There is much debate among Wiccans and non-Wiccans alike over the age of our practice. We like to call our path the "Old Religion", the "traditions of our ancestors", or the "pre-Christian religion of Europe". Critics point out that much of Wicca can be traced to Gerald Gardener and the rest is being manufactured daily. Who is right? Are we an ancient tradition or are we modern?
The truth is somewhere in between.
It is true that Gerald Gardener made up some of what he taught as ancient tradition. That he designed the ritual form and set the vocabulary of our practice as is well documented. (Farrar, 1984) It is true that Witches today are constantly adding to and subtracting from our practice to meet our needs, often from modern sources.
However, even if Gerald Gardener never met a hereditary Witch, it is still true that he worked with older sources. Many of his additions can be traced to medieval grimoires, Masonic rites and local folk traditions of even greater antiquity. (Farrar, 1984) In addition, it is true that Witches today are still "following the most authentic and hallowed Gardnerian tradition-stealing from any source that didn't run away too fast." (Adler, 1986 p. 93) We make use of the latest anthropological evidence, folklore research and cross-cultural studies to fill out our religious practice with pre-Christian and paleo-pagan material. The modern movement is deliberately revivalist, drawing from any sources that we percieve as "pagan". This deliberate attempt to recreate the practices of our ancestors must be taken into account.
Gardener gave us a patchwork quilt. The quilt itself was of his manufacture but some of the materials and patterns were quite old. Modern practitioners constantly add to and alter this quilt with material both old and new.
We are both an ancient and a modern religion. Failure to recognize the ancient roots of Wicca does it as much of a disservice as failure to recognize its modern additions.
© 1999 Sheherazahde
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How to cite this page:
Snyder, Eva M. "Wicca: Ancient or Modern?" February 14, 1999. Online. Internet. [Put here the date you read or printed this page]. Available: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/7746/BraidedWheel/WiccaAncient.html
Snyder, Eva M. (1999). Wicca: Ancient or Modern? [Online]. Available: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/7746/BraidedWheel/WiccaAncient.html
About the author:
Lady Sheherazahde has been practicing Witchcraft since 1981 and is a Third Degree High Priestess in the Braided Wheel Tradition of Wicca. Sheherazahde@yahoo.com