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Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner Contents: Book Cover (Front)

Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner Contents: Book Cover (Front)

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Published by: AjaMoon on Dec 09, 2009
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I have been told by witches in England: 'Write and tell people we are not perverts. We are decent
people, we only want to be left alone, but there are certain secrets that you mustn't give away.' So after
some argument as to exactly what I must not reveal, I am permitted to tell much that has never before
been made public concerning their beliefs, their rituals and their reasons for what they do; also to
emphasise that neither their present beliefs, rituals nor practices are harmful.

I write only of what takes place in the North, South, East, and West of England today in covens which
I know. I have in addition shown the origin of some at least of the stories which have been told about
the craft. I can only repeat the words of Lucius Apuleius in the Metamorphoses, xl, 23, who wrote a
long account of his own initiation into the mysteries in cryptic language, saying: 'I have told you
things of which, although you have heard them, you cannot know the meaning.'

The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft at Castletown is the only one in the world devoted to magic
and witchcraft. I have the materials here to prove what I say.

I wish to thank Mr. Ross Nichols, editor of Christian's History and Practice of Magic, for supplying
me with supplementary information and for 1m many useful suggestions and comments.

G.B. Gardner

The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft
The Witches' Mill
Castletown, Isle of Man

Dr. Margaret Murray

Formerly Assistant Professor in Egyptology at University College, London

In this book Dr. Gardner states that he has found in various parts of England groups of people who
still practise the same rites as the so-called 'witches' of the Middle Ages, and that the rites are a true
survival and not a mere revival copied out of books. In his easy pleasant style he gives a sketch of
similar practices in ancient Greece and Rome, and his wide personal experiences in the Far East
enable him to show that there are many peoples, whether in the Far East or in Great Britain, who still
perform acts of worship to the Almighty Giver of Life according to ancient ritual. Though the ritual of
Europe is now consonant with modern civilisation, the feeling which underlies both the primitive and
the civilised is the same: gratitude to the Creator and hope for the Constance of His goodness.

Personal worship may take any form, but a group of persons worshipping together always devise
some form of ritual, especially when the worship takes the form of a dance. The ritual dance, whether
pet formed as an act of worship or as the expression of a prayer, is characterised by its rhythmic
action. The prayer-dance is usually for the increase of food, and therefore imitates in stylized form the
movements of the animals or the growing of the plants for which increase is desired. The worship-
dance is even more rhythmic than the prayer.

All the movements are rhythmic, and the accompaniment is a chant or performed by percussion
instruments by which the rhythm is strongly marked. The rhythmic movements, the rhythmic sounds,
and the sympathy of numbers all engaged in the same actions, induce a feeling of exhilaration, which
can increase to a form of intoxication. This stage is often regarded by the worshippers as a special
divine favour, denoting the actual advent of the Deity into the body of the worshipper. The
Bacchantes of ancient Greece induced intoxication by drinking wine, and so making themselves one
with their God.

Dr. Gardner has shown in his book how much of the so-called 'witchcraft' is descended from ancient
rituals, and has nothing to do with spell-casting and other evil practices, but is the sincere expression
of that feeling towards God which is expressed, perhaps more decorously though not more sincerely,
by modern Christianity in church services. But the processional dances of the drunken Bacchantes, the
wild prancings round the Holy Sepulchre as recorded by Maundrell at the end of the seventeenth
century, the jumping dance of the mediaeval 'witches', the solemn zikr of the Egyptian peasant, the
whirling of the dancing dervishes, all have their origin in the desire to be 'Nearer, my God, to Thee',
and to show by their actions that intense gratitude which the worshippers find them selves incapable
of expressing in words.

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