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Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

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Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Qwerty » Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:50 pm

I don't know where to begin with Witchcraft but I'm reading about it. I'm intrigued by pre-Gardnerian Wicca/Witchcraft, but don't know of any resources. Does anyone know of any?
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Myrth » Wed Dec 30, 2015 4:31 pm

Witchcraft is ancient, and various forms existed in different cultures dating back to prehistoric times. If you are looking for pre-Gardnerian witchcraft, you would want to look at things such as Traditional Witchcraft, Celtic Witchcraft or just Witchcraft. Other areas to explore include Shamanism. Wicca was created by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s, so there is really no such thing as pre-Gardnerian Wicca.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby YanaKhan » Wed Dec 30, 2015 4:39 pm

Hello, Qwerty,
I highly recommend this thread. You may find you also like our types of Witchcraft forum.
Good luck.
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No battle is over until I win!
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby HopefulChild » Thu Dec 31, 2015 12:50 pm

Pre-Gardner is pretty much everything.
I currently practice an eclectic (see Lazy) version of ceremonial magic combined with Paleo-Shamanism and sprinkled with Ancestor worship and veneration.

-Oh yeah, makes sense, sure...uhm...what does any of that mean?

Exactly!

I'll simplify it for you. In my very humble opinion right now there are 3 magics. Accidental, Academic, and Wild.

Accidental Magic - If you don't have an organized religion, but you keep being told by other people how impressed they are (or jealous) with how balanced your life seems, then you are practicing accidental magic. You are simply making choices that fit with your souls ideal of how things should work and you aren't working against the universe and are indeed going with the flow. If someone else told you that you were magical you'd probably laugh it off as a silly kind of compliment and just live your life.

You are on these forums so it is less likely that you are living on accidental magic.

Academic Magic - Witchcraft as a system, and how it is interpreted in the world, around the world and so on, then you should probably be trying to find a coven or a mentor. You can get guidance and direction and fellowship and help with resources and make lifelong friends. This is where the history and traditions, and schools of magic become truly important because they help focus your resolve and your outlook and your long term understanding of how you fit into thing.

Wild Magic - This is all the Do it Yourself witches. Eclectic as it were. I count myself in that group. I've been book studying magic and history for nearly my whole life and never really practiced it, never really put any faith in it...until recently, and then like a flash, magic was in everything. I say that a greater percentage of the people who use this forum regularly are eclectic/solitary witches,,do it yourselfers,,,Pythonissa, Sorcerers.

You have to consider what you are asking. Gerald Gardner was a pretty amazing individual.Born in the 19'th century, died in 1964. The 20'th century. Probably the same century you were born in.
It is now the 21'st century.

What you just asked was "Hey guys, I'm interested in witchcraft,,,what happened with magic in the Two Thousand Years before Gerald Gardner wrote his book".

Now I'm being a little tongue in cheek here because Two Thousand years is just the time period where we have decent written records discussing magic.
You have to consider, Stone Henge is 4,600 years old. It was a temple for magic. That's about the same age as the Great Pyramids...the 3 big ones.
There are mentions of magic and sorcerers and wise men going back another Five thousand years throughout the middle east and Africa.

There is a cave in Dordogne, France...where it is still debated that there is a carving in the stone of the first religious figure painting in human history.. called "The Wizard".. He is a man with the head of a Stagg and Antlers.. That is 17,000 years old.

The Venus of Willendorf...the oldest known magical relic, a fertility totem, similar in function to prayer beads..is 25,000 years old.

Nassarius shells have been uncovered with in the Sibudu caves that could have been magical Talismans and those are 100,000 years old.

So...the question you have to answer for yourself is "How far back do I want to go" to start learning.

Me..I always go to the root. The current prevailing hypothesis is that religion and magic and science all started from the same principles when Neanderthals and HomoSapiens and 2 extinct Homo Genus populations spontaneously started burying their dead instead of just leaving them lying on the ground. Once we started burying our friends and relatives to acknowledge that their unique light in the universe was now extinguished, we started making things to bury with them to let them know how much we cared about them and that they will be missed and that we have hope that we will see them again some day.

That started about 300,000 years ago. I started there. It takes a while to work your way back up to Gardner. So be patient.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Myrth » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:22 pm

Excellent answer, HopefulChild! Bravo! :flyingwitch:
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby EtherealMoonRose » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:23 pm

Try traditionalwitch.net they claim to be a "Wicca-free" website.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Kassandra » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:05 am

.


Dang, Hopeful Child went waaaaaaaaaaaay back there, haha.





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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Lady_Lilith » Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:50 am

Okay, I have to ask.... Since I am approaching this more from an academic standpoint.... What do you mean when you say "pre-Gardnerian"? Do you mean a certain time period/place? (Greece for example had the cult of Hekate who were witches, then myths about Circe and Madea. Then there is Babylonia were witches were feared because they were thought to cause ill health and there's a lot of magic against them. Or central American where brujeria has taken off... etc) Or do you just mean Wicca before Gardner?

The sources on the New Forest Coven, the one Gardner was initiated into, before him, are very vague and unspecific. At the time you see, witchcraft was illegal, so everything was done in secret. There has been a lot revealed since those original coven members died, but there is unconfirmed and confirmed NFC members and the details are not about specific practices per se. Basically, we don't know. I can give you all the information I have, but I don't think we can fully separate what was an "original" practice and what Gardner added. (If this is what you're referring to.)
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Jenny Crow » Sat Jan 02, 2016 5:00 pm

I think Qwerty was asking about Witchcraft practices before Gardner came on the scene :) There was a lot of secrecy way back then as, like you say, Witchcraft was illegal until 1951 when the Witchcraft Act was repealed.

The tradition that Gardner started with help from Doreen Valiente, material from the New Forest Coven, material 'borrowed from Crowley, and bits and pieces of the old stuff has basically become known as Wicca over in North America. In England I believe it's known as British Traditional Witchcraft (or is it British Trad Wicca, cant' remember, sorry). But unfortunately, the Wicca of today is a far cry from the original tradition that Gardner started, it's hardly even recognizable - it's been so watered down and whitewashed for the masses. And Myrth is right - there's no such animal as pre-Gardnerian Wicca.

The old Witchcraft is still hidden, to a point but that traditionalwitch.net site that EtherealMoonRose mentioned is a source of some good information. And books by Gemma Gary and Nigel G. Pearson are also sources of good information.

As well, you could look back to the old Cunning Men and Women but if you want to go further back there''s also Shamanism. Old European Folk Lore will give you information, too.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby HopefulChild » Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:42 pm

If you want to work in stages of age you can search based on these terms.

Ceremonial Magic

Ritual Magic

Esotericism

Hermeticism

Enochian Magic

Heinrich Cornellius Agrippa

Goetia


Any older than the 12'th century with some researchers from inside the roman catholic church trying to find ritual magic, so they could expose current magic, and you have to go back to the Roman empire pre-Christianity. Even then after the founding of Christianity it became more and more obvious that "magic" was being used as an excuse to modify social behavior and homogenize social conventions.

Here is what you need to understand, once the Holy Roman Empire collapsed around the 5'th century, the rise of Christianity meant that there was a continuous war happening throughout Europe and anywhere that the influence of Rome still held sway.
At the end of the Roman Empire it was entirely Christian, so even before the collapse of the empire, magic and witchcraft and augury, and the collective systems of ceremonial magic and ritual magic and natural magic had been abolished in favor of casting coins into pots at a church and begging the Christian god to do you a solid and fix your problems with a miracle.

So from roughly year 300, to year 1500 the majority of Europeans were forced to pretend that they didn't believe in magic, or use it, for fear of being tortured and murdered by the church. Even Roman Emperors who were creating laws against magic and witchcraft, used wizards and astrologers in their private planning sessions. Since the considered themselves separate from the normal civilian class of people, those laws didn't apply to them. Only to the low born or plebeians.

Science also suffered significantly during this period of time. That's why in the 12'th and 13'th century the biggest advances in science actually came in the form of navigation and map making and keeping more accurate time...with more accurate time, you could navigate better. With better maps, and star charts you could explore. When you explored, you found new resources, or people to trade with or people to exploit so you made more money.

Once science started helping make more money people revisited the writings and scrolls and teachings of the "wizards" and "alchemists" from hundreds of years before who had been the primary Magic users, scientists, and spiritual leaders.

That led to the church cracking down on all of it and science broke off, left the soul part out of it and explained to the church that all they wanted to do was study the natural world so that the church would stop torturing and murdering them.
The church didn't really stop...but the church had to give in a little bit since the church was also benefiting financially from the advances in science in the form of bigger buildings, faster travel, and finding new lands full of non-christians to convert at sword point so they could tithe them into poverty in order to save their souls.

Everything from the 15'th century forward is an attempt to piece back together those things that were found at the beginning of the renaissance when people began to throw off the church and explore again.
They key to that really was an acknowledgment that the Greek and Romans and Arabs had civilizations that seemed bigger and better than what existed then. A lot of people wanted to understand the history of it and started to slowly understand how much the church had actually destroyed along the way.

Just look at the Druids. St. Patrick destroyed the temples, their scrolls, their carvings, their teachings and murdered elders who wouldn't convert and renounce their ways. That went on for decades..It's not like he walked into Ireland and said, HEY,,,have you guys heard about Jesus, and everyone flipped out like a rock start just showed up and couldn't convert fast enough.
He went back to the island on a promise to convert it forcefully and in so doing secure himself a bishop position and eventually saint hood.

The majority of Gauls and Celts kept their religion under Roman rule. Only when the Romans converted to Christianity did they march back out and force everyone to convert.

It may sound like I have a big chip on my shoulder about Christianity..but that's just because I have a big chip on my shoulder about Christianity...that's all.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby Jenny Crow » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:48 pm

Don't forget that running alongside all of this since the 1400's were/are the Cunning Folk and Pellars in Britain and in Germany the Hexenmeisters and in Spain and other countries too. Folk magic has never gone away - just hidden.
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Re: Pre-Gardnerian Witchcraft

Postby SpiritTalker » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:26 pm

These pre-Gardnerian, British WC themed books are on my shelf:

West Country Wicca, a Journal of the Old Religion by Rhiannon Ryall; Phoenix Publishing 1989
Traditional Witchcraft, a Cornish Book of Ways, Gemma Gary; Troy Books 2008
Treading the Mill, Nigel Pearson; CapallBann 2007
Call of the Horned Piper, Nigel Jackson; CapallBann 1994
The White Goddess, Robert Graves (various editions available) 1948
Grimoire for Modern Cunningfolk, Peter Paddon; Pendraig 2012
The Secret People, Wisewomen & Cunning Ways, Melusine Draco; Pagan Portals 2016

On-Oder, release date Jan 2020 the Crooked Path, by Kelden - one of my favorite you tubers.
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