Arguing History

For all intents and purposes I’m a “Pagan Minimalist*.” That doesn’t mean my practice is minimal or small, it means that I view Modern Paganism as a relatively recent phenomenon. If you were to ask me how old I think a practice like Modern Wicca is; I would offer you a guess of maybe seventy years on the high end. Seventy years is a pretty long time, but for a lot of people that’s just not long enough. They like to make the argument that Wicca is hundreds if not thousands of years old, and all passed down secretly in a continuous chain. I think our society has a tendency to equate the age of a religion with legitimacy; the older a religion is, the more valid it is. If Wicca is not 1000 years old, to some, it becomes less valid.

For several decades the theory that “Wicca is really old” was a part of our collective DNA. Witches who were executed during “The Burning Times” of the Middle Ages/Renaissance were thought to be practicing the same religion first publicly written about in Gerald Gardner’s “Witchcraft Today” (published in 1954). Some Witches traced their history back even further, equating Modern Witchcraft with ancient Shamanism, or the many pagan religions of antiquity. The idea of Witchcraft as a part of an historical chain stretching back hundreds and even thousands (upon thousands**) of years is very appealing. There’s a romanticism to it; everyone wants a grand and glorious history, and to be a part of something thousands of years old speaks to various parts of the soul.

Unfortunately, as a minimalist, I don’t believe that Modern Witchcraft is legitimately old. That’s not to say that there aren’t “old elements” in it, because there certainly are. The deities many of us honor are ancient, and they are attested to in the historical record. We have mythologies, statues, temples, paintings, etc., we know that they were worshipped. Many times we even have a good idea about how they were worshipped; and very rarely does that worship look like Modern Witchcraft***. (When was the last time you sacrificed an animal to the gods?)

Modern Witchcraft is also a part of the greater “Western Magickal Tradition,” a tradition that includes the great pagan religions of antiquity, the grimoire traditions of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, astrology, tarot, alchemy, Ceremonial Magick, cunning-craft, and the list goes on and on. Many of those elements show up in the Modern Craft, but often those elements are “re-discoveries.” Just because a Ceremonial Magician in the 19th Century used an incantation from a 14th Century grimoire, doesn’t make that incantation something that was continually passed along for 500 years. What it means is that the magician in the 19th Century read a book from the 14th Century and found a new use for an old spell. That’s not a continuous unbroken chain, but it is all a part of the same tradition.

If your family has a history of practicing folk magick, that might very well make some of the things you do hundreds of years old, but folk magick is not Witchcraft. Yes, the two sometimes look alike, but folk magick is usually void of a religious element, or when it contains a religious element, it tends to be Christian in nature. It’s important to remember that the cunning-folk who practiced folk magick tended to use their magick against people accused of witchcraft. What your family did in the past might look similar to Modern Witchcraft, but nobody would have (proudly) called it Witchcraft until the 20th Century. Modern Pagan Religions have the ability to seamlessly absorb lots of elements, that doesn’t mean those elements were originally pagan.

As a minimalist I certainly can’t “prove” to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that Modern Witchcraft probably only dates back to the first half of the Twentieth Century, but I can offer you the evidence that has formed my opinion. (I’m not going to give you that information today, I’m not in the mood to write for twelve hours.) I’m perfectly comfortable with being a minimalist, and I don’t find that any of the romance has been taken out of my religion as a result of it. Even if Wicca is a mostly modern invention; it has a beautiful pedigree steeped in the romantic poetry of the 19th Century and an admirable sense of rediscovery. People who believe that Wicca is two thousand or five hundred years old don’t bother me either, people are always entitled to their opinions, but I’m often bothered by how they frame their arguments.

If you are going to engage me in a discussion on the ancientness or modernity of Witchcraft, you have to make real arguments. You can’t simply say “My family is a part of a four hundred year old Witchcraft tradition,” without offering some collaborative evidence. That’s the same thing as me saying “I own a unicorn” and then refusing to show that unicorn to you to prove that it exists. When I argue the more unpopular “Wicca is a modern phenomenon” viewpoint I’m rarely approached with facts or evidence. Usually what happens is a piling on of “Yeah, you tell him Aunt Matilda! She said something so it must be true!”

This very thing happened to me recently when I expressed my displeasure with a very old internet essay talking about “Traditional Crafters” who pre-date Gerald Gardner. Now there’s nothing wrong with the idea that a Witchcraft tradition could pre-date Gardner, and I believe it’s highly possible, I just doubt that it’s necessarily centuries old. What was most disturbing about the whole piece was that the only evidence for the existence of “Traditional Crafters” came from the person writing the essay. I could write an essay today about Jesus being an aspect of the Horned God, but that wouldn’t make it true. Making a valid historical argument requires facts, and if you can’t provide those facts, you should expect criticism.

There’s a tendency when engaging in the “Wicca is old/not old” argument for some people to claim secret knowledge, but scholars (and the rest of us) can’t make an informed opinion when all we have to go on is your “secret knowledge.”. If you’ve got proof that Wicca is three thousand years old, then share it with the rest of us. If that proof can’t be shared, then don’t bring it up, because at that point it’s not proof at all. The argument that the material exists and is simply a part of an “oath-bound tradition” doesn’t work either. Gardner’s Book of Shadows was first (illegally) published just months after his passing. If there was real documentation out there, it would have been leaked (or stolen) by now. The Freemasons are a secret society and their rituals have been available since 1866! Secrets are hard to keep.

Those of us who walk the minimalist path aren’t out to disparage The Craft, or ridicule its origins, we’ve simply followed the majority of the evidence. That evidence is constantly changing as well. If you had asked me in 2001 if Gerald Gardner had been initiated into a coven of Witches back in 1939 I probably would answered in the negative. Today, I’d tell you that I think he was initiated back then (though that doesn’t make what he was initiated anything more than a few decades old). There’s a lot of work left to be done in researching the origins of Modern Paganism, and as a minimalist, I hope I’m eventually proven wrong. Until then, I’ll continue to make the less sexy argument, and when you argue with me about it, remember to use facts that can be documented.

Jason Mankey is a Pagan writer and lecturer, and will be spending a month on the road this summer visiting various Pagan festivals. He lives in Northern California with his wife Ari and two cats. You can visit him on the web at www.panmankey.com or find him on Facebook.

*I’m stealing the word “minimalist” here and using it in a context similar to Biblical Minimalism. Biblical Minimalists tend to discount the historic personage of figures like David and Solomon. For the record, I’m a Biblical Minimalist as well.

**If you buy into the Margaret Murray thesis it’s possible that Witchcraft is over 15,000 years old, dating back to the French Cave Painting known as “The Sorcerer.” That would make Witchcraft the world’s oldest religion, and the Horned God the oldest deity.

***I did say “very rarely” there, because there are moments when similarities occur. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in the middle connecting the two. Had it not been for emergence of Christianity I think Pagan Antiquity would have come up with something similar to Modern Wicca, but they didn’t quite get the chance.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Lazarus Kyraphia

    Excellent post!

  • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

    Hello Jason,

    I think you make some reasonable points in this post – and I certainly agree that most forms of contemporary paganism are a reinvention rather than a revival.

    However, I would like to make a few observations, being as it would seem not nearly so ‘minimalist’ as you.

    First, you appear to use ‘Wicca’ and ‘witchcraft’ interchangeably; personally I am a little more careful about that. Wicca is an initiatory tradition (or at least, it was before Scott Cunningham…) whereas witchcraft, I would argue, is defined primarily by its *practices* – and ones that can be utilized by individuals irrespective of their religious beliefs. Old Italian nonnas using malocchio (the ‘evil eye’) on a neighbor before popping off to Confession with the village priest, is my favorite example.

    Which brings me to my second point: it is important to distinguish between witchcraft as a religion, and witchcraft as ritual magic. When considered as the latter, as a *practice*, academics (Ronald Hutton for example) are now beginning to find considerable continuities, both from text to text, and person to person, back through the centuries.

    So, you might argue, correctly, that we don’t sacrifice animals to the gods in the way that our pagan ancestors did. However, I fail to see any essential difference between a young virgin in Ancient Rome secretly performing divination to ascertain the name of her future suitor (and possibly throwing a lead curse-tablet down a well when said suitor goes to woo her best friend), and a high-school sophomore doing more or less the same thing in today’s world.

    That said, like you I don’t see the need for an unbroken centuries-long lineage to establish the authenticity of a tradition – Protestantism was founded upon the premise that one could entirely skip over centuries of Catholicism and return to the source texts of early Christianity to renew the faith. Barring the double standards that seem to apply in the landscape of modern religion in the West, I see no reason why contemporary paganism can’t do the same.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601178231 Jason Mankey

      You’re right I didn’t really differentiate between “Witchcraft” and “Wicca,” and for some people there are distinct differences between those words.  One could conceivably use “Witchcraft” (capitol “W”) nearly interchangeably with Wicca, indicating a religion first written about by Gerald Gardner in 1954.  ”witchcraft” with a small w is more problematic and can be looked at in a number of ways.  There’s the method used in anthropology where “witchcraft” is applied to a multitude of indigenous belief systems.  Usually “witch” and “witchcraft” are written about in a negative way in such a context.

      We also sometimes use the words “witch” and “witchcraft” to indicate a type of European folk magick.  This folk magick is almost* always either devoid of religion, or uses Christian imagery, and if someone was called a witch for using it 150 years ago, the term was almost certainly laced with hostility.  (“That witch gave me the evil eye,” to cite your example.)  I would hesitate to call that “ceremonial magick” since ceremonial magick often refers to the magick of the grimoire traditions or the magick of the Golden Dawn.  I’ve never thought of spells being used in the kitchen as “ceremonial magick” (even if there was a ceremony involved).  To the English, this would have often been referred to as “cunning-craft,” though in the last 70 years it has become far more popular to call it “witchcraft.”  

      I’ve seen the word “witch” applied to all sorts of people who simply use folk magick in their daily lives to improve their situation.  Many of these individuals are Christians, or don’t subscribe to a specific belief system at all.  I think this is a rather new development and comes from the rehabilitation of the word witch over the last 100 years or so.  

      I’d make the argument that in the United States Wicca and Witchcraft are used rather interchangeably.  I don’t think this is the case in Great Britain where Wicca has remained generally an initiation only faith.  The problem in the United States (and judging from your comments above, I’m betting you agree with me) is that you can’t control language and when your bookshelf has 15 books on it that say “Wicca,” you probably feel pretty justified calling yourself a Wiccan, despite what the High Priestess down the road might think.    

      (Of course now you have me wanting to write the “Witch/Wiccan/witch” post, which I probably should have tacked on here, but since Star only pays me peanuts-literally-I couldn’t justify getting around to it.)   

      You made the point about magickal systems surviving intact for centuries, and I whole heartedly agree with you.  There’s plenty of evidence for that, cunning-folk have spell books that have been passed around for hundreds of years.  I just don’t think they called themselves witches in 1750 (for rather obvious reasons), so they wouldn’t have been practicing witchcraft.  

      There’s also the tendency to assume that only Witches (or Pagans) use magick.  This has never been the case, it’s quite easy to use magick in a Christian or Jewish context.  The example you cite of a high school sophomore and a young Athenian virgin comes to mind, that sophomore could certainly be a Christian.  Magick is easily removed from religion.  That lead tablet might have the name of Jesus or the Virgin Mary on it in 2012 (or, more likely Bella Swan, but we don’t need to go there do we?).  If a Pagan girl does it, you’re right, it’s very similar to what an Athenian virgin might have done 2800 years ago, but it probably hasn’t been continually passed down over the generations.  There’s a part of me that’s a Hellenic Reconstructionist, so I’ve tried hard to recreate Ancient Greek Religion in my backyard, even then it’s probably radically different, despite my best efforts.  

      As you can see from this rather long missive, I quite enjoyed your reply as it brought up a lot of the points I failed to.  Thanks for the thoughtful post.   

      *There have been a few instances where Classical deities are used, though it’s likely that the classical deities were a recent addition.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

        Love the article, but I would definitely argue the point of “Wicca” and “witchcraft” being interchangeable in the US.  I strongly believe in Wicca as a religion, witchcraft as a magical practice.  As a non-Wiccan witch, I practice a form of religious witchcraft, a mix of the two.
        As Raven Grimassi, stated in his book “Old World Witchcraft” that, “The term Wicca and witchcraft formally split into two different definitions.  Wicca became the religion of witches, and witchcraft was now separately its magical practice.”

      • Henry

        I’m reminded of G.I. Gurdjieff here, “for an exact study and exact language is needed”. Much of the argument stems around the terms. There’s a lot of political baggage involved with the term witch, whether you capitalize it or not. You make a great point when you say, ” There’s the method used in anthropology where “witchcraft” is applied to a multitude of indigenous belief systems. Usually “witch” and “witchcraft” are written about in a negative way in such a context.”

        However, it doesn’t seem you applied that to “There’s plenty of evidence for that, cunning-folk have spell books that have been passed around for hundreds of years. I just don’t think they called themselves witches in 1750 (for rather obvious reasons), so they wouldn’t have been practicing witchcraft.”
        Yes it is apparent that  cunning folk would not have called themselves witches in that time period, yet if something went ‘wrong’ as it were, they most probably would have been labelled as such. That’s part of the political baggage.
        For a more ‘exact’ study, perhaps the term magical craft would be more fitting.

        A lot of the difficulty with this subject does stem from the anthropological study. Murray, and partly Frazer, and some older writers on the subject worked from a premise based on a religious organization based on similar practices. If x,y,and z, all have similar practices there must be a similar underlying belief. There is an underlying belief, however, it wasn’t any specific organised belief, but a more simpler one, and more organic as it were. That simpler organic root of magical craft is what is termed as animism. As Andrew pointed out, it’s about practices and the underlying belief or philosophy which those practices demonstrate.
        I’m thinking when you write that, “I’ve seen the word “witch” applied to all sorts of people who simply use folk magick in their daily lives to improve their situation. Many of these individuals are Christians, or don’t subscribe to a specific belief system at all. I think this is a rather new development and comes from the rehabilitation of the word witch over the last 100 years or so.”   by specific belief system you’re referring to a specific theological belief system, yet they do hold a specific yet simple magical belief system.

        I agree with the idea you offer in that magical craft doesn’t depend on any single religious view, but it does depend on a simpler magical view. I would also tend to agree with Andrews view that in regards to present common usage, Wicca is a particular religious view, witchcraft whether capped or not refers the magical side, irrespective of religious view.

  • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

     Hi Jason,

    Now that I have controlled the nosebleed from your mention of Bella Swan, I can offer a few more comments.

    You are right, small ‘w’ witchcraft has nearly always been set against orthodox religious sensibilities, and condemned accordingly – with the exception of Ancient Egypt.

    But if we are guilty of projecting terms like ‘witchcraft’ back on people (like cunning-men) who would have shunned the term, we are likewise guilty with the term ‘pagan’. This too was a label applied, often back through time, to people for whom the term was not a self-identifier or lived-in reality.

    Therefore, if it is acceptable to label the Athenians of 2500 years ago as recognizably pagan, based on what they *did*, I think it is reasonable to apply the same logic to practitioners of cunning-craft who were, for all intents and purposes, witches too.

    The other issue, and one that I touch on in my book*, is that popular fears concerning magic and witchcraft are, traditionally speaking, highly gendered. Men in the Middle Ages were more likely to be identified with ritual magic that was rational, celestial, literary (‘white magic’) and women with magic that was intuitive, earthy, oral (‘black magic’).

    I am a bit wary of your assertion that “If a Pagan girl does it, you’re right, it’s very similar to what an
    Athenian virgin might have done 2800 years ago, but it probably hasn’t
    been continually passed down over the generations.” Unless you are positing some kind of atavistic rediscovery – which I suppose cannot be discounted completely – I would suggest that fairly self-evidently forms of ritual magic have been passed down *somehow*.

    My last point is that while you are right that ritual magic can be devoid of religion, or at least devoid of the classical deities now being reclaimed by the modern pagan movement, *some* of those deities, such as Hekate, do seem to lend themselves very easily to witchcraft, reappearing here and there down through the centuries.

    Thank you for the stimulating dialogue!

    * See http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/114560

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601178231 Jason Mankey

      I whole heartedly agree with you on almost every issue there.  The pagans of antiquity would not have considered themselves “pagans.”  Lumping them all together is a modern invention, though one used in academia and everywhere else.  

      Until the last 150 years magick was divided by gender, but it was also probably divided by economics and access to education.  It would be near impossible to be a part of the grimoire tradition-summoning angles and demons-if you were illiterate.  Since women were likely to get less education, “higher magick” was always going to be associated with men by default.  There were plenty of male cunning-folk, but certainly during the witch trials it was far easier to “gang up” on women since they were accorded lower status during that period.

      I’m still not convinced that just because two spells are similar that they were passed down in a continual chain.  When I’ve seen people try to prove such things there are always long gaps in the historical record.  My thought is “if someone thought of it 2500 years ago, why couldn’t someone else have thought about it 800 years ago?”  I’m rather convinced that most people have a “pagan impulse,” they want to do ceremonies that reflect the change of the seasons, etc.  I also think people are drawn to magick and sometimes “just do it,” without much thought, it’s inevitable that much of it is going to look like what came before.  (You could also make the argument that perhaps they are hearing echoes of a past life inside of themselves.)  It’s also possible that some “spells” were passed down for 2500 years, but I think the religious context of them would have changed or been removed.   

  • PhaedraHPS

    Good post. It’s amazing that this argument still needs to be made, but there you are. When people talk about “unbroken traditions,” I don’t just think about moderns doing animal sacrifices, I try to imagine people calling quarters and dancing in a circle on the Acropolis. Um, no. Ancient Paganism didn’t work like that.

    It’s interesting to note that the Romans, for example, didn’t consider something “religion” unless it was old. If a practice did not have an ancient and venerable history (by their standards) it was not a religious practice, it was superstition. It’s extremely common in human history to frame a new religious movement as something that is actually old, either by claiming it has been “rediscovered,” or has been somehow purified, thus returned to what the ancient founders meant it to be. It’s rare to say it’s new, but not so rare to say “New! and Improved!”

    It’s also key to remember that nothing comes out of a vacuum. Of course you’ll find pre-existing elements in a modern creation — how could you not? But that doesn’t mean that the the shape, execution, and interpretations of the way those component parts were brought together are not new. I don’t think that makes it bad, I think it makes it brilliant and creative.

  • Juliebabin82

    “There’s a romanticism to it; everyone wants a grand and glorious history, and to be a part of something thousands of years old speaks to various parts of the soul.” Well said and so very true for some.

  • Henry

    I’m an old crafter, I won’t claim I am hereditary, yet I was first taught by hereditary crafters.
    They were trustworthy honorable persons. I have no reason to doubt them nor do I think they labored under a falsehood. They had no reason to be ‘making it up’, or fabricating some exotic line of descent for validation.
    Nor do they have any inclination or need to prove what they say to academicians and scholars. They simply do not care.

    The biggest obstacle to academicians and scholars in trying to find any evidence is that old craft is predominantly oral tradition and as you say secretive. There are no written documents, and what may have been commited to paper would only be recent. I.E perhaps within the last few hundred years. There is a limit to proof through documentation or lack of it. By the lack of it,  one could say that native american traditions only go back as far as the documentation made by European explorers.Another aspect of that would be the well know case of Schleimann and Mycenea and Illiyum. Until then Homer’s epics were thought to be “fantasy all way ’round”. Documental evidence can be a really tricky thing :-)

    The reason behind the secrecy has less to do with any persecution, and more to do with magical principles. Another aspect is it IS more or less hereditary, and so less apt to betrayal. When they do accept an outsider, that outsider will not be privy to anything until they are well vetted and tested. I think it highly unlikely that the few I know of will be in any rush to provide information to Scholars or Academics, because as you mention, they won’t be able to satisfy academic rigor of proof. Actually, being “proven” to not exist suits them very well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=601178231 Jason Mankey

      For the most part I don’t think there are a whole lot of deliberate falsehoods out there.  However, I could see people getting very confused about what was in their old “crafting tradition” and what they inserted later after Gardner and others came out of the broom closet.
      Since I believe in the continuation fo magickal traditions, perhaps someone has a tradition that is extremely compatible with a Pagan/Wiccan worldview.  Once they are exposed to that worldview it very organically works its way into their magickal tradition.  This isn’t a falsehood by any means, and could feel so absolutely “right” that the insertion seems like it’s been there forever.  I think instances like this have certainly happened, and it’s an example of what many scholars call the “Gardnarian Magnet.”

      If there are real “Witchcraft” traditions they should have marked differences from the practices of Gerald Gardner.  With a few exceptions, this doesn’t seem to have happened.  (Robert Cochrane springs to mind, though many of his contemporaries thought he created his tradition, and then there’s (Victor and Cora Anderson’s) Feri in the United States, which is drastically different from anything else.)  Most traditions seem to have ritual structure similar to Gardner, though perhaps they had something else previously and then adapted the system he helped popularize because they found it effective.  

      I WANT an old tradition to come to light.  I think it would be awesome, and it’s certainly not impossible.  I just dislike arguing the origins of the Craft with people who can’t offer a verifiable argument.   

      Thanks for your input.  Lots of good discussion here.    

      • Henry

        You welcome. I suppose I was remiss in giving a time period for when I first encountered the craft via this family. We’re talking mid ’70′s. it would be another 15 years (1990′s) or so before I even became aquainted with Gardnerian style craft,which was a whole different ball game as it were.The persons I first learned craft from were pretty meticulous in regards to provenance of material.They made a point of keeping hereditary material distinct fron any syncretic additions.
        I’m not a fan of arguing the origins either, mainly for reasons stated above. There’s just no way I or any hereditary craft can verify it to the satisfaction of academic rigor.

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    The problem is that once we trace Wicca back to Gardner, then what? To say that Wicca itself is X years old begs the question of where Wicca itself comes from.

    In historical terms Wicca is only slightly younger than the Souther Baptist Convention, which was founded in 1845. Christian Science didn’t begin until 1875, around the same time as the Jehovah Witnesses. Many Christian sects are of even more recent origin. The largest Pentecostalist group in the world, the Assemblies of God, was founded in 1914. But most people accept these sects as part of a much older religious tradition known as Christianity, just as Wicca should be understood as part of a much older, and must broader, religious tradition known as Paganism.

    One can choose to emphasize the modern-ness of Wicca, but why deny, or “minimize”, the ancient roots of Wiccan beliefs and practices? The great historian Howard Zinn once said that “if you don’t know your history, it’s as if you were born yesterday.”

    • http://profiles.google.com/celticelk Scott Martin

      Despite the recent vintage of many Christian denominations, the Christian community of practice extends in an unbroken line back to the Pauline churches.  There has been a continuous community of worshippers identifying themselves as Christians across that entire period, and the history that leads to the formation of those recent denominations is easily traceable.  In my opinion – and I know you’ll disagree, because we’ve had this argument before – you *cannot* say the same about modern Paganism.  Either the component elements were transmitted textually, and are therefore discontinuous in terms of a community of practice, or they were subsumed under a self-consciously Christian (or Muslim, in some areas) religious identity, which is to say that if you asked a “folk magic” practitioner what religion she was, she would most likely reply that she was a Christian.  I’m sensitive to the argument that persecution might well have made open profession of a Pagan religious identity impossible, but in the absence of data that indicates that people of the time *actually held* covert Pagan religious identities, I think the furthest that argument takes us is to say “we don’t know for certain.”

      I know that you’re openly dismissive of Hutton, but the entire first half of *Triumph of the Moon* was devoted to showing that the various concepts that appear in Gardner’s Wicca had cultural currency in the Britain of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This is not *proof* that Gardner invented Wicca out of whole cloth rather than receiving it as a transmitted tradition, but it does substantially preclude an argument from novelty that would bolster the latter, and in the absence of better evidence regarding Gardner’s hypothetical sources, I think that the historical position that Wicca is most likely a creation of Gardner is a reasonable default.  I also agree with Hutton that such a position is not necessarily a criticism of Wicca’s spiritual validity; it’s simply a position on its historical roots.  If individual practitioners have views on Wicca’s validity that depend on it having ancient roots, that’s their responsibility.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        Most Protestant sects explicitly reject, as a fundamental tenet of their theology, any continuity with the Catholic Church. In fact, the advent of Protestantism was based on the conclusion that the Catholic Church was not only mired in error, but had in fact become an instrument of Satan.

        Rather than claiming any kind of nice smooth continuous “lineage”, which would require them to acknowledge that the Church that they split asunder was still a viable instrument of Christian teaching and practice, which would cast Luther, Calvin & Co. as the destroyers of Christian unity, Protestantism claims to be a restoration of the early church, leaving a gap of about 1000 years, give or take.

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  • Macineely

    My great-great grandmother was accused of being a witch.However,assuming the possibility she was one,it had nothing to do with Wicca.Plus,I’m not even sure she was my great-great grandmother,since my great-grandmother was boinking the workmen who lived with them.


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