The Witchcraft movement

Witchcraft, New Age and modern

The Witchcraft movement


Witches raise hailstorms (15th century woodcut) 

An interest in witchcraft developed in the 19th century. By 1828 one historian proposed that the supposed witches of the 16th-17th centuries were in fact underground practitioners of Pagan religion. And in 1899 an American journalist, Charles Godfrey Leland, claimed he had discovered modern day witches in Italy.

It was not until 1951 that the first practitioners of modern day witchcraft became known. It was at this time that the United Kingdom followed the rest of Europe in repealing the last of its anti-witchcraft laws. No laws were thought necessary in this rationalistic age. But amazingly, a retired tea planter and amateur archaeologist, Gerald Brousseau Gardner, appeared in print claiming he spoke for one of several covens of English witches who practised a Pagan religion dating from the Stone Age. Gardner claimed that his witches were practitioners of a fertility religion called Wicca.

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