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An Evolution Of WitchCraft
A Time Line

A Time Table
Every religious or spiritual belief has it's beginning and evolution. That's definitely true for one of the oldest beliefs in the world. Paganism has been practiced in varying forms since the stone age. Belief in nature Gods/Goddesses has evolved through the centuries and seen many trials, tribulations and resurgences as well. This time line shows the general history and evolution of Paganism, along with a brief description for each point in history.
1. Small cultures begin to develop spiritual structures. Nature Spirits begin to appear. 2. Hunter-gathering cultures gradually change to farming societies. Gods and Goddess of the harvest become prevalent. Sacrifices appear in rituals. 3. Urban societies take root. Communities form as spiritual sects formalize their beliefs and practices. The Goddess figures dominate most cultures.
4. Abrahamic times begin to record historical evolutions. Patriarchal governances begin to dominate most societies. 5. Celtic/Druid cultures survive into the Christian era. The 8 sabbats are further ingrained into ritual and spiritual practices. Small communities known as Clans become prevalent. 6. Magikal practices spread through eastern and western Europe. Gypsy societies form and carry the practices of Witchcraft through all cultures.
The Burning Times
7. The 8th Century; The Catholic Church forms the Council of Necea to review Biblical texts. 5 books of the Christian Bible are removed from the testaments to solitify the Churches control over society and political governments. 8. Late 8th Century, Sorcery & Witchcraft are deemed harmful and associated with heresy by the Church. 9. 13th Century, The Inquisition is established 1227-1233, many lose their lives for the sake of spiritual cleansing. Anglo-Saxons form covens and the label Witchcraft is born.
10. 15th Century, The Witch trials begin in 1490. The burning times begin with full vigor. 11. 16th Century, The 1st Witchcraft Act of England is established in 1542 under the realm of King Henry VIII. The Craft is deemed illegal and organized covens go underground. The secrecy begins. 12. 16th Century, The 2nd Witchcraft Act of England is signed by Queen Elizabeth in 1563.
13. Late 16th - early 17th Century, Fear of witches and their worships peak. This hysteria starts the creation of mis-information concerning Pagan ways and beliefs. Associations of Satan and Pagans are established by Church leaders to further the destruction of this wide spread belief system. 14. 17th Century, The 2nd Witchcraft Act is repealed and replaced with a much tougher one. The new law passes in 1604 and lives until 1736. 15. Mid 17th Century, Hysteria in England is at it's highest point and migrates to the American Colonies.
16. Mid 17th Century, England's laws govern the new pilgrim communities and the first hanging for Witchcraft occurs in Connecticut. 17. Late 17th Century, The Salem Witch Trials begin in Massachusetts during 1692. Hangings expand to include drowning and the horrific burnings. 18. 18th Century, Some sanity finds it's way into England's grand halls and the 1604 Witchcraft Act is repealed by King George II in 1736.
19. Mid 19th Century, Many leaders of the 'secret' covens open the curtains and step out into the public eye. Many mystical novels and reference books are written and published in England. 20. Late 19th Century, Spiritualism flourishes. Charles Godfrey Leland claims to have discovered hereditary witches in Tuscany. The Gospel of Aradia enters the public eye. WiccanStar Entrance Page
Current Century
21. 20th Century, Anthropologist Margeret Murray publishes the theory of organized pagan cults. 22. Gerald Gardner was initiated into an English coven in 1939. The Murray theory is accepted. 23. The last Witchcraft Acts of England are repealed. The Craft is no longer illegal in 1951.
24. Gerald Gardner establishes a tradition known as Wicca, combining beliefs from Crowley, Ordo,Templi Orientis, Masonry, Golden Dawn, Rosicrucians, folklore and mythology. The first Coven is founded in 1951. 25. The Gardnerian sect is introduced into the U.S. in the 1960's. 26. The Alexandrian sect created by Alex Sander's becomes popular in the 1970's. The Gardnerian traditions begin to decline.
27. 1980's becomes a decade of feminine spirituality and Wicca is seen as a woman's religion. Often referred to as 'Feminist spirituality'. 28. New Age, Metaphysical and Native American beliefs become increasingly popular. The late 80's and early 90's bring a new evolution of Paganism to it's original balance of God/Goddess beliefs. 29. 1990s Wicca becomes increasingly popular and is more widely accepted as a system of belief in society and culture.
30. An increase in the use of internet technology brings forth many websites defining Witchcraft traditions and sharing knowledge of various traditions. 31. The 21st Century sees an increase in acceptance of Witchcraft through popular TV shows and movies. This popularity brings many out of the broom closet and open discussion about pagans and paganism begin. 32. 2007 The U.S. Veterans Administration approves the Pentagram as a symbol permitted on headstones for fallen soldiers in military cemeteries.
Witchcraft Traditions
Today many craft traditions have come out of the closet, or have been established as part of an evolution of thought and growth. Please see Craft Sects for more information.
Additional Reading
 What Is Witchcraft?   
 Is Witchcraft A Religion?
 The Creation of Modern Witchcraft
 An Evolution of WitchCraft (Timeline)
 Which Witch is Which? - Labels & Titles

Source: 1, c3, c4, c8, c13, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14, m1, m4, m5, m7, m10, m16, m18, m23, m36
Created: 10.02.1996         Updated: 11.16.2008