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                                       Wiccan History 
                Wicca is a relatively modern attempt (approximately 50 years old)
           at  reviving and  reconstructing  the old  pre-Christian religions  of
           Europe.   In a mythopoetic sense  it is many centuries  old.  However,
           the Witch of 200 years ago would not recognize what  is called "witch-
           craft"  today.  Modern Wicca may have some of its roots in some of the
           local  folk-magic and "family witchcraft" of mid 20th Century England.
           It does  have traceable roots  in the Golden  Dawn magical society  of
           late 19th  century England, some  of Aleister Crowley's  magickal work
           and some  Ceremonial Magic dating  back to  Elizabethan times.   For a
           modern  history of  English  Wicca,  the  reader can  most  profitably
           consult the works of Janet and Stuart Farrar and Doreen Valiente.  
                Up  until recently, the earliest known  remnants of human society
           that give us  any clues to the spiritual dimension  of prehistoric man
           are those  belonging to  the Gravettian-Aurignacian cultures  of 2500-
           1500 B.C.E.  This is called the Upper Paleolithic Period.  Though most
           of  the sites  so far  discovered have  been found  in Europe,  a very
           important site in  Anatolia (modern Turkey) has also been found and is
           the  (so far)  the first  or oldest  City of  Catal Huyuk  (pronounced
           chatal Hoo-Yook),they  form a conjectural foundation  for the religion
           of  the goddess as it  emerged in the later  Neolithic Age of the Near
           East.    There  have been numerous  studies of these  Paleolithic cul-
           tures, including extensive explorations of the sites occupied by these
           peoples,  including the apparent rites  connected with the disposal of
           their dead.
                The earliest remains of ancient civilization indicating some form
           of Goddess  worship were in the  caves in Lascaux, France.   Here, the
           first and earliest non-anthropomorphic divine figures were  symbolized
           by  the horse  for female Divinity  and the  Bison as  the male divine
           influence.   This  portion of  the cave  was painted  in approximately
           17,000  B.C.E. and sealed  approximately 10,000 B.C.E.   The anthropo-
           morphic Goddess figures appear sometime approximately 7,000 B.C.E. The
           earliest remains in  Catal Huyuk  have been reliably  carbon dated  to
           6,500  B.C. and show some interesting parallels  in that the horse was
           replaced with an  anthropomorphic goddess  and the Bison  (an ice  age
           animal)  has been replaced with  the aurochs bull,  ancestor of modern
           cattle.  The anthropomorphic Goddess is an Earth Mother and the nearby
           volcanoes (then active) were considered her breasts.1
                           One major conjecture has been that  the concept of the creator of
           all human life may have been formulated by the clan's  image of women.
           The  reasoning behind this conjecture lies in the observations in this
           century  of the few remaining Paleolithic type cultures.  These Paleo-
           lithic  cultures tend to be woman centered  since it is from the women
           that  babies come  and  the women  are  absolutely essential  for  the
           continuation of the tribe or clan.  Current information also indicates
           that it is also probable that the mother was regarded  as the sole (or
           at least  primary) parent of children in  this culture, and that there
           was a  definite pattern of ancestor worship.  It is also very probable
           that ancestry was matrilineal.
                The most tangible  evidence that these very  ancient cultures and
           their predecessors worshipped a goddess is the  numerous sculptures of
           women  found throughout  most of Europe  and the  Near east.   Some of
           these sculptures  date  as  far back as  25,000 B.C.E.!   Small female
           figurines, made of stone, bone and clay (most seemingly pregnant) have
           been found throughout  the widespread Gravettian-Aurignacian  sites as
           far apart as Spain,  France, Germany, Austria, and Russia  spanning an
           apparent period of  at least 10,000  years.  Erich  Neumnann, in  "The
           Great Mother" (p.95) says-  "Of the Stone Age sculptures  known to us,
           there are fifty-five female figures and  only five male figures.   The
           male figures, of youths, are atypical and poorly executed, hence it is
           certain that they had no significance for the cult.  This fits in with
           the secondary character of  the male godhead, who appeared  only later
           in  the history  of religions  and  derived his  divine rank  from his
           mother, the Goddess."
                Johannes  Maringer, in  his book  the  "Gods of  Prehistoric Man"
           says-  "it appears highly probable then that the female figurines were
           idols of a Great Mother cult, practiced by the non-nomadic Aurignacian
           mammoth hunters  who inhabited  the immense Eurasian  territories that
           extended from Southern   France to  Lake Baikal in  Siberia."  It  was
           from the Lake Baikal area in  Siberia that tribes are believed to have
           migrated across the  Bering land  bridge to North  America about  this
           time period, and formed the  nucleus of what was to become the race of
           North American Indians.  In some primitive societies known to history,
           the male role in procreation was not known.  Intercourse and pregnancy
           both begin with puberty, and there was no evident reason to regard one
           as the  cause of the other.  Women were  believed to conceive from the
           light of the moon or from ancestral spirits.
                Neolithic  cultures have left a  bit more evidence  for study and
           the images are a bit clearer and less speculative.   One good instance
           of this  is the stone age  painting of a priestess  officiating over a
           group of worshippers along with a male wearing a horned headdress.  An
           interesting point here  is that  the priestess pictured  is wearing  a
           garter and wielding a  ceremonial dagger, much  like the ones used  in
           modern witchcraft.  Of course much  has been made of this, including a
           lot of unfounded speculations on  the "ancient connections" of  modern
           witchcraft, but that is a topic beyond the scope of  the present work.
           The beginnings  of Roman religion are  sure to have been  based on the
           Etruscan  culture.  Ancestor worship was the earliest form of religion
           in Rome.   Another interesting  fact relating  to ancient  Matrilineal
           forms influencing  present society is  reflected in the  Jewish custom
           current  today that  membership  comes from  the  mother's side  of  a
                The above mentioned goddess images, some as old as 7000 BC, offer
           silent testimony to the most ancient worship of a great goddess in the
           land that is most  often remembered today as  the homeland of  Judaism
           and  Christianity.  In exploring  the influence and  importance of the
           worship of  the Goddess in Canaan  in biblical times, we  find that as
           Ashtoreth, Asherah  (perhaps  the  origin  of the  tribe  of  Asher?),
           Astarte,  Attoret, Anath,  or simply  as Elat or  Baalat, she  was the
           principal deity of such  great Canaanite cities as Tyre,  Sidon, Asca-
           lon, Beth Anath, Aphaca, Byblos, and Ashtoreth Karnaim.   
                In Egypt, the Hebrews had known the worship of the Goddess as    
             Isis or Hathor. For four generations they had been living  in a land
           where women held a very high status and the matrilineal descent system
           continued to function at most periods.  
                Judging  from the number of Hebrews who emerged from Egypt in    
           the Exodus,  as compared with the  family of the twelve  sons who sup-
           posedly  entered it four generations  earlier, it seems  likely that a
           great  number of those Hebrews  known as Israelites  may actually have
           been Egyptians, Canaanites, Semitic nomads and other Goddess-worshipp-
           ing  peoples who had joined together in Egypt.  Archaeological records
           and artifacts reveal that the religion of the Goddess still flourished
           in many of the cities of Canaan long after the Hebrews invaded.
                What are some of the modern day applications of this long history
           of Goddess worship?  For  an answer to this,  let's look at an  encap-
           sulation of the "herstory" of  the legend of the Universal Goddess  as
           taught to the  new entrants to  the Faerie Tradition  in 20th  Century
                According  to the  legends of  the Faerie, Witchcraft  and magick
           began more than 35 thousand years ago, when the last ice age in europe
           began and small  bands of  nomadic hunters  followed the  free-running
           reindeer and bison herds.  They were armed with but primitive  weapons
           ( Stone Age, remember?), and  had to lure or chase the animals  over a
           cliff or into a  pit to kill and eat them.   As Starhawk says,"...some
           among the clans were gifted, could "call" the herds to a cliff side or
           a pit, where a  few beasts,in willing sacrifice, would  let themselves
           be trapped."
                As  the  last ice  age retreated  the  tribes of  nomadic hunters
           worshipped the Goddess of the Wild Things and Fertility and the God of
           the Hunt.Semipermanent homes  were set up in  caves carved out by  the
           glaciers.  Shamans and  Shamanka conducted rites within hard  to reach
           portions of  the caves,  which  were painted with scenes  of the hunt,
           magical symbols and the tribes totem animals.  
                The   transition  from  Hunter-Gatherers  to  agriculturists  was
           reflected in the change of the "Lady of the Wild Things and Fertility"
           to  the "Barley Mother" and the "God of  the Hunt" to the "Lord of the
           Grain".   The importance  of the phases  of the  moon and the  sun was
           reflected  in the  rituals  that evolved  around sowing,  reaping, and
           letting out to pasture.  
                Villages  grew into  towns and  cities and  society changed  from
           tribal to  communal to  urban.  Paintings  on the  plastered walls  of
           shrines depicted  the Goddess giving birth  to the Divine  Child - Her
           son,  consort and  seed.   The  Divine Child  was expected  to take  a
           special interest in  the city dwellers, just as His  Mother and Father
           had taken  an interest in the  people who lived away  from the cities.
           Mathematics, astronomy, poetry, music, medicine, and the understanding
           of  the workings of  the human mind,  developed side by  side with the
           lore of the deeper mysteries.  
                Far to the east, nomadic tribes devoted themselves to the arts of
           war and conquest.  Wave after wave of invasion swept  over Europe from
           the  Bronze Age  onward.  Warrior  gods drove the  Goddess' people out
           from the fertile  lowlands and  the fine temples,  into the hills  and
           high mountains,  where they became  known as  the Sidhe, the  Picts or
           Pixies, and the  Fair Folk or the Fairies.   The mythological cycle of
           Goddess and Consort, Mother and Child, which had held sway  for 30,000
           years  was changed to conform to the values of the conquering patriar-
                In  Canaan,  Yahweh fought  a bloody  battle  to ensure  that his
           followers had  "no other  gods before  me."  The  Goddess was  given a
           masculine name and assigned  the role of a false god.   Along with the
           suppression  of the  Goddess, women lost  most of the  rights they had
           previously enjoyed.  
                In Greece, the Goddess in Her many aspects,  was "married" to the
           new gods  resulting in  the  Olympic Pantheon.   The  Titans, who  the
           Olympians  displaced were more in touch with the primal aspects of the
                The  victorious Celts in Gaul and the British Isles, adopted many
           features  of the Old Religion  and incorporated them  into the Druidic
           Mysteries.  The Faerie, breeding cattle in the stony hills and  living
           in turf-covered round huts  preserved the Craft.  They  celebrated the
           eight feasts of the Wheel of the Year with wild  processions on horse-
           back,  singing and chanting along the way and lighting ritual bonfires
           on the  mountaintops.  It was  said that the invaders  often joined in
           the revels and  many rural  families, along with  some royalty,  could
           claim  to have Faerie blood.  The College of the Druids and the Poetic
           Colleges of  Ireland and Wales were said to have preserved many of the
           old mysteries. ***
                In  the late 1400's  the Catholic Church  attempted to obliterate
           its competitors, and the followers of the Old Religion were forced  to
           "go underground."   They broke up into small groups called Covens and,
           isolated from  each other,  formed what  would later  be known as  the
           Family  Traditions.  Inevitably, parts  of the Craft were forgotten or
           lost and what survives today is fragmentary.  
                After nearly five centuries  of persecution and terror,  came the
           Age of Disbelief.   Memory of the True Craft  had faded as non-members
           who could     remember how they once had met openly died and those who
           came after  never knew of  them.  All that  was left were  the hideous
           stereotypes  which were     ludicrous, laughable or just plain tragic.
           With  the repeal of  the last Witchcraft  Act in England  in 1954, the
           Craft started  to re-emerge as an  alternative to a  world that viewed
           the planet as a resource to be exploited.   
                Janet and  Stewart  Farrar, in  the introduction  to The  Witches
           Goddess  say of the  modern re-emergence of  the Goddess "  ..may well
           prove to be one of the most significant spiritual, psychic and psycho-
           logical developments of our lifetime".  They have since done a wonder-
           ful job of presenting an overview of the ascendancy and history of the
           expression  of the masculine  principle of deity as  e pressed by Male
           God-forms and  Gods with their  book The  Witches' God.   What do  the
           Farrars consider  this "masculine principle" to  be? " represents
           the linear-logical,analyzing, fertilizing aspect, with its emphasis on
           Ego-consciousness  and  individuality,  while  the  feminine principle
           represents the cyclical-intuitive, synthesizing, formative, nourishing
           aspect,  with  its emphasis  on the  riches  of the  unconscious, both
           Personal and Collective, and on relatedness."
                As mankind  started to develop  his cultures  in directions  that
           were more male  dependent in the nature of the  cultures, the emphasis
           in  religion shifted  to  become more  male  god than  female  goddess
           oriented.   As  this  happened, the  Goddess(es)  lost ground  to  the
           God(s). At first,  the female  aspect merely became  secondary to  the
           male, but  eventually the  male took over  and dominated to  the total
           exclusion of the female, particularly in western society as we know it
           today. "The first major  god-form to claim a monopoly of  divinity was
           the  Hebrew Yahweh, from which in  due course sprang the Christian and
           Moslem forms."   "Dr. Raphael Patai,  in his books Man  and Temple and
           The Hebrew  Goddess  shows that  the  Goddess Asherah  was  worshipped
           alongside Yahweh as his wife and sister in the Temple at Jerusalem for
           240 of  the 360 years  the temple complex  existed, and her  image was
           publicly displayed there."   There  is also evidence  that the  Jewish
           community at  elephantine in egypt acknowledged   two goddess-wives of
           Yahweh, and  also there still remains in Ezekiel (xxiii)a metaphorical
           reference to a  pair of wives, where Yahweh condemns the "whoredom" of
           two sisters who "became mine and bore me sons and daughters".  

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