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Is Wicca Ancient?

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Forums -> Wicca -> Is Wicca Ancient?

Is Wicca Ancient?
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1
Did you ever stop and wonder about your Wiccan religion, and just where it came from?

Oh, we all know our mythology well. We know the tales that "once upon a time" there was a peaceful, Goddess-worshipping society which extended over all lands. A society without conflict in a Golden Age of existence. Then out of the deserts came these patriarchal, God-worshipping, violent tribes, and everything changed. And finally, there were the Burning Times, the last attempt of those that denied the pagan ways to gain control over the last vestiges of the Old Religion. But of course, we all know that the Old Religion did not die. It merely went underground, meeting secretly until Gerald Gardner was initiated by old Granny Clutterbuck and brought it back into the light of day.

Well, it is certainly a nice story to tell around the fires at night, and every religion has its own myths and stories. But ask yourself two questions, is it true, and does it matter if it isn't.

In answering the first question, let me point out that there is absolutely no scholarly evidence that the myth has any basis in fact. The old sources, such as Margaret Murray's "God of the Witches" have been found to be poorly researched and largely invented. Murray was a friend of Gerald Gardner's and a fellow member of the English Folklore Society, and it appears from more recent investigation that she was prone to finding facts that could be made to support the outcomes she wanted. If you would like to read some well researched works on the subject, I would recommend Ronald Hutton's books "The Stations of the Sun", "The Rise and Fall of Merry England", "Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles", and most importantly, "Triumph of the Moon". Be ready to lose a lot of treasured beliefs if you do though.

From the best that anyone can prove, Gerald Gardner created modern Wicca using bits and pieces of folklore, ceremonial magic, spiritualism, and odds and ends of other magical practices. So our Old Religion appears to be no older than about 50 years old. The coven into which Gardner was initiated, according to one of Gardner's initiates, dated back no further than around 1900.

So where does that leave us. Well, you can always go on taking the myth at face value.

Or you can ask yourself again whether it really matters if we can trace our line back to Oog and Ug, drawing pictures on a cave wall.

Be honest with yourself. We aren't practicing the same religion our ancestors practiced. I follow a Celtic pantheon, but I certainly don't practice human sacrifice or read the future in the entrails of a sheep. In many cases, such as the Celts, no one knows exactly how they practiced their religion since none of it was ever written down.

What we do share with our ancestors is our belief in the male and female aspects of Divinity, our belief that the Divine is immanent in this world, and the belief that all of creation is sacred. We try to re-acquire the connectedness with the natural world which they had, and which we have lost over the millennia. We try to restore the tribal values where each person is a valued member of the community and where we care for and about each other. We still meet the God and Goddess face to face in our meditations, in our dreams, and sometimes in a crowded room. In the rush of the modern world towards its destruction of the environment and of humanity itself, this return to a connectedness with the land and each other may be the salvation of us all.

So does it matter if this isn't that Old Time Religion the myths say it is? I mean, every religion was new once upon a time! I say that if it meets your spiritual needs, if it connects you with the Divine, if it benefits the community, it doesn't matter whether a religion is a million years old or invented last Tuesday.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 2
I love your post, and I would have to say History tells the tale. Your article or post rather will guide those new to the Wiccan religion.

~ Sim

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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 3
Wicca really is "based" on very old beliefs.
The original problem was the word "witchcraft". Before 1951 witchcraft was illegal in most countries.In England,anyone practising witchcraft could be sent to prison for up to five years!
There were others, long before Gardner, who wanted witchcraft recognised as a religion. Men such as Aleister Crowley, Alex Sanders, Doreen Valiente, and many others.
In 1946,vast numbers of migrants came from all over the world to live and work in the UK. And they brought their religions with them!
The Christian Church was "up in arms" about this. But the government could do nothing to stop these immigrants from worshipping whatever they wished! Mainly because they all believed in God; or at least some sort of Deity. (That had been the Law since Elizabeth I)
So Gardner, and others, started to say, "Well, all the ancients worshipped some sort of God or Goddess. So we will do the same, and thereby claim that our belief is also a religion."
For years Gardner had called his followers The Wica. (Only one C in the early days.)
So, after 1951, the practise of witchcraft became lawful, as Wicca; although the Christians still objected to it!
Gardner then published his book "Witchcraft Today". It became a world wide best seller!
So, you see? What Gardner and others were trying to do was to have witchcraft accepted as a religion, by calling it Wica; and declaring that believers did indeed worship Deity!
Of course, these days, so many books have been written about Wicca, and adding the authors ideas, that Gardner would not recognise his own creation!
Witchcraft itself is as old as time! The "religion of Wicca" however is less than a hundred years old. To show just how "young" Wicca is I can tell you that the widow of one of the very founders of Wicca is still alive and well. She is Maxine Sanders, and lives in Wales.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 4
I beleive wicca evolved from paganism as a result of the salem witch trials if what you say is true about your timeline then i feel it supports my beleif.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 5
Wicca is less than a decade old. It's basis is founded on older religions (mainly paganism) and I agree with what Brysing and Barbi suggest.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 6
No, it is not less than a decade old. Did you not read the original post? ...
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 7
I meant century. Less than a century old.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 8

" I beleive wicca evolved from paganism as a result of the salem witch trials if what you say is true about your timeline then i feel it supports my beleif "

Um, no. Wicca has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the Salem Witch Trials.

In fact the Salem Witch Trials had very little to do with any form of witchcraft. It was instead about property and money. The women, and the one man (with the possible exception of Tituba" were good Christian folks and didn't practice witchcraft. The charges of witchcraft were simply a way for that community to rid itself of some people that others didn't like.

Wicca is very loosely based on the pre-Christian religions of northern Europe. None of the folks at Salem were Pagans.

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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 9
Thank you for clarifying.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient?
By:
Post # 10
Wicca is pretty old, and is closely connected to the Pagan Religion. It stems rather closely to it actually, but to answer your question, Yes it is in a sense.
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