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However this was not the only view; one, which originated with Karl Ernst Jarcke in 1828, and which was expanded upon (most notably) by Jules Michelet in the 1860s and Margaret Murray in the early 20th century, known as the Witch-cult hypothesis, claimed that the witches had been members of a pan-European pagan religion which had pre-dated Christianity and had been persecuted by the Christian Church as a rival religion.Many Wiccans, particularly those of the early decades, believed that their religion was a continuation of this pagan Witch-Cult.
Dafo seems to have been a teacher of music and elocution named Edith Woodford-Grimes, and there have been persistent suggestions that she and Gardner were lovers.
Wicca originated in the early twentieth 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 was subsequently popularised in the 1950s by a number of figures, in particular Gerald Gardner, who claimed to have been initiated into the Craft – as Wicca is often known – by the New Forest coven in 1939.
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The idea of primitive matriarchal religions, which derived from the work of the Swiss lawyer Johann Jakob Bachofen, was popular in Gardner's day, both among academics (e.g., Erich Neumann, Margaret Murray) and amateurs (e.g. Matriarchal interpretations of the archaeological record and the criticism of such work continue to be matters of academic debate.