Sunday, June 05, 2005

Recent History of Paganism

While the history of Paganism may go back many of hundreds of years, depending on who you talk to, I want to start with the more recent history of the last hundred years. When I use the term Paganism, I am talking more about Neo-Paganism than I am talking about all Pagan religions, such as that of the aborigines or Native Americans, for example. The type I am talking about is those religions that have seemed to pop up since the 1950’s when Gerald Gardner published a book on Witchcraft after England relaxed their laws on it. I will also include some talk of how Neo-Pagans of this time view the history of their religion in another post at a later date.

The origins of Wicca, and beginnings of the modern neo-pagan movement, seem to start with one man, Gerald Gardner. Here’s a little background on Gardner. Gardner claims that he was initiated into a witch religion by a family of hereditary Witches, including someone named Dorothy Clutterbuck, in the 1930’s.While it has been proven that Clutterbuck existed, many are with the belief that Gardner himself created what we now know as Gardnerian Wicca with influences from Margaret Murray among other anthropologists. Gardner had an interest in Anthropology and the Occult, and wrote a few books about Witchcraft after England repealed its witchcraft laws in 1951.

With the printing of Gardner’s books and many others that followed, interest in Witchcraft soon out paced the availability of covens for training and initiating new Witches. With new books coming out from other people claiming traditions that stretched back in time, many who were new to Paganism learned and practiced that what they saw in books. And then with sources of information revealed, many started to make up their own forms of Wicca.

Those that were in one of these “traditional” groups claimed that one must be initiated into the Craft by a coven to be considered a true Wiccan. Although, self initiation as a Witch became more acceptable after Raymond Buckland, a former Gardnerian, wrote a sort of workbook for those interested in training in his newly announced tradition (1970’s), but didn’t have any contact with anyone involved. The book is call the Complete Book of Witchcraft and is a chapter by chapter instruction or lesson book on Buckland’s Tradition of Seax-Wica, which was created by him after he broke away from the Gardnerian Tradition.

Today, there are so many books about every tradition out there as well as general books about Magick, alters, divination, or any other occult or new age subject out there that one is bound to find something that they think suits them and their beliefs.

This is no way an in depth looks into the history of modern Witchcraft, but a general overview. I just don't have the time to write everything I am learning about Paganism.


Buckland, Raymond - A Complete Book of Witchcraft

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