Wicca, a Western movement whose followers practice witchcraft and nature worship and who see it as a religion based on pre-Christian traditions of northern and western Europe. It spread through England in the 1950s and subsequently attracted followers in Europe and the United States.
The origins of modern Wicca can be traced back to a retired British civil servant named Gerald Brousseau Gardner (1884–1964). Gardner spent most of his career in Asia where he became familiar with a variety of occult beliefs and magical practices. He also read in a very wide range of Western esoteric literature, including the writings of the British occultist Aleister Crowley (some believe that Crowley was part of a Satanic cult and worshiped Satan This, however, is simply NOT true). Returning to England shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Gardner became involved in the British occult community and founded a new movement based on a reverence of nature, the practice of magic, and the worship of a female deity, the Goddess, and numerous associated deities, such as the Horned God. He also borrowed liberally from Western witchcraft traditions. Following the 1951 repeal of England’s archaic Witchcraft Laws, Gardner published Witchcraft Today(1954), founded his first coven (The Gardnerian Tradition) of followers, and, with input from its members, especially author Doreen Valiente, developed modern witchcraft into what today is known as Wicca. It spread quickly to the United States in the late 1960s, when an emphasis on nature, unconventional lifestyles, and a search for spirituality.
Though many believe that Wicca dates back to the 1950’s of Gardner’s time, Wicca actually dates back to as far as the 1600’s where many were accused of being witches from 1692 to 1693. Some were even hung or burned at the stake. Wicca is much older than what one thinks.
By the 1980’s, there was an estimated 50,000 Wiccans in Western Europe and North America. The growth rate of Wiccans slowed down by the end of the 1980’s.
Today, there are more people turning to Wicca.