By the close of the Second World War, the word “Wicca” had not yet fallen upon the ears of the modern world. The new religious movement that would sweep the globe over the next half a century was the carefully guarded secret of a handful of people residing on the Hampshire coast, in the South of England. There are two dominant stories of the first steps of modern witchcraft into the public sphere—one is a story of revitalization and rebirth, the other is a story of creation and beginning. Both tales begin with a tall, white-haired man, with tattooed arms and a piercing gaze, named Gerald Brosseau Gardner. Gardner states that, in 1939, he was initiated into an ancient and secret tradition— the witch cult. This story—that of revitalization and rebirth—has been told on many occasions. Gardner found himself amidst a group of fascinating people within the larger social circle of the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Crotona. He was led by these people to the large mill house of Dorothy Clutterbuck, a matron of the town of Christchurch, and initiated. He would practice, from then until he left the New Forest, with a coven of modern witches whom he called the Wica. He would also come to be responsible for reforming this ancient religion and presenting it to the public.
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