Lesson 2: The Origins of Wicca

Lesson 2
The Origins of Wicca

There are many debates about the origins of Wicca. Some say that Gerald Gardner “made it all up” whilst others argue that Gerald Gardner was only passing on rituals and beliefs which he himself was taught in the “New Forest Coven”. The history of Wicca is a huge subject and if you are interested in finding out more we would recommend you obtain copies of the following books for a rounded view:

  • The Triumph of the Moon – by Prof. Ronald Hutton
  • Wiccan Roots – by Philip Hesselton
  • Wicca Magickal Beginnings – Sorita d’Este & David Rankine

However, although the history is an interesting and important part of our inheritance, it is not necessary to be a historian in order to start exploring the beliefs and practices of the Wiccan tradition.

What is true is that regardless of where Wicca originated it has been largely practiced as an initiatory tradition for the last 60+ years. Key figures in its development in Britain include:

o Gerald Gardner
o Doreen Valiente
o Patricia Crowther
o Alex Sanders
o Maxine Sanders
o Stewart Farrar

There are of course many more and today many people continue to carry the torch for the tradition by making available information, sharing ideas, teaching, facilitating covens and giving workshops / lectures on the Craft to those who are interested.

When examining key texts of the tradition – such as those presented to initiates in the Book of Shadows (some of which has been published in “The Witches Bible” by Stewart and Janet Farrar) it is clear that the rituals (although not all the beliefs) has been heavily influenced by three older traditions of magick:

o The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD)
o The Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)
o the Grimoire Tradition (Key of Solomon, Goetia, Heptamaron)

When examining the beliefs and spiritual components of the tradition it becomes clear that this has been influenced by:

  • Ancient Greek and Roman Religion and Magick
  • Celtic and British Folk Customs and Magick
  • Egyptian Religion and Magick
  • Hermetic, Alchemical and Qabalistic thought

Of course there have been many other influences also and it has become increasingly popular and accepted that individual High Priestesses and High Priests adapt their rituals and other workings through experience, passing on both the traditional and revised practices to their own initiates.

Exercise 2
a) Spend some time thinking about what influenced you to find out more about the Wiccan tradition. Was it something you read, experienced or did a friend spark your interest? Make notes about this under the heading “Sparking my Path” (or something like that!) in your notebook. Again this is something that you will return to in time.

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(c) Avalonia 2000
Made available here for free distribution.
The Free Wicca Lessons
www.avalonia.co.uk (2000-2008)

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