Is Wicca Ancient

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Is Wicca Ancient
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Did you ever stop and wonder about your Wiccan religion, and just where it did come from?

Oh, we all know our mythology well. We know the tales that " once upon a tim e" 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 Dorothy 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 book " 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. So our Old Religion appears to be no older than about 50 years old. But just to keep a bit of mystery in the subject. As a result, most Wiccans today acknowledge that Wicca is a modern religion which draws upon some ancient beliefs.


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 path, 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 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 early Wiccan mythos 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
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Post # 2
Awesome thread! What are your beliefs on death and an afterlife as a Wiccan?
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient
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Post # 3
Gerald Gardner created Gardnerian Wicca, in its most early and incomplete form, in the latter half of the 1940s, after the end of world war 2. He did so by adding much material to, and making some other changes to, a then-unnamed practice which may be called "Proto-Wicca", which was practiced by a group of masonic rosicrucians. Proto-Wicca was created by one of those masonic rosicrucians- Edith Woodford-Grimes, at around 1937, give or take a year.

A few components of Wicca were taken from pagan times, most notably the horned god, but most of Wicca's constituent material dates from the 1500s through the early 1900s.

"every religion was new once upon a time! ... it doesn't matter whether a religion is a million years old or invented last Tuesday."

That's absolutely correct. The paradigm that I believe in and adhere to didn't even begin to be revealed to its human recipient until as recently as 2012.
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Re: Is Wicca Ancient
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 4

I wouldn't say that Edith Woodford-Grimes created Proto-Wicca. You are correct that she came from a Rosicrucian and Co-Masonry background and had joined the New Forest Coven in the 1930's. Given what we know about the New Forest Coven, they appear to have draw heavily an off-shoot of the Rosicrucians with practices colored by the writings of Margaret Murray.

Gerald Gardner joined the New Forest Coven in the late 1930's and he claims to have been initiated by Edith Woodford Grimes (Dafo) by 1939. The New Forest Coven was practicing a form of Witchcraft, but it was not yet Wicca.

In the 1940's Gardner left the New Forest Coven to found his own group, the Bricket Wood Coven (which remains in existence today). Dafo followed Gardner and became his High Priestess. The two of them took with them many of the practices of their former coven, but even Gardner says those were very incomplete. Gardner began to expand those practices drawing upon the teachings of the Golden Dawn and Crowley as well as what he had brought with him from the New Forest Coven.

By 1952 Gardner had brought in a woman named Doreen Valiente, often called the Mother of Wicca. By 1954, Dafo had withdrawn from the coven and basically from Witchcraft as well. Valiente reviewed the existing Book of Shadows Gardner had put together and discarded all of the material drawn from Crowley and then began adding and expanding until there was a formal and complete Wiccan liturgy.

It is also useful to understant that Gardner never called what he did Wicca. He referred to it as the Witchcraft Cult and its members as being "of the Wica". When Gardner chose to make the presence of his Witchcraft Cult public after the repeal of the British Anti-Witchcraft Laws in 1951 the Witchcraft Cult came to be called Gardnerian Witchcraft. It was much later, sometime in the 1960's that it changed its name to "Wicca".

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