The Pagan religions date back about
25,000 years ago, to the Paleolithic
age. This is when the god of hunting and the goddess of fertility first appeared.
Magic then was used to direct the hunting and
to ensure the fertility of the women.
The basic chore then was to gather food for the villages. If no food grew then
chances were that the village would perish.
The fundamental concerns of the people at this time were to hunt, grow food and
reproduce. The men of the village would act out the hunt to get into the right
frame of mind. Some men would dress as the animal that they were to hunt. The
leader of the village would dress as an overseer(or a God).
He would guide as a parent would over the enacted hunt and decide when the
hunt was a success. When doing so he would be dressed in animal skins and
wear horns atop his head. By having a god oversee their hunt, they were given
faith that all would go as planned. This is the same god recognized by many
Pagans. He is best known as the Horned God.
Another concern of the time was reproduction; not only reproduction of
the people of the village but also the healthy growth of their harvests.
Some call the goddess of fertility Diana, while others call her Athena.
They prayed to the goddess to make their harvest bountiful.
The gods soon took on familiar representations of the sky. The male
aspect was represented by the sun for the fertilization he provides for the
womb (the Earth). The goddess was given the form of the
moon. The great god ruled the day and the long summer seasons.
The goddess ruled the night and the winter seasons.
Wicca was the name ordinally given to the priesthood, which by 500 BCE
(before common era) had begun developing rituals and festivals.
Sabbats, or holidays, were celebrated during the Wheel of the year . The
Turning of the Wheel of the year was the movement from birth to death to rebirth
(one year and a day).
The Coming of the New Religion
Soon, the ways of the common people came into conflict with a new religion,
Christian priests began asserting that witchcraft was a pact made with the
devil. They turned the Pagans' beloved god into their own Satan, saying it was
obvious that they worshiped the devil because one of the gods that they did
worship was half man and half goat. Many old ways were adopted in an attempt
to gain the liking of the people who followed the Old Religion.
The Egyptian trinity of Isis, Orris, and Harirs became Mary, God and Jesus.
Jesus was born around the late summer or early fall.
The church of Rome moved the celebration of his birth and declared December 25
the "true" date of his birth. December 25 also falls very close to the Old
Religion's celebration of the Winter Solstice — the birth of the sun. Winter
Solstice falls around December 22.
An attempt at mass conversion was made by Pope Gregory the Great. He believed
that one way to get people to go to Christian churches was to build them on
the sites of the Old Religion's meeting places.