Neo-Paganism Timeline: 1950s

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Before the 20th century  |  early 20th century  |  1940s  |  1950s   

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[Note: Dates in the same year are not listed in chronological order.]


1950: Beginning of the Anthropocene.

1951: Gerald Gardner announces the existence of his witch coven to the press. The modern revival of Neo-Pagan witchcraft begins.

1953: Doreen Valiente is initiated by Gerald Gardner and becomes his High Priestess. Valiente works to revise Gardner’s Book of Shadows and her influence is seen in his book Witchcraft Today.

1954: Mircea Eliade publishes The Myth of the Eternal Return. Later, in 1958, he publishes Patterns in Comparative Religion. Eliade’s theories of religion later influence many Neo-Pagan authors.1954: Gerald Gardner publishes Witchcraft Today.

1955: Jungian Erich Neumann publishes The Great Mother, which traces the Mother archetype from prehistoric times to the present.

1954: Gerald Gardner publishes Witchcraft Today, the first publication describing the purported origins of his witchcraft revival.

1955: Esther Harding publishes Women’s Mysteries, Ancient and Modern, a Jungian interpretation of the feminine principle in ancient myth.

1956: Following a mystical experience of the “Mysterious Feminine”, Frederick Adams founds the Fellowship of Herperides in Sierra Madre, California, which later evolves into Feraferia. He had been reading Eliade’s Myth of the Eternal Return at the time of his experience. Adams is also influenced by Robert Graves, Carl Jung, and J. J. Bachofen.

1957: Robert Graves publishes a short story, “An Appointment for Candlemas”, which shows his awareness of Gardnerian witchcraft.

1957: Doreen Valiente splits with Gardner over his insistence on the priority of the god over the goddess and his belief that the high priestess must be young.

1957: Frederick Adams founds the Fellowship of the Hesperides, later called Feraferia, in southern California, a wilderness mystery religion, inspired by Robert Graves, Thoreau, archetypal psychology, and naturism (nudism). He also had contact with British pagan groups. He emphasized the Kore (erotic/maiden) aspect of the Goddess trinity, celebrating an erotic union with nature through an annual ritual cycle. Adams met with Robert Graves in 1968.

1958: The eight stations of the Wheel of the Year are established in Gardner’s coven.

1958: Aidan Kelly discovers Gardner’s Witchcraft Today in the San Francisco Public Library and recognizes the witchcraft described in Leland’s Aradia. Kelly later draws on the writings of Leland, Gardner, Murray, and Robert Graves when he creates the rituals of NROOGD.


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