Wicca: History

    Points of Interest

The History of Witchcraft by

        The history of Witchcraft is a controversial issue. Some say Witchcraft started when Gerald Gardner came out in 1954 stating that he was a Witch and Witchcraft is indeed a religion. But there are others who have studied and know that Witchcraft is older than any other known religion.

        25,000 years ago, Paleolithic primitives hunted for their livelihood. At that early time to these people, all nature was scary and unexplainable. So what they did was they made a god for everything; a god for the wind, a god for thunder and one for the sun, etc. Since hunting was the most important thing, the god of the hunt was born. Most of the animals hunted were horned animals such as the bison, gazelle and the stag. Therefore, the god of the hunt was soon depicted with horns.

        With the god there was also a goddess, for the primitive men saw in nature both male and female. The goddess was depicted as a female with large, swollen breasts and ripe, fertile, and pregnant stomachs. Consequently, these became their symbols of fertility. The goddess of fertility. Later with the knowledge of farming, the goddess also became the goddess of fertility over the crops.

        In time, primitive man learned how to store food for the winter. The horned god then became a god of nature, as well as the god of death. Primitive man had now developed a belief in life after death, and to follow their beliefs of life after death, had also developed a belief in rebirth. So the goddess became the goddess of fertility and rebirth. For the primitive man knew that life came from the womb of the woman.

        This early beginning of religo-magic came to be, and so a priesthood was born. These few where known as Wicca or "Wise Ones". They were everything to the people; from lawyer, to healer, to mid-wife to priest. These few were better able to lead the rituals of fertility, of the hunt and of the seasonal days that were being marked to be later known as the Wheel of the Year.

        Then Christianity arose, but not as fast as some would say. Christianity, a man-made religion that was not created over thousands of years but in only a few years, began to spread throughout the world. Slowly at first then gaining in power; and with power came greed and destruction. Except for the first thousand years or so since Christianity's birth, Paganism was still the prominent religion. Later, Pope Gregory the Great tried to mass convert pagans by building churches on pagan worshiping sites. At that time, most people were still pagan - so who do you think where building those churches? What the pagans did, was carve pictures of their gods and goddesses and other symbols upon the walls of the newly built churches. Such is evident today, as many churches still carry the ancient symbol of the Green Man.

        In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII lashed out at Paganism and Witchcraft with the help of two German monks, Henrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger. This caused mass hysteria for almost 400 years. With the creation of the Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer) a textbook on how to interrogate a witch, they began their reign of terror. It is estimated by some that throughout this infamous period - which is termed by witches today as the "Burning Times" - that over 9 Million people were murdered.

        There is much more history, a lot more than just what is here. However, these facts are but a brief history of the path of Witchcraft to this date.

        In 1951 the last law against Witchcraft was repealed. With his modern interpretations of an ancient tradition, Gerald Gardner took the helm and lead Witchcraft, or Wicca back from the shadow and into the light. Without him coming forward, who is to say where Witchcraft would be today? He was one of the forefathers of the Wiccan revival. Today Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions. How, you say? Well, since Wiccans don't convert I am asking myself the same question. But, I guess people are starting to break the bonds of ignorance and materialism and are looking for more, looking for their spirit and the growth of their spirituality.

        I hope I have not bored you to tears, but have given to you a brief insight of what Witchcraft is and how it began. From its fragile first step thousands of years ago to its widespread growth of today.

Blessed Be!