Origin of Wicca
By Terri Paajanen
Understanding the origin of Wicca is not the same thing as the origin of witchcraft because they have very different histories. Mainly because they are very different things in the first place. If I've already confused you, you should read a bit more on the Wiccan religion before continuing.
The origins of Wicca start with Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. That's right, not hundred or thousands of years ago. The spiritual path known as Wicca began when he published a book called "Witchcraft Today" that outlined the nature of Wicca. He claimed that he had come across an ancient coven that followed Wicca and had gotten his information from them, that it was an age-old practice that had been passed down through the generations in Britain. It was the New Forest Coven, and he stated that he had personally been initiated into the group by Old Dorothy Clutterbuck in 1939. Unfortunately, most of these stories remain unproved.
Given that a lot of his information seemed to come from a mix of folk practices and Ceremonial magick leads people to believe that Wicca was almost certainly a creation that came from Gardner himself. And though that is not quite as interesting a story as the secret hidden coven, it doesn't really change the nature of the religion. All religions have to start somewhere and they all begin with some person's ideas. This is no different.
The original form of Wicca was very coven-oriented and you could only learn the details of the practice by being initiated into a coven and learning from them. But Scott Cunningham wrote a book in 1988 titled "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" which presented a complete form of Wicca that could be pursued by anyone, regardless of coven-membership. This is still one of the most read books on Wicca there is, and it has allowed many people to discover this spiritual practice without having to find and join a coven.
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