Apr 012014

Question by prairiecrow: Fellow Wiccans and Pagans, is Wicca an ancient religion? Was it invented in the 1940s? Does it matter?
Hello all:

Fellow Wiccans and Pagans, is Wicca an ancient religion? Was it invented in the 1940s? Does it matter?

(I believe that it matters very much, but would very much like to see what others have to say.)

Also, what evidence do you think there is for and against either of those positions?

As always, thanks to everyone who takes the time to respond.
Thus Saith the Lord: Thank you for demonstrating the ability of some Christians to (a) completely miss the point of a question, and (b) proselytize when it’s completely inappropriate to do so.

Best answer:

Answer by Thus saith The Lord
Wicca is a neo-pagan religion that has been growing in popularity and acceptance in the United States and Europe. There are many websites and books claiming to teach “real” Wicca, but the truth is, there is no consensus amongst Wiccans as to what the religion is all about. The reason for this is that Wicca, as it is practiced now, is only about 50 years old. Wicca is a belief system that Briton Gerald Gardner cobbled together in the 1940’s and 1950’s from a variety of religious traditions and beliefs as well as Freemason rituals. Since Gardner published several books espousing his system of worship, many offshoots and variations of Wicca have sprung up. Some Wiccans are polytheistic, worshipping more than one deity, while others worship only the “God” or the “Goddess.” Still other Wiccans worship nature, and call it Gaea, after the Greek earth goddess. Some Wiccans pick and choose parts of Christian doctrine to embrace, while others totally reject Christianity. Most practitioners of Wicca believe in reincarnation.

Most Wiccans will vehemently deny that Satan is part of their pantheon, citing major doctrinal differences between themselves and Satanists. Wiccans generally promote moral relativity, disdaining labels like “good” and “evil” and “right” or “wrong.” Wicca has one law or rule, called the Rede: “Do what ye will, harm ye none.” At first blush, the Rede seems like complete, uninhibited personal license. You can do whatever you want, as long as no one gets hurt; however, Wiccans are quick to point out the ripple effect of one’s actions can carry far-reaching consequences. They articulate this principle in the Three-fold Law, which says: “All good that a person does to another returns three-fold in this life; harm is also returned three-fold.”

One major factor that contributes to the abiding fascination with Wicca is the purported use of spells and Magick (a deliberate misspelling intended to separate Wiccans from magicians and illusionists). Curiosity seekers, as well as spiritual neophytes, are most eager to delve into these mysteries. Not all Wiccans practice witchcraft, but those that do claim Magick is to them what prayer is to a Christian. The difference between the two is that Wiccans claim magick is simply using their minds to control matter, or they are appealing to their favorite deity to do them a favor, while Christians call upon an omnipotent, omnipresent God to heal people and to intervene and work in their lives. Because the Rede disallows witches from hurting others and the Three-fold Law spells out the consequences for Rede-breakers, witches who practice magick prefer to call themselves “nature witches” or “white witches” to further distance themselves from Satanists.

Wicca is basically a religion that is about minding your own business and living peaceably with your neighbors and environment. Wiccans are eager to draw parallels between themselves and biblical Christianity for the sake of earning credibility, but what does the Bible have to say about this religion? You won’t find the word “wicca” in the Bible, so let’s evaluate the beliefs in light of what God says about them.

Wicca spells are idolism—Romans 1:25 says, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things, rather than the Creator…” Who wants to settle for second best? In Isaiah 40, God paints a picture of how much greater the Creator is than His creation. If you are worshipping anything besides the Creator, you are not only spinning your wheels, you are guilty of idolatry.

Wiccan spells bring false hope. Hebrews 9:27 says, “…Man is destined to die once, after that, to face judgment.” God says we get one chance at life, and that is it. There are no do-overs. If we don’t accept God’s gift of Jesus in our lifetime, He judges us as unwilling to be in His presence, and we are sent to hell.

Wiccan spells bring disillusionment. Mark 7:8 says, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” God is God, and we are not. We have a decision to make. Are we going to take God at His word and adopt His worldview, or are we not? Knowing God takes a lot of discipline. Wicca is a religion that takes a pack of lies, ties it in a romantic ribbon, and searches out a well-intentioned, but lazy and gullible mark to sell its hollow doctrines.

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, “Let no one be found among you who… practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells…Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…” Wicca witchcraft is a sin and God hates it. Why? Because it is an attempt to cut off our dependence on God and get answers apart from Him.

Sin isn’t just a heinous, socially disagreeable action. Sin is our decision to disagree with God on any topic—to rebel against Him. Sin is saying, “God, I want to live my life my way.” Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans

Add your own answer in the comments!

  16 Responses to “Fellow Wiccans and Pagans, is Wicca an ancient religion? Was it invented in the 1940s? Does it matter?”

  1. It is pretty well established at this point that Wicca is a modern religion that draws inspiration from ancient ones, as well as from Western ceremonial magic. It doesn’t matter, what matters is that if is a fulfilling spiritual path. The idea that there has been an unbroken line of Pagan tradition in Europe throughout the Christian period is totally unfounded and based on bad history and anthropology.

  2. Well dear, consider us the New, Old Religion. The Christians did their best to erradicate us from the earth for about six hundred years. So, with all of that negativity, some information has been lost. But most of it has been restored to us and sol like the Phoenix from the ashes, Wicca is reborn.

    Blessed Be

  3. I think it matters as much as what it is called matters. Nobody can say for sure, but I don’t think Pagans of antiquity would have cared a great deal about what it was called; they probably just practiced what they practiced. I could be wrong, but I think part of that debate is a little overly concerned with hard and fast lines between what is which religion and where one ends and another begins.

    For the record, I do think I’d have to say that Wicca came about around the date you mentioned, but that would have never happened if Gardner didn’t have other sources of information and experiences to work with.

  4. To me personally, I think that Wicca is a combination of old regrouped beliefs and new ones that have roots in the ancient ones.

    As it is, the whole question really doesn’t matter that much to me. I know what I believe and how I want to worship on my path.

    Blessed Be…. Crone

  5. In my experience,wiccans are benign goofballs trying to mystify their mundane lives.
    Nice enough folks,but very lame.

  6. It is a well documented matter of record that the Neo-Pagan religion now known as Wicca was founded in 1939 by an English mystic named Gerald Gardner and was one of a number of attempts dating back to the early 17th century to reconstruct for modern day pre-Christian Western European Paganism. It was first introduced under the name Modern Witchcraft by Gardner in his book “Witchcraft Today” published in 1954 when the British anti-witch laws were repealed. Due to the negative connotations of the term “witch” many practitioners adopted a term coined by a colleague of Gardner’s, Doreen Valientes, “Wicca”, which has come to be understood to refer solely to the Neo-Pagan religion. Writings by Gardner and others document each step of the process.

  7. LOL no it’s not ancient, it was started by Gardner, not everyone follows him

  8. It is NOT an ancient religion. It was started in the 1940′s. How ever, it is BASED on ancient religions.

  9. No, Wicca was not ancient. It was synthesized in the 1940s. For me, the age absolutely doesn’t matter, although it absolutely DOES matter that we are honest about what Wicca is and is not. Also, quite frankly Wicca is easier to understand when you know the correct context.

    Hutton makes a convincing argument for the 1940s date. He can point to lots of modern influences that clearly show up in Wicca. Couple this with the fact that there is NO evidence of something looking like Wicca existing in ancient times.

    Soooo…lots of evidence for the modern date…no evidence for an early date. Seems pretty clear to me.

  10. Merry Meet,

    As per the age of Wicca with two CC’s, it is relatively new per se. But if you are looking at the history of the word and where it came from you will find that is has a long history in the Dutch and German languages. We can argue about the word Wicca, Wica and Wice that it is British or Gaelic, and does not go beyond that. But then this would show how narrow minded we have become, or at least how short sighted if nothing else. We have to remember that neither the Picti nor the Saxon were from British soil. With the introduction of foreign words into a native language we begin to get new words that are similar but still mean the same or similar as the original.

    If it’s the belief system of Wicca that we are really looking at, then we need not go any further, because age is really irrelevant. Especially because many of the practices and belief systems used within the craft by whatever name you wish to use them is ancient and does predate Christianity. I suggest looking toward the Australian Aborigine or the American Indian for examples. Many of both peoples fallow a Shamanistic path (aka. Witchcraft), and many of both peoples believe in a Divine Spirit, a gender polarity and archetypes of the greater whole. Though many now pray or worship them in a Pantheon rather than as limbs of the greater whole, it is still the same principle in the long run.

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss my beliefs on this very touchy subject. Merry Part and Blessed Be


  11. My understanding is that it is a modern version of an ancient religion, not an exact copy but our modern-day interpretation of those spiritual ideas. A good deal of modern Wicca came from mid-19th century writers such as Gardener.

    As to whether it matters – it matters if it matters to those who practice it. I myself do not, as I’m an eclectic type of pagan, but many of my views are Taoist which focuses more on getting to the heart of things, the deep spiritual meanings, rather than getting wrapped up in the particulars.

  12. Wicca itself is a fairly new religion, but takes from ancient cultural and religious practices. It does matter when it comes to standing on the truth of it. But, no one can really claim to have the ancient religions themselves. We are not those ancient people. The practices, had they remained in tact, would still have changed to fit the growth of civilization. Ancient people were mainly farmers… we are not, etc…

    The evidence is there that Gerald Gardner played a large part in bringing to light those ancient practices, as well as filling in any gaps that existed at that time. This in no way changes the fact that ancient people prayed to gods for their crops, lit candles for “spells” (personally, I don’t particularly like using words like spells and magic… seems ppl don’t know how to be rational about such things), did cleasning rituals on their homes, as well as set up shrines to patron deities. Archeology shows that these ideas were fully intact in ancient times… so the practices of Wicca come from ancient religions, but the religion of Wicca itself is fairly new.

  13. It does matter.

    The FACT (not opinion) that Wicca is a 20th century religion, is one reason why it works so well in a modern world.

    Honestly, I’ve never seen a Wiccan make a claim to ancient status, only non-Wiccan Pagans who are self-proclaimed experts.

    Edit: It may make some people uncomfortable that it’s modern, but, frankly, “we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the origins of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.”

  14. Not ancient, barely based in anything ancient, no claim to anything ancient, except Crowley and others decided to adopt and adapt a very few older practices and make them into something new – in the late 1930s, early 1940s.

    It matters greatly because Wicca can and does stand just fine on its own without having to prove ancient legitimacy. It’s not the first religion, nor will it be the last, to borrow, improvise and invent things based on something infitesimal from the past, that wasn’t even central to any past practice anyway.

    Grow up, accept that comparatively the religion is new, and have pride that your religion spread so fast and far in such a short time.

    There is plenty of evidence from notes and documents from Crowley and Gardner that clearly state that they knew it wasn’t ancient, but something new with some adaptations from past religions.

    There is NO evidence – other than the word “wice”- from the past that makes Wiccan anything ancient.

    EDIT- I see several here trying to claim it is ancient – and as labgrrl said – real, serious Wiccans know better and never claim that. And sadly, I’ve met and know the serious practioners, and also the I.R.A.B. and I.R.O.T.I. crowd- the one month HPs. I’m not Wiccan myself, but I do know how to read and do research, especially in history. Sorry folks, Wicca did NOT exist prior to discussions held in 1939. In ANY form. Please stop insulting our ancestors, the herb wives, the healers, the seers by insisting they were Wiccan. They were NOT. It’s like saying every witch is Wiccan, and every Wiccan a witch – fallacies. Please stop spreading them.

  15. I’m going to answer in reverse order.

    Does it matter? Of course, and on several levels. First, knowing the history of something helps get a grasp on how it started, how it got to where it is now, where it’s going, how it evolved… It gives a greater insight and understanding of something. It gives you the big picture, and given the personal responsibilities in Wicca, no Wiccan should be ignorant of their history.

    And, also, just for the sake of honesty, the truth of it should matter.

    As for the first part of your question? No, it’s not ancient. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have some old parts – Gerald drew from an assortment of sources, and snagged some good materials – but just because he picked old stones doesn’t mean it’s not a new building.

  16. It was invented not in the 40′s, but the 50′s. It’s based, however, on ancient traditions. I prefer eclectic wicca because I can incorperate traditions from both my european heritage and my native american heritage, both of which are very old. I don’t think it matters when it was ivnvented. All religions were, at some point.

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