Paganism is entering the mainstream and becoming more popular, much to the horror of old-school Christians. And as more people embrace old (and new) traditions, typical human nature is giving rise to petty politics and rivalries in the pagan community. Today, paganism finds itself divided into two factions (with a lot of grey areas in between): Wicca, and “traditional” paganism. Wicca is seen as the brainchild of Gerald Gardner, who supposedly knew a number of ceremonial magicians and initiates of the Golden Dawn. He investigated the history of witchcraft in England and allegedly found several “covens” existing in Britain, including the New Forest Coven. (Notice how I use the term “supposedly” and “allegedly” a lot - there's a lot of controversy over what Gardner really did and said. Apparently the truth has been embellished in the retellings.)
Gardner took a lot of the teachings uncovered in his research, put them all together, and filled in the gaps with his own stuff and a lot of Golden Dawn excerpts. He then presented it to the world as “British Traditional Wicca.” (He was also into nudity – a lot of the modern-day pagan “skyclad” folks owe him a debt.) Traditional Wiccans are supposed to trace their origins back to Wicca; however, when Wicca came to America, a number of Wiccan groups decided to break away and do their own thing. Hence, the politics and infighting.
Gardner's additions and original writings are the basis of least fifteen books out there devoted to picking the original, traditional “craft” from Gardner's inventions. “Traditional witchcraft” is seen as based upon the original folklore, mythology, mojos, magicks, superstitions, and other traditions from days of yore. Many “traditional” Witches don't like Wicca, don't like the rules, and don't like Wicca's emphasis on “ceremonies.” They especially hate the way it appeals to mallrats and “goth” kids, though this hasn't stopped it from spreading into the mall culture so that there is at least one “New Age” kiosk or store in most major malls these days.
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