A HISTORY OF MODERN WICCA,
WITCHCRAFT, NEOPAGANISM, DRUIDRY AND WELSH GWYDDON (WITCHCRAFT)
Wiccae, Druidry, Neopaganism and Welsh Gwyddon
and the Modern Wiccae Movement
Modern Wicca and
Witchcraft - submissions by Ray
Buckland, and many others.
DAFO (EDITH ROSE WOODFORD-GRIMES)
ELEANOR (RAE) BONE
RAYMOND AND ROSEMARY BUCKLAND
WITCHCRAFT (Coming Soon)
PATRICIA AND ARNOLD CROWTHER
ALEX AND MAXINE SANDERS
JANET AND STEWART FARRAR (AND
ROBERT COCHRANE (ROY BOWERS)
Autobiography of Joe Wilson and the Pagan
BRACELIN AND IDREAS SHAH
VIVIENNE AND CHRIS CROWLEY
VICTOR AND CORA ANDERSON
GWYDION PENDERWEN (Coming
VICTOR AND CORA ANDERSON
KENNY KLEIN -
THE BLUE STAR TRADITION
OBERON ZELL - RAVENHEART
Brief History of
TALIESIN EINION VAWR
The Legend of Witchcraft and the Origin of Wicca
by Allen Greenfield
We are the Witchcraft
Autobiography of Joe Wilson or Wilson, Cochrane and the Pagan Way.
Joe Wilson Letters (To be added later)
OR go to
A History of Wiccae, Witchcraft, Druidry, NeoPaganism and Welsh Gwyddon
This is a Work in progress. It is
A History - not The History.
We do not pretend to know what was in
the mind of those Pictish Witches who lived in the early days of the 1st
Millennium BC and AD; we do not pretend to know the exact philosophy of the
Druids or Etruscan priest/esses during that same period; we do not pretend
to know if Aradia the Gospel of the Witches (by Charles Leland) was a real
excerpt of an Italian Witches philosophy, and we do not pretend to know if
Aleister Crowley and/or if Jack Parsons helped Gerald Gardner formulate
Because much of history is always
current opinion, as we learn more about the actors in this very important
play, we will revise our statements. Allen Greenfield although his
training is in the ceremonial world, met and attended circles with dozens of
the modern actors in this play. He has written an excellent background
piece on the origins of Gardnerian Wicca from the evidence he has
Jack Parsons is one of the unsung
heroes of the development of Wicca. His ideas obviously had some
influence on Gerald Gardner during the development phase of Wicca, and
should be looked at more carefully.
Taliesin einion Vawr took a family
tradition and brought together the myths, philosophy and magickal components
of its philosophy and Dynion Mwyn was reborn from the ashes of the middle
Finally, Joe Wilson, another unsung
hero of the World Pagan/Witchcraft Community, brings his autobiography to
the story. Joe was a catalyst for several organizations and his
description of the years leading up to the 70s make for some very
enlightening reading. We have furnished a link to the first part of an
autobiography he sent us in 1999.
Then we explore the stories of Ray
Buckland, Margot Adler, Kenny Klein, Charles Clifton, and many many others.
We will be adding to this story as time
goes on, but we thought it might be time to at least establish a beginning.
and the Modern Wiccae Movement
Rhuddlwm Gawr and
Taliesin Einion Vawr
(Originally Printed as
Course Material in Classes held in Denbigh Wales prior to 1980s -
Subsequently revised in July 2009 and May 2011) Click on the
underlined names and be taken to more information about them.
FROM SOURCES LISTED IN THE NOTES AT THE END OF THIS DOCUMENT
Confusion reigns about the origin of the
words Witchcraft and Wicca. Wicca is a modern neo-Witchcraft religious
movement founded between 1939 and 1959, by Gerald Gardner He stated that all
Wiccans were initiated by a High Priest and/or a High priestess. In England
most Wiccans keep to that custom; but in the U.S., a great number people
claim to be Wiccans but, seldom undergo formal initiation and practice
"eclectic" forms of the religion which are a mixture of new age philosophy
and nature worship.
Aidan Kelly (Crafting the
Art of Magic), and
Jeffrey B. Russell
(A History of Witchcraft), writes that Gardner created "Gardnerian
Wicca", from his personal research and belief. That may or may not be true.
We hope to show in this chapter that Gardner's view of Witchcraft was
derived from several sources, among them Ancient Pagan Religions, Masonic
Philosophy, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy,
Leland's Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches,
Mather's The Key
Golden Dawn Ceremonial Magick, and the practice of traditional
By the late 1800's, England had undergone
a rise in an interest in magick. Magickal societies were founded to collect
and widely disseminate the knowledge of magick. The most important of these
was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (founded in 1888). It is believed
the Order’s nine major rituals were a synthesis of its comprehensive
research. The Order admitted both men and women as members (unlike many
other orders of the time). The Golden Dawn and its offshoots had hundreds of
members, including many scientists, physicians, ministers, and writers, the
most famous of whom were W.B. Yeats, William Blake and Dion Fortune. A large
number of Rosicrucian's and Masons also joined the Order.
Members of some of these groups also were
connected to various Witchcraft covens. One of the earliest covens in
England was found in the area of Canewdon, Essex. This was the Coven of
George Pickingill, who died in 1909. His coven practiced a version of
witchcraft that was in existence as early as the beginning of the 1800's.
There were also several Witchcraft covens in Northern Wales during this time
The best evidence of hereditary English
covens comes from the New Forest area of England. Four hereditary covens
were operating in the New Forest in the 1930's. English travelers, who
visited France during the late 1700s, created the New Forest covens. These
covens were said to have been operating in France since the time of the
invasion and occupation by the Moors of Africa. Certainly the inclusion of
Berber words such as ‘Athame’ and the ‘Eco, eco’ chant, in Witchcraft lore,
suggests a North African origin. Religious groups similar to witchcraft are
known to have existed in northern Africa since before the 9th century.
The best known of the New Forest Covens
was the Horsa Coven near Burley, whose famous initiate, Sybil Leek, wrote
several books on Witchcraft. Sybil claims to have been initiated into the
coven at Gorge de Loup outside of Nice in the south of France. Her family
reportedly was visiting the coven from which the New Forest covens had
descended. After moving to America, Sybil Wiccanized her teachings.
Modern Wicca and Witchcraft
The ancestry of modern Witchcraft and
Wicca contain the names of many well known as well as obscure Pagans: Gerald
Gardner, Dorothy Clutterbuck, Cecil Williamson, Doreen Valiente, Rae Bone,
Prudence Jones, Vivianne and Chris Crowley, John and Kathy (Caitlen)
Matthews, George Pickingill, Jack Bracelin, Monique and Campbell Wilson,
Robert Cochrane, Joe Wilson, John Score, Pat and Arnold Crowther, Janet and
Stewart Farrar, Lois Bourne (Hemmings), Maxine and Alex Sanders, Seldiy Bate
and Nigel Bourne, Taliesin Enion Vawr, Raymond and Rosemary Buckland, Lady
Sheba (Jessie Bell), Rhuddlwm Gawr, Starhawk, and Sybil Leek. These
teachers, authors and elders have been instrumental in the growth of the
Witchcraft movement over the past hundred and fifty years.
Cunning Murrell was born James Murrell in Essex,
England in 1780 and died in 1860. He lived for many years at Hadleigh, where he was often
consulted by the locals to heal animals. He lived in the same area as his
younger contempory the witch George Pickingill, and he is often mentioned in
the controversy that exists about Pickingill and his real or supposed
influence on modern paganism. Murrell was also an astrologer and
an herbalist. He was well known for his use of iron cast witch bottles to
summon witches. A number of local stories attest to Cunning Murrell's
psychic powers, and he left behind a number of homemade books full of
magickal lore, including one he had inherited from a previous Cunning Man
named Neboad. Cunning Murrell died 16 December 1860, after another Cunning
Man from Rayleigh worked magick against him by a witch bottle.
Cunning Murrell and George Pickingill added a great
deal to the magickal lore and capabilities of the Witches of that era.
Information on Murrell can be hard to find.....much
of it is in an article by Arthur Morrison in The Strand Magazine of
1900, "A Wizard of Yesteryear" links as follows:
Each link a double page of the journal. Arthur
Morrison was an author of light realistic fiction, his "Martin Hewitt,
private investigator" was a more realistic alternative to
Sherlock Holmes, both
Holmes and Hewitt appearing in the The Strand Magazine. His novel
about Cunning Murrell can be found online.
A useful article about Cunning Murrell by Eric Maple can be found in the
journal Folkore (1961 or 1960). To access it online though you need to
subscribe to JSTOR.
Invaluable genealogical research on the Pickingill and Murrell families can
be found at:
The term "cunning man" or "cunning woman" was most widely used in southern
Midlands, and in
Wales. Such people were also frequently known across England as "wizards",
"wise men" or "wise women", or in southern England and Wales as "conjurers"
or as "dyn hysbys" in the
Welsh language. In
Cornwall they were
sometimes referred to as "pellars", which some etymologists suggest
originated from the term "expellers", referring to the practice of expelling
evil spirits. Nineteenth-century
used the term "white
witch" to refer to cunning folk.
There is a legend that states that George
Pickingill was a Witch Master at Canewdon, where witches have been known
since the early 1800's. Two of these witches were Lady Eliza Lodwick and
Mary Ann Atkinson, wife of the local vicar. These two sisters were
originally named Kerstemans. A former Witch Master of Canewdon, Cunning
Murrell, died in 1860. Pickingill possessed a wooden whistle which legend
says he used to call the witches to a Meet. Local tradition has it that
there will always be at least six witches in Canewdon, "three in silk, three
in cotton" (that is, three high born and three lower class). In 1959, a 94
year old gardener from Canewdon named Arthur Downes stated that his great,
great grandfather had been a Pickingill and a witch in Canewdon, and that he
himself had been initiated into the Pickingill tradition at Beltaine 1950 in
Essex near the River Crouch, at which time there were nine witches in
According to Cecil Williamson, Aleister
Crowley had sent Gerald Gardner to Canewdon to investigate George
Pickingill, who was said to be the master of nine covens throughout Britain,
and to have held witch meets in the graveyard of St. Nicholas' church. Since
the witches of Canewdon have a sinister reputation, modern witches have
tried to distance themselves from the tradition.
There are some Witches who claim they are
descended from one of "George Pinkingill's Covens", but it is extremely
unlikely that he was connected with Gardner, or any other modern Wiccan in
any way. Pickingill died in 1909 at the age of 93, whilst Gardner was still
Eric Maple is largely responsible for the
Pickingill legend, which was expanded by Bill Liddell writing under the
pseudonym Lugh, in "The Wiccan" and "The Cauldron" throughout the 1970s. It
is said that Mike Howard still has some of Liddell's material, which he has
never published, and there is nobody in the British Craft who has given any
credence to Liddell's claims.
In the book, "The Dark World of Witches",
published in 1962, Maple tells of a number of village wise women and cunning
men, one of who is George Pickingill.
Accompanying the article is a photograph
of an old man with a stick, holding a hat, which Maple describes as
Pickingill. This photograph has subsequently been reused many times in books
about witchcraft and Wicca.
Liddell has made many claims; some were
questionable, and others can, by a great stretch of the imagination, be
accepted. For information concerning the Pickingill controversy from
Liddell’s viewpoint, see
Dafo (Edith Woodford-Grimes 1887-1975), Gerald
Gardner’s first High Priestess.
Dafo was might
have been the first Witch High Priestess, and
was undoubtedly Gerald Gardner’s first High
Priestess. It’s impossible to know just how
influential Woodford-Grimes was to the Modern
Craft, but she was certainly there at its
beginnings in the late 1930′s. Dafo was one of
the original members of Gardner’s Bricket Wood
Coven, and was present at the initiation of
Doreen Valiente in 1953. Dafo distanced herself
from the Craft and Gardner in the late 50′s,
wishing to remain anonymous and out of the
public spotlight. Only in recent years has her
vast contribution to Modern Paganism become
widely known and acknowledged.
Edith Rose Wray was born 18 December 1887 at Malton
in Yorkshire. Her father, William Wray, was an engineer at the local
waterworks. They lived in a house located on a Roman road, nearby to an old
spring dedicated to the Lady. Edith became a teacher of music and elocution.
In 1920, she married Samuel Woodford Grimes, who had been born in Bangalore,
India in 1880. They settled in Southampton, and had a daughter named Rosanne
in 1921. Edith’s marriage was a difficult one for her, and when her daughter
became a young woman, Edith moved with her to Christchurch in 1938. Along
the way, Edith had become involved with a group of hereditary Witches, and
she had a wealth of knowledge about village Witchcraft.
In Christchurch, Edith became a member of the
Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, and in 1939, she joined with Dorothy
Clutterbuck to create the Mill House Coven. Later that year, Edith initiated
Gerald Gardner into the coven. When Edith’s daughter married in 1940, Edith
moved to a house at Walkford, close to Gardner’s house in Highcliffe. During
the War, she and Gardner spent much time together, and afterwards, she
became the first High Priestess in Gardner’s Bricket Wood Coven in 1949.
When the Witchcraft Laws were repealed in 1951 and Gardener started to
publicize Witchcraft, Edith decided to drop out to avoid exposure, and in
1953, she was replaced with Doreen Valiente as High Priestess.
Dorothy Clutterbuck was born in Lahore, India on 19
January 1880. Her father was a Captain in the 14th Sikhs of the British
Indian Army. When she was a young woman, her family returned to England to
further her education; her father was by then a Lieutenant-Colonel. Dorothy
was an independent thinker, with a strong interest in folklore, fairies and
Witches, and fancied herself a painter. After her family moved to the New
Forest area in southern England, she discovered and became friends with
hereditary Witches. In 1935, Dorothy married Rupert Fordham in London and
settled into a large house in the New Forest. Their marriage didn't last,
and Dorothy later became known as a wealthy spinster. She turned her house
into a theater and started a theater company called the Mill House Players;
this was made up of a few dozen local people, and Clutterbuck paid for all
of their costumes. When the Rosicrucian Society Crotona Fellowship moved
into the area, Dorothy and some of her Witch friends joined the Fellowship,
where they rubbed shoulders with a number of Co-Masons, a group of
intellectual women interested in the occult. In 1939, a group of persons at
a Fellowship Meet decided to start a number of new Witchcraft Covens in the
New Forest area, and Dorothy Clutterbuck was nominated to lead one of them.
Later that year, one of her coven members called Dafo (Mrs. Edith
Woodford-Grimes), initiated Gerald Gardner into the coven. Dorothy had met
Gardner, who also lived in the New Forest area, at meetings of the
Rosicrucian Society Crotona Fellowship. Dorothy kept extensive daily
diaries, which she wrote entirely in verse; in one of her entries she voiced
the belief common among hereditary Witches that the most important of the
Sabbats was the Summer Solstice. Dorothy Clutterbuck died 12 January 1951,
six months before Witchcraft became legal in England. After her death, many
of her magical tools were placed on display in the Witchcraft Museum on the
Isle of Mann.
Russian mystic, founder of Theosophy, and author
of Isis Unveiled and The Secret
Why she’s on
this list: Blavatsky is one of the most
important occult figures of all time, and has
been called “The Mother of the New Age” on more
than one occasion. Blavtasky’s writings helped
introduce the Western World to Eastern concepts
and ideas. Reincarnation? Karma? Both were ideas
injected into the Western occult milieu by
Blavatsky. She was also an independent woman who
travelled the world in the 19th Century and
founded her own religious movement.
Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903),
Folklorist and author of Aradia.
Leland was an American born folklorist best
known in Pagan circles for the books Aradia:
Or the Gospel of the Witches and
Etruscan Roman Remains, books that are
still studied and agonized over 100 years after
their initial publication.
Aradia is one of the most influential texts
in the history of Modern Pagandom, and while the
Witchcraft in Aradia is a bit more
mean-spirited than modern varieties, there are
still many similarities. Much of the material in
Aradia has been adapted and re-worked
over the years, extending its influence even
further. The Charge of the Goddess is
found in Aradia, with the more famous
Doreen Valiente version using much of the
language originally translated from the Italian
by Leland. There are many arguments about the
historical veracity of Aradia, but no
doubts about its influence.
MARGARET MURRAY (1863-1963)
Margaret Murray (1863-1963)
Murray was a well respected Egyptologist and
mostly a serious academic (books like God of
were obviously meant for a general audience) but
is also a major figure in the Modern Pagan
Revival because of her books on Witchcraft and
the Horned God.
It’s easy in retrospect to dismiss Murray’s
Witch-cult in Western Europe (1921).
Murray’s hypothesis that the innocents killed in
Europe’s “Witch Trials” represented a secret
underground pagan religion has been dismissed by
a majority of scholars today, but the theory
continues to hold a lot of power in Modern
Paganism. Regardless of how factual the Murray
hypothesis is, it became one of the founding
myths of Witchcraft, and as a result Modern
Paganism. In addition to providing a mythology,
Murray provided the terminology that would
become a part of many Pagan traditions. We use
words like coven and esbat because they were
words that Murray used.
Murray redeemed and legitimized the word
“witch.” After reading Murray you want to
practice Witchcraft and you want to be a Pagan.
Her history of the Horned God in God of the
Witches is everything you want a Pagan
archetype to be. She traces the worship of Old
Horny back to the Cave of the Three Brothers in
France and its portrait of “The Sorcerer” to Pan
and Cernunnos and then later Robin Hood.
Murray’s Witch Religion is a faith of joy and
exuberance and I’m certain that it influenced
countless people to want to be Witches.
She also endorsed Gardner’s version of
Witchcraft writing the introduction to
Witchcraft Today back in 1954.
Without Murray it’s possible that early
Pagans might have all called themselves Druids
or Heathens and the empowering mantle of witch
would have never been worn in Contemporary
Paganism. Certainly the influence of Murray’s
“Witch-cult Hypothesis” will continue to fade in
the coming decades, but her other contributions
to Modern Paganism will continue. Besides even
if Murray’s theory isn’t exactly true in the
literal sense I think many of us will continue
to feel a kinship with the women (and men) who
were needlessly murdered in the name of religion
Murray was made Assistant Professor of Egyptology at the University
College of London in 1924, a post she held until her retirement in 1935. In
1926 she became a fellow of Britain's Royal Anthropological Institute and at
the age of 90 became President of the Folklore Society. Murray's best known
work, The WitchCult in Western Europe, was published in 1921 .
Her thesis expounded the view that an underground Pagan resistance to the
Christian Church had existed across Europe and was organized into covens of
thirteen worshipers, who were dedicated to a male god. This religion, dating
from the Neolithic period, survived unnoticed throughout the Christian era
up to its uncovering at the hands of the Witch hunters in the mid-fifteenth
century. Despite Murray’s assertions that the cult practiced human
sacrifice, it was of curiosity to those in the twentieth century with an
interest in folklore and Paganism. It allowed for the freedom of women and
recognized their importance, whilst being open to sexuality and resisting
Church oppression. In this respect Murray's ideas can be seen in the context
of the then popular view of a romanticized rural England, which stood in
contrast to industrialization and the massively destructive and horrific
conflicts of the early part of the century.
Murray’s work has been roundly criticized by academic historians and it
is agreed in those circles that her ideas were the result of misinterpreting
and exaggerating evidence taken from limited sources, as well as the
falsification of some documents. A quote from Professor J. B. Russell's A
History of Witchcraft summarizes the academic position: "the Murray
thesis on the whole is untenable. The argument for the survival of any
coherent fertility cult from antiquity through the Middle Ages into the
present is riddled with fallacies" .
The God of the Witches
 , published in 1931, expanded on Murray’s claims that the Witch cult
had worshiped a Horned God whose origins went back to prehistory. She
asserted that the Witches' confessions of worshiping Satan proved they
actually did venerate such a god.
Murray's works were to become bestsellers from the 1940s onwards, and,
for a number of decades, were generally believed to be true. Until recently
her writings were highly regarded in many Wiccan circles. However,
especially after Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon, which continued
the exposé of Murray’s ideas  and has been well received by many modern
Witches, this influence has declined markedly. Nonetheless, Murray’s ideas
had a profound effect on Gardner and many currently used Wiccan terms derive
from, or are influenced by her work such as the Wiccan term the "Old
Religion", as well as concepts like the coven, the Esbat, the Wiccan Wheel
of the Year, and the Horned God.
Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)
The handprints of the Great Beast are all
over Modern Paganism. From the way Crowley
refined the magickal rituals of the Golden Dawn
to his poetry and language, Uncle Al has had a
huge impact on what most of us do on a day to
day basis. Much of Crowley’s language and poetry
was “borrowed” by both Gerald Gardner and Doreen
Valiente when assembling much of the liturgy
that would come to define British Traditional
Witchcraft. While there’s a lot of doubt about
just how religious and spiritual Crowley was,
poems like Hymn to Pan capture the
Horned God at his randiest, and Crowley’s work
also call out to female deity, most notably
“Sweet Nuit” in The Book of the Law.
Many of Crowley’s idea were inserted nearly
whole scale into early Witchcraft, most
certainly “an it harm none, do what you will” is
a re-imagining of “do what thou wilt shall be
the whole of the law.” Crowley’s re-writing of
OTO Ritual was almost certainly influenced many
English Witches. His practice of sex magick may
have led to practices such as The Great Rite.
Time has not been as kind to Crowley as it
has to the others on this list. Books like
Magick in Theory and Practice
have a rather limited appeal, and while we often
use fragments of Crowley’s words and writings in
ritual, the context is often different. I’d
probably make the argument that Crowley gave
much of Modern Paganism its structure and spine
along with certain ambiance, but he didn’t
become our heart or soul.
GERALD BROUSSEAU GARDNER
Gerald Gardner (1884-1964)
Gerald Gardner was born June 13, 1884 in
Blundellands near Liverpool, England. Because of his asthma, Gerald was sent
to travel in Europe during the winter with his nurse. Eventually, they
traveled to Ceylon, Borneo and Malaysia. Although Gerald spent much of his
early years working on tea plantations, he was fascinated with archeology
and local customs, and eventually published an acclaimed book titled Kris
and Other Malay Weapons. He eventually obtained a position with the British
government as a rubber plantation inspector, customs official and inspector
of opium establishments.
Gardner made a great deal of money in the
rubber market, retired, and returned to England in 1936. He eventually
financed a series of archeological trips throughout Europe and Asia Minor
and joined the British Folklore Society. In June 1938, he joined the newly
opened Rosicrucian Theater at Christchurch.
Gardner stated that late in 1939, Dafo,
whose real name we believe was Mrs. Edith Woodford-Grimes, the Maiden of
‘New Forest’ coven, initiated him into the Crotona Fellowship and its inner
Witchcraft core. But he received his training from Dorothy Clutterbuck who
you will hear about later. Dafo and Dorothy are the only tangible links
between Wicca and The New Forest coven.
The Fellowship of Crotona, a Co-Mason
lodge, was highly experimental, and practiced Theosophy and Rosicrucian
ritual. This "Fellowship" claimed to be connected to a surviving English
coven of witches who met in the New Forest area of England. It's inner core
was trying to reconstruct country witchcraft rituals along the lines of
Margaret Murray's books, "as all magical lodges were doing in those days"
according to Cecil Williamson.
Gerald indicated to several friends that
he had found "everything he had ever looked for in his life". He wanted to
publicize it, but met strong resistance from the other members of the group,
who feared for their jobs and their standing in the community.
Gardner’s initiator used the pseudonym of
Dafo because it was still a criminal offence to be a Witch (the Witchcraft
Act of 1735 was repealed in 1951). Dafo was a leader or at the very least, a
key member of the original New Forest Coven.
Gardner stated of his initiation in "The
Meaning of Witchcraft": "I realized that I had stumbled upon something
interesting; but I was half-initiated before the word, "Wica" which they
used, hit me like a thunderbolt, and I knew where I was, and that the Old
Religion still existed. And so I found myself in the Circle, and there took
the usual oath of secrecy, which bound me not to reveal certain things."
In this quote, Gardner spells Wicca with
only one "c". In the earlier "Witchcraft Today" (1954) and "High Magic's
Aid" (1949), the word Wicca is not used. He gave an explanation of the
"As they (the Dane and Saxon invaders of
England) had no witches of their own they had no special name for them;
however, they made one up from "wig" an idol, and "laer", learning,
"wiglaer" which they shortened into "Wicca". "It is a curious fact that when
the witches became English-speaking they adopted their Saxon name,
"Wica"." We know now that this explanation is not historically correct.
In "An ABC of Witchcraft Past and
Present", Doreen Valiente does not have an entry for Wicca, but when
discussing Witchcraft, does mention the Saxon derivation from the word Wicca
or Wicce. In The Rebirth Of Witchcraft, however, she accepts Prof. Russell's
derivation from the Indo-European root "Weik", which relates to things
connected with magic and religion.
Doreen Valiente strongly supported
Gardner's claim of traditional initiation, and published the results of her
attempt to prove the existence of Dorothy Clutterbuck in an appendix to "The
Witches' Way" by Janet and Stewart Farrar. It is a very good piece of
investigation proving that Old Dorothy actually existed. In the recently
published "Crafting the Art of Magic", Aidan Kelly makes the outrageous
claim that Gardner, Dorothy, et al, created Wicca one night following a
social get together! Of one thing we can be certain: whatever its origin,
modern Wicca derives from Gardner and because of Gardner’s efforts,
traditional hereditary traditions such as Dynion Mwyn/Y Tylwyth Teg, have
been able to "go public."
In 1947 Gerald met Aleister Crowley, who,
after three more meetings gave Gerald a charter to revive the Ordo Templi
Orientals (OTO) or The Order of the Oriental Templars) in Britain. The fact
that Gardner's OTO charter was hand written by Gardner but signed by Crowley
may have led some who saw both the charter and Gardner's workbook to believe
that Crowley had written the Witches workbook himself. Ye Book of Ye Art
Magical was on display at Ripley's Witchcraft Museum at Fisherman's Wharf in
San Francisco and later stored in their vaults until it was purchased
by Tamara James, a Gardnerian Witch in 1987. Sometime after he started his
first coven, Gardner started using the term 'Book of Shadows' to refer to
the Witches' workbook. He rewrote his Witches' workbook several times in the
early days of his coven, and Doreen Valiente said the earliest book she saw
had no title.
Drawing heavily from the Golden Dawn
material, Gardner created a Grimoire in his own handwriting around
1948. This Grimoire, still in existence in the Gardner collection in
Toronto, Canada, was begun during the Second World War. It is clear from
this manuscript that the coven, which initiated him in 1939, had given him
almost no information at all. His ideas of the Craft at that time were very
fragmentary, but he turned those ideas into a tradition of secret inner
teachings about magic and goddess worship. These ideas gradually evolved
into an outer religion for the masses that emphasized the erotic and added
nudity (working skyclad), from Roman initiatory mysteries, to the ritual.
The manuscript material gradually changed
as Gardner's own views shifted from the elite ceremonial magick of the
Golden Dawn, that improved the fragmentary workings of hereditary groups
(techniques later taken up by almost all Witches), to elements of outer
pagan religions that would make Witchcraft more appealing to the masses fed
up with institutionalized religion -- a more natural magic, transforming the
intellectual rituals of the Order into simpler rituals that could be
performed by ordinary people. Gardner claimed that he didn't want to see
Witchcraft die out, and that his efforts at recruiting members and starting
covens to practice his form of Witchcraft was directed at that goal.
Gradually new ideas, which would later
become the teachings, laws, and rituals of the Wicca religion, worked their
way into the material. He added neo-pagan ideas derived from Margaret Murray
and Charles Leland. He also adopted ideas from Robert Graves, E. O. James,
and other writers. Gardner taught many influential pupils, and many of these
later created their own branches of Wicca.
In the Summer of 1947 Gerald sailed for
the United States and met with Jack Parsons, an OTO official in California.
Parsons was one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and
inventor of the fuel that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon; in 1972, a
crater on the dark side of the moon was named in his honor.
Magickally, Parsons had been deposed as
acting Head of the Agape Lodge of the OTO in California (the only active OTO
Lodge at the time) by Crowley. Apparently, Parsons had neglected the Lodge
because he was obsessed with manifesting the power of Babylon on earth; he
and L. Ron Hubbard (say Scientology) had been spending time in the desert
invoking BABYLON of the Stars to appear in the flesh.
Parsons was very interested in the idea of
witchcraft and invoked spirits so regularly that he constantly had others
banishing the results of his work at the Lodge. Parsons had written about
what he thought would be a coming resurgence of witchcraft on several
Upon his return from America, Gerald
abandoned his plan to become the OTO head in Britain, and wrote "Ye Boke of
ye Arte Magickal as a compendium of rituals for a revived witchcraft." He
then founded a nudist club in Bricket Wood, Hertfordshire, as a cover for
In 1949, he published a more detailed
novel, High Magic's Aid, under his magickal name in the OTO, Scire.
Scire was the name Gardner took as a member of Crowley's branch of the OTO.
Aleister Crowley had given Gardner his O.T.O. degree and Charter in 1946.
This book, like Gardner's own religious beliefs, combined the more natural
forms of magic with high ceremonial. In his introduction to the book,
Gardner says that:
"The Magical rituals are authentic,
partly from the Key of Solomon (MacGregor Mathers' translation) and
partly from Magical MSS. in my possession."
In the novel, witches worship a horned god
but no goddess. By late 1949, when Gardner participated in an OTO ritual
with Kenneth Grant to invoke extraterrestrial entities using some of A.O.
Spare's methods, he had a small working group of Witches.
Gardner and Crowley on several occasions,
discussed Gardner's OTO Charter and how Crowley was going to make changes
that Crowley felt were needed in the OTO. One of the changes Crowley wanted
was the setting up of many small groups of initiates instead of centrally
located main temples.
Gardner returned to the US in 1950 to
confer further with Parsons, who in the meantime, had written instructions
for creating a Thelemic Order based on paganism and witchcraft.
In 1951 the Witchcraft Act was repealed in
Britain. Gardner began to publicly promote Wicca as an old religion, which
had as some of its precepts, a love of life and a belief in the sanctity of
nature. He claimed that its deity was "The Lady" or Goddess, and her consort
"The Lord" or Horned God. Cecil Williamson transferred his Museum of
Witchcraft to the Isle of Man and Gerald became his "resident witch" and
started giving interviews.
In 1952, Dafo is said to have introduced a
thirty-year-old raven-haired lady to Gerald (other sources said she wrote to
Cecil Williamson who put her in touch with Gardner). So began Doreen
Valiente's first footsteps along the path of Wicca. A year later, in 1953,
Doreen received the first-degree initiation into the Craft, given (as
tradition demanded) by a member of the opposite sex. Gardner conducted the
initiation himself on Midsummer's Eve. He had just traveled from his
witchcraft museum on the Isle of Man to attend the Druid Solstice gathering
at Stonehenge where he was to loan the Ancient Druid Order his ritual sword.
On this journey he dropped by the home of Dafo and initiated the young
Doreen, whom he had met the previous summer.
Gardner used his Book of
Shadows from the late forties up until 1953 when he initiated Doreen. He
claimed the material was taken directly from the New Forest Coven and was
the remnants of the Old Religion, which had been passed down through the
ages. His astute student Ameth (the name given to Doreen) noticed that one
passage read out by Gardner was taken from Aleister Crowley's Gnostic Mass.
On this point, Doreen took Gardner to task and he replied that the Wicca
rites he had received were fragmentary and he had filled them in the best he
could. He gave Doreen his Book of Shadows saying, "Can you do any better?"
She did, replacing much of the Crowley and Masonic material with her own
verse. She reconstructed the documents into a logical, practical and
workable system, leaving us with what we know today as "Wicca". Thus most
scholars identify 1953 as the true date of the commencement of Gardnerian
Wicca in England.
In 1953 Gerald bought the Museum of
Witchcraft from Cecil Williamson, who returned to England and founded
another museum at Boscastle in Cornwall (which he sold in 1997.)
In 1954, Gardner wrote Witchcraft Today,
his first non-fiction account of witchcraft. In this book he supported the
theories of Margaret Murray of an ancient organized religion of witchcraft
in Europe. This book started a rush of new recruits for Gerald's coven and
new covens began to arise all over Britain.
He proclaimed that Witchcraft was to have
a new beginning as Wicca. Wicca would be the new and correct way to address
Witchcraft and a Witch would now be called a Wiccan. Gardner created a way
of thinking that soon spread all over the United States and Britain. He
adopted laws for Wiccans to emulate, but one and only one became the
standard: "Do what you will, and it harm none."
Post-1957, Doreen severed contact with
Gerald because of his willingness to be interviewed by the press and his
attempt (in her opinion) to subvert her authority. In "The Rebirth of
Witchcraft", she explains that as the coven's High Priestess, she felt that
by speaking to the press, Gardner was compromising the security of the group
and the sincerity of his own teachings. Doreen introduced a set of rules
called the "Proposed Rules for the Craft" which would prevent any members of
the Craft from speaking to journalists or writers without permission from
the Elders. Gardner was fully expected to follow these rules but retaliated
with the claim that the Craft already had a set of traditional laws. He then
sent the members of the coven "The Old Laws" - documents containing
practical advice and theology. Doreen didn't believe these "Old Laws" were
authentic and parted company with Gardner. However they did later restore
their friendship but never to the same degree as before.
Older coven members went with Doreen, but
she dropped Gardnerian rituals after a year, looking instead for more
"authentic" country witchcraft. Younger members stayed with Gerald. Dayonis,
who had previously been the coven's Maid, became Gerald's new High
Between 1952 and 1961, Gerald initiated
Pat and Arnold Crowther. This was the start of the Sheffield line. In her
books, Pat Crowther writes that she was initiated in 1961. In 1962, her maid
Pat Kopinski left her "because Pat refused to give her a 2nd degree." Pat
Kopinski, in turn, initiated Alex Sanders, founder of the Alexandrian
In 1959, Gardner wrote "The Meaning of
In 1960 Gerald raised the late Rae Bone to
2nd and 3rd degree. Rae is the ancestress of the Whitecroft line in England.
His wife died in 1960, and in 1963
Gardner's niece Monique Wilson initiated an Englishman named Ray Buckland
who introduced Gardner's form of witchcraft to the US.
Gardner died in 1964 while on a
Mediterranean cruise and returning from Lebanon. He is buried in Tunis.
OTHER SOURCES GARDNER USED IN FORMING HIS
Gardner used a variety of other literary
and magical sources to "revive" the Wicca religion. He had membership in a
number of magical and spiritualist organizations, including: the Fellowship
of Crotona, (of which Annie Besant was also a member), The Society of
Rosicrucians in Anglica (S.O.R.A.), The OTO, and the Hermetic Order of the
Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.). Gardner also had a large collection of MSS, and
occult books, which were purchased with the rest of his goods by Ripley's
Museum after his death
Gardner evidently received only a small
amount of information from Clutterbuck. The rest was added over the years
from several sources. Gardner was a Mason who had studied the folklore and
magic of various cultures and made the acquaintance of several persons
knowledgeable in magick. He combined information from these sources,
particularly from the Masons, the Golden Dawn, and magical Grimoire such as
the Key of Solomon, to create his Witches' workbook. Words such as 'the
Craft' and 'So mote it be!' came directly from the Masons, casting the
Circle with pentagrams, the elements and the watchtowers at the quarters
came directly from the Golden Dawn, and the sigils on the handle of the
Athame, or ritual knife, came from the Key of Solomon. The founder of the
Crowley, helped him by introducing him to various influential occult
personalities of the day. Gardner also used some of Crowley’s writings in
Crowley died in 1947, and their
association was short lived. According to Crowley's personal dairy, he met
Gardner with Arnold Crowther on May 1, 1947, (But sources indicate they had
obviously met earlier and this meeting with Crowther was for Crowthers
benefit). Gardner was secretly working on a workbook he called
Ye Book of Ye Art Magical," which had many long passages taken directly from
Crowley's published works. These included Crowley's poetry in the
Charge of the Goddess and Invocation of the Horned One, as well as his
Gnostic Mass as a Third Degree sex rite.
The author, Ithell Colquhoun states that
Gardner inserted material from the O.T.O., and less directly from the Golden
Dawn, into "...the lore of his covens". As Doreen Valiente also
acknowledged, "Indeed, the influence of Crowley was very apparent throughout
the (Wiccan) rituals."
An example of lines by Crowley which are
rather familiar to modern Wiccans:
"I give unimaginable joys on earth; certainty, not faith, while in life,
upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in
sacrifice. I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge
of me the knowledge of death."
Not only poetry, but also magical
practices of Wicca are also derived from Golden Dawn sources. For example:
the casting the circle: the visualization of the circle, and the pentagrams
at the quarters, are both based upon the standard Golden Dawn Pentagram
Ritual; both the concept and word "Watchtowers" are of course from the
Enochian system of Magic, passed to Wicca via the Golden Dawn, although
their use within Wicca bears no relation to the use within Enochia - the
only similarity is in the name; the Elements and colors generally attributed
to the Quarters are those of the Golden Dawn; the weapons and their
attributions are a combination of Golden Dawn, Crowley and Key of Solomon.
"The people who certainly would have had the
knowledge and ability to invent (the Wiccan rites) were the people who
formed the Order of the Golden Dawn about seventy years ago...".
The Golden Dawn was not the only influence
upon Gardner; Freemasonry had a tremendous impact upon Wicca. Not only were
Crowley and A.E. Waite Masonic members, but also Gardner and at least one
member of the first Gardnerian coven were both Co-Masons.
Gardner was also a friend of J.S.M. Ward,
who had published a number of books about Masonry. Doreen describes
Ward as a "leading Mason", but Francis King says only that Ward had,
"...written some quite good but far-fetched books on Masonry, and ran a
peculiar religious-cum-occult community called The Abbey of Christ the
Whether the books were far-fetched or not,
we can assume that some of the many similarities between Wicca and Masonry
are partially due to Ward's influence. These include: The Three Degrees, The
Craft, So Mote It Be, The Challenge, Properly Prepared, The 1st Degree Oath
(in part), Presentation of the Working Tools at 1st degree, and so on. In
fact, the concepts that we know as modern Wicca derived from ceremonial
magic and Freemasonry to a very great extent. Indeed, Gardner always claimed
that the fundamental precepts that he received were sparse.
We don’t believe that Gardner ever worked
in a magical Lodge because none is mentioned in his journals, so we assume
that his knowledge came from the written form of the rites, not from the
actual practice of them. This leads us to look at the literary sources
associated with the birth of Wicca. From reading Gardner's books, it is
apparent that Margaret Murray had a tremendous impact on the creation of
Wicca. Her books, "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" and "The God of the
Witches", had tremendous influence and certainly inspired Gardner.
In fact, "Witchcraft Today", published by
Gardner in 1954 contained a foreword by Margaret Murray. At this time,
Murray's work was still taken seriously, and she remained the contributor on
the subject of witchcraft for the Encyclopedia Britannica for a number of
years. In later years her work has been seriously questioned, but her books
remain a source of inspiration, if not historical accuracy.
There were of course other sources than
Murray. In 1899, "Aradia: Gospel of the Witches" had been published by
Most of Crowley's work was available to
Gardner during the pre and postwar years, as were the texts written and
translated by MacGregor Mathers and A.E. Waite, both members of the Golden
Dawn. Also readily available were works such as The Magus, and of course the
classics, from which Gardner drew much inspiration.
Of paramount importance was "The White
Goddess", by Robert Graves, which is still a standard reference book on any
Wiccan's bookshelf. This was published in 1952; three years after High
Magic's Aid appeared, and two years before Gardner's first nonfiction book
about Witchcraft. Graves has taken some very unfair criticism in respect of
this book. The White Goddess was written as a work of poetry, not history,
and to criticize it for being historically inaccurate is to miss the point.
Frazer's, "The Golden Bough" also had a
profound influence on many Wiccans. It was well known by Gardner. It
contains descriptions of many pagan practices from the Ancient World. This
is one source of the male sacrifice although it could have just as easily
come from Murray. Certain of the Gardnerian ritual practices were derived
from The Golden Bough, or from Frazer's sources.
In "Witchcraft Today" Gardner mentions a
number of authors when speculating where the Wiccan rites came from. He says
that, "(One) man I can think of who
could have invented the rites was the late Aleister Crowley."
He continued to say,
"The only other man I can think of who could
have done it is Kipling..." He also mentions that, "Hargrave Jennings might
have had a hand in them..." and then suggests that "Barrat (sic) of The
Magus, circa 1800, would have had the ability to invent or resurrect the
As mentioned previously, Gardner also had
a large collection of unpublished MSS, which he used extensively, and one
has only to read his books to realize that he was a very well read man, with
wide-ranging interests. Exactly the sort of man who would be able to draw
together a set of rituals if required.
The extensive bibliography to "The Meaning
of Witchcraft" published in 1959, demonstrated this rather well. This
bibliography includes: Magick in Theory and Practice and The Equinox of the
Gods by Crowley; The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune; The Goetia; The White
Goddess (Graves); Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of The Mabinogion;
English Folklore by Christina Hole; The Kabbalah Unveiled and the Abramelin
by Mathers; both Margaret Murray's books and Godfrey Leland's Gypsy Sorcery,
as well as a myriad of classic texts, from Plato to Bede!
Although this bibliography postdates the
creation of Gardnerian Wicca, it certainly indicates from where Gardner
draws his inspiration. There are also several books listed which are either
directly, or indirectly, concerned with sex magic, Priapic Cults, or Tantra.
Many of the Gardnerian rituals were later
additions by Doreen Valiente, and these have been well documented by both
her and the Farrar's, in a number of books. Doreen admits that she
deliberately cut much of the poetry by Aleister Crowley, and substituted
either her own work, or poems from other sources, such as the Carmina
was born in 1922 as Doreen Dominy in London, England. After she began
experiencing psychic episodes when she was young, her Christian family
placed her in a convent school, which she walked away from at the age of
fifteen. By her late teenage years, Doreen was manifesting clairvoyant
abilities. In 1944, she married Cosimo Valiente, a refugee from the Spanish
Civil War. In 1952, she says she wrote to Cecil Williamson, who put her in
touch with Gardner. She is best known as being Gerald Gardner’s first High
Priestess. She also rewrote his magickal workbook into what has become known
as the Gardnerian Book of Shadows.
Valiente is the most important liturgist in the
history of Modern Pagandom. Sure not everyone
recites her Charge of the Goddess but
it’s familiar to just about everyone. Valiente
took some of the rather rudimentary rituals of
early Witchcraft and turned them into poetry.
Her influence on how we speak the language of
Paganism will still be felt in a hundred years,
and that’s an amazing achievement.
Doreen is one of the unifying threads of
Modern Paganism. She researched the beginnings
of Modern Witchcraft with Stewart and Janet
Farrar, and worked with Robert Cochrane. She was
one of our first historians, when it comes to
Pagan History Books Valiente’s The Rebirth
of Witchcraft is an essential text (and a
book I treasure and have re-read at least a
dozen times). She was also a leading light in
the attempt to build Pagan Community in Great
Britain. When Valiente is called “The Mother of
Modern Witchcraft” it’s not an exaggeration.
Doreen Valiente is widely regarded as the
co-creator of Wicca. Shortly after Gardner made known his claims that he had
been initiated into a surviving Witch cult, he was joined by Valiente, who
collaborated with him in the creation of rituals. Valiente also wrote a
number of poems for the use of Wiccans as well as a several books on the
subject such as An ABC of Witchcraft, Where Witchcraft Lives,
Natural Magic and Witchcraft for Tomorrow . Witchcraft
for Tomorrow has been particularly useful, outlining the main Witch
gatherings, both seasonal and monthly, as well as providing a simple Book of
Shadows containing rites and rituals. Spurred by the challenge from academic
skeptics, such as Professor J. B. Russell, Valiente attempted to provide
evidence for Gardner's claims concerning his initiation, most notably by
finding documents that Dorothy Clutterbuck existed. Valiente is credited as
the 'Mother of Modern Witchcraft', and played a critical role in re-writing
much of Gardner's original ritual material.
After the death of both her mother and
Gerald Gardner in the same year, Doreen cast off her Gardnerian mantle and
was initiated by Robert Cochrane into a traditional, hereditary branch of
Witchcraft. The 1960's brought fresh public perceptions. The sexual
revolution, contraception, peace movements and social upheaval led to
old-fashioned ideals being swept away. Witchcraft was no exception.
Suddenly Witches, in particular Sybil Leek and Alex and Maxine
Sanders, became media personalities and actively courted the publicity. The
Old Guard of Wicca still refused to yield and come forward, shunning all
contact with anyone outside the Craft.
Doreen was one of the few who managed to find a middle ground;
never denying paganism or fearing to speak out in its defense, yet still
maintaining the traditional low-key approach to Wicca. The Cochrane
initiation only strengthened this position and allowed Doreen to move away
from internal politics, which were beginning to emerge within the Gardnerian
However, Doreen soon
became disillusioned by Cochrane and noted his obsession with ‘witch
potions’ that eventually led to some unfortunate consequences. Cochrane died
at Midsummer, 1966.
Doreen was the author of ABC of Witchcraft
Past and Present, Witchcraft For Tomorrow, Natural Magic, and The Rebirth of
When Doreen addressed the National
Conference of the Pagan Way in 1997, she stated her opinion that "organized
religion is nothing but a curse to humanity." She died at Brighton Sept 1,
Williamson also played an important part in the development of Wicca in
England. Cecil Hugh Williamson was born 18 September 1909 at Devon, England
and raised at Piccadilly in London. His father was a naval officer and Cecil
was often sent to the home of relatives during his father’s absence.
During his life he claimed to have met
several village witches, who taught him craft basics. He also encountered
Aleister Crowley, Sir Wallace Budge and Margaret Murray. His grandmother was
an astrologer and Cecil worked for a medium as a young boy. He later worked
as a tobacco farmer in Rhodesia, Africa, and for the Home Office in England
during World War II; there, he was asked to set up the Witchcraft Research
Center to monitor the threat from occult activities of Nazi astrologers and
occultists. He says he witnessed a large-scale magical ceremony designed to
undermine Hitler's power, which involved 40 Canadian airmen draped in
blankets embroidered with symbols from the Key of Solomon. (This might be
where the rumor of Witches doing a ritual to ward off a German invasion,
might have come from.)
After the war, he tried to open a
witchcraft museum in Stratford-on-Avon, but resistance from local people
made him move it to Castletown, Isle of Man, where he opened the Folklore
Center of Superstition and Witchcraft. There wasn't much money to be made
from this endeavor, and he funded it with money from his wife's restaurant,
the Witches' Kitchen. A few years later, Williamson sold this museum to
Gerald Gardner (who named it the Witches' Mill - See Gerald Gardner Above)
and then opened another witchcraft museum at Windsor.
It was here he claimed to have met a
hereditary witch named Rosa Woodman. She is said to have bestowed the
position of Witch Protector of the Royal House of Windsor, before she
died. However, Cecil's high profile brought him to the notice of the royal
household, who convinced him to move away.
Cecil moved to his museum in the
Cotswolds, where local Christians burned down part of it. He then moved to
Boscastle in Cornwall and opened his witchcraft museum there. He retired in
1996 and turned over the Museum to Graham and Liz Crow. By his own account,
Williamson had worked with over 80 wise women and participated in over a
thousand magical workings during his life. He died in 1999.
Eleanor (Rae) Bone was one of Gardner's High Priestesses, and her
background has been important in establishing the roots of modern Wicca. She
was featured in "Man Myth and Magic" series and once lead two covens: one in
Cumbria, and one in South London. Eleanor Bone was originally initiated by
hereditary Witches in Cumbria and then later joined the Wica, in 1960. Two
of her initiates, Madge and Arthur Worthington (founders of the Whitecroft
'line'), were ultimately responsible for a large number of initiations in
the UK which went a long way to ensuring the Craft's survival. They
initiated Prudence Jones, Vivianne & Chris Crowley as well as authors John
and Kathy (Caitlen) Matthews. Eleanor lived in Cumbria, England and as
of 2001 she was no longer active in the craft. Rae Died in 2002 and
was well thought of by most Pagans.
was for many years the president of the Pagan Federation, and editor of its
newsletter. Prudence has been active in the Pagan Anti-Defamation League
(PADL), and is an astrologer and therapist. She edited a book on astrology,
and with Caitlin Matthews, edited "Voices from the Circle", and published by
Aquarian Press. Although Prudence has a degree in Philosophy, her main
interests lie in the areas of the Grail mysteries. She is also a very highly
respected astrologer, who lectures extensively in Britain.
Crowley, author of "Wicca - The Old Religion in the New Age", is a
founding member of the Pagan Federation and very active in the Craft.
She has initiated seekers in Germany, Norway, and Brazil and organized the
first ever Pan-European Wiccan conference, held in Germany in 1990.
Vivianne is a psychologist and was formerly a professor at the University of
London, teaching psychology of religion at Master’s level and supervising
PhD students. She is a Wiccan High Priestess and has been teaching Wicca and
the Western Magickal Tradition internationally for thirty years. She is on
the Council of the Pagan Federation where she focuses on interfaith issues.
She is the author of many books on Wicca, Paganism and spiritual psychology,
including “Wicca: A comprehensive guide to the Old Religion in the modern
world.” She was initiated into the London coven of Alex Sanders at the age
of eighteen, but later joined a Gardnerian coven in the famous Whitecroft
line derived from Eleanor Bone, and so she was one of few people in the
seventies to be part of both Traditions.
Her work is dedicated to
building bridges between Wicca/Paganism and the mainstream religions of
Vivianne is of Irish descent, but was
raised in the New Forest region of Hampshire, an area steeped in witchcraft
history and folklore, and one of the oldest forests in England. Indeed she
was raised in the same area that Gerald Gardner began his exploration into
witchcraft, and that of another famous witch, Sybil Leek.
Her mother had strong psychic abilities,
which included precognitive dreams, and she helped to make Vivianne aware
from an early age that there was more to the world than the five senses
could detect. She was educated in the states local Catholic and Protestant
schools, which gave her an understanding of the different religions and
spiritual traditions that made up the community.
As a child, Vivianne spent much of her
time playing in the New Forest, attuning herself to the ways of nature. She
felt the energy of the trees and the spirits of the earth, and watched and
learned from the turning of the seasons, her whole world seemed to her, to
be a magical place. Occasionally she would come across old circles formed by
witches long past gone, and wondered at the rites they had held there. By
the time she was eight, she was practicing and testing her own abilities
with practical magic. On one occasion with friends from school, she cast a
rainmaking spell, which allegedly, "did produce rain". She also began to
teach herself the tarot cards, and started to give readings to other
students on the school bus.
By the time she was 11, about the same
time Gerald Gardner (founder of the Gardnerian tradition) and Alex Sanders
(founder of the Alexandrian tradition) were gaining prominence in the news,
Vivianne learned all she would from the media, devouring stories and all she
could read about witchcraft and covens. At her all-girls school she gathered
together some friends and formed her own coven. She improvised and designed
her own initiation rite based on the photos and stories she had read about
in the media. Representing the Goddess, she would stand with her legs apart
and have the initiates pass through them, a symbolic enactment of being
reborn. However her coven activities were soon curtailed, and school
authorities closed her down, but not because of any religious bigotry
(witchcraft was never even mentioned), merely because nearby residents had
complained about the noise they were making.
Vivianne was sure of her destiny and was
only 14 when she decided that she wanted to take a formal initiation as a
witch. Until this time she had mainly looked at witchcraft as a practical
craft, a means of helping people with herbs and healing. Now with all the
publicity surrounding Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine, she began to see
that witchcraft had a spiritual side, one in which women could play a
prominent role. She applied to the Sanders’ coven in London for initiation,
but they turned her down, informing her she had to be 18 to be initiated.
Undeterred, Vivianne waited and studied
all the resources she could lay her hands on. She left the New Forrest and
entered the University of London where she eventually earned a bachelor’s
degree and Ph.D. in Psychology. Upon turning 18, she reapplied to the
Sanders’ coven in London and was accepted and initiated. The Sanders’, whom
she greatly admired, separated in 1973, and the London coven underwent major
changes. Not happy with of these changes, Vivianne left and joined a
A few years later she meet her future
husband Chris, who at the time had no interest in Wicca, this soon changed
however as he was quickly taught and initiated by Vivianne. They were
married in 1979 and established their own coven, which they still maintain
to this day. Over the years many covens have hived off their original, and
the Crowley’s have helped many individuals all across Britain, Continental
Europe, and the United States to start their own.
Today Vivianne is a professional
psychologist who lectures on the psychology of religion at King’s Collage,
University of London. She is also the adjunct professor at the Union
Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. As well as academic work, she works in
business as a management consultant and does private counseling. She
describes herself as Jungian oriented but with an eclectic approach,
including trans-personal psychology.
In 1988, due to the lack of venues for the
public teaching of witchcraft, and as a means of introducing interested
people into the craft, the Crowley’s formed the Wicca Study Group in London.
Vivianne also began teaching in Germany, following up on the work done there
by Alex Sanders. The success of the Wicca Study Group led the Crowley’s to
expand their teaching to other countries including North America.
Also in 1988, the Crowley’s became
involved with the Pagan Federation, Vivianne as the secretary and Chris as
the treasurer, then president. Vivianne also took on the role of the
federation’s interfaith coordinator, and served as the U.K. coordinator of
the Pagan Chaplainry Services for H.M.
Vivianne published her first book "Wicca:
The Old Religion in the New Age", in 1989, and it soon became a best seller.
It was revised and updated in 1996 as "Wicca: The Old Religion in the New
Millennium". In it she provides a clear and well-written introduction to
Wicca as a spiritual tradition that facilitates personal growth, creativity
and integration. Other books include: Phoenix from the Flame and Pagan
Spirituality in the Western World (1994), Principles of Paganism (1996),
Principles of Wicca (1997), Principles of Jungian Spirituality (1998) and
Celtic Wisdom: Seasonal Festivals and Rituals (1998).
Vivienne’s contributions to Wicca and
Paganism have been outstanding. She was instrumental in the
establishment of peer group support for Wiccans and Pagans in Britain and
Europe. She has, and uses, her ability to bridge her tradition into
other area’s such as: other religions, academia, psychology, and popular
culture. By doing so, she has established a common multi cultural and
spiritual ground on which Wicca and Paganism can grow. Due to her
efforts, Wicca and Paganism are now recognized as serious subjects of
academic and interfaith studies.
John and Kathy (Caitlin)
Matthews, are well-known to most pagans for their excellent books on the
Grail and Celtic Mysteries; but their Gardnerian initiations are not such
common knowledge. They have had a tremendous impact on the pagan Celtic
Jack Bracelin is
the author of Gardner's biography, "Gerald Gardner, Witch", (published 1960)
now out of print, although still available 2nd hand, and in libraries. (In
Crafting the Art of Magic, Kelly claims that this book was actually written
Idries Shah, and
simply published under Bracelin's name. Kelly offers no evidence of this)
In Idries Shahs Biography on Wikipedia it talks about Idries Shah's
friendship with Bracelin, Gardner and Robert Graves.
that his Book of Shadows dates from 1949, although in The Rebirth Of
Witchcraft, Doreen says that Bracelin was a "relative newcomer" in the
mid-1950s. Two sources claim that Bracelin helped Gardner write "The
Laws". In The Rebirth Of Witchcraft, Doreen states that she did not see The
Laws until the mid 1950s, when she and her partner Ned Grove accused Gardner
of concocting them in order to reassert control over the coven. Bracelin was
in the Gardner led coven during the break up of the group, and it seems
reasonable that he did in fact help with their composition. Although Doreen
claims that the reason for the coven break up was the fact that Gardner and
Bracelin were publicity crazy, there was another reason, which was the
installment of a new lady into the coven, effectively replacing Doreen as
HPS. This is also the main reason for Gerald's Law which states that the HPS
will, "...gracefully retire in favor of a younger woman, should the coven so
decide in council." Needless to say, Doreen was not impressed, and she and
Ned left the coven under very acrimonious circumstances. It was quite some
time before Doreen had contact with Gardner again, and they never quite
regained the degree of friendship that had previously existed. Bracelin died
After Gardner’s death,
and Campbell Wilson were named as his heirs. They eventually sold
Gardner's magical equipment and possessions to Ripley's-Believe-It-Or-Not
Museums, in the US. Monique was the last of his Priestesses, and many
Wiccans today still spit when her name is mentioned. Pat Crowther was rather
scathing about her in a recent interview, and in The Rebirth Of Witchcraft.
Although Doreen tells of the sale of
Gardner's magical possessions to Ripley's, she doesn't ever mention the
Wilsons by name. In effect, the Craft closed ranks against them, and they
became outcasts. Eventually, in the face of such opposition they had to sell
the Museum in Castletown, and they moved to Torremolinos, where they bought
a café. Monique died nine years after selling the Museum. It is rumored that
Campbell Wilson moved to the USA, and met with a car accident. This is only
hearsay though - we really do not know for sure what happened to him.
However, Monique was influential in a way
that even she could not have imagined, when in 1965 she initiated Ray
Buckland, who with his wife Rosemary (later divorced), was very influential
in the development of the Wicca in the USA. (See Below)
Fortunately, Richard and Tamarra James in
Canada managed to buy the bulk of Gardner's collection back from Ripley's in
1987, for the sum of $40,000, and it is now back within the Craft, and
available for initiates to consult and view.
ROBERT COCHRANE (ROY BOWERS)
(aka Robert Cochrane) was born 26 January 1931 in London, England. It is
said by some that Bowers' immediate family members practiced some form of
witchcraft, and some ancestors were hanged for being Witches. Roy met
Taliesin enion Vawr, one of the authors of this book, in the early 1960s,
and, according to Taliesin’s recently available journals, they traded
information, including rituals and esoteric knowledge.
Robert Cochrane's origins are obscure, but
we know he was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition and met Doreen
Valiente through a mutual acquaintance in 1964. Upon meeting Doreen, he
claimed to be a hereditary witch, from a different tradition to Gardner's,
and as Doreen confirmed, was contemptuous of what he called "Gardnerian"
Bowers was trained as a blacksmith, and
formed a coven he called the Clan of Tubal Cain, around the same time that
Gerald Gardner started his first coven.
Doreen believed Bowers coined the term,
"Gardnerian". Doreen said she was completely taken in by Cochrane and for a
while, worked with him and the "Clan of Tubal-Cain" as he described his
tradition, which was also known as "The Royal Windsor Cuveen", or 1734.
Later Doreen claimed she found out Bowers was a fraud and left.
Bowers' early coven or tradition was
claimed to be a recreation of his understanding of Celtic mysticism welded
to the Witchcraft philosophy he learned from his first teacher. Bowers
taught in the manner of the Druids, with poetic riddles and oral teachings.
He and his wife Jean successfully combined traditional Witchcraft elements
of the sacred landscape with Druidic methods of training and practice, and a
guided meditation for creating an astral temple as a magickal tower
sanctuary (from one of the sources for his philosophy, magician William
Gray). His followers called his teachings the '1734 Tradition' after one of
his training puzzles concerning the name of the Goddess.
The figures "1734" have an interesting
history. Doreen gave an account of them in The Rebirth Of Witchcraft, which
contradicts what Bowers described in a letter to Joe Wilson, dated "12th
Night 1966", where he says, "...the order of 1734 is not a date of an event
but a grouping of numerals that mean something to a witch. The number One
becomes seven states of wisdom. This is the Goddess of the Cauldron of
inspiration. The number Three is the Queen of the Element fire, which
belongs only to Humankind, and the Blacksmith God. The number Four is the
Queen of the Wind Gods. The Jewish orthodoxy believes that whomever knows
the Holy and Unspeakable name of God has absolute power over the world of
form. The name of God, spoken as Tetragrammaton breaks down in Hebrew to the
letters YHVH, which is Adam Kadmon (The Heavenly Man). Adam Kadmon is a
composite of all Archangels - in other words a poetic statement of the names
of the Elements. So what the Jew and the Witch believe alike, is that the
man who discovers the secret of the Elements controls the physical world.
1734 is the witch way of saying YHVH." (Cochrane, 1966) But, it is related
by Doreen, that in fact 1734 was the date stamped on the bottom of a copper
plate that Doreen purchased for Bowers, so he could have a proper plate for
the Sabbat cakes.
Taliesin Enion Vawr met Roy in Wales in
the 60s. Taliesin wrote in one of his journals, that he had two feelings
about Bowers: that he was enlightened by the Muse but also took liberties
with the truth.
The followers of Bowers do not use a Book
of Shadows; his teachings are embodied in a series of articles he wrote in
early British Witchcraft publications such as Pentagram, and in the many
letters he wrote to Joe Wilson. Bowers believed that different types of
vision contained the various approaches to truth: Poetic Vision -- inward
access to dream images and symbols; Vision of Memory -- remembers past
existence and past perfections; Magical Vision -- undertakes part of a Triad
of services and contacts certain levels; Religious Vision -- admission to
the True Godhead, part of true Initiation; and Mystical Vision - divine
union with the Godhead, with only energy present. Roy died in 1966.
In The Rebirth Of Witchcraft, Doreen
elaborates upon the circumstances surrounding the death of Bowers: the facts
are that he died at the Summer Solstice of 1966 of an overdose of poisonous
herbs. Some misdirected Craft tradition believes that he became in fact, and
of his own choice, the male ritual sacrifice that is sometimes symbolically
enacted at the height of Summer. But it was Taliesin’s opinion that he was
depressed and took his own life
The Royal Windsor Cuveen disbanded after
Cochrane died, only to be reborn from the ashes at Samhain that year under a
new name - The Regency. All of its early members were from the Royal Windsor
Cuveen, and they were under the leadership of Ronald White. The Regency
proved to be of great importance to the development of the Wicca, although
its existence was kept a closely guarded secret, and even today, there are
relatively few people who have ever heard of it.
Meetings were held in North London, at
Queens Wood. Members included Ron White, Doreen Valiente, John Math, founder
of the Witchcraft Research Association in 1964, and editor of Pentagram
magazine, and Tony Kelly, founder of the Pagan Movement. At its height, more
than 40 members frequently attended rituals, which tended to be the
dramatic, pagan kind rather than the ceremonial associated with high ritual
magic. Some of the rites have been incorporated into modern Wiccan rituals.
The Regency operated fairly consistently for over twelve years, finally
disbanding in 1978. The Membership roll reads like a who's who of British
Wicca. In the mid 1960's Joe Wilson, corresponded with Bowers and eventually
brought his teachings to the US.
JOHN AND JEAN SCORE
John Score was
the partner of Michael Houghton, and the founder of the Pagan Federation,
which is very active today. Houghton died under very mysterious
circumstances, which is briefly mentioned in "The Sword of Wisdom" by Ithell
Colquhoun. This was actually a ritual that went badly wrong, and Houghton
ended up on the wrong end of some fairly potent energies.
In the Rebirth Of Witchcraft, there is an
interesting story about Houghton, which is taken from "Nightside of Eden" by
Kenneth Grant. Doreen suggests that the story may relate to a magical
working involving Kenneth Grant and his wife, Gerald Gardner, Madeline
Montalban, and Olive Green.
They were all to perform a ritual
together, supposedly to contact an extraterrestrial being. The material
basis for the rite, which took place in 1949, was a drawing by AO Spare.
Apparently soon after the rite commenced, Michael Houghton turned up and
interrupted proceedings. On hearing that Kenneth Grant was within, he
declined to enter, and wandered off. The rite was disrupted, and the story
goes that everyone just went home.
Kenneth Grant claims that as a result of
disturbing their working, Houghton's marriage broke up, and that Houghton
died in mysterious circumstances. In fact, the Houghton divorce was a
scandal. "She sued him for cruelty because he boasted of being a Sagittarian
while sneering at her because she was only a Capricorn!"
Madeline was the ex-wife of Aleister
Crowley and had a flat near the famous Atlantis Bookstore. She knew both
Grant and Houghton. She was also acquainted with Gerald, but her opinion of
both him and Wicca was rather poor. One of Madeline's older students said
that Madeline thought Gardner was a fraud, and ritually inept. She also had
a very low opinion of Wiccans, and refused to allow her own students to
participate in Wiccan rites. Why? The story goes that Madeline agreed to
participate in a rite with Gerald, which turned out to involve Madeline
being tied up and tickled with a feather duster! The great lady was not
Seldiy Bate was
originally trained by
and then took an Alexandrian initiation from Maxine and Alex Sanders. Maxine
also initiated her husband, Nigel, and they were "public" witches for a
number of years, often appearing on TV, radio and in the press. Their
background in ritual magic is expressed in the type of coven that they ran:
a combination of Wicca and Ceremonial Magic. Nigel and Seldiy are
Nigel has been an officer in The Pagan
Federation of England. He and his wife trained Julia Phillips, a very
influential member of the Pagan community in Australia, whose works among
others were used to prepare this chapter. Nigel and Seldiy are
She was born as Madeline Sylvia
Royals on 8 January 1910 in
During the 1930s, she became a journalist for
Reuters Press Agency
and it was through the latter that she was sent to interview the famous
occultist and founder of the
When she first visited him at his lodgings in Jermyn Street, he was
suffering from an
asthma attack, and
having had experience with tis ailment from a family member she was able to
help him, earning his gratitude. They subsequently went to the expensive
Café Royal in
Regent Street, where
after their lunch, he revealed that he was unable to pay, leaving Montalban
to sort out payment. A number of years later,
in the late 1940s,
Kenneth Grant, one of
Crowley's followers, knew Montalban, and along with his wife they performed
rituals together at Montalban's flat.
Meanwhile, in 1939 she married a man named George E. North in London.
In the late 1940s, an English Wiccan
decided to publish a novel entitled High Magic's Aid, in which he had
included many of the practices that the Witches he had encountered in the
New Forest coven
adhered to. Deciding to publish it through the Atlantis Bookshop, which was
then run by Michael Houghton, the original manuscript was edited by
Montalban, who was associated with the shop.
Gardner himself incorrectly believed that "she claimed to be a Witch; but
got evrything [sic] wrong" although credited her with having "a lively
imagination." She meanwhile had little respect
for him and his tradition of
considering him to be "a 'dirty old man' and sexual pervert."
The Order of
the Morning Star
In 1956, she founded the Order of
the Morning Star, or Ordo Stella Matutina. She believed that in a former
life, the group's members had been "initiates of the Babylonian and Ancient
Egyptian priesthood" from where they had originally all known each other.
According to later members of her Order, Montalban’s basis was in
she was heavily influenced by Mediaeval and Early Modern
grimoires like the
Corpus Hermeticum, The Heptameron of
The Key of Solomon,
The Book of Abramelin,
Occult Philosophy. A Witch known as
according to her own accounts, was a member of Montalban's group.
In 1967, a young man who was
interested in witchcraft and the occult known as
Howard wrote to Montalban after reading one of her articles in
Prediction magazine. Whilst she did not usually respond to enquiries,
something made her decide to do so in Howard's case, and invited him to
visit her at her home at Queen Alexandria's Mansions in Grape Street. The
two became friends, with Montalban believing that she could see the "Mark of
Cain" on him. Over
the coming year, he spent much of his time with this older woman, and in
1968 went with her on what she called a "magical mystery tour" to the
West Country to visit
such places as
Tintagel. In 1969, he
was initiated into
something she disapproved of, and their friendship subsequently "hit a
stormy period and we went our own ways for several years."
PAT AND ARNOLD CROWTHER AND THE ALEXANDRIAN CONNECTION
Crowther was born Patricia Dawson in Sheffield. Her grandmother,
Elizabeth Machon, was an herbalist and clairvoyant, and a palmist who lived
next door predicted Patricia would also possess clairvoyant abilities. When
she was 30, a hypnotist regressed Patricia to a former life when she
revealed she was a witch named Polly in 1670. She was trained as a stage
performer and toured the United Kingdom as a performer. In 1956 a
fortuneteller predicted Patricia would meet her future husband two years
later over water and his name would be Arnold. Two years later on a flight
to perform on the Isle of Wight, she met a stage magician and ventriloquist
named Arnold Crowther. Arnold introduced Patricia to Gerald Gardner, who
initiated her on 6 June 1960 at Castletown. She in turn initiated Arnold. On
8 November 1960, Arnold and Patricia were Handfasted and the next day they
had a civil wedding. When Patricia was initiated to the 3rd degree on 11
October 1961, the local press reported she was looking for new recruits for
her coven. The Crowthers embarked on a mission to spread the word about
witchcraft, and gave many interviews to the media and started many new
covens throughout Great Britain. Together they wrote The Witches Speak and
The Secrets of Ancient Witchcraft. Patricia also wrote Witchcraft in
Yorkshire, Witch Blood, The Witches Speak and Lid Off the Cauldron. They
also produced the first radio series on witchcraft in Britain, A Spell of
Arnold Crowther was born 7 October 1909 in
Chestham, Kent, one of a pair of fraternal twins. His father was an
optician, but the young Arnold refused to follow in his father's footsteps.
Instead, he was fascinated by stage magic, and by his early twenties was a
very successful stage performer. He even entertained Princesses Elizabeth
and Margaret at Buckingham Palace. Arnold was also a master puppeteer,
making over 500 of his own puppets for his ventriloquism act. He also
collected unusual puppets and other oddities from around the world, and he
lectured at his Mason's Hall on curios of the world. Crowther met Gerald
Gardner shortly before WW II and frequently visited him. After Gardner got
into witchcraft he predicted to Arnold that he would meet a fair-haired
woman who would bring him into witchcraft also. While performing in Paris
after the war, Arnold learned from a medium that in a former life he had
been a Tibetan monk and that his possessions would be returned to him. Over
the years since, he acquired piecemeal various original implements of a
Tibetan monk. Arnold had also met Aleister Crowley, whom he introduced to
Gardner in 1946. In 1960, Crowther met a fair-haired woman who brought him
into the Craft just as Gardner had predicted , and she soon became his wife.
Together they became prominent spokespersons for witchcraft. Arnold died 1
ALEX AND MAXINE SANDERS
Love him or hate him, “Witch King” Alex
Sanders was one of the most influential Witches who ever lived. While not a
writer he founded the Alexandrian tradition, and served as a unofficial
spokesperson for Witchcraft in Britain during much of the late 1960′s and
early 1970′s. Sanders appeared in numerous television documentaries and even
released a record A Witch is Born, featuring a Wiccan initiation.
While his title “King of the Witches” was self-proclaimed, he did initiate
many important Witches, most notably Janet and Stewart Farrar. Most of
Alex’s major magickal work occurred while married to Maxine Sanders who
still travels and teaches today.
was born in Manchester, the oldest of six children. His year of birth is
variously listed as 1926 or 1929. His father was a dance-hall entertainer
and suffered from alcoholism. Alex became an analytical chemist and married
nineteen-year-old Doreen, when he was 21. They had two children, Paul and
Janice, but the marriage quickly deteriorated and Doreen took the children
and left Sanders when he was 26. After this, Sanders spent time studying
magick and he became involved with Satanism and homosexuality.
In the early '60's, Sanders was initiated
by a Gardnerian Witch and ran off to start his own coven, using the
Gardnerian Book of Shadows with some changes. It is no secret that Alex, far
from being initiated by his grandmother when he was seven, was in fact
turned down by Pat Crowther in 1961, but was later accepted by one of her
ex-coven members, Pat Kopinski, and initiated to 1st Degree. Doreen says
that Alex later met Gardner, and was allowed to copy from the Book of
Shadows. Craft tradition alleges that he stole what he could from Pat
Kopinski before leaving the group, and that the main differences between the
Alexandrian and Gardnerian Books of Shadows occur where Alex misheard, or
There are certainly significant
differences between the two Books; some parts of Gardnerian ritual are quite
unknown within the Alexandrian tradition, and the ritual techniques are
different. It is usually very easy to spot whether someone is an
Alexandrian, or Gardnerian initiate.
He then married a woman much younger than
himself, Maxine Morris. Alex needed a HP.S., and chose Maxine for the
role. Maxine is a striking Priestess, and made an excellent focus for the
movement, which grew in leaps and bounds. In the late 1960s, Alex and
Maxine were prolific initiators, and a number of their initiates have become
well known. There are still a number of covens in the UK today whose HP
and/or HPS was initiated by Alex or Maxine. Sanders had a daughter named
Maya in 1967.
In 1971, Alex and Maxine went their
separate ways. Sanders moved to Sussex, while Maxine remained in the London
flat where she continued running the coven and teaching the Craft. A son
Victor was born in 1972.
Maxine and David Goddard, a Liberal
Catholic Priest, worked in the Liberal Catholic faith for many years, and
did not run a coven of any kind. Then in 1984, Maxine gathered together a
group again, and started practicing a combination of Wicca, Qabalah and
Liberal Catholicism. She and David separated in 1987, and since then her
coven has been exclusively Wiccan. In 1989, she married one of her
Alex's history after the split was a
little more sordid. He married Jill ...., who after leaving him, filled the
press with stories about Alex being homosexual, claiming that he had
defrauded her of all her money and spent it on his boyfriends. None of this
was ever substantiated. Sanders lived in seclusion until his death on April
30, 1988, from lung cancer.
JANET AND STEWART FARRAR
Stewart Farrar was
born on June 28, 1916 in Highams Park, Essex. His father was employed as a
bank official and his Scottish mother was a schoolteacher. Stewart was
raised as a Christian Scientist. He attended University College, London,
where he majored in journalism. He served in the Army from 1939 to 1946.
Later he undertook a career as a journalist, author and scriptwriter,
working for Reuters, the Communist Party's Daily Worker and A.B.C.
Television. From 1969 to 1974 Stewart was a feature writer for the weekly
Reveille, a job that propelled his introduction into Witchcraft. In 1969, he
met Alex and Maxine Sanders while on assignment given to him by Reveille
to review the film "Legend of the Witches" at a press event. Whilst there,
he ran across Alex and Maxine Sanders, who had played a part in the making
of the film as advisors. On being interviewed, Alex Sanders decided to
invite Farrar to one of his rituals and he then went on to become a member
of the Sanders' coven in 1970. Here he was to meet Janet Owen who became his
second wife, and together they seem to have quickly accelerated through the
Degrees, becoming Third Degree Witches in 1971, and setting up their own
coven later that year. Sanders secured a contract for Stewart to write a
book on Witchcraft (What Witches Do) and the rest, as they say, is history.
On February 21, 1970, Maxine Sanders initiated him into the coven, where he
met his future wife, Janet Owen. On December 22, 1970, the Farrar's formed
their London coven. In 1976, the Farrar's moved to Ireland and formed a new
coven. They returned to England in 1988. Their seminal books Eight
Sabbats For Witches
and The Healing Craft .
Janet Owens Farrar
was born on June 24, 1950, in Clapton, London. Her father was English/Welsh
and her mother was an Irish immigrant. Both belonged to the Church of
England and were hospital workers. When Janet was five her mother died.
Janet attended the Leyton Manor School in London and Royal Wanstead High
School for Girls in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire. Following her graduation,
she worked as a model and receptionist. In 1970 she was initiated into Alex
and Maxine Sander's coven where she met Stewart Farrar.
Following nine years of running a coven,
the Farrars coauthored two books of ritual and non-ritual material: Eight
Sabbats for Witches (1981) and The Witches' Way (1984) (See above) . In the
United States both books were combined and published as A Witches Bible
Compleat. The Farrars also coauthored The Witches' Goddess (1987); Life &
Times of a Modern Witch (1987); and The Witches' God (1989), a companion to
The Witches' Goddess. Stewart also wrote a number of fiction books,
including seven occult novels; The Twelve Maidens (1974); The Serpent of
Lilith (1976); The Dance of Blood (1977); The Sword of Orley (1977); Omega
(1980); Forcible Entry (1986); and Blacklash (1988).
After Stewart’s death, Janet
continued teaching; writing books and producing Videos on various
elements of the Craft, with one of her initiates and her consort
Gavin Bone. They were recently hand fasted.
In an interview by Morgana of the
Netherlands, in 1998, Janet was asked, "Could you tell us more about the
changes you have witnessed in Wicca and Witchcraft over the years?"
"Probably the most important change has been
the conscious awareness of the need to become adults. In 1970 when Stewart
and I were initiated into the Craft, the elders molded the physical age and
mentality in the coven. There was little encouragement to think for you.
"After we had been in the Sanders coven
for about one year, we felt it was necessary to stretch our mental
abilities. Stewart was already in his fifties. I was in my early twenties.
We met others from different traditions and there arose the serious question
of progress within the Craft. It was all very childlike and we were rather
like children in kindergarten. But Stewart was an adult who had traveled,
including a visit to Auschwitz. He was involved in cleaning up the physical
mess of post-war Europe.
"I, as an ex-60's hippie wanted to see
Modern Witchcraft move towards a university rather than the kindergarten it
was. We left England in 1976 and moved to Ireland. At that time we used
basic Alexandrian/ Gardnerian guidelines in the coven. Suddenly however we
were put into a different culture. We started to become familiar with the
culture of the Republic of Ireland, learning their history, delving into
Irish Pagan roots. Really there is very little difference between the Celtic
Tribal people and the Saxon, Norse Teutonic peoples. The more we researched
historical documents the more we realized how modern Wicca really was. So
much of "modern" Wicca is based on medieval superstition rather than grass
"Grimoires and Enochian, even "modern
Qabalah", bear no relation whatsoever to OUR ancestors. Our true Pagan
ancestral roots are of Shamanistic origin. All of the books we have written
are a guideline to discovering those roots.
"Our active practice is now far more
Shamanistic. We truly believe that ancestral knowledge is passed down by
word of mouth and experience, rather than high-bound laws."
Since their early days of undiluted
Alexandrianism, Janet and Stewart drifted towards a more Gardnerian
approach, and wrote their many books based on this amalgam, but as she has
stated above, after Stewart’s death, she shifted more towards a pagan based
Shamanistic Wicca. In the past Janet has stated that there are no
differences between the two traditions of Alexandrian and Gardnerian In
fact, despite the merging that has been occurring over the last few years,
there are very distinct differences between the traditions; some merely
external, others of a very significant difference of philosophy.
Sybil Leek was born in
Straffordshire on February 22, 1917. Her entire family was involved in
astrology, and it is reported that guests who visited her home included H.G.
Wells, Lawrence of Arabia and Aleister Crowley. In their New Forest home,
her mother and her mother's friends regularly met for tea, and they called
themselves the Pentagram Club.
When she was fifteen years old, Sybil
claimed to have been initiated into the Horsa coven during one of the
family's regular trips to the south of France to visit the French covens
from which the English New Forest covens were derived.
Sybil came from a relatively well-to-do
family and grew up as a young society lady; her mother’s maiden name was
Masters, and was very well known in high society. She reported that during
World War II, she joined the Red Cross and worked as a nurse in a military
hospital near Southhampton, then at Anzio Beach and finally, at a military
barracks in the isolated Scottish Hebrides Islands.
Though she ended the War with a handful of
medals for her efforts, the prosperity of her family was lost to the
austerity of the War. Sybil says that she spent several years living with a
band of Gypsies in the New Forest. She became HPS of the Horsa Coven just
before the witchcraft laws were repealed.
The coven later took up Gardner's idea of
an equal number of men and women to increase the group's psychic power and
establish a balance of power, plus a High Priestess. Another Gardnerian
trait they adopted was the invocation of the Lords of the Watchtowers, which
Gardner had taken from the Enochian magick of the Golden Dawn. Most of the
members were healers, and they stressed developing psychic powers through
visualization and shifting the center of consciousness in the body. The
Horsa taught that becoming was the secret to all magick. All children of
members have their horoscope done at birth.
Sybil ran an antique shop in England until
her landlord discovered she was a Witch and evicted her. She then came to
the US, where she teamed up with writer Hans Holzer to undertake a series of
psychic investigations, with Holzer detailing them in his books.
Sybil was one of the first of the popular
Witches to take up environmental causes. She was a master astrologer, a
prolific author and a gifted psychic. Sybil died October 26, 1982 at the age
of 65, in Melbourne, Florida USA, of cancer. (The author was driving through
Melbourne and heard the news on the radio the day it happened)
She wrote: Diary of a Witch, My Life in
Astrology, The Night Voyagers, Numerology: The Magic of Numbers, Phrenology,
Reincarnation: The Second Chance, Star Speak, Astrological Guide to Love and
Sex, Astrological Guide to Financial Success, Astrology and Love, Driving
Out the Devils, Sybil Leek's Book of Curses, Sybil Leek's Book of Fortune
Telling, Moon Signs, ESP - The Magic Within You, Herbs, Medicine and
Mysticism, Complete Art of Witchcraft, The Jackdaw & The Witch (Mr. Hotfoot
Jackson), and How To Be Your Own Astrologer.
Rhuddlwm Gawr: "I was driving down to
Miami as a computer analyst from Atlanta when there was an announcement on
the Radio as I passed through Melbourne Florida that Sybil Leek famous witch
had passed away that same day. It rather shocked me since I had met
the Lady in Atlanta back in the early eighties."
Joseph Bearwalker Wilson
(1942–2004) was a
witch, founder of the
1734 Tradition of
witchcraft, Toteg Tribe, Metista, and a founding member of the
Covenant of the Goddess.
Wilson was born December 11, 1942
and raised just inside the city limits of
St. Johns in
Clinton County, Michigan.
He grew up with some Christian influence but
developed an early interest in the occult, and in fully utilizing the powers
of the mind, which he felt were barely tapped. During his early adult life
and encouraged such study in his teaching: "What they all have in common
must be close to the truth". He died August 4,
2004 from complications of
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
and is recognized for his contributions to modern spiritual practice.
one of the unsung heroes of the International Pagan/Wiccan movement. Joe met
several influential pagans in the U.S., during the 60s and 70s. These pagans
went on to help frame the first Pagan Way organization in the U.S., which
became the Pagan Federation in England. Joe traveled to the UK in the 70s,
as a member of the U.S. Air force, where he met Roy Bowers, whom he had
corresponded with for several years earlier. Joe says that after meeting Roy
he acquired several clues as to the real meaning of Witchcraft. He also met
Ruth Wynn Owen who claimed to have been taught a pre-Gardnerian tradition of
Witchcraft. He continued the correspondence until Bowers death.
As a result of Joe Wilson sharing his
letters from Bowers with others, several lines of the 1734 Tradition have
sprung up in the US. Two of the better known is Coven Ashesh-Hekat in
California and Coven Dragonstar Rising in the Midwest. Through contact with
one of Bowers' initiates in 1976, Evan John Jones, the Americans Ann and
David Finnin recreated an experimental form of this tradition, which they
called the Roebuck, and later, the Ancient Keltic Church.
Joe passed away several years ago.
Click Here to read Joe's Autobiography (1942-1972)
in his own words.
Rhuddlwm Gawr: "I corresponded with Joe
for several years before he sent me his autobiography identified above.
He said he was going to complete it...I really don't know if he ever did."
RAYMOND BUCKLAND -- THE AMERICAN CONNECTION
Buckland (1934-present), Witch,
all over the Modern Craft. He brought Gardnarian
Witchcraft to the United States back in the
early 60′s. Ten years later he wrote the first
complete how to Witchcraft book (The Tree:
The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft),
providing enough information so that anyone
could practice the Craft regardless of
circumstances. After The Tree
Buckland continued to write, and has penned
numerous fiction and non-fiction titles, with
the most famous probably being Buckland’s
Complete Book of Witchcraft (or as my
friends and I used to call it Uncle Bucky’s
Big Blue Book). He’s also a completely nice
and approachable gentleman says the guy who was
totally star-struck the moment he met Mr.
Raymond and Rosemary Buckland brought the Gardnerian version of Wicca to
the United States from Britain.
Raymond is also the founder of his own tradition of Witchcraft called
Seax-Wica, and for a time operated his own Museum of Witchcraft in America.
He has been a leading spokesman for the Craft in America for more than three
Ray, who has a PhD in anthropology,
is also a prolific Author and Witch.
Buckland was born in London, England, on
the 31st of August 1934. When he was 12 years old, an uncle
introduced him into Spiritualism and the occult and over time, that interest
included Witchcraft and Magic.
His father came from a line of Gypsies and
Buckland himself is a half-blooded Gypsy or in their terminology a "poshrat".
Buckland is a royal Gypsy name, and Ray has made a study of Gypsy culture.
Ray was educated at King’s Collage School
in London, and then studied at Brantridge Forest Collage in Sussex, earning
a doctorate in anthropology. In 1955 he met and married his first wife
Rosemary before serving a short term in the Royal Air Force (RAF). In 1962
he and Rosemary immigrated to the United States. They settled in Brentwood,
Long Island, where Buckland went to work for British Airways, then known as
Buckland’s interest in Spiritualism and
the occult had continued, but he felt there was something missing. Within a
short period of time two books came into his possession that influenced his
life and beliefs, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret A. Murray,
and Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner. Until reading these two books,
Buckland had never looked upon Witchcraft as a religion, but now he realized
he had found what he felt was missing. He contacted Gerald Gardner in the
Isle of Man, and soon began a long-distance mail and telephone friendship
with him. As their friendship matured Buckland became Gardner’s spokesperson
in the United States, and whenever Gardner received a query from the U.S. it
was forwarded to, and answered by Buckland.
Late in 1963 he and Rosemary journeyed to
Perth, Scotland, where, as Gerald had arranged, they underwent a brief,
intense training by Lady Olwen (Monique Wilson) and were initiated. They
then brought the Gardnerian Book of Shadows and secret names back to Bay
Shore on Long Island, New York
In imitation of Gardner’s Museum of
Witchcraft and Magic in the Isle of Man and perhaps inspired by it, Buckland
began to collect artifacts and pieces for his own museum. He called it the
First Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in the United States. His collection
started in a bookcase, and then as it grew it took over the basement of
their house, and eventually had to be housed in a separate building. It was
also during this time that Ray and Rosemary started their first coven.
Immediately after the coven was formed,
Wicca began to spread over the United States leaving no city unaware that it
was there. People attracted to the God and Goddess faith began to create
variations, and these variations are now referred to as neo-pagan Wicca.
Some neopagan groups differ primarily from Wicca groups because of their
rejection of the designation 'witch'.
Ray Buckland started to write about
witchcraft in 1968, and in 1969 he published his first book A Pocket Guide
to the Supernatural. He followed it in 1970 with Witchcraft Ancient and
Modern and Practical Candle burning Rituals. That same year he wrote his
first novel Mu Revealed under the pseudonym "Tony Earll", an anagram for –
"not really". Writing became a passion for Buckland and he wanted more time
to devote to it. By 1973 his collection of artifacts had grown large enough
for him to occupy a rented building. He quit his job with BOAC and opened
the museum proper, running it himself while at the same time writing
The Bucklands did their best to screen
people carefully and train them thoroughly according to the principles and
procedures in the Gardnerian Book. Over the years, however, more and more
people came banging on the door, demanding to learn the Craft, and
threatening to dire things if they weren't let in. In order to prevent such
a tendency from growing wild, Ray Buckland and Lady Rowen gradually
relented: letting people in sooner, training them less rigorously, elevating
them to the higher degrees sooner. Still, there were fewer than 20 women
raised to the Third Degree during the nine years of their "administration"
of the New York Coven.
In 1972, Lady Rowen decided that she was
tired of being High Priestess, and retired, turning the coven over to Theos
and Phoenix (Judy and Tom Kneitel). At first the Bucklands remained as
Elders in the coven, but then they parted ways with each other and started
becoming less active in the coven. When Theos and Phoenix realized that
Rowen would no longer be available to answer questions, they picked her
brain about everything and anything she could remember about oral traditions
and about how the coven actually operated, thus creating the longest single
document in the current Gardnerian Book of Shadows, the "Notes and
Guidelines," which was at first intended to be mere guidelines, but over the
years has solidified into rigid rules and regulations. Most of the
controversies in the American Gardnerian movement for the last 30 years have
resulted from text in this document, which never existed in England.
Some sources say that needing a new coven,
Ray raised Deirdre to Third Degree by himself, However, Ray states in a
recent e-mail:" I
never did need a new HPS, and certainly did not team up with Deirdre nor
would I have thought to try to raise her to Third by myself. Rowen and I
parted ways and I moved up to New Hampshire where I eventually remarried
Joan (Taylor) and we went on to form the Seax-Wica. I never had a Gardnerian
coven after leaving Long Island, and certainly never had Deirdre as my HPS.
Theos and Phoenix for some years refused
to recognize Deirdre's elevation as being valid, and this created the
"Kentucky" line when Deirdre moved to Louisville. However, Theos later
persuaded Deirdre to accept a "re-initiation" by the procedures of the New
York coven, thus healing the schism. Louisville later became the new center
of Gardnerian orthodoxy.
We are inclined to accept Ray’s version.
Ray soon became aware that there were many
flaws that he had come to perceive in the Gardnerian tradition. He felt that
he could design a version of the Craft that did not suffer from those flaws.
He soon founded Seax-Wica as a Craft tradition that recognized
self-initiation, allowed democratic governance of the coven, and encouraged
creativity, among its other advantages, and soon thereafter moved to New
Hampshire. He commented, "Samhain 1973 was to be the first actual
Seax-Wica Sabbat held."
Although Lady Theos & Phoenix studied with
Rowen & Robat for only a brief period, it was a very intensive one. They
recorded and studied the teachings they received, because they knew they
would not always be able to call on their Queen for advice & counsel Then
they researched various mystery traditions, in an attempt to create a more
cohesive and complete book of shadows.
Some sources say that in 1973, Lady Rowen,
Ray Buckland, Lady Theos, Phoenix, Ed Fitch, and one other person, as the
actual Elders of the Gardnerian movement in America, signed the materials
they were adding to the first-degree Book of Shadows, thus certifying it as
authentic and authoritative. The rules and procedures thus created, observed
faithfully by American Gardnerians, are the ones that the English
Gardnerians have never heard of, and to which their response is usually more
or less on the order of, "What? Surely you jest!"
But Ray says: "I
never signed such a document! I have always been very protective of the
original Gardnerian work and would not add to it or alter it. Rowen may well
have worked on such a document with Theos but I had no part of it." This
actually makes more sense. Ray has always been very respectful of the
original Gardnerian documents.
As mentioned above, Ray moved to New
Hampshire where he reopened his museum and later married "Joan Helen
Taylor". At about the same time he decided to leave the Gardnerian tradition
feeling it no longer met his religious needs. He was also fed-up with the
egotism and power trips he perceived was exhibited by others within the
craft. He developed and founded a new tradition called Seax-Wica. He based
it on a Saxon heritage and made it more open and democratic.
In the early eighties he and Joan moved on
to Virginia and established the Seax-Wica Seminary. This was a
correspondence school that grew to have more than 1,000 students worldwide.
They had plans to build a campus for it, but these fell through due to lack
of funds. After nearly 10 years of marriage together working and building
the school, their marriage deteriorated and finally broke down. Buckland and
Joan were divorced.
Buckland next met and married "Tara
Cochan" of Cleveland, Ohio. Together they moved to Charlottesville in
Virginia, where they re-established the seminary school and set up a
publishing company, Taray Publications. In December 1984 they moved again,
this time to San Diego, where they phased out the seminary correspondence
course. By this time the Seax-Wica tradition was well established worldwide.
In 1992 after more than a quarter of a
century working in and leading the craft in America, Buckland decided to
retire from active participation. He moved his family to a small farmstead
in north central Ohio. There except for occasional public appearances, he’s
content to practice as a solitary. Buckland also practices Pecti-Wita, a
Scottish tradition inspired by "Aidan Breac" and which Buckland helped to
Buckland was a much sought-after authority
on the occult, magic and the supernatural. He was a prolific and diverse
writer, covering such subjects as mystery and fantasy fiction, screenplays,
divination systems, spiritualism and metaphysical nonfiction. He has
averaged more than one book a year over the last thirty years. He has also
written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, television scripts for the
ITV’s The Army Game, a pilot script Sly Digs, for the BBC, and for a short
time was the personal scriptwriter for the English comedian "Ted Lane". He
served as technical adviser for the "Orson Welles" movie Necromancy, and
worked with The Exorcist director "William Friedkin"on a stage production of
Buckland has also promoted the craft all
across America; he has been seen on BBC-TV in England, the RAI-TV in Italy,
and the CBC-TV in Canada. He has also appeared extensively on stage in
England as an actor, and played small role character parts in moves in
America. Buckland was also a distinguished teacher on craft subjects and has
taught courses at New York State University, Hofstra University, New
Hampshire Technical Collage and for Hampton, Virginia City Council. Without
doubt, Buckland can be considered amongst the top of America’s leading
Witches, his contribution to the revival of Witchcraft in America is perhaps
Ray Buckland's books include Practical
Candle Burning, Advanced Candle Burning, Witchcraft from the Inside, The
Complete Book of Witchcraft, Buckland's Complete Gypsy Fortune Teller, The
Truth About Spirit Communication, Doors to Other Worlds, The Magick of
Chant-O-Matics, Practical Color Magick, Scottish Witchcraft, Secrets of
Gypsy Fortune Telling, Secrets of Gypsy Love Magick, and the True and
Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft.
There is only three fully recognized
Gardnerian lineages in the United States that we know of: The Long Island
Line (from Raymond and Rosemary Buckland), The Kentucky Line and the Donna
Cole Line. A fourth line, the emerging California Line, is an offshoot of
the Long Island Line. Gardnerians in the United States tend to be highly
attentive to lineage and its traceability. Some American Gardnerian Witches
will not recognize the initiation of another if the initiation was through a
And just think if it weren’t for Ray
Buckland, there probably would not be a Gardnerian tradition in the U.S.
Late news: The Buckland Museum of
Witchcraft & Magick has re-opened. Brad Fuglaar is the General Manager. The
museum is located in New Orleans at 523 Dumaine St. in the French Quarter.
They are currently offering tours through the Museum: both guided and
unguided. They can book private tours as well. Their phone number is
504-581-1457. They are currently in the process of putting together a web
site for the Museum, as well as an information packet regarding what/where
the museum is and can offer.
Now Wiccae History straight from the man
who brought Gardnerian Wicca back to the United States:
RAYMOND BUCKLAND AUTOBIOGRAPHY EXCERPTS
The Saturday after I returned home – on December 7,
1963 – I cast the first (Wica - Wicca) circle on American soil and initiated
Rosemary. She took the Craft name of Rowen. I had taken Robat. The following
Monday I took her to Second Degree and, on Saturday December 13, to Third
Degree. We now had a full-fledged Witch High Priestess and we could start
initiating others and forming the first coven. (I would again emphasize that
this "fast-forward" through the degrees was done as a most exceptional
measure, necessary at that particular time, and was done on the
understanding that Rowen be confirmed in her position, by Olwen, as soon as
possible.) However, we took time to adjust to the positions and for Rowen to
familiarize herself with the Book of Shadows. Consequently we did not
initiate our first coven member until the start of the New Year. Al Bessette
was the first to be brought-in, on January 11, 1964. He took the name
Maverick. Joe Kaster was initiated on January 16, taking the name Reinhardt.
An interesting aside here – in 2008, at Lily Dale,
New York (the big Spiritualist community) I was talking with a Canadian lady
who was a medium. She suddenly stopped and said "I have someone trying to
come through and say hello, but it’s very strange . . . I’m getting two
different names for this one person: Joseph and – an unusual name –
Reinhardt." I hadn’t even thought of Joe in many years, but there he was!
We held a Circle every week, usually on a Saturday.
There were times when we had more . . . for example, in the first week of
April, 1964, we had some initiations to do and so we had Circles on four
different nights of the week. Yet actually, to many eyes, we were very slow
to bring-in people. In 1964 we initiated Maverick, Reinhardt, Wanda, Jonet,
Lilith, Andro, Puck, Hu and Herne. The following year we only added five
more to that number: Rima, Raynar, Fian, Theo and Thain.
Theo and Thain were Fran and Jerry Fisher of
Louisville, Kentucky, and this was the first coven to "hive off" from ours.
They were initiated and taken through the degrees in August of 1965, so that
they could go back to Kentucky and start bringing-in people there. . . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . . The reason we were relatively slow to
bring-in people was because we had been taught to carefully assess any
would-be Witches. At that time especially there was still the general
perception that this new form of Wica – this Neo-Witchcraft – was an excuse
for sex and drugs, not to mention a good possibility of it actually being
Satanism! It was therefore essential to really get to know those who wanted
to join us; to make sure that they were right for the Craft and that the
Craft was right for them. The traditional waiting period before initiation
was a year and a day. If we had stuck to that, Wica would have been very
slow indeed, to grow in the United States. We did, therefore, speed up
things as much as we could and – as in the case of Fran and Jerry Fisher –
we did follow the lead given by Olwen and could give a crash course in order
to get the Craft established on a broader footing. We were later severely
criticized for this general caution, but that criticism was leveled by those
ignorant of what needed to be done; the reasoning behind it. However, we did
feel pressured to speed up the process as much as we could. There were many
people who now knew of the Old Religion and its re-emergence and – like me
and Rosemary – wanted to be a part of it. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . On Wednesday, February 12, 1964, Gerald
Gardner died. He usually spent his winters abroad; his favorite place being
Lebanon. It was on his way home from there, aboard a ship – The Scottish
Prince – that he died of a heart attack. He was taken ashore and buried
in Tunis the following day. The newly-developing world of Witchcraft, or
Wica (later more generally spelled Wicca), had suddenly lost its
founder and leader. In New York we had a special Circle in remembrance of
him and on March 3 I gave a talk on him at the New School.
Interestingly, at the Samhain celebration of that
year, 1964, Gerald made an appearance at our circle. We had done the sabbat
ritual and were sitting having the cakes and wine, after that part of the
service, when a gasp went up from a couple of people. Looking up, I saw
Gerald – looking quite solid; not at all transparent or "ghostly" – standing
behind the altar and smiling around at all of us. Then he slowly faded away.
We all compared notes afterward and all of us saw him and agreed on his
appearance and his actions.
Wanda was initiated April 3; we had the Spring Rite
on April 4; Jonet was initiated April 6; Lilith on April 9; and Andro
(Wanda’s husband) on April 10. Then we had our usual weekly Circle April 11.
It was a busy week! I took a quick trip to Salem, Massachusetts, April 17
through the 19, visiting the Essex Institute, which housed the records of
the Witch Trials of 1692. I also went to look at the homes of Rebecca Nurse
and Anne Putnam, both of whom figured largely in the trials.
On July 2 Rosemary and the two boys flew to London
and I joined them a week later. On July 11 we flew across to Belfast, then
went by land to Dublin and from there flew to the Isle of Man. Olwen and
Loic had moved into Gerald’s wonderful 16th century cottage, at
77 Malew Street, Castletown, and we stayed there with them. Rosemary – as
Rowen – was finally confirmed in her initiation and then, more than that,
had her coronation as a Witch Queen and Queen of the Sabbat, on Monday, July
13, 1964. We had Circles with Olwen and Loic most of the evenings we were
there. On the following Saturday we were joined by Qarl and Helen, two Isle
of Man Witches. . . . . .
. . . . . contacting people seeking the Old
Religion. Two of those people were a young couple – Marcia and Philip – who
studied with Rosemary and me and who eventually were ready for initiation in
early April. They took the names Rima and Raynar. In June Fian was
initiated. Fian was the Craft name of Floyd, an officer in the U.S. Air
Force who worked at the Pentagon. Today there are a tremendous number of
Wiccans in the different branches of the Armed Services, but Floyd was
probably the first of them. A couple of years later another Air Force
officer, Ed Sitch (known as Ea), also came into the Craft and these two –
Fian and Ea – did tremendous work in helping spread the Old Religion, to get
it established in America. More on Ea later. . . . . . . .
. . . . . In late July of 1965 Fran and Jerry
Fisher arrived to stay for a while. This was a couple from Louisville,
Kentucky, with whom we’d been in contact and who were ready to start a coven
in that state. In the course of their stay, they were taken through the
degrees, copied the Book of Shadows, and were taught so that they could go
back to Louisville and promote Wicca there. I see that some Internet web
sites state that the Louisville coven was started by a Deidre and Modred. If
this was another Louisville Gardnerian group it was at a much later date.
Fran and Jerry (Theos and Thain) were the first, reaching Third Degree on
August 5. There were no more initiations for the rest of that year. . . . .
. . . . . .
. . . . . In late 1965 we initiated Fian’s friend,
Julia, and in June of 1966 we had a visit from Margaret, a young lady who
lived in Canada. She had read Gardner’s books and written to him, as I had.
She had not been able to travel to Britain so Gerald had put her in touch
with me and we had been writing to one another for a couple of years. During
her stay with us, she was initiated but wanted to return later in the year
with her fiancé. Together, they wanted to start the first Canadian coven. In
August she did return, with her partner Gerald. He was initiated and then
the two of them were eventually advanced through the other two degrees. They
took the names Morag and Ketrin. When they returned to Canada, they did
indeed start a coven there. Some time later I went up to Canada to attend
July 4, 1966, we initiated Peggy of New Jersey, who
took the name Deidra. She needed a partner but her husband had no interest
in the Craft as, unfortunately, is often the case. However, her
father-in-law Ray had a great interest and later – on October 5 of that year
– he too was initiated, as Sea. They were both later raised to the point
where they could start a coven in New Jersey. Also in October we brought in
Mary Nesnick (Dionysia). When we first met her she’d claimed that she owned
a flower shop in lower Manhattan. I guess she didn’t realize that I would do
some checking, as I did with all would-be initiates. I found that although
she had indeed worked at the shop very briefly over one Christmas period,
she certainly did not own it and was only an occasional customer there.
However, I said nothing to her about it. (She kept up the pretense of
ownership for as long as we knew her.) Why she felt it necessary to make the
claim I don’t know; though it turned out not to be the only spurious claim
she made. In later years she started what she termed the "Algard" tradition:
a combination of Gardnerian and Alexandrian, obviously unaware that
Alexandrian was already comprised mainly of Gardnerian! She also later
claimed (to others) that we had taken her to the Second Degree, which was
untrue; she never went beyond First Degree with us. Not only that but,
immediately after being initiated she ran off to tell Hans Holzer all the
details so that he could put them in a book he was working on. It seemed
that our earlier hesitation at bringing her in was justified. It was
unfortunate that we hadn’t followed our initial intuition and rejected her
Initiations continued over the next couple of
years. One of the most notable was that of Ed Sitch, mentioned above. Ed and
his lady friend, who took the name of Jonviève, were both initiated on
August 26, 1967. Ed was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. His work involved
him traveling about the country and so he became Rowen’s "Red Garters." In
the Middle Ages, when Witches were having to keep a low profile, the Witch
Queen would send out word to her various covens by messenger. So that he
would be recognized as bringing word from the Queen, he would wear red
garters and so the position became known as "Red Garters." Ed took on this
position (though without the garters!), visiting those who had contacted us
but were too far distant to come and visit. He would visit them and then
send a report to Rowen and myself. Ea’s reports were always very lengthy,
with full details, which we very much appreciated. He did a tremendous
service. At one time, however, when Ea was Second Degree, he visited a
friend in Chicago, Donna Cole, and initiated her. This he did without
authority (either from Rowen or by degree), but from that action has grown
another "line" of Gardnerians.
In those days it wasn’t a wise thing to be an Air
Force officer and also to be a visible practicing Witch, so Ed changed his
"public" name to Fitch. Not much of a change, but enough to fool the Armed
Services, it seems! Ed has continued with that name for writing on Paganism
and the Craft in more recent years. Half the time I still have difficulty
remembering whether he’s Sitch or Fitch!
Elspet was brought into the Craft September 20,
1967, and Roman and Hecate on October 7. Robin, a young lady from Canada who
was a brilliant artist, visited and was initiated in May of 1969. . . . . .
. . . Most of our neighbors were very devout Roman Catholics and it was a
long time before they discovered that we were of the Old Religion. But they
had all come to know us gradually, and therefore came to accept us as they
knew us rather than making judgements based on the teachings – and
misconceptions – of their church. We never had any problems with our
neighbors. Not so with others, however.
Perhaps lulled into a false sense of security from
Mike McGrady’s gentlemanly treatment, a couple of years later we accepted
another reporter as a visitor to a Circle. She was Lisa Hoffman, writing for
the New York Sunday News. She came and seemed a very nice person,
assuring us of a sympathetic article and promising not to reveal our names
or whereabouts. My hope, after all, was to straighten misconceptions about
the Craft but I was not looking to publicize myself. On October 27, 1968,
her article appeared. In it she equated the Craft with Ira Levin’s novel
Rosemary’s Baby, which was about Satanists not Witches (Witches do not
believe in Satan). In her article, she included such innuendo as "… the Old
English word wicce which, embarrassingly, is also the root of the
English word Wicked." Embarrassing to whom, I wondered? Apparently Hoffman
was ignorant of the fact that "wicked" itself comes from "witted", i.e. to
have wit; to have knowledge. Both wit and Witch come from wicce
meaning "the wise ones." But more to the point, perhaps, was the fact that
not only did she publish my name and Rosemary’s, but she also printed our
complete address! So much for journalistic integrity.
During the ensuing weeks after Hoffman’s article
appeared, we were plagued with unwelcome visitors. We had rocks thrown
through our windows. We had the front door and screen kicked in. We had a
car set on fire. We – my wife and children especially – suffered verbal
abuse whenever they went out, all thanks to Ms. Hoffman. One day I arrived
home from work to find about twenty or thirty teenagers standing in the road
outside, just looking at the house. Another day a group of teenagers was
passing the house, walking slowly and singing the latest popular song: "Ding
dong, the witch is dead!" That was actually rather amusing. I think they
were a little surprised when I opened the door and loudly played that very
song on our stereo.
However, Hoffman’s cavalier attitude did actually
have one positive aspect to it. Now that the cat was out of the bag – or the
Witch was out of the broom closet – it meant that I would be able to do far
more, for I still believed that it was a duty to persevere with trying to
straighten the misconceptions. So now I could do television and radio, and
magazine and newspaper articles, without having to worry about my name being
given since it was already out there.
Another sad treatment of the truth was presented
through Carlson Wade, editor of a small magazine put out by R. M. Publishing
of Sparta, IL. The magazine was called Popular Medicine. Wade asked
me if he could reprint my booklet Witchcraft . . . the Religion in
the magazine. I thought it would be great to get the word out to the many
subscribers and I even provided photographs to go with it. I guess I should
have been warned when I visited Wade’s office and arrived at a time when he
was on the phone shouting at someone who was threatening to sue him. Anyway,
I went ahead and the magazine came out a couple of months later. What a
travesty! My book not only makes the point but emphasizes that
Witches do not worship the Christian Devil and do not even believe in him.
Yet Wade added a subtitle to the book saying: "The author of this Book
Bonus is a Satan Church leader in New York. He worships the Devil and
tells why he and his many followers believe in Satan worship. Occult
Feature!!" Occult feature indeed! Not content with that, Wade re-labeled
the photographs I had supplied. He described the Book of Shadows as the
"Official Satan Bible" and described one ritual as "A salute to Satan – this
ceremony commences the worship service of the Devil followers of this New
York Church of Satan." Since the actual text of the book had been left
intact, it must have confused any reader of the magazine, showing that the
magazine’s editor hadn’t bothered to read what he was publishing. I
requested a retraction and apology from both Wade and the publisher but it
was not forthcoming, of course.
As a postscript to this story, it was brought to my
attention that my Witchcraft . . . the Religion appeared in an
anthology titled Tales From the Unknown, edited by Kurt Singer. It
was originally published by W. H. Allen in London and then reprinted in the
U.S. by Pinnacle Books. Wade’s ridiculous labels appeared as footnotes.
Again, the body of the text was left intact, so once again the editor had
not bothered to read what he was presenting. It transpired that Wade had
sold the article to Singer, despite the fact that it was legally copyrighted
material! I did manage to get an apology from W. H. Allen on that one.
One television show we did – in fact the very first
one – was The Alan Burke Show; a syndicated talk show out of New
York. They kept calling to try to entice us onto the show and we kept saying
no. But finally we relented. Rosemary and I appeared on it May 5, 1967. The
show went extremely well, though the format was to bring on people who
disagreed with the main guest(s) and could, from a podium, ask what Alan
Burke hoped would be embarrassing questions. We managed to field everything
and even got laudatory words from the host at the close of the show.
Then, on June 11, I was asked to appear again when
Sybil Leek was to be the guest. They wanted me to question her. Sybil had
turned up in New York in the late sixties, to publicize the U.S. edition of
her book A Shop In the High Street. This was about her life in the
antique trade. It had no mention of Witchcraft in it but Sybil quickly
jumped on what she saw as a band wagon. She was a real character! I got to
know her well and we would sometimes go out to dinner together, in
Manhattan. But she was all for publicity and articles by or about her popped
up in a wide variety of magazines. She made a great number of claims; from
being the only practicing Witch in England to being the chief
Witch in England! A lot of her claims were quite ridiculous and I faced her
with them when we were together on The Alan Burke Show. At the start
of the show she greeted me like a long-lost relative and we hugged,
surprising Alan Burke who, for some reason, thought we would fight one
another. But I told Sybil I wanted to question her about her many and
various often-ludicrous statements and she told me to go ahead. I quoted1
the actual articles and to just about everything, she said that she had been
"misquoted." I know only too well how that can be. The problem was, many of
the articles were actually written by Sybil herself! . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . Sybil launched an astrology magazine:
Sybil Leek’s Astrology. In the June 1972 issue she had an article,
"Witchcraft in New York – Raymond Buckland . . . Witch!" The article was
written by R. Donald Papon, who also edited the magazine for Sybil. It
included photos of my museum and my personal astrological chart. By the
beginning of 1966 Sybil had somehow picked up the title of "Dame". This is
not a Wicca title and she certainly hadn’t received it from the Queen of
England (Dame is the female equivalent of a knighthood). But I think she had
indirectly mentioned it somewhere and others had picked up on it and applied
it to her – to her obvious enjoyment! Sybil was indeed a character and she
did do a lot of good for the Craft, introducing many people to it. She later
moved out to Texas and then on to Florida, where she died in 1983.
I had a habit of haunting Samuel Weiser’s
Bookstore, when it was in downtown Manhattan, at 734 Broadway. I got to know
well both Don Weiser and the store manager Fred Mendel. The basement was
devoted to second-hand books and it was possible to trawl through shelf
after shelf and occasionally find a treasure. One such that I found was an
original First Edition copy of the 1899 book by Charles Godfrey Leland:
Aradia,Or the Gospel of the Witches of Italy. Leland was a prolific
writer and, at the time, President of the Folk Lore Society. He encountered
a woman in Italy who claimed to be a Witch and he persuaded her to let him
copy her Book of Shadows. Although the other members of the Folklore Society
scoffed at him, Leland published the book. It garnered little interest at
the time but, with the publication of Murray’s and Gardner’s books, there
was a sudden interest in Aradia. So much so that I published a
reprint of it myself, in 1968. This was the first of many – Leo Martello
produced a truncated version in 1971 and Weiser himself came out with a
version in 1974. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . On September 27, 1971, the hour-long
special on the museum was aired on television. It was listed in the TV
Guide for that week. I was listed in the TV Guide again on
October 25, for the Barbara Walters show.
On October 16, I first met Tom and Judy Kneitel.
Judy, a one-time Catholic, described herself as an "astrologist" and wanted
to offer classes at the museum. This we were able to do when, on January 16,
1972, we opened the back room for workshops. The "Occult Studies Division"
of the museum was described in its brochure as "an adult educational
institute devoted to the needs of all people interested in the study of
metaphysics." Courses included Astrology I (Beginning) and II
(Intermediate), Graphology, Palmistry, Psychic Development, Tarot,
Witchcraft, Voodoo and Magic. I was fortunate enough to get good
instructors, like Mary Downing, Ina Rae Kurtzberg, Sally Ann Drucker, Rhys
O’Brien and Artie Schiff. There was a very good response and we had several
nice reviews in the New York newspapers. . .
. . . . . On April 10, 1972, Judy Kneitel was
initiated into Rowen’s coven, taking the name of Theos. Her husband Tom
wasn’t initiated until May 1 of that year, which was also the Beltane
Sabbat. He took the name Phoenix. Tom wasn’t as deeply interested in the Old
Religion as was Judy and I think he went along with it more for her sake
than anything else. He did, however, later warm to the Craft. . . . . . . .
. . .
. . . . . Judy Kneitel (Theos) was eventually
raised to the Third Degree, in Rowen’s coven. It was rather amusing because,
after a week or so, she came and pleaded with us to please also raise Tom
(Phoenix) to Third. She said "He’s making my life hell because I’m Third and
he isn’t!" So, to give Theos some relief, we raised Phoenix as well.
Rowen had, by this time, decided that she wanted to
retire from leading the coven and so was preparing Theos to take over. It
later transpired that my absorption in promoting the Craft had taken its
toll on our marriage, and Rosemary had been spending time with the
clarinet-playing music teacher from the high school. Later she left me and
moved-in with him, leaving both our sons in my care. Theos became High
Priestess of the coven, with Phoenix as her High Priest, and I became an
Elder. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . In recent years a saw a potted history of
American Wicca on the Internet which said:
At this point, needing a High Priestess to form
a new coven, Ray raised Deirdre to Third Degree himself, as had in fact been
allowed under the procedural rules in effect at that time. However, one of
the new "guidelines" Theos had learned from Rowen stated that valid
initiations could be carried out only by a Third- Degree High Priestess; so
Theos and Phoenix for some years refused to recognize Deidre’s elevation as
being valid, and this created the "Kentucky" line when Deidre moved to
Louisville. However, Theos later persuaded Deidre to accept a
"re-initiation" by the procedures of the New York coven, thus healing the
This was utter nonsense! I don’t know where all of
this came from (though I can surmise). To start with, I did not "need a High
Priestess to form a new coven." I had no interest in forming a new coven! I
attended Theos’s Circles and various Pagan groups. Who this Deidre was I
don’t know, and I certainly wouldn’t have initiated her by myself if I
had needed a new High Priestess! As to these "procedural rules in effect
at that time," I am again at a loss! It had always been that there
had to be a High Priestess present for an initiation. (The one single
exception had been when I originally brought-in and raised Rowen so that we
could start the American line of Wica, back in 1964. But that had been done
under the express "orders," one might say, of Gerald Gardner himself after
conferring with Olwen and others, and it was seen as the only possible way
of getting things started in the United States.) As to a "Kentucky line;"
there already was one, as I’ve detailed above. The very first coven to
branch off from ours was in 1965 – nearly ten years earlier – with Fran and
Gerry Fisher (Theo and Thain) from Kentucky. In fact, on December 16, 1973,
the Fishers made an announcement (in the first edition of Earth Religion
News): "In accordance with the laws of the land, Gardnerian Wicca has
been incorporated as a legal, non-profit religious corporation, and now has
the same status as any legal religion in the United States and will enjoy
legal protection under the law." So, with Gardnerian Wicca Inc. already in
Louisville, how could it be said that the "Kentucky line" originated with a
disputed, mysterious Deidre?
There has been a lot of absolute nonsense
promulgated on the Internet. Here’s another example2:
When Theos and Phoenix realized
that Rowen would no longer be available to answer questions, they picked her
brain about everything and anything she could remember about oral traditions
and about how the coven actually operated, thus creating the longest single
document in the current Gardnerian Book of Shadows, the "Notes and
Guidelines," which was at first intended to be mere guidelines, but over the
years has solidified into rigid rules and regulations. Most of the
controversies in the American Gardnerian movement for the last 30 years have
resulted from text in this document, which never existed in England.
why Theos and Phoenix decided that Rowen would no longer be available to
answer questions, I’m not sure. And certainly I was still there, at
that time, and was perhaps better versed in the laws and oral traditions
than Rowen. But Theos and Phoenix certainly did produce the longest single
document in the current Gardnerian Book of Shadows; and in all those which
now date from their one. In effect, these two very-new leaders of the New
York coven decided to rewrite the Gardnerian Book of Shadows!
In 1973, Lady Rowen, Ray Buckland, Lady Theos,
Phoenix, Ed Fitch, and one other person, as the actual Elders of the
Gardnerian movement in America, signed the materials they were adding to the
first-degree Book of Shadows, thus certifying it as authentic and
authoritative. The rules and procedures thus created, observed faithfully by
American Gardnerians, are the ones that the English Gardnerians have never
heard of, and to which their response is usually more or less on the order
of, "What? Surely you jest!"
"Surely you jest!" Indeed! I couldn’t agree more.
Incidentally, in one report I see that the "other person" who supposedly
signed this fictitious document is named as Puck. Puck, of course, was my
young son. At the time of Rowen’s retirement he was about fourteen years old
– hardly old enough to sign a document of this supposed importance! But was
there such a document? Not to my memory; and I think I would have remembered
signing such a momentous certificate. But, again, there was no such thing as
the "Elders of the Gardnerian movement in America." Every coven in existence
had its elders. Covens were autonomous. No one spoke for the whole
Gardnerian movement, in America or anywhere else. No wonder the English
Gardnerians laughed at the idea. I’m with them!
So where did these ideas spring from? I have to lay
them at the feet of Theos and Phoenix, though I have no positive proof of
this. After a disagreement with me, Theos and Phoenix took off on what I can
only describe as a great power trip. It seems they determined that they
would be the "biggest and greatest" Gardnerians in the world. They stopped
vetting those who wished to join the Craft and simply initiated anybody and
everybody. It was said of them that if anyone happened to drive past their
house very slowly, then they would run out and initiate them! In Volume 3 of
Earth Religion News it was reported: "Fate magazine has been
carrying classified advertisements for people to become Witches by
Gardnerian Theos of L.I. . . . Village Voice has been carrying a
similar ad but we are not sure if there is a connection. Promulgation is not
supposed to be one of the tenets of Wicca." Theos, it seems, wanted to be a
"great" Witch Queen. (A Witch Queen, or Queen of the Sabbat, is a High
Priestess who has had other covens hive-off from hers.) Theos set-to to have
as many "daughter" covens as possible. And here was where her new rules came
into play. Being uncertain of the people she had brought in, she stipulated
that the new High Priestesses could not initiate anyone without her
(Theos’s) approval. This was patently absurd. If someone was of the caliber
to be a High Priestess and have her own coven, she would most assuredly be
competent enough to decide who she initiated. The Witch Queen was supposedly
there only to give help and advice if and when needed, not to overrule.
More than this, however, came about. For some years
after leaving the New York coven – and after leaving Gardnerian (more on
this below) – I was approached by a number of High Priestesses,
understandably confused about their Books of Shadows. Apparently Theos was
giving differing versions of the Book to different groups. It seems she
didn’t think that at some point some of these new High Priestesses might get
together and compare books! But that’s exactly what happened. Finally I sat
down with Joyce Rasmussen, then of Council Bluffs, Iowa – a Gardnerian High
Priestess I knew and respected – and went through her Book, page by page,
bringing it into line with the original I had got from Olwen. I was then
able to refer confused Gardnerian High Priestesses to her (it seemed
ridiculous that, having then been several years out of Gardnerian, I was
still being sought out on this issue). I have to say that in my opinion more
harm has been done to the Gardnerian movement in America by Theos and
Phoenix than by any one else, Wiccan, Pagan or Christian! . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . Another issue that should be addressed is
the issue of what have become known as "The Ardanes" (or "Ordanes"). I was
recently asked "Are they numbered or do they just have an asterisk at the
start of each one?" The answer is that they are neither numbered nor
asterisked. In the "original" Book of Shadows (the one I copied from Olwen)
they are headed "The Law" and subheaded "The law was made and ardane of
old." These were never truly "laws" that had to be followed to the letter by
all, yet now it seems they have grown to be actual "Gardnerian Laws." They
were never meant as such. When I copied them, Olwen told me that Gerald had
included them in his book for their curiosity value more than
anything. She said that it was obvious they belonged to a bygone age and
were not pertinent today. Indeed, you can read such "laws" as: "if any die
destroy their book (of Shadows) an’ if they have not been able to. For an’
it be found it is clear proof against them. And our oppressors know well ‘Ye
may not be a Witch alone.’ So all their kin and friends be in danger of
torture . . ." There are those who believe – and I am among them – that
Gerald himself concocted these laws and tried to give them an antique flavor
by the inclusions of a few archaic words scattered throughout. Olwen advised
me to read them, retain what made good sense, and reject the rest. Certainly
such lines as "As a man loveth a woman by mastering her, so the Wica should
love the Gods by being mastered by them" need to be carefully thought
Copyright © 2011 Raymond Buckland
Rhuddlwm Gawr: Ray is the most knowledgeable about
the Gardnerian Tradition I know of AND the most honest.
The influence of Starhawk (and people like her)
is what changed English Witchcraft into
Paganism. Starhawk wasn’t the first person to
fuse political action, feminism, and Witchcraft,
but she did it better (and more articulately)
than anyone else. Starhawk brought new ideas and
passions into Paganism and made them feel as if
they had always been there.
Over thirty years after its initial
publication The Spiral Dance (1979)
remains a vital “how to” book. Sure Raymond
Buckland might have done it first, but The
Tree feels incomplete when compared to
Dance. Starhawk also introduced concepts
from Victor and Cora Anderson’s Feri Tradition
to the wider world, she bridged the worlds
between American and European Witchcraft. If
that wasn’t enough she helped to found the
Reclaiming Tradition, and has been an active
participant in religious dialogue on a global
In some ways Starhawk is the heart of Modern
Paganism. Her gifts were those of awareness and
activism. She certainly changed what was already
there, but she didn’t create it, she only added
Selena Fox (1949-present),
founder of Circle Sanctuary, Pagan teacher and
Selena set up the first Pagan Cemetery in the
United States and win the lobbying effort to
include the pentagram on the list of religious
symbols allowed on military headstones.
Those are only two of her many accomplishments.
Selena is the founder of Circle Sanctuary, a
non-profit church and nature preserve run
entirely by Pagans. She’s the force behind
Circle’s magazine, one of the oldest and most
enduring Pagan magazines in the United States,
and is the editor of the Circle Guide to
Pagan Resources, until the age of the
internet an essential networking tool. She’s
also a popular teacher and lecturer, and has
participated in the World Parliament of
The Following Bio contains excerpts from
Three Hands Press
and various bios at other web sites.
MICHAEL HOWARD lives in England and is a
writer, researcher, magazine publisher and editor, and member of the
Folklore Society. As a writer and editor, his career began in 1974 when he
launched the esoteric magazine Spectrum featuring articles on a
wide range of occult subjects. This ceased publication after ten issues in
1976, when he inaugurated the witchcraft magazine
celebrated 35 years of publication in 2011. In the early 1970s he also began
contributing feature articles and book reviews to the US magazine Fate
and the British astrological journal Prediction. In 1975, his first
book on candle magic was published. Since then
He is an honorary member of
the Pagan Federation and a member of the
Folklore Society, the
Friends of the Museum of Witchcraft at
Boscastle, and the Royal Stuart Society.
He was a student of the Luciferian Order of the
Morning Star in the 1960s, founded by the famous astrologer, magus
and taromancer Madeline Montalban, was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca in
1969, and he is currently an empowered initiate and Elder of the
traditional witchcraft sodality known in the outer as the Cultus Sabbati.
He is the author of over
thirty books on the occult, magic, runes, folklore, witchcraft, herbal
remedies, faerie lore, traditional witchcraft, Earth Mysteries and the
Luciferian tradition. He is the
author of Children
of Cain, which details the history and
nature of Traditional Witchcraft in Britain and North America.
He is the author of Secret Societies
(Destiny Books, 2009) and Modern Wicca: from Gerald Gardner to the
Present (Llewellyn, USA 2010). He has edited books by E.W. Liddell on
the Pickingill Craft, and by Evan John Jones on the Robert Cochrane
tradition. He is currently writing for Three Hands Press on historical
witches and cunning-folk in Wales, the West Country, Scotland and East
Anglia. These include
Welsh Witches and Wizards
Country Witches (2010), and
Scottish Witches and Warlocks (2013).
During his mundane life he has worked in both
farming and horticulture and in senior managerial positions in private
companies, local government and the Civil Service, including being a Customs
He is now retired.
is best known for his Pagan Calendar of Events which has been available off
and on since 1982. The Pagan Calendar has been single handedly
responsible for the great increase in the numbers of Pagan Festivals over
the last twenty eight years.
Larry Cornett started along his Pagan path
as a civil rights activist in the early 1960's. Rejecting the idea of an all
knowing, all powerful, all good, one and only God, only one true religion,
and the simultaneous existence of evil, he went on to study Physics in
search of deeper truth. At Purdue University, he practiced a blend of
Shamanism, ritual, and counterculture social and anti-war activism -- with a
metaphysics blending quantum mechanics, psychedelic and Oriental mysticism,
Unitarianism, and love of Mother Earth
He was also initiated into the Reformed Druids of North America in 1968.
He went on from his BS in Physics and some
Graduate level Astrophysics, to work for the Vietnam Moratorium Committee
and to get an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1972 from the
University of Cincinnati. He worked as a full-time professional in
environmental monitoring, risk assessment, regulation, pollution control,
and project and program management until March 1994. -- when he was fired
from a Department of Energy (DOE) Contractor after he documented the major
dangers to public health associated with DOE sites, actions and plans, along
with attempts to cover-up.
Since then, he has been working mostly
part time on such matters (often as an unpaid volunteer). In the 1970's, he
shared water with CAW at anti-war conferences and helped found the Chameleon
Club (which founded ACE.), He apprenticed with Circle in the early 1980s and
was initiated in Amaranth Energies (a Dayton, Ohio NROOGD Coven that
relocated to San Francisco, CA), and later in Coven Marasmius, a New York
City NROOGD Coven led by Sally Eaton and Isaac Bonewits. While in New York
City, he also studied in a Cherokee Medicine Society, was a member of the
original ADF Mother Grove, and, in 1982, started publishing his Calendar of
The calendar was continued until the year
2000 and helped the number of Pagan Festivals double every 4.5 years. He
moved to Birmingham Alabama in 1985, where he organized Pagan Web (an Earth
Religion Rights and networking organization) and a Wiccan Shamanic Coven. In
1986, a new job sent him to the Washington DC area, where he lived in
Fairfax Virginia, and later in Vienna, Virginia. In Washington DC area, he
founded VisionWeavers Coven in 1986
and later was a founding member of the CAW Triskelion Nest, along with the
Earth Religions Legal Assistance Network (
) and Earth Chalice (a Unitarian Pagan group in Arlington VA), along with
the former with the Coalition for Pagan Religious Rights.
He blew the lid of a cover-up of the
impact of US Department of Energy nuclear and hazardous waste sites and
actions; and, with help from the Loa, Ganesha, Project Law and the
Government Accountability Project, collected money owed to him after DOE
issued a judgment ordering back-pay and legal expenses
. He collected a few hours after he was ridden by Damballa at a Voodoo
ritual at Starwood, when the Government Accountability Project garnished the
CIA account that was paying his former employer (who refused to pay
directly). Details about the attempted cover-up appeared on the first
Page of the February 15, 1996 USA Today in an expose titled "Tragedy of
Errors Engulfs Toxic Material", and in editions of Inside Energy and the
In 1997, he moved back to the Cleveland,
Ohio area, where he started the Northeast Ohio Earth Religions Assistance
Association (NEO-ERAA), Gaia Rising
, and the Ohio Pagan Confederation, networks of Earth Religion Rights and
information activists that helped deal with dozens of religious
discrimination cases in Ohio. These Ohio organizations evolved into networks
of contacts with national links rather than ongoing Ohio organizations as
the frequency of cases decreased
. For his general Pagan websites, see
, and for his Pagan Religious Rights websites see
For his community organizing webpage see
Larry is known for detailed political, environmental, and mystical articles
and posts on the Internet, similar discussions in person, a sick sense of
humor, his Calendar of Events (now a links page at
and an Ohio Calendar at
the Earth Religions Legal Assistance network
Larry is also known for powerful Pagan
rituals and workshops, organizing occasional parties, camp-outs and
gatherings, recording Pagan workshops and music, and helping with major
festivals. He founded the Cleveland Area Pagan Pride Project in 2010. Some
of his magical and Pagan writing is in a self-published Amaranth Anthology,
and he is currently working on a book combining the VisionWeavers' Book of
Shadows with his own blend of science, mysticism, Unitarianism, philosophy
He had a regular column, "Event Horizons",
in The Green Egg (listing Pagan Festivals), and wrote a section of The Green
Egg Omelette on working with Nature Spirits. He publishes articles from time
to time in various Pagan publications.
Since returning to Cleveland, he has
continued his Wiccan and shamanic practice, mostly as a solitary or with a
few friends who have been actively involved in Wiccan, Faerie and/or Pagan
magic and traditions for at least 15 years. He also participates in and
helps organize large public rituals.
He also formed and coordinated the
Collinwood Environmental Taskforce (a coalition of business and community
groups which successfully lobbied the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut
down and order the decontamination of a nuke site on London Road in
Larry presents workshops at festivals,
universities, stores and gatherings on: * Science Consciousness and Magic *
Earth Healing Magic * Working with Nature Spirits
* Modern Paganism (with video tapes of Pagan rituals from many paths) *
Earth Religion Rights * True Tales of the Occult (a sharing of funny true
stories by participants) For more details, see
. He also organizes Magickal Forum and Practicum, a series of workshops in
which practitioners of many paths share and practice various techniques
related to aspects of magical ritual (purification, centering, casting
circles, divination, etc.). The forums start out with a session on ethics
before the practical sessions. Generally, by the time the forums get past
invocation, participating magical groups are recruiting members from among
the participants; and some participants form new magical groups. Both
advanced practitioners and novices find the forums very worthwhile. Larry
may be contacted at (216) 583-0007
. His professional resume is at
Rhuddlwm Gawr: "Larry is the Go-To
person for a calendar of festivals and gatherings in the U.S.
KENNY KLEIN -
THE BLUE STAR TRADITION OF WICCA
It’s background and it’s evolution.
I am fairly well known (at least to
myself) as a performer in the Pagan, Ren Faire and Folk music
communities, and now as a Llewellyn author of Through The Faerie Glass
and the upcoming Fairy Tale Rituals. I've been around the Pagan
community since the very early 1980s, though like many Pagans, I knew of
the Old Gods and was drawn to their mythology from a very young age.
In my early twenties I found myself on a quest for the practice that
felt right to me, and I ended up finding a place in Blue Star, a coven
practicing traditional Wicca, and rooted in America (rather than
Britain, as are our Gardnerian and Alexandrian cousins). At that point I
feel that the story of Blue Star and its rise from a small coven to a
world-wide tradition is my story, at least in a Craft sense, so I will
tell the history of my involvement with Blue Star, opinionated as I may
In 1982, I was living in a one room tenement in New York City,
playing Country fiddle for a living, and bass in a couple of Punk bands
around the East Village as a lifestyle. I was a bit ahead of my time
really, as I had my tribal punk band playing chanting Pagan songs, a
trend which did not catch on until much later (which would explain why
my friends the Bad Brains and the Beastie Boys got very famous and my
band did not).
I had found Wicca after a (then) life-long spiritual search, first
through a British Morris dancer in Upstate New York, then through my
friendship and tutelage with Eileen Campbell Gordon, a Scottish woman
with Traditional Craft training who owned a bookstore in the East
Village. I frequented other bookstores and shops where Wiccans hung out,
most notably Herman Slater’s Magical Childe in Chelsea, and
Enchantments, then on Ninth street and First. It was there at
Enchantments that I met Tzipora, who was teaching a Pagan Way, (the term
for a series of Pagan classes in those early days of the Craft), and I
became involved in Blue Star and in time, with her. The tradition, the
coven, and my relationship with Tzipora both romantically and
professionally dominated my life for the next nine years.
I came to learn the history of Blue Star up to that point, told to me
by Tzipora, her then Priest Franque (that's how he spelled it),
handmaiden Lucina, summoner Pan, and coven members at that time Kelly,
Tommy, Mariah, Kali and Candle, and later through my own memories and
Blue star began in the 1970’s in the Philadelphia suburbs. Franque
was a member of a local coven based on Alexandrian Wicca in Norristown,
PA. As I was given the story, Franque and his group had no formal
training, and relied on the written material available at the time to
create a coven structure, a Book of Shadows, and a doctrine. because
Stewart Farrar’s book What Witches Do spelled out Alexandrian
doctrine and ritual, it became the group’s standard.
Franque was also active in the SCA (Society for Creative
Anachronism), a society or club that recreates the warfare and crafts of
the Middle Ages. It was through the SCA that Franque met Tzipora.
Tzipora reported that from an early age she was interested in all things
magical. According to her account, she would frequent Occult bookstores,
including Samuel Weiser’s shop on Broadway in NYC. It was there that
Tzipora came into contact with an elderly British gentleman who offered
to teach her the Craft. This gentleman had a wife and a home in Long
Island, New York, and it was there that Tzipora would go on weekends to
be taught a traditional or family style Wiccan format. This continued
through Tzipora’s late teens, until the family returned to the British
Isles. According to Tzipora, they made her swear to keep a good deal of
her training secret, and that she would receive signs when a time came
to reveal what she had learned.
In her early twenties now, Tzipora had joined the SCA, and through
their functions had met Franque. The two discovered a shared interest in
the Craft. With no formal Wiccan training of his own, Franque welcomed
Tzipora into his coven as a trained Priestess. The two became
romantically involved, and ultimately Franque moved to Brooklyn to marry
Tzipora. There the two formed Blue Star coven, whose original teachings
were a cross between Tzipora’s traditional training and Franques
Early Blue Star was a standard Alexandrian style coven with little
exceptional history. Tzipora told me that in order to cloak her
traditional training, due to the oaths of secrecy she swore, she used
the Alexandrian format, took an Alexandrian initiation (from Spawn Far
coven in Massachussets), and worked with Greco-Roman deities.
Tzipora and Franque also operated an occult shop together, called
Tzipora and the Wizard, on 33rd street and 3rd avenue in NYC. Through
the shop they made various Craft contacts, most notable of which were
Richard and Tamara James of Toronto, Canada. The James settled in NYC
for a time and worked for Tzipora in her store.
Another shop worker was Michele D. 16 at the time, she became very
close to both Tzipora and Tamara, as all three were trained in various
Family Tradition Craft covens or families: Michelle‘s training came from
the Alsace area of France, and Tamara‘s from the British Isles. Tzipora,
Michelle and Tamara began spending many hours comparing Craft traditions
and creating ritual and doctrine based on their traditional teachings,
and out of these many months of conversation, both modern Blue Star and
the Odyssian Tradition of the Wiccan Church of Canada began to take
There came a time when Tamara and Richard returned to Toronto,
Michelle D. created her own coven in Staten Island, NY, and the Tzipora
and the Wizard shop went out of business (largely because Tzipora would
spend afternoons crafting Blue Star with Tamara and Michelle, leaving
Franque to run the store, a task for which he had no aptitude
whatsoever). Tzipora put all of her Craft energies into Blue Star and
the local Pagan community, and in 1976, created a Pagan gathering in
mid-state NY called "Panthea." It was around this time also that
nationally, Pagans were becoming more public, creating gatherings on a
national level and publishing newsletters and magazines. The magazine
Green Egg, in publication since the ‘60s, found a wider audience and
went into digest format. And Selena Fox, with partner Jim Allen, left
the board of Pan Pagan gathering to form Circle and create the Pagan
Spirit Gathering (PSG) in Wisconsin. Giving the New York Pagan community
a yearly gathering and retreat put Tzipora and Blue Star on the map, and
gained respect for the coven among such New York Pagan luminaries as
Isaac Bonewitz, Margot Adler and Judy Harrow. Tzipora also hosted an
early forum for budding San Francisco author Star hawk, and often worked
with Andros and Dierdra Arthen, legends of the Boston Pagan community.
This level of activity made Blue Star, and Tzipora herself, well known
as a local coven and priestess.
Blue Star itself continued as a small Brooklyn based coven until
1982. In the Autumn of that year, Tzipora, who had been having marital
strife with Franque, met me. As Kenny and Tzipora we began playing music
together, and after her divorce from Franque, I married Tzipora in 1983.
Tzipora had wanted for some time to move Blue Star out of the
Alexandrian framework and into a more Traditional structure. She saw our
Craft union, with my basis in Scottish Craft and British folklore, as
the "sign" her original teachers predicted would appear and allow her to
do this. Over the next two years, 1983-85,while we worked together as a
music duo and at various odd jobs, we began refining and redefining Blue
Star to encompass the Traditional British Isles training we had been
fortunate enough to acquire. Blue Star took on a new shape, with a focus
on British Isles Gods/Goddesses and traditions, and new ritual
procedures. While certain elements remained: using a round altar in the
center of the circle, the traditional Sabbaths and Esbats, and the basic
Alexandrian inspired ritual structure; many things changed: an
insistence on British Isles worship, the addition of Traditional British
ritual elements, a greater role for the priest in ritual, and certain
British Isles/Craft dances and chants from each of the couples’
This was not a good time for Blue Star as a functioning coven.
Several well trained initiates hived from the group at this time, most
notably Pan and Lucina, who did not wish to embrace the changes in Blue
Star’s direction and decided to form a new coven based on the BS
traditions they had originally been taught. Their group, Crystal Blue
Star, was probably the first hived coven to carry Blue Star teachings to
a new generation of students, and was a role model for nearly all hives
that followed (including the tradition of taking "Blue" or "Star" in the
newly formed coven’s name). The couple now live in Minnesota, and
continue to teach the B* rituals and traditions that they were raised
in. I consider them among the wisest and best trained Priestesses and
Priests I know.
As far as newer students, B* had a dismal succession of flakes and
junkies pass through over these difficult years. One student moved in
and began stealing from the group to support her habit (not the last
time this has happened), several entered sexual relationships with
Tzipora and me but never quite "got" Blue Star teaching. In all (and
this was largely due to Kenny’s Punk background and, at that time, his
passion for weird homeless Punk girls...as if that has changed years
later...) B* never really went anywhere for a while. But the time was
used to put together a new ritual format and to transition to a more
traditional Craft form. Kenny and Tzipora also used this time to work on
their musical act. Despite the failure of B* to attract satisfactory
students, this period laid the foundation for what was coming. It was
like a period of chrysalis building, with the butterfly of B* doctrine
In 1984, Tzipora and I moved to Staten Island, New York, first into a
small duplex house, and later into an old graveyard caretaker’s house
(just the place you would expect witches to live). I took a job as a
ninth grade English teacher, and we began finding a better class of
students. Among the people who came to B* at this time, and would become
very influential were Daniel, who would take B* initiation and live with
us as our nanny for many years; and Leira, who was perhaps the first
student to learn the "new" Trad based B* and hive off to form her own
coven, Starsong in Boston.
In these current days, nearly thirty years later, people in Blue Star
argue and lament over who has "real" Blue Star training. The truth is,
Blue Star is a living tradition, and underwent many changes in routine
and policy. This period, 1983-86, was the time when possibly the
greatest number of major changes were made. The worship of world
pantheons was dropped in favor of British Isles Gods. Ritual elements
were changed or replaced. Many ritual elements that were clearly
Ceremonial in origin, rather than Wiccan, were dropped. Leira was
perhaps the last BS initiate to be trained as we crossed from the old
system to the new.
Perhaps the greatest major change to B* was the move from a local
coven to a national tradition. This happened more by chance than design.
After living in the graveyard in Staten Island for a while, in 1986,
Kenny and Tzipora had left New York City to pursue a music career on the
road (partly because the graveyard house had been condemned and was
actually burned down by hoodlums the following Samhain). So with Daniel
and our two children, we took to the road. We played Pagan fests, house
concerts, renaissance festivals, and basically whatever would pay them
(and few paid them much, believe me!). Kenny and Tzipora became the very
first Pagan music at to create a festival circuit, and to play concerts
at Pagan events nation-wide. Now many Pagan acts do this. I don't like
to brag (ok, I really do like to brag) but we did it first, at a time
when there was very little reward (ok, I also like to lament).
In our travels, we met people all over the US who wanted a more
traditional or more in-depth training than they had received. Tzipora
and I came to a decision that we could teach Blue Star while on the road
by creating taped materials, a newsletter, and with frequent visits to
an area where students lived (this had been tried before, with
questionable success, in the early ‘80’s, when a couple studying with
Tzipora had moved from Brooklyn to Youngstown, Ohio, and had wanted to
continue their B* training). National Blue Star began to take shape, and
B* began to shift from a local coven to a Craft tradition. Neophyte
student George Marvil initiated a newsletter and began copying taped
teaching materials. Tzipora and I taped a lesson for each Sabbath. And
we began scheduling our tours around areas where Blue Star students
lived. Pagan festivals became a meeting place for Blue Star people, and
at fests like PSG and Heartland Festival, a Blue Star enclave formed
As we spoke at Pagan fests and convened impromptu after-concert
groups in diners, people would ask to be taken on as students. We hated
to turn people away, and it came to pass that we found ourselves with
study groups in Massachusetts, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Minnesota
and Northern California. The taped materials and newsletter held B*
together during this period, and we spent weeks and even moths in areas
where BS students lived, playing gigs, socializing, circling and
Winters were always a slow touring time for the musical duo, so we
began scheduling Blue Star gatherings. Unlike the B* enclaves at
existing Pagan fests, these gatherings were private B* only affairs,
stretching over a long weekend or a week. The first such gathering, over
a Yule in a rented beach house in North Carolina, saw about 50 Blue Star
students and clergy come together for ritual and classes. In the Spring,
80 people came to a campground in Massachusetts. To me, these were the
"golden days" of Blue Star. It was amazing for all involved to come into
a circle where 80 people joined voices to sing our gathering song "Home
Like other traditions, B* initiates ultimately hive off, or form new
covens, based on B* tradition. Many of these covens, in deference to the
name Blue Star, have taken "Blue" or "Star" in their coven names, i.e.
Crystal Blue Star, Ostara, Second Star On The Right, Star Song, and
others. Other groups have not opted for these elements, naming
themselves for some important aspect of their worship: Balefires is one,
and my own group Rose and Antler another. There is no hard and fast
rule. Each B* coven, however, retains a vast amount of BS tradition,
especially in the altar set up, the ritual format, the elevations toward
initiation, and the worship of mostly European gods/goddesses (though
this last is a big variable).
MY LIFE GOES ON - THE 90s
In early 1992 Tzipora and I ended our marriage and our musical union.
The divorce was a bitter one, with much animosity on both sides, and
many people in B* felt compelled to take sides or to lay low. Sadly,
this did a good deal of harm, I feel, to B*’s structure, integrity and
reputation. There was some vying for leadership roles (though each coven
had its priest and priestess so each could stand autonomously) and a lot
of name calling, accusations and scandal. I am glad to say that when the
dust cleared, B* was still there, and still a living, evolving
Tzipora remarried, and settled in NJ. Any history of her
involvement with BS from this point must be chronicled by herself or
someone closer to her personal history. I will simply say, though, that
though she and I had many very public differences, she was the finest,
most knowledgeable Craft priestess I have ever personally known, and I
learned a great deal from her.
I had met a woman in Kansas City, and I moved there to be with her.
Bunny had been looking for Wicca for several years, and had been trained
by a very questionable, charlatan coven. She had been going to some
Pagan fests to connect with other Pagans when I met her at Heartland
Pagan Festival. After establishing a romance, I began training her in
B*, and she ultimately began functioning as priestess. We called our B*
group Rose and Antler (the group name I still use). We took on several
students, none of whom really lasted, though one, Kristie, was an
excellent student and might have gone far. She was devoted to art,
though and superb at it, and finally left Kansas City to go to the Art
Institute in Chicago. She’s doing very well there.
BACK TO THE STORY:
While Bunny and I established Rose and Antler in Kansas City, other B*
people did essentially the same thing. Until this point, B* had been a
large coven, with the common thread being Kenny and Tzipora as teachers,
priestess/priest, and central personalities. With the two of us split
up, and Tzipora essentially dropping out of sight (and me in KC, MO, not
on the road) B* evolved into a structure like any other large tradition,
such as Gardnerian or Alexandrian: autonomous covens led by
priests/priestesses, with the commonality of training, ritual and
doctrine. Of course individual covens began evolving their own doctrine,
or even verging drastically away from what B* was when they learned it
(while rare, this happened in two cases that I know of). With clergy
trained at different times and under different circumstances, one might
see two B* covens as seeming completely different today. Pan and
Lucina’s group, for instance, seems like a totally different group than
Balefires in NJ, with very different rituals, songs, and
priest/priestess roles. But each has commonalities of the altar set up,
the Wheel of the Year arrangement, certain ritual elements like the Wine
and Cakes, and the singing of "Home Again" as a call to worship. Other
common elements from group to group include the altar set up, our Charge
of the Goddess, our Wiccan Rede, and our elevations.
I stayed in Kansas City for a couple of years, and had frequent
contact with the Columbia, MO group, and with the Minnesota group. In
time, perceiving that I couldn't really make a living in KC, I went back
to performing at renaissance festivals, which put me back on the road.
This brought me back into contact with a large portion of BS. I was able
to get a feel for how individual covens were creating their own B* niche
throughout the United States.
I continued touring to play music through the 90s, mostly playing at
renaissance faires, but venturing back into a few Pagan festivals. It
was difficult, as only a few years before the Kenny and Tzipora duo had
been an active festival band, and many remembered me from that act, an
association I no longer cared for. I worked hard at establishing my
presence as a solo musical act, and as a lecturer and Priest-at-large
available for Pagan events. It took most of the 90s to do this.
I also had my first book published in '93, The Flowering Rod, a book
on the involvement of men in traditional Wicca. The publisher, Delphi
Press, went out of business about three minutes after publishing the
book, so it was not exactly a lucrative venture (the book has been put
back into print currently by Immanion Press, and is available on my web
Because of the publisher going belly up, as we say in the biz, the book
didn't do much in terms of sales or exposure, but writing it convinced
me that I could do so again.
ENOUGH OF THE 90s....ON TO THE NEW MILLENIUM!!
I moved Los Angeles in the year 2000, living with Lori Watley, with whom
I recorded a couple of Cds.Lori and I had been on the Renaissance
Festival circuit for a couple of years at that point, and she craved a
permanent home. I was a little burnt out on travel as well, and we
rented a pretty nice bungalow in Silver Lake, and began teaching Wicca
and reforming Rose and Antler coven. We also played gigs together that
included everything from Pagan fests to bars to cruise ships...obviously
not all with the same material.
I want to say an anecdotal word on
that; Pagans can be funny. I understand that Pagans know me as a Pagan
performer, and often have never seen me in any other venue. But it has
been my experience more than once that when I say to a Pagan listener
“oh yea, I used to play on cruise ships” their response is they have
Pagan music on cruise ships?!” I wish they did. But I think it's
desperately obvious that I also know how to play Margueritaville
and Brown Eyed Girl. No, please do NOT ask me to play these songs
at Pagan events. I will scorn you.
In time Lori and I split up, and at that point I feel that my
reinvestment in the Pagan community truly began. As a solo act I began
aggressively seeking bookings at Pagan festivals, and began or resumed
playing at such gatherings as Starwood, Pantheacon, Free Spirit
Gathering, WicCan Fest, and at events held at Brushwood and Wisteria.
These venues put me back in front of Pagan audiences both as a performer
and as a lecturer/presenter on traditional Wicca.
I also got a publishing deal with Llewellyn, and wrote my first book
for them, Through The Faerie Glass. I actually came up with this
book when I lectured on Faerie lore at WicCan Fest, and a young woman
approached me and told me she was impressed with my knowledge of
traditional Faerie, and asked if I'd written a book. Now I have. I wrote
a follow up, Fairy Tale Rituals, which is an examination of the
dark and sexual elements of Grimms Fairy Tales, and which will be out in
May of 2011. These books brought me into a career as a writer as well as
These days I live in New Orleans, a city rife with magic and
folklore. I tour a great deal, hitting both renaissance faires and Pagan
events. I continue to practice Blue Star Wicca, although I am newly
moved to Louisiana and have not really established a coven here. I am in
the process, though. I am writing new books, and constantly seeking new
venues to perform in (here in town I play a lot of Irish bars, Jazz and
Blues clubs, and on the street with a few different (non-Pagan) bands).
I have seven CD titles available (www.kennyklein.net),
one of which, Meet Me In The Shade Of The Maple Tree, is the
world's first CD of Pagan Bluegrass music. I am working on an upcoming
CD which will be the world's first CD of Pagan Delta Blues and Jugband.
Rhuddlwm Gawr: Kenny is a Gifted
Fiddler and Musician and hope he will continue to play at our
Kerr Cuhulain has
been a Wiccan for 40 years and was involved in anti-defamation activism and
hate crimes investigation for the Pagan community from 1986 to 2005. Kerr
was awarded the Shield of Valor by the Witches League for Public Awareness.
Kerr is best known among law enforcement organizations as author of his
Law Enforcement Guide to Wicca. This book has been a positive source
of information for law enforcement and local government organizations and
has done much to reduce the misinformation produced by radical
He is also the author of Witch Hunts,
Wiccan Warrior, Full Contact Magick and Magickal Self Defense.
Kerr has a column with 182 articles on anti-defamation issues and hate
crimes on The Witches’ Voice web site called Witch Hunts. His latest book,
will be coming out as an ebook soon. He has also begun to write fantasy
Kerr is the former Preceptor General of Officers of Avalon, an organization
representing Neo-Pagan professionals in the emergency services (police,
firefighters, emergency medical technicians). Kerr retired from the
Vancouver Police Department in November 2005 after serving 29 years with
them. He was awarded the Governor General’s Exemplary Service Medal. Kerr's
past job assignments within the VPD include the Emergency Response Team,
Hostage Negotiator, Child Abuse Investigator, Gang Crime Unit, and the
Mental Health Emergency Services Unit. Kerr is currently working as a police
dispatcher and trainer for ECOMM for Southwestern BC
Kerr is the Grand Master and founder of a Wiccan order of Knighthood called
the Order of Scáthach in Surrey, British Columbia in October 2007. The Order
is now a registered society in the province of British Columbia and the
sponsor of Vancouver Pagan Pride. The Order of Scáthach embraces the Warrior
philosophies, precepts and code of chivalry outlined in Kerr’s books. The
Order of Scáthach is a study group for people interested in Wiccan magick,
energy work and rituals related to the Warrior path, focusing on
empowerment, personal development and creative expression. The training
focuses on the effective use of magickal energy and developing psychic
skills. The Order of Scáthach is constantly developing new rituals, and
magick and studying our Warrior philosophy. Our members are spread across
the globe and connect through local preceptories and on line. All members
are expected to participate and contribute.
The Order of Scáthach is named for
Scáthach nUanaind, the daughter of Ard-Greimne of Lethra. Scáthach (“shadow”
– pronounced “skya”), also known as Scáthach Buanand (“victorious shadow”)
is the most famous of female Warriors in Celtic mythology. Living on the
Isle of Skye (which is named for her), Scáthach ran a martial training
academy at which all of the principal heroes of Celtic myth were trained.
Her most famous pupil was Cúchulainn, who is the warrior hero that
influenced Kerr Cuhulain’s choice of magickal name.
Rhuddlwm Gawr: Kerr is an expert on Law
Enforcement Issues and The Occult
Silver Ravenwolf (1956-present),
author of To Ride A Silver Broomstick
and Teen Witch.
Silver has become a polarizing figure in many
Pagan circles, but to an entire generation she
was an early entry point into Paganism and
To Ride a Silver Broomstick was an timely and influential
work, contributing to and benefitting from the 90′s Pagan boom. I’m not
a huge fan of Teen Witch either, but it began a new genre in
Pagan books, and introduced a lot of young people to Modern Paganism.
Despite the criticisms leveled at books such as
Teen Witch there can be no denying that
Ravenwolf is a tremendously talented writer, She’s also been one of the
most popular Pagan authors in the world for two decades now. Love it or
hate it, Silver’s version of Witchcraft has left a lasting mark.
With my husband/priest Canyondancer,
I came to Wicca in 1984, and we initiated each other to First Degree at
Samhain of 1986. In 1987, we formed Campsight Circle and hosted our first
annual Beltane Village (a camping trip). I was awarded the Silver Salamander
Award for excellence in Pagan journalism, and taught one session of the
University of Arizona's Paranormal Anthropology course (which I continued to
do annually until the class was discontinued in 1993).
In 1988, I was among the founders of TAWN, now the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan
I'm still active in that organization, and occasionally serve on its Board
and/or as an editor or staff member for its quarterly newsletter,
In 1989, Canyondancer and I declared the Adventure Tradition of Wicca, which
we continue to teach and develop. I was elevated to Third Degree in 1990 by
two eclectic Elders in our community, in recognition of my writing,
lecturing, and community activities. Campsight was formally encovened at
Bride of '91, and Canyondancer was persuaded to elevate to Third in the
Spring of '92. Though Campsight disencovened (amicably) in 2004, Foursight
Coven, fourth in the Adventure line, is currently active in Tucson. (www.FoursightAdventureWicca.com)
In the Winter of '92 my chapter about Arizona was included in "Sacred
Sites," edited for Llewellyn by Frank Joseph, and my first book, "The Family
Wicca Book," was published. In '94, I contributed a chapter to volume three
of "Witchcraft Today," edited by Chas Clifton, and in '96 I had a chapter in
"Living Between Two Worlds," the fourth volume of that series.
In 2002, New Page Books published "Raising Witches;" in 2003, Citadel Press
published "In the Service of Life: a Wiccan Perspective on Death," which was
part of the curriculum at the Woolston-Steen Seminary; and in 2004 and 2005,
New Page published the two volumes of "Celebrating the Seasons of Life,"
each of which covered half the year.
I've contributed chapters and other segments to other anthologies, including
"Cakes and Ale for the Pagan Soul," "Out of the Broom Closet," "The
Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism," and "Happiness Awaits
In 2009, with co-author Carol Garr, I published "Enchantment Encumbered: the
Study and Practice of Wicca in Restricted Environments." We wrote this book
to aid the work of Mother Earth Ministries-ATC, an organization Carol and I
(and a few others) founded in the Summer of 2000. I have been the senior --
and usually only -- writing priestess for MEM for over 10 years, and answer
between 50-60 inmate letters every month. I am also responsible for MEM's
literature, which includes introductory brochures about Wicca, Ásatrú and
Druidry, and shorter brochures and flyers about other related topics. In
2004 I was ordained by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church for my work with MEM.
(By the way, MEM is a 501(c)(3) organization; visit our website at
for more information and to see how you can help!)
Since 1991 I've been giving radio and print interviews, publishing articles,
chapters, appendices, and books. With Canyondancer, I've been offering
classes and workshops, and making presentations and conducting ritual at
gatherings here and abroad. (We also conduct rites of passage, and like most
Pagan clergy, particularly enjoy handfastings.) Canyondancer and I have
hosted Sabbat "Villages" -- camping trips for Ostara, Beltane, and Samhain
-- for 25 years now, and have established, at least in Arizona, that Pagans
do have a right to hang celebratory banners and conduct rituals in the
In 2009 and 2010, I presented workshops at Wrangling with Writing, a
nationally known and attended writing conference. My topic both years was
how to write realistic Pagan characters and scenes. I do some work as a
consultant, and one of my first clients was a New York Times best-selling
author: Jennifer Lee Carroll acknowledged my and Carol Garr's help in "Haunt
In 2009, Adams Media published "The Portable Spell Book," my first "not
Wiccan" book. Also in 2009, I self-published my first novel, "The Green
Boy." I followed that in 2010 with two more in the series, "The Flower
Bride" and "Maiden, Vampire, Crone."
I continue to teach and write about Adventure Wicca, to offer workshops and
conduct public and private rituals with Canyondancer, and to volunteer for
Mother Earth Ministries. I'm working on more books, stories, and articles,
trying to master my phone and my netbook, and always looking forward to the
next camping trip. I'm reachable on Facebook and through my website,
and by e-mail at
Rhuddlwm Gawr: I recommend Ashleen's
publications and workshops...she is good people.
Adler (April 16, 1946-present), is
an influential American author, journalist,
lecturer and Wiccan priestess. Her 1979 study of
contemporary nature religions, “Drawing Down the
Moon”, is considered a seminal book on modern
witchcraft and Neopaganism. She remains one of
the most visible and available leaders of the
Pagan community in North America, and continues
to educate people about Wicca and witchcraft and
other topics related to Paganism, and regularly
travels to give lectures, workshops and rituals.
Margot Susanna Adler was born on 16 April
1946, the only child of a non-religious family
in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. Her father, Dr.
Kurt Alfred Adler, was a psychiatrist and a
self-professed atheist, while her mother, Freyda
Nacque Adler, was a Jewish agnostic and a
radical educator. Her grandfather, Alfred Adler,
was the renowned Viennese psychiatrist
considered by many to be the father of
What made Drawing Down the Moon so
unique was that it was an overview of North
American Paganism, and the first look at the
origins of Modern Paganism and Witchcraft. While
DDM is a bit dated in 2013 (first published
in 1979, though updated every few years), time
has neither diminished its importance or
influence. Adler remains an active participant
in the Pagan Community, speaking at public
events and continuing to write, all while still
writing and reporting for National Public Radio.
VICTOR AND CORA ANDERSON
(Victor 1917-2001, Cora 1915-2008),
founders of the Feri Tradition.
The most important of the pre-Gardnerian witches was certainly Victor
Anderson, a founder (or, as he said, a transmitter) of the Feri Tradition.
Victor was born May 15, 1917, in New Mexico; his family moved to Bend,
Oregon, when he was quite young. He claimed that he underwent a sexual
initiation by an old woman at age nine. According to the research of Valerie
Voigt, long-time coordinator of the Pagan, Occult, and Witchcraft Special
Interest Group of American Mensa, one story that Victor repeated fairly
consistently was that he was initiated into the Harpy Coven in Ashland,
Oregon, in 1932; the High Priestess and High Priest were Maybelle and Jerome
Warren, and other members included Jim Murdoch and Patricia Fern. The coven
was quite eclectic, mixing Huna with varieties of folk magic more common in
the continental United States. He said that the coven’s emphasis was on
practical sex magic; there was little concern with worship, theology,
ethics, or ritual. They did celebrate the Sabbats by getting together to
work sex magic on them, but the only time they met in a circle, Victor said,
was when they were eating—and yet this ordinary-looking meal was for them,
he says, part of the celebration of the Sabbat.
The Harpy Coven broke up during World War Two. In 1944 Anderson met and
married his wife, Cora, who came from a Southern family that practiced a
folk-magic variety of witchcraft. They moved to San Leandro, CA, in about
1948. Cora worked as a hospital cook and was often asked to prepare her
healing food for patients who were not responding to conventional treatment.
Victor was legally blind, but could read with a magnifying glass. He was
also a professional musician, somewhat of a virtuoso on the accordian.
Victor was greatly impressed by Gardner’s Witchcraft Today in the
mid-1950s and began to think about founding a coven based on his and Cora’s
traditional knowledge. He was encouraged to do so by several Craft
correspondents, including Leo Martello in New York. He and Cora
founded The Feri Tradition.
Tradition, which, from small beginnings, has become known around the world.
In large measure this is due no doubt to the writings of Starhawk, the
tradition’s most famous member, as well as the work of the bard and poet
Gwydion Pendderwen. The movement was created in the late 1950s by the poet
Victor Anderson and wife Cora, who were influenced by Gardner’s
Witchcraft Today. It goes under a variety of titles such as Fae, Fey,
Feri, Faerie, Fairy, and Fairie Witchcraft. Its key aspect is the concept of
the Three Souls, which derives from Huna (a metaphysical theory developed by
Max Freedom Long in 1936). The Fey Folk believe that these souls make up the
structure of a human being and should be brought into communication with
each other to facilitate self awareness as well as knowledge of the God and
Goddess. The tradition is joyous, creative and strongly sensual, working
with a variety of goddesses and gods to realize practical magic and bring
about self development.
In about 1962 Victor acquired his most important student, Thomas DeLong,
who later wrote under the pen name Gwydion Pendderwen, when Tom befriended
the Anderson’s son in junior high. Tom became a friend of the family and was
initiated into the Craft. He was also Initiated into Welsh Witchcraft.
During the 1960s Victor and Gwydion collaborated on writing the Feri Book of
Shadows, using the basic Gardnerian format, but with added traditional
About 1970, when Gwydion initiated Alison Harlow (1934-2004), who had
been married to the science-fiction writer Randall Garrett, the Andersons
formed the Double Helix coven. Gwydion’s wife, Cynthia, was also initiated
into the coven. Gwydion had been in touch with Joe Wilson for some time and
was invited to be a member of the Pagan Way "Committee of Correspondence."
About 1970 Gwydion and Alison founded Nemeton ("sacred grove" in Welsh) in
Oakland as a networking organization allied with the Pagan Way. It had about
a dozen regional secretariats around the United States in the early 1970s.
In 1973-1974 Nemeton published three issues of Nemeton magazine. The
contributors were a cross-section of American Paganism, and indicate how
much interaction there was among the various Pagan and Wiccan groups. They
included Susan Roberts, Poul Anderson, Penny Novack, Victor, Joe Wilson,
Harold Moss, Mikel Clifford, Ed Fitch, Rhuddlwm Gawr, Tim Zell, Dan Norman,
Lady Theos, and Tony Spurlock.
Gwydion was not easy to work with. To contradict him was to be banished.
He lived in mythic time and was utterly unconcerned about observing a
"foolish consistency," although he could drop into ordinary time when
necessary. Some people believed all his stories; some did not; but I knew
him well enough to be sure he was not just making everything up. In some
ways, it was a lot like working with Castenada’s Don Juan.
Gwydion died in an accident in 1982. Victor passed away in 2001, Alison
in 2004, Cora in 2008.
author, Druid, and Pagan scholar.
Have you ever heard the term “Neo-Pagan?”
That’s Issac, but he’s influence on Modern
Paganism transcends that one little term. He was
the first (and only) person to receive a
Bachelor’s Degree in Magic from the University
of California at Berkeley, an experience which
lead to the writing of Real Magic: An
Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of
Yellow Magic, one of the early essentials
of American Paganism and magick. Bonewits was an
initiated Witch and a member of the Reformed
Druids of North America before going on to start
Ár nDraíocht Féin (probably better known as
ADF, or A Druid Fellowship), currently the
largest Pagan Druid group in North America.
Bonewits was a tireless teacher, writer, and
sometimes musician, whose influence on Paganism
was as large as his personality.
WREN WALKER AND FRITZ JUNG
There’s no doubt that internet has changed
Paganism. I can remember a time in the 1990′s
when most of us were still connecting through
letters, magazine columns, and bulletin boards
at the local New Age Bookstore. Today we connect
and share information in seconds instead of
weeks, and internet personalities have become as
important as traditional writers. One of the
first real changes in how Pagans connect with
one another occurred with the founding of
The Witches Voice by Wren Walker and Fritz
Jung back in 1997. The Witches Voice was
one-stop shopping to find other Pagans,
festivals, and supply stores. There was nothing
like it before, and nothing like it since. It
was (and remains) an invaluable source for
information and networking.
Wiccan author, most famous for Wicca: A
Guide For the Solitary Practitioner.
I think I’m only beginning to understand just
how revolutionary it was to title Cunningham’s
book on Solitary Practice Wicca back in
1988. Up until then the word Wicca was more a
whisper than a book genre. Sure there were books
on Witchcraft, but Wicca? Cunningham’s book
opened the floodgates and began a dialogue that
is still ongoing. If that weren’t enough
Cunningham’s “Encyclopedia Series” are standard
reference works for using oils, herbs, incenses,
metals, rocks, and crystals. Solitary
has become one of the best selling “how to”
books of all time, and continues to be highly
influential. In 2009 Llewellyn released
Cunningham’s Book of Shadows, showing just
how popular Cunningham remains nearly twenty
years after his death.
Carl Weschcke (1930-present),
President of Llewellyn Worldwide.
Ah Carl...Fond Memories. Llewellyn is
responsible for publishing Lady Sheba’s Book
of Shadows, Cunningham’s Wicca,
and Ravenwolf’s Broomstick, all books
that forever changed Modern Paganism, and none
of that happens without Weschke’s purchase of
Llewellyn Publications back in 1961. Llewellyn
has been the largest and most influential New
Age/Pagan publishing house for the last couple
of decades, and continues to release important
and popular work. There are few people within
Pagandom who have not read a Llewellyn book and
I’ve seen few Pagan libraries without one of
those little crescent moon symbols somewhere on
the shelf. In addition to Pagan-focused
materials, Llewellyn is also a leader in
publishing books on astrology, the
super-natural, and a wide range of New Age
disciplines. Llewellyn brought competent editing
and marketing to Pagan publishing, changing it
OBERON ZELL - RAVENHEART
(1942-present), is founder of the
Church of All Worlds and Green Egg
Oberon was one of the first individuals to
realize that Witches, Wiccans, Druids, and
Heathens were all a part of the same Pagan tree,
indeed Oberon was one of the first people to use
the word “Pagan” to describe our very diverse
spiritual movement. He did a lot that uniting in
the pages of The Green Egg, one of the
most influential Pagan magazines in the States.
(Forget the articles, my favorite part of the
magazine was always the letter column!)
was also the mouthpiece for
The Church of All Worlds, one of the first
(if not the first) legally recognized Pagan
churches, and based in part on the book
Stranger in a Strange Land by sci-fi scribe
Robert Heinlein. In addition to founding a
church and publishing a magazine Oberon was one
of the first people to propose the Gaia Theory.
He’s also written several books and started an
online magic academy,
The Grey School of Wizardry. It’s
impossible to talk about Oberon without
mentioning his wife Morning Glory who
popularized the term and concept polyamory.
BRIEF HISTORY OF WELSH WITCHCRAFT
Taliesin einion Vawr was born in the
forests of North Wales in 1927. During the next thirteen years, because of
his father's government position, the family traveled throughout Europe.
They returned to England in 1938, and the children were sent to live with
relatives in Wales. In September 1940, their father and mother were killed
in the bombing of London during the Battle of Britain. Taliesin and his
sister were raised by relatives in a small village near a small village in
Northern Wales He learned of his family’s heritage of Druidism and
Witchcraft as they met Y Tylwyth Teg (welsh fairies) at Fairy Ring near
Betws y Coed, and swam with the water sprites in the local river. His
journal indicates this was the happiest time of his life.
and auntie traveled to the United States, obtained work visas, and remained
in the state of New Jersey until 1959. Returning to school, Taliesin
graduated from a local high school and attended a nearby college. When the
family returned to England, Taliesin went with them, and upon returning to
North Wales he said he was very happy to get home. Over the next few years
he continued his occult studies and spent a great deal of time with his
auntie, an herbalist and Offieriadess (something like a priestess or elder)
of Dynion Mwyn. He learned of the energy of the mountains by participating
in "Cave Workings" and hiking near Mt. Snowdonia.
In 1963 while visiting friends, he met a
gentleman named Ray (or Roy) Bowers who inspired him to begin teaching. He
organized the family's records and held the first non-family class.
Gwendolyn Wynne, a cousin, studied with the family and carried the religion
to London where she taught the old ways until her death. R. (Math) Johnson,
another cousin, immigrated to Australia where he taught the tradition, and
D. (Gwydion) Jones took the tradition to Patagonia (a region of Argentina)
where he taught until his death in 2002.
In 1965, Rhuddlwm Gawr met Sarah Wentworth
while in Majorca, Spain. She invited him to London and Wales where he met
Taliesin. Rhuddlwm stayed in Wales and studied the Old Ways. In 1966,
Rhuddlwm returned to the US and established the Coven and Church of Y
Tylwyth Teg in Landover, Maryland. (28)
Taliesin taught the Old Ways until 1992
when he passed the leadership of Dynion Mwyn to his sister (who became chief
elder until she died in 1999). Lord Rhuddlwm Gawr and Lady Cerridwen Gawr,
of the United States, have inherited the leadership of Dynion Mwyn.
Taliesin was responsible for opening the
Welsh tradition to outsiders. His dying wish was that the basic philosophy
of the Welsh tradition be available to all through the Internet, and that
seekers be given a "Taste of Wales" through home study courses.
In January 2000, after an extended
illness, Taliesin, the sole surviving elder of the Dynion Mwyn Welsh Family
Gwyddon (Witchcraft) tradition, died quietly in his sleep.
Prior to his death, Taliesin lived with a
companion, on a small island off the coast of Scotland, writing and
meditating. He survived the passing of his sister by a few months.
Here is a note of a review that was
written about his contribution in writing The Word:
"Some readers might find Taliesin Einion
Vawr, Merriden Gawr and Rhuddlwm Gawr's book disturbing for its'
no-holds-barred approach to Welsh Witchcraft. In fact it is a good
antidote to the "fluffy bunny pagan" and "Politically Correct" (as the
Americans say) attitude prevalent in some new-age Wiccan circles
(actually most!) that seek to ignore life's harder lessons, and try to
make everything sweetness and light. Taliesin Einion Vawr was a
practitioner of the "Dynion Mwyn" strand of traditional Welsh Craft and
his book reflects that eclectic blend of Welsh folklore, Celtic Paganism
and almost cabbalistic Medieval Witchcraft. A very practical book with
very little fluff, but the reader definitely must make up their own
minds as to what constitutes right or wrong when practicing magic AND
whether they wish to accept the Welsh Witchcraft History as presented.
You will have to get past the Dynion Mwyn Mythology though since their
"history" is not accepted or academic history, it is "opinion" history.
It is family history. It is controversial history. If you are into
trying to match what is in the Christian authored history books, you
will be disappointed. But then you won't be a Pagan either. This is a
book for the Muse, as Taliesin would chortle.
"I met Taliesin in 1982 at a fair in
Cornwall of all places. I was 15 and he was a grumpy man with a
gruff voice and a tendency to be egotistical. But, he had one
saving grace. He told the most fascinating stories of his
childhood and of his education in the finer points of herbology and
Witchcraft. His ancestors were Pictish (so he said) and they were
originally from Scotland, arriving in North Wales in the 1800's.
"I don't think Taliesin was his real
name because he was very vague about his parents and relatives. Over the
years I found out even less about him, but I do know that several well
known Pagans owe him their knowledge and initiation.
"As I understand it, he was
responsible for 90% of the book, even though Rhuddlwm Gawr claims to
have written most of it. I think Taliesin should get the recognition he
deserves. I just wish he and his sister were still alive. They would be
tickled at all the maneuvering going on by members and seekers trying to
take over what he and his family passed on.
"I feel this will be a brilliant
reference book on the Beliefs of Dynion Mwyn. I use it every day. Very
definitely a must-read!"
"Taliesin, we never got along, but I
respected you and hope that wherever you are, you are finally happy and
RHUDDLWM GAWR AND DYNION MWYN
The Tradition of Dynion Mwyn was formally
organized in the 50s and 60s by Taliesin einion Vawr in North Wales. We
believe he combined elements of Pictish Witchcraft, the Knights Templars,
Druidic teachings, Etruscan ritual, NROOGD ritual and the Kibbo Kift in his
workings. The original Mother Organization, Dynion Mwyn, was created between
1282 and 1525, by descendants of the Bards of Prince Llewellyn, the last
true prince of Wales.
In the summer of 1965,
(an American working in Europe), met his future teacher, Sarah Llewellyn, on
the Isle of Majorca, Spain, and an instant spiritual connection began.
(Robert Graves, who wrote The White Goddess, spent the last year of his life
about 2 miles from their meeting-place.) Eight outside students, including
Rhuddlwm traveled to North Wales to study.
was initiated into the Welsh Tribe of Dynion Mwyn, "The Gentle Folk", near
Betws-y-Coed, in North Wales. This is a family of Witches that claim a
lineage from 1282 A.D. and the Bards of Prince Llewellyn of Wales. Thus
began the first step on his journey to awakening. He was given the name
Rhuddlwm Gawr by the elders of the Dynion Mwyn tradition, and told that he
was to return to the United States and begin secretly to teach the Craft of
- Y Tylwyth Teg - the Clan of "The Fairy Folk". Later, he wrote that he felt
unprepared and unwilling to teach. But, after returning to the United
States, he joined a major Aerospace company in Landover, Maryland and was
immediately transferred to Houston, Texas and assigned to NASA's Apollo
Manned Lunar Project. He tried to ignore the elders words but soon found
himself teaching an introductory class in Witchcraft in a small Houston
In Spring 1967, Rhuddlwm was transferred
to Washington, DC, where he organized the Coven of Y Tylwyth Teg. Later, the
"Coven of Y Tylwyth Teg" expanded into a much larger organization - "The
Church of Y Tylwyth Teg in America."There
was an enthusiastic response by many students in the area seeking an
Earth-religion-oriented spiritual philosophy. . He initiated Lady Dana
who becomes his first High Priestess. Y Tylwyth Teg's first coven brought
together Wiccans and Pagans from several traditions, including solitaires
and traditional Welsh Celtic Pagans. Y Tylwyth Teg presented its first
Spring Festival "The Gathering of the Tribes" (the first Pagan Gathering of
the Tribes recorded) and its first Midsummer celebration "The Battle of the
Winter and Summer Kings" presided over by Lord Rhuddlwm and Lady Dana. Y
Tylwyth Teg began to grow and establish sister covens in Florida, Texas,
California and Georgia. During a trip to Bermuda, Rhuddlwm rendezvoused with
Sarah and was initiated to third level and a higher level of responsibility.
In late November of 1967, Rhuddlwm was instrumental in founding "The
Association of Cymry Wiccae" as an assembly of Welsh Traditional Covens in
America. Y Tylwyth Teg
expanded, establishing sister covens in California, Florida, Texas and
In 1967, Rhuddlwm was instrumental in
establishing "The Association of Cymry Wiccae" as an assembly of Welsh
Traditional Covens in America. He, with the help of several Witch leaders of
Welsh heritage, organized a meeting (the first pagan Gathering of the
Tribes) held that Spring. During this first meeting, many spoke of the
"primal energy" that was generated, and the love that seemed to permeate
everything. As a result of this meeting, a "conclave" of three Welsh
Witchcraft covens was born. This conclave was thereafter referred to as the
"The Grove of The Crystal Dragon."(35)
In 1968, Y Tylwyth Teg established a
worship site on private land near Landover Maryland. A ritual circle was
created and dedicated in a grove of oak trees near the main house. Rhuddlwm,
with the help of several Witch leaders of Welsh heritage, organized the
first annual Conclave meeting held in Spring 1968 at the Gathering of the
Tribes. During this first meeting, many spoke of the "primal energy" which
was generated, and the love that seemed to permeate everything. As a result
of this meeting, a "conclave" of three Welsh Witchcraft covens was born.
This conclave was thereafter referred to as the "The Grove of The Crystal
Dragon." It consists of "The Coven of The Crystal Dragon", "The Coven of
Merlin" and "The Coven of Ganymede."
Sharing a common vision of the ancient
gods and the survival of the Dynion Mwyn Pagan religion, it was agreed that
because of the current uncertainties of the day, The Association was to keep
a low profile and operate in secret for as long as possible.
Through the summer and early fall, the
Grove met, deepened their commitment of sharing a common vision of the
ancient gods and the survival of our religion The Grove worked together over
the next three years helping establish other pagan groups begin;
disseminating knowledge and information. The three groups worked together
over the next two years quietly disseminating knowledge and information when
needed. In the Fall, Y Tylwyth Teg began sponsoring private classes and
lectures in Alexandria, Virginia.
In 1969, through one of it's members,
Beverly Sailer (Lady Arionrod), YTT formed an outer court pagan group known
as "The Family". Due to several members being influential government
employees, the members vote to keep the true purpose of "The Family" a
secret. The second annual Conclave and pagan outer-court festival at the
Gathering of the Tribes, was held in a forest near Cumberland, Maryland.
In 1970, "The Family" membership had
reached thirty-two. The third annual Conclave, fourth annual Gathering of
the Tribes, and Pagan outer court festival was held on the eastern shore of
In the Fall of 1971, the headquarters of
the Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, was re-located
to Smyrna-Marietta, Georgia. The Family disbanded. The Coven of Ganymede
relocated to Roanoke, Virginia and disbanded in 1975.
The Coven of Merlin relocated to Richmond,
Virginia and disbanded in 1977. The Coven of the Crystal Dragon relocated to
Athens Georgia where it continued until 1986 when it relocated to Kennesaw,
Georgia. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg,
celebrated the fifth annual Gathering of the Tribes on Land near Kennesaw GA
In 1972, Y Tylwyth Teg established Bangor,
a Bardic school, in Smyrna, Georgia to prepare members for the priesthood
and give religious instruction to children.
In 1972, Y Tylwyth Teg joined the Pagan
Way and begins distributing the rituals. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and
Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the sixth annual gathering of the Tribes
on Land near Kennesaw GA
In 1973, Through the Association of Cymry
Wiccae, Y Tylwyth Teg applied to the Internal Revenue Service for a
religious Tax Exempt Status. Y Tylwyth Teg began to publicly teach a
correspondence course under the alias Brotherhood of Wicca. The Association
of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the seventh annual
gathering of the Tribes on Land near Kennesaw GA
In 1974, the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg
joined the Fellowship of Isis in Ireland. Y Tylwyth Teg founded the first
Pagan Special Interest Group at the University of Georgia. Lady Sirce of
Sacramento, California was initiated. Lady Branwen of Augusta, Georgia was
initiated. Lady Eilonwy of Florida was initiated, Lady Althaea of Rhode
Island was initiated. The Brotherhood of Wicca is formally dissolved and all
business is transferred to The Church of Y Tylwyth Teg. The Association of
Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the eighth annual
gathering of the Tribes on Land near Kennesaw GA
In 1975, Rhuddlwm founded the
Pagan-Occult-Witchcraft SIG of MENSA. Valerie Voigt and others eventually
became coordinators for this fine organization. Y Tylwyth Teg began
publishing The Sword of Dyrnwyn, a newsletter of Y Tylwyth Teg.
Until October of 1975, the Church and
Association grew very slowly and deliberately. During the Samhain ritual,
one of our elders received a spiritual insight which changed his life
forever. He saw figures of a Woman and a man merge within an Oak tree. It is
explained to him by his spiritual guides and his teacher Sarah, that this
means that his future task is to help relink humanity with Nature. The
Association adopts the Goddess Cerridwen as its muse, and begins working to
disseminate the concept of re-linking with Nature. Shortly thereafter, one
of the original founders of the Association (Coven of Ganymede) leaves the
group. The two remaining founders spend the Fall redefining their roles
within the Association. Lady Branwen became vice president of The
Association. During this time the energy toward manifestation quickens as
the number of member covens grow from the original three to twenty-three. Y
Tylwyth Teg's public relations work on behalf of Paganism begins. An
accurate and positive article about Paganism accompanied by a full color
photo of a High Priest of Y Tylwyth Teg performing a ritual appeared in the
local newspaper. Rhuddlwm Gawr graduated from the University of Georgia with
a BLA degree in Environmental Design and Ecology. The Association of Cymry
Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the ninth annual gathering of
the Tribes on Land near Kennesaw GA The Association adopted the Goddess
Cerridwen as its muse, and adopted the concept of re-linking humanity with
Rhuddlwm Gawr joined Mensa and founded the
Pagan/Occult/Witchcraft Special Interest Group (POWSIG). Y Tylwyth Teg
founded the Sword of Dyrnwyn Newsletter and starts a information exchange to
help Pagans from many traditions and groups connect with each other. The
newsletter included articles on Paganism, Witchcraft, Magick, herbs,
spiritual healing, metaphysics, and parapsychology. Y Tylwyth Teg began
serving as a resource center for Pagans and Witches.
Y Tylwyth Teg attended and helped with the
publicity of the Pan Pagan Festival sponsored by the Midwest Pagan Council,
and held at an Indiana campground.
Y Tylwyth Teg's land project began in
1976. Camelot-of-the-Wood was conceived as a haven for Welsh Witches and an
International Pagan Studies Center. Camelot-of-the-Wood began working to
establish a intentional community of members of Y Tylwyth Teg. Y Tylwyth Teg
began to raise funds and search for land to purchase.
In February 1976, a US IRS Group Tax
Exemption was issued to the Church and The Association of Cymry Wicca. This
was the first Group Tax Exemption issued to a true Witchcraft church by the
U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Church of Y Tylwyth Teg became legally
incorporated by the State of Georgia in Smyrna, Georgia on February 2, 1977.
The Association of Cymry Wicca began
providing a means by where Pagan Churches and Covens can acquire a legal tax
exemption and be that much closer to being accepted by Society.
Y Tylwyth Teg founded Pagan Grove Press
whose purpose is to publish a Newsletter and books on paganism and
In September 1976, The Association of
Cymry Wiccae and the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg co-sponsored the tenth annual
gathering of the Tribes and the first Gathering of the Tribes held in the
North Georgia mountains. This was a gathering of pagan, Wiccan and earth
religion leaders from all over the United States. Its theme was peace, and
it was one of the first gatherings to forbid any kind of verbal animosity
between groups. It worked. Groups began talking to other groups, met in
friendship, and many lasting and important relationships prospered from this
Rhuddlwm was contacted by Lady Circe of
Toledo, Ohio to help one of her neophytes, Sintana, become established in
Atlanta. He gives her a great deal of study material and helps her found
Ravenwood in Atlanta. She becomes known as Lady Sintana.
In 1977, Y Tylwyth Teg celebrated the 10th
Anniversary of its founding in the United States. Y Tylwyth Teg was legally
incorporated as a Witchcraft Church in Georgia, establishing bylaws and a
church structure with a board of directors, ordained ministers, a community
of affiliated coven churches and a congregation. Y Tylwyth Teg's legal name
as a non-profit organization became the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, Inc. the
name, Y Tylwyth Teg, becomes the church's trade name.
Rhuddlwm Gawr stepped down as the editor
of POWSIG because of pressing duties with Y Tylwyth Teg. Valerie Voigt
eventually took over as editor. Y Tylwyth Teg's local Sword of Dyrnwyn
newsletter expanded to a national newsletter serving all Pagans and Wiccans.
Lady Rhea of Louisville was initiated.
Lady Levannah of Atlanta was initiated. Lady Galadreal of today's Grove of
the Unicorn attended her first neophyte class with Lord Rhuddlwm and Lord
Y Tylwyth Teg began sponsoring Pagan
presentations outside Georgia. Y Tylwyth Teg staff presented workshops and
travel to California, Alabama, Virginia, New York, Texas, Iowa and Kansas to
do presentations and rituals .
The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church
of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the eleventh annual gathering of the Tribes
held at Unicoi state park in Helen, Georgia, a secluded state owned
conference center in the forested mountains of North Georgia.
Y Tylwyth Teg through Pagan Grove Press,
published Paganism's first "Yellow Pages", The Pagan NewAge Occult
Directory, containing names and addresses of groups and individuals from
many paths, plus a bibliography and other information. It stimulates contact
and community building within and across geographical areas and traditions
of Paganism. It was published until 1982.
In October, 1977, The Church of Y Tylwyth
Teg and the Association of Cymry Wicca organized the Pagan Gathering of the
Tribes in the Southeastern U.S., held at Unicoi State Park near Helen,
Georgia. Unicoi means The New Way in the Cherokee tongue. It is located near
Mt. Yonah, an important Cherokee psychic power point.
In 1978 Y Tylwyth Teg's media work on
behalf of Paganism became national and international. The twelfth Annual and
third Georgia "Gathering of the Tribes" was held. For the first time, a
Southeastern Pagan/Wiccan Leadership conference was held. It was attended by
Ray Buckland, Margot Adler, Jim Alan and Selena Fox of Circle, and many
other leaders. This gathering, held at the time of Summer Solstice, brought
together Pagans from many paths and places. It focused on re-linking with
Nature, building community and culture across a diversity of traditions and
The Gathering was covered by a major
American newspaper in an article appearing in the religion section. The
article opened with an account and a photo of a ritual by Rhuddlwm Gawr then
reported on Witchcraft and Paganism as a whole and as a growing religious
movement. The article generated interest and more positive media coverage in
the Southern USA.
In 1979, Rhuddlwm Gawr published The
Quest, the first book in a trilogy about Welsh Witchcraft. In 1985, the
second book, of the trilogy, The Way, was published and continued the theme
of the ancient Welsh Tradition of Love, Knowledge and Power. Y Tylwyth Teg
began providing face-to-face spiritual counseling for Pagans of many
traditions in the Southeast US. Y Tylwyth Teg began offering training for
it's Priest/esses, Covens and other Pagan Groups. Bangor Institute was
founded to provide a means whereby members of the Welsh Witchcraft tradition
and others could work toward entering the priest/esshood and acquire
specialized degrees associated with the ancient Bardic traditions.
Bangor was the first Pagan School to give
a Doctor of Divinity training program and Ordain Pagan ministers through the
Church of Y Tylwyth Teg. Pagan Grove Press changed it's name to Camelot
Press, Ltd. and published The Quest by Rhuddlwm Gawr and Marcy Edwards. The
Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the
thirteenth annual gathering of the Tribes held at Unicoi state park in
Helen, Georgia, a secluded state owned conference center in the forested
mountains of North Georgia.
In Fall of 1980 Y Tylwyth Teg sponsored
Sun Bear, a Lakota Sioux medicine man, to speak at a public seminar in
Athens, Georgia. Sun Bear later attended the thirteenth Gathering of the
Tribes at Unicoi, blessed Y Tylwyth Teg and all future Gatherings as "The
New Way" and presented a peace pipe to Rhuddlwm in honor of the purpose of
Camelot Press published The Witches
Herbal: Herbs of Welsh Witchcraft, and The Thirteen Mystical Treasures of
Welsh Witchcraft by Richard Lewis and Rhuddlwm Gawr.
The first Camelot-of-the-Wood finally
manifested in 1981. After five years of fund raising, land was found in
Northwest Georgia and purchase began. The purchase was kept secret except to
a select inner circle. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y
Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the fourteenth annual gathering of the Tribes held
at Unicoi State park in Helen, Georgia.
Camelot Press published Celtic Witchcraft
Meditation: Discovering Your Higher Self by Rhuddlwm Gawr as told by
Taliesin einion Vawr In 1982, Y Tylwyth Teg began sponsoring Pagan youth
education activities with programs of workshops, rituals, and other
activities for children and teens during the fifteenth Gathering of the
Tribes near Athens Georgia.
Camelot Press re-published Mysteries of
Welsh Faerie Witchcraft: by Rhuddlwm Gawr as told by Taliesin enion Vawr and
Dream Magic: Programming Your Dreams with Welsh Witchcraft.
In 1983, Camelot Press re-published Sex
Magick: Red Dragon Power and Celtic Witchcraft, and Welsh Witchcraft: An
Initiation Into the Celtic Tradition. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and
Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the sixteenth annual Gathering of the
Tribes held near Athens, Georgia, at a secluded nature center.
In 1984, Camelot Press published The Power
of Welsh Witchcraft: Psychic Development and the Old Religion, and Nature
Magick: Celtic Witchcraft and Psychic Healing. The Association of Cymry
Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the seventeenth annual
gathering of the Tribes held near Athens, Georgia, at a secluded nature
In 1985, Rhuddlwm met with Gwen Thompson,
founder of the Celtic Tradition in the United States. They agree to become
unofficially affiliated. Y Tylwyth Teg battled federal anti-Witchcraft
legislation. Y Tylwyth Teg staff helped with a nationwide campaign that
defeated the Helms amendment. Senator Jesse helms attempted to take away
federal church status from Wiccan churches. The amendment passed the US
Senate in late September and was in danger of becoming law. Thousands of
Wiccans and other Pagans joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and
others in expressing opposition to this piece of legislation. A network of
Pagan religious freedom activists including Y Tylwyth Teg formed a phone
tree across the Southeastern U.S. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church
of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the eighteenth annual gathering of the Tribes
held near Atlanta, Georgia, held on private land. Camelot Press published
The Way by Rhuddlwm Gawr.
In 1986 Lady Cerridwen joined Y Tylwyth
Teg and begins to reorganize the administrative and ministerial divisions.
The Coven of the Crystal Dragon relocated to Kennesaw, Georgia. The
Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the
nineteenth annual gathering of the Tribes held near Athens, Georgia, at
secluded nature center. The Word was published in May of that year. Camelot
Press re-published Celtic Paganism: Woman, Man, and Nature.
In 1987, Y Tylwyth Teg celebrated the 20th
Anniversary of its founding in the United States. Lady Gwynne passed on to
Summerland soon after Rhuddlwm and Gwynne meet for the second time.
Y Tylwyth Teg won a controversial
administrative court case regarding the ownership of a church post office
box in Athens, Georgia. In so doing the Judge declared in his ruling that
the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg is a legal Church, that Rhuddlwm Gawr is a legal
minister of that church, and that Witchcraft is a bona fide religion. Y
Tylwyth Teg won this intensive religious freedom battle on its own,
preparing its own legal briefs. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church
of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the twentieth annual gathering of the Tribes
held near Athens, Georgia, on private land. Camelot Press published Celtic
Crystal Magick, Vol.1 by Rhuddlwm Gawr.
In 1988, Camelot Press published Celtic
Crystal Magick, Vol. 2. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y
Tylwyth Teg, voted to have a closed Gathering for Initiatory, ritual and
business purposes near Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1989, Camelot Press published The
Threefold Cauldron: Celtic and Witchcraft Mythology. In June, Y Tylwyth Teg
sponsored the 21st Annual Gathering of the Tribes near Atlanta Georgia.
In 1990, Y Tylwyth Teg's networking
expanded its endeavors. Camelot Press published Re-linking with Nature:
Welsh Faerie Witchcraft - Cooperating With Nature Spirits by Merridden Gawr.
The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the
22nd annual Gathering of the Tribes at a site near Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1991, Y Tylwyth Teg helped organize the
protest of an anti-Witchcraft television series. Y Tylwyth Teg Staff and
other Pagan religious freedom activists such as Selena Fox and Margot Adler
helped lead a nationwide campaign against an anti-Witchcraft series being
developed by ABC television network for broadcast in the Fall season as a
weekly prime time drama. Thousands of Wiccans and other Pagans from
throughout the USA and elsewhere joined together in Paganism's largest
protest action yet. Throughout the Summer, they express their concerns about
false stereotyping and the villainizing of Witches, and finally, ABC dropped
Speakers for The 1991 Gathering of the
Tribes included Janet & Stewart Farrar, Otter and Morning Glory G'Zell,
Isaac Bonewits, and many others. During The Gathering of the Tribes, Y
Tylwyth Teg was instrumental in founding the Universal Federation of Pagans
(UFP). The purpose of this organization was to provide national and
international communications between members of the Pagan Community
In 1992, Dynion Mwyn hosted its first
internet web page. Camelot Press re-published A Witches Astrologer - The
Thirteen Keys of the Ancient Druids. The first Annual meeting of The
Universal Federation of Pagans was held at the twenty-fourth Gathering of
the Tribes in Gainesville, Georgia. Many leaders from throughout the U.S and
Canada attended. Lord Rhuddlwm Gawr of Y Tylwyth Teg, and Lady Amethyst of
Coven of the Royal Oak were elected Co-Facilitators. Y Tylwyth Teg helped
found the Southeastern Pagan Alliance (SEPA) to help network Pagans
regionally. This was the infamous Gathering which was flooded. Many heroes
appeared that night. The 1992 gathering was hereafter known as The Gathering
of the Waters."
In 1993 Camelot Press re-published The
Triads: The Wisdom of Welsh Witchcraft and The Nine Levels of Welsh
Witchcraft. The Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg,
celebrated the twenty-fifth annual gathering of the Tribes, in North Georgia
In 1994, Y Tylwyth Teg moved its internet
homepage to http://www.newageinfo.com/bus/cymry and again expanded its
services. Rhuddlwm Gawr graduated with a Ph.D. in Civil and Family Mediation
and is certified as a Family Mediator with the state of Georgia. The
Association of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the
twenty-sixth annual gathering of the Tribes held near Blairsville, Georgia,
at a secluded nature center. Camelot Press published Earth Energy: The Green
Dragon Power of Celtic Witchcraft, by Merridden Gawr.
In 1995, Camelot Press re-published The
Thirteen Mystical Treasures of Welsh Witchcraft. The Association of Cymry
Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the twenty seventh annual
gathering of the Tribes in North Georgia.
In 1996, Camelot Press re-published
Taliesin of the Radiant Brow: Secrets of Welsh Witchcraft. The Association
of Cymry Wiccae and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, celebrated the twenty eighth
annual gathering of the Tribes in North Georgia.
In April, 1997, Y Tylwyth Teg celebrated
the 30th Anniversary of its founding in the United States during twenty
ninth Annual Gathering of the Tribes at Fairy Glen Farm at Pendelton, S.C.
Speakers included Nigel Bourne and Seldiy Bates of London, England.
In April, 1998, Y Tylwyth Teg presented
the third revision of its website and moved to http://www.dynionmwyn.net. Y
Tylwyth Teg sponsored the 30th Gathering of the Tribes at Indian Springs
State Park, Georgia. Guests include druid author Ellen Hopman.
In 1999, Y Tylwyth Teg sponsored the 31st
annual Gathering of the Tribes at Indian Springs State Park, Georgia. .
Guests include Lady Maeve of the Y Tylwyth Tulluan of Ohio, Lord Athos and
Lady Caru of Y Tylwyth Teg, Ft Lauderdale FL. and many others. In December,
Lady Janet Partin, our Webmistress, died of a heart attack after reading a
death threat directed at the Tylwyth Teg web site. The sister of Taliesin
enion Vawr died in October, after an extended illness. She will be missed.
Lord Athos and Lady Caru transcribe several of Lord Rhuddlwm's books into
computer files and they are published on the Y Tylwyth Teg web pages.
In 2000, Taliesin enion Vawr, the last
family member of the Wynne tradition of Dynion Mwyn, Welsh Witchcraft, died
after many years of struggle with a terminal illness. Taliesin's knowledge
and wisdom will be missed. Y Tylwyth Teg sponsored the 32nd annual Gathering
of the Tribes at Etowah River Campgrounds, Georgia. . Guests include Lady
Maeve of the Y Tylwyth Tulluan of Ohio, Lord Athos and Lady Caru of Y
Tylwyth Teg, Ft Lauderdale FL. and many others.
In 2001, Y Tylwyth Teg sponsored the 33rd
annual Gathering of the Tribes at Etowah River Campgrounds, Georgia . There
are three pagan musical groups and much music. Guests include Lady Maeve of
the Y Tylwyth Tulluan of Ohio, Lord Athos and Lady Caru of Y Tylwyth Teg, Ft
Lauderdale FL. and many others. Y Tylwyth Teg was still alive and continued
to thrive despite continuous interference by the "Religious Right". Robert
Martin a teacher who worked with Taliesin enion Vawr contacted YTT in
Georgia and offers to help provide missing history of Dynion Mwyn in Wales.
YTT representatives sponsored several Study Groups lists on Yahoo. Lord
Athos and Lady Caru form a YTTFlorida Study Group List on Yahoo. Cerridwen
of Georgia forms a YTTGeorgia Study Group on Yahoo.. Lady Eilonwy forms a
second Florida YTT Study Group on Yahoo. Dynion Mwyn forms a second Study
Group on Yahoo.
In February 2002, Delyth from Wales
visited us at the Kennesaw covenstead. By march of 2002, YTT and Dynion Mwyn
together established over fifty YTT or Dynion mwyn online Study Groups.
February 2 Lord Rhuddlwm Retired from
active leadership of the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg. Lady Delyth resigned. Lord
Rhuddlwm continued to revise and re-publish his books. The 34th Gathering of
the Tribes was held at Etowah River Campgrounds in North Georgia.
November 16 Lord Rhuddlwm comes out of
retirement and incorporates The Celtic Church of Dynion Mwyn, Inc.; The
Association of Cymry Wiccae, Inc.; Camelot Press Group, Inc.; and Gathering
of the Tribes, Inc. The 35th Annual Gathering of the Tribes was postponed
because of weather til March 2005.
March 17 The Gathering of the Tribes was
held at Etowah River Campgrounds, GA.
April 27 The Gathering of the Tribes was
held at Elijah Clark State Park, GA. Maxine Sanders and Christopher Pencsak
were among the speakers.
The Gathering of the Tribes was held at
PanGaia Sanctuary in Georgia - Maxine returns.
There are now over seventy Study Group and
currently over three thousand students currently studying with Dynion Mwyn
and Y Tylwyth Teg.
The well known Welsh author, Jane Pugh
"...today there are strong witch covens
in Wales...in the north...(but) Do not ask questions about them, remembering
that Witchcraft is an old (and secret) religion, nearly as old as time
OTHER TRADITIONS OF
WICCAE AND WITCHCRAFT
An entire book could be written on
different traditions of Wicca and Witchcraft available today and here only a
handful are listed to give you some idea of the range and scope available.
FURTHER NOTES ON GARDNERIAN WICCA:
Gardnerian Wicca is generally coven based
although there are solitaries who have adapted it to suit. There is an oath
of secrecy protecting the knowledge of rituals, rites and practices,
although nowadays so much is in the public domain that this has become more
or less redundant. Gardnerians have an initiatory system of three degrees
commonly referred to as "First", "Second", and "Third" degree. Traditionally
only another Witch can make a Witch; however, it is possible to self
initiate as you will learn in later lessons. Those who have obtained a Third
Degree are referred to as either a High Priestess or High Priest and
generally Witches of this rank will run a coven. Gardnerians celebrate the
Goddess and God, have a program of seasonal celebrations, organize monthly
meetings around the Full Moon and practice a range of spell-craft and magic.
As we shall see, Gardnerian Wicca has provided the framework for a variety
of individuals and groups to create their own distinct traditions.
Perhaps the foremost and most widely
recognized of these traditions is Alexandrian Wicca. It was created in the
1960s by Alex Sanders with the help of his wife Maxine. Although Alex
claimed he was initiated into Witchcraft by his grandmother, it is now
generally agreed that this story isn’t true and that it is more likely that
somehow he got a copy of a Gardnerian Book of Shadows and adapted it .
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, the tradition is named after the ancient
library of Alexandria and not Sander’s first name. Maxine Sanders has said
that the name was suggested by famous Witch Stewart Farrar.
Sander’s system shares many similarities
to Gardnerian Wicca. Alexandrian practice is also coven based with a system
of three initiatory degrees, has as an emphasis on gender polarity, worships
the Goddess and God, celebrates the seasons and has monthly meetings around
the time of the Full Moon. It differs from Gardnerian Wicca in the use of
some magical tools, as well as a number of deity and elemental names. It
also incorporates Kabbalah, Ceremonial, and Enochian Magic into its rites.
Many Alexandrians and Gardnerians recognize that initiation into one
tradition is a qualification for another, so much so in fact that syntheses
exist such as the Algard Tradition created by Mary Nesnick in the United
It wasn’t long, though, before other
traditions were created that moved further away from the Gardnerian model
and the new religion began to spread far and wide. Raymond Buckland and his
wife Rosemary came to the USA from England in 1962. Disciples of Gardnerian
Wicca, they were among the first to introduce this tradition to the States.
A number of Raymond’s works have been influential. His Complete Book of
Witchcraft aims to provide the student with the means to achieve the
knowledge base of a Third Degree Witch , whilst at the same time not
expounding any one particular tradition. The book has been widely used
because of its flexibility, which has allowed the possibility of developing
one’s own particular style of Wicca. In the early 1970s, Buckland also wrote
The Tree, The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. This has been significant
for the development of Seax-Wicca. It differs from the
Gardnerian/Alexandrian traditions in a number of important ways. For
example, there is no degree structure and no oath of secrecy. The High
Priestess and Priest are chosen democratically by the coven members and are
elected annually to serve for a year and a day only, after which new leaders
can be voted for. The tradition also concentrates on Saxon deities, most
notably Woden and Freya, where the God rules the winter and the Goddess the
In the 1960s and early 1970s Wicca began
to reflect the rise of feminism within the USA and Europe, most famously in
the form of Dianic Wicca. This tradition falls into at least two distinct
paths, the most well-known of which was created by Californian Zsuzsanna
Budapest, whose type of Wicca is an all female, feminist tradition that
emphasizes women's rights. Contrary to popular belief, Dianic covens of this
type are not exclusively lesbian and rely on straight females to provide a
balance of energies. Another well-known branch, founded in Texas, was
brought into the world by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, and is
sometimes referred to as "Old Dianic". Here, both women and men primarily
participate in worshiping the Goddess, although the God is present as her
beloved consort. Despite the emphasis on the feminine, many of the views,
beliefs and practices of Dianic Wicca are similar to other more mainstream
Not all traditions of Witchcraft recognize
that they have their roots in Gardner’s system. There are a large number of
hereditary Witches who claim lineage completely independently of modern
Wicca. These are often strongly family based and their members can staunchly
defend the veracity of their historical claims. Others conclude that their
traditions are based either on a familial custom of fortune telling, the
practice of "cunning", folk magic or forms of shamanism and not Witchcraft.
You will have to decide for yourself what claims you are prepared to
Now an Article by Gwenfran Gwernan who
talks about Hereditary Witchcraft
The great difference between hereditary groups and others,
is that, like an inherited title, the hereditary group is entirely a family
affair - you were - and are - born into it. The family used to be very
extended, being rather a clan or tribe. There were two ways in which
outsiders could come in - by marriage or by blood brotherhood. This last
means that any man who had fought on the same side as a member of the clan
and been accepted as a blood brother, would be accepted into the clan.
The first thing one learns about it today are the stories
of the exploits the of the ancestors, and particularly of the First Father
and the First Mother. These parents of the clan are in fact the God and
Goddess, however much they may be hidden under legend and fairy story. They
are referred to as the Lord and Lady. The Lord was not only a great warrior,
but was also identified with an animal or bird, and often known by the name
or creature. It was therefore the totem of the clan and considered lucky to
it, even today. The Lady was the Goddess in all Her aspects.
During the last century there were, among the Celtic
families particularly, several revivals, some of which have kept going, and
of late, some members of the old families have started keeping the Festivals
again. There are one or two families that claim an unbroken tradition in
which the Old Religion and the keeping of the Festivals has never ceased.
Some have the tradition of their beliefs going right back to the Druids, and
cherish certain of their prophesies, such as, "A light from the East shall
come to you from the West. Cherish that light." So that when the eastern
Christianity came to Britain from Ireland, it was accepted. They recognised
it as their own faith. There was the Father, who was also the Son, and the
Mother who yet remained ever virgin, and the two religions ran together with
no difficulty in the eyes of those of the Old Religion. That is probably why
the Old Faith was left alone and did not disappear among the 'hereditary'
The hereditary groups do not use the word 'witch' nor the
word 'Craft'. A craft was a skill, as in the craft guilds; goldsmiths,
leather workers, masons and the like. In these the learner served as an
apprentice and went through varying degrees to journeyman, and finally to
Master of his Craft. The one guild that became open to men who were not
actually in the Mystery of the Craft was the Guild of the Masons and these
retained the degrees through which the actual learner-masons would have to
go. When there was a 'witchcraft' revival, much of the material was based on
the Masonic rituals, and one thing taken over was the degrees. The
hereditary groups who already had their Festival rituals do not have
degrees, and their rites, though celebrating the same yearly festivals, are
not like the rites of other groups.
The working is not done in a closed circle, but in a
'castle', which is 'raised'; this has four entrances, one at each point of
the compass, so there is no difficulty about leaving the working area, as
the doors can be opened and the bridges dropped at any one of them. This is
also done at Samhain, when all those who have been, are and will be of the
family, are invited to come to the yearly Great assembly.
Those who do join the family from outside are adopted into
the family by a process of rebirth as the child of the Lady, the first
mother, through her representative, the present female head of the clan.
This headship did and does not go by birth like a kingship, but is someone
chosen as being appropriate, and she may be succeeded by a daughter or by
any other woman considered suitable. The Lord is not necessarily her
consort, although he does represent the first Father as he has often been as
close relative such as her brother or uncle, or even her father. Some Lords
and Ladies remain in office into old age; others give up to the one they
have been training to take over much earlier on. There is normally a group
of elders, an inner circle who meet to determine how things should go, but
all assemblies are public, and all are encouraged to speak at them.
Most hereditary groups have stories of treasures that have
belonged to them in the past. I will mention two, to explain what sort of
things they actually were. Nearly all of them are a bit of a cheat, as they
are themselves 'riddles' which these groups were very given to. Many said
that they posessed a round table, and that this table had the property that,
however many sat around it to confer, it could accommodate any number. This
means that they sat in a ring out of doors, and the ring could be made
bigger however many turned up! Then there is the magic cauldron that
restored the dead to life - only that those restored could not speak. This
is quite true - they did have a cauldron in which the women who went with
the warbands made in readiness, a certain broth "that was sovereign for all
wounds". In fact, the numbers who would normally have died did not, because
of something the women knew how to prepare and use on wounds. As to not
speaking, it only meant that those healed had given their word not to tell
anything of their treatment, or the family posessing the 'magic cauldron'
would have lost their supremacy over other war bands!
Apart from these differences, the work and worship of
these hereditary families of the Old Religion are much like those of any
group. There is the keeping of the Festivals and the working of magic for
various intents and healing. Probably because of the Lord and Lady not
necessarily being consorts, there are not the sexual undertones that there
are in other branches of the Craft - that does not mean that the sexual
functions of the God and Goddess were ignored, but rather that they were so
much taken for granted that they needed no help other than the normal
practice among the clan.
These days hereditary groups do admit outsiders if they
are considered suitable. In this case, those admitted completely into the
family are adopted into the clan by an adoptive rebirth ritual, as in the
old days, while others will be admitted only into the outer circle of the
One thing that makes the hereditary group different from
others - at least in the ones which I know - is that no oath is ever
required of any member. This is because no one whose word could be doubted
would be considered fit to belong to the family. As they say,"Take no oaths;
do you not speak the truth?"
This article was written by Gwenfran Gwernan as a series
in the magazine 'Quest', and subsequently appeared in the booklet
'Introduction to Witchcraft', published by Quest, at BCM-SCL QUEST, London
WC1N 3XX .
Robert Cochrane (1931-1966),
English Witch, inspiration behind the 1734
tradition, and coiner of the term “Gardnarian.”
not committed suicide in 1966 it’s possible that
Modern Paganism would be vastly different.
Cochrane was one of the first English Witches to
come forward with a system and cosmology
different from that of Gerald Gardner (and his
initiates). His rituals were unique and high
energy, and when reading about them I get a
sense of great joy. Cochrane also took his
rituals outside and worked robed, taking
Witchcraft out of the parlor and back into
nature. His correspondence with American Joe
Wilson led to the establishment of the 1734
Tradition. Pick up Doreen Valiente’s The
Rebirth of Witchcraft and you get the sense
that she absolutely loved Cochrane’s rites, and
her book Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed
(written with Evan John Jones) is a “how to”
guide of Cochrane-style Craft.
Like many founding figures he has made
some debatable claims about being part of a hereditary coven asserting that
he was initiated into a Warwickshire group in England from the age of five.
Some have felt that he further stated that the tradition’s roots went back
to 1734 CE . However, it appears this view is based on a
misunderstanding, as for Cochranians the date is significant in the sense of
being a cryptic reference to the Goddess. His ideas appear in Justine
Glass’s Witchcraft, The Sixth Sense , although some Cochranians
say this work can be misleading. The tradition has a definite emphasis on
male mysteries, meditation and vision work.
Of course, all the types of Wicca and
Witchcraft so far discussed are coven and group based. However, over the
last three decades there has been an ever growing movement of solitary
Witches. As the name suggests, these Witches generally practice alone. They
are often eclectic in their approach, which means that they take aspects of
their practice from a number of sources and combine it into a unique
personal synthesis, although others will adapt a particular tradition.
Solitaries often see themselves as being highly creative and will write
their own rites and rituals, prayers and invocations. Some will go down the
route of self-initiation or dedication, whilst others see this as being
completely unnecessary. The solitary path is not an easy one and takes a lot
of determination and self discipline to be successful.
One type of Witchcraft often practiced
alone is that of the Hedge Witch. Hedge Witchcraft is not really Witchcraft
in the historical sense. The term has a recent origin and describes someone
who tends to work from home focusing on practical aspects of the Craft.
These include herbalism, magick, cooking, arts and crafts, Earth mysteries
and the elements. The Hedge "Witch" is often something of an eco-warrior and
involved with working for the benefit of the planet. Typically, they will
have a strict "green" attitude to their religion and life in general. Many
Hedge Witches who do not consider themselves as "religious" or Wiccan,
preferring instead to see themselves as an expression of deity and
emphasizing spontaneity within their practices as opposed to a defined
Wicca and Witchcraft has continued to
adapt with the times. The rise of the Internet in the late 1990s has meant
an explosion of related information in CyberSpace. This has taken a variety
of forms. Many sites provide a focal point in the form of forums, advice,
On-line Wiccan shopping, courses and mentoring. Sites that provide these
services are frequented by a variety of coven based Witches as well as
solitaries. Further, some Witches meet on the Net to carry out a range of
activities such as celebrations and the practice of magic. This can be
deeply frowned upon by some within the Craft who reckon on it having no
legitimacy or effectiveness; others, of course, take the opposite point of
view and see it as being very beneficial.
There are also a number of sites that
offer fully fledged traditions. Some can be disparaging of these, whilst
others are deeply committed to their organization. Supporters would say that
if you want to be a Witch you have to learn somewhere, and a good
interactive course, with an opportunity to discuss issues and get help from
an On-line community, can be far better than just learning from a book at
home. However, it is true to say that the Internet can be a mine field for
those seeking a magical education, and the student will need to be
discriminating about their choice of schooling. There are a number of sites
that will confer First, Second and Third Degree status in return for
payment. That’s a no no. No real Witchcraft group will initiate for money or
Some of these sites are little more than
outright scams. Whilst others provide training of a high quality, with
extensive detailed courses and mentoring, for a reasonable fee. Some, whilst
providing these quality services, charge monthly. The monthly payments can
be less than a membership at a gym, but still run into several hundred
pounds. Many will be happy enough to pay this, particularly if the service
is good. As always though, it pays to shop around; most reputable web based
Witch sites will give you various try before you buy schemes. Some, like
www.dynionmwyn.net, will even provide you with complete quality courses.
1 Llewellyn Folio 23, Pg. 14, in the
private collection of Marrig ap Llewellyn, Cardiff, Wales
2 The names given in the legends, the
Nemue and Nephilim, are not spelled this way in Welsh, but the English
pronunciation is a close translation.
3 Rhuddlwm gawr's copy of "the Book of
Dawn", copied from one written in 1923, and one of the Thirteen Treasures of
Y Tylwyth Teg. This legend, although seemingly far fetched, is also one of
the oldest recorded in our documents. It was said by the late Taliesin enion
Vawr, our past historian, to be over nine hundred years old. But,
there is no direct evidence as to it age.
4 Included in an obscure handwritten
booklet previously published by Gerald Llewellyn Wentworth, 1672
5 Included in Folio 31, pg 17, Marrig ap
6 William Skene, The Four Ancient books of
Wales, Edmundston & Douglas, Edinburgh, 1881
7 Hectaeus of Abdera, quoted by Diodorus
Siculus, 60-30 B.C.
8 Strabo, Geographica, from B. Tierney),
"The Celtic Ethnography of Posidonius", Proceedings of the Royal Irish
9 Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica
xxxi, pp 2-5
10 Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico (The
11 Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul
(trs. S.A. Handford) Harmondsworth, 1951
12 Oral tradition and Chronology of
Knowledge, dated 1942, Dynion Mwyn Family Copy
13 Rhys, J., Lectures of the Origin and
Growth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic Heathondom, "The Hibbert
Lectures for 1886", London 1888
14 A History of Wales from the earliest
times to the Edwardian Conquest, London, 3rd edition, 1939
15 John Davies, The History of Wales,
Penguin Press, London, 1993 pp 29
16 Carte, History of England
17 Sarah Llewellyn, Collected Writings of
the Gwyffed Family,
18 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio 13,
19 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio 28,
20 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
139, Page 14
21 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
141, Page 37
22 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
141, Page 39
23 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
142, Page 23
24 The Welsh Wars of Edward I, Oxford,
25 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
142, Page 27
26 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
143, Page 12
27 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
143, Page 17
28 Llewellyn Family Manuscripts, Folio
144, Page 95
29 Private Journal of Taliesin enion Vawr
30 Letters from Rhuddlwm Gawr to Sarah
Llewellyn Wentworth 1966
31 Letters from Rhuddlwm Gawr to Sarah
Llewellyn Wentworth 1966
32 Letters from Rhuddlwm Gawr to Sarah
Llewellyn Wentworth 1966
33 Letters from Rhuddlwm Gawr to Sarah
Llewellyn Wentworth and Taliesin Enion Vawr 1967
34 Organization Documents Church of Y
Tylwyth Teg, January 1967
35 Council of the Crystal Dragon
Proceedings May 30, 1967
36 Articles of Incorporation Documents,
and IRS Exemption Letter September, 1977
37 Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon,
38 Jane Pugh, Welsh Witches, Wales, 1987
39 Rough draft of Pembrokshire Witches and
Wizards, Brian John, 2000
40 A paper presented by Julia Phillips of
the defunct Pan Pacific Pagan Alliance (Australia); 1995
41 Conversations with Nigel Bourne of the
Pagan Federation (UK); 1998
42 E-mail conversation with Raymond
Buckland June 2002
43 Documents written by Taliesin Enion
Vawr of Dynion Mwyn tradition of Welsh Witchcraft, 1966 - 1999
44 An Annotated Chronology and
Bibliography of the Early Gardnerian Craft by Roger Dearnaley at (http://www.cyprian.org/Articles/gardchron.htm);
45 Notes on Gardnerian Witchcraft in
England by Fred Lamond at: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/5756/bgrdtrad.html);
46 Doreen Valiente's Bibliography at:
47 George Knowles site at (http://www.controverscial.com/)
48 Don Cardoza's History of Witchcraft at:
49 Bill Liddell's documents at (http://www.fortunecity.com/roswell/angelic/361
50 The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft
- by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 1998
Now, let me Introduce
an accomplished occultist and author. He is responsible for the
submission: The Legend and the Origin of Wicca:
I was born in 1946, and am also known
by his ecclesiastical name Tau Sir Hasirim, and am an American
occultist, ceremonial magician, UFOlogist, writer, editor, and
Gnostic Bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis, as a magical
egregoric title, rather than as a religious statement. I
reside near Atlanta, Georgia, andhavetravelled the world. My book,
The Story of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light is one of the few
sources of information on this subject. Another book, The Compleat
Rite of Memphis, is a comprehensive history of an Egyptian Rite of
Freemasonry, and I edited an authorized, annotated edition of the
work Liber Thirty-One by Charles Stansfeld Jones.
I was elected and consecrated a Bishop by the Holy Synod of the
Neopythagorean Gnostic Church in 1986. In 1987 I was extended
recognition as a Bishop within the Gnostic Catholic Church - Ordo
Templi Orientis (cOTO) and was consecrated in New York in November
1988. The episcopal title "Tau" is sometimes abbreviated as "T" and
prefixed to my legal name, and thus may also be referred to as T
Allen Greenfield. A former editor of the OTO journal LAShTAL,I have
more recently become a critic of that Order's upper management. In
February 2006, I called for their resignation and stepped down from
all managerial duties in protest, issuing a strong criticism of the
current Outer Head of that Order, William Breeze.
A past (elected) member of the Society for Psychical Research and
the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (from
1960), I have twice been the recipient of the "UFOlogist of the Year
Award" of the National UFO Conference (1972 and 1992). I am a
Borderland Science Research Associate (BSRA), and have conducted
on-site UFO and alien abduction investigations in Brooksville, FL,
Pascagoula, MS and Brown Mountain, NC. My book Secret Cipher of the
UFOnauts was reviewed by Robert Anton Wilson in his Everything is
Under Control. This review discusses how my thinking builds on the
principles established in Carl Jung's 1952 book, Flying Saucers: A
Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky. I am also a past President of
the Atlanta Science Fiction Organization (ASFOII), and the editor of
the periodical The Paraufologist.
I was consecrated by Tau Silenus, William Gary Keith Breeze in
Brooklyn NY on November 19, 1988. I cross consecrated with Tau
Apiryon, David Forrest Scriven in Atlanta GA December 10, 1993. I
was reconsecrated by Scriven, Lynn Scriven (Soror Helena) assisting
at the Scriven home in Riverside, California May 25, 1997.
Allen Greenfield was Elected to the
Episcopate by the Holy Synod of the Neopythagorean Gnostic Church
August 21, 1986, He was consecrated by Patriarch Bertiaux in Chicago
IL USA December 4 1993.
A statement on spiritual legacy by
Rt. Rev. T Allen Greenfield
Please note that, as Tau Michael Bertiaux has held, since June 16,
1979, all major independent lines of the traditional apostolic
succession through consecration at that time by Bishop Forest
Gregory Barber, all such lines flow to me by virtue of my
consecrations by Bertiaux. Bertiaux, later reconsecrated by Jorge
Rodriguez, then also consecrated me. In line with MY FORMER
ASSOCIATES AT “OTO’s” Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, Patriarch Tau
Silenus and Primate Tau Apiryon, I hold that there is a distinction
between, on the one hand, Spiritual Appointment and Consecration in
the lineage of Edward Alexander Crowley (Baphomet 33 * 90* 96* XI°
MA&P R MM) and, on the other, the traditional Apostolic Succession.
Both have their importance and validity. The issue is passage of
egregore and empowerment, not any particular faith or creed.
In my view, and, in having held
both, I believe I can render a rather well informed and detached
opinion on this. I held the succession of Baphomet as a Bishop “now
and forever” through Consecration by both the Absolute Grand
Patriarch of the Ordo Templi Orientis Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
(November 19, 1988 Brooklyn NY). While I am no longer associated
with EGC-OTO, I hold with the Augustinian doctrine “once a
bishop-always a bishop” though I claim -and would have -no authority
within OTO as of late July, 2006. As Tau Silenus recognized me in
writing unconditionally as Bishop in writing prior to my becoming an
OTO initiate, I maintain I hold the succession of Baphomet, such as
it is. Others are free to disagree; nobody questions my Full
Apostolic Succession, which is what counts magically.
The “Baphomet descent” doctrine
peculiar to the current OTO management was, in my opinion, a
reaction to questions about their own Apostolic Succession, and
nothing more, a silly over reaction typical of them.
I also hold the Latter Day Saints
succession through Bishop Conway, and the Doinel Succession through
various consecrations. The Honorary Title of “Rabbi” was recently
also given me by the Fellowship Assembly, which I accept in the
sense of being a “teacher of spirituality” in the Reform Jewish
What Allen Greenfield Really
It is my own conviction that verifiable spiritual powers are
demonstrably attributable to various lineages of spiritual
succession, be this the so-called “Succession of the Apostles”
(which descends from the ancient Roman State Religion through Roman
Christianity), various non-apostolic but similar lines of succession
(Latter Day Saints, Doinel Gnostic, New Aeon, et al), or blood
lineages as in the hereditary Hindu Brahmins or Hebrew Kohenim, from
which I descend. I profess only two fundamental convictions in these
endeavors: I advocate Scientific Illuminism, or the method of
science employed in pursuit of the aims of religion, and I holds
firmly to the conviction that the world as-it-is is
sufficiently unsatisfactory that exploration of almost any ethical
“out-of-the-box” alternative, however unconventional, is worth the
effort. We consider this Tikkun Olam, the attempt to improve the
world as envisioned in our native great Hebraic tradition.
I hold also with Tau Michael
Bertiaux that “Apostolic Succession” is of value as a continuation
of the most ancient priesthoods of Egypt and Rome through the
Christian communion, and that special mystical powers “objectively”
are transferred by consecration in these lineages. My particular
assertion is that this can be objectively verified through
scientific experimentation, similar to that performed in
parapsychology with spiritual healers. The legend of Ormus, the
Egyptian Priest converted in apostolic times to Christianity, and
transforming Egyptian Rites into a mode suitable to the Aeon of
Osiris is, at least allegorically, a fair hint of the orderly
continuity between ancient Near Eastern religions and the Christian
Succession in the Eastern Churches, making it a suitable vehicle for
continuity in our times. In the Western Churches, the Apostolic
Succession existed in the many currents of the long-enduring state
religion of Rome, which can be traced to the early Roman ruler Numa
Pompilius, founder of the College of Pontiffs and the office of
Pontifex Maximus, hundreds of years before Pauline Christianity;
passing through the Roman Imperial State as one with the Emperor as
Pontifex Maximus from the time of Julius Caesar until the Christian
Emperor Gratian renounced the title in 379 E.V., apparently in favor
of the Bishop of Rome, Pope Damasus I. According to the
Encyclopaedia Britannica, “The title pontifex was used of Roman
Catholic bishops and pontifex maximus of the pope by the end of the
4th century.” The continuity from the most ancient spiritual sources
should be obvious here, and its historical value in continuity for
the New Aeon equally valid, all other considerations and theories
aside. On April 24, 2010. Tau Sir Hasirim, with the assistance of
Tau Dositheos and Tau Lamed, reconsecrated sub condione, Tau + Sir
Leonis, the Most Rev Joe J. Payyapilly at Kwan Yin Temple, Woodstock
GA USA. Tau + Sir Leonis then reconsecrated sub conditione Tau
Dositheos, Tau Lamed, Tau Ishaviva, Tau Tula, Tau Roger and Tau Sir
Hasirim. This was followed by a reconsecration from each to each in
all lineages Gnostic and Apostolic.
He is the father of three sons. His eldest son, Alex Greenfield, is
a network television writer and producer.
I was born into traditional and Reform Judaism and remain an
adherent of Reform Judaism.
Copyright © 2010 by
All rights reserved.
(Allen made minor editorial changes to this article on 12-14-2010)
By Allen H. Greenfield, Bishop in the
"The fact is that the
instincts of ignorant people invariably find expression in some form of
witchcraft. It matters little what the metaphysician or the moralist may
inculcate; the animal sticks to his subconscious ideas ..."
— Aleister Crowley, The Confessions
"Gather together in the covens as
of old, whose number is eleven, that is also my number. Gather together
in public, in song and dance and festival. Gather together in secret, be
naked and shameless and rejoice in my name."
— Liber 49, The Book of Babalon, Jack Parsons, 1946
"If you are on the Path, and see
the Buddha walking towards you, kill him."
— Zen saying, paraphrased slightly
"Previously I never thought of
doubting that there were many witches in the world; now, however, when I
examine the public record, I find myself believing that there are hardly
— Father Friedrich von Spee, S.J., Cautio Criminalis, 1631
"...Yet as far as Merovingian Gaul
is concerned, there is no evidence to suggest that any of the pagan
religions persisted beyond the fifth century, and there is no pagan
religion with a ‘complex set of beliefs and practices reflecting man's
attitude to the supernatural' which can be identified or reconstructed
from the information provided by the sources."
— Yitzhak Hen, doctoral thesis, 1995
[This monograph has a long history.
The earliest published draft appeared in a small, independent radical
journal during my sojourn in Florida in the middle 1980s. I was at that
time closely associated with the OTO, but was not then an initiate
member. I had been in close contact with Wiccan and other Neopagan
groups at that time for over a decade.
I had been a welcome guest in many
Neopagan circles, from Northern California to Southern Florida, and was
widely, although inaccurately, described as a "Neopagan writer" (as in
Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon). I was frequently published in the
journal of the Church of All Worlds, Green Egg. Several years later, a
revised and updated version appeared in the first issue of LAShTAL, the
journal of Eulis Lodge OTO, which by then I had joined.
Since that time, the essay has been
repeatedly updated and revised. After I lost my bid for it, the copy of
Ye Book of Ye Arte Magical in the Ripley Collection was sold to a
private collector with pro Wiccan sympathies (or so I have heard) and
has disappeared from view, though I understand each page has been
photographed and will likely appear soon in facsimile, for all to judge
for themselves. I got a VERY good look at it, and expect no serious
A bootleg edition of this essay
appeared in Canada in 2003, but this version has never before been
published, and was prepared especially for this anthology. It was one of
the editor's selections—I claim no connection to, or responsibility for
any of the other selections published here, any more than I do for the
choice of titles of the volume itself. But this essay is a product of
some nearly twenty years of research and revision on my part. There are
conjectures that might be wrong, and certainly satirical points not
intended to be taken at face value, but it is a carefully measured,
honest appraisal of the origins of "the old religion" as it has called
itself, or Wicca. It is not an attack on a system of beliefs.
My bottom line is that Wicca is not
related historically in any way other than literary inspiration to any
aboriginal pagan religion. It is, in fact, a product of the 1930s and
'40s, hugely influenced by the rituals of Freemasonry, the Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). It, in
fact, is a errant direct descendent of an OTO encampment in London
chartered by Aleister Crowley, then the OTO Grand Master General, and
under direction of Crowley's student and would-be successor, Gerald
Gardner. It is interesting to observe that Crowley's Acting Master of
Agape Lodge OTO in America in the same period also wrote extensively a
few years later on a "revival of witchcraft".
The present revision includes newer
insights into the early claims concerning Gerald Gardner relative to his
status in the OTO. Several letters published by Bill Heidrick,
International Grand Treasurer General of the OTO, exchanged between Lady
Frieda Harris and both Karl Germer and Frederic Mellinger, immediately
after Aleister Crowley's death, add new insight. Br. Heidrick was kind
enough to provide me with copies of these letters in my preparations for
the previous revision of this essay. There is also an important letter
by Gerald Gardner to Vernon Symmonds, written during the same period. A
copy of the latter was kindly provided by Sabazius X°, the present U.S.
Grand Master General of the OTO. I have also carefully examined the
correspondence between Crowley and the Gnostic Bishop W.B. Crow, in
which Crowley explicitly refers to Gardner's encampment, indicating it
had a future as an OTO Lodge and urging Crow to work with it.
I have additionally had occasion to
closely examine the aforementioned writings of John Whiteside Parsons on
the subject of modern witchcraft, written during and at the end of the
same period. It is of more than passing interest that Ye Book of Ye Arte
Magical, the OTO Charter granted to Gerald Gardner by Aleister Crowley,
the writings by Parsons on witchcraft, the publication of High Magic's
Aid and the public emergence of Wicca all date from the same period,
Origins In Dreamland
Having spent the day musing over the
origins of the modern witchcraft, I had a vivid dream. It seemed to be a
cold January afternoon, and Aleister Crowley was having Gerald Gardner over
to tea. It was 1945, and talk of an early end to the war was in the air. An
atmosphere of optimism prevailed in the free world, but the wheezing old
Magus was having none of it.
"Nobody is interested in magick any
more!" Crowley ejaculated. "My friends on the Continent are dead or in
exile, or grown old; the movement in America is in shambles. I've seen
my best candidates turn against me ... Achad, Regardie ... even that
gentleman out in California, what's - his - name, AMORC, the one that
made all the money.."
"O, bosh, Crowley," Gardner waved his
hand impatiently, "all things considered, you've done pretty well for
yourself. Why, you've been called the 'wickedest man in the world' and
by more than a few. And you've not, if you'll pardon the impertinence,
done too badly with the ladies."
Crowley coughed, tugged on his pipe
reflectively. "You know" he finally ventured, "it's like I've been
trying to tell this boy Grant. A restrictive Order is not enough. If I
had it all to do over again, I would've built a religion for the
unwashed masses instead of just a secret society. Why, the
opportunities! The women! Poor dimwit kid; he just doesn't get the
point. Believes the mumbo-jumbo, I fear. I believe he reads Lovecraft or
Poe or one of those other unsavory American fantasists too much. But
you, Brother Gardner, you get what is needed."
Gardner smiled. "Precisely. And that
is what I have come to propose to you. Take your Book of the Law,
Gnostic Mass. Add a little razzle-dazzle for the unwashed country
folk. Why I know these occultists who call themselves 'witches'. They
dance around fires naked, get drunk, have a good time. Rosicrucians, I
think. Proper English country squires and dames, mostly. If I could
persuade you to draw on your long experience and talents, in no time at
all we could invent a popular cult that would have beautiful ladies
clamoring to let us strip them naked, tie them up and spank their
behinds! If, Mr. Crowley, you'll excuse my explicitness."
For all his infirmity, Aleister
Crowley almost sprang to his feet, a little of the old energy flashing
through his loins. "By George, Gardner, you've got something there, I
should think! I could license you to initiate people into the O.T.O.
today, and you could form the nucleus of such a group!"
He paced in agitation. "Yes, yes," he
mused, half to Gardner, half to himself. "The Book. The Mass. I could
write some rituals. An 'ancient book' of magick. A 'book of shadows'.
Priestesses, naked girls. Yes. By Jove, yes!"
Great story, but merely a dream, created
out of bits and pieces of rumor, history and imagination. Don't be
surprised, though, if a year or five years from now you read it as
'history'. There have been more post mortem sightings of Elvis than the
entire New Testament's reports of post mortem sightings of Jesus. In some
new learned text on the fabled history of Wicca, you may read about Crowley
and Gardner and spankings and naked witches. Such is the way all mythologies
come into being.
Please don't misunderstand me here; I use
the word 'mythology' in this context in its aboriginal meaning, and with
considerable respect. History is, in my experience, more metaphor than
factual accounting at best, and there are myths by which we live and others
by which we die. Myths are the dreams and visions which parallel objective
history. The myth-dream is the base out of which all great movements and
ideals seem to emerge. Myths are not facts, but at times they may be more
important than facts.
To arrive at some perspective on what the
modern mythos called, variously, "Wicca", the "Old Religion", "Witchcraft"
and "Neopaganism" is, we must firstly make a solid distinction; "witchcraft"
in the popular informally defined sense may have little to do with the
modern religion that goes by the same name. It has been argued by defenders
of and formal apologists for modern Wicca that it is a direct lineal
descendent of an ancient, indeed, prehistoric worldwide folk religion.
Some proponents hedge their claims,
calling Wicca a "revival" rather than a continuation of an ancient cult.
Oddly enough, there may never have been any such cult! The first time I met
someone who thought she was a witch, she started going on about being a
"blue of the cloak." I should've been warned right then and there. I merely
rolled my eyes.
In fact, as time has passed and the
religion has spread, the claims of lineal continuity have tended to be
hedged more and more. Thus, we find Dr. Gardner himself, in 1954, stating
unambiguously that some witches are descendants "... of a line of priests
and priestesses of an old and probably Stone Age religion, who have been
initiated in a certain way (received into the circle) and become the
recipients of certain ancient learning." (Gardner, Witchcraft Today,
Stated in its most extreme form, Wicca may
be defined as an ancient pagan religious system of beliefs and practices,
with a form of 'apostolic' succession (that is, with knowledge and
ordination handed on linearly from generation to generation), a more or less
consistent set of rites and myths, and even a secret holy book of
considerable antiquity (The Book of Shadows). Beliefs or convictions, a
coherent clergy and a holy text or texts are the characteristics that
identify virtually all religious movements. The question of antiquity and
lineal continuity is another matter.
More recent writers, as we have noted,
have hedged a good deal on these claims where Wicca is concerned. Thus we
find Stewart Farrar in 1971 musing on the purported ancient text thusly:
"Whether, therefore, the whole of the Book of Shadows is post-1897 is
anyone's guess. Mine is that, like the Bible, it is a patchwork of periods
and sources, and that since it is copied and re-copied by hand, it includes
amendments, additions, and stylistic alterations according to the taste of a
succession of copiers...Parts of it I sense to be genuinely old; other parts
suggest modern interpolation..." (Farrar, What Witches Do, pp. 34-35)
As we shall discover presently, there appear to be no genuinely old copies
of the Book of Shadows.
Still, as to the mythos, Farrar informs us
that the "two personifications of witchcraft are the Horned God and the
Mother Goddess..." (ibid., p 29) and that the "Horned God is not the Devil,
and never has been. If today 'Satanist' covens do exist, they are not
witches but a sick fringe, delayed-reaction victims of a centuries-old
Church propaganda in which even intelligent Christians no longer believe..."
(ibid., p 32).
If one is then to protest, 'very well,
some case might be made for the Horned God being mistaken for the Christian
Devil (or should that be the other way around?), but what record, prior to
the advent 50 years ago of modern Wicca via Gerald Gardner, do we have of
the intact survival of a mother goddess image from ancient times?
Wiccan apologists frequently refer to the
(apparently isolated) tenth century Church document which states that "some
wicked women, perverted by the Devil, seduced by the illusions and phantasms
of demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of the night to ride
upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, or with Herodias, and
an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead of night
to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as of their
mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights." (Quoted in
Valiente, Witchcraft For Tomorrow, Hale, 1978, p 32. and by Kramer
and Sprenger in the Montague Summers' translation of The Hammer Of
Witches.) This document dates from early post-Roman Europe. Some form of
intact quasi pagan folk beliefs did survive through this period; even as
late as the High Middle Ages it survived among the Vikings of Northern
Europe. Human Sacrifice was practiced at Old Uppsala well into the High
Middle Ages. However, the historical record in Europe and later in the
Americas generally suggests that, once Christian missionaries began to
proselytize in a given area, conversion was astonishingly rapid and pagan
beliefs and even most customs rapidly faded. In more recent times, the total
conversion in a single generation documented in Mexico and Peru following
the Spanish conquest provides substantial proof of the thoroughness of this
process. In earlier times, such works as Yitzhak Hen's Culture And
Religion In Merovingian Gaul A.D. 481-751 show the same pattern of rapid
conversion, not just in name but in substance, both in the cities and the
countryside. Of course some customs and folklore from paleopagan times exist
worldwide, but there has never been any evidence of a link to modern Wicca,
other than a literary one. In the mystical sense, a Piscean religion best
suited a Piscean Aeon, and Christianity offered answers to the questions of
death and morality in a spiritual context poorly dealt with in both the
State Pagan Religion of Rome and the Celtic, Germanic and other folk beliefs
of Europe. Christianity prevailed because it better met the needs of the
times in which it grew and prospered. It is characteristic of all ideologies
either the rise, prosper, decline and fall, or, alternately, radically
mutate. The pagan religions of the pre-Roman world simply did not evolve
into something that met the spiritual needs of the imperial and medieval
eras in which Christianity and later Islam entered the marketplace of ideas.
Morris dancing and maypoles aside, what remained of predecessor cults are
largely a grab-bag of mythical early saints and the Easter Bunny. But eggs
and bunny rabbits do not a religion make.
Farrar, for his part, explains the lack of
references to a goddess in the testimony at the infamous witch trials by
asserting that "the judges ignored the Goddess, being preoccupied with the
Satan-image of the God ..." (What Witches Do, p 33). Unfortunately
for this school of thought, it is the evidence of that reign of terror which
lasted from roughly 1484 to 1692 which brings the whole idea of a surviving
religious cult into question. Largely discredited authorities such as Dr.
Margaret Murray to the contrary, the conventional wisdom on the witch
burning mania which swept like a plague over much of Europe during the
transition from medieval world to modern is that it was just that; a
mania, a delusion in the minds of Christian clergymen and state authorities;
that is, there were no witches, only the innocent victims of the witch hunt.
Further, this humanist argument goes, the 'witchcraft' of Satanic worship,
broomstick riding, of Sabats and Devil-marks, was a rather late invention,
borrowing but little from remaining memories of actual pre Christian
paganism. We have seen that the infamous inquisitors Kramer and Springer
knew full well the early account mentioned above, and classical paganism as
a literary knowledge has never been forgotten. We saw a resurrection of this
mania in the 1980s flurry over 'Satanic sacrificial' cults, with as little
evidence. The story still gets retold in the 21st Century on occasion, in
"The concept of the heresy of witchcraft
was frankly regarded as a new invention, both by the theologians and by the
public," writes Dr. Rossell Hope Robbins in The Encyclopedia Of
Witchcraft & Demonology, (Crown, 1959, p.9) "Having to hurdle an early
church law, the Canon Episcopi, which said in effect that belief in
witchcraft was superstitious and heretical, the inquisitors caviled by
arguing that the witchcraft of the Canon Episcopi and the witchcraft of the
Inquisition were different..."
The evidence extracted under the most
gruesome and repeated tortures resemble the Wiccan religion of today in only
the most superficial fashion. Though Wicca may have been framed with the
"confessions" extracted by victims of the inquisitors in mind, those
"confessions" —which are more than suspect, to begin with, bespeak a cult of
devil worshipers dedicated to evil.
One need only read a few of the accounts
of the time to realize that, had there been at the time a religion of the
Goddess and God, of seasonal circles and The Book of Shadows, such would
likely have been blurted out by the victims, and more than once. The agonies
of the accused were, almost literally, beyond the imagination of those of us
who have been fortunate enough to escape them.
The witch mania went perhaps unequaled in
the annals of crimes against humanity en masse until the Hitlerian brutality
of the last century. But, no such confessions were forthcoming, though the
wretches accused, before the torture was done, would also be compelled to
condemn their own parents, spouses, loved ones, even children. They
confessed, and to anything the inquisitors wished, anything to stop or
reduce the pain.
A Priest, probably at risk to his own
life, recorded testimony in the 1600s that reflected the reality underlying
the forced "confessions" of "witches". Rev. Michael Stapirius records, for
example, this comment from one "confessed witch": "I never dreamed that by
means of the torture a person could be brought to the point of telling such
lies as I have told. I am not a witch, and I have never seen the devil, and
still I had to plead guilty myself and denounce others...." All but one copy
of Father Stapirius' book were destroyed, and little wonder.
A letter smuggled from a German
burgomaster, Johannes Junius, to his daughter in 1628, is as telling as it
is painful even to read. His hands had been virtually destroyed in the
torture, and he wrote only with great agony and no hope. "When at last the
executioner led me back to the cell, he said to me, 'Sir, I beg you, for
God's sake, confess something, whether it be true or not. Invent something,
for you cannot endure the torture which you will be put to; and, even if you
bear it all, yet you will not escape, not even if you were an earl, but one
torture will follow another until you say you are a witch. Not before that,'
he said, 'will they let you go, as you may see by all their trials, for one
is just like another...'" (ibid., pp. 12-13)
For the graspers at straws, we may find an
occasional line in a "confession" which is intriguing, as in the notations
on the "confession" of one woman from Germany dated in late 1637. After days
of unspeakable torment, wherein the woman confesses under pain, recants when
the pain is removed, only to be moved by more pain to confess again, she is
asked: "How did she influence the weather? She does not know what to say and
can only whisper, Oh, Heavenly Queen, protect me!"
Was the victim calling upon "the Goddess"?
It seems far more likely, in my judgment, that she was calling upon that
transfiguration of all ancient goddesses in Christian mythology, the Virgin
Mary. One more quote from Dr. Robbins, and I will cease to parade late
medieval history before you.
It comes from yet another priest, Father
Cornelius Loos, who observed, in 1592 that "Wretched creatures are compelled
by the severity of the torture to confess things they have never done, and
so by cruel butchery innocent lives are taken....." (ibid., p 16). The
"evidence" of the witch trials indicates, on the whole, neither the Satanism
the church and state would have us believe, nor the pagan survivals now
claimed by modern Wicca; rather, they suggest only fear, greed, human
brutality carried out to bizarre extremes that have few parallels in all of
history. But, the brutality is not that of 'witches' nor even of 'Satanists'
but rather that of the Christian Church, and the government.
What, then, are we to make of modern
Wicca? It must, of course, be observed as an aside that in a sense
witchcraft or "wisecraft" has, indeed, been with us from the dawn of time,
not as a coherent religion or set of practices and beliefs, but as the folk
magic and medicine that stretches back to early, possibly Paleolithic tribal
shamans on to modern China's so-called "barefoot doctors". But this is
folklore and folkcraft, not a religion.
In another sense, we can also say that
ceremonial magick, as I have previously noted, has had a place in history
for a very long time, and both these ancient systems of belief and practice
have intermingled in the lore of modern Wicca, as apologists are quick to
But, to an extent, this misses the point
and skirts an essential question anyone has the right to ask about modern
Wicca—namely, did Wicca exist as a coherent creed, a distinct form of
spiritual expression, prior to the 1940s; that is, prior to the meeting of
minds between the old magus and venerable prophet of the occult world
Aleister Crowley, and the first popularizer, if not outright inventor of
modern Wicca, Gerald Brosseau Gardner?
There is certainly no doubt that bits and
pieces of ancient paganism survived into modern times in folklore and, for
that matter, in the very practices and beliefs of Christianity.
Further, there appears to be some evidence
that 'Old George' Pickingill and others were practicing some form of Satanic
folk magick as early as the latter part of the 19th century, though even
this has recently been brought into question. Wiccan writers have made much
of this in the past, but just what 'Old George' was doing is subject to much
Doreen Valiente, an astute Wiccan writer
and one-time intimate of the late Dr. Gardner (and, in fact, the author of
some rituals now thought by others to be of "ancient origin"), says of
Pickingill that so "fierce was 'Old George's dislike of Christianity that he
would even collaborate with avowed Satanists..." (Tomorrow, p 20).
What George Pickingill was doing is simply not clear. That it was not the
religion identified today as "Wicca" is much clearer.
He is said to have had some interaction
with a host of figures in the occult revival of the late nineteenth century,
including perhaps even Crowley and his teacher Bennett. It seems possible
that Gardner, about the time of meeting Crowley, had some involvement with
groups stemming from Pickingill's earlier activities, but it is only
after Crowley and Gardner meet that we begin to see anything resembling
the modern spiritual communion that has become known as Wicca.
"Witches," wrote Gardner in 1954, "are
consummate leg-pullers; they are taught it as part of their stock-in-trade."
(Witchcraft Today, p 27) Modern apologists both of Aleister Crowley
AND Gerald Gardner have taken on such serious tones as well as pretensions
that they may be missing places where tongues are firmly jutting against
Both men were believers in fleshly
fulfillment, not only as an end in itself but, as in the Tantric Yoga of the
East, as a means of spiritual attainment. A certain prudishness has crept
into the practices of post Gardnerian Wiccans, especially in America since
the 1960s, along with a certain pseudo feminist revisionism. This has
succeeded to a considerable extent in converting a libertine sex cult into a
rather staid Neopuritanism.
The original Gardnerian current is still
well enough known and widely enough in vogue (in Britain and Ireland
especially) that one can venture to assert that what Gardnerian Wicca is all
about is the same thing Crowley was attempting with a more narrow, more
intellectual constituency with the magical orders under his direct
These Orders had flourished for some time,
but by the time Crowley "officially" met Gardner in the 1940s, much of the
former's lifelong efforts had, if not totally disintegrated, were then
operating at a diminished and diminishing level.
Through his long and fascinating career as
Magus and organizer, there is some reason to believe that Crowley
periodically may have wished for, or even attempted to, create a more
populist expression of magical religion. The Gnostic Mass, which Crowley
wrote fairly early-on, had come since his death to somewhat fill this
function through the OTO-connected but (for a time) semi-autonomous Gnostic
Catholic Church (EGC, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica).
As we shall see momentarily, one of
Crowley's key followers was publishing manifestos forecasting the revival of
witchcraft at the same time Gardner was being chartered by Crowley to
organize an OTO encampment. The OTO itself, since Crowley's time, has taken
on a more popular image and a considerably larger membership, and is
somewhat less elitist and more oriented towards international organizational
efforts, thanks largely to the work under the Caliphate of the late Grady
McMurtry, an American direct student of Crowley's. This contrasts sharply
with the very internalized OTO that barely survived during the McCarthy Era,
when the late Karl Germer was in charge, and the OTO turned inward for two
decades. (On the other hand, Germer when seen less as an active Grand Master
and more as a Conservator of ideas and rites in a "dark age" comes off a
good deal better.)
The famous Ancient and Mystic Order of the
Rose Cross (AMORC), the highly successful mail-order spiritual fellowship,
was an OTO offspring in Crowley's time. It has been claimed that Kenneth
Grant and Aleister Crowley were discussing relatively radical changes in the
Ordo Templi Orientis at approximately the same time that Gardner and Crowley
were interactive. Indeed, Crowley's correspondence and conversations with
his eventual successor Grady McMurtry suggest that in his last years the old
Magus envisioned the need for a new generation of leaders with new ideas.
Gardner was never a designated Crowley successor, but he was certainly on
Crowley's 'short list' at the end of World War Two.
Though Wiccan writers give some lip
service (and, no doubt, some sincere credence) to the notion that the
validity of Wiccan ideas doesn't depend upon its lineage, the suggestion
that Wicca is — or, at least, started out to be — essentially a late attempt
at popularizing the secrets of ritual and sexual magick Crowley promulgated
through the OTO and his writings, seems to evoke nervousness, if not
One notes gross animosity or a certain
culpable nervousness. We hear from Wiccan writer and leader Raymond Buckland
that one "of the suggestions made is that Aleister Crowley wrote the rituals
... but no convincing evidence has been presented to back this assertion
and, to my mind, it seems extremely unlikely ..." (Gardner, ibid.,
introduction) The Wiccan rituals I have seen DO have much of Crowley in
them. Yet, as we shall see in presently, the explanation that 'Crowley wrote
the rituals for Gardner' turns out to be somewhat in error. But it is on the
Doreen Valiente attempts to invoke
Crowley's alleged infirmity at the time of his acquaintance with Gardner:
"It has been stated by Francis King in his
Ritual Magic In England that Aleister Crowley was paid by Gerald Gardner
to write the rituals of Gardner's new witch cult...Now, Gerald Gardner never
met Aleister Crowley until the very last years of the latter's life, when he
was a feeble old man living at a private hotel in Hastings, being kept alive
by injections of drugs... If, therefore, Crowley really invented these
rituals in their entirety, they must be about the last thing he ever wrote.
Was this enfeebled and practically dying man really capable of such a tour
de force? "
The obvious answer, as the late Dr. Israel
Regardie's introduction to the posthumously published collection of
Crowley's letters, Magick Without Tears, implies, would be yes.
Crowley continued to produce extraordinary material almost to the end of his
life, and much of what I have seen of the "Wiccan Crowley" is, in any case,
of earlier origin. I have read a letter written by Crowley in September of
1947 which is sound, coherent and to the point. From Lady Freida Harris's
description, it would seem that Crowley was quite in control until the last
few days of his life, at the end of that year. He was elderly, quite ill and
passed on. Only a few months earlier he had busily been coaching Gardner on
the proposed London OTO body, and writing serious letters to his remaining
Gerald Gardner is himself not altogether
silent on the subject. In Witchcraft Today (p 47), Gardner asks
himself, with what degree of irony one can only guess at, who, in modern
times, could have invented the Wiccan rituals. "The only man I can think of
who could have invented the rites," he offers, "was the late Aleister
Crowley ... possibly he borrowed things from the cult writings, or more
likely someone may have borrowed expressions from him ..." A few legs may be
being pulled here, and perhaps more than a few.
As a prophet ahead of his time, as a poet
and dreamer of daring dreams, Crowley is one of the outstanding figures of
the twentieth (or any) century. As an organizer, he was almost as much of a
calamity as he was at managing his own finances ... and personal life. As I
understand the liberatory nature of the magical path, one would do well to
see the difference between Crowley the prophet of Thelema and Crowley the
insolvent and awkward administrator.
Crowley very much lacked the common touch;
Gardner was above all things a popularizer. Both men have been reviled as
lecherous "dirty old men" — Crowley, as a seducer of women and a homosexual,
a drug addict and 'Satanist' rolled together.
Gardner was, they would have it, a voyeur,
exhibitionist and bondage freak with a 'penchant for ritual' to borrow a
line from The Story Of O. Both were, in reality, spiritual libertines
with a purpose, ceremonial magicians who did not shy away from the awesome
force of human sexuality and its potential for spiritual transformation as
well as physical gratification.
I will not say with finality at this point
whether Wicca is an outright invention of these two divine mountebanks and
magi. If so, more power to them, and to those who truly follow in their
path. I do know that, between 1945 and 1947, Crowley met with Gardner, and
gave him license to organize an OTO encampment. This was, as it turns out, a
serious effort by Crowley to establish a new OTO presence in Britain. As
late as May of 1947 we have seen letters from Crowley to one of his key
associates urging the latter to send his followers in London to Dr. Gardner
so that they might receive proper initiation in OTO through Gardner's OTO
Camp, which Crowley anticipated being in operation in a matter of weeks.
After Crowley's death his close collaborator, Lady Harris, thought Gardner
to be Crowley's successor as head of the OTO in Europe. Gardner claimed as
much himself. See below.
Shortly thereafter, the public face of
Wicca came into view, and that is what I know of the matter: I presently am
the designated curator of Gardner's certificate of license to organize said
OTO camp, signed and sealed by Aleister Crowley. The certificate and its
import are examined in connection with my personal search for the original
Book of Shadows in the next section of this narrative.
For now, though, let us note in the years
since Crowley chartered Gardner to organize a magical encampment, Wicca has
both grown in popularity and become, to my mind, something far less real
than either Gardner or Crowley could have wanted or foreseen. Wherever they
came from, the rites and practices which came from or through Gerald Gardner
were strong, and tapped into that archetypal reality, that level of
consciousness beneath the mask of polite society and conventional wisdom
which is the function of True Magick.
At a popular level, this was the "Tantric"
Sex Magick of the West. Whether this primordial access has been lost to us
will depend on the awareness, the awakening or lack thereof among
practitioners of the near to middle-near future. Carried to its end
Gardnerian practices, like Crowley's magick, are not merely exotic; they
are, in the truest sense, subversive and transformative.
Practices that work are of value,
whether they are two years old or two thousand. Practices, myths,
institutions and obligations which, on the other hand, may be infinitely
ancient are of no value at all unless they work.
The Devil, you say
Before we move on, though, in light of the
furor over real and imagined "Satanism" that has overtaken parts of the
popular press in recent decades on an on again, off again basis, I would
feel a bit remiss in this account if I did not take momentary note of that
other strain of left-handed occult mythology, Satanism. Wiccans are correct
when they say that modern Wicca is not Satanic, that Satanism is "reverse
Christianity" whereas Wicca is a separate, non Christian religion.
Still, it should be noted, so much of our
society has been grounded in the repressiveness and authoritarian moralism
of what passes for Christianity that a liberal dose of "counter
Christianity" is to be expected, if not welcomed. The Pat Robertsons of the
world make possible the Anton LeVays. In the long history of repressive
religion, a certain fable of Satanism has arisen. It constitutes a mythos of
its own. No doubt, misguided 'copycat' fanatics have sometimes misused this
mythos, in much the same way that Charles Manson misused the music and
culture of the 1960s.
True occult initiates have always regarded
the Ultimate Reality as beyond all names and description. Named 'deities'
are, therefore, largely symbols. "Isis" is a symbol of the long-denied
female component of deity to some occultists. "Pan" or "The Horned God" or
"Set" or even "Satan" are symbols of unconscious, repressed sexuality; hot,
primal and as raw as the scorch of the desert Sun a midday. To the
occultist, there is no Devil, no "god of evil." There is, ultimately, only
the Ain Sof Aur of the Qabala; the limitless light of which we are but a
frozen spark. Evil, in this system, is the mere absence of light. All else
The goal of the occult path of initiation
is balance. In Freemasonry and High Magick, the symbols of the White
Pillar and Black Pillar represent this balance between conscious and
In Gardnerian Wicca, the Goddess and
Horned God - and the Priestess and Priest, represent that balance. There is
nothing, nothing whatever of pacts with the "Devil" or the worship of evil
in any of this; that belongs to misguided ex Christians who have been given
the absurd fundamentalist Sunday school notion that one must choose the
exoteric Christian version of God, or choose the Devil. Judaism, Mormonism,
and even Catholicism have at one time or another been thought "Satanic," and
occultists have merely played on this bigoted symbolism, not subscribed to
As we have seen, Wicca since Gardner's
time has been watered down in many of its expressions into a kind of mushy
white-light 'New Age' religion, with far less of the strong sexuality
characteristic of Gardnerian Wicca, though, also, sometimes with less
pretense as well.
In any event, Satanism has popped up now
and again through much of the history of the Christian Church. The medieval
witches were not likely to have been Satanists, as the Church would have it,
but, as we have seen, neither were they likely to have been "witches" in the
Wiccan sense, either.
The Hellfire Clubs of the Eighteenth
Century were mockingly Satanic, and groups like the Process Church of the
Final Judgment do, indeed, have Satanic elements in their (one should
remember) essentially low-church fundamentalist Christian theology.
Aleister Crowley, ever theatrical, was
prone to use Satanic symbolism in much the same way, tongue jutting in
cheek, as he was given to saying that he "sacrificed hundreds of children
each year," that is, that he was sexually active. Crowley once called a
press conference at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, where he announced
that he was burning his British Passport to protest Britain's involvement in
World War One or (in another version) Britain's repression of Ireland. He
tossed an empty envelope into the water. He was, in fact, probably at that
time a part-time British intelligence agent trying to bring the United
States into World War One on the British side.
The most popular form of "counter
Christianity" to emerge in modern times, though, was the late Anton Szandor
LaVey's San Francisco-based Church of Satan, founded April 30, 1966. LaVey's
Church enjoyed an initial burst of press interest, grew to a substantial
size as a kind of swinger's club with occult trappings, and appeared to
maintain itself during the cultural decay of the 1970s. But LaVey's books,
The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, have remained in
print for many years, and his ideas seem to enjoy a periodic renewal of
interest, especially among younger people, goths and heavy metal fans with a
death-wish mostly, beginning in the middle years of the 1980s. By that time
the Church of Satan had become more decentralized and was largely succeeded
— ideologically if not numerically — by the Temple of Set. The movement has
outlived LeVay. But his "Satanism", one should remember, is pure theater or
psychodrama; more in the nature of acting-out psychotherapy than religion.
It is interesting to note Francis King's
observation that before the Church of Satan began LaVey was involved in an
occult group which included, among others, underground film maker Kenneth
Anger, a person well known in Crowley circles. Of the rites of the Church of
Satan, King states that "...most of its teachings and magical techniques
were somewhat vulgarized versions of those of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi
Orientis." (Man Myth And Magic, p 3204.) To which we might add that,
as with the OTO, the rites of the Church of Satan and Temple of Set are
manifestly potent in their primal energy, but hardly criminal or murderous.
At their worst, they are merely silly.
LaVey, like Gardner and unlike Crowley,
appears to have had "the common touch" — perhaps rather more so than
Gardner. This attraction was, however, caught up in the hedonism of the
1970s, and has little to say by the end of the 20th Century.
I determined to trace the Wiccan rumor to
its source. As we shall see, in the very year I "fell" into being a Gnostic
Bishop, I also fell into the original charters, rituals and paraphernalia of
The Charter And The Book
Being A Radical Revisionist History of
the Origins of the Modern Witch Cult and The Book of Shadows.
"G. B. Gardner . . . is head of the O.T.O.
in Europe." Lady Frieda Harris, letter to Karl Germer, January 2, 1948
"It was one of the secret doctrines of
paganism that the Sun was the source, not only of light, but of life. The
invasion of classical beliefs by the religions of Syria and Egypt which were
principally solar, gradually affected the conception of Apollo, and there is
a certain later identification of him with the suffering God of
Christianity, Freemasonry and similar cults"
— Aleister Crowley in Astrology, 1974
"if GBG and Crowley only knew each other
for a short year or two, do you think that would be long enough for them to
become such good friends that gifts of personal value would be exchanged
several times, and that GBG would have been able to acquire the vast
majority of Crowley's effects after his death?"
— Merlin the Enchanter, personal letter, 1986
"...On the floor before the altar, he
remembers a sword with a flat cruciform brass hilt, and a well-worn
manuscript book of rituals - the hereditary Book of Shadows, which he will
have to copy out for himself in the days to come..."
— Stewart Farrar in What Witches Do, 1971
"...the Gardnerian Book of Shadows is one
of the key factors in what has become a far bigger and more significant
movement than Gardner can have envisaged; so historical interest alone would
be enough reason for defining it while first-hand evidence is still
Janet and Stewart Farrar in The Witches'
"It has been alleged that a Book of
Shadows in Crowley's hand-writing was formerly exhibited in Gerald's Museum
of Witchcraft on the Isle of Man. I can only say I never saw this on either
of the two occasions when I stayed with Gerald and Donna Gardner on the
island. The large, handwritten book depicted in Witchcraft Today is not in
Crowley's handwriting, but Gerald's..." Doreen Valiente in Witchcraft for
"Aidan Kelly. . . labels the entire Wiccan
revival 'Gardnerian Witchcraft . . . ' The reasoning and speculation in
Aidan's book are intricate. Briefly, his main argument depends on his
discovery of one of Gardner's working notebooks, Ye Book of Ye Art Magical,
which is in possession of Ripley International, Ltd......" Margot Adler in
Drawing Down the Moon, 1979
Waiting For The Man From Canada
I was, for the third time in four years,
waiting a bit nervously for the Canadian executive with the original Book of
Shadows in the ramshackle office of Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.
"They're at the jail," a smiling
secretary-type explained, "but we've called them and they should be back
over here to see you in just a few minutes."
The jail? Ah, St. Augustine, Florida. "The
Old Jail," was the 'nation's oldest city's' second most tasteless tourist
trap, complete with cage-type cells and a mock gallows. For a moment I
allowed myself to play in my head with the vision of Norm Deska, Ripley
Operations Vice President and John Turner, the General Manager of Ripley's
local operation and the guy who'd bought the Gerald Gardner collection from
Gardner's niece, Monique Wilson, sitting in the slammer. But no, Turner
apparently had just been showing Deska the town. I straightened my ice cream
suit for the fiftieth time, and suppressed the comment. We were talking BIG
history here, and big bucks, too. I gulped. The original Book of Shadows.
It had started years before. One of the
last people in America to be a fan of carnival sideshows, I was anxious to
take another opportunity to go through the almost archetypally seedy old
home that housed the original Ripley's Museum.
I had known that Ripley had, in the
nineteen seventies, acquired the Gardner stuff, but as far as I knew it was
all located at their Tennessee resort museum. I think I'd heard they'd
closed it down. By then, the social liberalism of the early seventies was
over, and witchcraft and sorcery were no longer in keeping with a 'family
style' museum. It featured a man with a candle in his head, a Tantric skull
drinking cup and freak show stuff like that, but, that, apparently, was
deemed suitable family fun.
I was a bit surprised, then, when I
discovered some of the Gardner stuff - including an important historical
document, for sale in the gift shop, in a case just opposite the little
alligators that have "St. Augustine, Florida - America's Oldest City"
stickered on their plastic bellies for the folks back home to use as a
paper-weight. The price tags on the occult stuff, however, were way out of
Back again, three years later, and I
decided, what the hell, so I asked the cashier about the stuff still
gathering dust in the glass case, and it was like I'd pushed some kind of
Out comes Mr. Turner, the manager, who
whisks us off to a store room which is filled, filled I tell you,
with parts of the Gardner collection, much of it, if not "for sale" as such,
at least available for negotiation. Mr. Turner told us about acquiring the
collection when he was manager of Ripley's Blackpool operation, how it had
gone over well in the U.S. at first, but had lost popularity and was now
relegated for the most part to storage status.
Visions of sugarplums danced in my head.
There were many treasures here, but the biggest plum of all, I thought, was
not surprisingly, not to be seen.
I'd heard all kinds of rumors about the
Book of Shadows over the years, many of them conflicting, all of them
intriguing. Rumor #1, of course, is that which accompanied the birth (or,
depending on how one looked at it, the revival) of modern Wicca, the
contemporary successor of ancient fertility cults.
It revolved around elemental rituals,
secret rites of passage and a mythos of goddess and god that seemed
attractive to me as a psychologically valid alternative to the austere,
antisexual moralism of fundamentalist Christianity. The Book of Shadows, in
this context, was the 'holy book' of Wicca, copied out by hand by new
initiates of the cult with a history stretching back at least to the era of
Rumor #2, which I had tended to credit,
had it that Gerald Gardner, the 'father of modern Wicca' had paid Aleister
Crowley in his final years to write the Book of Shadows, perhaps whole
cloth. The rumor's chief exponent was the respected historian of the occult,
Rumor #3 had it that Gardner had written
the Book himself, which others had since copied and/or stolen.
To the contrary, said rumor #4, Gardner's
Museum had contained an old, even ancient copy of the Book of Shadows,
proving its antiquity.
In more recent years modern Wiccans have
tended to put some distance between themselves and Gardner, just as Gardner,
for complex reasons, tended to distance himself in the early years of Wicca
(circa 1944-1954) from the blatant sexual magick of Aleister Crowley, "the
wickedest man in the world" by some accounts, and from Crowley's
organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis . Why Gardner chose to do this is
speculative, but I've got some idea. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
While Turner showed me a blasphemous cross
shaped from the body of two nude women (created for the 18th century
infamous "Hellfire Clubs" in England and depicted in the Man Myth and
Magic encyclopedia; I bought it, of course) and a statue of Beelzebub
from the dusty Garderian archives, a thought occurred to me. "You know," I
suggested, "if you ever, in all this stuff, happen across a copy of The Book
of Shadows in the handwriting of Aleister Crowley, it would be of
considerable historical value."
I understated the case. It would be like
finding The Book of Mormon in Joseph Smith's hand, or finding the original
Ten Commandments written not by God Himself, but by Moses, pure and simple.
(Better still, eleven commandments, with a margin note, "first draft.") I
didn't really expect anything to come of it, and in the months ahead, it
In the meantime, I had managed to acquire
the interesting document I first mistook for Gerald Gardner's (long
acknowledged) initiation certificate into Crowley's Thelemic magical Ordo
Templi Orientis. To my eventual surprise, I discovered that, not only was
this not a simple initiation certificate for the Minerval
(probationary-lowest) degree, but, to the contrary, was a Charter for
Gardner to begin his own encampment of the O.T.O., and to initiate members
into the O.T.O.
In the document, furthermore, Gardner is
referred to as "Prince of Jerusalem"—that is, he is acknowledged to be a
Fourth Degree Perfect Initiate in the Order. This, needless to say, would
usually imply years of dedicated training. Though Gardner had claimed Fourth
Degree O.T.O. status as early as publication of High Magic's Aid, (and
claimed even higher status in one edition* ) this runs somewhat contrary to
both generally held Wiccan and (then) contemporary O.T.O. orthodox
understandings that the O.T.O. was then fallow in England.
At the time the document was written, most
maintained, Gardner could have known Crowley for only a brief period, and
was not himself deeply involved in the O.T.O. The document is undated but
probably was drawn up around 1946 or '47.
As I said, it was once understood that no
viable chartered body of the O.T.O. was supposed to exist in England at that
time; the only active Lodge was in California, and is the direct antecedent
of the contemporary authentic Ordo Templi Orientis. Karl Germer, Crowley's
immediate successor, had been imprisoned in a Concentration Camp during the
War, his mere association with Crowley being deemed 'criminal freemasonry'.
But Crowley himself clearly expected Gardner to establish an OTO Camp, and
was referring followers to Gardner for initiation as late as May of 1947.
The German OTO had been largely destroyed
by the Nazis, along with other Freemasonry-related organizations, and
Crowley himself was in declining health and power, the English OTO virtually
dead. A provincial Swiss branch existed, but was highly insular and tending
towards schism. The Charter also displayed other irregularities of a
revealing nature. Though the signature and seals are certainly those of
Crowley, the text is in the decorative hand of Gerald Gardner! The complete
text reads as follows:
Do what thou wilt shall be the law. We
Baphomet X°Ordo Templi Orientis Sovereign Grand Master General of All
English speaking countries of the Earth do hereby authorise our Beloved
Son Scire (Dr. G, B, Gardner,) Prince of Jerusalem to constitute a camp
of the Ordo Templi Orientis, in the degree Minerval. Love is the Law,
Love under will. Witness my hand and seal Baphomet X°
Leaving aside the misquotation from The
Book of the Law ("Do what thou wilt shall be the Law" instead of "Do what
thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law"), which got by me for some months
and probably got by Crowley when it was presented to him for signature, the
document is definitely authentic. It hung for some time in Gardner's museum,
possibly giving rise, as we shall see, to the rumor that Crowley wrote the
Book of Shadows for Gardner. According to Doreen Valiente, and to Col.
Lawrence as well, the museum's descriptive pamphlet says of this document:
"The collection includes a Charter granted
by Aleister Crowley to G.B. Gardner (the Director of this Museum) to operate
a Lodge of Crowley's fraternity, the Ordo Templi Orientis. (The Director
would like to point out, however, that he has never used this Charter and
has no intention of doing so, although to the best of his belief he is the
only person in Britain possessing such a Charter from Crowley himself;
Crowley was a personal friend of his, and gave him the Charter because he
liked him.") This was probably written well after Wicca was developed in the
form it is today identified with, at least in Britain. As I point out
elsewhere, Crowley clearly took the Charter seriously, even openly
envisioning it extending to a Lodge to do the entire "Man of Earth Series"
of OTO initiations eventually. Gardner, for his part, places a different
connotation on the Charter at an earlier time, giving out the impression
that it makes him the Grand Master of the OTO in Europe.
Col. Lawrence ("Merlin the Enchanter"), in
a letter to me dated 6 December, 1986, adds that this appeared in Gardner's
booklet, The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. The explanation for the curious
wording of the text, taking, as Dr. Gardner does, great pains to distance
himself from Crowley and the OTO, may be hinted at in that the booklet
suggests that this display in the "new upper gallery" (page 24) was put out
at a relatively late date when, as we shall discover, Gardner was making
himself answerable to the demands of the new witch cult and not the
long-dead Crowley and (then) relatively moribund OTO.
Now, the "my friend Aleister" ploy might
explain the whole thing. Perhaps, as some including Ms. Valiente believed,
Aleister Crowley was desperate in his last years to hand on what he saw as
his legacy to someone. He recklessly handed out his literary estate,the
story goes, perhaps gave contradictory instruction to various of his
remaining few devotees (e.g. Kenneth Grant, Grady McMurtry, Karl Germer),
and may have given Gardner an "accelerated advancement" in his order. The
latter might be true; it was common practice for Master Masons to be
inducted into OTO at a rather high level at one time.
There is, however, certainly reason to
dispute this. I have read Crowley's letters to Jack Parsons and to Karl
Germer, and others, including the more famous letters published as Magick
Without Tears and his now celebrated authorizations to Grady McMurtry —
all very late writings indeed, as well as his Last Will and Testament dated
June 19, 1947, only six months prior to his death, and Crowley seems intent
upon an orderly process of transition of his minor financial estate and,
more importantly, his substantial literary estate, to the OTO leadership
which, he leaves no doubt in his Will, falls to Germer, then Grand Treasurer
General of the OTO. To the end he continues to critique what he sees as
unsound thinking (letters to Parsons and Germer in 1946), and to speak of
moving to California to be with Agape Lodge, by then the remaining
centerpiece of the OTO, but also referring to Gardner's Camp in London as a
virtual accomplished fact.
Ms. Valiente, a devoted Wiccan who
nevertheless was also a dedicated seeker after the historical truth,
mentions also the claim made by the late Gerald Yorke to her that Gardner
had paid Crowley a substantial sum for the document. In a letter to me dated
28th August, 1986, Ms. Valiente tells of a meeting with Yorke "...in London
many years ago and mentioned Gerald's O.T.O. Charter to him, whereon he told
me, 'Well, you know, Gerald Gardner paid old Crowley about ($1500) or so for
that...' This may or may not be correct..." Money or friendship do not
explain the Charter. Again, Crowley privately sent students to Gardner as an
OTO bodymaster, and Gardner claimed both OTO membership and even leadership,
the later rather more wishfully than authorized.
I can tell you of my own knowledge that
becoming a Companion of the Royal Arch of Enoch, Perfect Initiate, Prince of
Jerusalem and Chartered Initiator is, ordinarily, a long and arduous task in
the OTO. If Gardner held said position, and a charter to initiate and an
encampment charter, he was, at the least, a Crowley student and confidant.
Gardner was in the habit, after the public
career of Wicca emerged in the 1950s, of downgrading any Crowley
associations out of his past, and, as Janet and Stewart Farrar reveal in The
Witches' Way (1984, p3) there are three distinct versions of the Book of
Shadows in Gerald Gardner's handwriting which incorporate successively less
material from Crowley's writings, though the last (termed "Text C" and co
written with Doreen Valiente after 1953) is still heavily influenced by
Crowley and the OTO.
Ms. Valiente has recently uncovered a copy
of an old occult magazine contemporary with High Magic's Aid and from
the same publisher, which discusses an ancient Indian document called "The
Book of Shadows" but apparently totally unrelated to the Wiccan book of the
same name. Valiente acknowledges that the earliest text by Gardner known to
her was untitled, though she refers to it as a "Book of Shadows."
It seems suspicious timing; did Gardner
take over the title from his publisher's magazine? Ms. Valiente observed to
me that the "...eastern Book of Shadows does not seem to have anything to do
with witchcraft at all ... is this where old Gerald first found the
expression "The Book of Shadows" and adopted it as a more poetical name for
a magical manuscript than, say 'The Grimoire' or 'The Black Book'... I don't
profess to know the answer; but I doubt if this is mere coincidence ..."
The claim is frequently made by those who
wish to 'salvage' a pre-Gardnerian source of Wiccan materials that there is
a 'core' of 'authentic' materials. But, as the Farrars' recently asserted,
the portions of the Book of Shadows "..which changed least between Texts A,
B and C were naturally the three initiation rituals; because these, above
all, would be the traditional elements which would have been carefully
preserved, probably for centuries...."
But what does one mean by "traditional
materials?" The three initiation rites, now much-described in print, all
smack heavily of the crypto-Freemasonic ritual of the Hermetic Order of the
Golden Dawn, the OTO, and the various esoteric NeoRosicrucian groups that
abounded in Britain from about 1885 on, and which were, it is widely known,
the fountainhead of much that is associated with Gardner's friend Crowley.
The Third Degree ritual, perhaps Wicca's
ultimate rite, is, essentially, a "non symbolic Gnostic Mass", that
beautiful, evocative, erotic and esoteric ritual written and published by
Crowley in the Equinox, after attending a Russian Orthodox Mass in the early
part of the twentieth century. The Gnostic Mass has had far-reaching
influence, and it would appear that the Wiccan Third Degree is one of the
most blatant examples of that influence.
Take, for example, this excerpt from what
is perhaps the most intimate, most secret and most sublime moment in the
entire repertoire of Wicca rituals, the nonsymbolic (that is, overtly
sexual) Great Rite of the Third Degree initiation, as related by Janet and
Stewart Farrarn nnin The Witches' Way (p.34):
The Priest continues: 'O Secret of
Secrets, That art hidden in the being of all lives, Not thee do we adore,
For that which adoreth is also thou. Thou art That, and That am I. [Kiss I
am the flame that burns in the heart of every man, And in the core of every
star. I am life, and the giver of life. Yet therefore is the knowledge of me
the knowledge of death. I am alone, the Lord within ourselves, Whose name is
Mystery of Mysteries.'
Let us be unambiguous as to the importance
in Wicca of this ritual; as the Farrars' put it (p.31) "Third degree
initiation elevates a witch to the highest of the three grades of the Craft.
In a sense, a third-degree witch is fully independent, answerable only to
the Gods and his or her own conscience..." In short, in a manner of speaking
this is all that Wicca can offer a devotee.
With this in mind, observe the following,
from Aleister Crowley's Gnostic Mass (Liber XV), first published in The
Equinox about 90 years ago and routinely performed (albeit in the symbolic
form) by me and by many other Bishops, Priests, Priestesses and Deacons in
the OTO and Ecclesia Gnostica (EGC) today. The following is excerpted from
Gems From the Equinox, p. 372, but is widely available in published form:
O secret of secrets that art hidden in the
being of all that lives, not Thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is
also Thou. Thou art That, and That am I. I am the flame that burns in every
heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of
Life; yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death. I am
alone; there is no God where I am.
So, then, where, apart from Freemasonry
and the Thelemic tradition of Crowley and the OTO, is the "traditional
material" some Wiccan writers seem to seek with near desperation? I am not
trying to be sarcastic in the least, but even commonplace self - references
used among Wiccans today, such as "the Craft" or the refrain "so mote it be"
are lifted straight out of Freemasonry (see, for example, Duncan's Ritual of
Freemasonry). As Doreen Valiente notes in her letter to me mentioned before,
"...of course old Gerald was also a member of the Co-Masons, and an ordinary
Freemason..." as well as an OTO member.
THE REAL ORIGIN OF WICCA
We must dismiss with some respect the
assertion, put forth by Margot Adler and others, that "Wicca no longer
adheres to the orthodox mythos of the Book of Shadows."
Many, if not most of those who have been
drawn to Wicca in the last three decades came to it under the spell (if I
may so term it) of the legend of ancient Wicca. If that legend is false,
then while reformists and revisionist apologists (particularly the peculiar
hybrid spawned in the late sixties (under the name "feminist Wicca") may –as
is their right- seek other valid grounds for their practices, we at least
owe it to those who have operated under a misapprehension to explain the
truth, and let the chips fall where they may.
I believe there is a core of valid
experience falling under the Wiccan-Neopagan heading, but that that core is
the same essential nucleus that lies in the truths exposed by the dreaded
bogey-man Aleister Crowley and the 'wicked' pansexuality of Crowley's Law of
Thelema. That such roots would be not just uncomfortable, but intolerable to
the orthodox traditionalists among the Wiccans, but even more so among the
hybrid feminist "Wiccans" may indeed be an understatement.
Neopaganism, in a now archaic "hippie"
misreading of ecology, mistakes responsible stewardship of nature for nature
worship. Ancient pagans did not 'worship' nature; to a large extent they
were afraid of it, as has been pointed out to me by genuine folk
practitioners. Their "nature rites" were to propitiate the caprice of the
imagined gods, not necessarily to honor them. The first Neopagan
revivalists, Gardner, Crowley and Dr. Murray, well understood this. Neopagan
Wiccans often, perhaps usually, do not.
In introducing a "goddess element" into
their theology, Crowley and Gardner both understood the yin/yang,
male/female fundamental polarity of the universe. Radical feminist Neopagans
have taken this balance and altered it, however unintentionally, into a
political feminist agenda, centered around a near-monotheistic worship of
the female principle, in a bizarre caricature of patriarchal Christianity.
I do not say these things lightly; I have
seen it happen in my own time. If this be truth, let truth name its
own price. I was not sure, until Norm and John got back from the Old Jail.
A couple of months earlier, scant days
after hearing that I was to become a Gnostic Bishop and thus an heir to a
corner of Crowley's legacy, I had punched on my answering machine, and there
was the unexpected voice of John Turner saying that he had located what
seemed to be the original Book of Shadows in an inventory list, locating it
at Ripley's office in Toronto.
He said he didn't think they would sell it
as an individual item, but he gave me the name of a top official in the
Ripley organization, who I promptly contacted. I eventually made a
substantial offer for the book, sight unseen, figuring there was (at the
least) a likelihood I'd be able to turn the story into a book and get my
money back out of it, to say nothing of the historical import.
But, as I researched the matter, I became
more wary, and confused; Gardner's texts "A" "B" and "C" all seemed to be
accounted for. Possibly, I began to suspect, this was either a duplicate of
the "de-Thelemicised" post-1954 version with segments written by Gardner and
Valiente and copied and recopied (as well as distorted) from hand to hand
since by Wiccans the world over.
Maybe, I mused, Valiente had one copy and
Gardner another, the latter sold to Ripley with the Collection. Or, perhaps
it was the curious notebook discovered by Aidan Kelly in the Ripley files
called Ye Book of Ye Art Magical, the meaning of which was unclear.
While chatting with Ms. Deska, Norm
returned from his mission, we introduced in businesslike fashion, and he
told me he'd get the book, whatever it might be, from the vault.
The vault?! I sat there thinking God knows
what. Recently, I'd gotten a call from Toronto, and it seems the Ripley
folks wanted me to take a look at what they had. I had made a considerable
offer, and at that point I figured I'd had at least a nibble. As it so
happened Norm would be visiting on a routine inspection visit, so it was
arranged he would bring the manuscript with him to the St. Augustine Ripley
Almost from the minute he placed it in
front of me, things began to make some kind of sense. Clearly, this was Ye
Book of Ye Art Magical. Just as clearly, it was an unusual piece, written
largely in the same hand as the Charter I had obtained earlier — that is, in
the hand of Gerald Gardner. Of this I became certain, because I had
handwriting samples of Gardner, Valiente and Crowley in my possession. Ms.
Valiente had been mindful of this when she wrote me, on August 8th, 1986:
I have deliberately chosen to write
you in longhand, rather than send a typewritten reply, so that you will
have something by which to judge the validity of the claim you tell me
is being made by the Ripley organisation to have a copy of a "Book of
Shadows" in Gerald Gardner's handwriting and mine. If this is ... "Ye
Book of Ye Art Magical," ... this is definitely in Gerald Gardner's
handwriting. Old Gerald, however, had several styles of handwriting ...
I think it is probable that the whole MS. was in fact written by Gerald,
and no other person was involved; but of course I may be wrong ...
At first glance it appeared to be a very
old book, and it suggested to me where the rumors that a very old, possibly
medieval Book of Shadows had once been on display in Gardner's Museum had
Any casual onlooker might see Ye Book in
this light, for the cover was indeed that of an old volume, with the
original title scratched out crudely on the side and a new title tooled into
the leather cover. The original was some mundane volume, on Asian knives or
something (an interest of Gardner's), but the inside pages had been removed,
and a kind of notebook—almost a journal—had been substituted.
As far as I could see, no dates appear
anywhere in the book. It is written in several different handwriting styles,
although, as noted above, Doreen Valiente assured me that Gardner was apt to
use several styles. I had the distinct impression this "note-book" had been
written over a considerable period of time, perhaps years, perhaps even
decades. It may, indeed, date from his days in the 1930s when he linked up
with a NeoRosicrucian performance theatrical troupe, that could have
included among its members the legendary Dorothy Clutterbuck, who set
Gardner on the path which led to Wicca.
Thinking on it, what emerges from Ye Book
of Ye Art Magical is a developmental set of ideas. Much of it is straight
out of Crowley, but it is clearly the published Crowley, the old Magus of
the OTO and A A.
Somewhere along the line it hit me that I
was not exactly looking at the "original Book of Shadows" but, perhaps, the
outline Gardner prepared over a long period of time, apparently in secret
(since Valiente, a relatively early initiate of Gardner's, never heard of it
nor saw it, according to her own account, until recent years, about the time
Aidan Kelly unearthed it in the Ripley collection long after Gardner's
Dr. Gardner kept many odd notebooks and
scrapbooks that perhaps would reveal much about his character and
motivations. Turner showed me a Gardner scrapbook in Ripley's store room
which was mostly cheesecake magazine photographs and articles about
actresses. Probably none are so evocative as Ye Book of Ye Art Magical,
suspiciously and suggestively discovered hidden away in the back of an old
I have the impression it was essentially
unknown in and after Gardner's lifetime, and that by the Summer of 1986 few
had seen inside it; I knew of only Kelly's and my own party. Perhaps the
cover had been seen by some along the line, accounting for the rumor of a
"very old Book of Shadows" in Gardner's Museum.
If someone had seen the charter
unquestionably signed by Crowley ("Baphomet") but written by Gerald Gardner,
and had gotten a look, as well, at Ye Book, they might well have concluded
that Crowley had written both, an honest error, but maybe the source
of that long-standing accusation. There is even a notation in the Ripley
catalog attributing the manuscript to Crowley on someone's say-so, but I
have no indication Ripley has any other such book. Finally, if the notebook
is a source book of any religious system, it is not that of medieval
witchcraft, but the Twentieth Century shining sanity of the famous Magus
Aleister Crowley and the Thelemic/Gnostic creed of The Book of the Law.
As I sat there I read aloud familiar
quotations or paraphrases from published material in the Crowley-Thelemic
canon. This is not the "ancient religion of the Wise" but the modern sayings
of "the Beast 666" as Crowley was wont to style himself.
But, does any of this invalidate Wicca as
an expression of human spirituality? It depends on where one is coming from.
Certainly, the foundations of Feminist Wicca and the modern cult of the
goddess are challenged with the fact that the goddess in question is Nuit,
her manifestation the sworn whore, Our Lady Babalon, the Scarlet Woman.
Transform what you will shall be the whole of history, but this
makes what Marx did to Hegel look like slavish devotion.
What Crowley himself said of this kind of
witchcraft is not merely instructive, but an affront to the conceits of an
"The belief in witchcraft," he observed,
"was not all superstition; its psychological roots were sound. Women who are
thwarted in their natural instincts turn inevitably to all kinds of
malignant mischief, from slander to domestic destruction..."
For those who neither worship nor are
disdainful of the man who "made sexuality a god" or, at least, acknowledged
it as godlike and holy, experience must be its own teacher. If Wicca is a
sort of errant Minerval encampment of the OTO, gone far astray and far
afield since the days Crowley gave Gardner a charter he "didn't use" but
seemed to value, and a whole range of rituals and imagery that assault the
senses at their most literally fundamental level; if this is true or sort of
true, Mythos has its place and role, but so, too, does reality.
WICCA AS AN OTO ENCAMPMENT
It is of more than passing interest that
the late Jack Parsons, one time (Acting) Master of Agape Lodge OTO in
California, began writing extensively of a revival of witchcraft from 1946
on; that is, at about the time of Crowley and Gardner's acknowledged
association. Crowley referred to Dr. Gardner and his OTO encampment in
private correspondence almost to the time of his death, and spoke of it with
optimism and enthusiasm.
When Lady Harris wrote Karl Germer that
she believed Gardner was the head of the OTO in Europe after Crowley's
death, Germer didn't refute her; he simply indicated he hoped to see Gardner
during his U.S. visit, which he did. Furthermore, as alluded to in the
previous section, Gardner himself claimed in a letter written shortly after
Crowley's death that he was, in fact, the head of the OTO in Europe.
The letter to Vernon Symonds, sent from
Memphis, Tennessee where Gardner was then resident, and dated December 24,
1947, asserts that " ... Aleister gave me a charter making me head of the
O.T.O. in Europe. Now I want to get any papers about this that Aleister had;
he had some typescript Rituals, I know. I have them, too, but I don't want
his to fall into other people's hands ..." I am editing Gardner's spelling
with great kindness. This claim should be viewed with a grain of salt, but
Lady Harris and Gardner were both intimate Crowley associates, and this
should be kept in mind. The Charter in question referred to by Gardner is
probably the one now under my stewardship for OTO, the owner and originator
of the document. He almost certainly had no other. It is also noteworthy
that Gardner, a ranking O.T.O. member, was resident in the U.S. at the same
time that both he and Parsons began to discuss 'modern witchcraft'. Both had
extensive correspondence with Crowley and contact with Germer during this
The question of intent looms large in the
background of this inquiry. If I had to guess, I would venture that Gerald
Gardner did, in fact, invent Wicca more or less whole cloth, to be a
popularized version of the OTO. Crowley, and his immediate successor Karl
Germer, who also knew Dr. Gardner, likely set "old Gerald" on what they
intended to be a Thelemic path, aimed at reestablishing at least a basic OTO
encampment in England.
It is also possible, but yet unproved,
that, upon expelling Kenneth Grant from the OTO in England, Germer, in the
early 1950s, summoned Gardner back to America to interview him as a
candidate for leading the British OTO. Gardner, it is confirmed, came to
America, but by then Wicca, and Dr. Gardner had begun to take their own,
Let me close this section by quoting two
interesting tidbits for your consideration.
First consider Doreen Valiente's
observation to me concerning "the Parsons connection". I quote from her
letter above mentioned, one of several she was kind enough to send me in
1986 in connection with my research into this matter.
...I did know about the existence of
the O.T.O. Chapter in California at the time of Crowley's death, because
I believe his ashes were sent over to them. He was cremated here in
Brighton, you know, much to the scandal of the local authorities, who
objected to the 'pagan funeral service.' If you are referring to the
group of which Jack Parsons was a member (along with the egregious Mr.
L. Ron Hubbard), then there is another curious little point to which I
must draw your attention. I have a remarkable little book by Jack
Parsons called Magick, Gnosticism And The Witchcraft. It is
unfortunately undated, but Parsons died in 1952. The section on
witchcraft is particularly interesting because it looks forward to a
revival of witchcraft as the Old Religion....
I find this very thought provoking. Did
Parsons write this around the time that Crowley was getting together with
Gardner and perhaps communicated with the California group to tell them
about it? Parsons began forecasting the "revival of Witchcraft" in the
notorious "Liber 49 - The Book of Babalon" written in 1946. The timing of
the genesis of "The Book of Babalon"—which forecast a 'revival' of
witchcraft in covens based on the number eleven (the Thelemic number of
magick) rather than the traditional thirteen, seems to coincide with
Crowley's OTO Charter to Gardner, Gardner's U.S. visit, and also coincides
rather closely with the writing of High Magic's Aid by Gardner.
We must remember that Ms. Valiente was a
close associate of Gardner and a dedicated and active Wiccan. She, of
course, had her own interpretation of these matters.
The other matter of note is the question
of the length of Gardner's association with the OTO and with Crowley
personally. My informant Col. Lawrence, tells me that he has in his
possession a cigarette case which once belonged to Aleister Crowley. Inside
"is a note in Crowley's hand that says simply: 'gift of GBG, 1936, A.
Crowley'." (Personal letter, 6 December, 1986)
The inscription could be a mistake, it
could mean 1946, the period of the Charter. It could be a gift to Crowley
from the Order GBG ("Great Brotherhood of God") of Crowley's alienated
student C.F. Russell, but the GBG closed its doors in 1938, and well before
this Crowley and Russell had gone their separate ways. It seems odd, as
well, that Crowley would attribute the gift to "GBG" rather than "CFR" if it
was from Russell rather than Gardner. But, as Ms. Valiente put it in a
letter to me of 8th December, 1986:
If your friend is right, then it would
mean that old Gerald actually went through a charade of pretending to
Arnold Crowther that Arnold was introducing him to Crowley for the first
time - a charade which Crowley for some reason was willing to go along
with. Why? I can't see the point of such a pretense; but then occultists
sometimes do devious things...
Gnosticism and Wicca, the subjects of Jack
Parsons' essays, republished by the OTO and Falcon Press in 1990, are the
two most successful expressions to date of Crowley's dream of a popular
solar-phallic religion. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Aleister and Gerald may
have cooked Wicca up. The issues for Thelemites AND Wiccans here are, as I
see it, two - fold:
If Wicca is the OTO's prodigal daughter in
fact, authorized directly by Crowley, how should they now relate to this?
Then too, what are we to make of and infer
about all this business of a popular Thelemic-Gnostic religion? Were
Crowley, Parsons, Gardner and others trying to do something of note with
regard to actualizing a New Aeon here which bears scrutiny? Or is this mere
speculation, and of little significance for the Great Work today?
If the Charter Crowley issued Gardner is,
indeed, the authority upon which Wicca has been built for more than half a
century, then it is perhaps no coincidence that I acquired that Charter in
the same year I was consecrated a Bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church.
Further, it was literally only days after my long search for the original of
Gardner's Book of Shadows ended in success that the Holy Synod of T
Michael Bertiaux's branch of the Gnostic Church unanimously elected me a
Missionary Bishop, on August 29, 1986.
Sometimes, I muse, the Inner Order revoked Wicca's
charter in 1986, placing it, so to speak, in my hands. Since I hold it in
Trust for the OTO, perhaps Wicca has, in symbolic form, in its "declaration
of independence" returned home at last. It remains for the Wiccans,
literally (since the charter hangs in my temple space), to read the
handwriting on the wall.
For some years the Charter was in my hands. I
unwisely donated it to the Caliphate Ordo Templi Orientis, was its caretaker
for some years, and then, prior to departing that rather cultic body, turned
it over to OTO for whatever use they had of it. The Charter shows the
Crowley of 1947 and the Gardner of 1947 to have a very different view both
of OTO and proto-Wicca than has developed since. It would seem that
Gardnerian Wicca in its original form comes closer to what Crowley was
trying to shape than does the present caliphate OTO. I have moved on
from both. May they rest in pieces.
Personal letters referenced in this essay
Aleister Crowley to W.B.C., May 30, 1947
Frieda Harris to Frederic Mellinger, December 7, 1947
Gerald Gardner to Vernon Symonds, December 24, 1947
Frieda Harris to Karl Germer, January 2, 1948
Karl Germer to Freida Harris, January 19, 1948
Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, August 8, 1986
Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, August 28, 1986
Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, December 8, 1986
Suggestions for furthering reading are
found throughout this essay.
I am indebted to Frater Y.V. for a rare,
autographed copy of the 1949 Michael Houghton Edition of High Magic's Aid
by "Scire" (that is, Gardner) identified as "O.T.O. 4 = 7" on the title
page. This is likely a confusion of A.'. A .'. and OTO titles; it is
doubtful that Gardner was a VII° in the OTO. He was, however, at least a P.I.
in OTO, and may have been a VII° as Crowley may have implied in a late
letter that he anticipated the "Gardner Lodge" of OTO in London could be
expected to initiate as high as the P.I. Degree. This would require the
presence of an S.G.I.G., or VII° member.
(John) Parsons (Frater 210, O.T.O.) 1947
WE ARE THE WITCHCRAFT. We are the
oldest organization in the world. When man was born, we were. We sang
the first cradle song. We healed the first wound, we comforted the first
terror. We were the Guardians against the Darkness, the Helpers on the
Left Hand Side. Rock drawings in the Pyrenees remember us, and little
clay images, made for an old purpose when the world was new. Our hand
was on the old stone circles, the monolith, the dolmen, and the druid
oak. We sang the first hunting songs, we made the first crops to grow;
when man stood naked before the Powers that made him, we sang the first
chant of terror and wonder. We wooed among the Pyramids, watched Egypt
rise and fall, ruled for a space in Chaldea and Babylon, the Magian
Kings. We sat among the secret assemblies of Israel, and danced the wild
and stately dances in the sacred groves of Greece.
(Excerpted from booklet "Freedom is a
Two Edged Sword") This is a short essay by
Parsons who met Gerald Gardner soon after Gerald read the below.
John was one of the founders of JPL Labs and the inventor of the
solid fuel for the booster rockets used in the Apollo Moon missions
by NASA. he died in a laboratory explosion in 1951
In China and Yucatan, in Kansas and Kurdistan we are one.
All organizations have known us, no organization is of us; when there is
too much organization we depart. We are on the side of man, of life, and
of the individual. Therefore we are against religion, morality and
government. Therefore our name is Lucifer. We are on the side of
freedom, of love, of joy and laughter and divine drunkenness. Therefore
our name is Babalon.
Sometimes we move openly, sometimes in
silence and in secret. Night and day are one to us, calm and storm,
seasons and the cycles of man, all these things are one, for we are at
the roots. Supplicant we stand before the Powers of Life and Death, and
are heard of these Powers, and avail. Our way is the secret way, the
unknown direction. Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush,
our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women.
Merlin was of us, and Gawain and Arthur, Rabelais and Catullus, Gilles
de Retz and Jehanne d'Arc, De Molensis, Johannes Dee, Cagliostro,
Francis Hepburn and Gellis Duncan, Swinburne and Eliphas Levi, and many
another bard, Magus, poet, martyr known and unknown that carried our
banners against the enemy multiform and ubiquitous, the Church and the
State. And when that vermin of Hell that is called the Christian Church
held all the West in a slavery of sin and death and terror, we, and we
alone, brought hope to the heart of man, despite the dungeon and the
We are the Witchcraft, and although one may not know another, yet we are
united by an indissoluble bond. And when the high wild cry of the eagle
sounds in your mind, know that you are not alone in your desire for
freedom. And when the howl of the wolf echoes in the forests of your
night, know that there are those who also prowl. And when the ways of
your fellows about you seem the ways of idiocy and madness, know that
there are also others who have seen and judged - and acted.
Now know that the power that we serve lies in the heart of every man and
woman as the tree lives in the seed. And to be with us, you have but to
call upon that Power, and you are as one of us. And when our Power and
Joy have come upon you, you may go forth and do your will among men, and
none shall say you nay. And if it be your will, you shall do your will
secretly, and if it be your will, you will do your will openly, as your
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