This article was first published in 1995 in Dutch vampirologist Rob Brautigam’s magazine International Vampire.
Among the many myths surrounding the Old Religion of Wicca (or “witchcraft” as it was subsequently dubbed by the early Church and later became known), was a prophecy that predicted the coming of a “Golden Age”.
This prophecy originally told of the arrival of a Golden Age when mankind would come into its own to live in peace and unity, and have as its Godhead a universal Deity. It further told that this new religion was not to be totally monotheistic, but that a supreme Goddess would form an equal part of the Godhead. Together with the God of Light, She would reign as true redeemer of the universe; Her adherents being the Children of Light – one of her aspects being the prevailing forces of Nature … Before this revelation was to come about however, a Dark Age would first ensue in which mankind would smother and forget all original religious Truth and Knowledge and none but a few would remain to give testimony to these original ancient beliefs. It was to be an age of religious conflicts, bloodshed and unrest; yet, through it, purged of all hypocrisy, would emerge the chosen religion of mankind.
All this, of course, may be no more than a reflection of what witches – white witches, that is – have believed throughout the Ages; but to take such legends and beliefs too literally as a means to assessing any hidden truth, could be to miss the real point. For the real question that arises here, (indeed, is one that is applicable to penetrating the shell of all contemporary religions, including Christianity), is not whether such beliefs are literally “true”, but whether they may contain some hidden implication or meaning that could supply a clue to some Truth that may have been lost or forgotten.
It perhaps follows that when searching for any hidden Truth or deep religious meaning that might underlie this ancient prophecy, it is first of primary importance to examine facts and events throughout history; events that might indicate some fulfilment of its original Decree.
The first, and perhaps most obvious of such facts, was the witches’ conviction that their religion was to suffer fervent oppression which, by its very severity, would eventually lead to its absolute suppression where it would remain until the dawning of the New Age when it would finally emerge as the chosen religion of mankind. From the events of history, it cannot be denied that at least the first part of this prophecy has been proved to be correct.
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries the Inquisition and its resulting persecutions were so severe that literally thousands of witches were tortured and put to death, and the Cult of Wicca, in reality, a religion based on Nature worship and the recognition of a Mother Earth, was declared by the Church to be an evil sect that worshipped the devil which had to be annihilated without compassion or mercy at all costs.
It is not surprising, perhaps, that as a result of this decree, Wicca was forced underground and its intrinsic rites and practices became shrouded in secrecy to protect its adherents from a hostile populace who, in the light of the comparatively new teachings of the Church, were no longer prepared to accept them.
Nevertheless, such forms of religious persecution proving ultimately ineffective, the remaining Cults continued to survive; if anything becoming even more closely integrated and acquiring a new inner strength and understanding in order to overcome the overwhelming odds which threatened them.
Thus, by actual events of history, the prophecies contained in Wicca’s secret Writings foretelling the persecution of the Initiated, would appear to have been fulfilled.
Wicca virtually disappeared (outwardly at least) until a mere 45 years ago when Gerald Gardner, himself an initiated witch of a High Degree. Broke many of the traditional rules of secrecy and published an all but detailed account of the workings of his Coven disclosing, among other things, the use of sex in some of his initiation ceremonies. His book perhaps expectedly caused a storm of protest. Conversely, Gardner and his associates did not seem to care. But perhaps the fact that the Witchcraft Act had been repealed in 1951 had something to do with that.
(There was of course, a huge revival of the occult in the late 18th century; although this was concerned primarily with magic and spiritualism – not Wicca, which is often confused between the two).
Today, despite the veil of secrecy still surrounding it, (at least around its genuine beliefs and practices), Wicca perhaps enjoys more tolerant recognition; although there are still many – nay a majority – who labour under an inherent apprehension that devil worship and clandestine orgies form an active part of its practices.
Yet ironically, much of the animosity still directed towards Wicca by a misinformed public, is often no more than an emotional outlet for a subconscious fear of the Unknown; the witch being seen as symbolic of the latter becoming a convenient scapegoat on whom to blame a neurosis that is undoubtedly more applicable to an “accusers” own state of mind.
The basic tenets of Wicca then – notwithstanding that I have expounded only cautiously on the acceptance of a Mother Goddess and the importance of Nature worship as part of its beliefs – may be seen to be far removed from popular conception and perhaps certainly should not be judged by those not yet ready and unwilling to understand them.
It is a paradox, perhaps, (though one that contains a simplistic clarity), but it is only when fear and suspicion towards the Unknown and Unknowable disappear from human nature, that the true adherents of Wicca may chose to “come back into the open” and teach the people the way to Knowledge and peace through what they see as an ultimatum given by Divine Right.
If such is true, then the dawning of a Golden Age foretold so long ago by its ancient harbingers, would almost certainly become a reality.
Sadly, however, it seems that at the moment, a world filled with so much hatred and unrest, is still not ready to accept them …
(c) David Farrant, President of The British Psychic and Occult Society