History of Witchcraft

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History of Witchcraft
Post # 1

When it comes to the history of witchcraft the first thing people think of is the Celts, the Salem Witch Trials, and the Burning Times. What a lot of people forget though is that the history of the craft is still being shaped in the modern times, but we will get to the old times later in the lessons.

In the here and now, authors and well known witches like Selena Fox, Raymond Buckland, and even Rev. Don Lewis (of witchschool), all have been shaping the world of witchcraft as we know it to be. Raymond Buckland is a well known author who teaches folk magic and Seax witchcraft, where Selena Fox fights for pagan rights, and Rev. Don Lewis of witchschool, puts information out there for all to learn in their own time. Even you have your part to play in the big scheme of things. Some of you will grow up to be well known witches, who pass on the knowledge to others, either in a coven, through art work, and some as authors and musicians. The things we do today are what shape our history.

Because of this I’m starting your lesson here on the history of witchcraft, as it is made in the here and now, and what you do today adds to the rich and beautiful history of our craft. In just the past year, we’ve heard of witches still being persecuted, like the young lady who lost her job in a Bed Bath and Beyond because she wanted Samhain (Halloween) off. We’ve also seen or heard of the triumph of having the pentacle placed on war veterans graves who didn’t make it back alive and the hard struggle in which those who fought were put up against.

This is a lesson on watching as history is made. Seeing what you can do to find your niche in the greater scheme, even if it’s just helping out a local charity, we witches are all over. Stepping up and helping, being quite and observant, we are everywhere and always helping.

Assignment 1

The Assignment for this simple lesson is for you to find an article on something that deals with witchcraft, whether it be a favorite author, or someone’s work that you’ve never really looked into before, and type up how you think it could be a moment in history that would be worth remembering. As Young and upcoming witches most of you are, you have to learn to be observant and willing to learn something new, so find what something that interests you, whether it be from the net, a news paper, or even from a local new channel or CNN. Try to keep the article within a minimum of the past year. I also want you to think of ways you can help your local community (for example: helping out at a nursing home, or even just passing out pamphlets on what witchcraft is about), and keep a log of it all in your books of shadows.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 2
History of Witchcraft

Lesson 2

Many people know that through the history of the United States it’s out Military that has given us strength is the “guinea pig” of most ideas. It was the United States Military that first recognized that Wicca, and Witchcraft in general were not only practices, but were a religion and a way of life. In the Chaplains Handbook there is a specific Excerpt just for Wicca and other Pagan religions. It is as Follows :

Military Views on Wicca
US Army Chaplain’s Manual

Excerpt from the U.S. Army’s Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (pgs 231-236). Available from:

USAF Chaplain’s Service Institute
Resource Division
525 Chenault Circle
Maxwell AFB
Montgomery, AL 36112-6429


No central address. Wiccan worship groups, called covens, are essentially autonomous. Many, but far from all, have affiliated with:

Covenant of the Goddess
P.O. Box 1226
Berkeley, CA 94704

Witchcraft; Goddess worshippers; Neo-Paganism, Paganism, Norse (or any other ethnic designation) Earth Religion, Old Religion, Druidism, Shamanism.

Note: All of these groups have some basic similarities and many surface differences of expression with Wicca.

No central leadership. The Covenant of the Goddess annually elects a First Officer and there is a constitutional limit of two consecutive terms, but in practice officers have almost always served for one year only. In 1991, there are two Co-First Officers, Phoenix Whitebirch and Brandy Williams.

Because of the complete autonomy of covens, this cannot be determined. There are an estimated of 50,000 Wiccans in the United States.

(Hernes note: This number is now substantially higher and estimated at over 200,000. Wicca is currently the fastest growing spiritual path in the U.S.)

Wicca is a reconstruction of the Nature worship of tribal Europe, strongly influenced by the Living Nature worship traditions of tribal peoples in other parts of the world.

The works of such early twentieth century writers as Margaret Murray, Robert Graves and Gerald B. Gardner began the renewal of interest in the Old Religion. After the repeal of the anti-Witchcraft laws in Britain in 1951, Gardner publicly declared himself a Witch and began to gather a group of students and worshipers.

In 1962, two of his students, Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (religious names: Lady Rowen and Robat), emigrated to the United States and began teaching Gardnerian Witchcraft here. At the same time, other groups of people became interested through reading books by Gardner and others. Many covens were spontaneously formed, using rituals created from a combination of research and individual inspiration. These self-created covens are today regarded as just as valid as those who can trace a “lineage” of teaching back to England.

In 1975, a very diverse group of covens who wanted to secure the legal protections and benefits of church status formed Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), which is incorporated in the State of California and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. CoG does not represent all, or even a majority of Wiccans. A coven or an individual need not be affiliated with CoG in order to validly practice the religion. But CoG is the largest single public Wiccan organization, and it is cross-Traditional (i.e. non-denominational).

Wiccans worship the sacred as immanent in Nature, often personified as Mother Earth and Father Sky. As polytheists, they may use many other names for Deity. Individuals will often choose Goddesses or Gods from any of the world’s pantheons whose stories are particularly inspiring and use those Deities as a focus for personal devotions.

Similarly, covens will use particular Deity names as a group focus, and these are often held secret by the groups. It is very important to be aware that Wiccans do not in any way worship or believe in “Satan,” “the Devil,” or any similar entities. They point out that “Satan” is a symbol of rebellion against and inversion of the Christian and Jewish traditions.

Wiccans do not revile the Bible. They simply regard it as one among many of the world’s mythic systems, less applicable than some to their core values, but still deserving just as much respect as any of the others. Most Wiccan groups also practice magic, by which they mean the direction and use of “psychic energy,” those natural but invisible forces which surround all living things. Some members spell the word “magick,” to distinguish it from sleight of hand entertainments.

Wiccans employ such means as dance, chant, creative visualization and hypnosis to focus and direct psychic energy for the purpose of healing, protecting and aiding members in various endeavors. Such assistance is also extended to non-members upon request.

Many, but not all, Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Some take this as a literal description of what happens to people when they die. For others, it is a symbolic model that helps them deal with the cycles and changes within this life. Neither Reincarnation nor any other literal belief can be used as a test of an individual’s validity as a member of the Old Religion.

Most groups have a handwritten collection of rituals and lore, known as a Book of Shadows. Part of the religious education of a new member will be to hand copy this book for him or herself. Over they years, as inspiration provides, new material will be added. Normally, access to these books is limited to initiated members of the religion.

The core ethical statement of Wicca, called the “Wiccan Rede” states “an it harm none, do what you will.” The rede fulfills the same function as does the “Golden Rule” for Jews and Christians; all other ethical teachings are considered to be elaborations and applications of the Rede. It is a statement of situational ethics, emphasizing at once the individual’s responsibility to avoid harm to others and the widest range of personal autonomy in “victimless” activities. Wicca has been described as having a “high-choice” ethic.

Because of the basic Nature orientation of the religion, many Wiccans will regard all living things as Sacred, and show a special concern for ecological issues. For this reason, individual conscience will lead some to take a pacifist position. Some are vegetarians. Others will feel that, as Nature’s Way includes self-defense, they should participate in wars that they conscientiously consider to be just. The religion does not dictate either position, but requires each member to thoughtfully and meditatively examine her or his own conscience and to live by it. Social forces generally do not yet allow Witches to publicly declare their religious faith without fear of reprisals such as loss of job, child custody challenges, ridicule, etc. Prejudice against Wiccans is the result of public confusion between Witchcraft and Satanism. Wiccans in the military, especially those who may be posted in countries perceived to be particularly intolerant, will often have their dog tags read “No Religious Preference.” Concealment is a traditional Wiccan defense against persecution, so non-denominational dog tags should not contravene a member’s request for religious services.

Wiccans celebrate eight festivals, called “Sabbats,” as a means of attunement to the seasonal rhythms of Nature. These are January 31 (Called Oimelc, Brigit, or February Eve), March 21 (Ostara or Spring Equinox), April 30 (Beltane or May Eve), June 22 (Midsummer, Litha or Summer Solstice), July 31 (Lunasa or Lammas), September 21 (Harvest, Mabon or Autumn Equinox), October 31 (Samhain, Sowyn or Hallows), and December 21 (Yule or Winter Solstice.)

Some groups find meetings within a few days of those dates to be acceptable, others require the precise date. In addition, most groups will meet for worship at each Full Moon, and many will also meet on the New Moon.

Meetings for religious study will often be scheduled at any time convenient to the members, and rituals can be scheduled whenever there is a need (i.e. for a healing). Ritual jewelry is particularly important to many Wiccans. In addition to being a symbol of religious dedication, these talismans are often blessed by the coven back home and felt to carry the coven’s protective and healing energy.

Most Wiccans meet with a coven, a small group of people. Each coven is autonomous. Most are headed by a High Priestess, often with the assistance of a High Priest. Some are headed by a High Priestess or High Priest without a partner, and some regard themselves as a gathering of equals. Covens can be of mixed gender, or all female or male, depending on the preferences of the members. Every initiate is considered to be a priestess or priest.

Most covens are small. Thirteen is the traditional maximum number of members, although not an absolute limit. At that size covens form a close bond, so Wiccans in the military are likely to maintain a strong affiliation with their covens back home. There are many distinct “Traditions” of Wicca, just as there are many denominations within Christianity.

The spectrum of Wiccan practice can be described as ranging from “traditional” to “eclectic,” with Traditions, covens and individuals fitting anywhere within that range. A typical difference would be that more traditional groups would tend to follow a set liturgy, whereas eclectic groups would emphasize immediate inspiration in worship.

These distinctions are not particularly important to the military chaplain, since it is unlikely that enough members of any one Tradition would be at the same base. Worship circles at military facilities are likely to be ad-hoc cross-Traditional groups, working out compromise styles of worship for themselves and constantly adapting them to a changing membership.

Therefore, the lack of strict adherence to the patterns of any one Tradition is not an indicator of invalidity. While many Wiccans meet in a coven, there are also a number of solitairies. These are individuals who choose to practice their faith alone. The may have been initiated in a coven or self initiated. They will join with other Wiccans to celebrate the festivals or to attend the various regional events organized by the larger community.

Within a traditional coven, the High Priestess, usually assisted by her High Priest, serves both as leader in the rituals and as teacher and counselor for coven members and unaffiliated Pagans. Eclectic covens tend to share leadership more equally.

Wiccans usually worship in groups. Individuals who are currently not affiliated with a coven, or are away from their home coven, may choose to worship privately or may form ad-hoc groups to mark religious occasions. Non-participating observers are not generally welcome at Wiccan rituals.

Some, but not all, Wiccan covens worship in the nude (skyclad) as a sign of attunement with Nature.

Most, but not all, Wiccan covens bless and share a cup of wine as part of the ritual. Almost all Wiccans use an individual ritual knife (an “athame”) to focus and direct personal energy. Covens often also have ritual swords to direct the energy of the group. These tools, like all other ritual tools, are highly personal and should never leave the possession of the owner.

Other commonly used ritual tools include a bowl of water, a bowl of salt, a censer with incense, a disk with symbols engraved on it (a “pentacle”), statues or artwork representing the Goddess and God, and candles. Most groups will bless and share bread or cookies along with the wine. All of these items are used in individual, private worship as well as in congregate rituals.


None. Recognition of the death of a member takes place within the coven, apart from the body of the deceased. Ritual tools, materials, or writings found among the effects of the deceased should be returned to their home coven (typically a member will designate a person to whom ritual materials should be sent). It is desirable for a Wiccan priest or priestess to be present at the time of death, but not strictly necessary. If not possible, the best assistance would be to make the member as comfortable as possible, listen to whatever they have to say, honor any possible requests, and otherwise leave them as quiet and private as possible.

No medical restrictions. Wiccans generally believe in the efficacy of spiritual or psychic healing when done in tandem with standard medical treatment. Therefore, at the request of the patient, other Wiccan personnel should be allowed visiting privileges as though they were immediate family, including access to Intensive Care Units. Most Wiccans believe that healing energy can be sent from great distances, so, if possible, in the case of any serious medical condition, the member’s home coven should be notified.

With respect to attitude toward military service, Wiccans range from career military personnel to conscientious objectors. Wiccans do not proselytize and generally resent those who do. They believe that no one Path to the Sacred is right for all people, and see their own religious pattern as only one among many that are equally worthy. Wiccans respect all religions that foster honor and compassion in their adherents, and expect the same respect. Members are encouraged to learn about all faiths, and are permitted to attend the services of other religions, should they desire to do so.


The best general survey of the Wiccan and neo-Pagan movement is: Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. 595pp

For more specific information about eclectic Wicca, see: Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. New York: Harper & Row, 1979.

For more specific information about traditional Wicca, see: Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. Eight Sabbats for Witches. London: Robert Hale, 1981. 192pp.

The Witches’ Way. London: Robert Hale, 1984. 394pp.


Pagan Military Newsletter c/o Terri Morgan, Editor, 829 Lynnhaven Parkway 114-198 Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Because of the autonomy of each coven and the wide variance of specific ritual practices, the best contact person would be the High Priestess or other leader of the member’s home coven.

So why exactly are we looking at the first acceptance of Witchcraft in the Military when this took place way back when, before most of you reading this were born? The reason is, after a very long battle with the military Selena Fox, and several other Pagans from across the Nation and the World, were able to get the sacred symbol of the Pentacle placed on War Veterans headstones.
For your Benefit I’m including 2 articles that covered this from the following Website- http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/pentacle-dedication.htm

Pentacle Dedication Ceremony to be Held at Arlington July 4th
Sunday, July 01 2007
Historic Headstone Dedication at Arlington National Cemetery on the 4th of July
America’s first VA-issued headstone containing both a Wiccan Pentacle and a Christian Cross is to be dedicated in a national interfaith memorial service for Jan O’Rourke on July 4, 2007.
Jan Deanna O’Rourke of Florida dedicated her life to service. As a successful businesswoman, she contributed to many charities and was the recipient of numerous awards, including “Big Sister of the Year”.
Plot location 60 7491
Arlington, Virginia is across the Potomac River bordering Washington, D.C.
As a member of the Florida State Democratic Committee, Jan demonstrated her dedication to America in her role as a state committeewoman.
Jan also was a Wiccan priestess and worked in the interfaith community, building bridges of understanding among the world’s religions.
On February 16, 2005, Jan Deanna O’Rourke expressed her last wish in an email to friend and Wiccan Priestess Paula Johnson saying, “At this point if I was to die tomorrow I would be eligible for a Wiccan service, just no Pentacle on my headstone. Hopefully this will be changed before my demise..”
Jan O’Rourke died 8 days later on February 24, 2005.
For two years Jan’s final wish went unfulfilled. Jan’s remains lay in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery beside her beloved husband, veteran Captain William O’Rourke. The headstone that marked their burial site contained only the Christian cross on her husband’s side of the marker. The emblem part of Jan’s side was blank, with no pentacle.
Jan’s friend and colleague, Rev. Paula Johnson, joined the efforts of Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, in the quest to get the Pentacle, the religious emblem of the Wiccan religion, authorized by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for use on headstones, markers and memorial plaques it issues to honor deceased veterans.
As a result of the settlement of the federal religious discrimination lawsuit brought by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of Circle Sanctuary and others, the pentacle was finally added to the VA’s list of authorized emblems, and VA-issued memorial markers with pentacles began being produced and installed at a public and private cemeteries across the nation.
On July 4, 2007, we honor the realization of Jan Deanna O’Rourke’s dying wish and her interfaith marriage by dedicating the first VA-issued interfaith headstone in the history of the United States to be engraved with both the Christian Cross and Wiccan Pentacle.
Less than one year before her death, Jan Deanna O’Rourke spoke at an Interfaith and Religious Freedom Day and said, “I am but one person, but as Americans we are many, and we will not tolerate religious persecution in the United States of America. Not in my City, Not in my State, And not in my Country!
Jan’s Independence Day interfaith headstone dedication and memorial ceremony will be conducted by Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary with eulogy by friend and colleague Rev. Paula Johnson. Also assisting will be Margot Adler, Wiccan priestess, elder, and author from New York City; Marci Drewy, Director of Military Affairs for the Sacred Well Congregation; and others, including some members of the Order of the Pentacle, a national Wiccan/Pagan veterans association.

Wiccans dedicate grave at Arlington
By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, July 5, 2007
The Rev. Selena Fox said Wednesday wasn’t the first time she visited a Wiccan’s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It was just the first time one was identified that way.
“This is the first time the Christian cross and Wiccan pentacle have both been engraved on a tombstone here, and it’s great news for us,” said the senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wisconsin Wiccan community. “It’s recognition we’ve fought for for so long.”
On Wednesday Fox, members of her congregation and other pagans held a consecration ceremony at the grave site of Jan Deanna, a Wiccan minister who passed away more than two years ago.
Her husband, Army Captain William O’Rourke, passed away nine years earlier and had the Christian cross engraved on his tombstone. But Deanna’s side was left blank, because until May the Department of Veterans Affairs had no symbol to recognize her faith.
Wiccan groups have been pushing for the pentacle as a recognized religious symbol for almost a decade, but efforts have been stymied by paperwork and administrative delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This spring, after new rules from the department and continued unsuccessful lobbying by pagan groups, Circle Sanctuary and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sued the department for the right to put the symbol on gravestones and plaques.
In May the department settled the suit, agreeing to include it among the 38 other religious symbols permitted for veterans’ memorials. Veterans and military spouses at Wednesday’s event called it an important First Amendment victory.
Retired Army Captain Richard Briggs, who is working toward becoming a Wiccan military chaplain, said over the years pagan service members have faced discrimination from commanders and other troops, but as people learn more about the religion the military has become more accepting.
“Coming out of the broom closet can be dangerous, but we have to,” he said.
Army Staff Sergeant Frederick Twombly, a member of the 63rd Engineer Support Battalion, helped set up a Wiccan worship community in Baghdad during both of his deployments over to Iraq.

“We had guys from all over, all different units, all different ranks,” he said. “People would look and say, ‘Wait, he’s a major and he’s a Wiccan?’ And then they’d understand that it’s not just some hidden thing.”
The event was designed not just to celebrate the legal victory but also to remember Deanna, who friends called a kind and generous woman. The Rev. Paula Johnson, who belonged to the same worship community in Florida, said she worked with local charities every Christmas to help poor families with gifts for their children.
“A year before she died, she spoke often about not tolerating religious persecution,” Johnson said. “She’s an inspiration to us all.”
Deanna’s tombstone is one of two in the cemetery bearing the symbol; Private First Class Abe Kooiman, a World War II veteran who died in 2002, also left instructions to have his headstone marked once a Wiccan symbol was approved. Fox said at least four other veterans have also had the symbol etched into memorial plaques since the lawsuit was settled.
“And now, I’m hearing from people that are requesting and getting it without me being included in a fight,” she said. “That makes us very, very happy.”

Assignment: Think of a moment in time when you had witnessed history in the making. This doesn’t have to be related to witchcraft, because as witches we need to be observant of the world around us, so any subject will do. Remember that if you use an article you give the link (if done through the net) or an author and published date or copywrite date, if you use a book or newspaper. Remember that assignments should be a min. of 1 paragraph (5 sentences) long, and little essay should include not only the event, but how it made you feel to witness it, and any other details that you wish to include, like how you may have been thinking, or what was going on.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 3
History of Witchcraft
Lesson 3

In this lesson I’m going to give you some examples of the modern day hardships we as witches have to contend with. Some things will be hateful, and propaganda based (meaning that they are based on stereotypes, misunderstandings and just a general fear of something these individuals don’t understand). Because of the above, I will keep the websites confidential, so that no one gets any ideas of sending in hate-filled letters. Remember that Hate only breeds more Hate. The reason I’m going to show you littler excerpts that are Wicca/Witchcraft based, is because this is what is shaping the minds around us. Though there are few out there that show such deplorable hate filled nonsense, there are people who take them seriously. When you read the following, I want you to really think hard about the misconceptions that have been created throughout history because of the media, or oral traditions, fairy tales and the like. You’ll need this for the assignment.
Here’s some very stereotypical information on “how to spot a wiccan”
Spotting Wiccans:
This information could save a Christian life!
Wiccans Have a Sloppy and Disrespectful Appearance*:
Wiccans are generally overweight and of pale complexion. If they are not pale, they use powder or makeup (even male Wiccans!) to generate the illusion of paleness or death. Wiccans are given to the piercing of skin as a sign of submission to their master, Satan. Look for multiple piercing and piercing in peculiar places like the nose, cheeks, eyebrows, lips, fingertips, chin, forehead, tongue, and on the shocking devil’s tip of the ear! Some Wiccans pierce their genitals as well. If you happen to peek over into the stall next to you and see a urination stream spraying in three directions (to mock the Trinity), it is likely the person is a Wiccan who just had the tip of his penis carefully pierced by his coven leader. (NOTE: Most coven leaders are either Catholic priests or tattoo parlor owners)
Wiccans are under a contract with Satan to wear black. It is one of the first things they learn when they are indoctrinated into their cult. You can spot them mostly in leather, lace, black fingernail polish, eye makeup, and lipstick. Some Wiccans even wear black underwear! But since you are a Christian, you won’t have to see that unless you capture one.
It is a well-known fact that Wiccans only bathe once a month, as such; they have a distinctively unpleasant odor they try to hide by wearing perfumes like patchouli or wolf’s bane.
Wiccans wear lots of silver jewelry that is never clean. If you see someone wearing rings, amulets, broaches, or necklaces caked with green mold, most likely that person is a Wiccan.
What Are Wiccans Skilled At?:
Wiccans usually bring home better grades at school than most of their peers. This is not because they are more intelligent, but rather because they cheat by casting spells and hexes on their teachers. Their master (Satan) is also highly adept at moving their pudgy little fingers in the right direction on a test paper. It is also important to note here that if a Wiccan is sober enough to vote, it will always be for a Democrat. The word “democrat” is closely associated with the word, “demon.” Most True Christians® commonly refer to Democrats as “Demoncrats” and already keep a firearm handy during election time, so this information might be redundant for some.
Wiccan Behavior:
Most Wiccans congregate in groups that prey on loners. They are generally a quiet lot because they are constantly thinking about new ways to kidnap True Christian® children and drain their bodies of blood. Wiccans like to purchase knives and swords from master Wiccan craftsmen who camp out at Renaissance Festivals (Renaissance Festivals are run by the Catholic Church – LBC Creation Science Vatican Study, 1983, pg 114-127). It’s a preference of blade over gun because a good part of their satanic ritual includes a precise cutting of Christian flesh into bite-size Jesus steaks that are oftentimes smoked and cured into what Wiccans jokingly call, “Jesus Jerky.” These fat little demons get a real hellish kick out of sitting around their school lunch table, nibbling on Christian flesh while classmates look on unaware.
Wiccans are also known to tear out pages from the Bible (especially pages that have red writing on them). They use them to roll marijuana cigarettes into something they refer to as “a joint.”
The Wiccan Blood Pact to Lucifer (Bond To Satan):
Most Wiccans will tell you that they don’t believe in Satan. LOL! Everyone knows that you don’t have to believe in Satan to follow him.
THE HONEST, 100% TRUTH IS: Anyone who isn’t following Jesus, is following Satan! It doesn’t matter a drop of the precious, warm blood of Christ if they believe in Satan or not!
What many young Wiccans don’t know is that, like the Mormon Church, the higher ups (Wiccans refer to them as “Elite Warlocks, Blood Guards, and Litch Kings”) keep their flock in the dark about the real Satanic Wiccan agenda. You’d think that by drinking all that Christian blood they would know something was amiss! Sadly, most Wiccans have been placed under a trance by their coven leaders and it’s only when they reach a certain level in their training that the trance is lifted, and by then it is way too late for any hope!.

Now is any of this True? NO This is one of the many stereotypes that are out there.
Here’s another example:
“It’s been 20 years since we legally executed a witch on this campus, but our lawyers are working very hard with the Federal Government to ensure that we can continue to practice our religion the way the Bible tells us to. Exodus 22:18 says, “Suffer not a witch to live.” Deuteronomy 18:10 says, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.” God is very clear here, folks, he doesn’t want witches (or as they call themselves today, ‘Wiccans’) to live. We are supposed to be killing witches! If we don’t, we are disobeying God. Jesus would weep tears of joy if He leaned down off His cloud and sniffed up the burning flesh of a witch this Halloween. Wouldn’t that ruin Satan’s little birthday party! Praise God! It’s just a shame that the United States Government has placed restrictions on the Biblically-mandated practice of witch burning.”

Here’s a few more misconceptions and the TRUTH about it all:
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about Wicca, most of which are perpetuated by people who (a) don’t know any better and (b) have never taken the time to learn the truth. Let’s talk about some of the most common bits of misinformation people hear about Wicca and modern Paganism.

Is Wicca some weird cult?

No, it’s not, no more so than any other religion. Sure, there are some ”weird” Wiccans, but there are also people in other religions who are ”weird.” Wicca is actually a religion, albeit a fairly new one, which is based on ancient practices. Although it was founded by a guy named Gerald Gardner back in the 1950s, it is still a legally recognized religion. Wiccans have the same religious rights as people of any other spiritual path. Some people do tend to get confused, though, because the word ”occult,” which means secret or mysterious, is often associated with the Wiccan religion.

Do witches worship the Devil?

No. Satan is a Christian construct, and Wiccans don’t worship him. Even the Satanists don’t actually worship Satan, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

You guys have sex orgies, right?

Nope. However, most Pagans and Wiccans are pretty liberal when it comes to sexuality. We don’t care who you sleep with, as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult. We don’t care if you’re straight, gay, transgendered, polyamorous, or anything else. Who you have sex with, and how often, and in what manner is your business. We just hope that whatever you’re doing, you do responsibly. There are some Wiccan groups who practice skyclad, or nude, but that’s not really sexual in nature.

How come you use that Satanic symbol with the star on it?

You mean the pentacle? That’s a symbol, for many Wiccans and Pagans, of the four classical elements: earth, air, fire and water, as well as a fifth element of Spirit or Self.

Do Wiccans cast spells?

Yes. In Wicca, and many other Pagan paths, the use of magic is considered perfectly natural. It’s not the same as the magic seen in Harry Potter, but for Wiccans, magic is part of the natural world. Some spells take the form of prayers to the gods, and others are based on direction of will and intent. Most Wiccans will tell you they use spellwork for a variety of things — healing, personal empowerment, prosperity, etc. Magic is a tool that is typically used in tandem with the mundane, or non-magical, world.

What’s the difference between a Wiccan and a Pagan?

Nearly all Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. As if that wasn’t puzzling enough, there are some people who are witches, but not Wiccan or Pagan. Confused yet? You’re not alone. Basically, ”Pagan” is an umbrella term for a group of different spiritual paths. For more on how this works, read What’s the Difference?.

Why do people become Wiccans?

The reasons are as varied as the people. Some find themselves drawn to Wicca because of a dissatisfaction with other religions. Others study a variety of religions and then realize that Wicca is the most compatible with what they already believe. A few people who are practicing Wiccans and Pagans today were raised in Pagan families. Regardless, nearly every Wiccan will tell you that they came to Wicca because they knew it was the right path for them.

How do you recruit new Wiccans into your religion?

We don’t. Although we’ll happily share information with you and answer your questions, we’re not interesting in collecting new recruits. Here’s why: Do Wiccans Recruit?

Aren’t you worried that you’re going to go to hell?

Well, no. Much like Satan, the concept of Hell is a Christian one. It’s not really even on our radar. However, there are a few people — typically those who have come to Wicca from a Christian background — who do worry about this very issue. For the rest of us, we know that the future of our soul does not depend on salvation or acceptance of deity as a savior. Instead, we focus on doing good things, because we know that what we do in this lifetime will echo upon us in the next.

Do you believe in God?

Wiccans and Pagans are typically polytheistic, which means we believe in more than one deity. If you look at ”god” as a job title rather than a proper name, we believe in a variety of gods and goddesses, rather than One Single God. Most Pagans and Wiccans acknowledge the existence of thousands of deities, but generally worship or honor only the gods of their own tradition.

So what do Wiccans do and believe, then?
Excellent question, and not a simple one with just a single answer. To learn about what Wiccans do and believe, read Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca and Ten Things To Know About Wicca (you can find these on about.com)
. Wiccans want to convert you

One misconception that some non-Pagans have is that roving groups of Wiccans are out to convert others. Evidently, contemporary Pagans gain some sort of Karmic Bonus Points for every new member they sign up, and travel around stealthily trying to recruit unsuspecting souls into joining the Wiccan Club. Nothing could be further from the truth, although I’ve often wondered what I’d do with those Bonus Points if I had them — maybe redeem them for fun prizes, like Greenbax Stamps at Piggly Wiggly.

At any rate, cut and paste the following into your memory right now:


We’re also not out to convert your child, your mom, or your best friend. And here’s why.

It’s because although we don’t mind sharing our beliefs with you, or answering questions if you have them, we also believe everyone needs to choose their spiritual path for themselves. I can tell you how empowering Wicca has been for me, or how it’s helped me get through some really dark times, or even how I’ve used the knowledge I’ve gained to become a successful and happy person. But I’m not you, and you’re not me, which means what works for me might be completely different for you.

Spirituality is an individual need. What Bob needs in a religion is not necessarily what Jim needs in a religion. Bob may feel called to a structured doctrine, with laws laid out very specifically for him, and clear guidelines as to what the deities want from him. Jim, on the other hand, may find that a more free-spirited approach works best for him, where he has just one or two basic rules that he can interpret in the way that works best for him. These are two very different sets of needs, and may be met by two very different spiritual paths. Wiccans understand that what’s right for one person may not be right for the next, and they respect that difference.

Finally, understand that Wicca is a mystery religion. This means that while there’s an awful lot of publicly available information, there’s a whole lot more that you don’t learn until you actually become Wiccan. We don’t go around blabbing to strangers about what we’ve learned, because gaining that knowledge takes a lot of dedication, study, effort and hard work. Wiccans have no interest in signing up a whole bunch of new recruits because traveling the Wiccan path is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Wiccans are also not out to convert your child or teenager. That’s because we believe religious upbringing is the job of the parents. It’s YOUR duty to educate your child in spiritual matters, not ours. If a teen wishes to learn about Wicca, and asks questions, we’ll happily answer — but we’ll never accept a minor into a Pagan or Wiccan group without parental permission. Even then, it’s kind of iffy. We’ll also never offer private study lessons to someone who is underage.

It’s often said that the seeker must come willingly, on their own, or their search isn’t really valid. That’s the case here — people who choose for themselves to learn about Wicca will be met with open arms. On the other hand those who are happy otherwise are free to remain as they are.

We don’t have a recruitment club, we don’t get Frequent Flier Miles, or free toaster ovens for every new member we rope in. We want to practice the spirituality that works best for us, and we respect that need in others. We believe that it’s healthy to have religious diversity, and we know that people who are meant to follow a Wiccan or Pagan path will eventually find their way to one when the time is right for them.

These here are just some of the things you may have to contend with. Constant questioning of your own faith, and why you are studying such a path. There will be stereotypes placed on the way you dress and act. The funniest personal misconception that I’ve had to date, was a young child asking me why I wasn’t green, that if I really was a witch I would be green. Now granted the child was only about 6 or 7, but it was still crushing nonetheless to have come across a child who had no idea what he was even talking about, placing the general stereotype upon someone he didn’t even know.

Assignment: As stated in the beginning, think hard about the misconceptions that have been created throughout history because of the media (news papers, websites, movies, adds , etc..), or oral traditions, fairy tales and the like. How could you personally try to dispel these misconceptions, and do you think the misconceptions are based on fear, hate, or some other emotion and if so, why do you feel that way?

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 4
Note: you should be doing further research on your own.

History of Witchcraft Lesson 4

In this lesson we will look at Folk Magic and the beginning of a few different other traditions that apply magic to their practices.
First Folk Magic consists of ethnic or regional religious customs under the umbrella of an organized religion, but outside of it’s official doctrine and practices. Generally speaking, folk magic is generally held to encompass two related but rather separate subjects. The first being religious dimension of folk culture, and the second refers to the study of syncretisms ( an attempt reconcile contrary beliefs) between two cultures with different stages of formal expression, such as the mélange of African folk beliefs and Roman Catholicism that led to the development of Vodun (aka Voodoo and Vodou) as well as Santeria.
These practices of Folk Magic have been around for hundreds of years, and are still applied today. They have shaped the fabric of magical use through the ages. How did it do this you ask? Simply put it’s what people have used for a long time, you hear about the old hag who gave the evil eye to someone, and the person hangs a “gods eye” in their home or carries one with them is a form of folk magic. There are still forms of folk magic applied today, as we’ve mentioned from religions like Vodun, and Santeria. This is not by all means everything about folk magic just a brief introduction to it so you can better see how magic has evolved and how certain old practices are still used and applied today.

Assignment: Think about other forms of folk magic and how they have influenced magic. Write a 5 Sentence (min) paragraph about one of the forms you come across in your research giving a brief explanation about it, and tell if it’s still applied today or if the practice has died out.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 5
History of Witchcraft Lesson 5

I’ve told you about folk magic, and Vodou and Santeria, no moving on to the beginning of what is today called the Wicca Movement, or the New-Age Movement. Most of you have been thinking about this for a while, especially those who are looking to follow a wiccan path. Most of you know about Silver RavenWolf and Raymond Buckland, these are current authors, which we briefly touched on in the first lesson of this class, we are going to go back a little further.

First, What is Wicca?
Wicca is the largest of the Neopagan religions. Wiccans have great reverence for the Earth and for their Goddess and her consort, the horned God. Their main rule of behavior is the Wiccan Rede which forbids them from harming people, including themselves, except in some cases of self-defense.
Many, perhaps most, are solitary practitioners. Others form small groups of believers, called covens, groves, etc. Because of centuries of religious propaganda and misinformation, many conservative Christians, and others, associate Wiccans with Satanists even though the two belief systems are as different as Christianity and Atheism.

The History of Wicca in Brief

Generally it’s followed that a lot of the modern day works of Wicca started with Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) who was a British civil servant who , as it is written, joined an existing wiccan coven around 1939, taking the vow of secrecy, which was usual back then. However, it’s still debated today that Wicca isn’t the actual term of the religion that it is merely witchcraft. Wicca means Wise Ones, and Gerald Gardner called the members of his coven that he later rain, The Wicce’ meaning the wise ones. Around 1949 or so he was able to persuade his coven to let him write a book about the craft in the form of a novel, which was called High Magic’s Aid. He carefully revealed a few of the “Old Religion’s” beliefs and the historical persecution that they had to endure. He also wrote the book called Witchcraft Today in 1954 in which he described additional details about the faith, and later wrote The Meaning of Witchcraft which described the history of Wicca in Northern Europe. Gerald Gardner is said to be the “Father of Modern Wicca” because of his books and the popularization of the Wiccan Religion in the United States.

Another person who has great influence since the beginning is Margaret Murray ( 1863-1963) who wrote the well known book The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches. These books promoted the concept that some of the witches who exterminated by the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants during the “Burning Times” (we’ll talk about this in another lesson) were remnants of an even earlier, organized, and dominant Pre-Christian religion in Europe. Even though her writing were not received well by anthropologists, her works were influential in providing a strong background for the Neo-Pagan traditions that sprang up later.

Charles Leland ( 1824-1903) also had some rather influential books as well that gave the new age pagan movement ground. In 1899, Leland wrote the book Aradia:Gosphel of Witches. He was the founder of the Gypsy Lore Society, and was a folklorist (remember the folk magic from last lesson?). Aradia deals mainly with the Goddess Diana, and is presented as an ancient document which recorded the doctrines of La Vecchia Religione ( The old Religion). The Book has played a significant role in the development of modern day paganism because of the depth of the connection with the goddess the book entails.

To show a good example of how the Wiccan religion and other Neo-Pagan religions have evolved, remember that back in these times, it was seen as shameful and dangerous to come out of the “broom closet.” People were not able to be very open about their religions and were threatened, beaten, and even one recorded lynching (hanging), as well as several shootings. The good thing is, that obviously today, with the more accepting world, many neo-pagans can now be open about who they are and have less physical violence and revolting to deal with. Over the years there have been stories of misinformed child protective officers seizing children from homes of Wiccans, and others because they feared that the children may be killed or abused in some Satanic Ritual. The most important thing to remember and to take away from this class, is that we are evolving, and Witchcraft is a living breathing, and growing religion that evolves with its practitioners. Though things like this still happen today, we as Witches, but be observant, and loving, because most of the perpetrators of hatred are good, concerned people, just very misinformed. The Church has programmed most of us to think anything other than Christianity is the work of the “Devil” and that it must be shunned. One thing to remember though, is that true paganism has been around for far longer than Christianity, and the very Christians who celebrate Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Halloween are celebrating old Celtic practices (we’ll go into this in a later lesson as well).

Assignment: Think of all the Similarities from what you know about Wicca and Christianity, What are some Similarities? For every Similarity, show a difference as well. This should be 5 sentences long. An example for you to start with but you CAN NOT use is Prayers and Spells. Prayers are used by Witchcraft users all the time, but so are spells. They are similar in the way that they both require you to focus on what you are doing, think about what it is you are intending to do, and actually visualize it in some cases. The difference here is that some spells require tools, where are prayers will not.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 6
History of Witchcraft Lesson 6
So in the last lesson we talked about the History of Wicca and its roots in Europe before moving to the states. For this, most of you are finally going to jump up and down as we are going to start the Salem Witch Trials. Before we begin I want it made clear that there was NEVER any burnings of witches in the united states, only hangings and drowning (that were recorded). The Burnings came before this and we will be touching on the Burning times later.
The Salem Witch Trials took place between February 1692 – May 1963, and is still to this day, one of the most infamous witch hunts in American history. In Salem Massachusetts, a group of young girls became fascinated by the occult, and began dabbling. The games, after a while got out of hand, and the children began acting oddly. Their behaviors ranged from muttering strange sounds, to shrilling screams and more. Suspicions of witches being involved in the behavior of the young girls resulted in three women being arrested, and later more were accused and arrested as well as charged with the act of witchcraft. Later they would be hanged. A total of around 150 people were charged with witchcraft and imprisoned, of them 19 women and men were actually convicted and were put to death by being crushed to death under large stones. Remember that in this time Witchcraft was a capital offense and (as stated) was punishable by death.
So the main question still remains a lingering thought on the mind. What was the cause for the witchcraft hysteria outbreak in Salem, and were any real witches hung, crushed or drowned? The answer to the latter part is no. There is no record of any “real” witches being put to death. However, there are several different causes behind the hysteria in the first place. There was a very strong belief in Satan, and his acting in the real world. There was a strong belief that satan recruits witches and wizards, and a belief that a person afflicted by witchcraft exhibits certain “symptoms”. Not only was this a time of troubles (such as small pox i.e. disease) but with the over stimulation of the children’s imaginations (by tituba), teenage boredom, old feuds coming to light, Magistrates and Judges being receptive to accusations of witchcraft, and of course those who confessed to being witches, only compounded matters. There is one thing that is still controversial and that’s ergot poisoning. Ergot poisoning is caused by eating infected rye that can produce hallucinations, as well as creating strange behaviors. I say this is controversial because there is no proof of infected rye, and no one but those who were present at the time could state otherwise.
After the big scare, people who were still in prison charged with witchcraft were freed. In 1711, the colonial legislature of Massachusetts paid compensations to the families of the victims of the trials. Most historians to this day agree that the witch-hunt victims of salem were accused falsely. The conjecture is that the girls feigned (faked) being possessed, although the reasons for doing so are still not clear.

Assignment: There are modern day witch hunts still happening. You have the choice of writing a brief summary of modern day witch hunt that is going on now (within the past 2-3 years), or a summary with personal reflections on the Salem witch trials. For your personal reflections on these matters, I would like to see how this makes you feel, and what your personal thoughts are on how, if this happened today, do you think you, and others like you, would survive through the trials and tribulations that come with the hunts. How do you think families would react, what kind of media coverage would be involved, etc…? Try to be creative with this.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 7
History of Witchcraft Lesson 7
We have now worked our way back from today to Europe of the middle ages. For this lesson we are going to cover a very large time gap. So to make things easier on everyone, I’m breaking this lesson into two parts like I did earlier. The first part of this lesson will be lesson 7 and the second will be lesson 8.
Firstly, in early modern European traditions, witches have been stereotypically, though not exclusively, been women. This has been true throughout history all the way back to the beginning of the use of witchcraft. European pagan belief in witchcraft was associated with the Goddess Diana and dismissed as “diabolical fantasies” by the medieval Christian authors and the church. Witch-hunts first started appearing in large numbers in the southern France and Switzerland during the 14th and 15th centuries. So if you remember the Salem Witch Trials, they were not the first of their kind. The peak years for witch-hunts in southwest Germany were from 1561 to 1670.
The familiar witch of folklore and popular superstition is a combination of numerous influences, too numerous to get into. The characterization of the witch as an evil magic user developed over time. Some of the early converts to Christianity looked to Christian clergy to work magic more effectively than the old methods under the Roman paganism, and Christianity provided a methodology involving saints and relics, similar to the gods and amulets of the Pagan world.
Over time Christianity became the dominant religion in Europe, its concern with magic lessened. The protestant Christian explanation for witchcraft, such as those typified in the confessions of the Pendle Witches, commonly involves a diabolical pact or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits of evil, and the particularly the “Devil”. This is where we first encounter the dreaded” pact with the devil” that so many Christians try to stereotype witches with.
The witches of this time were said to reject Jesus and the sacraments, observe the “witches Sabbath” (performing infernal rites which often parodied the Mass or other sacraments of the Church); pay divine honour to the “Prince of Darkness; and in return they received supernatural powers from him. This is also where we first hear of the “Witches Mark” or the “Brand of the Witch”. Like the brands on cattle, it was believed that the devil would mark his followers to signify that the pact had been made. It was said that Witches disrupted the societal institutions and more specifically, marriage. It was commonly believed that a witch would often join a pact with the devil to gain powers to deal with infertility, immense fear for her children’s well-being or revenge against a lover. (Now after reading this last part, doesn’t this still ring true today for many people who find themselves turning to witchcraft?)
Keep in mind though that the Church and European society were not always so jumpy, when it came to the hunting of the supposed witches, nor were they always quick to pass the blame for bad occurrences. Saint Boniface declared in the 8th Centrury that belief in the existence of witches was un-Christian. Emperor Charlemagne decreed that the burning of supposed witches was a pagan custom that would be punishable by the death penalty, and in 820 the Bishop of Lyon as well as several others, refused to accept that witches could make bad weather, fly in the night and change their shape ( which was pretty commonly believed before and after their terms in power).
It wasn’t until 1307 with the trial of the Knights Templar, where the close parallels to accusations of witchcraft, maleficium (wrongdoing or mischief), and sorcery may have been the beginning of the great European witch-hunt,, most of us know as the Burning Times.

Assignment: For this I want you guys to try to find some information on the persecution of those who were pointed out as witches. I will provide you a link to get you started. I want you guys to write a short summary on a tid bit you find from your research. I want it to be about the European Witch Trials. It can be about a specific person you find, about the church and it’s approach to the subject, etc…. Be creative with this. Try to stay between the years 188 BC and 1692 AD.

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 8
History of Witchcraft Lesson 8

I’m hoping most of you still remember our short lesson on the “Cunning-folk” because they are now making their reappearance in our lessons. The cunning-folk of the medieval times in Europe, did not refer to themselves as witches and objected strongly to the accusations that they were such. Sadly though, because of the poor record keeping skills of those at the time, it was never made clear whether or not the populace of given practitioners of magic were classified as witch or one of the cunning-folk. In addition it also appears that much of the populace was willing to approach either of these groups for healing and divination, so even though there was some fear surrounding them all, the general public weren’t afraid to come to those they knew could help, or to give them answers. The important distinction is that there are records of the public reporting supposed witches to the authorities as such, whereas cunning-folk were not so incriminated; they were more commonly prosecuted for accusing the innocent or defrauding people of money. (Funny how history seems to remain constant in a generalized position doesn’t it?)
Powers that were typically attributed to the European witches include turning food poisonous or inedible, flying on broomsticks and the occasional pitchfork, casting spells and cursing people, and making livestock ill and crops fail as well as creating fear and local chaos.
I want to point out at this time though that the Church was not the one who invented the idea of witchcraft as a potentially harmful force whose practitioners should be put to death. This idea was commonplace in pre-Christian religions. According to the scholar Max Dashu, the concept of medieval witchcraft contained many of its elements even before the emergence of Christianity. These can be found in Bacchanalias, especially in the time when they were led by the priestess Paculla Annia.
However, even at a later date, not all witches were assumed to be harmful practicers of the craft. In England, the provision of this curative magic was the job of a witch doctor, also known as a cunning man or woman, white witch or wiseman/woman. The term witch doctor was in use in England before it came to be associated with Africa. (There’s some real knowledge for you guys to blow the minds of your friend the next time you hear them talking about the witch doctors of Africa). Toad doctors were also credited with the ability to undo evil witchcraft.
Because of the vast amount of different things happening in this time wide spread across Europe, we are unable to go further into details. There is plenty of reading material out there for you all to be looking into and I hope you all have been doing so as we’ve progressed slowly backwards into our own history of being. For this lesson I just wanted to finish up the last of the European Witches, you all should continue your studies on this subject on your own time. I find the local library has a ton of wonderful information that you can use.

Assignment: Think about who the Cunning-folk are today and who they were in history. Why is it, do you think, that they were so commonly persecuted for witchcraft in history, and why do you think they denied being witches? 5 sentence paragraph should be enough for you all to sum up your findings and your feelings on the sub

Re: History of Witchcraft
Post # 9
Re: History of Witchcraft /w assignments
« Reply #8 on Jan 16, 2011, 2:08pm »
History of Witchcraft Lesson 9

The end of the time of the Pagans, and the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine is a well documented part of witchcraft and pagan history. This is where we first see the rise of Christianity and where we first start seeing the Pagan culture being pushed underground. The Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, many say on his death bed, and other say it was earlier, no one knows for sure.
We do know though that in 313 Constantine issued the “Edict of Milan” which commanded official toleration of Christianty and other religions. (This was not the first time nor the last time where toleration of other beliefs was pushed.) He ordered that Sunday be granted the same legal rights as pagan feasts and that feasts in memory of Christian martyrs be recognized. Constantine outlawed the barbaric gladiatorial shows (even though they persisted until the fifth century) and forbade Jews to stone to death other Jews who chose to become Christians.
Also, contrary to popular belierf, Constantine did not make Christiaity the official religion of the Roman Empire, this was accomplished later by Emperor Theodosius in 380. Constantine’s program was one of toleration only, and he continued to support bother Christianity and Paganism until his death. He raised his children as Christians and secured Christian clergy as personal advisors, but retained the title of chief priest of the state cult, until his death.
Before even Constantine though, we see the Roman Empire enacting laws for punishment against those who were said to be witches ( which on a personal note I’d like to say made little sense to me and to most people who learn this as the Roman Empire before Christianity used Oracles, and soothsayers all the time anyways). A good example of one of these laws was enacted around 3rd Century ADE, which was the punishment of burning alive of witches who brought about another person’s death through their enchantments. We see this very punishment move forward through time to the Burning Times (which we just covered in lesson 7 and 8 briefly) and the technique used by the Christian Church.

Assignment: The Emperor Constantine knew that Christianity was going to be a rising religion that would soon dominate his great empire. What are some of the Christian concepts that are pagan based. An example to help you get started is the Halo- it can be said that it was the Sun Disk from those who used to worship the Sun.

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Post # 10
History of Witchcraft Lesson 10

For this lesson we will go all the way back to the Celts. The Celts are the roots of what we call magic today. Even though the Egyptians had a hand in the ceremonial aspects of magic I’ll let you all search out more on the subject on your own, I would also advise searching out gypsies, aka the Romani as this will also help anyone who looking into tarot as a divination specialization.
The Celts were a people who lived between 700BC and 100AD, and were the believed descendants of Indo-Europeans. The Celts were a brilliant and dynamic people, their culture filled with gifted artists, storytellers, metal works, expert farmers and some of the fiercest warriors. They were always feared by their adversaries, especially the Romans, who later adopted many of their customs and traditions.
This deeply spiritual community had its basis in a strong sense of love of the earth. Central to this deep love, were the Goddess’ and Gods, who played a strong role in daily worship. The Celtic tradition recognized 2 main deities; The Earth Mother and the Horned God. They recognized that the divine was always present in all aspects of nature. Reincarnation was also believed to happen after death, with the person going to the Summer Land to rest before the next birth.
The holidays that we know of today in Wicca and other pagan traditions still hold the names and true to the cycles of the seasons, the same as they did to the Celts. The Celtic New Year began at Samhain, what we celebrate today as Halloween, which meant “summers end” and was the final harvest of the year. This was also their “Festival of the Dead” which is where they honored their ancestors and loved ones. Similarly, the winter solstice and May Day as well as several other holidays have their roots in Celtic tradition as well; this is why you hear that Wiccan’s follow a Celtic style Reconstructionist path.
The Druids, which should be a familiar term to everyone, were the priests and priestesses of the Celtic tradition. They remained in power through the fourth century AD, three centuries after the Celts’ defeat at the hands of the Romans (tough people huh?). I want to point out at this time, that the Celts understood the Sacred Feminine and that it was more common for a female to hold a priestess-ship than it was a male to hold a priest ship. This was because the Celts saw women as their equals, and the Druids were usually either too old or injured in battle and couldn’t go with the rest of the group (someone had to stay behind and tend to the kids, etc…). The druids were said to be very wise, and who special blend of wisdom and magic provided a powerful role model for the Celtic peoples. The Druidic priesthood as mentioned was originally all female, which male initiates only becoming accepted after many years (usually due to age, study time or injury as previously stated).
Lauri Cabot explained the levels of the Druidess priest hood as being divided into 3 different levels. The Highest of these classes were celibate (without sex) and lived in convents, which were later assimilated into Christianity as what we call today “Nuns”. The other two levels could be married and live with their husbands, or in the different temples. With the onset of Christianity these wise women would eventually be the ones dubbed as witches, as we saw from earlier lessons.
The religious beliefs and practices of the Celts grew into what later became known as Paganism. Pagan is derived from the Latin word Paganus, which meant “Country Dweller”. Knowing what you know about the Celts and their love for the land, it was more likely for them to have small villages and towns rather than big cities, like their later conquers the Romans.
With time, the paganistic beliefs of this culture and their rituals blended with the Indo-European descended groups and over multiple centuries spawned such practices as concocting potions and ointments, casting spells and other performing works of magic. These practices, along with many of the other nature based beliefs help the Celts and other groups became collectively known as witchcraft.

Assignment: Type a paragraph on the similarities and differences between Celtic practices and another pagan religion (ancient Greek, ancient Egyptian, ancient Romans, modern day Wiccans, etc...)

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