Witchcraft In Roman And Saxon Times

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The position of the cult in Roman and Saxon times seems rather a puzzle. The great question is, were the witches and the Druids members of the same cult? The witches have no exact traditions on the subject. Personally, I think they were not; the witch cult was the religion of the soil, as it were, and the Druids were the more aristocratic religion, much as things were a thousand years later, when the witch cult was the religion of the peasants, but the Roman Church was the dominant power. The latter was not only a religion, but also the Civil Service, the educational system, the politicians, and the not so very "hidden hand" which ruled the kings. The Druids seem to have occupied a similar position.

The Roman Occupation lasted from A.D. 43 to A.D. 410. I doubt if the religion the Romans brought with them had much influence upon the witch cult. The official cult of the deified Emperors and Capitoline Jove was, I think, more of a national expression of feeling, like the figures of Britannia with trident and shield (though this is really a figure of the Great Mother Goddess), or "Uncle Sam" in striped trousers and a goatee beard or the pretty lady with short skirts, a very decollete chemise, and the Cap of Liberty, labelled "La France". Men fought and died for them, but did they really believe in them as gods, though they believed in what they stood for. That is, they did not take them seriously (who could have taken the deified Emperors seriously?) but they conformed; as people, whatever their private feelings about royalty, stand when the National Anthem is played. But it is another matter when we think of the various Mystery Cults which the Romans brought with them, the cult of Serapis at York for instance, or the cult of Mithras, which had a number of temples in Britain and whose temple has recently been uncovered in London.

From what we know of this latter cult I doubt if it had any effect at all. It was an exclusive, puritanical, male cult of sun-worship, which appealed to stern, hard-living soldiers, and was very popular with the Roman Legionaires. However, it is different when one comes to the Roman and Greek Mysteries. I have told at length in my previous book, Witchcraft Today, of the discoveries in the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii. All the Mysteries were

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