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Ch.1 - Emergence (WMB 1.b)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d'Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.

What is relevant, yet often ignored about the Aradia is that it continues a trail of many centuries of Italian texts referring to a witchcraft cult, real or possibly mythical, that worshipped the goddess Diana. For example, in 1749 Girolamo Tartarotti published a book called Del Congresso Notturno Delle Lammie (“Of the Nocturnal Meeting of Spirits”) which declared that “The identity of the Dianic cult with modern witchcraft is demonstrated and proven”. Prior to this in 1647 Peter Pipernus wrote De Nuce Maga Beneventana & De Effectibus Magicis (“Six Books of Magic Effects and of the Witch Walnut Tree of Benevento”). Earlier still in 1576 Bartolo Spina wrote of witches gathering at night to worship Diana in his work, Quaestio de Strigus (“An Investigation of Witches”). This trail of documentation, which only lightly scrapes at the surface of what is available from preceding centuries, does strongly suggest that the Leland material was indeed based on an existing tradition, rather than one fabricated out of thin air by Leland or his informant, the witch Maddalena.

Following on from Frazer’s work, the Cambridge classical scholar and linguist Jane Ellen Harrison published several important works focusing on myth and ritual, specifically in the context of ancient Greece. The most significant of these were probably Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion in 1903 and Ancient Art & Ritual in 1912. Harrison was to bring the use of archaeological discoveries and contemporary mythology together in a way which laid the groundwork for subsequent scholars, providing the foundations which would be built upon by such major figures as Karl Kerenyi and Walter Buckert.

Amongst the most challenging works published during this era in regards to anthropology and pagan religious history were probably those of the respected Egyptologist, Margaret Murray. In 1921 Murray published The Witch Cult in Western Europe, postulating the survival of a pre-Christian pagan horned god cult into the Middle Ages. She expanded further on this theme in 1933 with her work, The God of the Witches. Whilst some scholars have repudiated Murray’s work it is undisputable that her work was and continues to be of great importance through the ideas it expressed. She further provided the entry on Witchcraft for the respected and widely used Encyclopaedia Britannica in which she perpetuated her ideas and research, potentially influencing thousands of people in the first part of the twentieth century. Far from standing alone in her views, Murray continued the trends set by earlier luminaries like Frazer.

Another contemporary of Murray was the folklorist Jessie L. Weston, who published From Ritual to Romance in 1920. This work explored the magickal and mythical themes within the Arthurian cycle and emphasised the value of the Celtic hero cycle, whilst claiming ancient pre-Christian roots to the popular medieval romances. The Arthurian cycle would later become a significant theme in the modern pagan revival.

All of these works can be seen as being indicative of a popular perception of the survival of ancient pagan ideas transmitted through to the Middle Ages and beyond across Europe. These works, even in instances when they are not considered that influential on an individual basis, would as a whole provide the backdrop of mythical and magickal ideas which would find subsequent expressions in Gardner’s published material in the 1950s, and by the authors and practitioners who followed him through to the present time.

Another source of materials which emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were the translations of French magickal works into the English language. Works such as Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers’ translation of the Key of Solomon in 1889, Grillot de Givry’s Witchcraft Magic and Alchemy in 1931 and Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière in 1939 would all prove influential. All these important works were previously only available in French and their availability in the English language greatly expanded the range of readily available source material for those interested in the occult arts.

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d'Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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