Wicca And The Christian Heritage

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What is Wicca? Is it witchcraft or Paganism? Occultism or esotericism? Are Wiccans witches?

Since it was first publicised in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, Wicca has been associated with magic, spirituality, mysticism, nature religions, secrecy, gnosis, the exotic and the Other. Over the past thirty years, anthropologists, sociologists and historians have defined and explored Wicca within all these contexts, but there has been a tendency to sublimate and negate the role of Christianity in Wicca's historical and contemporary incarnations.

Joanne Pearson 'prowls the borderlands of Christianity' to uncover the untold history of Wicca. She argues that Christian traditions are inherent in the development of contemporary Wicca, and makes a groundbreaking analysis of Wicca's relationship with Christianity. Focusing on the accusations which have been levelled against Catholicism, heterodoxy and witchcraft throughout history, Pearson explores the importance of ritual, deviant sexuality and magic in Christian and Wiccan contexts, and addresses the problematic nature of the Wiccan claim of marginality.

Joanne Pearson, a scholar of contemporary Wicca and its history, is author of A Popular Dictionary of Paganism (Routledge, 2002) and editor of Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World (1998) and Belief Beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age (2002).

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