Centuries before the birth of Christ, earth-based pagan religions claimed the loyalties of the known world. These pagan religions, worshipping many gods and goddesses, had their own myths and legends to explain the turning of the seasons. The Christian Church has, since its arrival in pagan England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, campaigned against the popularity of magic and magicians. The clergy forbade soothsaying, charming, love philtres, as well as worshipping wells and trees. Attempts to heal the sick, foretell the future by purely natural means, and the use of medicine were not objected to, however. Any claims to have achieved some effect greater than that which could be shown to have come from natural phenomena was immediately suspect (Thomas 253). Saint Patrick engrafted Christianity onto the pagan religion with such skill that he won many of the people over to the Christian religion before they understood the exact differences between the two systems of beliefs (Spence 67). In fact, Christian leaders were notoriously ready to assimilate elements of paganism into their own religious practices. This was to avoid posing to direct a conflict of loyalties in the minds of new converts (Thomas 47). The ancient worship of wells, trees, and stones was not abolished, but rather modified to associate the sacred sites with a saint instead of a heathen divinity. The hundreds of magical springs became holy wells, associated with a saint, but still employed for healing and for divining the future. Their water was even used in baptisms (Thomas 48). Pagan festivals were similarly incorporated into the church year (Thomas 47). Like all cultures, the pagans had myths and legends to explain the whys of the world. Their faith explained the changing of the seasons, and also gave them reasons to celebrate those changes. These celebrations are divided into Greater and Lesser Sabbats. As the Goddess is honoured wi…
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