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by ~Sio~

The Beginnings Of Modern Wiccan Identity

In the 1950s, a retired UK government employee named Gerald Gardner declared that he had been initiated into an ancient nature religion based on the European paganism that predated the Christian era. The devotees of this religion were using the name New Forest Coven. Gardner began his attempts to revitalize and reestablish this witchcraft religion by writing and publishing a book entitled “Witchcraft Today,” where he attempted to reconstruct the recovered fragments of spiritual philosophy and practice from the New Forest Coven.

He referred to the spiritual tradition as “witchcraft,” and described its devotees as “the Wica.” He maintained that the term “Wica” came to him from other initiates of the New Forest Coven, and that its use was what keyed him in on the likelihood that “the Old Religion still existed.” He asserted, like quite a few modern historians, that the name “Wica” originated from the Olde English word “wicca,” which is the etymological forerunner of the more modern word “witch.”

There has been some argument regarding the veracity of Gerald Gardner’s idea that he was reestablishing an ancient, original, indigenous European religion. A few claimants have argued that Gardner had merely invented the rites and rituals of witchcraft, compiling elements of a few other ancient religious traditions and from contemporary occult practices as needed. Nevertheless, the majority of historians accept that Gardner made his claims in good faith. It seems most likely that Gardner had actually been initiated into a 1900s revival of the original witchcraft that Gardner believed he had found, and not quite an uncontaminated survival of an ancient European religious tradition.


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