Wicca is a Neopagan religion and a religious movement found in various countries throughout the world. It was first popularised in 1954 by a British civil servant named Gerald Gardner after the British Witchcraft Act was repealed. He claimed that the religion, of which he was an initiate, was a modern survival of an old witchcraft religion, which had existed in secret for hundreds of years, originating in the pre-Christian Paganism of Europe. Wicca is thus sometimes referred to as the Old Religion. The veracity of Gardner's claims cannot be independently proven, and it is thought that written Wiccan theology began to be compiled no earlier than the 1920s. Various related Wiccan traditions have since evolved, or been adapted from, the form established by Gardner, which came to be called Gardnerian Wicca. These other traditions of Wicca each have distinctive beliefs, rituals, and practices. Many traditions of Wicca remain secretive and require that members be initiated. There is also a movement of Eclectic or Solitary Wiccans who do not believe that any doctrine or traditional initiation is necessary in order to practice Wicca.
I realised that I had stumbled upon something interesting; but I was half-initiated before the word, "Wica" which they used hit me like a thunderbolt, and I knew where I was, and that the Old Religion still existed. And so I found myself in the Circle, and there took the usual oath of secrecy, which bound me not to reveal certain things.
The Meaning of Witchcraft
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