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Witchcraft History Lesson

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Forums -> Wicca -> Witchcraft History Lesson

Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 1
The roots of magic come from the Celts, a people living between 700 BC and 100 AD. Believed to be descendants of Indo-Europeans, the Celts were a brilliant and dynamic people - gifted artists, musicians, storytellers, metalworkers, expert farmers and fierce warriors. They were much feared by their adversaries, the Romans, who eventually adopted a number of their customs and traditions.

The Celts were a deeply spiritual people, who worshiped both a god and goddess. Their religion was pantheistic, meaning they worshiped many aspects of the "One Creative Life Source" and honored the presence of the "Divine Creator" in all of nature. Like many tribes the world over, they believed in reincarnation. After death, they went to the Summerland for rest and renewal while awaiting rebirth.

The months of the Celtic year were named after trees. The Celtic new year began at Samhain, which means "summers end," and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their "Festival of the Dead," where they honored their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Many contemporary Halloween customs come from Samhain.

Next on the wheel of the Celtic year was the Winter Solstice, celebrating the annual rebirth of the Sun. Our Christmas customs today are similar to this ancient celebration. Around the beginning of February came Imbolg, a time when domesticated animals began to give birth. The Spring Equinox and Beltaine, sometimes called "May Day," were fertility festivals. The Summer Solstice, known as Lughnassa, celebrated the glory of the Sun and the powers of nature. Lughnassa, the Fall Equinox, and Samhain, were considered as Celtic harvest festivals.

The "Druids" were the priests of the Celtic religion. They remained in power through the fourth century AD, three centuries after the Celts' defeat at the hands of the Romans. The Druids were priests, teachers, judges, astrologers, healers and bards. They became indispensable to the political leaders, giving them considerable power and influence. They were peacemakers, and were able to pass from one warring tribe to another unharmed. It took twenty years of intense study to become a Druid.

Translated, the word Druid means "knowing the oak tree." Trees, the oak in particular, were held sacred by the Celts. Mistletoe, which grows as a parasite on oak trees, was a powerful herb used in their ceremonies and for healing. Mistletoe was ritually harvested at the Summer Solstice by cutting it with a golden sickle and catching it with a white cloth while never letting it fall to the ground.
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 2
You are really giving the Celts too much credit.
First off the Celtic people weren't gifted artists. They didn't have much art at all. They weren't fierce warriors either. They were drugged up soldiers that ran into battle high to feel no pain or fear. There metal work was effective but it was far from expertised. It was barely on the equivilent of Norse in craftsmanship itself. The Celts were bloody drugged up tribes not cultural diverse literate people.
Druids are most likely their version of a shaman. The Celts weren't as great as you claim.

Secondly magic is a general occurence do to the desire to focus energy. It is a fact that Norse practiced rituals long before Celts. The Nordic people even during times before sophisticated metalurgy killed bears donned their skin in a ritualic matter to be used for war.
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 3
Magic, and the practise of it, has been around for a very long time; and practised by most humans. Norse; Celts; Chinese; Tibetans; Japanese; Native Americans;Romans; Egyptians;Aztec;Inca; well, just about everybody really! One could say that European witchcraft is a mixture of Norse and Celtic; but Norse would dominate. The Norse Gods are well known; the Celtic Gods are a bit vague!
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 4
You have to keep in mind that this person is stating the history of Witchcraft as we know it today. Most of what is practiced in Witchcraft and Wicca (the basics of it anyway; sabbats, esbats, circles) is mostly inclined to the Celtic way of practicing Magick. This is not to say that all Magick generates from the Celtic people (before them were the Picts as some sources say), just that Wicca and Witchcraft as a whole is inspired a lot by the Celts.
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 5
Wicca has a strong celtic influence, true. Magic (which is what the first sentence of this thread claims) however is not. As mentioned by Brysing, it is practised across all ancient cultures. Its roots? eons before the celts...
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 6
Cited from: http://www.essortment.com/history-witchcraft-magic-21121.html
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 7
Sorry, old high school habits die hard I guess. XD
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 8
The norse and the celts had a lot in common technologically and spiritually. Many of the concepts are interchangeable. Further,much of the artistic traditions that both cultures possessed were erased because they were etched in wood. This has long since rotted away. Whomever that bloke was ranting about Norse superiority was equally biased.

Anyway, modern witchcraft's ritual and practice is rooted heavily within the saxon, celtic, and other such traditions yes, but it is also heavily influenced by the occult systems that were revitalized by Mathers and the like. Much of this directly preceeds and influences the traditions, ritual, and practices taught by Gardener, who founded Wicca within the 20th century.

Celtic traditions mostly influence the holidays and festivals. That's it.
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By:
Post # 9
An interesting read on the influence of occult practices in the late 1800s on modern "Wicca" is a book called "The Secret Teachings of All Ages" by Manly P Hall. It also has some really interesting points of view regarding the mingling of Christianity and Occult practices in ancient Rome.

"Progressive Witchcraft" also has a really fair accounting of the movement of modern Wicca starting with Gardener and tracking down from there within Great Britain. It is a small part of the book but certainly an interesting read.

I agree that the Celtic Wheel has greatly influenced the modern movement of witchcraft but firmly believe that the ways and means of most practitioners today is more likely rooted in the occult traditions and evolutions started as far back as the 1600s. Never forget that the Celts were an oral tradition...and much of how things were done by them is lost, over taken and even absorbed and changed by the Catholic Church. Not dissing the Catholic Church just stating a matter of history.
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Re: Witchcraft History Lesson
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 10
marcassa makes a good point,most of modern witchcraft owes much to the writings of Gardner, and even Crowley; because they studied the occult from the 17th century as well as the ancient. And,yes,the Celts had oral traditions,but not entirely. Here in England there are many Celtic stones,and statues;very difficult to read,but some progress has been made over the years.
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