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The History of Witchcraft, Wicca and Everything in Between

The origin of Witchcraft and its relation with Wicca

Understanding the history of Witchcraft, Wicca and everything in between can seem like a daunting task.  But it really isn’t that difficult once you understand what came first historically and how it has developed into the modern neopagan religion we see today. 

The best place to begin is looking at the history of Witchcraft. Wicca is something that developed much later.  Witchcraft has been traced to prehistoric times, with evidence linking it to the earliest forms of religion. Witchcraft, even in those prehistoric times, would have been associated with the spirits of the dead and the casting of spells. 

As humankind spread around the world, the tradition of Witchcraft was carried to many different cultures.  This included the British Isles.  In England, Ireland and Scotland, a fertility Goddess and a stag (or hunter) God were the central figures of worship.

With the conversion of the British Isles to Christianity came a dramatic change in the history of Witchcraft.  Wicca today still carries traces of the centuries when it was illegal to practice Witchcraft.  With punishments for failing to convert, the old religion was forced underground and into hiding.  The conversion to Christianity was overwhelming and very few remained who followed the old forms

There were many trials and executions of witches in Europe during these times, however it is not clear how many of those executed were pagan practitioners of the old religion and how many were Christians who were unjustly accused or worshiped the wrong form of Christianity.

Cating a spell
Witchcraft has been associated with the spirits of the dead and the casting of spells since prehistoric times | Getty Images

The practice of Witchcraft by Wiccans

As laws forbidding the practice of Witchcraft were finally relaxed, there was a growing movement that would again alter the history of Witchcraft.  Wicca, an entirely unheard of religion, was the result.  Wicca developed from an understanding of the earlier forms of practice before Christian conversion.  It took these concepts and fleshed them out into a complete system of beliefs that held worship of the Goddess and the God and the practice of Witchcraft at its core. 

As the years have passed, and religious persecution has lessened, more and more people have been drawn to this religion.  Because of it is based on something that was hidden and almost lost, Wicca has had to evolve on its own.  This means that unlike many other religions, it does not have a strict dogmatic view of the world.  There are a number of popular traditions along with an acceptance of those who do not follow a set tradition, but maintain their own eclectic Wiccan beliefs