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Ch.1 - Emergence (WMB 1.c)

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.

It was not just in magick, folklore and anthropology that the rising tides of illumination sought expression.  Another significant outlet for the outward radiation of the mysteries was the developing field of psychology.  Sigmund Freud was not only the founder of psychoanalytical psychology, but also postulated that sexual desire was a prime motivation in human behaviour.  Freud drew on ancient Greek mythology to name the incestual desire he called the ‘Oedipus Complex’.  This mythic theme was further expressed in his idea of the twin poles of ‘Eros and Thanatos’, or sex and death, as the conflicting desires within each of us.

Carl Gustav Jung, a pupil of Freud, was to expand his work even further into the mythical and magickal realms. Jung concentrated on plumbing the depths of the unconscious mind, drawing on alchemy, mythology and religion in his attempts to explore the mysteries of the psyche through dreams and other expressions. Jung also explored and wrote prolifically on two concepts that have become well known in modern magick – synchronicity and archetypes.

Wilhelm Reich was to take Freud’s ideas on sexuality significantly further and challenge the establishment on a whole range of ideas. When he wrote on character analysis and sexuality, Reich drew his ideas from a wide range of studies including anthropology, ethics, psychoanalysis and sociology and in the process synthesised challenging and often radical views. His ideas straddled the mundane and esoteric worlds and included pioneering work in areas such as orgone energy, sexuality and true independence for women.

Whilst the influence of magick on psychology is well documented, the influence of the newly developing field of psychology on the magickians of the early twentieth century is perhaps not so well known. Freud, Jung and Reich all postulated ideas which would influence the magickal writings and practices of major magickal figures of the early twentieth century. Such magickians as Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie all acknowledged the influence of these psychologists in their writing. Examples of this influence can be found in the writings of Crowley in his notes on the Goetia, Fortune in her The Secrets of Dr Taverner and Regardie in The Middle Pillar. As all of these authors produced work which impacted on the development of the Wiccan tradition to a greater or lesser extent, this convergence of ancient magick and newborn psychology in the early twentieth century provided a strong and significant current of esoteric expression whose influence has perhaps not been sufficiently considered.

Aleister Crowley is arguably the single most influential figure in the development of modern magick, including that of the Wiccan tradition. The wealth of his magickal writings, spread over fifty years of intense study and practice, has contributed to Wicca in many ways. Not only was Crowley the single most significant and influential magickal practitioner of the first half of the twentieth century, but he also had connections to an astonishing range of other magickians, artists and talented individuals. Crowley documented his experiences in great detail and corresponded with many of his associates.

“…The time is just ripe for a natural religion. People like rites and ceremonies, and are tired of hypothetical gods. Insist on the real benefits of the Sun and the Moon, the Mother-Force and the Father-force and so on; and show that by celebrating these benefits worthily the worshippers unite themselves more fully with the current of life. Let the religion be a joy, with but a worthy and dignified sorrow in death itself; and treat death as an ordeal, an initiation. Do not gloss over facts, but transmute them in the athanor of your ecstasy. In short, be the founder of a new and greater Pagan cult in the beautiful land which you have made your home. As you go on, you can add new festivals of corn and wine, and all things noble and inspiring.”

This quote from a letter written by Crowley to one of his magickal disciples Charles Stansfield Jones (Frater Achad) in 1914, and subsequently reproduced by John Symonds in his biography of Crowley The Great Beast in 1951, could be seen as unequivocally predicting and encouraging a tradition of magick which sounds extraordinarily like that which would manifest as ‘Wicca’ in the years which followed.

Crowley would make other allusions of a similar nature in his writings. For example, in 1916 in his book The Gospel According to Saint Bernard Shaw he declared:

“For not only do I hold the cult of John Barleycorn to be the only true religion, but have established his worship anew; in the last three years branches of my organisation have sprung up all over the world to celebrate the ancient rite. So mote it be!”

From the date of this quote it would initially seem that Crowley was referring to the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), the magickal order which he became the world head of in the 1920s. However the published material regarding the Ordo Templi Orientis contains no references or allusions to John Barleycorn. Also the phrase “my organisation” makes it clear that at this time he was not referring to the Ordo Templi Orientis; but that he was actually referring to the Astreum Argenteum (A.A.).

The Astreum Argenteum was established by Crowley to propagate the teachings of the law of Thelema, which were to be hugely influential on the Wiccan Tradition at a later date.  Thelema, the Greek word for ‘will’, was the name given to a system of philosophy created by Crowley around the central core of a text received by him in 1904 in Cairo called The Book of the Law (Liber Al vel Legis).  Crowley viewed Thelema, with its emphasis on finding your own true will and exclusively pursuing it, as the religion of the new age that was dawning.  Crowley and the magician George Cecil Jones, who had introduced Crowley to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1898, worked together on the formation of the Astreum Argenteum which was inaugurated in 1906. 

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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