"Are [Wiccans] Gnostic?"

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"Are [Wiccans] Gnostic?"

Post  Khephra on Fri Oct 03, 2008 11:16 pm

From Ecclesia Gnostica in Nova Albion:

[Ed. It seems to me as though he's talking about wiccans, not witches...]

Are Witches Gnostic?

Most Wiccans have heard the "rumour" that Gerald Gardner employed Aleister Crowley to create rituals for a new, populist occult religion - and that these rumours have been thoroughly discounted. Readers will encounter how Gardner met Crowley at the end of his life in 1947, when he was enfeebled by drug addiction and old age, and that their meeting was an unique, casual introduction. Such dismissals are likewise false. The facts bear out the assertion that;

- While some ancestral trappings of pre-Christian Europe survived through the centuries (maypoles, superstitions, folk dances, nursery rhymes) these cannot be said to constitute a religion. There is no evidence whatsoever of a magical Goddess religion being practiced in England before Gardner and after the Christianization of Europe.

- Evidence supports that Gardner and Crowley knew each other as early as 1936

- Gardner was a member of the OTO and had a charter from Crowley to initiate others into OTO

- Wicca was specifically invented by Gardner to popularize Thelemic Gnosticism (specifically the Gnostic Mass).

- Upon Crowley's death, Lady Freida Harris - the artist of the popular Thoth Tarot - understood Gardner (mistakenly) to be the head of the OTO in Europe. It was viewed by many within Crowley's circle that what Gardner was doing (Wicca) was merely an extension and performance of the Gnostic Mass.

- Gardner's Third Degree Initiation Ritual of the original Wicca is an exact copy of the Gnostic Mass

- The Charge of the Goddess used in all "Traditional" Wiccan groups is comprised verbatim of quotes from Crowley's Book of the Law

Bishop T Allen Greenfield has researched this issue extensively. See here:


My bottom line is that Wicca is not related historically in any way other than literary inspiration to any aboriginal pagan religion. It is, in fact, a product of the 1930s and 40s, hugely influenced by the rituals of Freemasonry, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). It, in fact, is a errant direct descendent of an OTO encampment in London chartered by Aleister Crowley and under direction of Crowley's direct student and would-be successor, Gerald Gardner. It is interesting to observe that Crowley's Acting Master of Agape Lodge OTO in America in the same period also wrote extensively a few years later on a "revival of witchcraft". [...]

"The only man I can think of who could have invented the rites," [Gardner] offers, "was the late Aleister Crowley....possibly he borrowed things from the cult writings, or more likely someone may have borrowed expressions from him.... " WITCHCRAFT TODAY (p 47) [...]

As we have seen, Wicca since Gardner's time has been watered down in many of its expressions into a kind of mushy white-light New Age, religion, with far less of the strong sexuality characteristic of Gardnerian Wicca, though, also, sometimes with less pretense as well. [...]

In introducing a goddess element into their theology, Crowley and Gardner both understood the yin/yang, male/female fundamental polarity of the universe. Radical feminist Neopagans have taken this balance and altered it, however unintentionally, into a political feminist agenda, centered around a near-monotheistic worship of the female principle, in a bizarre caricature of patriarchal Christianity.

So What?

Here's how I understand it.

- Many Wiccans I speak to have a common experience. A love of the sense of community, an honouring of the role of myth, imagination and play, a strong attraction to the role of the Divine Feminine - but a growing disaffection for paperback-populism and spice-rack-sisterhood of modern Wicca. Many also seek a deeper or more fully developed theology.

- Witchcraft, as it is exercised today in the context of Wicca is a deliberate expression of Gnosticism, via the Gnostic Revival Churches of the 19th Century, Theosophy, Thelema, and similar currents. Wiccans are already heirs to the legacy which many of them seek.

- As we Gnostics embrace Thelemites, Freemasons, Theosophists, Hermeticists, and Christians into our celebrations, so too must we make room and welcome for those from the Pagan community.

- Pagans/Neopagans/Wiccans tend largely to be from Catholic backgrounds and are at first extremely skeptical of Church work, which they identify with rigidity and authoritarianism. They should be invited to decode the Eucharist and the Orders from a mythic, almost Jungian perspective - as we do.

- Fundamentally, most Witches are very comfortable with the practical philosophies of Gnosticism - the honouring of the intuitive voice, the strong sense of personal responsibility, as well as specific Sophianic writings, such as Thunder, Perfect Mind.

- We do this NOT out of a desire to proselytize, and NOT out of a condemnation of deficiency in Wicca (or any other religion), but for the simple reason that many people are hungry for what we're doing. Many young people who find themselves to be looking for Gnosticism often explore Paganism first, as it is so much more accessible (and the book covers are cooler).

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Re: "Are [Wiccans] Gnostic?"

Post  Hadrianswall on Sat Oct 04, 2008 12:46 am

- We do this NOT out of a desire to proselytize...

hmmmmmmmmmmmm

I dont really know how the modern gnostic organisation works but this co-opting of any philosophy with a sympathetic or similar outlook (however streched) reminds me of the spread of Christianity.

It also reminds me of an old friend of mine who upon seeing a man he found attractive would say: Of course he's gay, he just doesnt know it yet.

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Re: "Are [Wiccans] Gnostic?"

Post  Khephra on Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:00 pm

There are a few gnostic groups that get rather ... aggressive in their recruitment. Some of Weor's disciples immediately come to mind...

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