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Ch.2 Baptism (WMB 2.c)

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.



The expression “Witch Cult” was probably drawn from the title of Margaret Murray’s book The Witch Cult in Western Europe. This term was widely used from the 1920s onwards, being found not only in works like Witches Still Live by Kenyon in 1929, but also having its own entry in The Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry (1946).


The ‘Old Religion’ is a term used to describe both witchcraft and Catholicism. Leland used the phrase ‘la vecchia religione’ meaning the old religion to describe witchcraft in his work Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition in 1893. Robert Graves would also use the term the ‘Old Religion’ referring to the “witch cult in Medieval Britain” in his work The White Goddess, first published in 1948. Graves described this work as “A historical grammar of poetic myth”, however the significance of this statement often seems to have been lost in Graves’ presentation of his ideas as fact and truth. Many people have believed Graves and imported ideas into the Wiccan tradition which have no historical basis and have only served to muddy the waters rather than adding anything to the tradition.


However over three hundred years earlier Reginald Scot also used the term ‘the Old Religion’ to describe Catholicism in his classic Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584. To Protestant reformers, Catholicism was:


“an organised system of magic designed to bring supernatural remedies to bear upon earthly problems.”<1>


The magickal nature of Catholicism was a reality to the populace in medieval Britain, to such an extent that it could be argued that Catholicism was the predominant magickal system for some centuries in Britain. People were encouraged to use the prayers and rites magickally, and ritual items were seen as highly effective for both amuletic and talismanic purposes. Attendance at Mass was believed to give benefits such as ease in childbirth, protection whilst travelling and recovery of lost goods. Holy water could be drunk to cure sickness, or sprinkled on houses for protection or crops for good yields. Saints with their associated powers formed a pantheon whose seasonal rituals filled the year. It is somewhat ironic that Catholicism, which had produced so much anti-witchcraft literature and fervour should be seen in a similar light as a similar ‘evil’.

This dismissal of the ’pagan’ Catholic practices is well illustrated in the seventeenth century Scottish manuscript, Memorialls, where old folk practices and Catholicism are intermingled in a description of the practices good upstanding Church-going folk abandoned:


“They solemnly renounce – Lammas-day, Whitsunday, Candlemas, Beltan, cross-stones, and images, fairs named by saints, and all the remnants of popery; Yule, or Christmas, old wives fables and bye-words, as Palm-Sunday, Carlin-Sunday, the 29th of May, being dedicated by this generation to profanity; Pasch-Sunday, Hallow-even, Hogmynæ-night, Valentine’s-even.”

 

<1> Religion and the Decline of Magic, Thomas, 1971

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.

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Hello

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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