Meetings were held in North London, at a place called Queens Wood. As well as Ron White and Doreen Valiente, members Included "John Math", founder of the Witchcraft Research Association in 1964, and editor of Pentagram magazine, and the founder of the Pagan Movement, Tony Kelly. At its height, there were frequently more than 40 in attendance at rites, which tended to be of the dramatic, pagan kind rather than the ceremonial associated with high ritual magic. The Regency operated fairly consistently for over twelve years, finally disbanding in 1978. The Membership roll reads like a who's who of the British Wicca! Some of the rites have been incorporated into modern Wiccan rituals - in fact, one was used at the Pan European Wiccan Conference 1991 with very great success.
Moving back over to Rae Bone's line, there are a number of influential people here, mainly through her initiates, Madge and Arthur, who probably take the award for the most prolific pair in Wiccandom! Rae, although initiated by Gardner, does of course also claim a hereditary status in her own right. Madge and Arthur's initiates include: John and Jean Score
John Score was the partner of Michael Houghton (mentioned earlier), and the founder of the Pagan Federation, which is very active today. Houghton died under very mysterious circumstances, which is briefly mentioned in "The Sword of Wisdom" by Ithell Colquhoun. My Craft source told me that this was actually a ritual that went badly wrong, and Houghton ended up on the wrong end of some fairly potent energies. There is an interesting anecdote about Houghton in The Rebirth Of Withcraft, which is taken from "Nightside of Eden" by Kenneth Grant, and agrees in some respect to a similar story that I was told some years ago. Doreen suggests in The Rebirth Of Witchcraft that the story may relate to a magical working involving Kenneth Grant and his wife, Gardner, Dolores North (Madeline Montalban), and an un-named witch, who was probably Olive Green.
They were all to perform a ritual together, supposedly to contact an extra-terrestrial being. The material basis for the rite, which took place in 1949, was a drawing by AO Spare. Apparently soon after the rite commenced, a nearby bookseller (Michael Houghton) turned up and interrupted proceedings. On hearing that Kenneth Grant was within, he declined to enter, and wandered off. The rite was disrupted, and the story goes that everyone just went home.
Kenneth Grant claims that as a result of disturbing their working, Houghton's marriage broke up, and that Houghton died in mysterious circumstances. In fact, the Houghton divorce was a cause celebre, with her suing him for cruelty because he boasted of being a Sagittarian while sneering at her because she was only a dingy old Capricorn! The interrupted ritual could well have taken place. Madeline had a flat near to Atlantis (Houghton's shop), and would certainly have known both Grant and Houghton. I know for a fact that Madeline was acquainted with Gerald, although her opinion of both him and the Wicca was rather poor. One of Madeline's older students told me that she thought Gardner rather a fraud, and ritually inept. She also had a very low opinion of Wiccans, and refused to allow her own students to participate in Wiccan rites. The reason for this lies in an anecdote which Doreen doesn't relate: the story goes that Madeline agreed to participate in a rite with Gerald, which turned out to involve Madeline being tied up and tickled with a feather duster! The great lady was not amused.
Prudence was for many years the president of the Pagan Federation, and editor of its newsletter. She inherited her role from John Score, after he passed away. With Nigel Pennick, Prudence also runs the Pagan Anti-Defamation League (PADL), and is an active astrologer and therapist. She has edited a book on astrology, and with Caitlin Matthews, edited "Voices from the Circle", published by Aquarian Press. Although Prudence took her degree in Philosophy, her main interests lie in the areas of the Grail and troubadour tales, and she has published privately an excellent essay on the Grail and Wicca. She is also a very highly respected astrologer, who lectures extensively in Britain.
Vivianne and Chris Crowley
Vivianne Crowley, is author of "Wicca - The Old Religion in the New Age", and also secretary of the Pagan Federation. She has a PhD in Psychology, and is perhaps the only person to have been a member of both a Gardnerian Coven and an Alexandrian one simultaneously! Vivianne is very active at the moment, and has initiated people in Germany (having memorised the ritual in German - a language she doesn't speak!), Norway, and - on the astral - Brazil. As a result of her book, she receives many letters from people from all around the world, and organised the first ever pan-European Wiccan conference, held in Germany 1990. The second conference was held in Britain at the June solstice, and the third (1992) in Norway. In 1993, the Conference will be in Scotland.
John and Kathy (Caitlin) Matthews, are probably well-known to everyone, but possibly their Gardnerian initiations are not such common knowledge. The story that John Matthews relates in "Voices from the Circle" is essentially the one which he told the HPS who initiated him.
Pat and Arnold Crowther
I have left Pat and Arnold till last, as it is from their line that the infamous Alex Sanders derives! It is no secret anymore that Alex, far from being initiated by his grandmother when he was seven, was in fact turned down by Pat Crowther in 1961, but was later accepted by one of her ex-coven members, Pat Kopanski, and initiated to 1st Degree.
In "The Rebirth of Witchcraft" Doreen says that Alex later met Gardner, and was allowed to copy from the Book of Shadows; Craft tradition is somewhat different! It has always been said (even by Alex's supporters!) that he pinched what he could from Pat Kopanski before being chucked out, and that the main differences between the Alexandrian and Gardnerian Books of Shadows occur where Alex mis-heard, or mis-copied something! There are certainly significant differences between the two Books; some parts of Gardnerian ritual are quite unknown within the Alexandrian tradition, and the ritual techniques are often different. It is usually very easy to spot whether someone is an Alexandrian, or Gardnerian initiate. Alex needed a HPS, and as we know, chose Maxine Morris for the role. Maxine is a striking Priestess, and made a very good visual focus for the movement which grew in leaps and bounds. In the late 1960s, Alex and Maxine were prolific initiators, and a number of their initiates have become well known. Some came to Australia, and there are still a number of covens in the UK today whose HP and/or HPS was initiated by Alex or Maxine.
Alex and Maxine's most famous initiates are almost certainly Janet and Stewart Farrar, who left them in 1971 to form their own coven, first in England, then later, in Ireland. Through their books, they have probably had the most influence over the direction that the modern Craft has taken. Certainly in Australia, the publication of "What Witches Do" was an absolute watershed, and with Janet and Stewart's consistent output, their form of Wicca is more likely to become the "standard" than any other type.
Since their early days of undiluted Alexandrianism, they have drifted somewhat towards a more Gardnerian approach, and today, tell everyone that there are no differences between the two traditions. In fact, despite the merging that has been occurring over the last few years, there are very distinct differences between the traditions; some merely external, others of a very significant difference of philosophy.
Seldiy Bate was originally magically trained by Madeline Montalban, and then took an Alexandrian initiation from Maxine and Alex. Her husband, Nigel, was also initiated by Maxine, and they have been "public" witches for a number of years now, often appearing on TV, radio and in the press. Their background in ritual magic is expressed in the type of coven that they run; a combination of Wicca and Ceremonial Magic.
In 1971, Alex and Maxine went their separate ways. David Goddard is a Liberal Catholic Priest, and for many years, he and Maxine worked in the Liberal Catholic faith, and did not run a coven of any kind. Then in 1984, Maxine gathered together a group again, and started practising a combination of Wicca, Qabalah and Liberal Catholicism. She and David separated in 1987, and since then her coven has been exclusively Wiccan. In 1989, she married one of her initiates, Vincent, and they are still running an active coven in London today.
Alex's history after the split was a little more sordid, with one girl he married, Jill, filling the gutter press with stories about Alex being homosexual, and defrauding her of all her money to spend on his boyfriends. Sally Taylor was initiated by Maxine and David, but then transferred to Alex. She was trained by him, and then started her own group.
I'd now like to focus upon the last of the strands which I believe has been influential upon the birth and development of Wicca; that of the literary traditions and sources to which Gardner would have had access. To a certain extent these are contiguous with the magical traditions described earlier, as nowhere is it ever suggested that Gardner did in fact ever work in a magical Lodge, so we must assume that his knowledge came from the written form of the rites, not from the actual practise of them.
From reading Gardner's books, it is quite apparent that Margaret Murray had a tremendous impact upon him. Her book, "The God of the Witches" was published in 1933, and twelve years previously, "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" had appeared. "The God of the Witches" has been tremendously influential on a number of people, and certainly inspired Gardner.
In fact, "Witchcraft Today", published by Gardner in 1954 contained a foreword by Margaret Murray. At this time, remember, Murray's work was still taken seriously, and she remained the contributor on the subject of witchcraft for the Encyclopedia Britannica for a number of years.
Now of course her work has been largely discredited, although she remains a source of inspiration, if not historical accuracy. In Gardner's day, the idea of a continuing worship of the old pagan gods would have been a staggering theory, and in the second article in my series about Murray (published in The Cauldron), I made the point that Murray may have had to pretend scientific veracity in order to get her work published in such times. Don't forget that Dion Fortune had to publish her work privately, as did Gardner with High Magic's Aid. Carlo Ginzburg's excellent book, "Ecstasies", also supports Murray's basic premise; although of course he regrets her historical deceptions.
There were of course other sources than Murray. In 1899, "Aradia: Gospel of the Witches" was published. Most of Crowley's work was available during the pre- and post-war years, as were the texts written and translated by MacGregor Mathers and Waite. Also readily available were works such as The Magus, and of course the classics, from which Gardner drew much inspiration.
Of paramount importance would have been "The White Goddess", by Robert Graves, which is still a standard reference book on any British Wiccan's bookshelf. This was published in 1952; three years after High Magic's Aid appeared, and two years before Gardner's first non-fictional book about witchcraft. I would just like to say at this point that Graves has taken some very unfair criticism in respect of this book. The White Goddess was written as a work of poetry, not history, and to criticise it for being historically innaccurate is to miss the point. Unfortunately, I agree that some writers have referred to it as an "authority", and thus led their readers up the garden path. This is not Graves's fault, nor do I believe it was his intention.
Another book which has had a profound influence on many Wiccans, and would undoubtedly have been well known by Gardner is "The Golden Bough"; although the entire book was written based upon purely secondary research, it is an extensive examination of many pagan practices from the Ancient World, and the emphasis of the male sacrifice could certainly have been taken from here equally as well as from Murray. Certain of the Gardnerian ritual practices were almost certainly derived from The Golden Bough, or from Frazer's own sources.
In "Witchcraft Today" Gardner mentions a number of authors when speculating where the Wiccan rites came from. He says that, "The only man I can think of who could have invented the rites was the late Aleister Crowley."
He continues to say, "The only other man I can think of who could have done it is Kipling...". He also mentions that, "Hargrave Jennings might have had a hand in them..." and then suggests that "Barrat (sic) of The Magus, circa 1800, would have had the ability to invent or resurrect the cult."
It's possible that these references are something of a damage control operation by Gardner, who, according to Doreen, was not too impressed when she kept telling him that she recognised certain passages in the Witch rites! "Witchcraft Today" was published the year after Doreen's initiation, and perhaps by seeming genuinely interested in where the Rites came from, Gardner thought he might give the appearance of innocence of their construction!
As mentioned previously, Gardner also had a large collection of unpublished MSS, which he used extensively, and one has only to read his books to realise that he was a very well-read man, with wide-ranging interests. Exactly the sort of man who would be able to draw together a set of rituals if required.
The extensive bibliography to "The Meaning of Witchcraft" published in 1959, demonstrates this rather well. Gardner includes Magick in Theory and Practice and The Equinox of the Gods by Crowley; The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune; The Goetia; The White Goddess (Graves); Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of The Mabinogion; English Folklore by Christina Hole; The Kabbalah Unveiled and the Abramelin by Mathers; both Margaret Murray's books and Godfrey Leland's Gypsy Sorcery, as well as a myriad of classic texts, from Plato to Bede! Although this bibliography postdates the creation of Gardnerian Wicca, it certainly indicates from where Gardner draws his inspiration from. There are also several books listed which are either directly, or indirectly, concerned with sex magic, Priapic Cults, or Tantra.
Hargrave Jenning, mentioned earlier, wrote a book called "The Rosicrucians, their Rites and Mysteries", which Francis King describes as a book, "concerned almost exclusively with phallicism and phallic images - Jennings saw the penis everywhere."
As I mentioned earlier, Hargrave Jennings, a member of the SRIA, also belonged to a group, described as a coven, which met in the Cambridge area in the 1870s, and performed rituals based upon the classical traditions - specifically, from The Golden Ass. There is no evidence to support this, except that there are often found references to a "Cambridge Coven" linked to Jennings' name. Many of the rituals we are familiar with today were of course later additions by Doreen Valiente, and these have been well documented by both her and the Farrars, in a number of books. Doreen admits that she deliberately cut much of the poetry by Aleister Crowley, and substituted either her own work, or poems from other sources, such as the Carmina Gadelica.
Of course we can never really know the truth about the origins of the Wicca. Gardner may have been an utter fraud; he may have actually received a "Traditional" initiation; or, as a number of people have suggested, he may have created the Wicca as a result of a genuine religious experience, drawing upon his extensive literary and magical knowledge to create, or help create, the rites and philosophy.
What I think we can be fairly certain about is that he was sincere in his belief. If there had been no more to the whole thing than an old man's fantasy, then the Wicca would not have grown to be the force that it is today, and we would not all be sitting here in Canberra on a Saturday morning!