Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on the wiccan religion. Almost all of the forms of paganism are focused around worshipping nature and multiple deities. hence they appear to be the same religions to a non practitioner. Paganism is an umbrella term which encompasses many pagan practices and religions including Wicca which is one of the most widely practiced forms of paganism. Wicca is one of the most widely misunderstood forms of paganism and people usually associate mistake it for a religion promoting evil witchcraft and weird rituals (Cunningham 2010).
The Wicca has its roots in the early pagan practices and could be called its direct descendent. Even though Wiccan beliefs bear a striking dissimilarity, it can easily be traced back to the early forms of paganism. During the medieval ages, the church decided to eradicate the pagan religions because it was believed that paganism was actually linked to satanic worship. ‘Witches’ were targeted and burtally burned at stakes if found guilty of possessing the art of witchcraft. About 40000 to 100000 people were killed during the famous ‘witch hunt’ because they were suspected to be linked with witchcraft (Howard 2010). The word ‘witches’ and ‘witchcraft’ had a very negative connotation and was usually considered a symbol of devil worship, and strange rituals which involved rape or cannibalism. Many of the followers of pagan religions abandoned their sacred beliefs for fear of their lives however a few clung onto it and followed it in secrecy. The current form of Wicca actually propagated in the twentieth century however many of the followers are of the view that it is a rather refined form of the same paganism (Howard 2010). During the twentieth century, many leaders stood up to propagate ‘Wicca’ because they feared that the ancient religion of witchcraft would completely die out. In the year 1954, a civil servant by the name of Gerald Gardner published “Witchcraft today” in which he spoke of his fears of extinction of the ancient religion. He also recounted his encounter with the other members who were part of the Witch cult. He decided to spread the religion and for this purpose, Gardner formed the Bricket Wood coven in the city of Hertfordshire in 1946. For the organization of the coven, he declared himself the high priest while making Dafo the high priestess. Gardner laid the foundation of the ‘book of shadows’, the wiccan book of spirituality and personal experiences. He preached that the book was actually an ancient practice and that its revival was necessary to revive the religion. The religion he preached, began to be known as the Gardnerian Wicca. There was however a lot of disagreement and unrest within the believers, the reason for which was the Gardner’s imposition of the Wiccan laws. The Gardnerian Wicca however attracted a lot of people and hence the Bricket Wood coven could be said to have played a vital role in the revival of Wicca. Following Gardner’s open proclamation, many other followers emerged and claimed that the ‘traditional witchcraft’ was being followed by their families since ages. With the public declaration of such a large number of followers, the Wicca began to be seen as a religion rather than a satanist cult. A large number of covens were formed devoted to the cause of guiding solitary practitioners as well as propagating the Wiccan religion across the globe. With the increased number of covens, the religion entered from England to the neighbouring countries of Ireland and Scotland.