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The Roots Of the Wiccan Tradition

Aug 29, 2008
In the middle of the 20th century, a retired English government employee named Gerald Gardner claimed that he had been initiated into an archaic nature religion which was a survival of indigenous European faiths. The followers of this religion were using the name New Forest Coven. Gardner began his efforts to reestablish and revive the ancient religion by putting together a volume named "Witchcraft Today," where he attempted to reconstruct the fragments of remaining spiritual philosophy and practice from the New Forest Coven.

Gardner designated the spiritual system as "witchcraft," and described its followers as "the Wica." Gardner asserted that this latter term came to him from senior initiates of the New Forest Coven, and that the use of this term was what alerted him to the probability that the "Old Religion" might have survived into modern times. Gardner thought, as do many present-day historians, that the term "Wica" originated from the early English term "wicca," which is the etymological precursor to the more modern term "witch."

There has been a good deal of argument as to the truthfulness of his assertion that he was reviving an goddess-based, matriarchal, ancient European pagan religion. Some claimants have held that Gardner had just invented the teachings of the Wiccan religion, collecting features of a number of studied archaic spiritual systems and from European occultism as needed. Regardless, most historians accept that Gardner put forth his assertions earnestly. It seems most probable that Gardner had really discovered a 1900s revival of the ancient religion that Gardner been seeking, and not quite a pure survival of an ancient European religious tradition.

Regardless of the fact that he produced the craft's beliefs in order to perpetuate the beliefs of Wicca for future generations, Gardner thought of "witchcraft" as a mystery tradition that needed a series of initiations to be properly understood and made real. An English expatriate named Raymond Buckland was granted an initiation into the new Wiccan rites from Gardner's own coven, which he had named the Isle of Man, and then spread the rites of the Isle of Man back to the USA. The traditions of witchcraft acquired adherents rapidly in the USA, where a social and psychological transformation was taking place.

Since that time, a wide variety of unique manifestations of witchcraft based paganism have spread widely. A number of them have been started by Gardner's original students who later founded their own covens and developed their own pools of initiates. Some other popular forms of witchcraft have been started by self-initiated spiritual explorers and witches who established their own conceptions of nature religion which draw from the the works of Gardner and those who followed after him. Presently, several such variations on Gardner's religion are practiced all over the world.
About the Author
Dallas is an experimental mystic who investigates the religions of the world in hopes of uncovering the ultimate fate of the human soul. In his voyages, he often needs to find Wiccan shops and can frequently be seen wearing mysterious and lustrous Wiccan clothing. He wishes you great joy on your own spiritual adventure!
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