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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton


If one wishes to practice the craft then it makes sense that one should learn the history of the craft. Wicca was introduced by Gerald Gardener in the mid to late 1950's shortly after Britain repealed their anti-witchcraft laws. Gardener claimed that he became initiated into a coven in North Forrest England. His claims are subject to dispute.

Prior to him introducing Wicca, Gerald Gardner was a member of the Mason and he was a member of Ordo Templis Orientales, Aleister Crowley's organization. Mr. Gardner tried to set up OTO in London but he was not too successful. Many a people familiar with both Crowley's work and Wicca have noticed that Gardner plagiarized Crowley in many an instance and used his words in a construct that Crowley himself would not have used. Doreen Vailente would later on re-write everything.

Despite all this the author Ronald Hutton does make the statement that Wicca, meaning the wiseones, is a viable religion. Hutton is a historian who has written many books on Pagan movement and holidays in Great Britain.

Mr. Hutton goes on to say that "Wicca" is the first all British contribution to religion given to the world. In order to fully get an understanding of Wicca one must get an overall picture of British history and the British mentality. The British fascination with Paganism began with a renewed enthusiasm and admiration for Greco/Roman Culture. These nationalities were thought off as being advanced and were praised for their many contributions to world civilization. The Greeks and the Romans were only thought to be lacking morals and the revelation of Jesus Christ. Later on British literature would foster and cultivate a fascination with nature. The old pagans were thought to have a real closeness with nature.

As history would progress several authors would write paens to Pan and how he would chase wood nymphs in the the forest. The Christian religion was felt to be too rigid at this time. Godfrey Higgins asserted that in ancient History that there was an ancient civilization that extended through out the known world. They were the ones who discovered writing and religion. Helena Blavatsky, s spiritualist, speculated that Atlantis was this society.

In the Ancient world there was a Goddess for every aspect of civilization but not nature, however. The Goddesses had their own identity. Toward the end of the Pagan Period in a work called "Metamorpheisis" by Apuleius it was said that the moon goddess was said to embody all the other Goddesses. In literature and in Archaeology a view was starting to prevail that humanity worshiped a mother goddess. She is represented by the earth and the moon. She ended up embodying all the Goddesses and this is the current view of Pagan Witchcraft.

Like wise with the Greek Gods like Jupiter, Apollo and Neptune all of them fell out of favor. For while Apollo was the favorite but soon he gave way to the horned God Pan. Pan was a favorite of the literary scene up until the 1930's. He represented nature, sexuality and playfulness. He was the exact opposite of Jesus. In the view of Robert Graves the horned God was the consort of of the Goddess and was both the lover and the offspring of the Goddess. Death served as a transition.

Wicca borrowed their ritual structure from the Masons. The first Masonic Lodge was established in the late 1596 in North Scotland. They had initiations, handshakes and passwords. Many of which Wicca would come to borrow. In Medieval times there were guilds who had secret organizations. They too had a lot in common with the Masons but with more of a focus towards their craft or profession.

Masonic craft was oriented towards spiritual perfection. To join a lodge one had to believe in a supreme being. Their ceremonies had 4 cardinal directions and they were connected with mythology. As more archaeological information became available about the Sumerians, Egyptians and Greek that information slowly got added into the Masonic lore.

The Pentagram was one of the Masonic symbols, the masons also ended their ceremonies with "so mote it be" These element should be recognizable to those who practice Wicca. One Masonic type organization was called " The Horseman's Word" This guild of horse whisperers would mock Christ and Christianity and say parts of the Bible backwards.

In a nutshell to cap things off, word has it that Gerald Gardener after returning from India in the 1930 became acquainted with a group of Rosicrucian actors who introduced him to the craft. Dorothy Clutterbuck was the priestess who supposedly initiated Gardner. Later he tried to bring to London with success along with a woman named Dafo. Later on she would leave and Gardner would recruit Doreen Valiente. Valiente upon looking over Gardners book of shadows noticed a lot of phrases taken from Aleister Crowley. Crowley himself was not really interested in Witch Craft which he considered a woman's religion. None the less Crowley did meet with Gardner 3-4 times. Later on Valiente would part with Gardner and join with Robert Cochran. Valiente later left Cochran and wnet on her own. The book discusses the growth of Wicca, Alex Sanders, the impact of American Wicca on the British.

For those who practice Wicca I advise that you read this book. Not only does it tell the history and development of the craft but also what events and trends lead to it's birth. It is very scholarly and thorough.

2 comments:

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn said...

Be very wary reading Hutton's Triumph of the Moon. Hutton has a clear agenda and makes many wild and unsubstantiated claims. His argument, long nearly taken as gospel in the Pagan community, that nothing of ancient Paganism survived Centuries of Christian repression, has been thoroughly debunked by ensuing scholarship. See for example, the new book, Trials of the Moon, by Ben Whitmore.

- David Griffin

The Granovitch said...

I have heard about "Trials " and need to get myself a copy. Sorita d'este has a book called "Wicca Magical Beginings" which does a good job explaining the origins of many Wiccan practices. It is obvious to me that Gerald Gardner was initiated into a tradition but then added to it from several sources upon introducing what is today caloled Wicca.

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