The history of Paganism began in about 10,000 BC, during the Paleolithic Age. It was a time when primitive people were nomadic, and had to hunt for their food, having to follow the herds of animals to survive. This is where the belief of the God of the hunt first appeared.
The men worshipped the sun, the stag horned God, and the language of the animals, as hunting was crucial to their survival. The women, who were the child bearers and the healers, where those who took care of the tribe, and were looked upon as having more power, as they were the givers of life.
It was during this time, that the women discovered that their bodies were in tune with the lunar phases, and therefore they worshipped the moon, and the Goddess deity, and they were the ones who led the rituals. There were some men however, who stayed behind from the hunt, with the women, as they were old, or sick or injured. And the women, shared these lunar mysteries with these men, and this is how there became priests in the lunar cult.
In around 8000-7500 BC, agriculture was discoverd quite by accident, as the food the women stored in the ground began to grow. With this realization, that the people could plant and grow their own food, came the realization of the mystery of fertility. Up until this time, the deity had been the Goddess of the lunar cult, as the men did not understand their role in the cycle of life until this point. The discovery of agriculture proved that the men also had a part in creation. Prior to this, there had been a division between the men and the women for the most part, and after this discovery, they had to work together and they no longer needed follow the herds for food to survive. This was when they became "paganized", the word pagan meaning "country dweller"
Now the people were able to settle in one place and breed animals, and grow their own food. This was when the people began exploring and discovering the mysteries of life, death and rebirth.
Time went on, and people migrated from many places to settle in Rome, and those who came from Greece, came with many of the same beliefs that the Romans had and though they worshipped different Gods and Goddess's, they shared in many similarities.
With the migration, there also came to Rome the nomadic Eutruscans from Asia Minor who were very well versed in the aspects of magic and divinations, and they brought this knowledge with them to Rome. Than came the people of the British Isles, who had also discovered agriculture around the same time as the Indo-Europeans, and these are what we know now to be the Celts. Also, from the islands, came the peoples known as the Mediranian Cult of the Dead. These people were very spiritual and knowledgeable on the theories of death and reincarnation, and they came and spread out all over New Europe. They shared their secrets with the Celts, and these people became the Druids, and they were the ones who oversaw all of the rites of the pagan people.
The Druids were predominately men, with very few women. From the time of 6500-4500, there were still remnants of the solar/lunar cults that dealt with animals, herbs and the mysteries who intertwined in the pagan communities, and these people were known as the "wice" and they developed the power and understanding of life and the earth, and these were the keepers of the mysteries. So during this time of all these different people traveling back and forth and sharing information, three major groups of people developed, which were the Druids who mostly held the men's mysteries of the Cult of the Dead, the Wice, who held the mystery teachings of the solar/lunar cults, which remained mostly matrifocal, and was made up of mostly woman, and who worshipped the Goddess, and the pagans, who were the conman folk, who were balanced and polaric, and sought out the wisdom and the knowledge of the Druids and the Wice.
Than, from 0 ACE-650ACE, the old testament was being written in the Middle East. After the death of Christ, the people from the Middle East spread out across the land, spreading the word of Christianity, and eventually came to Rome, and this is when the mass conversion began. They started the conversions first with the rulers, the kings and the Queens first by using money and bribery. this way, the country dwellers would have to convert, as they depended upon the the rulers for their survival. Pagan temples were destroyed, and Christian churches were built upon the pagan holy grounds. The pagans however, forced to build churches over their pagan temples, incorporated many of their symbols into the building of these churches, which you can still see today.
During this time the first scriptures of the pagans emerged, and was held by two Celts.
In 1100, the dark ages began, and no writing went on during this time, and it was like the "lights went out", and when they came back on, the pagan texts were gone, and the Christian conversion continued to spread, and the Holy Wars began. When the Christians decided that the new ways were not catching on fast enough with the pagans, the Christian leaders began asserting that the pagans worshiped and consorted with "the devil" and the inquisition began.
In 1494 two Dominican monks, who were inquisitors of Papal Bull of Innocent the VIII, by the names of Kramer and Springer, produced the book, the Malleus Maleficarum,
"The Witches Hammer" which laid the groundwork for the reign of terror that swept Europe well into the 18th century. This period was known as the "Burning Times" where it is estimated that 9 million men, women and children were held prisoner, stripped, starved, deprived of sleep for countless days on end, and horribly tortured beyond human comprehension, to obtain a confession of witchcraft, only than to be strangled or burned at the stake. Ironically, the Malleus Maleficarum was originally rejected by the literary council because of bias and here say, and was forged so that it could be printed. The last accused witch to die under the laws of the Malleus Maleficarum was in 1747 in Australia.
All of those in the craft went underground for fear of persecution, until 1951, when the last of the anti-witchcraft laws were abolished in England.
It was at this time, that a man named Gerald Gardner came out from the underground and published his first book, called "High Magicks Aid" which he published as a fiction book, under his witch name of Scyer. Than in 1952, he published a non-fiction book, "Witchcraft Today" and thus began the New Age Religion of Wicca.
Wicca became a legalized religion in 1985, and has grown at a furious pace since than, in North American and Europe. An approximate number of pagans surpasses 250,000 in North American alone, and the number is believed to be much higher as many pagans and wiccans lie on their census forms for fear of modern day persecution which continues today.
Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft that was brought to the public by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.
The term “pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham. So, in a nutshell, here's what's going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not.