History of Wicca

Wicca began in prehistory, as ritual associated with fire, the hunt, animal fertility, plant propagation, tribal fertility and the curing of disease. Witches in their community had to be the doctor, the priest, among other things.

It developed into a religion which recognized a Supreme Deity, but realized that at their state of evolution, they "were incapable of understanding it". Instead, they worshiped what might be termed "under-Gods": the Goddess of fertility and her horned consort, the God of the hunt.

Wiccans continued their predominately Moon based worship, even as a mainly Sun-based faith of priests, the Druids, developed and evolved into the dominant religion of the Celts. By this time, Celtic society had gradually spread across Northern Europe into what is now England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland etc. They never formed a single political entity, but remained as many tribes who shared a common culture and religions.

Wicca reached a low ebb by the middle of the 20th century. Much of the theology and ritual had been lost. Wiccan covens had become so isolated that they had lost contact with each other.

Much of Christianity was derived from Wicca, Druidism and other Pagan sources. Which includes the sites of many cathedrals, the lives of many Christian saints (who were really pagan Goddesses and Gods), and many Christian holy days. There are many vestiges of Paganism which remain a part of our culture; e.g. Groundhog Day, Christmas, May Day, Halloween, the names of the days of the weeks and months of the year, common sayings, numerous traditions associated with holidays, etc. Refer to The Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft for more information on the similarities between traditional Wicca holidays and Christian holy days.

In order to gain a complete religious monopoly, the Christian Church decided during the 15th century to hunt down and burn believers of the Old Religion. The Church created an imaginary wicked religion, and said that Wiccans were evil Witches who followed that religion, sold their soul to Satan, etc (which is truly difficult since we don't believe in "satan"). Hundreds of thousands of suspected witches were exterminated during these "burning times" which lasted until 1792 in Europe and into the 1830's in South America. The Roman Catholic church burned witches, and the Protestant churches hung them. Wiccans went underground, and stayed out of sight until the middle of the 20th century.

Wicca emerged from the shadows in England in the 1950's with the publishing of books by Gerald Gardner. It has expanded at a furious rate in North America and Europe. They total about 200,000 in North America, where they have surpassed in numbers such established religions as Buddhism, the Quakers, and Unitarian-Universalism. The Canadian Census of 1991 recorded 5,530 Neo-Pagans, which would be mostly composed of Wiccans. However, the actual number is believed to be much greater, as many Wiccans are known to lie to the census taker rather than expose themselves to physical harm in the event that their faith became publicly known.

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