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    Christian Holidays Taken from Wiccan/Pagan Sabbats Essay

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    Christian Holidays Taken From Wiccan/Pagan Sabbats Melissa Ezzell COM 220 July 4, 2010 Titilayo Evans Christianity and Wicca (Paganism/Neo-Paganism), what do you know about these two religions? When I was growing up I believed in the Christian beliefs; however I now practice Wicca. Look closely at the Christian religion and notice how similar it is to Wicca. Although denied by most Christians the similarities are there because “Christianity began in the middle of Pagan culture” (Kane, p. 12).

    Is the origin of Christianity based on ancient Pagan beliefs or is it wholly original? Christianity started around four BC (History of Christianity, 2004; Anonymous, Timeline of Christianity, 2006) yet Wicca was said to have started around 2000 BC (Anonymous, Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft, 2005). However, most of Wiccans practice what is now known as “modern” Wicca, which was founded approximately in 1949 with the first Wiccan publication, by a man named Gardner (History of Paganism, 2004).

    In the time of Christ, paganism was known as the mystery religion. Paganism was called as such because of the secretive nature and lack of writings associated with them. “A variety of mystery religions were practiced throughout the empire, but most of them held in common a heavy element of secrecy, the use of syncretism in their belief and practice, and a focus on the death and resurrection of a savior-god” (Anonymous, Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft, 2005, p. 15).

    However, witches no longer have to be secretive and practice in the dark, but some witches will still practice in secret because of the fear that has been “burned” into their hearts. Most of the knowledge of these pagan religions dates from the second century (Anonymous, The Historical Context of Christianity, 2004). Around four BC when Jesus was born is about the time Christianity was believed to begin. Before Jesus went on his ministry, approximately 28 Common Era (CE), John the Baptist began spreading the word of the Christian God and the coming of his kingdom (History of Christianity, 2004). The precise duration of Jesus’s ministry is unknown, but many estimates suggest that his public work lasted between one and three years” (History of Christianity, 2004, p. 4). The life of Jesus was cut short when the Romans executed him (History of Christianity, 2004). After Jesus died he was said to rise again, and the “rebirth” is celebrated on Easter. Ostara is one example of pagan influence on Christianity. Other examples include the sites of where Catholics built their churches, their saints who were, in fact, Goddesses and Gods, their holy days, and cultural celebrations.

    Most of the Christian holidays have been taken from pagan holidays and beliefs (Anonymous, The Historical Context of Christianity, 2004). For example: * Groundhog Day is Imbolc (Robinson, 2002), * Easter is Ostara aka Spring Equinox (Anonymous, Easter; Its Pagan Origins, 2009) * Christmas, which is Yule (Robinson, 2002) * May Day, which is Beltane (Robinson, 2002) * Halloween, which is Samhain (Robinson, 2002) * the names for days, weeks, and months, common sayings, and numerous other traditions associated with holidays (Robinson, 2002)

    According to the website Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth (POCM), “Mediterranean cultures in the ancient world ‘shared standard ideas about Gods and their powers and place in the universe [and] Christianity simply adopted those ideas and applied them to Jesus’” (Kane) Here is a look at which Christian holidays were taken from Wiccan Sabbats (Anonymous, A Comparative Look at Catholicism and Wicca, 2000) (The Wiccan Sabbats are on the outside of the ring)

    The Holiday for Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh, which is celebrated on August first (Anonymous, Wiccan and Neopagan Festivals, 2007). Modern paganism’s history has been debated both within and outside of it. There are claims that its traditions have been preserved and secretly handed down through the generations. Other suggestions are that the “ancient traditions” are twentieth century constructions for which customs and tales of folk religion have been the inspiration (History of Paganism, 2004).

    In 2000 BC “Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi instructs, ‘If a man has laid a charge of witchcraft and has not justified it, he upon whom the witchcraft is laid shall go to the holy river; he shall plunge into the holy river and if the holy river overcome him, he who accused him shall take to himself his house’” (Anonymous, Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft, 2005, p. 1). That was the first recorded documentation of laws against witchcraft aka Wicca. Logically Wicca was around prior to 2000 BC; otherwise why would there be a law written to condemn a nonexistent religion?

    Prior to 1400 CE, during the middle ages, there was a popular belief that “Satan-worshiping Witches” existed, who devoted their entire lives to harming others by using dark magic. At this time the Christian church stated that there were no Witches (Robinson, 2002). In 1275 AD the first “witch” is burned after she supposedly confessed to giving birth to a monster and feeding it the flesh of babies. From 1300-1330 AD Europe began its own witch trials. In 1334, in Toulouse, France 63 people were accused of being witches. Eight of these were burned and the rest sat in a jail.

    The year 1400 in Bern, Switzerland a judge carries out a large-scale witch trial (Anonymous, Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft, 2005). Though there are many more “witch trials” listed, I believe that my point is that pagans/witches have been persecuted for many years by Christians because of beliefs and practices. Christian theologians started writing articles and books, by the 1430s that “proved” the existence of witches. These articles and books are what caused the waves of “witch trials” that took place around Europe, beginning in 1450 CE. The Church created an imaginary evil religion, using stereotypes that had circulated since pre-Christian times” (Robinson, 2002, p. 4). France, Germany, and Switzerland held most of the mass murders of “witches. ” Approximately two dozen witches were executed in New England by being hung and one was crushed to death. Most of these witches died in Salem, MA during the witch hunt in the 1690s. “The slaughter lasted until 1792 CE in Europe when the last witch was executed in Poland” (Robinson, 2002, p. 5). From the late 15th century to the 18th century is often referred to as “the Burning Times” (Robinson, 2002).

    According to Mary Wakefield’s research she discovered Pagans were united by their injustices by Christians. One of her interview subjects stated that in the last 2000 years “is a heart-wrenching tale” of pagans that were suppressed or forcibly converted by chauvinistic and scared Christians. When the 20th Century came around “Paganism was once again revived,” by Gerald Gardner who wrote Witchcraft Today. Aleister Crowley’s style of magic became a type of handbook for today’s Wiccan witch (Wakefield, 2004) Aleister Crowley, an occultist, was born in 1875 and died in 1947.

    He attended Trinity College after his father died, and while there he and his roommate became fascinated with the occult, and studied what they were able to obtain. While studying what he could, he began to travel at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, he had very quickly become known as a black magician and Satanist. He also wrote material of the pagan ways prior to the Christian take over. During his travels he met Arnold Crowther, who later introduced him to Gerald Gardner. Aleister later was the influence that Gerald Gardner used in his writings of Wicca (Knowles, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), 2003).

    Here is a picture of Aleister in his room in Piccadilly. (Knowles, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), 2003). Gerald Gardner, born in 1885 and died in 1964, was said to be the founder of today’s Wiccan beliefs. Gardner, “an English hereditary witch, he was the founder of the contemporary witchcraft practiced as a religion. ” Gerald Gardner met Arnold Crowther before the start of World War II (Knowles, Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964), 2001). Here is a picture of Gardner standing next to an exhibit in the “museum of Magic and Witchcraft. (Knowles, Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964), 2001).

    Alexander Sanders was born in 1926 and died in 1988, he became known as the “King of Witches. Alexander is also the founder of Alexandrian Wicca which is one of the major Wiccan/Witchcraft traditions. It is said that, at the age of seven, he ran across his grandmother performing some type of ritual. When she noticed that he was there, she was taken aback and initiated him on the spot and swore him to secrecy. He became her student on the path of the “Old Religion. ” After his grandmother passed away, he claimed that she had given him her Book of Shadows.

    It was said that he tried to gain entrance into some of the Gardnerian covens, which in turn refused him. He managed to obtain a copy of the Gardnerian Book of Shadow, which he copied and added a few of his own writings as well. Claiming the book was his grandmother’s Book of Shadows. After convincing “the Manchester Evening News” to put an article about Wicca on the front page, a large group of people started following the “Alexandrian Wicca. ” He taught classes and ran the coven from his home in London and was said to have initiated more than 1623 witches into 100 different covens across the country.

    Here is a picture of Alexander Sanders (Knowles, Alex Sanders (1926-1988), 2001) (Knowles, Alex Sanders (1926-1988), 2001) So in conclusion, there is proof that Christian holidays are taken from Pagan Sabbats. Although there are not many documents prior to the “birth” of the Gardnerian Wicca, there is evidence of Wicca/Paganism pre-dating Christianity. The lack of documentation can be easily explained by the persecution, suppression, and systematic destruction of the pagan religions by the Christians. In the middle of the 20th Century, Gardner and others revived and published books on paganism.

    Paganism is now recognized as mainstream religion. Pagan traditions were passed down verbally until Sanders broke the vow of secrecy with his publicized material. Please note that the “p” in citations is for paragraphs. Works Cited Anonymous. (2000). A Comparative Look at Catholicism and Wicca. Retrieved July 3, 2010, from Northco: http://www. northco. net/chenke/comp_1. html Anonymous. (2009, December 26). Easter; Its Pagan Origins. Retrieved July 1, 2010, from Religious Tolerance: http://www. religioustolerance. org/easter1. htm Anonymous. (2004, December 27). The Historical Context of Christianity.

    Retrieved May 21, 2010, from ReligionFacts: http://www. religionfacts. com/christianity/history/context. htm Anonymous. (2006, August 27). Timeline of Christianity. Retrieved May 21, 2010, from ReligionFacts: http://www. religionfacts. com/christianity/timeline. htm Anonymous. (2005, April 16). Timeline of Neopaganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft. Retrieved May 21, 2010, from ReligionFacts: http://www. religionfacts. com/neopaganism/timeline. htm Anonymous. (2007, February 9). Wiccan and Neopagan Festivals. Retrieved May 23, 2010, from Religion Facts: http://www. religionfacts. com/neopaganism/festivals. htm

    History of Christianity. (2004). Religious Holidays & Calendars. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from Credo reference: http://www. credoreference. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/entry/ogirholidays/history_of_christianity History of Paganism. (2004). Religious Holidays & Calendars. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from Credo Reference: http://www. credoreference. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/entry/ogirholidays/the_history_of_paganism Kane, G. (n. d. ). Victors’ History. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from Pagan Origins of Christian Myth: http://www. pocm. info/getting_started_victors_history. html Knowles, G. 2003, October 3). Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). Retrieved July 4, 2010, from Controversial: http://www. controverscial. com/Aleister%20Crowley. htm Knowles, G. (2001, May 4). Alex Sanders (1926-1988). Retrieved July 4, 2010, from Controverscial: http://www. controverscial. com/Alex%20Sanders. htm Knowles, G. (2001, May 26). Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964). Retrieved July 4, 2010, from Controversial: http://www. controverscial. com/Gerald%20Brosseau%20Gardner. htm Robinson, B. A. (2002, August 6). Christianity, Ancient Celtic Beliefs, and Witchcraft. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from Religious Tolerance: http://www. eligioustolerance. org/wic_chr. htm Wakefield, M. (2004, December 18). We are all pagans now: paganism is one of our fastest-growing religions. Mary Wakefield talks to a druid and finds out why witchcraft appeals to 21st-century Britain. Retrieved July 04, 2010, from General One File: http://find. galegroup. com. ezproxy. apollolibrary. com/gps/retrieve. do? contentSet=IAC-Documents&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&qrySerId=Locale(en,,):FQE%3D(SU,None,10)%22paganism%22$&sgHitCountType=None&inPS=true&sort=DateDescend&searchType=BasicSearchForm&tabID

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