(a work in progress)
by Roger Dearnaley
Copyright 1999, 2000
There has been a great deal of debate about the early history of the
Gardnerian Craft (and thus of Wicca as a whole). Unfortunately, this debate has
produced a great deal more heat (and smoke) than light. For example, one of the
major "contributors", Aiden Kelly, has since been shown to have seriously
distorted and misquoted the extracts he gives
So, let me first admit to my own biases. I would like to believe that the
basic structure of, and perhaps even some of the litany of, the Gardnerian Craft
predates Gerald Gardner (other than in the form of published sources from which
he borrowed), but I am not willing to do so without some proof. We know that
Gardner (and Doreen Valiente) admitted to extensively modified the wording of
whatever material he was given,
1877: Thomas St. Q. Clutterbuck, age 38, marries Ellen Anne Morgan in
Jan. 19th, 1880: Dorothy Clutterbuck is born, child of Thomas St. Q.
Clutterbuck, Captain in the 14th Sikhs, and Ellen Anne Clutterbuck.
21st Feb., 1880: Dorothy Clutterbuck is baptized in St. Paul's Church,
1889: Thomas St. Q. Clutterbuck retires from the British Army in
India. He and his family presumably soon move back to England, where they seem
to have settled in Oxfordshire, probably at Whitchurch on Thames.
Friday 13th June, 1884: Gerald Brosseau Gardner is born in the parish
Winter 1888: Gardner, aged four, travels abroad to Nice in the care
(or lack thereof) of his irish nurse "Com" (Josephine McCombie). This is to be
the first of many such journies to Nice, the Canary Islands, Accera on the Gold
Coast, and (mostly) Madeira in Portugal, taking up much of Gardner's youth: he
seems to have returned to England only in the summers, which were spent mostly
at Blundellsands, with some visits to London and the Isle of Wight. As a result,
he never went to school, and (since Com apparently neglected his education) had
to teach himself to read and write, at about age seven (1893). About this time
he also took up collecting edged weapons, a life-long interest of his, and soon
after read "There is No Death", by Florence Marryat, a Spiritualist book, which
convinced him both of the survival of the soul after death and of the
non-existence of Hell.
1887: "Kabbala Denudata. The Kabbalah unveiled" several books of the Zohar, translated (and edited) by S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers from the Latin translation of Knorr von Rosenroth is published.
1889: "The Key of Solomon the King", translated (and edited) by S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers is published in a limited edition of 500 copies.
1899: "Aradia: Gospel of the Witches" by Charles Godfrey Leland is published.
1900: Com moves to Ceylon to live with her husband, David Elkington,
who she had married two years previously. Gardner goes with her, and starts work
as a trainee planter on David's tea plantation. About this time, Aleister
Crowley and Arnold Bennet were staying in a nearby bungalow.
1900: The Order of the Golden Dawn begins to break up, with the revolt of the London temple agains Mathers' leadership. Over the next couple of decades, various splinter and daughter organisations sprout, florish for a while, and then fade.
1902: Gardner takes a job at the Nonpareil Estate tea plantation.
Between 1902 and 1905: Gerald's parents visit him in Ceylon,
accompanied by an American relative called Jenny Tompkins. Gerald's father buys
some land to plant rubber trees on, and Gerald is appointed manager of the
estate, though he also continued to work as a tea planter.
1904: The Goetia (part of the Lemegeton or Lesser Key of Solomon) edited by S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers and Aleister Crowley is published by Aleister Crowley, under the title "The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King. Translated into the English tongue by a dead hand ... The whole ... edited, verified, introduced and commented [or rather, written] by A. Crowley" (Crowley and Mathers had fallen out: the original translator, if the work was not in fact originally composed in English, was certainly long-dead, but the editing was at least as much Mathers as Crowley).
1905: Gardner returns to England on leave. While there, he joins the
Legion of Frontiersmen, a kind of private militia; makes the acquaintance of the
Surgensons, some somewhat bohemian relatives who had a mild interest in the
supernatural (one occasionally saw faeries, another read palms); and discovers
that his grandfather, Joseph Gardner, had had a second wife who was supposedly a
witch, and had taken his grandfather to secret meetings in the hills.
Between 1905 and 1908: Gardner takes up Freemasonry, joining the
Sphinx Lodge, 113, I.C. in Colombo, Ceylon.
1906: "Puck of Pook's Hill" by Rudyard Kipling is published.
1908: Gerald's father, unable to keep up the payments on his rubber
plantation, sells it. Gerald moves to Borneo (travelling via Singapore), where
he takes a job on a rubber plantation. While there (1908-1911), Gardner makes
friends with the local headhunters, the Dyaks, and attended an number of "seances"
held by a pawang (witch-doctor) using a girl as a trance medium.
1908: Thomas St. Quintin Clutterbuck, then in his late 60's, moves to
the Christchurch area near the New Forest in the south of England. Dorothy
Clutterbuck, aged 28, presumably accompanies him.
1909: "The Key of Solomon the King", translated (and edited) by S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers is republished (retypeset but with the same illustrations).
1909 to 1913: Volume 1 of Aleister Crowley's magazine "The Equinox" is published, including "The Temple of Solomon the King".
1911: According to Gregory Tillett writing in "The Australian Wiccan",
the "Order of Twelve" is founded. Later, during World War I (1914-1918) it is
1911: Gardner, having caught and partially recovered from malaria,
decides to move back to Ceylon. He visits Brunei, and then Malaya, where he gets
a job on a rubber plantation. He catches blackwater fever, which is often fatal,
but he recovers.
1911, 1913: Parts one and two of "Book 4" by Soror Virakam (Mary d'Este Sturges) and Frater Perdurabo (Aleister Crowley) are published.
1912: Gardner, through an American called Cornwall who had "gone
native", starts studying the magic of the Malays, Saki (Malaysian pygmies), and
Borneans. He also moves to a different rubber plantation.
1916: Gardner returns to England on leave. Unable to pass the physical
to enter the military, he works as a hospital orderly in Liverpool until, with
the onset of cold weather in the autumn, his malaria returns and he is forced to
return to Malaya.
1919: Volume 3 Issue 1 of Aleister Crowley's magazine "The Equinox" is published in Detroit, including "The Gnostic Mass" and "The Law of Liberty".
1920: Due to falling rubber prices, Gardner loses his job on the
rubber plantation. By this time he also owned a plantation of his own, and for
the next three years he eeks out a living there, spending much of his time
studying native lore, magic, and weaponry with Cornwall.
1920: The "Order of Twelve" is revived, and at some point changes its
name to the "Crotona Fellowship of the Rosy Cross" or the "Crotona Rosicrucian
Fellowship" or the "Rosicrucian Fellowship of Crotona".
1921: "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" by Margaret Murray is published. She had been discussing her ideas in lectures for several years previously, since about 1917. In her autobiography "????" she credits the idea that medieval witchcraft was a surviving primitive fertility religion to a conversation with someone she met while visiting Glastonbury in about 1915. It would be very interesting to know who this was (at this time Glastonbury was a spiritual centre that attracted visitor and imigrants from all over Britain).[??] Similar ideas had been proposed by ??.
1923: Gardner finds work as an inspector of rubber plantations
(enforcing rubber production quotas aimed at reducing the supply of rubber to
keep the price up).
About 1923: (Gardner is conviced of the theraputic effects of sunlight.)??
1926: Gardner is appointed inspector of the government-licensed opium
shops around Singapore. Around this time he takes up amateur acheology, and over
the next decade makes many groundbreaking dicoveries, proving the existence of a
Malaysian civilization predating the coming of the Portugese in 1687 and dating
back to about Roman times, and also discovering the remains of the city of
1927: Gardner returns to England on leave. While there, he (after
taking elaborate precautions to prevent the possibility of fraud) visits three
Spiritualist mediums chosen at random in London, and receives messages that
(once he discovers who they are from), convince him of the reality of life after
death and the possibility of white europeans making contact with the spirits of
the deceased. He also meets Donna Rosedale, a nurse; they fall in love at first
sight, and are married within the week, just before Gardner would have had to
leave England (marrying entitles him to another two months' unpaid leave, which
they spend on honeymoon in France on the way back to Malaya).
1929: "Magick in Theory and Practice" (part 3 of Book 4) by Aleister Crowley is self-published by him in Paris in a limited private printing available by subscription only.
1931: "The God of the Witches" by Margaret Murray is published.
1932: Gardner, on leave, visits an archeological dig at Gaza in Egypt,
prehistoric caves in France, and England. While in England he tries several more
Spiritualist mediums and concludes that most of them are fakes, and tries but
fails to locate any nudist clubs.
1933 or 1935: Mabel Besant-Scott, the leading
1933: The "Street Directory for the Extended Borough of Christchurch"
shows Dorothy Clutterbuck and Rupert Fordham living at Mill House, Lymington
Road, Highcliffe (England).
1934: Gardner makes a trip to Saigon in what was then French Indochina, and to Hangchow in China.
1935: Dorothy St. Q. Clutterbuck (aged 55) marries Rupert O. Fordham
in Kensington, London.
1936: "Kelley's Directory of Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch"
shows Rupert Fordham living at the Mill House, with no mention of Dorothy
1936: "Kris and Other Malay Weapons", Gardner's schollarly work on the Malay dagger and the folklore and magical beliefs surrounding it, is published in Singapore.
January 1936: Gerald Gardner, aged 52, retires from the British
Customs Service in Malaya and returns, at the urging of his wife Donna (nee
Rosedale), to England, via Cyprus, Palestine (where he took part in an
archeological dig at Lachish that discovered a joint temple to Yahweh and
Asteroth), Turkey, Greece (at the Greek Orthodox Easter), Hungary, and Germany,
and so to England, where they take a flat in Charing Cross Road, London (a
center of the antiquarian bookshop trade). Shortly after returning, Gardner
catches a cold, which he is slow to recover from. His doctor suggests he take up
naturism (as nudism was then known), and he joins a naturism club in Finchley,
north-west of London, near Barnet.
1936: "The Goat-Foot God" by Violet Firth (a.k.a. Dion Fortune) is published.
Winter 1936: Gardner, who had intended to spend the winter at the same
dig in Palestine, is forced to change his plans and goes to Cyprus instead. He
recalls a previous incarnation there, and (it is not entirely clear in which
year, since he visited Cyprus several times) starts writing a novel on the
subject later published as "A Goddess Arrives".
Winter 1937: Gardner returns to Cyprus.
1937/38: The Hampshire Electoral Lists show Miss Clutterbuck changing
her name to Mrs. Fordham.
1938: "The Sea Priestess" by Violet Firth (a.k.a. Dion Fortune) is published.
June, 1938: "The First Rosicrucian Theater in England" opens in
Somerford (between Christchurch and Highcliffe), under the auspices of Mrs.
Mabel Besant-Scott (daughter of Annie Besant).
1938: Gerald Gardner and his wife move from their flat in London to
Highcliffe, near Christchurch, on the south coast of England, just to the
south-west of the New Forest.
End of 1938: Gardner comes upon the Rosicrucian Theatre, attends one
of its plays (about Pythagoras), frequents the place for a while, and ends up
joining the Crotona Fellowship, despite (judging by Shah's account) apparently
being profoundly unimpressed by Frater Aureolis. (Indeed, in Shah's book he
gives Aureolis's name throughout as "Aurelius", i.e. "golden", and calls the
Crotona Fellowship the "Corona" (i.e. the halo of gas around the sun)
Fellowship; I suspect these are deliberate and rather sarcastic Latin puns, not
lapses of memory, on Gardner's part.) During 1939 he falls in with a particular
clique there, whom he describes (through Shah) as follows: "They seemed rather
brow-beaten by the others, kept themselves to themselves. They were the most
interesting element, however. Unlike many of the others, they had to earn their
livings, were cheerful and optomistic and had a real interest in the occult.
They had carefully read many books on the subject: Unlike the general mass, who
were supposed to have read all but seemed to know nothing."
Winter 1938 or 1939: Gardner returns to Cyprus again. Shah states that
this was in 1939, but in view of the fact that the Second World War had started
by then, 1938 seems more plausible.
Late 1930's: Gerald Gardner is claimed by Greer and Cooper to have
joined the Order of Woodland Chivalry, an organisation started in 1916 by Ernest
Westlake, centered at Godshill in the New Forest (about 15 miles from Highcliffe),
and devoted to woodcraft for children and adults (rather like a less
militaristic version of the Boy Scouts). The Order of Woodland Chivalry had some
rather Greek pagan leanings (their patrons were Pan, Artemis, and Dionysus), and
was inspired by the Woodcraft movement started in the USA by Ernest Thompson
Seton, which in turn had some strong influences from various Native American
Sept., 1939 ("a few days after the War started", i.e. a few days after
3rd Sept. 1939 (declaration of war), or possibly 1st Sept. (invasion of Poland)
or 31st Aug. (beginning of British mobilization and civilian evacuations from
London): Gerald Gardner is initiated into a witch coven at the Mill House,
Highcliffe, whch is owned by Dorothy Clutterbuck, and a quote from Gardner
strongly implies that she was present — presumably she is his initiator.
My priestess and I have visited the Mill House — it is a very large and lovely house, originally an old brick mill which has later (probably in 1908) been renovated and extended in a slightly Elizabethan "country" style, set on secluded wooded grounds in a small steep-sided and heavily wooded little valley with a stream or small river that leads down to the sea. The grounds have a very magical feel, almost fey, and there is a smallish paved area in the garden with some Art Nouveau-style statuary of a lady flanked by two supporting male figures which would be an excellent ritual site. The house itself is haunted (both in our experience — my priestess perceived a young man in early twentieth century clothing — and, as we later learned, also by repute), and is currently the home of a charming English couple who are aware of the interesting reputation of one of its previous owners.
Christmas 1939: Gardner plays a joke on the Crotona Fellowship. He
gives a silver bracelet to a girl to wear, engraved with curious symbols. A
psychometricist member of the Fellowship examines it, and pronounces it to be
very old, and to have belonged to a ancient Egyptian priest. Frater Aureolis
then examines it, and pronounces that "It is Ancient Celtic - older than
anything you know". Gardner then reveals that he had the bracelet made, and that
the inscription is in a cipher (possibly Theban?) of the noted medieval german
magicial writer Cornelius Agrippa, who Aureolis had claimed to have been (not
in a former incarnation but literally: according to Gardner/Shah he claimed to
be immortal and to have taken on a long string of identities over the ages,
including Pythagoras, Francis Bacon, and Agrippa). Shah says that this was the
last time Gardner attended the Crotona Fellowship meetings.
1940: "Kelley's Directory of Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch"
shows Mrs. Fordham living at the Mill House.
1940's: According to Shah, The Crotona Fellowship founders after the
death of Alexander Sullivan (who had claimed to be immortal!)
1940's: Gerald Gardner is said to have joined a pre-existing
traditional witchcraft coven in Cheshire.
1940's: Gerald Gardner is said by several sources to have joined a
pre-existing traditional witchcraft coven near St. Albans in Hertfordshire.
1945: According to Fred Lamond, Gerald Gardner purchases a few acres
of land in Hertfordshire on which to develop a nudist club as cover for his
coven meetings (this was presumably the Five Acres nudist club near St. Albans).
He appoints a salaried administrator to run the club on his behalf.
1947: Gardner, Edith Woodford-Grimes, and possibly some other people create a company called "Ancient Crafts, Ltd." to pool their capital to buy a ????
Mid to late 1940's: Accoring to Mike Howard, Gerald Gardner
established his own covenstead at Brickets Wood near St. Albans in
Hertfordshire, north of London. This at first met in a converted chicken shed,
but later Gardner purchased the "Witch's Cottage" (which Gardner claimed,
apparently falsely, to have once been George Pickingill's — of "Pickingill
About 1946: Gerald Gardner receives permission, presumably from
Dorothy Clutterbuck, to start writing "High Magic's Aid".[
1946?: Babylon working by US OTO ??
May 1st 1947: Gerald Gardner is introduced to Aleister Crowley by
Arnold Crowther (later husband of Patricia Crowther: they married in 1960).
Crowley was then living in 'Netherwood', a guest house in Hastings in Sussex, to
which he had moved in January, 1945. On their first visit they were accompanied
by a Miss Eva Collins. Crowley met Gardner (alone) at least three more times, on
May 7th, 14th, and 27th. Crowley kept several different diaries, one of which
included details of everyone he met: these are the only dates in 1946 or 1947 on
which a visit by Gardner is mentioned. The May 1st entry gives Gardner's full
name and title, as was Crowley's habit for the first time he met someone, the
other entries are shorter. Unfortunately the diary peters off a few months
later, possibly due to Crowley's declining health (he died on the 1st of
December, 1947), so it is concievable that Gardner could have met Crowley on
further occasions shortly before his death.
Crowley and Gardner apparently got on well (though Cecil Williamson, never a
very reliable source, claims that they later fell out). Gardner purchased from
Crowley (accounts of the amount paid vary: Gerald Yorke claims about 300 pounds)
a charter to found a camp of Crowley's (then-near-defunct) magical group, the
O.T.O., and was granted an honorary 4th-degree initiation in it. This charter
seems to have been mostly in Gardner's handwriting, though signed by Crowley,
and was later displayed at Gardner's museum of Witchcraft and Magic on the Isle
There are also persistent rumors (mostly from O.T.O. sources) that Gardner
and Crowley knew each other earlier than this, possibly even as early as 1936,
It is also possible that Gardner and Crowley may have encountered each other
briefly in Ceylon in 1900, when Gardner was aged 16, but if so it seems unlikely
that they discussed anything occult or formed any lasting accquaintance. Gardner
seems to have made something of a study of Crowley, and, if Shah's account can
be believed (and it may simply be proaganda intended to disociate Wicca from
Crowley's bad reputation), Gardner seems to have regarded him as being mostly a
After May 1st 1947: (Rewrite??) According to Ronald Hutton, Gerald
Gardner is loaned, by Gerald Yorke, to whom he was introduced by Aleister
Crowley, a copy of the S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers translation of "The Key of
Solomon the King". Supposedly he starts copying parts of it into a leather-bound
book, which he titles "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical", and later copies into the
intervening spaces the first known version of the core rituals of Garderian
Wicca, including the three initiation rites, the full moon rite, and sabbats for
the cross-quarter days.
The Wiccan material in "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical" is transcribed in a
deliberately rather cryptic form. The words are powerful but unpolished, and
contain a lot of material derived from the published works of Crowley, Kipling,
Leland and others.
Winter 1947: (Gardner in America)
1st Dec, 1947: Aleister Crowley dies.
1948: The first edition of "The White Goddess" by Robert Graves is published. (It was apparently written in 1946, and an amended and enlarged version was published in America in 1966.)
1949: "High Magic's Aid" by Gerald Gardner (under his magical name, "Scire")
is published by Michael Houghton (a.k.a. Michael Juste), proprietor of the
Atlantis occult bookstore near the British Museum in the West End of London. It
reveals, in fictional form, several details of the "Gardnerian" initiation rite
(Gardner was in the habit of giving it to people to read before he initiated
them), and propounds a religion which is recognizably an early version of modern
Wicca, including worship of both a Goddess and a God. One of the characters is a
male mediaeval ceremonial magician whose magic is described in some detail: it
is recognizably taken mostly from the S.L. "MacGregor" Mathers translation of
the Key of Solomon (additional sources include the "Legemeton" or Lesser Key of
Solomon, Agrippa's "Three Books of Occult Philosopy" (or a source derived from
it, such as "The Magus"), and a ritual derived from Golden Dawn sources and
published in part three of Crowley's auto-biographical series "The Temple of
Solomon the King", which was published in "The Equinox" Vol. 1 No. 3). Another
character is a young and inexperienced female witch.
1949: Jack Bracelin's Book of Shadows is claimed to date back to this
year. At least one copy of this still exists.
Winter 1949??: (Gardner in Cyprus) ??
1950: Cecil Williamson founds the Folklore Museum of Superstition and
Witchcraft at the Witch's Mill in Castletown on the Isle of Man. Shortly
afterwards Gardner turned up, and later rented a cottage at 77 Malew St.,
Castletown, and became the "resident witch" during the summer seasons.
Circa 1950: (Gardner in America) ??
12th Jan., 1951: Dorothy St. Quintin Clutterbuck, "spinster of
independent means, daughter of Thomas St. Quintin Clutterbuck,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Indian Army (deceased)" died aged 70 in Highcliffe.
1951: Around this point by some accounts Gardner is supposed to have
split with his original Dorothy Clutterbuck coven and founded his own.
June, 1951: The Witchcraft Act is repealed and replaced by the
Fraudulent Mediums Act. Witchcraft ceases to be illegal in the United Kingdom.
April, 1951 and 29th July, 1951: Two articles in "The Sunday
Pictorial" (a tabloid newspaper) discuss the forthcoming opening of Cecil
Williamson's museum in the Isle of Man. They mention that Williamson knew at
least a dozen witches, a coven of which, from the south of England, included a
woman schoolteacher and a Civil Servant (presumably Mrs. Woodford-Grimes and
Gerald Gardner respectively), who would perform rites there once the museum was
July, 1951: An article in "The Sunday Pictorial" (a tabloid newspaper)
features the Castletown witchcraft museum. In this article "Dr. Gerald B.
Gardner" is described as "a member of the Southern Coven of British Witches".
Winter 1951: (Gardner in West Africa) ??
27th September, 1952: An article by Allen Andrews in "Illustrated" (a
popular illustrated weekly) on Cecil Williamson's museum mentions that the
"Southern Coven of British Witches" met in the New Forest area. The article also
claims that witchcraft groups exist in a number of places around the South
Coast, in Liverpool (Cheshire), Barnet (North London, near Hertfordshire, about
8 miles from Bricket Wood), Cumberland, and near the Rollright Stones in
Oxfordshire. (The Barnet and Liverpool groups, at least, may have been
acquaintances of Gardner, or even members of his coven.) Doreen Valiente, a
young student of the occult, reads this article and writes to Cecil Williamson,
who passes the letter to Gerald Gardner.
Late Autumn, 1952: Doreen Valiente first meets Gerald Gardner at the
house of Mrs. Woodford-Grimes (a.k.a. "Dafo", a music teacher) in Highcliffe.
Mrs. Woodford-Grimes told Doreen that she was no longer active in witchcraft.
Winter 1952: (Gardner in West Africa) ??
Midsummer Eve, 1953: Doreen Valiente is initiated into Gardner's coven
by Gardner at the house of Mrs. Woodford-Grimes (a.k.a. "Dafo") in Highcliffe.
Between 1952 and 1954: Gardner eventually badgers Cecil Williamson
into selling him the Folklore Museum of Superstition and Witchcraft, which
Gardner renames "The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft" and to which he adds his
considerable personal collection of weapons, amulets and charms.
1954: "Witchcraft Today" by Gerald Gardner is published.
Summer 1955: The "Sunday Pictorial" (a tabloid newspaper) starts
publishing a series of articles identifying witchcraft with Devil-worship and
animal saccrifice. Rumours about telephone tapping and interference with letters
spread through the new Wiccan community, and Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente
throw out all old correspondence that might have implicated anyone else if there
had been a police raid.
1956: "Moon Magic" by Violet Firth (a.k.a. Dion Fortune) is published.
Summer 1956 to late 1957: Various tabloid newspapers do a series of
expose's confusing witchcraft, Satanism, and black magic, and making allegations
of links to ritual murder. There are calls for the Witchcraft Act (or something
like it) to be re-imposed. Doreen Valiente spends about a year investigating and
debunking the various allegations, and the results of her investigations are
later published by Gardner in "The Meaning of Witchcraft" (1959). During this
period, various members of the coven, principally Gerald Gardner, but also Jack
Bracelin and his girlfriend "Amanda", continue to give inteviews to the tabloid
press, and seem surprised when their interviews are twisted into tabloid
sensationalism. The publicity causes an upsurge both in people contacting
Gardner's coven, and apparently an increase in interest in Satanism.
Late 1956 or early 1957: Gardner, suspecting the salaried administrator he had appointed of deliberately running the Five Acres nudist club into the ground in the hope that Gardner will sell it to him at a low price, sacks him and appoints Jack Bracelin (described as "his right-hand man in the coven") to administer the club. Subsequently the sacked administrator makes trouble for the club, claiming that it is becoming a hotbed of witchcraft and loose living.[Lamond '97]
Autumn 1956: Fred Lamond reads "Witchcraft Today", writes to Gardner, meets with him at his flat in Holland Park in London, and later meets other members of his first coven, including Jack Bracelin (described as "Gerald's Man Friday").[Lamond '97]
February Eve, 1957: Fred Lamond is initiated into Gardnerian Wicca (along with one other person). The ritual takes place in a cottage (presumably the Witches' Cottage at Bricket Wood) and is performed by an "acting High Priestess" (presumably "Dayonis", who is named after the witch heroine in "A Goddess Arrives").[Lamond '97]
Summer 1957: Doreen Valiente and Ned Grove
[For those interested in the later history of Wicca, I particularly recommend
"The Rebirth of Witchcraft", by Doreen Valiente (1989)
Beginning of 1958: ?? [Lamond '97]
November 1958: "Dayonis" is Gardner's High Priestess, Jack Bracelin and Fred Lamond are active members of the coven, and there are also two coven members who live in Winchester.[Lamond '97] Later High Priesresses of Gardner's include "Florannis" (who seems likely to have been Lois Bourne), Rae Bone, and "Olwen" (Monique Wilson), and possibly "Tanith".
[I think I need to extend this to cover up to 1960 (publication of "Gerald
Gardner: Witch!") so that Shah's motivations/biases are more comprehensible.]
[Bourne '9?] "Dancing with Witches", by Lois Bourne (199?).
[Buckland '71] "Witchcraft From the Inside", by Raymond Buckland (1971,
Buckland apparently knew Gardner mostly from their correspondence, and only met him in person a few times, well after the events he describes. His evidence is thus less direct than some other sources, and contains a number of discrepancies with other sources, most of which look as if they could be the rest of misunderstandings or oversimplifications.
[Buckland '7?] "Witchcraft Today: Introduction", by Raymond Buckland (late
1970's), printed in the US Magickal Childe edition (late 1970's) of "Witchcraft
Today" by Gerald Gardner (1954).
Once again, Buckland apparently knew Gardner mostly from their correspondence, and only met him in person a few times, well after the events he describes. His evidence is thus less direct than some other sources, though some of the discrepancies are here corrected.
[Caddy '96] "In Perfect Timing", by Peter Caddy with Jeremy Slocombe and
The (mostly auto-) biography of one of the founders of the Findhorn New Age community includes several pages describing his early spiritual training with "Doctor" Sullivan's Crotona Fellowship of the Rosicrucian Order. Sullivan is described as a great spiritual teacher, and Caddy goes on through-out the rest of the book to make numerous references to how indispensible his Rosicrucian training under Sullivan was to the rest of his life (he places quotes from it at the beginning of every chapter: they seem mostly to be along the lines of "positive thinking"). While this initially seems to contradict Shah's account of Gardner's impressions of Sullivan, it is possible to discern in Caddy's hagiography of Sullivan some of the pretensions which seem to have so failed to impress Gardner. The fact that Caddy was 19 when he first met Sullivan, while Gardner was 54, makes this rather easier to credit.
[Crowley '47] One of Crowley's diaries (he kept several different ones) for
The original is in the possession of the O.T.O. in America. A typscript transcript is at the Warburg Institute of the University of London. Patricia Crowther gives an extract from the relevant entries on the Web at http://www.jps.net/season/Neighbor/crowlydi.htm. According to this, Crowley met, Gardner, Arnold Crowther, and a Miss Eva Collins on May 1st, 1947, and Gardner (alone) on May 7th, 14th, and 27th. (It has been suggested by some that the mysterious "Miss Eva Collins" could be a pseudonym for Patricia Crowther. This fits well with her earlier accounts of her life, those published while Arnold was still alive, though it is flatly contradicted by those she published after his death.)
[Crowther '93] "High Magic's Aid: Forward", by Patricia Crowther, printed in
the Pentacle Enterprises edition (1993) of "High Magic's Aid" by Gerald Gardner
An account of how "High Magic's Aid" came to be written, written someone who by some accounts was a member of Gardner's coven in the 1950's.
[Crowther '81] "Lid off the Cauldron", by Patricia Crowther.
Patricia Crowther says that she first met Gardner in 1956, and was initiated into Wicca in 1960??. This book contains a chapter of first- or second-hand historical detail about Wicca in the late 1950's, plus another chapter about Gardner.
[Enfys '98] Informal discussion at the Pagan Federation 1998 National Conference.
[Frew '97] A talk given by Don Frew, Anna Korn, and one other person at
Pantheacon in 1997.
The primary topic of this talk was "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical", which is now in Toronto in the care of Richard and Tamarra James of the Wiccan Church of Canada, and which Don Frew et al at this point had been studying in detail for many years. Their researches are still unpublished.
[Frew '99] Private communication from Don Frew.
[Gardner '49] "High Magic's Aid", by Gerald Gardner.
The earliest published material on Gardnerian Wicca, given in fictional form. Despite its early date, the religion contains all the basic elements (including a God and a Goddess, despite some commentator's claims to the contrary) and is recognizably "Gardnerian" Wicca. Whenever Wicca was developed, it was evidently fundamentally complete by 1949.
[Greenfield '92] "A True History of Witchcraft", by Allen Greenfield (1992).
This document written by a member of the O.T.O. contains some interesting information and a great many surmises and suggestions. Various versions of this can be found at various places on the Web, including http://www.oakgrove.org/GreenPages/bos/1781.txt, http://www.monmouth.com/~equinoxbook/true.html, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/9377/AllenGreenfield-HistoryOfWicca.html and http://www.witchhaven.com/shadowdrake/WiccaHistory.html.
[Greer & Cooper '98] "The Red God: Woodcraft and the Origins of Wicca", by
John Micheal Greer and Gordon Cooper, published in "Gnosis" #48 (Summer 1998).
(Summarize Frew's demolition if it.)
[Hardman & Harvey '95] Essay by Ronald Hutton in "Paganism Today", by
Charlotte Hardman and Graham Harvey (1995).
Hutton has since (in '98) said that he feels any possibility of a connection between Gardner and the Order of Woodland Chivalry is less likely than he thought at the time he wrote this, and that he has found no evidence to support it. In "The Triumph of the Moon" (1999), he backs even further away from this idea.
[Heselton '99a] "New Light on Old Dorothy" Talk given by Philip Heselton at
the Pagan Federation 1999 National Conference.
Philip Heselton has written a book on Dorothy Clutterbuck, Gerald Gardner, and the connections between them, and had just sent off the manuscript to Capall Bann (see below). In this talk he mostly discussed the evidence from Dorothy Clutterbuck's "diaries": two books of poetry written by her in 1942 and 1943, one poem per day, and illustrated by beautiful watercolors by her companion Christine Wells, and apparently intended as a sort of "coffee-table book" for visitors to look at. He pretty convincingly demonstrated that Dorothy Clutterbuck loved nature, wrote a lot about faeries and unnamed ladies personifying natural forces, was aware of the old pagan festivals (the ones from before the Julian calendar change), knew her herbs, and was religious but had no interest in Christ (there are plenty of mentions of God, heaven, and angels, some of St. Francis and the Archangel Michael, but none of Jesus or Christ, not even for Christmas or Easter either year). She also seems to have had a fascination with roses, which she uses in he poetry very often, even when it is apparently inappropriate.
[Heselton '99b] Private communication from Philip Heselton.
[Heselton '99c] "??", by Philip Heselton, published in "The Cauldron" #?? (1999).
[Heselton '00] "Wiccan Roots — Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft
Revival", by Philip Heselton, submitted to Capall Bann and hopefuly to be
published some time in 2000.
Philip Heselton has very kindly sent me a copy of the manuscript, and I can highly recommend it (as soon as Capall Bann publish it). This is a fasinating and extremely well researched book, containing a great deal of previously unknown material. Topics covered include Garder's early life, the Crotona Fellowship, the evidence for the New Forest coven (Philip has found about half-a-dozen people for whom he has evidence suggesting that they may have been members), Dorothy Clutterbuck's books of poetry, and Gardner's relationship with Crowley and the O.T.O. Philip is apparently planning another book covering the Bricket Wood period.
[Hopson '99] Private Communication from John Hopson, Archivist at the British Library.
[Howard '97] "Gerald Gardner: The Man, the Myth & the Magick", by Mike A.
Howard, published in four parts in "The Cauldron" #83 through #87 (1997).
A fascinating and detailed essay on Gerald Gardner, including material drawn from many obscure sources, published in four parts in Mike Howard's magazine "The Cauldron", which has published a good deal of other interesting (and sometimes controversial) material on the history of the Craft. This essay does however contain a few discrepancies with other sources, and care needs to be taken in evaluating the many peices of second- and third-hand evidence that Howard presents.
[Hutton '98] "The Story of Modern Witchcraft", a talk given by Ronald Hutton
at the Pagan Federation 1998 National Conference.
Ron Hutton (a professional historian at the University of Bristol) was at the time just finishing a book on the history of witchcraft in Britain from 1800 to the present day (see below), and this talk corresponded to one chapter of it. In the talk he revealed that he has evidence strongly suggesting that "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical" was first written in or after 1947, since he had found evidence that Gardner borrowed a copy of Mathers translation of "The Key of Solomon" from Gerald Yorke at that time. Hutton did not discuss Don Frew's alternative theory, that Gardner had already written most or all of "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical" by this point, and that the Key of Solomon material in it was copied from a manuscript (possibly in the possesion of the New Forest coven) which was itself derived from the Mathers "Key of Solomon"; and that Gardner in 1947 was borrowing a copy of the Mathers text both to see the original and to help in his writing of "High Magic's Aid", which was published in 1949 and Gardner is believed to have started writing in 1946, and which contains a lot of Solomonic material derived from Mathers which is not in "Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical".
[Hutton '99] "The Triumph of the Moon", by Ronald Hutton (1999).
This is a major work on the history of the Neo-Pagan Revival in Great Britain, from its roots in the social changes of the 19th and early 20th centuries, through the contribution of Gardner, the appearance in the 1950's and 1960's of other craft traditions such as those of Robert Cochrane and Alex Sanders, and on up to the present day. It is carefully aimed both at the Neo-Pagan reader and at a scholarly audience, being clearly written, well researched, and meticulously footnoted, and taking no firm view on the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural. Hutton, as befits a historian, has a particular knack for explaining, and discussing the history and development of, ideas which he evidently does not himself believe a word of. He also shows a refreshing willingness to not reach firm conclusions about what really happened when the available evidence is insufficient. While I do disagree with Hutton in the detail of his assessment of the most likely explanation for where Gardner got his version of Wicca from, both of us agree that the case is still out, and the broad sweep of Hutton's schollarship is masterful. I learnt a considerable amount about my own religion from this book.
[Jones '99] "Masonic Wicca", a talk given by Steve Jones (who is not a Mason,
but is a Buffalo) at the Pagan Federation 1999 National Conference.
Jones was careful to point out that the Masonic elements in Wicca could have come from Gardner, or from J.S.M. Ward, or from the Co-Masons in the Crotona Fellowship and whom Gardner says were in the New Forest coven, or even earlier. He also said that while there are quite a lot of similarities to the first three degrees of Masonry, he could find none with the further "side" degrees.
[Kelly '91] "Crafting the Art of Magic", by Aidan Kelly (1991).
This collection of frequently circular arguments based on (conveniently) inaccurate quotations was unfortunately mistaken for scholarship by some people (see http://goddess.knotwork.com/articles/kelly.spider for a further discussion of Kelly's scholarship). In it Kelly purports to prove that Gardner invented the whole thing, and thus that Gardner's tradition was no more valid than the one Kelly had helped create in the 1960's. It has been claimed that this book was more accurate and more schollarly before Llwellyn got their hands on the manuscript, which would fit with the pattern of Llwellyn's publications on Wicca since the mid-1980's; having not seen the original manuscript, I cannot say whether this is in fact the case.
[Lamond '97] "Religion without Beliefs", by Frederic Lamond (1997).
While primarily a fascinating comparison of Wicca with other major world religions and an exposition of how their differing theologies and world-views have different sociological effects on the culture containing them, this also contains some historical anecdotes from the period in the late 1950's when Fred Lamond was in Gardner's Bricket Wood coven.
[Lamond '98] "Shades of Light and Dark - Wiccan/Pagan successes and failures of the last 40 years", a talk given by Fred Lamond at the Pagan Federation 1998 National Conference.
[Liddell '94] "The Pickingill Papers: George Pickingill & the Origins of
Modern Wicca", by W.E. 'Bill' Liddell (a.k.a. Lugh), first published as a series
of articles (1974-1988), published in one volume edited and with an introduction
by Michael Howard (1994).
A collection of unsubstantiated claims about Essex cunning man George Pickingill (1816-1909) and his relationship to Gerald Gardner, ranging from the intriguing to the unbelievable (indeed, Lidell even says he doesn't belive all of them himself). Some Gardnerians have chosen to believe them, since they include claims that Gardner was initiated in more than one traditional coven, while others are unwilling to put credence in them. I tend towards the later school, particularly since the claims are neither internally self-consitent nor supported by a shred of hard evidence, and some of them are highly implausible.
[Medway '99] Private communication with Gareth Medway at the Pagan Federation 1999 National Conference.
[Phillips '91] "A History of Wicca In England: 1939 - Present Day", a talk
given by Julia Phillips at the Wiccan Conference in Canberra, 1991.
The text of this talk was published on a UseNet newsgroup, and can now be found at various locations on the Web, including http://www.fortunecity.com/roswell/streiber/0/history.html, http://www.iit.edu/~phillips/personal/philos/wichis.html, and http://www.xenon.net/~kris/wicca/wway/history.html. Julia Phillips assembles some interesting information (most of it about periods a little later than those covered here). Her account is inaccurate in a few minor details (such as dates of first publication of various books), but otherwise seems fairly well researched. I would love to get in touch with Julia Philips.
[Shah '60] "Gerald Gardner, Witch", by "Jack L. Bracelin" (1960).
Gardner's biography. This book wan actually written by Idries Shah, the famous Sufi Grand Master, and was published by Shah's private press under Jack Bracelin's name, presumably to avoid confusing the Sufi community.
[Valiente '73] "Gardner, Gerald Brosseau", entry in "An ABC of Witchcraft" by
Doreen Valiente (1973).
Earlier, and thus less informative, than most of the other sources in this bibliography, it is none the less an excellent summary.
[Valiente '84] "Appendix A: The Search for Old Dorothy", by Doreen Valiente,
printed in "The Witch's Way", by Janet and Stewart Farrar (1984).
The first hard evidence for the existence of Dorothy Clutterbuck was discovered by Doreen Valiente between Samhain 1980 and Beltaine 1982. Her account of how she did it makes fascinating reading, and she carefully includes details of how to verify her discoveries in various official records.
[Valiente '89] "The Rebirth of Witchcraft", by Doreen Valiente (1989).
A major study of the recent history of the Craft, by someone who has been part of much of it, who knew many of the major players personally, and has an open mind and relatively few axes to grind. A seminal text.
So, did Gardner invent modern Wicca, or does date back to the middle ages?
There really isn't enough evidence yet to be certain. My suspicion is that the
answer may lie somewhere between these two extremes: to some extent it predates
him, but perhaps only by a few decades. The scenario I find most plausible on
the current evidence runs something like this: in 1939, just after the start of
the War, Gardner was initiated into some form of Co-Masonic group associated
with the Crotona Fellowship, which had an interest in witchcraft and folk magic
(and possibly also mediaeval ceremonial magic, with some admixtures from Crowley
and the Golden Dawn). This organization included Mrs. Woodford-Grimes and
(almost certainly) Dorothy Clutterbuck, and may only date back to the arrival of
the co-masons in Christchurch in 1933, or may date back as far as just before
the First World War. At the end of the Second World War, in 1945 or possibly
1946, Gardner started his own coven in Bricket Wood near St. Albans, attatched
to the nudist club there. By 1949 at the latest (when "High Magic's Aid" was