Witchcraft Today


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Witchcraft Today

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The title of a book by Gerald Brousseau Gardner published in England in 1954. It was the first book actually written by a Witch giving the Witch's side of the story, since Gardner was himself an initiated Witch. Until that time virtually all publications written on the subject of Witchcraft had presented the Christian point of view.

Printing as known by western civilization came into being in Germany in the middle of the fifteenth century. This was a time when the Christian church was already in power and trying to exterminate the Old Religion. The publication and distribution of the very earliest books on Witchcraft, therefore, was by the Witches' persecutors. Later writers had only these very biased works for reference, and for centuries the only material written about Witchcraft was from its detractors' point of view. By the end of the nineteenth century, hints of the true nature of Witchcraft (with such books as Charles Godfrey Leland's Aradia, Gospel of the Witches of Italy) began and in the 1920s and 1930s, Dr. Margaret Murray presented her theories. However, it was not until Dr. Gardner's book that there was any confirmation of the continued existence of Witches and their benign practices. It was the repeal of the last law against Witchcraft in England in 1951 that laid the foundation for this new knowledge.

Gardner had been initiated into Witchcraft in the 1930s, and from the moment he discovered what it really was, as opposed to what so many people thought it to be, he wanted to spread the word about its truth. But he was not allowed to do so by his High Priestess and the coven. Eventually, in 1949, he was permitted to write an account but only by presenting it in fictional form. This was the novel High Magic's Aid. It would be five more years, with the repeal of the Witchcraft Law, before he could write from a non-fictional point of view.

References in periodicals archive ?
(45) Gardner, Gerald, Witchcraft Today (London: Rider, 1954).
Gardner claimed to have been initiated into a coven of witches in the New Forest in 1939 and his books, including Witchcraft Today inspired a resurgence in Wicca.
All this indicates that publication of Witchcraft Today in 1954 marked a turning point in Gardner's thought.
Looking at the resurgence of interest in witchcraft today James Sharpe notes that 'the occult is being repackaged yet again.' The nature of this repackaging is one of the subjects examined by Diane Purkiss.