The history of Wicca documents the rise of the Neopagan religion of Wicca and related witchcraft-based Neopagan religions. Wicca originated in the early 20th century, when it developed amongst secretive covens in England who were basing their religious beliefs and practices upon what they read of the historical witch-cult in the works of such writers as Margaret Murray. It also is based on the beliefs from the magic that Gerald Gardner saw when he was in India. It was subsequently founded in the 1950s by Gardner, who claimed to have been initiated into the Craft – as Wicca is often known – by the New Forest coven in 1939. Gardner's form of Wicca, the Gardnerian tradition, was spread by both him and his followers like the High Priestesses Doreen Valiente, Patricia Crowther and Eleanor Bone into other parts of the British Isles, and also into other, predominantly English-speaking, countries across the world. In the 1960s, new figures arose in Britain who popularized their own forms of the religion, including Robert Cochrane, Sybil Leek and Alex Sanders, and organizations began to be formed to propagate it, such as the Witchcraft Research Association. It was during this decade that the faith was transported to the United States, where it was further adapted into new traditions such as Feri, 1734 and Dianic Wicca in the ensuing decades, and where organizations such as the Covenant of the Goddess were formed.
From the 1970s onward, books began to be published by such figures as Paul Huson, Scott Cunningham, and Stewart and Janet Farrar which encouraged self-initiation into the Craft, leading to a boost in the number of adherents and the development of traditions. With the rising popularity of Wicca, it was used as a partial basis for witchcraft-based American films and television shows, further increasing its profile, particularly amongst younger people, in the 1990s.
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