Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Gardner and Wicca
As with most of the established religions, it is a male/s who institutes such a belief and then retains the highest form of authority within the said religion. The Wiccan movememnt is no exemption to such a rule. I personally do not see how witchcraft can be seen as a religion because of the parameters of discovery and ever changing form within true witchcraft. But it is what it is for such folks.
Wicca was created by Gerald Gardner circa 1953. He made an unsubstantiated claim that he had been initiated by a Traditional witchcraft coven, which Gardner called the"New Forest coven" which later led to the forming of his own concept of witchcraft into a modern religion called Wicca. Gardner claimed that he was initiated naked during this alledged rite and thus "skyclad" became one of the underlying tenets of his religion.
As a note of interest, Ronald Hutton, an accredited professor of History at the University of Bristol, where he had a keen interest in pagan religions, contends that Gerald Gardner's idea of Wicca came instead from the members of the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship which originated in Liverpool England and who then migrated to ChristChurch England. Gerald Gardner joined this group in 1939 CE and was an avid member for a number of years thereafter.
It is also thought that Gardner's interest in Freemasonry also began with the Fellowship because of the presence of Mabel Besant Scott, who was a one-time head of the British Federation of Co-Freemasonry, and a prominent member of the Fellowship.
Gerald Gardner made many un-substantiated and false claims over the course of his life.
For instance he claimed to have doctoral degrees from the universities of Singapore and Toulouse which in fact he did not obtain.
Gardner also claimed that Aleister Crowley, the ceremonial magician, had given him the rights to the "Ordo Templi Orientis" rites. Though the charter was actually written in Gardner's hand and it was later discovered that Gardner had actually paid Crowley 300 English pounds for his signature.
In 1957, a disagreement with prominent members of the general mystical society, arose over Gardner's non-stop interviews with the media. These interviews were in spite of his own established rules of secrecy. This trend for publicity continues to be a platform for the modern Wicca movement.
In order to establish Wicca as a religion, Gardner, like so many other founders of a religion before him, wrote the laws that his adherents were to follow, in short, the dogma for a mystical religion as defined by Gardner.
After the formation of Wicca, certain laws began to appear that were originally unnumbered, and used the spelling wica, rather than the spelling "Wicca or Wiccan". These Laws contained a mixture of modern and archaic phrases, suggesting a possible plagiarism from older fragments. The Laws did not appear in earlier Wiccan documents, such as Gardner's Ye bok of Ye Art Magical, Text A or B, or in any of Doreen Valiente’s books including the one commonly referred to as Text C.
And so it is quite obvious that these were written and introduced well after Gardner had established his Wiccan religion.
These addendums apparently contained sexist language such as "as a man loveth a woman by mastering her", and "cursing people and condemning them to an eternity in the Christian hell" . Other further addendums were "And if any break these Laws, even under torture, The Curse of The Goddess Shall be Upon Them, so they may never be reborn on earth and may remain where they belong, in the hell of the Christians."
And yet another one was "And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess be that she recognize that youth is necessary to the representative of the Goddess. So will she gracefully retire in favor of a younger woman, should the coven so decide in council."
Doreen Valiente, who was Gardners High Priestess at the time, and other members of Gardners coven questioned why these Laws and their patriarchal language,had not been included in the Book of Shadows if they were so important, and why Gardner had not produced them before.
The refusal of Doreen and their coven mates to accept the Laws eventually led them to leave Gardner’s coven and later that year it was established that Gardner did indeed forge the "newly discovered Laws".
In spite of the inherent fraudulence by Gardner, the Laws nevertheless became a standard part of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows.
Earlier I mentioned that Gardner claimed to have been initiated in the nude, though this was never established as fact. The fact is that in 1945 C.E., Gardner had bought a nudist club called the "Five Acres Nudist club".
In view of all of the false allegations that Gardner made over the course of his life, it is safe to assume that his alledged skyclad initiation, was yet another false allegation that grew out of his ownership of a nudist club.
And so there you have the true beginnings of Wicca.
Gerald Gardner in fact was a nudist, a man with shall we say, a vivid imagination, and a sexist.
When his original HPS became to old, Gardner sought to replace her with a younger woman.
Religions are often filled with hypocrisy and are often dominated by males. It would appear according to the facts, that Wicca like so many other "man - made" religions is no exception.