History of Witchcraft

Historically, the name Witchcraft has been used to refer to two unrelated and often mutually exclusive religions: The roots of this confusion can be traced back to Europe during the Witch burning times of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Wiccans were accused of worshipping Satan and selling their soul to him. This false belief continues today, and is still being actively promoted by some Christians.

This paper will deal with the religion of Wicca only. It is unrelated to Satanism. There have been many references in the books, media, etc which attempt to differentiate between the two very different religions.

Wicca, is a reconstruction of an ancient Pagan religion of Northern Europe which pre-dates the Christian era. It can be directly traced back to the writings of:

According to Gardner, Wicca:

Relationship between Witchcraft and Christianity

The first missionary to the Celts was probably St. Paul. His conversion of the Celtic land of Galatia is recorded in his Epistle to the Galatians of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). Later Missionaries and the Roman army gradually spread Christianity across Europe, easily converting the rulers and the Druidic priesthood, but having less success in bringing the common folk to the new religion.

Much of Christianity was derived from Wicca, Druidism and other Pagan sources; this 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.

In order to gain a complete religious monopoly, the Christian Church decided during the 15th century to hunt down and burn believers in the Old Religion. The Church created an imaginary wicked religion, and said that Wiccans were evil Witches who followed that religion, sold their sold to Satan, etc. 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; 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 overtaken 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.

Wicca is the only religious group of significant size whose members are persecuted in North America. Many Assaults, arson, economic attacks are reported yearly. There have even been shootings and one public stoning! The perpetrators of this religious hatred are usually very devout, very concerned but terribly misinformed people. They believe the misinformation that has been spread about Wiccans continuously since the Middle Ages. It is only in Eastern Massachusetts, Southern California and in a few cities in North America that most Wiccans feel secure while coming out of the (broom) closet.

Wiccan Beliefs

Their beliefs include:

Wiccan Practices

Their practices include:
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