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Thread: pre-Gardnerian traditions?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander67 View Post
    Wicca as a term did not come about untill the early 20th century as a result of Gardner's teachings. (From what I have found, if someone here knows different I would be much in their debt if they can help me in my research)
    Wicca as the name of the religion did not. I believe Gardner used the word wica to refer to Wiccans themselves, rather than as the name of the religion. It's actually an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning witch.

  2. #12
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    yes, also, According to what I read, Irish witches followed a path named Witta,(sp) and I believe it was in Raven's book where I saw that centuries ago, if someone was a witch, or posessed magical abilities they were said to be in posession of the Wicca?

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xander67 View Post
    yes, also, According to what I read, Irish witches followed a path named Witta,(sp)
    You might want to read J. Hautin-Mayer's essay, "When is a Celt not a Celt?" I'll post this brief excerpt:"One of the worst examples as far as research is concerned is Witta …

    "Let's start with the title: Witta. The author assures us that this is 'the Irish Gaelic term for the Anglo-Saxon word Wicca' and 'is one of the Irish names of the craft' (p.x.) 'Witta,' however, cannot be pronounced in Gaelic. It is a combination of letters that are virtually never seen together in that language (an equivalent combination of letters in English might be xyqueph). I believe McCoy has simply attempted to create and Irish-sounding word that would appear to be highly similar to Wicca. This in and of itself would not be reprehensible, had she not tried to suggest that this is an actual Gaelic word with an actual historical context."

    I recommend reading the whole article.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xander67 View Post
    and I believe it was in Raven's book where I saw that centuries ago, if someone was a witch, or posessed magical abilities they were said to be in posession of the Wicca?
    I've been practicing since the early '70s, and I have never heard that before.

    Just my 2 cents. YMMV.

  4. #14
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    Eva Pocs?
    (Between the living and the dead)
    Owen Davies?
    (Popular Magick)

    I'm not personally convinced by other claimants - there is a lot of semiotic slipperiness I think as to what constitutes Paganism (I mean obviously there was Paganism in the ancient past - but that does not equate to a link). There is also a lot of subjectivity, and rather too many people who are so very desperate for Paganism to be ancient.

    Hutton, of course, demonstrates convincingly that Wicca is part of an ancient tradition, stretching right back to Egypt through the western esotericists. Of course this isn't the ancient tradition that people want though is it?

  5. #15
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    You might want to read J. Hautin-Mayer's essay, "When is a Celt not a Celt?" I'll post this brief excerpt:"One of the worst examples as far as research is concerned is Witta …

    "Let's start with the title: Witta. The author assures us that this is 'the Irish Gaelic term for the Anglo-Saxon word Wicca' and 'is one of the Irish names of the craft' (p.x.) 'Witta,' however, cannot be pronounced in Gaelic. It is a combination of letters that are virtually never seen together in that language (an equivalent combination of letters in English might be xyqueph). I believe McCoy has simply attempted to create and Irish-sounding word that would appear to be highly similar to Wicca. This in and of itself would not be reprehensible, had she not tried to suggest that this is an actual Gaelic word with an actual historical context."

    I recommend reading the whole article.

    This. "Witta" is a figment of Edain Mccoy's imagination.

    Not to mention that whole "Irish Potato Goddess" thing before the potato was actually brought to Ireland...but when you're a fluffy writer, why let facts get in the way?


    "McCoy will publish whatever she thinks will sell, regardless of whether there's a shred of truth behind it...[the book] supposedly describes the 3000 year old Irish branch of Wicca, which honored the Ancient Irish Potato Goddess. Let's forget the whole Wicca-is-a-20th-century-religion argument for a moment. Apparently the Irish had a goddess for something they wouldn't encounter for another 2500 years. The potato is a New World crop."
    http://know-will-dare.blogspot.com/2009/01/question-of-day-just-how-bad-is-edain.html
    Last edited by Gaudior; December 29th, 2010 at 06:15 PM.
    "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Remember your spirituality" - Ganesha to a friend in a dream, 2008



  6. #16
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    The New Forest Coven&The Murray thesis are even considered psuedohistory and myth among Traditional Wiccans, but I think the problem with identifying its debatable ancient origins in the British Isles is that people are still seeking established traditions, rather than actual practices. Seeking the influences among its outer court rituals&ceremonial elements overlooks the uses of cunning techniques such as healing or banishing with the likes of bottles, cords, e.t.c. Whether or not one believes the New Forest Coven actually existed, even going by Gardner's claims of it having fabricated rites which he re-wrote with his own influences breaks any line, and still doesn't establish what it hypothetically could have been. Whether or not it could have been linked with craft guilds like the Order of the Wood Cutters who were active in the New Forest area, offshoots of the Rosicrucian Fellowship, or a group of people interested in magic&the occult capitalising on the accepted Murray thesis at the time, along with other components of romantic witch beliefs&stereotypes.

    Other than claims of from "Traditional Witch" traditions of the Cochranian sort, Tubal Cain, 1734 and the like, there's virtually no sources other than a few exceptions of witches/cunningfolk meeting in groups of established traditions other than just rumour and lore in the likes of Wales, Mann, Cornwall, Scotland,&Ireland as Gardner even mentioned being unable to avail in meeting the rumoured one that was said to function in the south of Ireland. In early Irish heroic saga, we usually see druids as intermediaries of the supernatural, but Munster has its own persona, and in the story of Conall Corc, there are references to witches&palmistry, one character being Fedelm Red Mare the Witch, daughter of Mˇethaire.

    There have been many famed Irish traditional witches or cunning folk like Lady Alice Kyteler, Mary Butler, and Biddy Early, but although having some alternative attitudes towards religion that can be described as "pagan", these people were Christians no different than any other charmer&cunning person of the British Isles. Ireland had many people like this among the peasantry, and either relied on their local priests, or cunningfolk for their "king's evil". There are even specific terms in Hiberno-English for these people in Ireland (even examples of them blessing a space in the 4 directions), but I won't include them because the last thing I want to see is people claiming to be following "family traditions" by the terms passed down to them from their great great whoever that emigrated from the famine. William Carelton records this culture in his literature.

    The Thelemic influence on Gardner has been popularly noted.http://rodneyorpheus.com/?page_id=271 When he and Crowley met later in Crolwey's life, Thelema took a big hit when occult organisations were driven underground from the war. It was actually down to about 2 functioning lodges in North America that kept the O.T.O going, but there's no doubt Crowley was looking for someone to take his place, which in theory happened as Gardner was elevated in his O.T.O degree, and was shortly its European representative. After Crolwey's death he did meet with Karl Germer(someone that was imprisoned by the Nazi's for his affiliation with Freemasonry and Crowley) in New York to discuss his plans, which he was never able to follow up on due to his spell of ill health.

    Crolwey was wanting to introduce eastern mysticism to the west, and find a belief system of Magick that crushed dogma. In it we see deity representations of the sun as in Liber Resh, and a Goddess of the splendourous night sky, with the polar parallels of Chaos&Babalon(as well as other names that are oathbound and subject to initiation) Gardner claimed that Crowley spoke of having knowledge of "the craft", and being inside once himself, but Crowley never spoke highly of witchcraft.

    "It is only the romantic mediaeval perversion of science that represents young women as partaking in witchcraft, which is, properly speaking, restricted to the use of such women as are no longer women in the Magical sense of the word, because thy are no longer capable of corresponding to the formula of the male, and are therefore neuter rather than feminine. It is for this reason that their method has always been referred to the moon, in that sense of the term in which she appears, not as the feminine correlative of the sun, but as the burnt-out, dead, airless satellite of earth...All the works of witchcraft are illusory; and their apparent effects depend on the idea that it is possible to alter things by the mere rearrangement of them."

    This is also why he included the card of illusions, The Moon, in his Thoth Tarot as the that of ,"The moon of witchcraft and abominable deeds." It's a speculation that this could have been possible, and Crowley tossed out for putting his touch on it like the situation with him and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but of course there's no proof for this, and numerous other speculations as well. What we do know is that Gardner spoke little of Crowley's influence on him, rendering him a charlatan, but Gardner had a hard enough time with the press and his Witchcraft as it was, no telling what his relationship to the "Wickedest Man in the World" would have done.
    Semper Fidelis

  7. #17
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    Hail Ho Ben.

    Merry we meet

    I wonder if you are still around on the website group Ben?? I have been absent for sometime myself and have only just returned, and while checking out the archives came across this question you posted (long ago) about "Pre-Gardnerian traditions?". I'm curious to know if you have continued with your researches, and what if anything you have found. As for myself, I am just finishing a three part series of brief bio's on people who may have influence Gardner in some way namely: Ernest Thompson Seton - founder of the Woodcraft Indians in 1902, Ernest Westlake - founder of the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry (OWC) in 1916, and John Gordon Hargrave - founder of the Kibbo Kift Kindred (KKK) in 1920. While they may not be considered traditions in a particularly Witchy sense, it seems to me some of their practises may well have been influential??

    Best Wishes.

    Merry we part.

    George Knowles (Man in Black).
    E-mail - George@controverscial.com
    or - themaninblackuk2001@yahoo.com
    Website - http://www.controverscial.com

    Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed.

  8. #18
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    Wicca Magickal Beginnings by Sorita D'Este&David Rankine is a good read too.
    Semper Fidelis

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