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The Great Wicca Hoax - Part 1

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icymist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-10 01:08 PM
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The Great Wicca Hoax - Part 1
Edited on Fri Jun-04-10 01:13 PM by icymist
The origins of Gardnerian Wicca - or at least, the story Gardner told of them - are well known. He was supposed to have made contact with a coven of genuine witches in the New Forest, and was initiated by them into the Wicca 'cult', as he referred to it. Among these were the old witch Dorothy Clutterbuck, and the young Dafo, who was Gardner's own High Priestess. It was Dafo who wrote to Gardner late in his life to rebuke him for seeking publicity - a statement taken by many to mean Gardner's decision to open the Craft up to a wider audience.

Since then, many people have endeavored to find out the truth behind Gardner's account, most recently Philip Heselton in his book 'Wiccan Roots'. Heselton seems to take the view that Gardner was telling the absolute truth, and that he really was initiated into a surviving coven; Wiccan Roots is a brave attempt to find facts to fit the theory, and certainly goes much further than any other attempt, though it is somewhat disappointing to find that the diaries of Dorothy Clutterbuck reveal her to have been a perfectly ordinary if nature-loving Christian. The trouble with Gardner's core story, though, is that it he can be shown to be lying about some of the key elements. With that in mind, I intend to demonstrate once and for all that not only is Wicca a completely modern construct, but to indicate for the first time in print why Gardner invented Wicca in the first place.

The Great Wicca Hoax II: Attack of the Crones
By Adrian Bott
Originally published at Lughnasa 2002

I was not in the least surprised to see the wave of controversy which 'The Great Wicca Hoax' provoked. As our esteemed editrix has pointed out, part of our intention was to give the wasp's nest a good hard whack and see what came out. However, this was not done with the sole intention to stir up discord (well, not by me, anyway - I cannot speak for her what runs the show!) but was also intended to tackle issues at the very root of the Wicca/Trad debate.

It seems there are two kinds of negative reaction to an article like mine. One is the kind that would question one's very right to query the origins of Wicca. The other is that which at least tries to challenge one's findings by presenting contradictory evidence.

Concerning the first kind, I have no sympathy at all with those who think Gardner's lies should go unexposed just because he founded a religion to which many thousands of people now belong. Do such people think that the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, should likewise be free from inquiry? How about the corrupt televangelists in America or the paedophile priests who are causing such uproar in the Catholic church? Should we turn a blind eye to these just because some people need to believe in them? Perhaps the Turin Shroud should never have been subjected to scientific tests, just in case people were upset when they discovered it did not date from the time of Jesus after all?
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-10 03:39 PM
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1. Wow, they weren't kidding about kicking the hornet's nest.
But I think it's important that we have these discussions publicly. It's somewhat silly to take Gardner's "creation myth" ;) at face value when we look at the obvious parallels between early Wiccan rituals and OTO liturgy.

Now, that doesn't mean Wicca is false, or made-up, or invalid! But we should be a little more honest about the origins and overlap here.

Interesting stuff, thanks for posting it. :hi:
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icymist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-10 02:38 PM
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2. I have a friend out here in Western Washington that did research and found
Wiccas' history actually began in suburban Connecticut with a small camp created by Ernst Thompson Seton in 1902. His article was printed in Gnosis No. 48, Summer 1998 titled 'The Red God, Woodcraft and the Origins of Wicca'. This contradicted what many Gardnerians saw as the true beginnings of Wicca since it predated Gardner. My friend got death threats for writing and getting this published. Death threats! I tell ya, some people just don't have a sense of humor and, let me tells ya, if you're going to practice witchcraft ya better have a sense of humor!
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AnnieBW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-08-10 10:45 PM
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3. Janet Farrar is a good source on this
She did know Gerald, and claims that, while he didn't make the whole thing up, he synthesized a lot of Wicca from the metaphysical and Spiritualist movements that were happening around that time in England. There was a "coven", but it was a bunch of rich people hanging out in the New Forest because they could run around naked there without intrusion.

If you ever get to meet Janet in person, she's great. Lots of good stories about the "old days".

And besides, even if Old Gerry made the whole thing up, Wiccans aren't scamming people like Scientologists or televangelists, and tend to be very violently against pedophilia.
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Hestia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-19-10 02:02 PM
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4. very true - besides, every path was made up by someone at some time
Maybe the emphasis shouldn't be on its history but its teachings, especially when one is automatically assumed to be Wiccan when they say Pagan.
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