In June 1951, the Fraudulent Mediums Act became law, and the old Witchcraft Act was finally repealed. It was an historic moment. On July 29, 1951, Doreen Valiente saw an article in the papers which read "CALLING ALL COVENS". The rest is history.
As most everyone is aware, Doreen Valiente became Gerald Gardner's High Priestess. After years with Gardner and the breakup of the coven, Doreen Valiente wrote The Rebirth of Witchcraft which details how she eventually met Gerald Gardner, being initiated in the coven, how and to whom Gardner got material to form ritual procedures and coven ways, to the circumstances of Gardner's fall. Once the old law was lifted, there was an advertisement in Britain's paper about a calling of all witches by Cecil Williamson . Mr. Williamson advised everyone that he was in connection of many witches and proceeded to give more details about the Old Religion of the witches. He told about the four, and only four, Sabbats, i.e., Hallowe'en, Candlemas, May Eve and Lammas. There was no mention of any other Sabbats. One person read this article with fascination, and that was Doreen V. At that time, a charter granted by Aleister Crowley (who has been described as the "The Wickedest Man in the World or the King of Depravity." He was considered the greatest magician of modern times) to Gerald Gardner to operate a lodge of Crowley's magical fraternity, the Ordo Templi Orientis. This charter was mainly in Gerald Gardner's handwriting but it bore Crowley's signature and a large seal. Gardner had made no secret of his membership of the OTO and published a book in 1949 called High Magic's Aid.
To set the stage and give a little history of other people interested in Witchcraft and one of them was a woman named Margaret Alice Murray who wrote a book entitled The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. In brief, Doctor Murray discarded all the old notions which had identified witchcraft with Satanism and devil-worshiping. Instead, she referred to witchcraft as the Dianic cult, pointing out that the name Diana was found throughout Western Europe as being that of the female deity of the witches. She goes back to early Church decree attributed to a General Council of Ancyra which eventually became a part of the Church's Canon Law. It seems to have been first published circa AD 906 and refers to the heretical beliefs of certain wicked women who were deluded by Satan into believing that on certain nights they rode through the sky with Diana, the Goddess of Pagans, whom they worshiped and obeyed as their mistress. Later, the name of Herodias was added to that of Diana. This old piece of Canon Law shows two things. Firstly, that the deity of the witches was not Satan but Diana and later her daughter Herodias, probably a younger version of herself. Secondly, that there was certain fixed festivals of the witch religion. Dr. Murray quoted these as May Eve (April 30 Beltane) November Eve (October 31 Hallowe'en) both traditionally associated with the festivals of witches. The other two days are Candlemas (February 2)and Lammas (August 1). Once again, there are only four festivals not eight.
However in Charles Godfreys research of Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, the witch tradition was not Sabbats but only full moon meetings, referred to as Esbats. Ms. Murray also wrote a second book in 1931 entitled The God of the Witches.
Another person who was one of the most remarkable of real pagan occultists of modern times known as The Forgotten Mage. Known until recently only by the initials "F.P.D.", with which he signed his essay "The Old Religion - A Study in the Symbolism of the Moon Mysteries", which was published in The New Dimensions Red Book edited by Basil Wilby in 1968, his real identity has now been revealed in the books about Dion Fortune and her fraternity referred to above. His name was Charles Richard Foster Seymour. He joined the Fraternity of the Inner Light in the 1930s. A collection of the essays which he wrote in the private magazine of the Fraternity of the Inner Light has recently been published under the title of " The Forgotten Mage". These and the essay referred to above should be required reading for everyone today who professes to be a witch or a pagan. Yet he died in 1943 practically unknown outside his own small circle and his remained so until now. F.P.D. shows himself in his essays to be well acquainted with the work and Charles Leland and Margaret Murray. He was deeply learned in the Egyptian and Greek traditions but his great source of inspiration was the Celtic traditions of the British Isles and the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of Nature, such as Cernunnos and Dana, the Great Mother. Both of these deities are invoked by present-day witches, most of whom have been quite unaware until now that back in the 1930's this old, learned and rather lonely man was working with a chosen few priestesses and opening the gates through which they have subsequently passed. I am not suggesting that F.P.D. took part in witchcraft rituals such as are known today but rather that he and his co-workers opened the ways upon the Inner Planes which enabled present-day developments to take place. It is very tempting to wonder if he and Gerald Gardner ever met. I have no definite information upon this point, but it is known that both F.P.D. and his co-workers and priestess Christine Hartley were members of Co-Masonry since 1941.
Gerald Gardner and his Priestess Dafo were also Co-Masons and Dafo remained so after she had ceased to work actively with Gerald. At the present time, one can only speculate about this. There is, however, a coincidence revealed in F.P.D's magical record which I found startling. His entry for 21 June 1938 contains the sentence: "I got the idea of linking the old symbolism of indigenous women's mysteries with the pagan mysteries of England right down to the present day and through the witchcraft period."
In this chapter, Doreen goes on to talk about her interest in the occult and had some experience in Spiritualism and Theosophy, her interest in Aleister Crowley and the biography written about Crowley and her find of an rare book Magick in Theory and Practice by Crowley which was the best book with full of information she had ever read. It was a real fine. She went on about the article in the paper regarding witchcraft and Cecil Williamson who had just recently opened the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man. He said these groups regarded their craft as the Old Religion with its regular festivals of Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas and Hallowe'en. They worshiped the oldest gods of all, the Goddess of life and the god of death. Doreen wrote to Mr. Williamson and asked him if there was anyway she could get in touch with one of these groups. He gave her name to Gerald Gardner. She was eventually introduced to Gerald Gardner. They met and got on quite well. On her departure, Gerald gave her a book. It was called High Magic's Aid, an historical novel written by himself. He told me to read it carefully, as it would tell her a good deal about the medieval magic and about the witch cult as it really was. She discovered later that Gerald usually gave a copy of his book to potential new recruits because he wanted to see what effect his descriptions of a witch initiation had upon them. If they were upset by the description of ritual nudity and ritual flagellation, matters would proceed no further. Gardner made no attempt to rush Doreen into deciding to join the witch cult. It was not until the next summer that she was actually initiated. She did not tell her husband or mother about her being a witch. Her mother was impressed that Gardner was a Doctor of Philosophy and Doreen told her mother that they were both interest in Druidism and that is what they had in common.
But was Garner really a Doctor of Philosophy? Or were his claims of academic distinction a fraud? And, if so, does it follow that his claims to have rediscovered witchcraft in the twentieth century were fraudulent also? Present-day witches and pagans have to face these questions squarely. Some say it does not matter, others it does.
In 1951 Gerald Gardner told the journalist Allen Andrews, or at any rate allowed him to receive the impression that he had been created a Doctor of Philosophy in Singapore and a Doctor of Literature in Toulouse. Furthermore, he later gave another interview to a journalist called Arnold Field, which was published in the Daily Dispatch dated 5 August 1954 and contains the unequivocal statement "He says he is a Doctor of Philosophy, an honorary degree conferred on him by Singapore University twenty years ago". That would be 1934 at which time, according to his biography, Gerald Gardner was inMalaya! A number of articles by him appeared in the " Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society" in the 1930s. In 1936, he published "Kris and Other Malay Weapons" at Singapore. It contains much interesting folklore about these sacred and magical Malayan daggers and, in view of Gardner's original research which produced it and which is detailed in the above-mentioned biography, one feels that his work might well have earned him some honorary distinction. However, when Doreen wrote to the University of Singapore some while after Gerald's death and asked them if they could confirm that they had given him this honorary degree, they replied that not only had they never done so but the University of Singapore was not even in existence in 1934. Later Doreen wrote to Toulouse, asking about the alleged Doctor of Literature referred to in the 1951 press cutting. They too replied they had never conferred any such degree upon anyonecalled Gerald Brosseau Gardner.
It has been suggested to me that in the Far East it was customary to give a courtesy title of "Doctor" to almost any learned person. However, the claims in Gerald's case are rather too detailed for that explanation to hold water. Moreover, during the period when Gerald was a member of the Council of the Folk Lore Society, from 1946 onwards, the letters 'MA' also started appearing after his name. If he was not entitled to his distinction, why on earth didn't he issue a correction. According to Frank Smyth, in his book "Modern Witchcraft", the 'MA' first appears in the membership list for November 1950. It could have stood for "Magical Adept", and he had more right to that title than anyone else Doreen had ever seen.
So, were Gardner's claims to have discovered a genuine surviving Witch coven in the area of the New Forest simply a bit of Celtic exuberance, like his alleged academic distinctions? There is independent evidence that they are not. Aleister Crowley claimed to have been offered initiation into the British Witch cult as a young man but had refused it because, "He didn't want to be bossed around by women". There was some skepticism, Wildinson, a friend of Crowleys for many years said he believed Gardner was telling the truth because he himself had been friendly with a surviving witch coven in the New Forest area in the late 1930s. They believed that Gardner was initiated in 1939/1940.
When Doreen V. was initiated in the usual Gerald Gardner fashion, she recognized some of the ritual was being taken from Aleister Crowley's Book of Law and some from Leland's Aradia. She thinks Gerald was not too pleased at her recognition of its source.
DOREEN VALIENTE'S WORKING WITH GERALD
The year 1949 was an important one for Gerald Gardner. Not only was it then that his novel about witchcraft appeared; Doreen Valiente believes that it was also the time at which Gardner first got the idea of calling a witches' book of rituals and magical information "The Book of Shadows". The word Book of Shadows had nothing to do with witchcraft but to an ancient manuscript written in Sanskrit. The author of the articles, a well-known palmist called Miss Casher, had first heard of its existence in Bombay in 1941. The manuscript was reputed to be thousands of years old and to describe a means of foretelling a person's destiny by measuring their shadow. Doreen Valiente believes that Gerald did see this hitherto unknown (in Britain at any rate) and striking term for a magical manuscript and seized upon it as a good name for witches' secret book. It was last to incorporate it in High Magic's Aid because that book was already published, but in future Gerald would make use of it. It would not do to call a witches' book a grimoires, because this was the term used to describe the books of ceremonial magicians, which had associations of black magic. But "The Book of Shadows" was made one think of flickering firelight and candle-flame and of the shadows they cast; of those who had to live in the shadows, in the days when discovery meant torture and death; and of those magical symbols and rituals which are in themselves shadows of a greater reality. It was a good name, and it is a good name still, wherever Gerald found it. The big question which remains to be answered is, how much of the Gardnerian "Book of Shadows" represent the rites of the old New Forest Coven and how much is Gerald Gardner's own concoction? It became obvious to Doreen as soon as she had been given Gerald's "Book of Shadows" to copy, that it owed a good deal to the works of Aleister Crowley. Moreover, she recognized in one of the chants used in the rituals an adaptation of a poem by Rudyward Kipling called "A Tree Song" from the book Puck of Pook's Hill.
Another book which had been drawn upon was the old magical grimoires called "The Key of Solomon". This is particularly interesting, as it is obvious from the illustration of Plate XIII of that book (page 97) that this is the origin of the markings used on the hilt of the witch's athame.
Another tradition which has obviously been laid under tribute by Gerald's rituals is that of Freemasonry. Thanks to the work of such writers as Walton Hannah, the ordinary reader is able to find out a good deal more about Masonic ritual than was generally available before. We can, therefore, see that there are terms such as "The Working Tools", the reference to the being properly prepared for initiation, the "Charge" which is read to the new initiate, and the existence of three Degrees through which the initiate must advance, which are all very reminiscent of Masonic procedure when one finds them in the witch rituals. Indeed, both Masons and witches today refer to their cult as "The Craft". The Third Degree of the witches refers to 'The Five Points of Fellowship', just as the ' Third Degree of Freemasonry' does, though with a rather different meaning. In the First Degree Initiation, the candidate is blindfolded, has a cable-tow placed about the neck and is admitted upon the point of a sharp instrument in both Gardnerian witchcraft and Freemasonry.
What do these resemblances mean? It has been argued that there was an ancient connection between witch rituals and those of Freemasonry. This may be so; but it is a fact that both Gerald Gardner and Dafo were members of the Co-Masons. Co-Masonry is an offshoot of Freemasonry which permits the admission of women as well as men to the order, something which, of course, the United Grand Lodge of England strictly forbids. Gerald Gardner was also a close friend of J.S.M. Ward, a leading Freemason and author of a number of learned books on the subject. Doreen's purpose was to indicate the possible sources of the Masonic element in the "Book of Shadows". "The Charge of the Goddess" takes its rise from this, as she had already noted. As Gerald originally had it, this was derived partly from Charles Godfrey's Leland's Aradia and partly from Aleister Crowley's Liber Legist.
Indeed, the influence of Crowley was very apparent throughout the rituals. As time went on, Doreen had in practice became Gerald's High Priestess. He had got over his discomfort at realizing that she could spot all the Crowley material in the rites they used. He explained this to her by saying, firstly, that as the holder of a Charter from Crowley himself to operate a Lodge of the OTO, he was entitled to use it. Secondly, that the rituals he had received from the old coven were very fragmentary and that in order to make them workable, he had been compelled to supplement them with other material. He had felt that Crowley's writings, modern though they were, breathed the very spirit of paganism and were expressed in splendid poetry. That was why he had used them.
Gerald Yorke, a friend of Crowley's for many years, told Doreen that Gerald Gardner had paid Crowley about $30,000 for it, which was quite a lot of money in those days. She wondered if this was the origin of the story that Gerald Gardner paid Aleister Crowley for writing the witchcraft rituals. One of the favorite ways of celebrating the Great Rite "in token" has come to be the ceremonial dipping of the athame (the ritual knife) into the cup which holds the wine, which is then passed around and drunk. Gerald seemed to have derived this from the Sixth Degree Ritual of the OTO in which a female officer called the Cup Bearer represents "The Lady Babalon" and a male officer called the " Grand Commander" represents the Templars' god Baphomet. The wine is consecrated by having the point of the sacred lance dipped into it. The general nature of the Six Degree OTO may be gathered from the letters VDSA, which stands for Vult Deus Sanctum Amorem,' God Wills Holy Love.' Gerald's original members of the coven, were either people who were also members of the naturist club referred to, or people who were already witches. But with the publication of his book " Witchcraft Today" and Gerald's lectures and appearances on television, more and more people wanted to join. Gerald began to realize that he had a real chance of reviving the Old Religion, and he wanted to gain popular acceptance for it. Doreen pointed out to him that he would never succeed in doing this so long as the influence of the late Aleister Crowley was to prevalent and obvious with the cult. Gerald's reaction was "Well, if you think you can do any better, go ahead." She accepted the challenge and set out to rewrite the "Book of Shadows," cutting out the Crowley vanity as much as she could. She felt that the words from Aradia qualified in this respect, so she retained them as the basis for her new version of "The Charge."
FLEET STREET ATTACKS
People may well wonder why, having traced Gerald's rituals to their component parts as having been derived from the works of Margaret Murray, Charles Godfrey Leland, Rudyard Kipling, Aleister Crowley, the Key of Solomon and the rituals of Freemasonry, Doreen continued to believe that they were descended from an old witch coven discovered in the New Forest. The reason is that underlying all these she found a basic structure which was not from Crowley or Margaret Murray or any of the other sources mentioned.
The oldest and possibly the purest form of the published rituals we have is that which appears in High Magic's Aid under the guise of fiction. This was actually published, as has been noted, during Dorothy Clutterbuck's lifetime, and according to Gerald, with her permission. (Dorothy Clutterbuck initiated Gerald Gardner.) Perhaps this is why the rituals are brief, simple and practical.
There is no Crowley vanity in them, except possibly in the occurrence of the phrase 'Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,' which is used as a password. If one really were a very high Adept indeed, this principle might work. However, if one is merely an ordinary mortal but beginning to flatter oneself that one is a very high Adept indeed, then disillusionment will, in Dorothy's opinion, swiftly follow. Gerald was riding for a fall. One other derivation there is in these rituals, ( which came from the ceremonies of the Order of the Golden Dawn, probably via Crowley, who published the secrets of the Order in his periodical The Equinox) is thereference to the Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, West, North and South, who are invoked at the four quarters of the magic circle and referred to as the "Dread Lords of the Outer Space."
Present-day witches still use these or similar words; but there seems to be a general ignorance of what they really mean. Steward and Janet Farrar refer to them in the "The Witches' Way" as: "Watchtowers - the four cardinal points, regarded as guardians of the " Magick Circle." This is in deed how they are generally regarded; but the origin of this expression is to be found in the works of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley, the two magicians who worked together in the days of Queen Elizabeth I to formulate the Enochian systems of magic. They visualized four great guardian 'watchtowers' standing invisibly at the four cardinal points of the compass, inhabited by powerful angelic beings. In the ceremonies of the Golden Dawn, these watchtowers were represented by the four Elemental Tables as received clairvoyantly by Edward Kelley, Dr. Dee's 'scryer', who used a crystal ball or a magic mirror to obtain the Enochian teachings. This is, therefore, another example of how the ideas of ceremonial magic has become incorporated into modern witchcraft. One can envisage a kind of working partnership between medieval magicians and witches, in which the magician provided book knowledge and possibly much-needed protection, while the witch, though unable to read or write, provided psychic power and possibly what today we call mediumship, enabling spirits to manifest. Very few people in olden times had the opportunity to learn to read or write, unless they belonged to the Church or the upper classes. Most of the common people were illiterate. Hence it seems unlikely that the witch teachings and traditions were handed down in anything like a Book of Shadows from very ancient times, simply because there would not have been enough people among the countryside witches capable of reading or copying such a book.
The basis origin of the real countryside witchcraft, it seemed to Doreen V. must lie in the ancient shamanism, which predates all the sophisticated techniques of the medieval sorcerer. (The original shams' were the tribal magician-priestesses and priests of Northern Asia). Nevertheless, witchcraft can claim to be religion, because it comes down to us from the days when religion and magic were the two sides of the same coin. People in those days lived close to nature, and nature was the book in which they read. Insofar as Gardner was able to bring this closeness to nature and harmony with Her back into the lives of present-day people, Gardner's rituals were a success. It was when he started posing before the cameras of the press and preening himself on his great discovery of the survival of witchcraft that things started to go wrong. Gerald's motives were, Doreen believed, basically good. He was desperately anxious that the Old Religion should not die and he realized that the only way it was going to survive would be if enough younger people were willing to carry it on. So he took to publicizing witchcraft in order to attract people. Whether he was right in this attitude has long been a matter of debate. However, Doreen could not help but realize much as she admired him, that he had a considerable love of the limelight and of being the center of attention. Gerald Yorke remarked about him to Doreen that Gerald Gardner was "totally lacking in the Fourth Power of the Sphinx" -- that is, the power of silence. This estimate was true. He could not seem to see the absurdity of initiating people and swearing them to secrecy and then having them read the next weekend some silly interview he had given to the Sunday papers. Nor could he seem to realize the real motives of the news-hounds of Fleet Street, who were more interested in selling papers with sensational stories than they were in preserving an ancient cult.
Many of his friends warned him repeatedly that he was heading for trouble. They urged him to be more discreet but he would not listen, or, rather, he would appear to listen and then proceed blithely to do just as he liked. Doreen knew that Dafo had discontinued working with him mainly for this reason. It was simply unfair to other people to put them in danger of being thrown to the wolves of the popular press, apart from being a breach of the very oath he had required from them. And, was it all really to enable the Old Religion to survive, or was it to gratify Gardner's personal vanity? The first real trouble came with unexpected force in the summer of 1955 when an interview was done of a woman who said she was an ex-witch and talked about the sacrifice of chickens and the drinking of their blood. It sounded more like Voodoo ceremony, but everything then was called witchcraft. The Christian clergymen headed by the Bishop of Exeter got involved. When Gardner talked to the newspaper trying to right the wrong, the newspaper turned things around. But this did not bother Gardner too much, as he said " it would have cost me thousands to get this sort of national publicity if I'd had to pay for it." People who had just recently joined were scared and absolutely in a panic. Rumors were flying about telephone-tapping and interference with letters. Doreen advised Gardner to destroy anything in the way of letters and papers that he would not like to fall into unfriendly hands and for once he acted on her advice. The main object was to prevent any general round-up of witches, if the police decided to act upon the newspaper clamor.
During the course of the next year, 1956, witch-hunting almost became a national pastime with wild headlines such as "BLACK MAGIC KILLER, BLACK WITCHERY CAN LEAD TO MURDER; WITCHCRAFT GROWING, WARNS DEAN; WITCHCRAFT FIRES ON PAGAN HILLTOP" and so on. Doreen and the rest of the coven feared that the sheer volume of press sensationalism might well bring about a call to re-impose something like the old Witchcraft Act, which, in fact, it did. Doreen and some of the elders in the coven formed the anti-publicity faction. They pointed out to Gardner pretty forcibly that they had had enough of these continual outbursts of silly publicity-seeking on his part which was adding fuel to fire of the national press witch-hunt. They asked him not to talk to anyone, even suggesting that he answer them in another book. Or, if he wanted to, give another interview to speak with them first. Doreen and the rest of the coven feared the worst and prepared for a split in the coven. As a last resort, they drew up a set of proposals entitled "Proposed Rules for the Craft." There were 13 clauses in these rules and the main purpose was to ensure that secrecy to which they all had been solemnly sworn when they were initiated. (This document has recently surfaced in the USA among the papers which Ripkey's purchased from Gerald's heirs when his museum collection was sold.) If these rules had been accepted and acted upon, a great deal of the subsequent trouble and heart-ache would have been avoided. But Gerald prevaricated as long as he could - and then did something which completely astounded everyone! He had been up at his museum in the Isle of Man while all of this was going on. From there he now sent as a long document, with a message saying that there was no need for our proposed rules, because a set of "Laws of the Craft" already existed. These were set out in the accompanying document couched in mock-archaic language and ornamented with awesome threats of "So be it ardane" (meaning ordained) and invocations of "The Curse of the Goddess" upon anyone who dared to transgress them. They were apparently supposed to be overawed. Our actual reaction was to be extremely skeptical. None of them had ever heard or set eyes of these alleged "Laws." If these laws were so ancient and authoritative, why had Gerald never given these "Laws" to them before? The more they read of the Laws, the less confidence they had in either him or the Laws. One section of The Laws, Doreen totally rejected. The word "sexist" was not in use in those days, but sexist was exactly what this pronouncement was. It set forth that "The Gods love the brethren of Wicca as a man loveth a woman, by mastering her." It went on to say that the High Priestess had to recognize that all power came from the God, who had only lent it to her: "And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess be that she recognize that youth is necessary to the representative of the Goddess. So will she gracefully retire in favor of a younger woman, should the coven so decide in council." (Personal Note: I feel Gardner was one hell of a womanizer - a number one act!) Had anyone dared to suggest that Old Dorothy 'gracefully retire' in favor of some nubile young thing? And what about the High Priest? There was no suggestion that he had to retire! Now this is not Witchcraft but it was very reminiscent of the practices of Aleister Crowley, who had initiated and then cast aside a whole series of "Scarlet Women" as his High Priestesses were called. Apparently Gardner wanted to get rid of Doreen because she refused to be "mastered" (and used) or who wanted to take witchcraft more seriously instead of regarding it as something to serve one's own vanity and exhibitionism. Of course, Gardner had to come up with something. Half of his coven was in a state of mutiny, led by his High Priestess and his friend Ned. It was Ned who had been mainly responsible for the "Proposed Rules" and he wrote back to Gardner and told him that they regarded the alleged "Law" as an ad hoc invention of his own. There was much heated correspondence but no real conclusion. The best they could get out of Gardner was a solemn promise that before he gave any more interviews to the popular media he would tell them about it first. They just did not know why Gardner was giving away all their secrecy and posing for photographs.
Another silly incident occurred where Gardner prattled away and posed for a ludicrous picture which showed him sitting cross-legged in the magic circle and pointing a magic sword at what the caption called a "Weird image" of a bat-winged demon! Everyone was infuriated. Gardner said his publisher sent the people up to the Isle of Man for them to see him and he had to let them in. He was all artless innocence - a tone which Doreen knew he was lying. She went up to his publishers in London and asked to see the manager and if anyone there had sent these reporters. He knew nothing of the kind. Doreen went back and told the rest of the covenwhat she had done and what she had found out. She also wrote to Gardner and said someone was lying and if it was him, then she was afraid they had come to the parting of the ways. Because there is no point in trying to do magical work with someone who is going to try to foist a lot of phony "Laws" upon them and whose word she could no longer trust. She knew Gardner was not telling the truth. Gerald wrote back an incoherent and rather abusive letter which was notable only for its absence of straight answers about anything. As of that summer of 1957, the coven split. Doreen and the rest of those who felt as she did left it and went their own ways. They had enough of the Gospel according to St. Gerald; but they still believed that the real traditional witchcraft lived. After that, Doreen had seen an article in the paper where Gardner had invited a reporter up to see that witchcraft was free of the evil associations with which it is universally credited. The article read " THEY CALL THIS WITCHCRAFT". It went on to report that it discloses " the existence of a repulsive pagan sect in their midst." It claimed that the 'disgraceful facts' it had been able to discover had horrified Church leaders, notably the Right Reverend Robert Mortimer, Bishop of Exeter and Canon Marcus Knight of St Paul's Cathedral. The article went on to say where the reporter had been taken to a house where he met four people. It was not a very impressive photograph, just four naked people sitting around an improvised alter drinking some potion which the article alleged it was rum. Doreen also recognized some athames, some cords, and a pentacle and two lighted candles in candle holders. The reporter described how the witches had drawn the circle and performed 'a frenzied dance' to theaccompaniment of music from a tape-recorder. He ended by saying: "Condemned by the Church as a monstrous evil, how could any responsible human being believe in it as religion?"
The following week it was headlined 'I SAW A NUDE "PRIESTESS" GO WILD.' It described with obvious relish how this Priestess had performed 'a wild ritual dance, brandishing her witch's knife, while wearing nothing but a garter, a silver bracelet and a lapis-lazulis necklace'. The article ended by saying "Call it idiocy or evil, the pagan cult of witchcraft is a fact that Christians in Britain have to reckon with."
If the publicity-favoring faction had learned their lesson from this episode, they learned too late. Just over a year later on January 1, 1959, the same newspaper published a more serious onslaught. This time names and addresses were given. The location of the 'witch's cottage' where so many of our rituals had been held was also given and a photograph of it printed. The journalist wrote: "Each member of the coven whom I traced and interviewed showed every sign of believing in this disgraceful rubbish about gods of fertility, the supposed virtues of dancing naked and the worship of sex." Although his name had not been given, Gerald Gardner fled to Jersey in the Channel Islands the day after the report appeared, leaving his followers to face the music.
These events effectually made the continued use of the 'witch's cottage' and surrounding land impracticable. Bowing on the inevitable, the land was eventually sold and the 'witch's cottage' dismantled. Doreen is told that it has been re-erected upon other private land and is still in witch worship.
In the 1960s interest in magic, both black and white, spread rapidly and it only got worse. Black magic was being brought in as part of witchcraft. The attack on black magic and witchcraft brought two attempts which have been made since 1951 to bring back legislation against witches. In the course of their investigation the reporters found their own black magic expert who had a long-standing magical feud with the late and notorious Aleister Crowley. He alleged that Crowley married his mother and defended his mother from the evil Crowley and vowing vengeance. Had the reporters checked up on this, they would have found out that Crowley never married his mother. Unfortunately, instead of treating this man with the derision he deserved, a well-known witch, Alex Sanders, who had been named by the News of the World in its article, went on the Simon Dee Show on television in March 1979 to announce that he had put a curse on him. Sanders produced an effigy stuck with pins which he said was of his man and boasted that by its means, he could inflect heart attacks upon him. It was an exceptionally foolish thing to say to such a wide audience, but then people might think that someone who insisted that he was 'the King of the Witches' should not be taken seriously, anyway. People did take it seriously which led Mr. Gwilym Roberts, the Labor Member of Parliament for South Bedfordshire, asked in the House of Commons if the Home Secretary would introduce legislation to provide penalties against individuals claiming to practice witchcraft.
Doreen realized that this time they could be in serious trouble. She decided to lobby the House of Commons and see if Mr. Roberts would give her an interview. He agreed and he and his wife entertained her with tea at the House of Commons. She told him plainly that she was a witch. They had a long talk about the Old Religion and as a result of it, Mr. Roberts did not proceed with any further requests for legislation against witches. Up to the time of writing, this has been the last serious attempt to bring back any law against Witchcraft. Gradually over the years, a more intelligent approach to Witchcraft has been shown by the media generally. (Note: Many people praise Gardner in how he brought Witchcraft out into the open from behind closed doors. However, through his actions, it almost sent the religion back behind them once again. It is said that he wanted to keep the religion alive. The irony is that by his own actions, he almost destroyed it himself)
But witchcraft too has changed. Without wishing to put too much of Doreen in the book, she had to feature what she had done and the things she had taken part in, because she had to recognize that it was really the events when the old coven run by Gerald Gardner and her split open like a ripe seed-pod and many people went their separate ways, which caused the dispersion of the seeds of many new covens and many new ideas. Good, therefore, eventually came out of evil, and she was glad to have been able to record also that after a period of not being on speaking terms with Gerald, that she and he met again and were reconciled. They continued as friends until his death, although they did not work together again.
Excerpts from Doreen Valiente in her book -"The Rebirth of Witchcraft" which is now out of print.
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