By Dallas Dougan
In the middle of the 20th century, a retired British government employee named Gerald Gardner claimed that he had received initiation into an ancient nature religion descended from indigenous European faiths. The adherents of the revived religion were using the moniker New Forest Coven. Gardner set about to revitalize and repopularize the witchcraft religion by putting together a tome called "Witchcraft Today," in which he tried to reconstruct the fragments of recovered tradition from the New Forest Coven.
Gardner designated the religion as "witchcraft," and described its adherents as "the Wica." Gardner asserted that this latter term was passed down to him by senior members of the Coven, and that its use was what alerted him to the possibility that the "Old Religion" might have survived into modern times. Gardner thought, as do many present-day academics, that the name "Wica" derived from the Old English word "wicca," which is the etymological forerunner of the more modern word "witch."
There is some argument regarding the veracity of Gerald Gardner's idea that he was reestablishing an matriarchal, ancient, indigenous European religion. A minority of claimants have maintained that Gardner had simply invented the teachings of the Wica, collecting elements of some other archaic religions and from European occult practices as needed. Be that as it may, the majority of academics accept that Gardner made his claims in good faith. It seems most probable that Gardner gleaned the Wiccan teachings from a 1900s revival of the original witchcraft that Gardner sought, instead of an uncontaminated survival of an ancient European spiritual tradition.
Despite the fact that he produced the craft's practices in order to conserve the Old Religion for generations to come, Gardner considered "witchcraft" as a mystery religion that required phased initiation to be fully assimilated and practiced. An English national named Raymond Buckland received an initiation into the new Wiccan rites from Gardner's own coven, named the Isle of Man, and subsequently spread the beliefs of witchcraft back to the United States. The traditions of witchcraft acquired respect rapidly in the new world, where a cultural and psychological revolution was taking place.
Since that time, a wide variety of unique permutations of Wiccan-derived religion have propagated widely. Most of these have been started by Gardnerian coven members who started their own covens and performed their own initiations. A number of other fashionable forms of Wicca have come from self-initiated practitioners and spiritual explorers who crafted their own forms of nature spirituality based on the the early Wiccan writings. Today a number of these subsets of Gardnerian witchcraft are in widespread practice around the world.
Dallas is an experimental mystic who researches the spiritual systems of the world in hopes of piecing together the ultimate fate of humankind. In his voyages, he frequently needs to find Wiccan supplies and can typically be seen wearing meaningful and beautiful Wicca clothes. He wishes you great success on your own spiritual journey!