The following article is an abridge version of the one written by Sophia Boann, which can be found from the Cup of Wisdom, a Gardnerian coven residing in East Cork, Ireland. To read the entire article, please visit the above link.
Often Wicca is portrayed as a fertility cult, however, at its core, Gardnerian Wicca is a reincarnation cult.
Gerald Gardner believed in group reincarnation. An early hint is found in the way he concludes his book A Goddess Arrives, a story based on a personal experience: “Do you believe in reincarnation?” he asked, and began to tell her about Rudolph Steiner’s theory of group incarnation.
Gerald Gardner refers to reincarnation immediately in the introduction of Witchcraft Today, where he describes encountering the coven who brought him into the Craft: “and I met some people who claimed to have known me in a past life.” Reincarnation is a frequently recurring theme in the book, and there are such statements as: “The cult god is thought of as the god of the next world, or of death and resurrection, or of reincarnation, the comforter, the consoler. After life you go gladly to his realms for rest and refreshment, becoming young and strong, waiting for the time to be reborn on earth again, and you pray to him to send back the spirits of your beloved dead to rejoice with you at your festivals.” (Chapter III) and “What they wanted was prosperity and fertility for the tribe, a life after death in happy conditions, and reincarnation into their tribe or nation.” (Chapter VI).
Not all initiates believe in reincarnation, and even among those who do, there are varying views on the concept. There is no sense of “Karma” along the lines that you will have a better or worse next incarnation if you haven’t done enough recycling in this life. But all of us have this experience of coming home, a feeling that we belong here, in the greater scheme of things. Additionally, we often have a strong sense of recognition with other initiates when we attend larger gatherings, an instant sense of belonging together, and having known each other before.
The training or “Outer Court” is mostly an excuse to feel out that connection with the group spirit, and if the Seeker will be at home in the coven they are with. And that “feeling out” should go both ways; if the Seeker doesn’t feel like they belong, which isn’t a judgement on the coven, they should move on to find their own place within the greater scheme of our existence.