Wicca is a tranquil modern-era religion constructed around revitalized pre-Christian traditions and beliefs that originated in the Celtic British Isles. Wicca espouses a natural way of life, promoting a oneness with the Earth, with the Divine, and all that exists.
Research by archaeologists has shown that the Paleolithic peoples of prehistoric Europe worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess. Cave paintings as old as 10,000 years show a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven people, as has been represented in modern era Wicca.
In ancient times witchcraft was referred to as "the craft of the wise". It was practiced by shamans, medicine men and women who worked spiritually with the forces of nature on all levels. They were familiar with herbs, with medicine, they gave council, and were the shaman-like leaders of their tribes. It was their metaphysical understanding that man is not superior to nature, but instead is only a small part of the bigger whole that is constituted by many levels, both visible and invisible, material and ethereal. They believe that as they take they must also return, in order to maintain a balance and equilibrium in our individual lives, and in the universe as a whole.
How Did Wicca Return To Modern Times?
The Gardnerian tradition is named after Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who was a well traveled British civil servant who spent much of his service in Southeast Asia. Gardner was an intelligent man who educated himself, and was an enthusiastic researcher in the study of local folklore and archeology in the colonial outposts where he lived. He knew and collaborated with many famous occultists, most notably Aleister Crowley.
Gardner believed that folk magick in Great Britain and Celtic Europe were remnants of pre-Roman, and maybe even pre-Celtic religion of Western Europe. When he returned to England permanently shortly before World War II, he devoted himself to the research of the occult and of "the old religion" full time. During his research he encountered members of a secret group called "The Wicca". He found the Witchcraft practiced by the Wiccans spiritually rich and multi-dimensional, and he devoted the remainder of his life to it's preservation and promotion. He believed the Wiccans were the last living, practicing descendants of pre-Christian and pre-Roman religious practice. Under Gardner's guidance, the group grew slowly, and in secrecy, as "witchcraft" was still illegal in Britain. In 1951 the Witchcraft Laws were replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act, and Gerald Gardner went public, actively promoting his "new" old religion. He won many new followers, and his association with Raymond Buckland spread Wicca across the Atlantic.
Since Gerald Gardner opened the door in the 1950's for a 20th century understanding of the world's most ancient religion, Wicca has grown into many new and diverse traditions.
Different Wiccan Traditions
Created by Alexander Sanders during the 1960's, it's based on the Gardnerian tradition.
This tradition follows the Celtic and Druid pantheon. They are very respectful of nature, and are knowledgeable of the magickal qualities that herbs and plants possess.
A blend of the Gardnerian and Celtic traditions, following the Farrar teachings. They have co-ed covens, and train using a system of degrees.
The adherants of this tradiition have complex magickal rituals that show an Egyptian, Masonic or Quabbalistic influence.
Followers blend various traditions, with a focus on the Goddess. Covens are most often all female, with a distinctive feminist slant.
These folks don't subscribe to any strict tradition, but study all traditions, then pick and choose which ones work best for them.
A person who can trace Witchcraft through their family tree, and was taught by a living relative.
This is a practical form of Wicca, blending ceremony with everyday life. It is centered around the hearth and home, blending healing and spellwork with everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning.
A solitary witch practices alone, no matter what tradition they follow. They are similar to Eclectic Wiccans, in that they cloose from the many different traditions what works best for them.
To The Dawn
Of A New
Skye Is Now Amongst Us
As A Spirit