A Very British Witchcraft
I do not know how I can go through October without Ronald Hutton putting his two cents in on the history of witchcraft. Ronald Hutton makes his way into British-produced documentaries. This time he is hosting his documentary on paganism and witchcraft. Hutton specializes in paganism, British folklore, pre-Christian religion, and Early Modern Britain. He is a delightful narrator and storyteller. He is also a humorous presenter.
Modern Pagan witchcraft is a distinctly British religion. Wicca is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. Professor Ronald Hutton examines witchcraft, Wicca, and paganism in this documentary called A very British Witchcraft. Oddly, Wicca was born in the 1940s. Gerald Gardner was a nudist who was known as the “King of Witches.” Who was the man behind the birth of Wicca?
Professor Ronald Hutton explores the life of Gerald Gardner and how he created the Wicca religions. He reinvented witchcraft and became a celebrity witch. In modern Britain, you are not that far from a modern witch. They do not wear pointy hats but they do cast spells. Harry Potter readers would not believe they would be face to face with a modern witch. Hutton has studied pagan religions and Wicca for two decades.
Nature lies at the heart of Wicca. Hutton participates in a Wiccan ritual. They have participants but not observers. The nature reverence seems to tie back to the ancient religions. Hutton points out that this is not the case. He then introduces the viewer to Gerald Gardner. Gardner retired to Dorset. He lived in High Cliffe, and it was the typical English community. High Cliffe was a hotspot for naturists. Hutton goes to the house where Gerald Gardner lived.
Gardner was an odd-looking man, with white hair. He practiced naturalism. That was not strange enough about the man. He would eventually become a witch. He claimed that he was given the ancient secrets of witches. He became a practicing witch. He practiced witchcraft for 30 years. He recruited others so the religion would not die. Why did he become a witch? What is the background that made him become a witch?
As a child, Gardner was packed off and sent abroad with his nanny. His family grew wealthy from the timber trade. He was an unwanted child. He never went to school. The family never really reclaimed him. Gardner was self-taught and well-traveled. He sought his fortune in the tea and rubber plantations. Gardner studied the tribal cultures around him. He became intrigued by the rituals and magic. For these people, magic was real and it surprised him. He was fascinated by tribal magic. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an influence on Gardner’s life. Magic was real for him.
By the time he retired, magic was a very real thing for him. He met people who were similarly minded. They were also interested in traditional magic too. This was something that Gardener had spent his life studying. The locals thought he was insane.
There was a long tradition of British magic. Cunning folk helped cure people or bring good luck. Gardner used these old spells in his magic. However, he wanted to use magic on a grand scale. He tried to test his magical powers against Hitler. When he was not practicing magic against Hitler, he was a member of the home guard. One night in 1940, Gardner and his coven came together and created a “cone of power.” They targeted this cone of power against Hitler and the German army. They wanted to stop a potential invasion by the Germans.
To learn more about Gerald Gardner continue to watch this documentary. This would be a good documentary for research purposes.
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