.Keltic Religion
v

MODERN  WITCHCRAFT

(a comparison)


Merry Meet an'
Blessed Be an'
Flags, Flax, Fodder n'
mmmm?
 

On the commencement of this critique, I would ask the reader to realise that this in-depth analysis is from the pen of one who numbered a few of Gerald Gardner's first initiates as friends, together with Dr John Score, the founder of The Wiccan, the late Stewart Farrar and Alex Sanders.  My contacts with those of other traditions have been well maintained and it was my privilege to have enjoyed the friendship of the late Ruth Wynn Owen of Y Plant Bran during the last twenty years of her life.  From such personal experiences and research, therefore, comes this microscopy and rigorous analysis.

This, I assert, is in no way a condemnation of the many Wiccans throughout the world who are excellent people and sincere in their beliefs.   Some of these priests and priestesses of "The Craft", as they term it, I know personally and I count as friends.

What is at issue here is 'the system' which was presented as genuinely British, being diffused by two con artists, fraudsters or hustlers, each in the public eye - Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders, for some time during the latter part of their lifetimes. This 'system' was accepted as ethnically authentic by all who became initiates.   Why should they have doubted or questioned the source of the material or indeed the motives of these two 'founts of origin'?   All were only too pleased to have found that which they considered to be a sterling and meaningful religious alternative in the 20th century.   With all due credit to the thousands of initiates, in the final analysis it is each of these initiates and they alone who have made Wicca meaningful by their sincerity and devotion.  Never let that be forgotten.

Having eagerly swallowed the mixture, however, at a time when established religion was beginning to wane and when many thirsted for entry into some branch of The Mysteries which would revive their spirituality, Wica (originally with one 'c') became an erroneous facet of the British Mystery scene - eventually being exported to former colonial lands.

Here, then, we attempt to compare the Religion of The Kelt and Gael of these islands with ‘Wicca’, ‘Witchcraft’, ‘Craft of The Wise’ - call it what you will.  I have desisted from including any comparison of the Northern Tradition or Norse religion of The Odinic Rite (Circle of Ostara) with Wicca as this may be examined by readers from the above link at their leisure.  Although Nordic, this tradition has a valid place in the British Isles due to the early incursions and subsequent settlements by the Scandinavian peoples, especially on the Northern and Eastern seaboards and The Northern Isles.  Again the spirit of their religion has haunting similarities to that of the Kelt, both Brythonic and Goidelic.  My reluctance to include the Northern Tradition is frankly due also to my lack of adequate contact with devotees of their pantheon in any appreciable depth, although contact was maintained by letter in the early 1970s with one Scottish branch.

Most ‘witches of the revival’, as they are termed, appear to stem from the initiates of the late Gerald Gardner or follow a system similar to that of Gardner.

These favour the basic working tools of a 'witch' - the athame, scourge, cords, white handled knife, censer etc. and work naked within a magic circle with pentagrams (at one time called the goblin's cross) a-plenty.

The names of their Deities are Aradia & Cernunnos (or Karnayna), although others such as Artemis, Aphrodite & Diana are used in various rituals.   The meetings are the Sabbats and Esbats at which the coven gathers with all the mawkish, stereotypical greetings of "Blessed Be" and "Merry Meet".   Power is raised by dancing round within the circle.

On questioning whether there is anything British, Keltic or Gaelic in this system, the answer must be not one damned thing, other than the odd reference to the "Cauldron of Kerridwen", the Goddesses "Dana, Arianrhod and Bride" in the Charge and the "merciful Son of Cerridwen" at the Vernal Equinox - all adopted as a scant recognition of the fact that certain rites were being performed in The British Isles!

How can I be so sure as to make the above bold statement?  For research purposes I took initiation into the Gardnerian system (1st, 2nd and 3rd degree) conducted by Patricia Crowther, one of Gardner's first initiates.  Maxine Sanders gave me the Alexandrian initiation and the Alexandrian 2nd degree was administered by Janet Owen (later Farrar).  This was at the suggestion of a hereditary lady in the South of England who was also anxious to compare the workings of traditional groups with Wicca.

          

Here I am standing betweenn Arnold & Patricia Crowther in my
lounge overlooking the river during one of the Crowthers'
visits to the North in 1972

 

ITS ORIGINS AND IMPORTATION INTO BRITAIN

What then is the origin of these practices?  Here I lead the reader down unfamiliar paths with linkage to information from many foreign sources and authors who opened the way to facilitate the plagiarism that was to form this strange new child born of the mid-20th century.

In "The Sufis" by Idries Shah (chapter: 'Mysteries in the West 1 - Strange Rites') the author refers to the Arabic sources used by Arkon Daraul which describe the ‘dance of the two-horned’ and which hint at the meaning of some of the words used by modern day witches.
Idries Shah

(Vide chapter - 'Mysteries in the West 1 - Strange Rites)   He informs us that the Athame or black handled knife is derived from adhdhame which means ‘blood-letter’ and that 'Athame' approximates the pronunciation of adhdhame quite well.

‘Sabbat' appears to have its origin in an Arabic text concerning the Spanish 'two-horned cult'.   The word is azzabat - a ‘forceful occasion’.

The members of an ancient Hespano-Semitic cult wore a type of shroud which was placed over their heads at rituals.   This garment was called the Kafan and later referred to the actual gathering of the cult members - hence the witch word 'coven'.  The greeting "Blessed Be" appears to stem from the Sufi custom of calling down a blessing as a salutation.   The expression in this instance was "Mabaruk bashad" (‘May a blessing rest upon you’).

As Arkon Daraul was mentioned by Shah, let us examine his work "Secret Societies" (1961 - chapter 17)).

Daraul informs us that the earliest references to witches' sabbats are in the 11th century. They contain details of an amalgam of the cult of Diana and the worship of a 'Black Man'.   At this period the idea of potions, spells, ointments, and gatherings at cross roads appear.  An account is given of one female member who anointed herself with a salve and thereafter lapsed into coma due to the narcotic content therein. At the very same time, he says, a strange cult had appeared in Morocco - a cult known as 'the double-horned'.

It too was linked with magic and contained methods akin to witch practices. The members of this cult met on Thursday nights.   They had to submit to a form of initiation during which a wound was made somewhere on the body.   One of their beliefs was that power could be raised by a circle dance.  Here the waxen image designed for murder is described with pins duly inserted at vital points of the anatomy.

The dagger used in the above ceremony was that described above but this time spelt aldhamme  (still a 'blood-letter').   He describes the account of such a ritual given by one member when the brotherhood (Kafan) gathered by night at a crossroads in a meeting called the Zabbat where they whirled in dance.  He also describes a feast with abundance of wine which all evidently relished, the extinguishing of all lights and indiscriminate sexual intercourse twixt those in attendance.

When describing the Berber sect of the 'horned-ones' in North Africa, Daraul reports that they had a supreme leader called Dhulqarnen ('two-horned lord').  The last two syllables sound similar to 'Karneyna' and show some loose philological connection with the name Cernunnos. 

Of course Arkon Daraul was a pseudonym of Idries Shah.

A copy of a letter of November 1974 is to hand which tries at last to clarify the problem but i so doing, opens up a 'can-of-worms'.

The letter was written by a member of an East Anglian hereditary group which is one of the  fanciful 'Nine Covens' stemming from George Pickingill (1816 - 1909), often called the last 'cunning man' of Canewdon.  Gardner's parent coven was also supposed to be one of the 'nine'

From the letter we learn that the Pickingills of East Anglia claimed to stem from Saxon times - from Julia Pickingill, the Wicce of Brandon who died in 1071, although how the Pickingills came to research their family line in the 19th century and earlier is a mystery to me.  The Pickingills supposedly gave their  total commitment to the Horned God and had many practices that were DISSIMILAR to anything else in England. 

This well-known and frequently trotted out photo of Pickingill above is really a photo of the late Alf Cavell who was a station porter at Ellstree & Borehamwood Station. The photo was taken in the early 1960s and has duped many.

Of course, one could argue logically that it was highly unlikely that an illiterate farm labourer such as Pickingill could maintain the ongoing overview of nine covens which widely ranged over many counties at an era when a journey from the Rochford Hundred to London was the excursion of a lifetime.  Furthermore this uneducated man was rumoured to be one whose words held master freemasons such as Hargrave Jennings in rapture and supposedly assisted the latter in composing the cipher manuscript which was the foundation of the Golden Dawn.  It is also claimed that Mathers and Crowley were members of the Pickingill coven around 1899 - Crowley, a renowned Classics scholar and prolific creative writer, learning at the feet of this illiterate rustic!  I think not.  I shall leave the reader to research Crowley's whereabouts and travels around that year or you may read my excerpts from Crowley's Confessions for that time line HERE.

There was no mention of Pickingill until Eric Maple's account of him in his "Dark World of Witches" (1962).  The myth thereafter grew apace following this publication.  Canewdon historian Sibyl Webster who was a friend of the oldest inhabitants of the village could find no link between 'Old George' and witchcraft or cunning men. 

She reported that the locals gave snippets of what Maple wanted to hear during his research "for the price of a pint or two"!        Is it not strange how such convoluted and spurious tales follow in Gardner's wake?   (More of this later.)

Returning to the nine covens - they were said to possess a mixture of Scandinavian and French Craft techniques.  We are further informed of the Danish settlements in East Anglia and of the French and Flemish weavers who settled there, bringing with them portions of the Cathar Faith and the so-called Old Religion as it was known in France during the Middle Ages.

These latter facts are corroborated by W.E. Liddell in his 1994 book "The Pickingill Papers" Traditional Keltic groups were in existence in France prior to the explosion of Wicca on the Mysteries scene.

I had furnished some information in the late 1970s to Dr. Michel Raoult concerning British Druidic history when he was researching his doctoral thesis and discovered he was revitalising a Breton group at that time.

He stated in a letter to me of 20th April 1979:-



"I am glad to hear you speaking of "decidedly British" as I do not appreciate the ones who claimed to do a genuine worship with Isis or Qabalah traditions!  We are not Easterners but we are Kelts and the Keltic Deities are sleeping.  It is our task to wake them up!

But in Brittany we have a tiny, but very interesting group who try to revival the Celtic Faith (in Breton language it is 'Kredenn Celtiek') with traditional gods and goddesses.  The Kredenn Celtiek group was founded in 1936 and still works!  There is no Wicca known in Brittany."     Dr. Raoult (pictured above) with several publications to his name, still plays a well-known, vibrant and matchless role in the Mysteries.

COMPARISON AT THIS POINT

Now the medieval witch cult was an obvious importation of Hispano-Semitic ideas with the Saracenic Horned God as the central Deity.   This was handed down in various families in Anglo-Saxon England, fragments of the system eventually being bequeathed to Gerald Gardner by the New Forest coven.

Nevertheless, this cult is entirely a foreign importation to the shores of Britain and  bears NO RESEMBLANCE to Keltic Religion, either in mythology, beliefs or practices.

In Pentagram magazine No.5 of December 1965 one Taliesin, a member of a hereditary group who also had much contact with Wicca, wrote of the medieval witch cult:- "But then, of course, this cult was undeniably of Saracenic origin and bore little or no resemblance to the original Old Religion of these islands".  He continues with a comment on a letter by a devotee of Gardner:- "The basic messsage would appear to be to the effect that the gospel of G.B. Gardner is a true and accurate record of an ancient faith native to these islands.  I would have thought that Robert Graves had already exposed this as a fallacy, even before Idries Shah's book on the Sufis showed the origins more clearly"

He adds a comment on Dr. Murray's account of the medieval 'craft':-

"Dr. Murray rather glossed over the fact that the Horned God of the medieval cult showed unmistakable Middle-Eastern characteristics, that the Goddess was never so much as mentioned either by witches undergoing trial or by those who were trying them and that the allegiance of covens was given unswervingly to their God.

(Above is a photo of Dr. Margaret Murray in her mature years.)  Taliesin continues:

Sufficient to point out, I think, that Gardner demoted the Horned God to second place and brought in a female deity whom he identified with the ancient European Moon-Goddess.  He found difficulty in giving names to these and eventually fixed on Cernunnos for the god and Arida for the goddess - Cernunnos being an antlered Scandinavian god and Arida being the name given to the Moon-Goddess by the Florentine witches.

I am not a professed "witch".  The biggest difference between the old religious tradition to which I belong and Gardnerians is that we do not like the word "witch" and never use it if it is at all possible to make clear what we mean without it."

Now this reported information of 47 years ago has been long forgotten in the explosion of Wicca in modern times, together with the understanding that the medieval witch cult was a foreign importation with a deity conceptually divergent with the bipolarity of the First Parents (Rhieni yn Gyntaf) of The Kelt.

The allegiance of covens to their God appears in all writings on witchcraft.  The prevalent thought of god - horned - devil seems to have permeated the stratum of mystique in the mind of the common man.  This is very obvious in Robert Burns' 'Tam o' Shanter', a poem which most people have read at one time.  Another less known work of a later era is the novel ‘Ringan Gilhaize’ or ‘The Covenanters’ by John Galt, published 1823.  Here is a quotation from volume two, chapter 3:-

“Hallowe’en!” cried Mungo Affleck, with a sound o’ sincerity; “Do yo no ken Hallowe’en?  But I need na say that.  Ye’ll excuse me, captain – what can you Englishers, that are brought up in the darkness o’ human ordinances in gospel things, and who live in the thraldom of Episcopalian ignorance, ken of Hallowe’en or o’ any other solemn day set apart for an occasion.  O, sir, Hallowe’en among us is a dreadful night! Witches and warlocks, and a’ lang-nebbit things, hae a power and a dominion unspeakable on Hallowe’en.  The de’il at other times gi’es, it’s said, his agents a mutchkin o’ mischief, but on this night it’s thought they hae a chappin; and one thing most demonstrable is; - but, sir, the sun’s down – the blessed light o’ day is ayont the hill, and it’s no safe to be subjek to the whisking o’ the mildew frae the tails o’ the benweed ponies that are saddled for yon awfu’ caravaulings, where Cluty plays on the pipes! So I wis you, sir, gude night and weel hame. – O sir, an ye could be persuaded! – Tak an auld man’s advice, and rather read a chapter of THE BOOK, an it should even be the unedifying tenth of Nehemiah, than be seen at the gloaming in this gait, about the dyke-sides, like a wolf yearning for some tender lamb of a defenceless fold.”

Here again 'Cluty' (the devil) plays the pipes for the revels which are centred round mischief making and the author, possibly from a line of Protestant covenanters, makes a jibe at " Episcopalian ignorance".

SARACEN INFLUENCES

The Arabs, whose incursions into Europe resulted in their domination of the greater part of Spain and indeed southern France, were most likely instrumental in importing Saracenic ideology and practicalities into this continent. The Basques and the Cathars were influenced by the Berber Mystery Schools which were renowned in nearby Aragon.  The witches of Navarre assimilated a great deal which was Saracenic.   It has been suggested by those who claim to stem from the Pickingill heritage that these latter brought Saracen philosophy to England when they arrived with Berengaria of Navarre, the wife of Richard 1.

Liddel in his "The Pickingill Papers" avers that the Saracen 'masters' were adepts of both Arab and Jewish Qabalah and had introduced concepts which "had no relevance to English witchcraft."   Rollo Ahmed has also stated: "Another effect of the Crusades was the mingling of Eastern and Western beliefs, men who were prisoners of the Saracens in particular bringing back the theories and practices of oriental magic upon which much of the current witchcraft came to be based."

The practices of the Saracens included using cords in magic, sex magic and the Five-fold Breaths.   The latter was also known as the Saracen Kiss.   These Arab magicians awakened the chakras by breathing on these regions of the physical body in a particular manner.

They breathed over the feet, which represented the subliminal gnosis, to exorcise Karmic negativity and to sensitise the feet for the enhanced reception of earth energy (geodetic force).   The breath to the phallus was intended to awaken solar energy. (The region between phallus and the throat was symbolic of the conscious mind.)   The head chakras were awakened by breathing on the mouth.

This technique, the symbolism of which the witches were quite unaware, became corrupted and simplified into the Five-fold Kiss with their own attempts at explanation. ("Blessed be thy feet" etc.)

On the right is a re-enactment of Janet Owen (later Farrar) being initiated by Alex Sanders.


Yet another link can be seen here between these five points and the five points of fellowship in Masonic practices, remembering that the members of Gardner's parent coven had been Masons and Co-Masons.

One other centre which was activated in this way by the Arab adepts was the anus, which is the physical approximation of the seat of the Kundalini, in order to awaken psychic ability.

This technique, when an imitation was adopted in mediaeval times by some witches who knew not the purpose, became debased as the 'osculum infame' (the kiss to the Devil's backside).

Other practical methodology has been corrupted, e.g. the making of a waxen image.  When meditating on this, together with the 'whys and outcomes', we see that this doll-making is the modern equivalent of the primitive 'Cargo Cult' in the southwest Pacific region and its erroneous imitative forrays.  (No disrespect to Franz Bardon for his complicated version.)

Certain Arab magicians, similar to the dugpas in India, also used sodomy to accelerate clairvoyance and psychic power - a technique favoured today by certain black magicians but, I must hasten to add, not Wiccans .  

(Granted I have known of an all-male group which followed Wiccan rites but, due to the fact that the members did not countenance or accept the male/female balance of a group in the perfect harmony of bi-polarity, they could not be accepted as Wiccans - they were simply black magicians.  Why do I say black or aberrant magicians?   In acts of sodomy, the male sperm, which is an agent of procreation in humans and must be considered, therefore, analogous with Divine creation, is deposited deliberately into the bowel which is a sewer for excrement.  This act, by either party involved, must be judged as blasphemy against the sanctity of the creative potential of the sexual act and a blatant affront to the sacred creativity of The Absolute!)

This was also the reason for Crowley's predilection for being the passive partner in acts of buggery.   We shall examine the Crowley input shortly.  Yes, Crowley, therefore, was a black magician - even if all his magical working was innocuous, of no detriment to others and sublime. 

(Please check out his magical practices with Victor Neuberg in the 3rd Paris working of 1914 - this from his record:- "The name of this Phallus is Thoth, Hermes or Ma. Ma is the god who seduced the Phallus away  from the Yoni; hence the physical Universe. All worlds are excreta; they represent wasted semen. Therefore all is blasphemy."

The blasphemy I aver here is purely that of the mechanics of physicality.  I cannot and do not include homosexuality at the level of emotions or in terms of attraction in the mental realm where we are dealing with polarities, i.e. when a man feels deeply that his human spirit is essentially feminine but has found its way perversely into a male vehicle.  This I can understand and with this I can sympathize.  Nevertheless, back to our comparison.

Keltic religion has none of the ‘working tools’ of the modern witch, NO nudity, magic circles, foreign Deities, foreign greetings, foreign terminology for meetings or anything else.   As power is present in varying degrees at all strata within The Absolute, we do not resort to  grinding it out of the human body via the circle dance but favour working with subtle energies or protyles on what I term 'sub-atomic' levels.

Unlike the modern witchcraft revivalist, members of Keltic families never have called themselves 'witches'.

This was a foreign term foist upon those who followed indigenous religion and upon those of other heretical leanings by the alien Anglo-Saxon invaders and enemies who stole the greater portion of our country.   This was as much a derogatory term as the insulting word 'dago' is today to describe one of Hispanic descent or ‘frog’ to describe a Frenchman.  Forget about the false information that 'wicca' meant 'wise'.

The Saxon laws stated clearly: "If any wicca or wiglaer or false swearer or any foul contaminated horcwenan (whore) be anywhere in the land, man shall drive them out. We teach that every priest shall extinguish all heathendom and forbid wilwcorthunga (fountain worship) and licwiglunga (invocations), hwata (soothsayings) and the abomination men use in the various crafts of wicca."

Penalties were laid down for wiglian (divining) by the moon, for worshipping sun, moon, wells, stones or trees, or for loving wicca.crafte.  And from this newly invented expression came the term 'witchcraft'. Wicca, therefore, was synonymous with the concepts of 'foul', 'false' 'worshiping of what was considered inanimate objects' and 'abomination' - nothing associated with 'wise' or 'wholesome' was in the minds of the Saxon legislature.

Remember too that very little of British origin is found within modern witchcraft.   I recall one Sunday afternoon in 1972 when two of Gerald Gardner's first initiates, the Crowthers sat talking with me and a number of my friends.   We were astounded when Patricia was heard to say: "Of course we know nothing of the Keltic legends and heritage!"  What an admission!  This same person some years later, when shown portions of my heritage, declared quite forcefully, "This is similar to that Keltic rubbish that Ruth has!"  (Ruth, of course, was Ruth Wynn Owen, leader of Y Plant Bran.)

At another visit to Ruth at Norfolk (picture on the right is from that visit) when this same person (the renowned High Priestess Patricia Crowther) was also in attendance, Ruth mentioned Merlin during a conversation.
 
Now as Ruth was recovering from a laryngectomy and was speaking by other means, the word was difficult to understand.  Of course Patricia in this situation kept saying, "Who?  WhoWho?" with increasing annoyance after every attempt by Ruth.

I eventually replied for Ruth and exclaimed "Myrddin Emrys!" in the broadest Welsh accent I could muster.  Ruth burst out laughing and croaked, "That's right!"   Patricia scowled more fiercely and was anything but amused - all of which goes to show that I have yet to meet a Wiccan who evidences any real desire to learn anything new (apart from hunting for more and more spells).   
Patricia Crowther

would you like to copy this one, honey?

Before me is a letter from the late Arnold Crowther dated 25:1:73 in which he wrote: "I think you are right about the names of the Goddess - names that were used in these islands.   He was becoming aware at that time of the existence of British traditions which should be heeded and to which one should become attuned.  Being a keen researcher of British folklore, he had grasped the possibility of trying to tune in to the Yorkshire tales of the god Hob and of the Leicestershire Annis or 'Black' Annis as the parochial goddess was termed.

The British pantheons, of which our tradition holds fast to one only, are far more complex structures than the two basic Deities of modern Witchcraft.   In "The Witches Speak" by Patricia and Arnold Crowther, we are told that The Craft has two deities only - the male is a god of Hunting and Death.

On the right is the statue of the Horned God of Witchcraft from the Museum at Boscastle.



The female deity is a goddess of Fertility and Rebirth.

This goddess is usually of Mediterranean origin such as Aradia from the Vangelo delle Streghe by Charles Leland, although Hecate, Diana and Aphrodite also find pride of place.   This is singular witness of the foreign importation.  Shown right is one painting of such a goddess.

.

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Gardner, of course, grafted the Goddess to the Horned God traditions of the medieval Saracenic-based cult.   This bi-polar effect is not unique to either the Gardnerian cult or the Keltic tradition - the Hindu 'purusha' & 'prakriti' with the male & female Deities implicit in these, the Oriental concepts of Yin & Yang, the Elohim of the ancient Hebrews and even the attempted balance in the Roman Church by Mary Queen of Heaven is sufficient to demonstrate the universal need for such equilibration.

Certainly, modern witchcraft uses the Solstices and Equinoxes - they are natural observable facts.   The Old British festivals are also used simply because they exist  and have always been part of the British social scene.  These latter are also used strangely enough by a) British Satanists and b) (un)Holy Mother Church.   Plagiarism is not a modern phenomenon!

For some considerable time, however, modern witchcraft has used the Irish Gaelic names of the major festivals.   Obviously they have not yet discovered or have not taken the trouble to ascertain the Keltic names of these festivals or the Gaelic names of the minor festivals.

FURTHER DERIVATIONS

To return to the stock-in-trade of the 'modernists', the markings on the Athame are from the grimoire 'The Clavicule of Solomon', as are the forms of consecration of water, salt, sword & wand.  (This, as most know, is of Jewish origin.)  It is interesting that these pages have been torn from the copy in the British Museum!  (by Gardner to hide the origins?)

The formation of the circle is common to The Clavicule, Crowley, The Golden Dawn et al., complete with the Lesser Ritual of The Pentagram. 

 Certain prayers are from The Metamorphoses of Apuleius (aka "The Golden Ass") and novels by Dion Fortune.   The Charge is taken partly from "The Gospel of The Witches" by Leland which is a description of Italian witchcraft and to which three portions of Crowley's "Liber al vel Legis" are liberally added and all tidied up and made metrical by the late Doreen Valiente.

The fragmentary format of certain festivals is padded out with various poems, e.g. Kipling's works, ('A Tree Song' at May Eve) while other rites are by Aleister Crowley.   The Third Degree contains one large portion of Crowley's "Gnostic Mass" part of which also forms the last two lines of the Candlemas invocation.   May Eve includes part of a Kipling poem while the Summer Solstice invocation includes a call to Michael, presumably The Archangel.   In the Autumnal Equinox rite we actually find one line from the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John!

The initiation ceremony is based upon the Masonic initiation - i.e. hoodwink, cable-tow, sword to the breast, password, oath, circumambulation of the lodge by the initiate and sponsor, a charge and presentation of the 'working tools'.   Like Freemasonic raising, there are three basic 'degrees' - the second of which is based upon Mediterranean legends, the third of which is furnished from Crowley's Gnostic Mass and The Liber al vel Legis.


There is even an invocation of 'The Devil' taken from a French play by Ruteboeuf in the First Degree Initiation!   (vide "An ABC  of  Witchcraft" by Doreen Valiente - 1973.)  The New Forest coven members had been masons and co-masons.  This is where we find the corruption "Merry Meet" which is from the masonic "Happy to meet, sorry to part and happy to meet again", the saying appearing in any good Masonic book of rituals.

No doubt many have discovered in the course of time that the anointing patterns of the three degrees are Qabalistic. The First Degree inverted triangle represents a lunar initiation with Yesod at its centre - Malkuth, Hod and Netsach.

The Second Degree is the inverted pentagram represented by all the sephiroth of the Microprosopus (the Son of Aatik Yomin) - Yesod, Geburah, Netsach, Hod and Chesed in that order.   Touched in this order, the pentagram is that used to invoke fire as the initiation is solar - all these sephiroth having Tiphareth (the sun sphere and root of fire) as the central point.

The Third Degree 'crowned pentacle' is the triangle Kether, Binah and Chokmah suspended over the upright pentagram of Daath, Hod, Chesed, Geburah and Netsach.

The three degrees, therefore, pass the candidate upwards via the middle pillar of the Otz Chiim from Malkuth through Yesod, Tiphareth to Daath whence one may cross The Abyss.  This is loosely analogous to the biblical saying "No man cometh to the father but by me" i.e. you may not proceed to Kether except first going through Tiphareth (The sphere of the sun god and all sacrificed gods).  Of course Yesod is conveniently omitted as it represents the Moon Goddess - anathema in scriptural patriarchal religions!

Another concept which escapes most is the use of the pentagram which is a two dimensional glyph.   When drawn not as a perfect glyph, however, but as an irregular five sided figure, it becomes a three dimensional tracing before you.

1

4               3

 2                    5

Points 1, 2 , 5, 1 represent one side of a pyramid - base line and height.  When drawing points 2, 3, 4 & 5, you have just delineated the square floor plan of a four-sided pyramid.  Standing on the 2 - 5 line (or perhaps a trifle behind it) and tracing the shape In the order of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and back to 1, the floor and one side of the pyramid has been outlined.

As you proceed from North to East then South and West, you have then outlined the base and all sides of a four sided pyramid.  This then is the three dimensional figure or energy zone which you have created and in which you work - not a circle bounded by 4 five-pointed stars hanging in mid-air.  This is understood to represent a structure inviting solar energies from above.  This order of tracing is a widdershins glyph kinaesthetically speaking, while a 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 tracing is a deosil glyph.  Make of that what you may................................

Similarly, should an inverse 'pentagram' be drawn, a pyramid inviting the lower Earth energies is constructed.

All these examples and comments refer to the basic Book of Shadows common to both Gardnerian and Alexandrian systems.  A close scrutiny of the degrees of the Golden Dawn will demonstrate the closeness between the raising through the elements which we have seen in the Wiccan degrees.

If we examine the entry on Gardner in the "ABC of Witchcraft" by Valiente, we are informed that Gardner was a  pioneer nudist and that his version of The Craft reflected his own ideas and the fact that those who initiated him were co-masons.  Gardner met Crowley, she continues, the year before the latter's death and his use of  Crowley's work in the rites demonstrates his admitted high regard for latter's writings. 

 He confided in Valiente that the material given to him by his initiating coven was fragmentary and that he supplemented this with Crowley's writings as he felt it produced  the correct atmosphere.  Evidently Doreen did not possess the knowledge of the Golden Dawn system to see the full gamut of the Crowley input.

Another point which is overlooked is the fact that Idris Shah was employed by Gardner as secretary in the 1950s by which time Gardner was based on the Isle of Man.  Shah then must have fed these choice minutiae of foreign occult folklore to his employer who greedily absorbed them into his new Wicca.

By now we can see some of the avenues by which Gardner was able to cobble together this counterfeit system.  None of the aforementioned facts, however, were readily available to the early initiates of Wicca, as the Idries Shah material did not appear until publication of his The Sufis in 1964 and in his Secret Societies (under his pseudonym of Arkon Daraul) until 1961. The Clavicule of Solomon, although now in print as a paperback, was translated into Latin only in 1889 by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, my old hardback U.S. copy stemming from 1916 and others much later.  The Golden Dawn although published in 1940 did not reappear as the revised and enlarged version until 1969.

So the many lies could not be questioned in the early 1950s when initiates were told that certain texts and marks etc. were those of ancient British witches!  Although these early initiates of Gardner had possibly heard of such works as the Clavicule of Solomon, The Lemegeton/Goetia or The Magus and the Golden Dawn, none had ever set eyes upon them.

I remember one visit by the late Arnold Crowther when he was intrigued on seeing my copy of The Magus, a hardback of the early 1970s, and on opening it for the first time said, "I knew a queer once who paid fifteen pounds for The Magus.  Did you pay fifteen quid for this Magus - did you?!" Strangely he seemed more interested in the monetary value of the book rather th an its contents.
Arnold  Crowther



There is some mention made of Gardner in Francis King's book "The Magical World of Aleister Crowley".   He says that, as Gardner had a predilection for not only occultism but flagellation, he incorporated the elements of flagellation, nudism and copulation into his concept of 'Witchcraft'.   It is also reported that Gardner paid Crowley a considerable sum to compose ritual material for him, as he himself lacked the necessary creative ability.

In his book "The Secrets of Aleister Crowley", Crowley's own SON relates in fine detail the meeting between his father and Gardner when the latter commissioned the former to compose the rituals of 'The Craft' and even discloses the price for the exercise.

This is where the person called 'Old Dorothy' (as Gardner kindly referred to her) enters the saga.  Gardner implied that this lady, and to append her surname, Dorothy Clutterbuck, was his initiator into the New Forest Coven.  Oh yes, there was indeed a real local Dorothy Clutterbuck Fordham who was a staunch Christian and who had married late in life (age 55) a certain Rupert Oswald Fordham in 1935.  He was not only a Justice of the Peace but also an officer of rank in the Salvation Army. Moreover there had  been never any hint of witchcraft or any mysterious interests connected with this lady at any time in her life.  On her death in 1951 she even left a sizeable legacy to a local Anglican vicar.

It is often repeated how Doreen Valiente proved that Mrs. Clutterbuck Fordham really existed.  This is now no longer a major feat of investigation as 21st century on-line programs such as Ancestry.com, etc. are reliable investigative allies.  What was never proved, however, was her role as initiator or indeed that she was ever a member of any witch coven. On the contrary, as we have seen, her Christian connections were well established.



Latimers' - Home of the late
Dorothy Clutterbuck

Nevertheless, Gardner was to make this wild claim only after the lady's death.  Dorothy's husband of but 4 years had died in a road traffic accident on 31st May 1939 but she was supposed to have initiated Gardner 4 months into her period of profound grief in September of that year.  This makes his claim even more unbelievable.

Seldom revealed facts about Dorothy Clutterbuck are present on this linked website.  Here one may read an account of the proceedings at "The High Court Of Justice, Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division as reported in The Times of 14th January 1941.  The subject: Grant of Letters of Administration Revoked - FORDHAM, R. O. DECEASED, before Mr. Justice Bucknill."

The Court heard that "The deceased's first wife died in 1900, and he married again in 1905.  The second wife died in 1913.  He married a third wife in November, 1916.  She became mentally afflicted in 1930 and was in a mental institution.  On August 8, 1935, the deceased went through a form of marriage with Miss Dorothy St. Quintin Clutterbuck at the Kensington Register Office, and shortly afterwards he transferred to her £100,000 worth of brewery shares."  (This marriage was evidently bigamous and invalid.)

"After the death of the deceased Miss Clutterbuck who was known as Mrs. Fordham, covenanted as settlor to provide for the comfort and maintenance of the third wife of the deceased at a mental institution if the latter survived her.  Miss Clutterbuck had been sending monthly cheques for the support of the third wife."  This comprehensive page has been  researched and compiled by William Wallworth, PO Box 24768  San Jose, CA 95154-4768   USA  "Last Updated on November 5, 2012 Monday 4:13 PM."

Be all this as it may, who then did initiate Gerald Gardner? 

His initiator was 'Dafo', a member of the same naturist club  as Gardner (where they met in 1939) and a member of the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Crotona and of the New Forest coven which the Fellowship concealed. 


This is perhaps why he was to bring Dorothy Clutterbuck into the frame.  Dafo, or to give her proper name, Edith Woodford-Grimes, was the estranged wife of the local vicar - such a separation in its day being quite a scandal.

She and Gardner, who was also married, were engaged in an illicit sexual liaison and as neither could obviously use his/her own residence in which to meet, they may have used the home of Dorothy who must have known Edith.

(Was Edith's husband the same vicar who was beneficiary of the Clutterbuck estate in 1951?)  This then was Gardner's method of protecting his paramour from the further scandal of adultery.  It was this same Edith who was later to complain strongly of Gardner's intention to make the 'craft' public.

(We must not forget Gardner's insistence that the circle is the space between the worlds and that "what happens between the worlds is of no concern of this world" is an inbuilt adulterer's charter.)

Why always append "Old" to Dorothy Clutterbuck?  This indeed may be the real reason. As for the mysterious 'Old' Dorothy Clutterbuck who was supposed to be Gardner's initiator into the Witch Cult, this name was derived from 'Old Mother Clutterbuck', a pseudonym adopted by Aleister Crowley (from a pantomime character) on one occasion for a code name in the early 1940s.  Here we have a humourous twist of this name by Gardner - again to effect concealment - but this time by encoding his source of information (To Mega Therion - Crowley) and creating the false link with the late Mrs. Clutterbuck Fordham.

As we have seen, Crowley's son confirmed that his father had met Gardner and that he was actually present at the negotiations regarding Crowley's composition of the Wiccan rituals.  So in reality, 'Old Mother Clutterbuck' (Crowley) took Gardner's germ of an idea and became the real Mother and developer of Gardner's brainchild and, therefore, the real Mother of Wicca!   I can visualise the 'Great Beast' nodding in agreement from beyond the grave.  Should Gardnerian Witchcraft, then, be renamed Crowleyan Witchcraft to give all honour where it is due, with Idries Shah perhaps recognised as the prime researcher?

Why, then, was Gardner compelled to go to such lengths in an attempt to formulate his spurious patchwork system?

He had been initiated into this so-called 'witch coven' by a group in the New Forest and some aver that he had never received any higher degrees. Not only was the material of this group fragmentary but of that he received very little as, when hearing his views on nudity, sex and especially possible publicity etc., they swiftly parted company with him.   This is why many other established traditional groups thereafter recognised the Gardnerian initiates as 'inferior products', as Gardner had not obtained the necessary degree and, therefore, the authority to initiate others.

A letter from the late Ruth Wynn Owen, head of a traditional family who knew the New Forest Group is before me and is dated 19th September 1974.  I quote:"Daffo would have had a fit if she had initiated him and thought he was going to start up a big thing with her stuff.  He and Bracelin wrote the 'Laws' etc.........".

That which appeared to cement the structure into a cohesive whole was the Book of Shadows, believed by early initiates to be standard throughout the land.  We have heard strange and ludicrous tales of how identical copies of this book, a patchwork drawn from sources which I have shown to be indeed legion, were supposed to have existed for generations from the North of Scotland to East Anglia and Dorset - a form of a nationwide "Witchcraft Book of Common Prayer".

This was a magical myth, as each group had been autonomous, self supporting and self generating with concepts, festivals and rituals unique and commensurate with the needs of each individual group .  Even the source legends and practicalities of Y Plant Bran and Y Plant Dôn which at one time may have existed but some 50 miles apart in North Wales are fairly different!   Of course these important sociological and historical factors of the British Mystery scene had been completely overlooked and logical analysis of the aberration's germination utterly ignored in the initial fervent elation of the early days of Wicca.

When Ian, a late Marchawc of Y Plant Dôn from mid-Wales found himself in conversation with some Gardnerian practitioners and guided them to this website, their immediate comment was, "My god, we never knew stuff like this existed"!


GERALD GARD
NER - THE MAN


Was Gardner the type of person to present something as genuine because it suited his purpose when he knew full well to the contrary?  The following should provide a clear affirmative answer. Further material is to be found in "Modern Witchcraft" by Frank Smyth where chapter 3 is devoted to Gerald B. Gardner.

Smyth reports that Gardner welcomed the notoriety which membership of The Craft had brought as the publicity was evidently beneficial to the flourishing of his Museum of Witchcraft on the Isle of Man with appending maximization of profits.;-

Here then is the real reason and prime motivation for publicity in Gardner's invention of a new pagan religion, because the exercise was completely redundant as an ethnic form of British paganism already existed in all its diversity in these islands .  The reason - the motivation? The avaricious preoccupation with PROFITABILITY!

Gardner outside his Museum of Magic and Witchcraft,
The Witches' Mill, Castletown, Isle of Man.
Quite a derelict premises in need of considerable  capital for restoration!

Indeed it is unnecessary to tell anyone, let alone the world at large, what one’s religious beliefs are unless such an exercise suits one's purpose.

(How many people know whether their next door neighbour is a Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Church of England or even an agnostic?!   One usually keeps one's religious and political affiliations to oneself as they are a very private matter.   At least this is the case in Britain.  My neighbours simply know me as the retired disabled old man next door - even getting my first name wrong at times on the annual Christmas card!)

Certain revealing facts emerge about Gardner in chapter 3 of "Modern Witchcraft" by Frank Smyth:-

  1. Gardner's travels in the Canary Islands and North Africa with his.Irish
      nannie.  Gardner's hobbies were collecting daggers and knives.

  2. His teaching himself to read from the age of 7 - 16 with the aid of
,,,,, Strand Magazine.

  3. When his nannie married he sailed with the pair to settle in Colombo.

  4. He  functioned as a rubber planter, customs officer and amateur ,,,,,,archaeologist in various countries - Ceylon, Malaya & Borneo
......until his retiral in 1963 to England.

  5. In 1939 he became a nudist and a witch and joined the Folk Lore
.... Society.  He was also co-founder of a nudist colony at St. Alban's.

  6. He suddenly appears as an M.A. and Ph.D. in 1950.

  7. In 1963 the 'Author's Who's Who' attributes to him the degrees of Ph.D. &
      D.Litt. and states he was educated privately.

  8. He had admitted to Bracelin, a fellow nudist, that he had taught himself to
      read.  No record exists of his having attended any school whatsoever.

  9. The degrees were not honorary so one would expect that he had obtained
      these externally from some unknown university and had hidden the fact with
      great modesty.

10. Gardner, however, was not known to be a modest man and one co-witch
      brands him as a "tremendous snob".

11. Gardner delivered a learned paper at the Congress on Maritime Folklore &
      Ethnology at Naples in 1954 on Manx fishing craft.  Stewart Sanderson,
      Director of the Institute of Dialect & Folk Life Studies at Leeds University,
      revealed that Gardner gave no references and that the work was largely taken
      from existing researches
and publications, augmented with a leavening of
      folk lore.

Sanderson actually identifies the  works and authors - "The Development of the Manx Fishing Craft" in Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (1952) by Eleanor & Basil Mewgaw and an article in "Mariner's Mirror" (April 1941).   There had been no original work by Gardner, the paper being simply a 'scissors and paste' job.

12. Miss Christina Hole remembers when, at a meeting to decide the.council of
      the Folklore Society for the coming year, Gardner's presence on the council
      and his reflection upon it were seriously questioned.  All of the above
      certainly qualify the integrity of Gardner in quite a negative light to say the
      least.

Some thirty plus years after writing this dissertation, I find others still corroborating.portions of my account.

Nevertheless, Gardner's claim to fame is the fact that he invented a new albeit meagre religion based upon many cobbled-together pieces of historic flotsam and jetsam gleaned from various sources as I have shown and had it accepted as a truthful credo - even as Emperor Constantine had done at the 1st Council of Nicaea from 21st June 325 to mid-November 326 a.d. (or 330 a.d. in other records) in inventing Christianity from the motley and spurious detritus of its day.

Being a nudist. he made that a sine qua non of the cult and being a priapic. brought in sex and flagellation as essential features

Bearing in mind the gullibility of his early initiates and those
 who "followed in their train", spreading this gospel of
untruth, perhaps I may be permitted to regurgitate a
catch-phrase of the British entertainer
Bruce Forsyth as Gardner's epitaph:-

Didn't He Do Well!

Now let us continue with the further development of 'Wicca' in the late 1960s and 1970s by Orrel Alexander Carter or Sanders - another opportunist who, in perpetrating what was really a secondary deception, was himself conned (and quite ironically) by the Gardner scam!  By now we have a plot worthy of a theatrical farce!


.THE LATE ALEX SANDERS



Sanders claimed to be a 'hereditary witch' initiated by his Welsh grandmother in 1933 when he was 7 years of age.   This would make his birth year 1926. Ancestry.co.uk corroborates this natal event under his father's name of Carter.
..

According to June Johns' biography of Sanders his grandmother was 59 years his senior - i.e. having been born c. 1867.  She must have been functioning, therefore, allegedly as a witch by at least 1902 (aged 35) with a 'Book of Shadows' IDENTICAL to the Gardnerian book which had not yet been written!

Bearing in mind she came from Bethesda in North Wales (according to "The King of The Witches" by June Johns - 1969), not one word of Welsh appears in Sanders' copy of the grandmother's book or indeed any reference to the Keltic Gods (apart from the 3 passing mentions of Kerridwen and 1 of Arianrhod, as does the Gardnerian texts).

One wonders how she came into possession of a book, the fragmentary portions of which originated in the New Forest coven - especially at the end of an era where a journey of over 1OO miles from one's home was the event of a lifetime!   Any reputable sociological work, e.g. that of Musgrave, will confirm this latter fact as will any map that the round trip from Bethesda to the New Forest and back is some 600 miles.

Furthermore the completed book she was supposed to have used perhaps c. 1902 included the words of the Third Degree Rite containing  part of Crowley's Book of The Law - written by Crowley on 8th, 9th & 1Oth of April 19O4/in Cairo, Egypt and prepared with his comments for publication in The Equinox 1 in 1912.!!   (vide The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, chapter 49.)

With a little thought and logic, these glib lies of Sanders fall open  to public gaze very swiftly.

MISAPPROPRIATION AND MUTATION OF
GARDNER'S CHIMERA

It is interesting to note that, although the Alexandrian 'book' is identical to the Gardnerian, many of the ritual movements and the general working are totally wrong.  This one would expect if the book had been covertly copied WITHOUT either initiation or instruction at the hands of a competent Gardnerian worker. 

An example of such slips was the error in pantacle markings in "What Witches Do" by the late Stewart Farrar.

I remember a visit to Stewart at Rowan Road, London in the summer of 1971 - a pleasant afternoon during which I played a few songs by Purcell on piano for him from his (first) wife's songbook.  Later he brought out the final  proof of the book for me to check through over afternoon tea and this is when I noted the error.  Nevertheless I found the mistake had been rectified when he sent me an autographed copy on publication.

Stewart Farrar

I have a letter to hand from Stewart dated 20th September 1971 in which he says, "You're quite right about the pentagram becoming upright for the third degree; I'm afraid that's a mistake in my book (illustration page 84).  I'm a bit cross with Alex about that, because he saw the illustration and didn't draw my attention to it."   Whether this was a deliberate 'blind' in the Gardnerian book which Sanders had copied or whether he did not wish the correct sign to appear in print, I shall never know.   (Picture of Stewart above is as I remember him some 40 years ago.)

To reinforce my belief that some Alexandrian ritual movements were at variance with the Gardnerian text, here is yet another error I revealed to Stewart Farrar in the early days - c. 1973 if my memory is correct. Although they were aware of the 'crown pentacle' being used in the third degree, the points of the body kissed were totally wrong.

Unaware of the fact that the points should be those of the five-fold kiss, he had the crown triangle traced on forehead and two shoulders.  In so doing, they were forced to invent a text to rationalise this, e.g. "Blessed be thy shoulders which shall bear the cloak of the Goddess".  Although pointing out the error, I never corrected it for Stewart, so this remained the pattern in the early 1970s.  As time progressed with cross fertilisation of material due to the mingling of Alexandrian and Gardnerian initiates, such mistakes most likely have been eradicated.

Other practices of some traditional groups had never found their way into the Gardnerian or Alexandrian structure, e.g. the cutting of hair from the pubic area of the body and both armpits which formed the inverted triangle of the first degree initiation.  This was retained with the initiate's measure perhaps for imitative/contagious magical work should any initiate incur the wrath of the group via betrayal.

To return, however, to Sanders' prevarications, I have on file a letter from 'Nest'. a southern group leader and dated 9:11:7O.   She writes:-

"We have excellent reasons for doubting the claims made by Sanders, some of us having come across him over 12 years ago when he was trying to persuade various groups in London & the North to accept him for initiation.   We also know how he came by the Gardnerian material he uses, which is a far from pretty tale."

The details of this are also known to the writer, as is the fact that a Yorkshire High Priestess at that time refused him initiation.   Indeed, many maintain vehemently that he had never been initiated in his life!

Nevertheless, much conjecture is now made on his initiation into the Gardnerian Craft by some who claim to know his initiator or friends of his initiator.  If he had been initiated by his grandmother as he claimed why did he seek further initiations - unless he was researching (as I had done) a different form of The Craft ?   Did he feel the first was insufficiently valid?

Sanders had met in Manchester a Gardnerian witch who had been initiated by Monique Wilson at the Witches' Mill in Castletown, Isle of Man - a certain Geof. B.

This male witch had brought back to Manchester a copy of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows which belonged to a farmer in the Isle of Man who was another initiate.   He intended making his own manuscript at leisure rather than perform the task piecemeal during various visits to the island.   Sanders, however, was to lay hands on this borrowed book and make his own copy.   Soon after this he appeared on the Mysteries' scene with all the publicity he craved, eventually proclaiming that he was "King of the Witches".

In a letter to me of 31st October 197O, Scotty Wilson of The Witches Mill, Isle of Man stated:-

"We know that about seven years ago he (Sanders) was using rituals which were not of the Wicca, practising a sort of bastard Egyptian ritual.  The circle should be ruled by the High Priestess.  The Egyptian Mysteries, based on Sun Worship and ruled by a Male Priesthood have no part in the Wicca."  (Where was his grandmother's original material then?) Irrespective of Sanders' early background (mythic or factual) it is said he did receive a valid Gardnerian initiation c. 1963 from one Pat Kopinski (or Kopanski) in Derbyshire.  What he did following this, therefore, could be considered genuine and not a tissue of lies as some erroneously aver.

Nevertheless, Patricia Crowther, who met Sanders on c. three occasions and refused him initiation, publicly informed the audience at a pagan conference in 1996 that Kopanski was but a 1st degree witch at that time and had no authority to initiate.  If, however, that initiation ceremony did occur, then one could also argue in Sanders' favour that, if the intent and sincerity of heart were genuinely uppermost in both initiator and proselyte, then the outcome of the rite could be positive and valid.  This entire argument re a valid initiation must remain rather muddled and muddied to say the least.

As a direct illustration of Sanders' pitiful attempts to impress, I recount one or two of my own memories of the man.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

On my first visit in the late 60s to Clanricarde Gardens, West London and while chatting with Alex about my musical background, he called Maxine through to the lounge and said, "Come here, Maxine, this explains the organ I've been seeing materialise on the far wall."  He recounted how he had been seeing a small organ with pipes appearing in and out of vision for some days.  He then said this had been a clairvoyant indication of my coming visit.  Of course this was easy to say having just heard me talk to him about my ability on that instrument.

A genuine incidence of precognition was to be demonstrated on another visit to Nottinghill Gate as a small gathering was conversing with Alex about some Egyptian topics.  During this, I said (in nature of a 'wind-up') it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a ritual ankh on a pole to carry in procession as does the crucifer with the Calvary cross in Christian churches.  Heavens, after about twenty minutes, another member of Sanders' group arrived - Rusty, a tower crane driver, carrying a small gun-metal ankh fastened atop a brush handle painted black, all made a few days earlier.  Alex immediately pointed to me saying "He got that clairvoyantly about fifteen minutes ago!"

On another light hearted occasion, I remember vividly how a young concert soprano who was with me on a visit to the basement flat at Nottinghill Gate was duly baptised when Alex's young daughter Maya, who was sitting next to the singer on the settee, wet herself AND the adjacent soprano.   Everyone received the same heart-warming salutation in these days when the door was opened - "Come in, you bastard" or "Where have you been, you bastard?", this idiom of illigitimacy being a term of endearment for the Sanders who warmly welcomed all to their home.

The sequella of this was my making by hand an 18" high ankh in hammered brass, beautifully finished and gleaming with three holes in each cross arm from which small bells could be hung and a brass Rod of Isis lightly soldered on the lower arm.  This I presented to Alex a few months later to remind him of that afternoon and I'm sure he used it in one future film about 'The Craft', eventually donating it to Rusty.

Some may find it incongruous to place a Rod of Isis on the lower arm of the ankh.  The reason for this is one assumes the lower arm to represent the phallos approximating the womb - hence the tout ensemble represents fertilization. 

There is a different interpretation, however, one that reveals the ankh as an icon of Total Maternity.  The loop is the womb and the two cross members are the fallopian tubes.  The lower arm in this interpretation is the vagina, the portal of birth.  Here there is nothing that separates the telesmic image of Isis from the birth concept.  This is entirely in keeping with those who are devotees of the Avia or Grand Cosmic Matriarch.

I had visited Sanders on a number of occasions and had had a great deal of contact with him by telephone.   This had been a fact finding mission to probe in considerable depth the authenticity of the cult.   Nevertheless, he was totally unaware of my own background in The Mysteries at that time prompting him to say "Maxine, we've got a self-initiate here".    Nevertheless I did inform him much later of the details of my family connection.  I repeated a few snippets of my texts on one occasion to which his remark was, "You must give me a copy of these - I'd love to have them". (I bet he would!)  I never did though, as I had no wish to hear them in some future low-budget film called perhaps "The Keltic Rites of Alex Sanders"  On another visit he persuaded me to read out all the Italian texts of 'Il Vangelo delle Streghe' by Charles Leland as he had never heard these enunciated fluently in the original.

Another leader of a Welsh group, Ruth Wynn Owen - an actress by profession, had made similar visits (while in residence on occasions in her London home) dressed as a 'maiden aunt' who appeared to hang on Sanders' every word. 

She too concealed her hereditary background but gleaned material with which to compare modern Wicca with her totally different Kymraec system.

She and I were later to compare notes on this publicised "Witchcraft" that appeared to lack the Keltic Deities and the very spirit of our respective Welsh systems.

..
Ruth Wynn Owen

Seated one evening in Sanders' flat in either 1968 or 1969, I watched as he lectured to his young students on how he had obtained from the 'inner planes' the glyph and attributes of Aschmunadai, an intelligence of the zone girdling the earth.   (What this had to do with Gardnerian witchcraft is still a mystery.)   As all his chelas were feverishly copying the diagram, he wandered round the room and came up to me.


Sigil of Aschmunadai

On being asked if I didn't wish to copy the glyph, I replied that I too had Franz Bardon's "The Practice of Magical Evocation" which illustrates this glyph amid countless others.   He looked at me sheepishly, eventually grinning and said, "Shut up, you bastard" in his soft Manchester accent.    He later offered the lie that Franz Bardon was his pen name and that he was indeed the  author - despite Bardon's photograph appearing in 'Initiation Into Hermetics' and 'The Key To The True Quabbalah'!

I did appreciate Alex's wry sense of humour as the above evidenced.  On one occasion I asked him about the two orders to which he belonged, The Knights of Ducalion and The Order of The Flood.  As he said that entry to these were by invitation only and extremely select, I inquired how many members there were.  His reply was, "Only one - me!"  At which we both were convulsed in laughter.

Sanders was to surface with these ludicrous claims in the late 196Os, eventually revealing the 'secrets of the craft' in a number of low-budget sensational films.   His disciples have written a number of books committing to print the entire Gardnerian & Alexandrian systems, despite having taken the oath NOT to reveal the "secrets of The Art" and have made a good living from the revelation.   This oath is evidently redundant now, as the full details of the Wiccan systems have been in the public domain for some considerable time.

When one inspects the Alexandrian system, not only is the Gardnerian basis there in its entirety but also the top-coat of Egyptian trappings, Qabalistic symbolism - Sephiroth, magical evocation plus techniques from The Magus by Francis Barrett and much more, as "What Witches Do" reveals.

Having made these comments on Sanders, I can add this paradoxical observation.  When talking with him alone in the morning hours, I mean about 8 a.m., one was very much aware of a Gemini trait in the man - a decidedly bifurcated personality.  On the one hand he was the showman, eager for publicity and unafraid of controversy.  On the other, however, when all the masks were down and he exuded a mood of seriousness and honesty, he was one of the most sincere devotees of the Goddess I have ever known. I'd defy anyone to say otherwise and try to take this attribute from him.

On one such occasion as these one-to-one chats he said, "People say I'm insane but I'm only insane in my love for The Goddess"And I believed him implicitly.  His breadth of knowledge in the realm of comparative mythology, especially Egyptian and Classical, was indeed vast.   I am glad to be able to reveal these things, so explain to me, if you will, the enigma that was Alex Sanders.   My last memory of Maxine was at a Pagan Conference around 2001 when she delivered a talk on Alex.  Her final words were, "Some say he was a charlatan.  Yes. he was a charlatan but also a bloody good magician!"

.................Dr JOHN B. SCORE

Dr.John B. Score, a 'hereditary', whose ancestor had been executed on charges of so-called 'witchcraft' in the 17th century, who founded both The Wiccan magazine and The Pagan Front in the late 1960s wrote a great deal exposing Sanders and indeed others of dubious character on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr John B. Score

He was fearless in such forays as was his approach to confronting many tabloid newspapers and members of parliament when bigots raised their heads to attack the various forms of The Mysteries.  A champion of all alternative therapies and an expert herbalist, he spearheaded the then innovative hydrogen peroxide treatment of cancer in the late 1960s and early 1970s,

Indeed his Doctorate in Naturopathy was conferred upon him by a U.S. University for his sterling work in herbal therapies.   We were both amazed how ancient remedies seem to circle back into common usage centuries later.   The best known example is how in 1775 a certain Dr. Withering found a patient who was obviously moribund with heart disease to suddenly recover.   The patient confessed he had consulted a Shropshire gypsy for an herbal cure, at which reply the good doctor searched for the lady and bought her secret remedy - purple foxglove or digitalis purpurea.  Its sythesized form of Digoxin is still used by the medical profession.

Another ancient cure involving bees' honey as the major factor, among other fanciful ingredients of questionable value, has been resurrected in the 20th century as Manuka honey to treat difficult epithelialization of wounds by dermatologists and podiatrists.  It appears that in many instances it is not a case of discovering something new but of remembering something old.

Although these two examples stem from a period of what may be called 'witch' history, there is another which I found that defies such a parochial time-line.  In the Tantric system of chakras, the Swadhisthana Chakra which is located in the sacral region of the etheric body is often called the sexual chakra.  The Deity is the Sakti Rakini with three eyes, projecting fangs, and bleeding nostrils sitting on a red lotus.   One wonders why the ancient Tantriks evolved this picture many thousands of years ago.  And more importantly, what is the connection of nose bleeds with sexuality?

In the 1950s, a discovery became the paliative treatment to control severe epistaxses (nosebleeds) found in Hereditary Haemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT for short), otherwise known as Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome, a genetic affliction - the administration of ethinylestradiol, a man-made form of the female hormone oestrogen, by oral medication.  This thickened the walls of the nasal structures thus protecting any aberrant telangiectases, spider naevi or bleeding points.   Again an amazing case of unconsciously remembering something old!

Those who have the complete series of The Wiccan produced in his lifetime will savour not only his forthright words but also his incomparable work in the field of vegetarianism and natural & complementary medicine.  He wrote to me on 24/6/74. "Inevitably, it seems, I have begun to collect those who have suffered (and lived to tell the tale) from orthodox medicine!  I have a case where Cortisone was prescribed (& taken), for 12 years and a long long history of ill health & surgery ad nauseam."   From a letter of 8th March 1974 - "And just to mention that the Radiethetic Analyser I have been building is now tentatively operational.  (Mark I, Mk II is to follow.)  No hospital should be without  one at least!"   From a letter of 26/4/74 - "I think you are right in connecting the Sephiroth and chakras with the endocrine system." These things from one who was embroiled in opposing amendments to a Health Service Bill and the lobbying of members of The House in addition to producing 'The Wiccan' and answering mountains of correspondence.

My lengthy file of correspondence with my old friend still exists, containing a wealth of exchanged ideas on health and other political & sociological issues which continued in live discussion during our meetings.  On visits to 'Pine Glen', it was customary to be housed each night in "The Hall of The Virgins"!  This was a large bedroom on the upper floor which was decorated in a pseudo-Egyptian style and which at one time had been the berth for two of his very young teenage nieces, hence the apt descriptor.

Many a night on my visits to West Moors we sat until the early morning hours sampling his various home made wines while I used to stare curiously at the rear view of the television.  Eventually I found out the reason for this curious position - it was always reversed to face a corner and thus never in use as John refused to watch anything with a negative content.  In the same lounge was his black baby grand piano which he had specially tuned for one of my visits to Dorset.

On such nights, I was regaled with John's memories of a past incarnation - of how he and I as friends had been on a black path and partly responsible for the destruction of that fabled continent Atlantis.

Now these stories intrigue me as I seldom remember what I did in a dream two nights previous , if at all (unless that dream was of the nature of clairvoyance), let alone who I was in any past incarnation.  As I have said many times, it is the here and now with which I am concerned and how, as a metaphysician, I can live each present moment well.

Nevertheless I allow others to hold these memories - who am I to deny the veracity therein?  What does amaze me, however, are the memories of how one was a Norse princess, a leader of hosts in ancient Egypt or a priest of Isis!  I have yet to meet someone who remembers being a beggar in the streets of Moscow or a whore in 17th century London.   All I can say is that, on the few occasions when I have met a new acquaintance, a unique rapport is immediately generated which I suppose could be indicative of a previous contact.  Who knows?  I seldom dwell on these matters.

I shall always remember his last words to me by telephone near the end of 1979 - "Goodbye, old friend",  Two days later John was dead. the victim of widespread carcinoma.  Although unable to attend the funeral due to pressure of work in term, part of our 'Angladd' ceremony formed part of the burial proceedings.  I know his widow Jean approved and sent me the form of service in memory.  I did manage, however, to say my 'goodbyes' over his grave a few years later.

Some years after, I had a curious experience which I can but attribute to the connection we shared on a mental realm.   In a dream I found myself in a room of many people in conversation and I myself was speaking to one whom I knew was a writer.  He was of similar height to me but with white hair and, although I could not identify the man, he seemed familiar.  Our conversation ended and he turned to go but said very clearly, "Ring me tomorrow on Ferndown 5498."

On awakening I remembered this retort very clearly and thought, "My god, that was John's old number before STD was instituted"!    I, therefore, duly telephoned West Moors and had the call received by his widow Jean who was in bad trouble with a serious eye infection and who was quite isolated from relatives at the time.  She was indeed in need of advice, support and considerable healing.  The only explanation I can give is that the remaining etheric form of my late friend was aware of the situation but needed a contact on the physical realm that he knew would be trustworthy and effective.  The sequella of this some two years later, unfortunately, was Jean's loss of the infected eye which had deteriorated into a chronic condition.
               ...
COMPARISON UPDATE

We have examined at some length a spurious amalgam which  may have had its fragmented roots in a Hispano-Semitic importation of medieval times and  to which was grafted pseudo-Masonic, nudist, sado-masochistic, Greco-Roman and contemporary poetic features by a glib opportunist - the late Gerald B. Gardner.   In the 196Os this bastardized patchwork was subjected to further mutation with Egypto-Qabalistic elements added by a second opportunist and attention-seeker - the late Alex Sanders.

Our tradition, and indeed most other hereditary traditions I have encountered, has none, I repeat none of the above except the British festival dates which are our birthright!

Only the second part of the Gardnerian 'charge' bears any resemblance to the British spiritual core, both on account of the style and fervour of language and the mention of Cerridwen the Goddess.   This small portion of all the writings is obviously one of the few fragments relating to Keltdom possessed by his initiator and handed out to Gardner.

Has all this anything whatsoever to do with the
British
Isles and the Keltic or Gaelic peoples?

If any foreign import is to be considered valid in British spiritual systems, as modern witchcraft obviously suggests, are we to include, in our present era, Hindu Deities, the Islamic Allah, all the West Indian Voodoo Gods and perhaps the Star of David as a secret sign?!  (All perchance to appease multiculturalism?)   A line must be drawn and be seen to be drawn to prevent the spiritual nausea which such cross-fertilised spurious conglomerations provoke.

SUCH IS THE GROTESQUE ABERRATION
KNOWN AS 'WICCA' OR 'WITCHCRAFT'. 

Unfortunately in Britain we have been conditioned by the centuries' acceptance of a state religion which is founded upon a Semitic base, giving us a conditioned reflex which generates the belief that Choral Evensong is actually a part
of the British institution!


Thus any foreign concepts are now usually received with little question.  O! Iesu Mawr, miserere nobis!  (I just had to mix these two languages.)

We should be well advised to remember the words of Lewis Spence who, in his "Magical Arts in Celtic Britain", said: "What, indeed, have we Britons not lost in our quest for alien Magics and the neglect of our own native traditions!"

Indeed we could substitute 'Canadians', 'Americans', 'Australians', 'New Zealanders' etc. for "Britons" in the last sentence and thus purge the impertinent Anglo-Saxon colonialism yet prevalent in these countries. 

Rather than accept the new homeland in its entirety with all the rich parochial culture to be explored, how many times do we see the perpetuation of Welsh Associations, Caledonian and Burns Societies, pipe bands and Highland games together with 'Ye Olde English Wicca' in former colonies to the neglect of, for example, the ethnic American, First Nations' of Canada, Maori and ethnic Australian cultural treasure houses. 

Having robbed the indigenous peoples of their lands by ethnic cleansing, do they now seek to purge these lands of their spiritual driving-forces?  We applaud those who take a more enlightened approach as "Letter from Australia" demonstrates.  Illustration above is the badge of The Royal Caledonian Society of South Australia.

We are all too aware in the UK of the anachronistic tentacles of colonialism as we remain ensnared in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by the Germanic variety.   Yes, it never fails to amuse each time we hear the lie sung: "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves".  Since 55 b.c., Britons have been the slaves of Rome, the Angles, Jutes & Saxons and of c. 20 dynasties up to the present Hanoverian dynasty, all of which have lorded over our islands.  The latter continues to do so from an alien watered-down Hanoverian power-base in London although that is now in danger from our new unelected masters in Brussels!

If the descendants of the colonial settlers wish to hold fast to the culture of their ancestors' former homeland, one must ask why they do not return to Britain, the land of their heart and why their ancestors turned their backs on the British shores in the first instance.   Of course it was much easier to escape from social and economic injustices, fleeing to another continent, than to remain and fight for an improvement in such adverse conditions from within as did the majority of Britons.

THE KELTIC HERITAGE

Here I can but quote from my own tradition, although many other families, both Keltic and Gaelic, have considerable similarities and are equally valid and in complete harmony with these Islands.

I do not include here the various groups which purport to be Welsh, Keltic, Irish or Gaelic while appending the term "Wicca" or "coven", calling themselves witches, and describing themselves, when middle-aged, as 'crones', celebrating "Esbats" and "Sabbats" with pentagrams everywhere!  Amazing how they revel in absorbing terms such as 'witch' and 'crone' that are, in actuality, insults from an older time.)



Having examined what Wicca is, it is obvious that there can be no such thing as Keltic Wicca, Druidic Wicca, Gaelic Wicca or Norse Wicca.  And, although one may find New Zealand and U.S. Wicca etc., there is no such anomaly as Maori Wicca or Amerindian Wicca.  I think the message is clear now!  Oh yes, occasionally we find a group which asserts its British origins pointing out that their traditional "coven" is ruled by the "Magister."  The pertinent question here is: "What the hell has a second declension Latin noun to do with British religion?"

We have:-

  • no priests,
  • no magistri,
  • nor priestesses,
  • no high priests,*
  • nor high priestesses,*
  • no degrees,
  • no covens,
  • no circle dances,
  • no initiations,
  • no nudity,
  • (and thankfully no 'Eko, Eko, Azarak'!),
  • no words of consecration from the Clavicule of Solomon,
  • no texts from any grimoires whatsoever,
  • no text from Leland's 'Vangelo',
  • no Book of Shadows,
  • no Qabalistc clap-trap,
  • no Mediterranean or Egyptian trivia,
  • no foreign intricacies whatsoever,
  • no pentagrams,
  • nor hexagrams,
  • no archangels,
  • no angels,
  • no qlippoth
  • and no magic circles.
  • And most importantly, we are not 'witches'.
  • Bondage, flagellation, nudity and copulation, the sordid, precarious foundations of Wicca that are Gardner's legacy, we leave to the experts in Soho's private hard-core pornographic film studios in London.
* Do these terms not derive from the Jewish and Roman Catholic religions?  How often do we hear sung the motet "Ecce sacerdos magnus" ("Behold the great/high priest") when a bishop enters perhaps for a confirmation service?  "So what is their place in paganism", I have heard purists say?  Granted the Roman Republic had its Pontifex Maximus but by the time of Augustus this was a religio-political appointment and open only to patricians.  Pontifex became 'pontiff' and denoted a bishop when subsumed into Catholicism whereas before it simply had meant 'priest'.  So grudgingly we may say that the place of these terms is found in pre-Christian religious systems, even in ancient Jewry and Khem.

CAVEAT

Ideally the above toxic sexual triad of bondage, flagellation and sexual congress should be expunged from pagan rituals as the ancient days of  sacred prostitution and temple whores are long past. If perpetuated as obligatory or with lip-service to some covert paradigm or ethos in Wicca (with free indulgence) then the sexual element can but attract postulants with the primary motivation of carnal gratification which, with illimitable dissemination, could transmogrify the spirituality of the religion* to a mere physical/physiological caricature.
                    .
*Reminder:- religion = a system in which is 'religare', to reconnect one with the Source that provides her/his existence, entailing sacrifice of 'the ego'.  The maxim is "what may I give" NOT "what can I get".  With this in mind, everything falls into its alotted place easily and satisfactorily with the minimum of soul and conscience searching.

Remember that the coven led by Doreen Valient which broke from Gardner's Bricket Wood coven had already discarded sensibly the bondage/flagellation element in favour of the circle dance as a more effective power raising method. 

One important question arises - does one run the risk, when indulging in the Great Rite in actuality with many partners, of becoming infected with syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, papillomavirus (genital warts), chancroid, trichomoniasis and HIV, to say nothing of pediculosis pubis (crabs)?   ..

Or, does one use a properly concecrated condom during the rite?  Unfortunately, owing to the gossamer texture of these, they cannot be passed through the element of fire during consecration but perhaps the "fire in the loins" of both partners may finalize the consecration!

When one surveys the history of syphilis, no nation would ever admit to infection originating on its shores so the Italians called it the Spanish disease, while the French termed it the English disease and the English, reversing the slander, named it the French disease.  Could we eventually see these national descriptors in a few decades being supplanted by the idiom "The Wiccan Disease"?

But we DO have:-

  1. Deities (a pantheon of the family-tree variety) - entirely Keltic and we revere our Terrestrial Mother who grants us a living with all that this entails while venerating the instinctual and cerebral urges of the Lunar Lady and Her Consort.  We bathe and rejoice in the Solar Light, our Deity of Life, health and emotions, following His progress from birth to rebirth each year.  Yet above all do we freely give our adoration to the Cosmic Avia (Grand Mother) Who has displayed Her work in extruding the Universe and all its denizens, remembering with each breath that She dwells within us and we within the Dark Matriarch.

  2. The weapons of The Gods (e.g. Ysgwyd, Gleif, Hayarn & Calaur) and the implements of man (e.g. Carrec yr Altaur, Bacl, Gilb, Meddgorn, Bacl Gablau & Ffon y Gwahoddwr, etc.).

  3. The maleable and complex symbolism of The Keltic Cross (the equal armed cross of the elements) and The Runes with not a pentagram in sight.

  4. The functional symbolism of Y Kaerau,The Castles and the convergent spirals which fire the psycho-dynamics of all workings.  (Vide "The Taxonomy")





  6. The use of Y Gaer (Castle or Tower) as a telesmic base.

  7. The importance of Y Plant, Teulu or Warband as a group mind.

  8. Adoption into Y Teulu for outsiders.   (NO initiation, oaths  etc. - anyone who required an oath to keep her/his council could not earn   the trust of others and would not be acceptable.)  Acceptance into  Y Teulu for those who have allied themselves to us in times of.trouble - those who are of part of The Family "by Brother Right." .(In older times they who had been allies of The Warband in battle.)

  9. Natural growth within Y Teulu.   (No degrees of the Masonic variety.)



10. All festivals based upon family Keltic legends - some of which appear in the Red Book of Hergest, the White Book of Rhrydderch and the Black Book of Caermarthen, and a few which are unwritten.  (A portion of the Red Book is illustrated on the right.)


11. The usual social necessities of presentation of the newborn,  coming of age, marriage, recognition of parenthood and burial ceremonies.

12. All work is within the framework of Nature's laws with th intensified specificity of these.  (e.g. recognition of the validity of the instinct of self preservation which enables one to respond 'in kind' when attacked, unlike the Wiccan fear that any aggressive .response will rebound on the practitioner three-fold.   The family law is quite explicit on this - "Yet anger, if righteous, may not be.denied and the hosting of The Warband is ever just.")   One of our people in mid Wales described himself recently as "a pagan with teeth!"

13. Great attention to the psycho-dynamics of the system and their effects upon individual/group equilibration.  (e.g. One law avers: "Perhaps thou wearest the strong raiment of Kaer Aranrot.  Or in Kaer Wydyr thy cloak was fashioned at finer looms..........   Yet be thou ever mindful of the unseen Spinner of Kaer Fandwy whence .all proceed.")

14. All consider themselves as a "plentyn Teulu y Mamau" - i.e. a "child of The Family of The Mothers", NOT as a 'witch', wiccan,  magician, priest(ess), sorcerer, wizard, pagan, or by any other nonsensical name.   (Remember that the word 'witch' was a neologism coined by the Anglo-Saxon lawgivers and enemies of Keltic spirituality.)

15. Words, phrases and texts handed down are in Welsh - mostly in Middle Welsh although a few are in Old Welsh.  The Festivals and   other Ceremonies are really Psychodramas or Mystery plays in  which a portion of the 4th Branch Mabinogi is enacted.  Such an .event links into the never ending Cosmic legend and drama with appropriate biofeedback during which energy is received and.given. Occasionally one may find I have inserted a portion of an old Welsh folk song which is commensurate with the occasion or season.

16. The wording of ceremonies is not copied from elsewhere - not even from my writings by others.   If a couple or family move to.another area and will therefore continue to operate independently, each must write her/his own ceremonies based upon the common spiritual thread and what they have learned through experience.

Initially such writings may be rudimentary, but eventually what is produced may be infinitely SUPERIOR to anything I could hope to create.  The important point is that it will be 'right' for the individual, earned by each and given to them via spiritual inspiration, not by me. This ensures the hallmark of Divinity on all proceedings not the stamp of one individual which would merely perpetuate yet another personalized cult.

17. There is no cell, branch, group or kaer of Y Plant Dôn out with the United Kingdom of Great Britain - it is NOT for exportation to colonial lands or any land worldwide whatsoever, although we have known a few to steal our writings and concepts and on a few occasions attempt to steal our identity by falsely claiming to be of Y Plant Dôn. These wannabes are to be pitied!   There is, however,.only one lady entitled to call herself a member of Y Plant who lives out with mainland Britain - and this due to extenuating circumstances.  (vide FAQ Page)

What now becomes apparent is the total non-existence of valid spiritual contacts, to say nothing of integrity etc., in Gardner, Sanders and those of similar ilk.   Their lack of creativity ensured enslavement to the Book of Shadows, each daring not to change one word and thereby denying The High Gods of valid textual and allied emotional offerings. 

Quite a compliment really to the contributor of much of the Wiccan rituals, Aleister Crowley, 'To Mega Qhrion' - (To Mega Therion), The Great Beast as he described himself.

They enjoyed their reward - the notoriety, publicity and the money which such exercises attract.    The great reward of contributing to Divinity of one's efforts and talents completely eluded them.   Such is the sorry epitaph of these revivalist 'witches' (as they styled themselves)

Fortunately, by the late 1990s, Gardner is being ignored by the modern 'Wiccans' and Sanders is still to some extent persona non grata.

Alexandrians per se are marginally represented in British Wiccan/Pagan organisations.   Such as were initiated perhaps in the main have outgrown their brief foray into Mystery working.  Most others together with third generation Gardnerians have developed a more open minded and free thinking approach to their personal development - their healthy quest breaking down the  barriers erected by Gardner to rediscover the local Deities of Britain.

There also appears to be a spreading amalgam of the two traditions, e.g. those initiated into the Alexandrian system who obtain a raising in the Gardnerian or those who have 'been raised' in one system eventually joining a group and even heading a group of the other persuasion.

Some genuine inspiration is now permeating the creative writings of Wiccans of the present era and no doubt the stereotypical material of the original Book of Shadows will be superceded eventually by rituals and ceremonies of excellent value which will stand as monoliths of worth in the annals of pagan composition and which will prove beyond all doubt that modern Wiccans have forged valid spiritual contacts, not via the Book of Shadows, but by their own merit and devotion.   I applaud their tenacity, piety and labour and fervently long to see this development flourish.  They may eventually even purge the entire 'system' of all foreign imports - who knows?
                            .
Strangely enough, the very existence of the concocted Book of Shadows and the contents thereof which each initiate copied conscientiously became, as did the system, an 'open sesame' which facilitated contact and integration of initiate with initiate and group with group throughout the UK and now throughout Europe and indeed the world - much in the same manner as permits visiting freemasons access to different lodges worldwide.





THE GARDNER & SANDERS SEQUELLA - A REAPPRAISAL

The IDEAL function of Wicca could be to make it a pivotal magnet for the legends and Deities of each individual country, in the language of each country that is non-English speaking, thereby allowing it to become a ground-plan upon which to build individual, free and.uniquely.domestic. pagan.systems. If anyone has attempted to experiment in this wise, I should be overjoyed to hear of the satisfactory outcome by a message written in the guest book.  Yes indeed, there is much rethinking, revision and original reconstructive work yet to be done by all initiates.

Should this suggestion ever become reality, I would be the first to give both Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders a standing ovation, cheering them to the heights of heaven for bringing equilibration back to worldwide religious practices!   Now let these words of mine be put on record.

Then we should not have the incongruous phenomenon of a Polish, Russian, Romanian, Dutch or German Wiccan doing her "very British thing" - delivering the Charge of The Goddess (Artemis, Astarte, Aphrodite, Dione, Diana, Bride etc.) in English BUT as if she were in "Lacedaemon in Sparta"!  (In fact Lakedaimwn, the Greek Lakedaimôn [note the correct Attic Greek spelling] WAS Sparta.)

Time to re-read the Vangelo, an account of Italian 'witchcraft'?  The original texts are in Italian!

This curious preoccupation by foreign people with trying to do what they imagine was done of old by British so-called 'witches' certainly reveals an ever extending form of British colonialism or religious hegemony over worldwide paganism thus obscuring parochial myths and legends by which individual and unique paradigms are transmitted down the generations.

Wise up! and claim your independence (and language, as did the Northern Scots and the Welsh) - the British Empire is no more and the world map has no longer great masses of British pink where the English crown commandeered countries and peoples who were compulsorily taught English language, history and geography!  (In early colonial days, Nigerian children learned all about Henry VIII, what species of wader and duck inhabit the mud-flats of Norfolk and the English words of "Jesus loves me, this I know".  Oh! My God!)

THE FOLLOWING FACTS have been conveniently forgotten:- Great races of the world who possess naturally evolved non-scriptural religions commensurate with each race.  With these peoples we have a
respectful affinity


The Brythonic Kelts have a religion based upon legends and pantheons from the Red Book of Hergest, the White Book of Rhydderch and the Black Book of Caermarthen with many texts still in medieval & modern Welsh.


Similarly the Goidelic Kelts engage the Gaelic Sagas from their prolific ancient books - The Book of Invasions, The Book of Lecan, The Book of Leinster, The book of Ballymote,The Book of Lismore and The Book of The Dun Cow, with some remaining input in Gaelic.

Norwegians have always had a naturally evolved religion based on their Norse pantheon centred on the Eddur and speak Norwegian in their Odinic rites.  The Germans had their version of the same pantheon - that upon which Wagner based 'The Ring' cycle.



Finnish people have had a similar naturally evolved religion based on the Kalevala and speak Finnish.  Did not the great God of the forest inspire Sibelius to compose the Tone Poem 'Tapiola'?
 
Russia too had old Slavic deities like Perun, Dažbog, Stribog, Simargl, Hors, Mokosh and Veles in a few pantheons.

On the left is the Slavic Zbruch 'idol' and the Perun carved wooden idol of the right.
..
..


Romans similarly observed the Classical pantheons using Latin - all evolving into Italians speaking Italian (vide the 'Vangelo' as one example).  On the right is the Parthenon of Rome.



Greeks also had their respective Classical legends in Attic then Modern Greek.  (and the Acropolis is still there to be used.)


Hindus still worship the prolific old Gods and Goddesses of Bharata and use the Vedas, legends found in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and speak Hindi with older texts in Sanscrit.


The Polynesian races always have held fast their sacred Kahuna principles.  Their hidden philosophies and practicalities were handed down the generations in a secret Huna language generally unknown to the Polynesian islanders.


This remained obscure to the world until a few foreigners were taken into the confidence of the religious elders, the best known being Max Freedom Long who researched this hitherto unknown heritage.


 Ethnic Australians have the concept of the First Parents (as do we) inTjukurrtjana of the Dreamtime, despite having their heritage and very lifestyle threatened by British colonialism.


The Maoris of New Zealand have the cosmogony of Te Kore (primal Dark Force) and Ao-maramai (manifest Light Forces) similar to the Kelts plus reverence of the great Ariki (forefathers).  Despite their valiant resistance in the Maori wars, they too have been subjected to British colonial suppression.



The ethnic American tribes of the USA and the First Nations of Canada continue to maintain a polytheistc reverence for all things which are manifest divinity - a reverence which still has a high regard for conservation at core level. 


Although their very existence has been under severe threat due to governmental suppression & neglect, Christian lies and alcoholism, they remain the legitimate custodians of the Spiritual Riches of that continent - the wealth of The Great Spirit which they observe in their respective tribal rites and tongues. 


There are many indigenous religions with tribal Deities found in Africa using different ethnic concepts and languages.
  .
The diasporas from the African continent over the centuries and indeed millennia have enriched many greater nations, e.g. Egypt by their cross fertilisation in the realms of theriomorphisms in indigenous spirituality. Picture right is of a Maasai chief.


The pre-Islamic Arab had the triple Feminine Principle - the Goddesses Al-Uzza, Al-Lat and Menat, worshipped in Saudi, Persia & Saba.  The Kaaba (right) was the original religious focus for the three Goddesses mentioned in the pre-Islamic period.


Ancient Egypt had probably one of the best examples of a well-formulated and naturally evolved religious system ever seen.  However, its modern devotees fall into the same trap as Wiccans by transporting the neo-version of this ancient polytheistic religion to all lands.


Rather than use this as simply a pattern upon which to build an equivalent, many are adopting it in its totality by reinventing Khemetic Reconstructionism worldwide
   . 
Here one should be alive to the diaspora from Egypt into Africa and vice versa, e.g. how the South Western Ugandan 'Nyabinghi', Goddess, black as night, became the later Egyptian 'Sekhmet', evolving into 'Bast' of tem-mehu (Lower Egypt).  Therefore it may be a solution to whites in e.g. South Africa who are reluctant to "go tribal".


We cannot forget the many races with an indigenous spirituality such as the Inuit peoples to the North of the American continent who are much neglected in spiritual discourses as are many others forgotten and whose heritages have all but vanished,  To these latter go my apologies for the lack of mention in this critique.
                                            .        ..
So we see that each country has had a naturally  evolved religion with its own legends in its own language but none ever called her/himself a witch or Wiccan which was an Anglo-Saxon term used to denigrate ethnic non-Christian worshippers.  But, perversely, what name did the British conquerors who built the British Empire cleverly give to the priest(ess) who led his/her respective people, race or tribe in worship?  Witch-doctor, sorcerer or witch - any term they could find to arouse the concept of 'primitive', 'base' or 'evil' and when describing any religion other than Christianity, the term was 'heathenism', devil worship or 'black magic'!

Before one starts rationalising that the names used in Wicca demonstrate the universality of the Divine Feminine, read again the combined names of both Gardnerian and Alexandrian charges and note that from 13 names of The Goddess, 9 are Mediterranean and 4 Keltic,  This hardly expresses 'universality' which in philosophy means "present in all places and in all times".

By virtue of the ease of travel in the 20th century and the very essence of this neo-fabricated system, the resulting structure became fortuitously a veritable brotherhood!   Perhaps then the dubious motivation of our two Frankensteins may have proved actually a blessing.in.disguise initially, fulfilling a spiritual need at a time in Britain when disenchantment with unipolar Christianity had created a spiritual vacuum.

In time we perhaps may see this patchwork structure of over six decades (the chimera of the laughing ghosts of Crowley & Gardner, later brazenly thieved by Sanders) becoming metamorphosed to reflect the richness of abundant differentiation in concepts and creativity as was the characteristic scene of old when all agreed to differ and rejoice in the absence of standardisation.

Indeed I trust that this Plant Dôn website may demonstrate the functionality of such diversity and, in so doing, may impart but a modicum of inspiration to any future embryonic British groups.  May the Blessing of The Mothers (Bendyth y Mamau) - Cosmic, Lunar & Terrestrial, infuse and ever remain with each Wiccan worldwide.


We're all children of stardust


Copyright © Gareth Pengwerin
1980
updated 1988 1995 2006 2015
All rights reserved


INDEX