ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
I lived in Britain during this time, and there was considerable interest in both the alleged mother-goddess religion and Wicca. During the 1970s and after, some scholars investigated Gardner’s sources and located people who knew Eglington. He was neither a witch nor a pagan, but a fairly ordinary person without any special beliefs or practices. Careful study of Gardner’s works such as Witchcraft Lives revealed his dependence both on Murray and Leland.
In summary, Gardner, who found Leland’s book, concocted the Wicca cult in 1951 ( but kept it secret until 1958) from both Leland’s Aradia and Murray’s The Witch Cult of Western Europe along with much invention of his own, some of which was undoubtedly based on his experiences in Malaysia. Further elaborations have been added by adherents such as Sybil Leek.. The Wiccans also espouse the diffusionist archaeological theories of Childe, Bibby, Gimbutas and others concerning the alleged Aegean mother goddess and accept them as authoritative.
So we see that in no way whatsoever is Wicca descended from the old witchcraft of the Great Witch Hunt. Their rituals include no Satanic pacts, and, indeed, they do not believe in Satan. They are not part of a diabolical conspiracy They use their purported magical powers to heal. They are very stern with those among them who use such powers to hurt or slay enemies, and warn that such misuse invariably reacts on the performer.
They are occultists who believe that they exercise the powers of out-of-the-body travel (astral projection), levitation, and automatic writing, and that they communicate with the fairies. They enjoy their revels on hilltops or glades in the woods where they dance widdershins (to the left) in the nude, by which means they conjure up psychic power. They have their symbols, myths, and rituals, and are of a religion of recent origin which gives them a great sense of importance.
They practice various forms of divination such as cheiromancy, cartomancy, and tea-leaf reading. They are practitioners of holistic medicine, and much concerned with alternate forms of healing. They are sexually liberated, tolerant of personal deviations save those which do harm, and they do not tend to be judgmental, but, to the contrary, are very tolerant and accepting of others. They frown on mediums, because séances disturb the dead, but they believe in the after-life in the sense of embodied personal survival on the astral plane. Most of them are indifferent to politics and few of them are social activists. Their critics take them to task for their narcissism and self-indulgence, their absorption in themselves. On the whole, they are like members of other secret lodges who have their secret handshakes and symbols, and who care for their own.
I met a number of Wiccans in London around 1981. I was in Britain doing research on both prehistoric religion and witchcraft, which, following Murray, I then thought were closely related. A travel agent near the Liverpool Station suggested that I go to a certain coffee house near the Holborn tube station where, on a particular evening he named, I could meet witches. I did and, indeed, they were there. One was a young man wearing a black jacket which was somewhat like that worn by Bela Lugosi in the film Dracula. There was something