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Neo-Paganism - Timeline Movement

Founder

Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valient

Time Period

1950

Description

Neo-paganism is a new religious movement that seeks to revive pre-Christian nature religion, many of which originated either in Europe or indigenous communities. Although diverse, Neo-pagans seek to reconnect humans and nature. One contemporary form on Neo-paganism is contemporary witchcraft, or Wicca.

Christianity in Europe and the United States led to a decline in pagan spirituality from the 11th to 18th century. However, it began reemerging in the mid-19th century in Europe, gaining prominence by 1920. After World War II, Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente successfully brought Neo-pagan ideas and practices to the United States. Gardner’s Witchcraft Today (1954) remains an important text for Wiccans.

Misconceptions persist with regard to Neo-paganism. For example, witches who believe and cast spells often do so for personal improvement, not to harm others. Also, most Wiccans are not preoccuppied with Satan, contrary to many Christian critics.

Estimates of Neo-pagans range from 83,000 to 333,000 as of the 1990s.

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Photographs

Wiccan event in the US- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Ycco (CC BY 2.0)
Wiccan event in the US- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Ycco (CC BY 2.0)

Book of Shadows owned by Gerald Gardner- photo by Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Book of Shadows owned by Gerald Gardner- photo by Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Beltane procession- Flickr- photo by Debs (CC BY 2.0)
Beltane procession- Flickr- photo by Debs (CC BY 2.0)

Pagan handfasting- Flickr- photo by Elf Sternberg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Pagan handfasting- Flickr- photo by Elf Sternberg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wiccan altar- Flickr- photo by Fernnando Dutra (CC BY 2.0)
Wiccan altar- Flickr- photo by Fernnando Dutra (CC BY 2.0)

Book/Journal Source(s)

Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History New York: Facts on File.

Web Page Contributor

Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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