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The Beginnings Of Modern Wiccan Identity

Aug 29, 2008
In the 1950s, a retired UK government employee named Gerald Gardner declared that he had been initiated into an ancient nature religion based on the European paganism that predated the Christian era. The devotees of this religion were using the name New Forest Coven. Gardner began his attempts to revitalize and reestablish this witchcraft religion by writing and publishing a book entitled "Witchcraft Today," where he attempted to reconstruct the recovered fragments of spiritual philosophy and practice from the New Forest Coven.

He referred to the spiritual tradition as "witchcraft," and described its devotees as "the Wica." He maintained that the term "Wica" came to him from other initiates of the New Forest Coven, and that its use was what keyed him in on the likelihood that "the Old Religion still existed." He asserted, like quite a few modern historians, that the name "Wica" originated from the Olde English word "wicca," which is the etymological forerunner of the more modern word "witch."

There has been some argument regarding the veracity of Gerald Gardner's idea that he was reestablishing an ancient, original, indigenous European religion. A few claimants have argued that Gardner had merely invented the rites and rituals of witchcraft, compiling elements of a few other ancient religious traditions and from contemporary occult practices as needed. Nevertheless, the majority of historians accept that Gardner made his claims in good faith. It seems most likely that Gardner had actually been initiated into a 1900s revival of the original witchcraft that Gardner believed he had found, and not quite an uncontaminated survival of an ancient European religious tradition.

Regardless of the fact that he published witchcraft's beliefs in an attempt to continue the Old Religion for his contemporaries and their descendants, Gardner thought of "witchcraft" as a mystery cult that needed initiation to be completely assimilated and put into practice. A British emigrant named Raymond Buckland received an initiation into the new mystery tradition from Gardner's own coven, which he named the Isle of Man, and later spread the understandings of the Isle of Man back to the United States. The Wiccan religion acquired respect at a very nice pace in the new world, where a social and religious sea change was taking place.

Since the early 1960s, a number of new permutations of Wiccan religion have circulated widely. A number of them have owed their origin to Gardner's own disciples who started their own covens and performed their own initiations. Some other widespread forms of witchcraft have derived from self-initiated mystics and witches who set up their own conceptions of Wiccan spirituality based on the the works of Gardner and those who followed after him. Today a variety of such subsets of Gardnerian witchcraft are increasingly popular in a variety of countries and cultures.
About the Author
Dallas is an experimental mystic who investigates the religions of the world in hopes of piecing together the ultimate destiny of mankind. In his pilgrimages, he frequently needs to find Wiccan stores and can typically be seen wearing lustrous and spiritually charged Wiccan jewelry. He wishes you great wonderment on your own spiritual voyage!
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