History

Who: While the origins of Wicca are in pre-Christian religion, folklore, witchcraft, and magic, most modern Wiccans look to Gerald Brosseau Gardner as the modern founder, or re-discoverer, of Wicca. Gardner’s compiled book of rituals and spells, the Book of Shadows, is a key source of inspiration. His two best-known books Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959) created a swell of interest, sparking the modern Wiccan movement. Gardner’s ideas were further developed by Alex and Maxine Sanders. Other major modern leaders include Doreen Valiente and Robert Cochrane.

What: Wicca is a Pagan witchcraft tradition, drawing from ancient sources of folk religion, magic, and witchcraft practices, and brought to popular attention by Gerald Gardner. It is both the practice of religious witchcraft and a mystery religion worshipping the Triple Goddess, the Horned God Herne, and the divine in nature. Contrary to popular portrayals (i.e. the teenage girl witch), Wicca is practiced by men and women of all ages.

When: Wicca is connected to ancient pre-Christian European witchcraft practices, but its modern revival began in the mid-twentieth century.

Where: If we are tracing modern Wicca back to Gardner, it began in the United Kingdom, although it has ancient ties in multiple locations.