Neo-Paganism

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Founder
Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valient
Time Period
1950
Description
Neo-paganism is a new religious movement that seeks to revive pre-Christian nature religion, many of which originated either in Europe or indigenous communities. Although diverse, Neo-pagans seek to reconnect humans and nature. One contemporary form on Neo-paganism is contemporary witchcraft, or Wicca.

Christianity in Europe and the United States led to a decline in pagan spirituality from the 11th to 18th century. However, it began reemerging in the mid-19th century in Europe, gaining prominence by 1920. After World War II, Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente successfully brought Neo-pagan ideas and practices to the United States. Gardner’s Witchcraft Today (1954) remains an important text for Wiccans.

Misconceptions persist with regard to Neo-paganism. For example, witches who believe and cast spells often do so for personal improvement, not to harm others. Also, most Wiccans are not preoccuppied with Satan, contrary to many Christian critics.

Estimates of Neo-pagans range from 83,000 to 333,000 as of the 1990s.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Social Movements and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Social Movements and Religion in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History
Photographs

Wiccan event in the US- Wikimedia Commons- photo by Ycco (CC BY 2.0)

Book of Shadows owned by Gerald Gardner- photo by Midnightblueowl at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Beltane procession- Flickr- photo by Debs (CC BY 2.0)

Pagan handfasting- Flickr- photo by Elf Sternberg (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wiccan altar- Flickr- photo by Fernnando Dutra (CC BY 2.0)
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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