of the ancient ways came out of the "broom" closet. However, the history of religions are usually controversial at best.

An introduction to the origins of wicca the forgotten religion

Scholarly sources on Wicca - depending on when they were written - may not be useful in providing evidence for or against unknown factors. For more detailed views on the history of Wicca, I suggest a simple search online to get you started.

Read through several sources on multiple sides of the arguments. In doing so, you will see much of what you find here as well as a deeper and more detailed understanding of the arguments as I've described them. I also encourage you to continue looking into the history of Wicca through books, reference materials, and dialogue with Elders in Wicca and Witchcraft - particularly those with any level of experience when Wicca first hit the public scene.

The history of Wicca has been a subject of much debate ever since its introduction into the public eye. Even ignoring the disproved mythological history that was originally thought to be true see abovethere are still arguments over the beginnings of Wicca.

This is merely a quick look into the history of Wicca starting with Gerald Gardner. To understand Gardner, we need to look at his life. Briefly, he was born in 1884 in the UK and spent most of his adult life in Malaya. In 1936 at 52 years of age, he retired and returned to England.

It is said that he met Old Dorothy Clutterbuck at the latter. Throughout his life, he had a large interest in magic, folklore, and mythology. In 1939, at the age of 55, Gardner was initiated by Old Dorothy into a coven of the Old Religion that met in the New Forest area of Britain, as he claims.

Many people have been suspicious of this claim and have accused Gardner of making it all up. Doreen Valiente, original HPS of Gardner's coven, set out to prove this claim - despite she was at odds with him at the time - by finding Old Dorothy. She did manage to prove Dorothy Clutterbuck was a real person through Birth and Death Records, but this in no way proved Gardner's claims. Although Crowley and Gardner's association shortly ended with Crowley's death in December of 1947, it was reported that they enjoyed their time together.

This would later be seen by the O. O and Crowley influences found within Wiccan practice. In 1949, Gardner published "High Magic's Aid. Gardner wrote it with the intent to reveal some rites without revealing the truth as bound by oath.

In 1954, "Witchcraft Today" was written to announce this religion to the world, and in 1959 published "The Meaning of Witchcraft" to further present an introduction to the origins of wicca the forgotten religion religion of "Wica. He claimed that Wicca - or Wica as he spelled it then - was an ancient religion; the Old Religion. It is obvious from his writings that he drew influence from various sources such as Masonry, Aleister Crowley, Margaret Murray, Robert Graves, various cultures and magic-based faiths - ancient and modern - among other sources.

While some of these sources - such as Murray - had many theories and ideas that have since been disproved or discredited, such information was still taken seriously at the time of Gardner's writings. Through Gardner, Wicca grew and spread. Initially, all Witchcraft traditions and practices were inclined to take on the name of Wicca - some were excited to have found a term for what they did when they had none before.

However, Wicca and Witchcraft today are two separate things. As Wicca continued to mold and take form, it became obvious that it was a religion. Sure, all Wiccans are Witches, but the style and practice of Witchcraft as well as some level of theology and ritual elements were very specific to Wiccans.

Other Witchcraft traditions are not necessarily religious in any way and quickly moved away from the term Wicca.

History and Origins of Wicca

Still other paths, such as Stregheria - another influence for early Wicca - were not pleased with all aspects of Wicca and having their long-held beliefs and practices lumped under the same term. With the evolution of Wicca in its first few decades, the term Wicca no longer applied to all practitioners of Witchcraft and magick. Instead, Wicca grew into a specific religion with a clear set of beliefs that differentiates it from other paths. Thanks to the vast availability of information on Wicca today, it has become one of the fastest growing religions in some parts of the world.

Controversies Having gone through this history, we now look at the arguments.

  • As a result of this horrible and ignorant campaign lives were destroyed;
  • Furthermore, much of the inspiration that Gardner and others drew came from knowledge, ideas and practices developed by several older groups dating back to the British occult revival of the late 19th century, and before that, back to the 13th century;
  • As isolated settlements came together to form villages, they grew together as communities;
  • In 1484, the Inquisition began;
  • The Western Mystery traditions, comprised of their mystical and occult threads, are impossible to define in any concrete fashion;
  • Then, two years later, the paper changed its policy [and did] denounce them [Wiccans] anew, as having links with Satanism and, above all, for luring young people into exploitative sexual practices.

Occasionally people who still believe that Wicca is the "Old" Religion dating back to prehistoric times can be found. This is often a result of ignorance regarding historical facts or bigotry and believing instead that historical records are meddled with. The latter see known history as being a "history conspiracy cover-up" of sorts. Although we can certainly see how recorded history can become tainted by societal, cultural, or political agendas and influences, this argument is an insult to credible historians, archaeologists, and other dedicated professionals past and present who painstakingly devote their lives to uncovering and revealing the truth of history.

The arguments with historical facts and reason in mind usually boil down to just how much Gardner told the truth and how much he made up. One argument is that Gardner is a fraud, plain and simple.