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History of Witchcraft

Witchcraft has been with us since the dawn of time.  There is no way to construct a complete history of Witchcraft, simply because we do not understand how ancient people saw their world.  When people looked at their world with wonder about how things happen, the first Gods were born. 

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As language developed, it allowed people to share abstract concepts, such as Deity.  It could very well be that after words for danger, or food, some form of God or Goddess may have been next.  We really have no way to ever know for sure, but it makes sense that important concepts were the first to be labeled in some way.

Who were those first Gods, and how did they come to be...

 We know from Neolithic cave paintings, that animals were extremely important to those first primitive people.  Animals, both those that were hunted for food, as well as those that were a danger, are the most prolific renderings in cave paintings. 

 We humans have always had a need to understand the world around us.  We are curious, and inventive.  We want to know why things are the way they are.  The Priests and Shamans of ancient cultures were the first scientists.  They gave explanations as to why the streams flowed, seemingly never ending in some places, or why they dried up in others.  They explained how light from the sky caught the forest on fire.  They explained the lights in the night sky.  They were all the work of Gods.

 Over time, people understood that certain things were certain ways.  There were patterns to the seasons, and the stars in the sky.  There was order in the universe, and it was all by Divine Plan.  Gods ran everything.  A God caused the sun to rise and set, a Goddess made the animals fertile. The Gods of the Sun and the Moon looked down upon their people.

 Each culture had created Gods that suited them.  The Greeks had gods that were philosophical and contemplative.  The Romans put their Gods in an orderly pantheon.  The Norse had rough, coarse Gods.  Each culture made their Gods in their own image, even the Christians.  By the Middle Ages, these Gods and Goddesses were well established. 

Christian clergy decided very early that the only way Christianity could survive, was to Convert as many people as possible to their beliefs.  After they had achieved a dominant position, they turned their eyes toward perceived threats all around them.

The Pope gave license for select groups to hunt down and eradicate any and all demonic threats.  This was done by investigating suspicious people, taking them to trial and killing them, all after extracting confessions from them, usually by torture.  This era has come to be called The Burning Times.

 As the renaissance dawned a new age of enlightenment and thinking, Europe was held tight in the unwavering grip of the Catholic Church, all but Elizabethan England.  There, some tolerance prevailed toward those who were accused of Witchery.

 Later, the Pilgrims left England and the intolerance it held for them, to come to a New World, and start their own intolerant ways.  With them they brought everything they would need to survive in such an isolated place, and some things they really didn’t need.  The Salem Witch Trials showed how hard it can be to leave the past behind.

 By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Witchcraft was dead.  Old wives tales to scare children.  Yet Spiritualism, and the occult were thriving.  People still needed to know what comes after this life, and others still searched for the Philosopher’s Stone of the Alchemists.

 Then in the 1950’s, a civil servant in England brought Witchcraft back out of the shadows.  Gerald Gardner showed us all that Witchcraft wasn’t dead, it had just been hiding.  By the 1970’s the “New Age” movement was teaching us “new” ways of looking at our lives that had been around since the dawn of time.  There really was nothing new about the New Age, the knowledge had been there all the time.

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