1. Wicca is a continuation of the grimoire tradition
The amount of material found in the Wiccan tradition drawn from the grimoires, including the Key of Solomon, Heptameron and Grimoire of Honorius, is such that this must be considered a serious possibility. As we have already demonstrated, grimoires were highly derivative, drawing on earlier works that had a proven track record for being effective. The derivative nature of Wicca from earlier material is in keeping with the way information evolved through grimoires over the centuries, as is the copying of the material between magicians from master to trainee.
The grimoire tradition appeared to be fading out by the mid-nineteenth century, with the last derivative copies of manuscripts being made, and the publication in 1801 of Barrett’s work The Magus increasing the availability of much of the grimoire material in a published form to a wider audience, as Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft had done some centuries earlier in 1584. However based on the evidence we cannot say that interest in the grimoires was waning, and if new grimoires were not created this may well have been due to the magickal work being conducted with those proven texts already in existence.
We have already shown that there was a higher level of pagan input into the grimoires than is commonly acknowledged, which also supports the possible conclusion that this tradition could have continued into Wicca, and makes it clear why all the works which have sought to gather together grimoire material, including Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft and Barrett’s The Magus, have done so side-by-side with folk magick concerning fairies, elementals and the like.
As Barrett reproduced much of Agrippa’s earlier work, together with that of Trithemius, and juxtaposed grimoire material with Qabalah and folk magick, it is possible that his work was used as the basis for what would become the Wiccan tradition. We have demonstrated that the influence of Trithemius was greater than has previously been acknowledged, so this needs to be given due consideration. Furthermore, in The Magus Barrett offered to teach magick, and we know he had students, as one produced a work entitled Directions for the Invocation of Spirits by a student of Francis Barrett in 1802. Therefore we must accept the possibility that a synthesis of earlier grimoire material was created during the nineteenth century by Barrett or one or more of his students. Considering the increased availability of published material and the higher levels of literacy in society, it seems a reasonable suggestion that people should continue refining and practising the magick of the grimoires as they had for many centuries previously.
Another significant point we must consider is that the grimoire tradition was also referred to as ‘the Craft’, as seen in grimoires such as the Key of Solomon. This could then have been encountered by Gardner, who understandably mislabelled it and subsequently added additional contemporary material to this system in a manner consistent with the grimoire tradition itself. Were this actually the case, then Wicca would be the end product of a tradition which can be shown to originate in the thirteenth century or possibly much earlier. If we summarise the evidence then this conclusion has to be viewed as a serious possibility:
· There is a high level of material drawn directly from the grimoires in the Wiccan tradition, including the process of casting the magick circle, the use of tools including the black-handled knife, the Book of Shadows, Cakes and Wine, and Theban Script;
· Both the Wiccan and grimoire traditions are referred to as ‘the Craft’;
· The publication of syntheses of grimoire material such as Discoverie of Witchcraft and The Magus made it available to a wide audience, alongside other types of material like folk magick and Qabalah;
· The nineteenth century saw an increase in interest in the grimoires, as seen by the publication of books and the trade in copies of grimoires, and the work of people such as Frederick Hockley and students of Francis Barrett, and later MacGregor Mathers.
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.