Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Witchcraft A Religion

Is Witchcraft A Religion Cover
If we look at the origins of the word and how it was used, then yes, Witchcraft is a religion. Wicca as it is used today is a modern denomination of that religion. It's important to understand that Wicca in it's original form was not a tradition at all. And those who claim Wicca is the older base of the religion are not accurate in their assumption. That does not diminish the value or stature of Wicca.

There have been many Traditional practices of Witchcraft handed down among families and cultures long before these words and labels were established. The earliest we can go back in time is to the Late Latin period of the 3rd century AD and the use of paganus by the scholars of that time. Even then we know from the writings of Caesar's Commentarii de bello Gallico (52–51 BC; The Gallic War) that there were pagan practices in place in the Celtic lands.

Because of this, modern attempts to suggest that Wicca is the original religion doesn't take into account these earlier practices of the faith. We know the Druids and Celtic Shamanism existed and were practiced long before the Wicce and Wiccecraft were labeled by the old English.

We certainly know the Norse practiced earlier forms of Norse Shamanism that evolved into Odinism, Asatru and neo-Pagan Witchcraft traditions. We also know these early forms of Norse paganism influenced other regions of the world as the Vikings traveled, conquered and settled in new lands. That is certainly true of their invasion and influence in the Celtic lands.

We also know that Native American pagan practices in North, Central and South America existed long before Indo-Europeans invaded those lands, bring Christianity to the 'new worlds'. These forms of Shamanism are also the pre-cursors to modern neo-paganism. And in many instances heavily influenced modern pagan beliefs and practices. Calling these early traditions "wiccan" degrades the contributions these early people made to our belief systems today.

Taking all this into account, modern practices cannot be labeled or generalized as 'Wicca'. The historical evolution of the words, and their associated practices pre-date Wicca as a practice or tradition. Because of this, we cannot say Wicca is the religion. Rather it is a denomination of the religion.

In or about 1100AD practitioners of nature paganism adopted the label Wiccecraft and later Witchcraft as the title for their religious beliefs. As with all things, that large category of practitioners developed their own doctrine of practices, or ways of implementing those beliefs based on their own generational or cultural perspectives. Traditions became the denominations of the faith and there are many of these within the global religion of neo-paganism.

Many of the Traditions we know and practice have greatly evolved since these earlier times. In part because of the time and general evolution of thought, in part because of the eventual secrecy that blanketed earlier practitioners who were forced to hide from Inquisitions and death. Sadly much of this secrecy caused a large portion of information to be lost and forgotten over time. Even before the Inquisitions we know a large amount of information and documentation was lost as conquers destroyed villages and cultures as they took over the lands and people they invaded.

But the evolution also occurred because the more the human culture learned from science and scientific exploration, the more our understanding of the universe and our place in it also evolved. We no longer see the need or value in sacrificing a life as an appeasement or in honoring our Gods/Goddesses. Today we see greater value in life and caring for the life of nature and the world around us. Because we have grown as a species, our religious values have also grown.

Today modern Traditions are based on advancements in science, merging practices from two or more traditions into one, or even taking aspects of beliefs from other religions and merging them with neo-pagan traditions to create new traditions of the religion.

Through all this, there is one constant - Witchcraft is the religion that sets the foundation of belief and the Traditions further define and implement those beliefs into their own perspectives of practice. Defining their own creed, troth or rede of faith to provide guidance and principles for that tradition. Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft, along with a large number of other Traditions that existed before the creation of Wicca.

You also may enjoy this free books:

John Drelincourt Seymour - Irish Witchcraft And Demonology
Jaroslav Nemec - Witchcraft And Medicine

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