PowerPoint Presentation - Witchcraft Myth to Reality

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					Witchcraft: Myth to Reality

    Laura A. Wildman-Hanlon
“Witchcraft is a form of magic whereby with
  the with the help of a demon one man
  does an injury to another. “

           Compendium Malificarum (1486)
“Witchcraft was not only the secret religion
  of the outcasts of society it was also the
  cult of people who did not conform in
  whatever walk of life they found
  themselves … The word “Witch” means
  ‘wise one,’ and a person cannot be made
  wise, they have to become wise. This is
  the real meaning of Witchcraft.”
                       Doreen Valiente, 1973
So, how did we get from this…
To This?
         The Burning Times

Witch Persecution:
  Middle Ages (5th to 14th centuries)
  Heightened between 1550 -1650,
     During the religious strife of the
Sharp decline after 1650
Disappearance in the 18th century –
  beginning of the Age of Enlightenment.
    The Age of Enlightenment
• Began in 1700 – used to describe the
  period in European history when
  rationalism was coming to replace
  unquestioned faith in the authority of
  church and state
• The central theme of the Enlightenment is
  the effort to humanize religion, to look at
  religion and magic as expression of man’s
  intellect as opposed to divine providence.
  Magical Thought Never Died!

• Western esoteric tradition is made up of a
  group of texts on magic and occult groups

• Esoteric: obscure, something understood
  with special knowledge or training. Hidden.
  Modern Magical Movements

In the 18th century – magicians began
  banding together in magical societies such
  as the Freemasons, the Rosicrucian,
  Illuminati, Theosophical Society and The
  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Aleister Crowley
                 Dion Fortune

             Founder, Society of Inner Light
Her worked, combined with Crowley, forms the basis of the
                Western mystery tradition.
       The Industrial Revolution
• 1748 Pompeii was uncovered.
• The Rosetta stone translation stirs more interest
  in ancient Egypt and Greece
• Anthropologist and folklorists began to start
  developing theories of Pagan survivals.
• There was a rise of Romanticism of the Pastoral
• Towards the end of the 19th century books
  emerged suggesting that Goddess worship had
  not be completely suppressed in Europe.
  Sir James George Frazer

The Golden Bough, a Study in Magic and Religion
       Charles Leland

Charles Leland            Maddalena
 Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, in 1890
   Robert Graves

The White Goddess (1948)
         Margaret Murray

The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921)
       God of the Witches (1933)
               Gerald Gardner

Coined the term Wicca and popularized contemporary Paganism
               Doreen Valiente

Gardner’s High Priestess and helped developed versions of
  the Gardnerian Book of Shadows
       Raymond Buckland
                 (1934 - )

Brought Gardnerian Tradition to US in 1963
       Modern Movement in the US

Margot Adler             Starhawk
Drawing Down the Moon    The Spiral Dance
            Why Now?
     Many things came together

• The Counter-Culture / Hippie movement of
  the 60’s
• Modern Women’s movement
• The Ecology movements
• The Gay and Lesbian counter- culture
• Social Activism movements
• New Age community
• The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) places the
  number at 750,000 members

• A Poll conducted in 1999 by the Covenant of the Goddess
  (CoG), affirmed the number as 768,400 Neo-Pagans in the
  United States.

• According to, in 2005 Neo-Paganism had
  approximately 1 million members in the United States.

• This site also lists Wicca/Neo-Pagans as being the 10th largest
  religion and the 7th largest organized religion in North
• Wicca is a contemporary Earth-based
  religion that acknowledges the sacred
  found within Nature
• It honors the Divine in the forms of both a
  God and Goddess.
• It has no standard creed, official system of
  doctrines or dogma. No authoritative text
  or holy book.
      Witches and Wiccans
• Not all Witches consider themselves
  members of the Wiccan religion,
  although the vast majority of Wiccans
  do call themselves Witches.

• Wicca is one form of Neo-Paganism
  and modern Witchcraft. All Wiccans are
  Pagan, but not all Pagans are Witches.
      British Traditional Witches
           Wiccan Traditions
• Gardnerian: the first Wiccan Tradition.
  Published in 1951 in “Witchcraft Today”

• Alexandrian: Similar to Gardnerian but uses
  more ceremonial magical principals in its

• Seax Wica: 1973 Raymond Buckland broke
  away from the Gardnerian Tradition and founded
  his own Tradition which he called, Seax-Wica.
 Other Magically Based Popular Pagan
• The Church of All Worlds (CAW) In 1968 became the
  first Pagan religion in the United States to be federally
  recognized. Based from a science fiction novel “Stranger
  in a Strange Land”

• Church of Wicca: Gavin and Yvonne Frost In 1972
  became the first recognized church of witchcraft in the
  United States. Mail order tradition.

• American Faery (Feri) Tradition: founded by poet
  Victor Anderson (1917-2001) and bard Gwydion
  Pendderwen. Borrowed much from Gardner but favors a
  spontaneous ritual approach.
• Reclaiming: based on the Feri Tradition.
  combines self-empowerment with
  spirituality with political activism. Known
  for its “Witch Camps”
• Dianic Tradition: focus on the Goddess
  Diane and the divine feminine
  – Dianic Wicca
  – Mixed-Gender Dianic Wicca

• NROOGD: The New Reformed Orthodox
  Order of the Golden Dawn
• Reconstructionist: reproduce, as best as
  can be actualized, the rites and practices
  of ancient Pagan cultures
  – Ásatrú & Druidic are a reconstructed Pagan

• Generic / Eclectic / Solitary: Self-created
  from books and personal experiences

• Hereditary Witchcraft: FamTrad, Family
     What Have We Learned?
• During the Reformation, the accusation of being
  a Witch could have deadly consequences.
• Despite this, magical thought and practice in the
  form of occult science, texts and groups
• The Age of Enlightenment fostered a new look at
  religion and belief.
• Which developed in the 18th Century into the
  creation of Secret Magical Societies
• The Industrial Revolution brought in romantic
  notions of the pastoral countryside and of a time
• Authors such as Frazer, Murray, Leland and
  Graves feed into the idea of hidden but surviving
  folk Pagan practices, while ceremonial
  magicians such as Crowley and Dion Fortune
  continued fostering the magical mystery
• In the 1940s Gerald Gardner coined the term
  Wicca and started the most popular of the Neo-
  Pagan Traditions.
• The ideas come to North America in the 1960s
  where it took hold and spread, developing into
  countless numbers of Pagan Traditions.
• Stemming from magical occult
• Combined with folk traditions
• and embracing as sacred the natural
  seasons and cycles of life
• Wicca, modern Witchcraft, has
  transformed into a new RELIGION.

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