The History of Neopaganism, Wicca and Witchcraft , An Introduction

Since some of the beliefs or historical linkage between neopagamisn, wicca, and witchcraft are often blurred, it is not uncommon for people to confuse the three separate terms. However, in order to begin to tell the differences, one should trace some of the changes that each system of belief, traditions, and practices has undergone over time. In this article, you will encounter an exploration of the history that involves the birth and progress of neopaganism, wicca, and witchcraft.

~ 560 BC: Evidence shows that the Bible condemns witches and witchcraft, as seen in the King James Version of Exodus 22:18 (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live) and Leviticus 20:27 (A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them). These two books of the Old Testament create the “Law of Moses” and also describe significant historical accounts of the Jewish people. Some theorize that the passages of the books that make mention of witches date back to what is now known as Iraq when the reign of Evil Merodach (filled with stretches of Jewish exile cases) took place around 560 BC. It is believed that the author could have very well been a priest who worked alongside other priests and scribes.

~420 BC: St Augustine brings up the argument that witchcraft is impossible. This significant theologian belonged to the early Christian Church and spread the word that only God had the ability to ” suspend the normal laws of the universe.” At first, the late medieval Church accepted this view that witches did not possess any supernatural powers with the capability of conjuring up any magical feats. This meant that there wasn’t a need to hunt witches or investigate any claims of witchcraft. You would have though that this thinking around the early 400s would have done some good throughout the years, but history proves otherwise.

~1600 BC: Read Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi and you will find “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.”

3rd Century AD: With the pre-Christian Roman Empire came the decree by the State that witches deemed responsible for causing the death of another (because of their “enchantments”) would face a punishment of being burned alive.

306 AD: It is the decision of the Christian Council of Elvira (Canon 6) to withhold late rite to individuals accused of killing a man by using a magic spell. They believed that this type of crime could not have taken place unless they had the assistance of the Devil.