There is much truth behind jokes. The joke of the divine trickster is that he’s serious.
Now I must apologize in advance. Tonight’s class will be my best effort at encompassing a subject that is not easily traced let alone analyzed. No offence meant with anything.
Wicca is what would be called a syncretic religion similar to American Voodoo in some senses, but having more focus on western European culture and traditions. There is extensive debate on the subject and no concrete histories available for anyone to trace, other than some of the family traditions lay claim to an unbroken lineage from antiquity. The spread of the Roman Empire, and with it the establishment of the Catholic Church as the state religion, had a world changing impact even during the age in which it took place, and this was well before anything like the witch hunts. Originally, the practice of the traditions, that would come to be called Wicca, carried a relatively minor penalty, fines and such, if you could even get the accusation taken seriously at all.
Much of the wisdom and lore that was preserved and passed down by the families, and often more specifically the women of those families, was distinctly useful. So the “goodwives” were if anything respected individuals, and little thought was really given to how their lore might actually work.
They knew about chicken soup and herbs, etc.? Yes, but more than that. They preserved old family traditions that were originally of a “religious” nature, and continued to observe these practices unofficially, either as solitary individuals or with the company of small groups. The word coven originally was no more spooky a term than the words alliance, guild, or organization are today.
So as time passed and the protocols of the Roman Catholic Church were enforced, just as we might become accustomed to a new fad after a while, the Christian model set in. And just as today, there were those whose conscience could not let them trust or truly accept the teaching and authority of the Catholic Church, so the original pagan lore became admixed with Christian “education.” In fact, even those who were in time tried not as members of different faiths but as heretics, saw wisdom in some of the teachings of the church and adopted a good few of the values their neighbours lived by.
It is likely that the witch, as we know them today, had their origin alongside the gnostic sects of Christianity, the cathars and their kind. Not enough of the lore held by the original pagan faith survived to that era, so they took what they could and combined it with what their “real world” had taught them, and proceeded to organize in a passive resistance to the churches authority. Perhaps an early “civil disobedience”?
Though the organized and traditional worship of the pagan gods was largely lost, they survived as archetypes even in the culture of that era.
What is a cathar? A cathar was a member of a Christian body or school of thought that saw the deity worshipped by the Catholic Church as actually the fallen power of the world spoke of by the church. The name cathar meant pure one, and they believed that they had to live a simple life free of ideas of kingdom and dominion, as well as money acquisition and things like that.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.