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Wicca Magical Beginnings: A study of the historical origins of the magical rituals, practices and beliefs of modern Initiatory and Pagan Witchcraft [Kindle Edition]

Sorita d'Este , David Rankine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 284 pages
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Book Description

The origins of the Wiccan Tradition have long been a subject of debate amongst practitioners and scholars alike. Did Gerald Gardner invent the tradition? Is Wicca a survival of a British folk magick system? Could it be a continuation of a European tradition of Pagan Witchcraft? Might it be that it evolved from Victorian ceremonial magick, or perhaps it is the modern manifestation of the medieval Grimoire Tradition?

In this book the authors explore the possible beginnings of the tradition by examining the practices in the context of magickal and spiritual thought spanning thousands of years.Through setting aside the endless debates about initiatory lineages, they look beyond the personalities of the people and instead focus on what they consider to be at the heart of the tradition – the practices. Evidence from many previously uncredited and unconsidered sources is examined. This clearly shows how all the significant component parts of Wiccan ritual and practice have roots reaching back, in some instances thousands of years, before its public emergence at the hands of Gerald Gardner in 1950’s England. They explore the sometimes surprising antecedents for key practices such as initiation, magick circles, ritual tools, the invocation of the Guardians of the Watchtowers, Drawing Down the Moon and The Great Rite. The precedents for the Book of Shadows, Wiccan Rede and Charge of the Goddess are also considered as part of this groundbreaking work.

Wicca Magickal Beginnings may well answer as many questions as it creates about the true origins and nature of what is probably the most influential of the Western Esoteric Traditions today. Through combining scholarly research with practical knowledge, the authors clearly illustrate that the future of the tradition lies in utilising the rich diversity of its past, through the appreciation of its magickal origins and the untapped potential inherent in it.

This book will be invaluable to anyone with an interest in the history, practices and beliefs of the Wiccan Tradition – and its links to Paganism, Witchcraft, the British Folk Traditions and Ceremonial Magick.

*** * ***
"Fascinating stuff. Definitely a book worth getting if you’re at all interested in Thelema and Wicca.” Rodney Orpheus (Author of Abrahadabra: Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic Magick)

"... the New Forest coven, which some die-hard skeptics refuse to believe ever existed, was not a figment of Gardner’s imagination and that he did not just cobble together the rites of Wicca from books. Personally, I would go along with d’Este and Rankine. Highly recommended” Michael Howard (Editor of The Cauldron, and author of MODERN WICCA)

"Long awaited, and sorely needed in both the academic and Pagan community… Wicca Magickal Beginnings is, in one word, brilliant. In another word it is ‘orgasmic’ for the academic in me, ‘scintillating’ for the Pagan in me, and ‘un-put-downable’ (okay, so it’s technically not a word…) for the avid reader in me. " Kim Huggens (Author of SOL INVICTUS and editor of 'Vs.')

"By emphasising the link to ceremonial magick, the authors actually reinforce Wicca’s connection to original European witchcraft… “Magickal Beginnings” pulls together all the subjects that will interest wiccans, but which are usually too diverse to be found in one place… a vital part of many wiccans’ bookshelves.” Stephen Blake (The Apple Branch)

"This is an excellent book, set to become a classic that will be found on every Wiccan’s bookshelf, alongside The Triumph of the Moon.. and Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration." Vogelbere

"this is an exceptional book of references and one which I was hard pressed to find fault with. The material here will spark some interesting discussions, to say the least." Boudica (

With something of interest for both the newcomer and the scholar Wicca:Magickal Beginnings should find a place in any serious collection.” Pagan Dawn Magazine, Pagan Federation

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...that he did not just cobble together the rites of Wicca from books. Personally, I would go along with d'Este and Rankine. Highly recommended. -- Michael Howard, Cauldron Magazine, #129, August 2008

By covering the ceremonial topics as well as looking at themes on the pagan side such as Cernunnos, I think Wicca: Magickal Beginnings is going to become a vital part of many wiccans' bookshelves.
-- Stephen Blake, The Esoteric Book Review, May 2008

Definitely a book worth getting if you're at all interested in Thelema and Wicca. -- Rodney Orpheus, Author of Abrahadabra: Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thelemic Magick

Definitely a book worth getting if you're at all interested in Thelema and Wicca." -- Rodney Orpheus, Author of Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thelema Magick

I've been talking to some friends about this, recommending this book even before I finished reading it -- Boudica for the TWPT

This is an excellent book, set to become a classic that will be found on every Wiccan's bookshelf... -- Vogelbeere, Yew tree, Yvonne Aburrow

What they add is a level of referenced detail that is invaluable. -- Pagan Dawn Magazine, The Pagan Federation

With somethhing of interest for both the newcomer and the scholar Wicca:Magickal Beginnings should find a place in any serious collection.
-- Pagan Dawn Magazine(Magazine of the Pagan Federation UK), Lammas 2008

a bedrock of grimoire materials with fragments of folk practices ... Highly Recommended. -- The Cauldron Magazine, Michael Howard


Definitely a book worth getting if you're at all interested in Thelema and Wicca.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1393 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Avalonia; Kindle Edition September 2014 edition (12 Feb. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TGUCD6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #232,270 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wicca: Magickal Beginnings 24 Oct. 2009
It was a breath of fresh air to read this book, which presents accurate and historical information in order to separate the `myth' from the `reality' in regard to the origins of Wicca. Perhaps for the first time, these authors look closely at the individual practices which make up Wicca as a whole, and source the exact origins of these practices.

There has been much hostility between different traditions of modern witchcraft in regard to whether Wicca is - or is not - a continuation of older practices. To compound this, many practitioners of Wicca also try to avoid association with the more controversial figures - such as Aleister Crowley: and this book proves - whether you like it or not! - that Aleister had an enormous influence on Wiccan practice, particularly in relation to some of its most highly regarded ritual and poetry.

This book presents very clearly that Wicca - whilst a new concept as a whole - is indeed based on older practices, perhaps including the mystery traditions of Greece and Rome, Ceremonial Magick, the Cunning Craft of Britain and the Grimoire tradition (the latter which provides Wicca with such key practices as the directions, or `quarters', and the magic circle; used in both Traditional Wicca and some forms of modern British Cunning Craft). The authors also give their own opinion based on the evidence at the end of the book as to which they believe was the most prevalent influence; but the reader is reminded to come to their own conclusions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wicca Refreshed; Likely Lineage Revealed 4 Jun. 2012
By Titus L
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book entails a refreshing and objective overview of the plausible origins and developments of many magickal aspects and their development into modern Wiccan traditions. Chapter by chapter the authors examine individual practices and their developments over time such as the Magick circle, Wiccan Rede and Witches Athame for example.

Having recently read Ronald Hutton's research in The Triumph of the Moon, which seems to demonstrate that despite the history of Cunning Folk, Wise Women and many others, that Wicca as it exists today has little or no direct connection with any magick traditions of earlier times, this book - if we are able to join the dots between movements and grimoires, convincingly portrays an opposite view. Here we see that the Wiccan traditions do indeed follow a historical lineage, even if individual practices have understandably changed over time - by which mean we may see that they are living traditions rather than archived curiosities, that the spirit of magick has maintained a constant and responsive cultural presence, possibly since very ancient times. This book also explores how Gerald Gardener, the apparent father of modern Wicca, may owe more than is usually stated to Aleister Crowley, Charles Leland, the Key of Solomon and Frazier's Golden Bough among others.

The co author's Sorita D'ete and David Rankine provide numerous references in an extensive bibliography for the academically determined to double check their assertions and contexts, some good humored asides of interest and some objective conjecture that invites an opened mind to assess for themselves- based on the evidences gathered - the likely origins of each aspect under consideration.

As a believer in informed understanding I would therefore recommend this book, to be considered in conjunction with other authors research, to any who seek a practical view of the possible lineage of Wicca and Magickal traditions in Britain and the World today.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and needed 14 May 2008
(A version of this review was originally posted on 'The Avalonia Esoteric Book Review' site)

If we look at the arguments people have over Wicca, the biggest one is generally whether "Gardner made it up" or not. He introduced `The Craft' to the public in 1951, claiming that he'd been initiated into a system which was already in existence, not one that he invented himself. Since then we've found evidence that Gardner certainly changed parts of it later (as did Doreen Valiente and others), but the question over whether he really found an existing tradition remains.

The authors of this book decided not to focus on the big names like Gerald Gardner, but instead trace the origins of Wiccan *practices*. These are, after all, the things that make Wicca what it is - the ceremonies, tools and systems.

And this is where the trouble is going to start, because many people now see Wicca as primarily a pagan Earth-religion. Early `Gardnerian' Wicca (before it was called that) was very different in some ways: more like an initiatory system of ceremonial magic with some witchy themes. People are quite angry on both sides about whether real Wicca today is the initiatory type, or one that should be open to all.

So what does the book say about this? Well, the first conclusion is that - even if Gerald did make it up - the systems Wicca draws together go back a long way. The early chapters are interesting, but the sections on the Athame, Magic Circle and Calling the Quarters are brilliant. There is a lot of information here for Wiccans who want to know more about where their practices come from: specific parts are traced to the Lesser Key of Solomon or John Dee and Enochian Magic, but beliefs such as only walking sunwise around a circle go back strongly to Egyptian times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
An excellent book by Soita D'Este and David Rankine. Informative and knowledgeable. An excellent esoteric overview pitched at general reader. Highly recommended. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Martinus
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Odd not helpful at all
Published 5 months ago by psychicdeb
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent scholarly study
This book is of outstanding merit and puts the case clearly that Gardner was building on earlier traditional practices. This book should be read by every Wiccan sceptic.
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Paul G. Taylor
3.0 out of 5 stars Ditchwater !
Not bad this one - but only for the thorough research . Sorita seems quite a busy -and popular - girl these days. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Geoffrey basil smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The reviews speak by themselfs, this book is an obligatory read. The level of research makes you to know how deep and rich is this tradition. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Rosa Laguna
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth study.
Not a "how-to"book for magic workers, but an excellent academic study on the roots of Wicca by two respected practitioners. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Arianne
3.0 out of 5 stars Its ok
Read as my 1st book of my wiccan journey and gave me bits and bobs but you'll deffo need to read more after reading this book, but ok if you've read more in to wicca
Published 24 months ago by kely yandell
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it or...well, buy it.
There are few books like Magickal Beginnings on the market, I would even say that it's unique.
We definitely have Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon" (which is also a must read). Read more
Published on 14 Jan. 2013 by Daniel Expósito
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
There are an ever-increasing number of books on the market purporting to detail the origins of witchcraft, not all of them believeable. Read more
Published on 12 Nov. 2011 by C. A. Voller
5.0 out of 5 stars Looks at what is most important, and looks at it well.
What makes the Wicca, the Wicca?

It isn't the personalities. It isn't the subculture that has grown around it. Read more
Published on 1 Mar. 2010 by J. Hanna
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