History of Wicca

By Dianne Sylvan

icca is a modern religion, and not an unbroken tradition handed down in secret for hundreds of years, as many people still want to believe. Many of the ideas and practices we use are based on much older ones, and certainly the concept of worshiping a female Deity as well as a male is as old as humanity, but Wicca as we know it was synthesized from many diverse sources and is still evolving even today.

There is unfortunately great resistance to this reality, and many people cling to the fallacy that before the "Burning Times" when Wiccans were killed by Christians by the thousands, there was one great Goddess religion practiced all over Europe. What people forget is that a religion's validity is not based on its history, but on what it offers its adherents. It does not matter whether Wicca is a thousand years old or was started yesterday afternoon in someone's garage; what matters is that it fulfills our spiritual needs.

That in mind, the history of Wicca is a fascinating tapestry that shows just how appropriate Wicca is for the modern age. It draws on many diverse wisdom traditions to create something multicolored and adaptable— respecting what our ancestors understood about the natural world but also reflecting our own 21st century lives.

The timeline that follows this chapter shows the important events that shaped Wicca's development, including the lives of its earliest champions and the people that influenced them. Rather than detail every item on the timeline, this chapter will look at the biggest influences and why they were vital to the birth and growth of our religion.

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