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THE SECRET HISTORY OF MODERN WITCHCRAFT

Subject: THE SECRET HISTORY OF MODERN WITCHCRAFT
                                      
   Copyright  1997 by T Allen Greenfield All rights reserved.
   
   By Allen H. Greenfield, Bishop in the Gnosis
   
   The Legend of Witchcraft and the Origin of Wicca
   
   "The fact is that the instincts of ignorant people invariably find
   expression in some form of witchcraft. It matters little what the
   metaphysician or the moralist may inculcate; the animal sticks to his
   subconscious ideas..." Aleister Crowley The Confessions
   
   "Gather together in the covens as of old, whose number is eleven, that
   is also my number. Gather together in public, in song and dance and
   festival. Gather together in secret, be naked and shameless and
   rejoice in my name."
   
   Liber 49, The Book of Babalon, Jack Parsons, 1946
   
   "If you are on the Path, and see the Buddha walking towards you, kill
   him." Zen saying, paraphrased slightly
   
   "Previously I never thought of doubting that there were many witches
   in the world; now, however, when I examine the public record, I find
   myself believing that there are hardly any..." Father Friedrich von
   Spee, S.J. , Cautio Criminalis, 1631
   
   [ This monograph has a long history. The earliest published draft
   appeared in a small, independent radical journal during my sojourn in
   Florida in the middle 1980s. I was at that time closely associated
   with the OTO, but was not then an initiate member. I had been in close
   contact with Wiccan and other Neopagan groups at that time for over a
   decade. I had been a welcome guest in many Neopagan circles, and was
   widely, although inaccurately, described as a "Neopagan writer" (as in
   Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon). I was frequently published in
   the journal of the Church of All Worlds, Green Egg. Several years
   later, a revised and updated version appeared in the first issue of
   LAShTAL, the journal of Eulis Lodge OTO, which by then I had joined.
   Since that time, the essay has been repeatedly updated and revised.
   After I lost my bid for it, the copy of Ye Book of Ye Arte Magical in
   the Ripley Collection was sold to a private collector with pro Wiccan
   sympathies (or so I have heard) and has disappeared from view. But not
   before I got a VERY good look at it. The present revision includes new
   insights into the early claims concerning Gerald Gardner relative to
   his status in the OTO. Several letters published by Bill Heidrick,
   Treasurer General of the OTO, exchanged between Lady Freida Harris and
   both Karl Germer and Frederic Mellinger immediately after Aleister
   Crowley's death add new insight. Br. Heidrick was kind enough to
   provide me with copies of these letters in my preparations for this
   publication. The is also an important letter by Gerald Gardner to
   Vernon Symmonds, written during the same period. A copy of the latter
   was kindly provided by Sabazius X, the present U.S. Grand Master
   General of the OTO. I have also had occasion to closely examine the
   writings of John Whiteside Parsons on the subject of modern
   witchcraft, written during that same period. It is of more than
   passing interest that Ye Book of Ye Arte Magical, the OTO Charter
   granted to Gerald Gardner by Aleister Crowley, the writings by Parsons
   on witchcraft, the publication of High Magic's Aid and the public
   emergence of Wicca all date from the same period, circa 1945-1950.]
   
   Having spent the day musing over the origins of the modern witchcraft,
   I had a vivid dream. It seemed to be a cold January afternoon, and
   Aleister Crowley was having Gerald Gardner over to tea. It was 1945,
   and talk of an early end to the war was in the air. An atmosphere of
   optimism prevailed in the free world , but the wheezing old Magus was
   having none of it.
   
   "Nobody is interested in magick any more!" Crowley ejaculated. "My
   friends on the Continent are dead or in exile, or grown old; the
   movement in America is in shambles. I've seen my best candidates turn
   against me....Achad, Regardie -- even that gentleman out in
   California, what's - his - name, AMORC, the one that made all the
   money.."
   
   "O, bosh, Crowley," Gardner waved his hand impatiently, "all things
   considered, you've done pretty well for yourself. Why, you've been
   called the `wickedest man in the world' and by more than a few. And
   you've not, if you'll pardon the impertinence, done too badly with the
   ladies."
   
   Crowley coughed, tugged on his pipe reflectively. "You know" he
   finally ventured, "it's like I've been trying to tell this boy Grant.
   A restrictive Order is not enough. If I had it all to do over again, I
   would've built a religion for the unwashed masses instead of just a
   secret society. Why, the opportunities! The women! Poor dimwit kid; he
   just doesn't get the point. I believe he reads Lovecraft or Poe or one
   of those other unsavory American fantasists too much. But you, Brother
   Gardner, you get what is needed."
   
   Gardner smiled. "Precisely. And that is what I have come to propose to
   you. Take your BOOK OF THE LAW, your GNOSTIC MASS. Add a little
   razzle-dazzle for the country folk. Why I know these occultists who
   call themselves `witches'. They dance around fires naked, get drunk,
   have a good time. Rosicrucians, I think. Proper English country
   squires and dames, mostly. If I could persuade you to draw on your
   long experience and talents, in no time at all we could invent a
   popular cult that would have beautiful ladies clamoring to let us
   strip them naked, tie them up and spank their behinds! If, Mr.
   Crowley, you'll excuse my explicitness."
   
   For all his infirmity, Aleister Crowley almost sprang to his feet, a
   little of the old energy flashing through his loins. "By George,
   Gardner, you've got something there, I should think! I could license
   you to initiate people into the O.T.O. today, and you could form the
   nucleus of such a group!"
   
   He paced in agitation. "Yes, yes," he mused, half to Gardner, half to
   himself. "The Book. The Mass. I could write some rituals. An 'ancient
   book' of magick. A 'book of shadows'. Priestesses, naked girls. Yes.
   By Jove, yes!"
   
   Great story, but merely a dream , created out of bits and pieces of
   rumor, history and imagination. Don't be surprised, though, if a year
   or five years from now you read it as "gospel" (which is an ironic
   synonym for `truth') in some new learned text on the fabled history of
   Wicca. Such is the way all mythologies come into being.
   
   Please don't misunderstand me here; I use the word `mythology' in this
   context in its aboriginal meaning, and with considerable respect.
   History is more metaphor than factual accounting at best, and there
   are myths by which we live and others by which we die. Myths are the
   dreams and visions which parallel objective history.
   
   To arrive at some perspective on what the modern mythos called,
   variously, "Wicca", the "Old Religion", "Witchcraft" and "Neopaganism"
   is, we must firstly make a firm distinction; "witchcraft" in the
   popular informally defined sense may have little to do with the modern
   religion that goes by the same name. It has been argued by defenders
   of and formal apologists for modern Wicca that it is a direct lineal
   descendent of an ancient, indeed, prehistoric worldwide folk religion.
   
   Some proponents hedge their claims, calling Wicca a "revival" rather
   than a continuation of an ancient cult. Oddly enough, there may never
   have been any such cult! The first time I met someone who thought she
   was a witch, she started going on about being a "blue of the cloak." I
   should've been warned right then and there.
   
   In fact, as time has passed and the religion has spread, the claims of
   lineal continuity have tended to be hedged more and more. Thus, we
   find Dr. Gardner himself, in 1954, stating unambiguously that some
   witches are descendants "... of a line of priests and priestesses of
   an old and probably Stone Age religion, who have been initiated in a
   certain way (received into the circle) and become the recipients of
   certain ancient learning." (Gardner, WITCHCRAFT TODAY, pp. 33-34.)
   
   Stated in its most extreme form, Wicca may be defined as an ancient
   pagan religious system of beliefs and practices, with a form of
   `apostolic' succession (that is, with knowledge and ordination handed
   on linearly from generation to generation), a more or less consistent
   set of rites and myths, and even a secret holy book of considerable
   antiquity (The Book of Shadows).
   
   More recent writers, as we have noted, have hedged a good deal on
   these claims, particularly the latter. Thus we find Stewart Farrar in
   1971 musing on the purported ancient text thusly: "Whether, therefore,
   the whole of the Book of Shadows is post-1897 is anyone's guess. Mine
   is that, like the Bible, it is a patchwork of periods and sources, and
   that since it is copied and re-copied by hand, it includes amendments,
   additions, and stylistic alterations according to the taste of a
   succession of copiers...Parts of it I sense to be genuinely old; other
   parts suggest modern interpolation..." (Farrar, WHAT WITCHES DO, pp.
   34-35) As we shall discover presently, there appear to be no genuinely
   old copies of the Book of Shadows.
   
   Still, as to the mythos , Farrar informs us that the "two
   personifications of witchcraft are the Horned God and the Mother
   Goddess..." (ibid., p 29) and that the "Horned God is not the Devil,
   and never has been. If today `Satanist' covens do exist, they are not
   witches but a sick fringe, delayed-reaction victims of a centuries-old
   Church propaganda in which even intelligent Christians no longer
   believe..." (ibid., p 32).
   
   If one is then to protest, `very well, some case might be made for the
   Horned God being mistaken for the Christian Devil (or should that be
   the other way around?), but what record, prior to the advent 50 years
   ago of modern Wicca via Gerald Gardner, do we have of the survival of
   a mother goddess image from ancient times?
   
   Wiccan apologists frequently refer to the (apparently isolated) tenth
   century Church document which states that "some wicked women,
   perverted by the Devil, seduced by the illusions and phantasms of
   demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of the night to
   ride upon certain beasts with Diana, the goddess of pagans, or with
   Herodias, and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of
   the dead of night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her
   commands as of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on
   certain nights." (Quoted in Valiente, WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW, Hale,
   1978, p 32. and by Kramer and Sprenger in the Montague Summers'
   translation of THE HAMMER OF WITCHES ) This document dates from early
   post-Roman Europe. Some form of intact quasi pagan folk beliefs did
   survive through this period; even as late as the High Middle Ages it
   survived among the Vikings of Northern Europe. Human Sacrifice was
   practiced at Old Upsala well into the High Middle Ages. There has,
   however, never been any evidence of a link to modern Wicca, other than
   a literary one.
   
   Farrar, for his part, explains the lack of references to a goddess in
   the testimony at the infamous witch trials by asserting that "the
   judges ignored the Goddess, being preoccupied with the Satan-image of
   the God.." (WHAT WITCHES DO, p 33). But it is the evidence of that
   reign of terror which lasted from roughly 1484 to 1692 which brings
   the whole idea of a surviving religious cult into question.
   Authorities such as Dr. Margaret Murray to the contrary, the
   conventional wisdom on the witch burning mania which swept like a
   plague over much of Europe during the transition from medieval world
   to modern is that it was JUST that; a mania, a delusion in the minds
   of Christian clergymen and state authorities; that is, there were no
   witches, only the innocent victims of the witch hunt. Further, this
   humanist argument goes, the `witchcraft' of Satanic worship,
   broomstick riding, of Sabats and Devil-marks, was a rather late
   invention, borrowing but little from remaining memories of actual pre
   Christian paganism. We have seen that the infamous inquisitors Kramer
   and Springer knew full well the early account mentioned above, and
   classical paganism as a literary knowledge has never been forgotten.
   We have seen a resurrection of this mania in the 1980s flurry over
   `Satanic sacrificial' cults, with as little evidence. The story still
   gets retold in the '90s on occasion, in fresh form.
   
   "The concept of the heresy of witchcraft was frankly regarded as a new
   invention, both by the theologians and by the public," writes Dr.
   Rossell Hope Robbins in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WITCHCRAFT & DEMONOLOGY,
   (Crown, 1959, p.9)"Having to hurdle an early church law, the Canon
   Episcopi, which said in effect that belief in witchcraft was
   superstitious and heretical, the inquisitors caviled by arguing that
   the witchcraft of the Canon Episcopi and the witchcraft of the
   Inquisition were different..."
   
   The evidence extracted under the most gruesome and repeated tortures
   resemble the Wiccan religion of today in only the most cursory
   fashion. Though Wicca may have been framed with the "confessions"
   extracted by victims of the inquisitors in mind, those "confessions"
   --- which are more than suspect, to begin with, bespeak a cult of
   devil worshipers dedicated to evil.
   
   One need only read a few of the accounts of the time to realize that,
   had there been at the time a religion of the Goddess and God, of
   seasonal circles and The Book of Shadows, such would likely have been
   blurted out by the victims, and more than once. The agonies of the
   accused were, almost literally, beyond the imagination of those of us
   who have been fortunate enough to escape them.
   
   The witch mania went perhaps unequaled in the annals of crimes against
   humanity en masse until the Hitlerian brutality of our own century.
   But, no such confessions were forthcoming, though the wretches
   accused, before the torture was done, would also be compelled to
   condemn their own parents, spouses, loved ones, even children. They
   confessed, and to anything the inquisitors wished, anything to stop or
   reduce the pain.
   
   A Priest, probably at risk to his own life, recorded testimony in the
   1600s that reflected the reality underlying the forced "confessions"
   of "witches". Rev. Michael Stapirius records, for example, this
   comment from one "confessed witch": "I never dreamed that by means of
   the torture a person could be brought to the point of telling such
   lies as I have told. I am not a witch, and I have never seen the
   devil, and still I had to plead guilty myself and denounce others...."
   All but one copy of Father Stapirius' book were destroyed, and little
   wonder.
   
   A letter smuggled from a German burgomaster, Johannes Junius, to his
   daughter in 1628, is as telling as it is painful even to read. His
   hands had been virtually destroyed in the torture, and he wrote only
   with great agony and no hope. "When at last the executioner led me
   back to the cell, he said to me, `Sir, I beg you, for God's sake,
   confess something, whether it be true or not. Invent something, for
   you cannot endure the torture which you will be put to; and, even if
   you bear it all, yet you will not escape, not even if you were an
   earl, but one torture will follow another until you say you are a
   witch. Not before that,' he said, `will they let you go, as you may
   see by all their trials, for one is just like another...' " (ibid.,
   pp. 12-13)
   
   For the graspers at straws, we may find an occasional line in a
   "confession" which is intriguing, as in the notations on the
   "confession" of one woman from Germany dated in late 1637. After days
   of unspeakable torment, wherein the woman confesses under pain,
   recants when the pain is removed, only to be moved by more pain to
   confess again, she is asked: "How did she influence the weather? She
   does not know what to say and can only whisper, Oh, Heavenly Queen,
   protect me!"
   
   Was the victim calling upon "the Goddess"? Or, as seems more likely,
   upon that aforementioned transfiguration of all ancient goddesses in
   Christian mythology, the Virgin Mary. One more quote from Dr. Robbins,
   and I will cease to parade late medieval history before you.
   
   It comes from yet another priest, Father Cornelius Loos, who observed,
   in 1592 that "Wretched creatures are compelled by the severity of the
   torture to confess things they have never done, and so by cruel
   butchery innocent lives are taken....." (ibid., p 16). The "evidence"
   of the witch trials indicates, on the whole, neither the Satanism the
   church and state would have us believe, nor the pagan survivals now
   claimed by modern Wicca; rather, they suggest only fear, greed, human
   brutality carried out to bizarre extremes that have few parallels in
   all of history. But, the brutality is not that of `witches' nor even
   of `Satanists' but rather that of the Christian Church, and the
   government.
   
   What, then, are we to make of modern Wicca? It must, of course, be
   observed as an aside that in a sense witchcraft or "wisecraft" has,
   indeed, been with us from the dawn of time, not as a coherent religion
   or set of practices and beliefs, but as the folk magic and medicine
   that stretches back to early, possibly Paleolithic tribal shamans on
   to modern China's so-called "barefoot doctors".
   
   In another sense, we can also say that ceremonial magick, as I have
   previously noted, has had a place in history for a very long time, and
   both these ancient systems of belief and practice have intermingled in
   the lore of modern Wicca, as apologists are quick to claim.
   
   But, to an extent, this misses the point and skirts an essential
   question anyone has the right to ask about modern Wicca -- namely, did
   Wicca exist as a coherent creed, a distinct form of spiritual
   expression, prior to the 1940s; that is, prior to the meeting of minds
   between the old magus and venerable prophet of the occult world
   Aleister Crowley, and the first popularizer, if not outright inventor
   of modern Wicca, Gerald Brosseau Gardner?
   
   There is certainly no doubt that bits and pieces of ancient paganism
   survived into modern times in folklore and, for that matter, in the
   very practices and beliefs of Christianity.
   
   Further, there appears to be some evidence that `Old George'
   Pickingill and others were practicing some form of Satanic folk magick
   as early as the latter part of the last century, though even this has
   recently been brought into question. Wiccan writers have made much of
   this in the past, but just what `Old George' was into is subject to
   much debate.
   
   Doreen Valiente, an astute Wiccan writer and one-time intimate of the
   late Dr. Gardner (and, in fact, the author of some rituals now thought
   by others to be of "ancient origin"), says of Pickingill that so
   "fierce was `Old George's dislike of Christianity that he would even
   collaborate with avowed Satanists..." (TOMORROW, p 20). What George
   Pickingill was doing is simply not clear.
   
   He is said to have had some interaction with a host of figures in the
   occult revival of the late nineteenth century, including perhaps even
   Crowley and his teacher Bennett. It seems possible that Gardner, about
   the time of meeting Crowley, had some involvement with groups stemming
   from Pickingill's earlier activities, but it is only AFTER Crowley and
   Gardner meet that we begin to see anything resembling the modern
   spiritual communion that has become known as Wicca.
   
   "Witches," wrote Gardner in 1954, "are consummate leg-pullers; they
   are taught it as part of their stock-in-trade." (WITCHCRAFT TODAY, p
   27) Modern apologists both of Aleister Crowley AND Gerald Gardner have
   taken on such serious tones as well as pretensions that they may be
   missing places where tongues are firmly jutting against cheeks.
   
   Both men were believers in fleshly fulfillment, not only as an end in
   itself but, as in the Tantric Yoga of the East, as a means of
   spiritual attainment. A certain prudishness has crept into the
   practices of postGardnerian Wiccans, especially in America since the
   1960s, along with a certain feminist revisionism. This has succeeded
   to a considerable extent in converting a libertine sex cult into a
   rather staid Neopuritanism.
   
   The original Gardnerian current is still well enough known and widely
   enough in vogue (in Britain and Ireland especially) that one can
   venture to assert that what Gardnerian Wicca is all about is the same
   thing Crowley was attempting with a more narrow, more intellectual
   constituency with the magical orders under his direct influence.
   
   These Orders had flourished for some time, but by the time Crowley`
   officially' met Gardner in the 1940s, much of the former's lifelong
   efforts had, if not totally disintegrated, at least were then
   operating at a diminished and diminishing level.
   
   Through his long and fascinating career as Magus and organizer, there
   is some reason to believe that Crowley periodically may have wished
   for, or even attempted to create a more populist expression of magical
   religion. The Gnostic Mass, which Crowley wrote fairly early-on, had
   come since his death to somewhat fill this function through the
   OTO-connected but (for a time) semi-autonomous Gnostic Catholic Church
   (EGC).
   
   As we shall see momentarily, one of Crowley's key followers was
   publishing manifestos forecasting the revival of witchcraft at the
   same time Gardner was being chartered by Crowley to organize an OTO
   encampment. The OTO itself, since Crowley's time, has taken on a more
   popular image, and is somewhat less elitist and more oriented towards
   international organizational efforts, thanks largely to the work under
   the Caliphate of the late Grady McMurtry. This contrasts sharply with
   the very internalized OTO that barely survived during the McCarthy
   Era, when the late Karl Germer was in charge, and the OTO turned
   inward for two decades. (On the other hand, Germer when seen less as
   an active Grand Master and more as a Conservator of ideas and rites in
   a "dark age" comes off a good deal better.)
   
   The famous Ancient and Mystic Order of the Rose Cross (AMORC), the
   highly successful mail-order spiritual fellowship, was an OTO
   offspring in Crowley's time. It has been claimed that Kenneth Grant
   and Aleister Crowley were discussing relatively radical changes in the
   Ordo Templi Orientis at approximately the same time that Gardner and
   Crowley were interactive. Indeed, Crowley's correspondence and
   conversations with his eventual successor Grady McMurtry suggest that
   in his last years the old Magus envisioned the need for a new
   generation of leaders with new ideas.
   
   Though Wiccan writers give some lip service (and, no doubt, some
   sincere credence) to the notion that the validity of Wiccan ideas
   doesn't depend upon its lineage, the suggestion that Wicca is -- or,
   at least, started out to be, essentially a late attempt at
   popularizing the secrets of ritual and sexual magick Crowley
   promulgated through the OTO and his writings, seems to evoke
   nervousness, if not hostility.
   
   One notes gross animosity or a certain culpable nervousness. We hear
   from Wiccan writer and leader Raymond Buckland that one "of the
   suggestions made is that Aleister Crowley wrote the rituals . . . but
   no convincing evidence has been presented to back this assertion and,
   to my mind, it seems extremely unlikely . . ." (Gardner, ibid.,
   introduction) The Wiccan rituals I have seen DO have much of Crowley
   in them. Yet, as we shall see in presently, the explanation that
   `Crowley wrote the rituals for Gardner' turns out to be somewhat in
   error. But it is on the right track.
   
   Doreen Valiente attempts to invoke Crowley's alleged infirmity at the
   time of his acquaintance with Gardner:
   
   " It has been stated by Francis King in his RITUAL MAGIC IN ENGLAND
   that Aleister Crowley was paid by Gerald Gardner to write the rituals
   of Gardner's new witch cult...Now, Gerald Gardner never met Aleister
   Crowley until the very last years of the latter's life, when he was a
   feeble old man living at a private hotel in Hastings, being kept alive
   by injections of drugs... If, therefore, Crowley really invented these
   rituals in their entirety, they must be about the last thing he ever
   wrote. Was this enfeebled and practically dying man really capable of
   such a tour de force? "
   
   The obvious answer, as the late Dr. Israel Regardie's introduction to
   the posthumous collection of Crowley's letters, MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS,
   implies, would seem to be yes. Crowley continued to produce
   extraordinary material almost to the end of his life, and much of what
   I have seen of the "Wiccan Crowley" is, in any case, of earlier
   origin.
   
   Gerald Gardner is himself not altogether silent on the subject. In
   WITCHCRAFT TODAY (p 47), Gardner asks himself, with what degree of
   irony one can only guess at, who, in modern times, could have invented
   the Wiccan rituals. "The only man I can think of who could have
   invented the rites," he offers, "was the late Aleister
   Crowley....possibly he borrowed things from the cult writings, or more
   likely someone may have borrowed expressions from him...." A few legs
   may be being pulled here, and perhaps more than a few.
   
   As a prophet ahead of his time, as a poet and dreamer, Crowley is one
   of the outstanding figures of the twentieth (or any) century. As an
   organizer, he was almost as much of a calamity as he was at managing
   his own finances...and personal life. As I understand the liberatory
   nature of the magical path, one would do well to see the difference
   between Crowley the prophet of Thelema and Crowley the insolvent and
   awkward administrator.
   
   Crowley very much lacked the common touch; Gardner was above all
   things a popularizer. Both men have been reviled as lecherous "dirty
   old men" -- Crowley, as a seducer of women and a homosexual, a drug
   addict and `Satanist' rolled together.
   
   Gardner was, they would have it, a voyeur, exhibitionist and bondage
   freak with a `penchant for ritual' to borrow a line from THE STORY OF
   O. Both were, in reality, spiritual libertines, ceremonial magicians
   who did not shy away from the awesome force of human sexuality and its
   potential for spiritual transformation as well as physical
   gratification.
   
   I will not say with finality at this point whether Wicca is an
   outright invention of these two divine mountebanks. If so, more power
   to them, and to those who truly follow in their path. I do know that,
   around 1945, Crowley met with Gardner , and gave him license to
   organize an OTO encampment. This was, as it turns out, a serious
   effort by Crowley to establish a new OTO presence in Britain. As late
   as May of 1947 we have seen letters from Crowley to one of his key
   associates urging the latter to send his followers in London to Dr.
   Gardner so that they might receive proper initiation in OTO through
   Gardner's OTO Camp, which Crowley anticipated being in operation in a
   matter of weeks. After Crowley's death his close collaborator, Lady
   Harris, thought Gardner to be Crowley's successor as head of the OTO
   in Europe. Gardner claimed as much himself. See below.
   
   Shortly thereafter, the public face of Wicca came into view, and that
   is what I know of the matter: I presently have in my possession
   Gardner's certificate of license to organize said OTO camp, signed and
   sealed by Aleister Crowley. The certificate and its import are
   examined in connection with my personal search for the original Book
   of Shadows in the next section of this narrative.
   
   For now, though, let us note in the years since Crowley chartered
   Gardner to organize a magical encampment, Wicca has both grown in
   popularity and become, to my mind, something far less REAL than either
   Gardner or Crowley could have wanted or foreseen. Wherever they came
   from, the rites and practices which came from or through Gerald
   Gardner were strong, and tapped into that archetypal reality, that
   level of consciousness beneath the mask of polite society and
   conventional wisdom which is the function of True Magick.
   
   At a popular level, this was the Tantric Sex Magick of the West.
   Whether this primordial access has been lost to us will depend on the
   awareness, the awakening or lack thereof among practitioners of the
   near to middle-near future. Carried to its end Gardnerian practices,
   like Crowley's magick, are not merely exotic; they are, in the truest
   sense, subversive.
   
   Practices that WORK are of value, whether they are two years old or
   two thousand. Practices, myths, institutions and obligations which, on
   the other hand, may be infinitely ancient are of no value at all
   UNLESS they work.
   
   The Devil, you say
   
   Before we move on, though, in light of the furor over real and
   imagined "Satanism" that has overtaken parts of the popular press in
   recent years, I would feel a bit remiss in this account if I did not
   take momentary note of that other strain of left-handed occult
   mythology, Satanism. Wiccans are correct when they say that modern
   Wicca is not Satanic, that Satanism is "reverse Christianity" whereas
   Wicca is a separate, non Christian religion.
   
   Still, it should be noted, so much of our society has been grounded in
   the repressiveness and authoritarian moralism of what passes for
   Christianity that a liberal dose of "counterChristianity" is to be
   expected. The Pat Robertsons of the world make possible the Anton
   LeVays. In the long history of repressive religion, a certain fable of
   Satanism has arisen. It constitutes a mythos of its own. No doubt,
   misguided `copycat' fanatics have sometimes misused this mythos, in
   much the same way that Charles Manson misused the music and culture of
   the 1960s.
   
   True occult initiates have always regarded the Ultimate Reality as
   beyond all names and description. Named `deities' are, therefore,
   largely symbols. "Isis" is a symbol of the long-denied female
   component of deity to some occultists. "Pan" or "The Horned God" or
   "Set" or even "Satan" are symbols of unconscious, repressed sexuality.
   To the occultist, there is no Devil, no "god of evil." There is,
   ultimately, only the Ain Sof Aur of the Qabala; the limitless light of
   which we are but a frozen spark. Evil, in this system, is the mere
   absence of light. All else is illusion.
   
   The goal of the occult path of initiation is BALANCE. In Freemasonry
   and High Magick, the symbols of the White Pillar and Black Pillar
   represent this balance between conscious and unconscious forces.
   
   In Gardnerian Wicca, the Goddess and Horned God - and the Priestess
   and Priest, represent that balance. There is nothing, nothing whatever
   of pacts with the "Devil" or the worship of evil in any of this; that
   belongs to misguided ex Christians who have been given the absurd
   fundamentalist Sunday school notion that one must choose the exoteric
   Christian version of God, or choose the Devil. Islam, Judaism and even
   Catholicism have at one time or another been thought "Satanic," and
   occultists have merely played on this bigoted symbolism, not
   subscribed to it.
   
   As we have seen, Wicca since Gardner's time has been watered down in
   many of its expressions into a kind of mushy white-light `New Age'
   religion, with far less of the strong sexuality characteristic of
   Gardnerianism, though, also, sometimes with less pretense as well.
   
   In any event, Satanism has popped up now and again through much of the
   history of the Christian Church. The medieval witches were not likely
   to have been Satanists, as the Church would have it, but, as we have
   seen, neither were they likely to have been "witches" in the Wiccan
   sense, either.
   
   The Hellfire Clubs of the Eighteenth Century were mockingly Satanic,
   and groups like the Process Church of the Final Judgment do, indeed,
   have Satanic elements in their (one should remember) essentially
   Christian theology.
   
   Aleister Crowley, ever theatrical, was prone to use Satanic symbolism
   in much the same way, tongue jutting in cheek, as he was given to
   saying that he " sacrificed hundreds of children each year, " that is,
   that he was sexually active . Crowley once called a press conference
   at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, where he announced that he was
   burning his British Passport to protest Britain's involvement in World
   War One. He tossed an empty envelope into the water.
   
   The most popular form of "counter Christianity" to emerge in modern
   times, though, was Anton Szandor LaVey's San Francisco-based Church of
   Satan, founded April 30, 1966. LaVey's Church enjoyed an initial burst
   of press interest, grew to a substantial size, and appeared to
   maintain itself during the cultural drought of the 1970s. But LaVey's
   books, THE SATANIC BIBLE and THE SATANIC RITUALS, have remained in
   print for many years, and his ideas seem to be enjoying a renewal of
   interest, especially among younger people, punks and heavy metal fans
   with a death-wish mostly, beginning in the middle years of the 1980s.
   By that time the Church of Satan had been largely succeeded by the
   Temple of Set. This is pure theater or psychodrama; more in the nature
   of psychotherapy than religion.
   
   It is interesting to note Francis King's observation that before the
   Church of Satan began LaVey was involved in an occult group which
   included, among others, underground film maker Kenneth Anger, a Person
   well known in Crowlean circles. Of the rites of the Church of Satan,
   King states that "...most of its teachings and magical techniques were
   somewhat vulgarized versions of those of Aleister Crowley's Ordo
   Templi Orientis ." (MAN MYTH AND MAGIC, p 3204.) To which we might add
   that, as with the OTO, the rites of the Church of Satan and Temple of
   Set are manifestly potent, but hardly criminal or murderous.
   
   LaVey, like Gardner and unlike Crowley, appears to have had "the
   common touch" -- perhaps rather more so than Gardner. This attraction
   was, however, caught up in the hedonism of the 1970s, and has little
   to say at the end of the 20th Century.
   
   I determined to trace the Wiccan rumor to its source. As we shall see,
   in the very year I "fell" into being a Gnostic Bishop, I also fell
   into the original charters, rituals and paraphernalia of Wicca.
   
   THE CHARTER AND THE BOOK
   
   Being A Radical Revisionist History of the Origins of the Modern Witch
   Cult and The Book of Shadows.
   
   "G. B. Gardner . . . is head of the O.T.O. in Europe." Lady Freida
   Harris, letter to Karl Germer, January 2, 1948
   
   "It was one of the secret doctrines of paganism that the Sun was the
   source, not only of light, but of life The invasion of classical
   beliefs by the religions of Syria and Egypt which were principally
   solar, gradually affected the conception of Apollo, and there is a
   certain later identification of him with the suffering God of
   Christianity, Freemasonry and similar cults"
   
   Aleister Crowley in Astrology, 1974
   
   " if GBG and Crowley only knew each other for a short year or two, do
   you think that would be long enough for them to become such good
   friends that gifts of personal value would be exchanged several times,
   and that GBG would have been able to acquire the vast majority of
   Crowley's effects after his death?"
   
   Merlin the Enchanter, personal letter, 1986
   
   "...On the floor before the altar, he remembers a sword with a flat
   cruciform brass hilt, and a well-worn manuscript book of rituals - the
   hereditary Book of Shadows, which he will have to copy out for himself
   in the days to come..." Stewart Farrar in What Witches Do, 1971
   
   "...the Gardnerian Book of Shadows is one of the key factors in what
   has become a far bigger and more significant movement than Gardner can
   have envisaged; so historical interest alone would be enough reason
   for defining it while first-hand evidence is still available..."
   
   Janet and Stewart Farrar in The Witches' Way, 1984
   
   "It has been alleged that a Book of Shadows in Crowley's hand-writing
   was formerly exhibited in Gerald's Museum of Witchcraft on the Isle of
   Man. I can only say I never saw this on either of the two occasions
   when I stayed with Gerald and Donna Gardner on the island. The large,
   handwritten book depicted in Witchcraft Today is not in Crowley's
   handwriting, but Gerald's..." Doreen Valiente in Witchcraft for
   Tomorrow, 1978
   
   "Aidan Kelly. . . labels the entire Wiccan revival `Gardnerian
   Witchcraft . . . ' The reasoning and speculation in Aidan's book are
   intricate. Briefly, his main argument depends on his discovery of one
   of Gardner's working notebooks, Ye Book of Ye Art Magical, which is in
   possession of Ripley International, Ltd......" Margot Adler in Drawing
   Down the Moon, 1979
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   WAITING FOR THE MAN FROM CANADA
   
   I was, for the third time in four years, waiting a bit nervously for
   the Canadian executive with the original Book of Shadows in the
   ramshackle office of Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.
   
   "They're at the jail," a smiling secretary-type explained, "but we've
   called them and they should be back over here to see you in just a few
   minutes."
   
   The jail ? Ah, St. Augustine, Florida. "The Old Jail," was the
   `nation's oldest city's' second most tasteless tourist trap, complete
   with cage-type cells and a mock gallows. For a moment I allowed myself
   to play in my head with the vision of Norm Deska, Ripley Operations
   Vice President and John Turner, the General Manager of Ripley's local
   operation and the guy who'd bought the Gerald Gardner collection from
   Gardner's niece, Monique Wilson, sitting in the slammer. But no,
   Turner apparently had just been showing Deska the town. I straightened
   my ice cream suit for the fiftieth time, and suppressed the comment.
   We were talking BIG history here, and big bucks, too. I gulped. The
   original Book of Shadows. Maybe.
   
   It had started years before. One of the last people in America to be a
   fan of carnival sideshows, I was anxious to take another opportunity
   to go through the almost archetypally seedy old home that housed the
   original Ripley's Museum.
   
   I had known that Ripley had, in the nineteen seventies, acquired the
   Gardner stuff, but as far as I knew it was all located at their
   Tennessee resort museum. I think I'd heard they'd closed it down. By
   then, the social liberalism of the early seventies was over, and
   witchcraft and sorcery were no longer in keeping with a `family style'
   museum. It featured a man with a candle in his head, a Tantric skull
   drinking cup and freak show stuff like that, but, that, apparently,
   was deemed suitable family fun.
   
   I was a bit surprised, then, when I discovered some of the Gardner
   stuff - including an important historical document, for sale in the
   gift shop, in a case just opposite the little alligators that have
   "St. Augustine, Florida - America's Oldest City" stickered on their
   plastic bellies for the folks back home to use as a paper-weight. The
   price tags on the occult stuff, however, were way out of my range.
   
   Back again, three years later, and I decided, what the hell, so I
   asked the cashier about the stuff still gathering dust in the glass
   case, and it was like I'd pushed some kind of button.
   
   Out comes Mr. Turner, the manager, who whisks us off to a store room
   which is filled, FILLED, I tell you, with parts of the Gardner
   collection, much of it, if not "for sale" as such, at least available
   for negotiation. Mr. Turner told us about acquiring the collection
   when he was manager of Ripley's Blackpool operation, how it had gone
   over well in the U.S. at first, but had lost popularity and was now
   relegated for the most part to storage status.
   
   Visions of sugarplums danced in my head. There were many treasures
   here, but the biggest plum of all, I thought, was not surprisingly,
   not to be seen.
   
   I'd heard all kinds of rumors about the Book of Shadows over the
   years, many of them conflicting, all of them intriguing. Rumor #1, of
   course, is that which accompanied the birth (or, depending on how one
   looked at it, the revival) of modern Wicca, the contemporary successor
   of ancient fertility cults.
   
   It revolved around elemental rituals, secret rites of passage and a
   mythos of goddess and god that seemed attractive to me as a
   psychologically valid alternative to the austere, antisexual moralism
   of Christianity. The Book of Shadows, in this context, was the `holy
   book' of Wicca, copied out by hand by new initiates of the cult with a
   history stretching back at least to the era of witch burnings.
   
   Rumor #2, which I had tended to credit, had it that Gerald Gardner,
   the `father of modern Wicca' had paid Aleister Crowley in his final
   years to write the Book of Shadows, perhaps whole cloth. The rumor's
   chief exponent was the respected historian of the occult, Francis
   King.
   
   Rumor #3 had it that Gardner had written the Book himself, which
   others had since copied and/or stolen.
   
   To the contrary, said rumor #4, Gardner's Museum had contained an old,
   even ancient copy of the Book of Shadows, proving its antiquity.
   
   In more recent years modern Wiccans have tended to put some distance
   between themselves and Gardner, just as Gardner, for complex reasons,
   tended to distance himself in the early years of Wicca (circa
   1944-1954) from the blatant sexual magick of Aleister Crowley, "the
   wickedest man in the world" by some accounts, and from Crowley's
   organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis . Why Gardner chose to do this
   is speculative, but I've got some idea. But, I'm getting ahead of
   myself.
   
   While Turner showed me a blasphemous cross shaped from the body of two
   nude women (created for the 18th century infamous "Hellfire Clubs" in
   England and depicted in the MAN MYTH AND MAGIC encyclopedia;I bought
   it, of course) and a statue of Beelzebub from the dusty Garderian
   archives, a thought occurred to me. " You know," I suggested, "if you
   ever, in all this stuff, happen across a copy of The Book of Shadows
   in the handwriting of Aleister Crowley, it would be of considerable
   historical value."
   
   I understated the case. It would be like finding The Book of Mormon in
   Joseph Smith's hand, or finding the original Ten Commandments written
   not by God Himself, but by Moses, pure and simple. (Better still,
   eleven commandments, with a margin note, "first draft.") I didn't
   really expect anything to come of it, and in the months ahead, it
   didn't.
   
   In the meantime, I had managed to acquire the interesting document I
   first mistook for Gerald Gardner's (long acknowledged) initiation
   certificate into Crowley's Thelemic magical Ordo Templi Orientis . To
   my eventual surprise, I discovered that, not only was this not a
   simple initiation certificate for the Minerval (probationary-lowest)
   degree, but, to the contrary, was a Charter for Gardner to begin his
   own encampment of the O.T.O., and to initiate members into the O.T.O.
   
   In the document, furthermore, Gardner is referred to as "Prince of
   Jerusalem" --that is, he is acknowledged to be a Fourth Degree Perfect
   Initiate in the Order. This, needless to say, would usually imply
   years of dedicated training. Though Gardner had claimed Fourth Degree
   O.T.O. status as early as publication of High Magic's Aid,(and claimed
   even higher status in one edition* ) this runs somewhat contrary to
   both generally held Wiccan and contemporary O.T.O. orthodox
   understandings that the O.T.O. was then fallow in England.
   
   At the time the document was written, most maintained, Gardner could
   have known Crowley for only a brief period, and was not himself deeply
   involved in the O.T.O. The document is undated but probably was drawn
   up around 1945.
   
   As I said, it was once understood that no viable chapter of the O.T.O.
   was supposed to exist in England at that time; the only active chapter
   was in California, and is the direct antecedent of the contemporary
   authentic Ordo Templi Orientis. Karl Germer, Crowley's immediate
   successor, had barely escaped death in a Concentration Camp during the
   War, his mere association with Crowley being tantamount to a death
   sentence. But Crowley himself clearly expected Gardner to establish an
   OTO Camp, and was referring followers to Gardner for initiation as
   late as 1947.
   
   The German OTO had been largely destroyed by the Nazis, along with
   other Freemasonic organizations, and Crowley himself was in declining
   health and power, the English OTO virtually dead. A provincial Swiss
   branch existed, but was highly insular and tending towards schism. The
   Charter also displayed other irregularities of a revealing nature.
   Though the signature and seals are certainly those of Crowley, the
   text is in the decorative hand of Gerald Gardner! The complete text
   reads as follows: Do what thou wilt shall be the law. We Baphomet X
   Degree Ordo Templi Orientis Sovereign Grand Master General of All
   English speaking countries of the Earth do hereby authorise our
   Beloved Son Scire (Dr.G,B,Gardner,) Prince of Jerusalem to constitute
   a camp of the Ordo Templi Orientis, in the degree Minerval. Love is
   the Law, Love under will. Witness my hand and seal Baphomet X o
   Leaving aside the misquotation from The Book of the Law ("Do what thou
   wilt shall be the Law" instead of Do what thou wilt shall be the whole
   of the Law"), which got by me for some months and probably got by
   Crowley when it was presented to him for signature, the document is
   definitely authentic. It hung for some time in Gardner's museum,
   possibly giving rise, as we shall see, to the rumor that Crowley wrote
   the Book of Shadows for Gardner. According to Doreen Valiente, and to
   Col. Lawrence as well, the museum's descriptive pamphlet says of this
   document:
   
   "The collection includes a Charter granted by Aleister Crowley to G.B.
   Gardner (the Director of this Museum) to operate a Lodge of Crowley's
   fraternity, the Ordo Templi Orientis. (The Director would like to
   point out, however, that he has never used this Charter and has no
   intention of doing so, although to the best of his belief he is the
   only person in Britain possessing such a Charter from Crowley himself;
   Crowley was a personal friend of his, and gave him the Charter because
   he liked him." This was probably written well after Wicca was
   developed in the form it is today identified with, at least in
   Britain. As I point out elsewhere, Crowley clearly took the Charter
   seriously, even openly envisioning it extending to a Lodge to do the
   entire "Man of Earth Series" of OTO initiations eventually. Gardner,
   for his part, places a different connotation on the Charter at an
   earlier time, giving out the impression that it makes him the Grand
   Master of the OTO in Europe.
   
   Col. Lawrence ("Merlin the Enchanter"), in a letter to me dated 6
   December, 1986, adds that this appeared in Gardner's booklet, The
   Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. The explanation for the curious
   wording of the text, taking, as Dr. Gardner does, great pains to
   distance himself from Crowley and the OTO, may be hinted at in that
   the booklet suggests that this display in the "new upper gallery"
   (page 24) was put out at a relatively late date when, as we shall
   discover, Gardner was making himself answerable to the demands of the
   new witch cult and not the long-dead Crowley and (then) relatively
   moribund OTO.
   
   Now, the "my friend Aleister" ploy might explain the whole thing.
   Perhaps, as some including Ms. Valiente believe, Aleister Crowley was
   desperate in his last years to hand on what he saw as his legacy to
   someone. He recklessly handed out his literary estate, perhaps gave
   contradictory instruction to various of his remaining few devotees
   (e.g. Kenneth Grant, Grady McMurtry, Karl Germer), and may have given
   Gardner an "accelerated advancement" in his order.
   
   There is, however, certainly reason to dispute this. I have read
   Crowley's letters to Jack Parsons and to Karl Germer, and others,
   including the more famous letters published as MAGICK WITHOUT TEARS,
   and his now celebrated authorizations to Grady McMurtry -- all very
   late writings indeed, as well as his Last Will and Testament dated
   June 19, 1947, only six months prior to his death, and Crowley seems
   intent upon an orderly process of transition of his minor financial
   estate and, more importantly, his substantial literary estate, to the
   OTO leadership which, he leaves no doubt in his Will, falls to Germer,
   then Grand Treasurer General of the OTO. To the end he continues to
   critique what he sees as unsound thinking (letters to Parsons and
   Germer in 1946), and to speak of moving to California to be with Agape
   Lodge, by then the remaining centerpiece of the OTO, but also
   referring to Gardner's Camp in London as a virtual accomplished fact.
   
   Ms. Valiente, a devoted Wiccan who is also a dedicated seeker after
   the historical truth, mentions also the claim made by the late Gerald
   Yorke to her that Gardner had paid Crowley a substantial sum for the
   document. In a letter to me dated 28th August, 1986, Ms. Valiente
   tells of a meeting with Yorke "...in London many years ago and
   mentioned Gerald's O.T.O. Charter to him, whereon he told me, `Well,
   you know, Gerald Gardner paid old Crowley about ($1500) or so for
   that...' This may or may not be correct..." Money or friendship do not
   explain the Charter.
   
   I used to have a Thelemic acquaintance who, having advanced well along
   the path of Kenneth Grant's spurious version of the OTO, went back to
   square one with the unquestionably authentic Grady McMurtry OTO. Over
   a period of years of substantial effort, he made his way to the IV
   `plus' status implied by Gardner's "Prince of Jerusalem" designation
   in the charter, and has since gone beyond.
   
   I can tell you of my own knowledge that becoming a Companion of the
   Royal Arch of Enoch, Perfect Initiate, Prince of Jerusalem and
   Chartered Initiator is, ordinarily, a long and arduous task in the
   OTO.
   
   Gardner was in the habit, after the public career of Wicca emerged in
   the 1950s, of downgrading any Crowleyite associations out of his past,
   and, as Janet and Stewart Farrar reveal in The Witches' Way (1984, p3)
   there are three distinct versions of the Book of Shadows in Gerald
   Gardner's handwriting which incorporate successively less material
   from Crowley's writings, though the last (termed "Text C" and
   cowritten with Doreen Valiente after 1953) is still heavily influenced
   by Crowley and the OTO.
   
   Ms. Valiente has recently uncovered a copy of an old occult magazine
   contemporary with High Magic's Aid and from the same publisher, which
   discusses an ancient Indian document called "The Book of Shadows" but
   apparently totally unrelated to the Wiccan book of the same name.
   Valiente acknowledges that the earliest text by Gardner known to her
   was untitled, though she refers to it as a "Book of Shadows."
   
   It seems suspicious timing; did Gardner take over the title from his
   publisher's magazine? Ms. Valiente observed to me that the "...eastern
   Book of Shadows does not seem to have anything to do with witchcraft
   at all....is this where old Gerald first found the expression "The
   Book of Shadows" and adopted it as a more poetical name for a magical
   manuscript than, say `The Grimoire' or `The Black Book'....I don't
   profess to know the answer; but I doubt if this is mere
   coincidence...."
   
   The claim is frequently made by those who wish to `salvage' a
   preGardnerian source of Wiccan materials that there is a `core' of
   `authentic' materials. But, as the Farrars' recently asserted, the
   portions of the Book of Shadows "..which changed least between Texts
   A, B and C were naturally the three initiation rituals; because these,
   above all, would be the traditional elements which would have been
   carefully preserved, probably for centuries...."
   
   But what does one mean by "traditional materials?" The three
   initiation rites, now much-described in print, all smack heavily of
   the crypto-Freemasonic ritual of the Hermetic Order of the Golden
   Dawn, the OTO, and the various esoteric NeoRosicrucian groups that
   abounded in Britain from about 1885 on, and which were, it is widely
   known, the fountainhead of much that is associated with Gardner's
   friend Crowley.
   
   The Third Degree ritual, perhaps Wicca's ultimate rite, is,
   essentially, a nonsymbolic Gnostic Mass, that beautiful, evocative,
   erotic and esoteric ritual written and published by Crowley in the
   Equinox, after attending a Russian Orthodox Mass in the early part of
   this century. The Gnostic Mass has had far-reaching influence, and it
   would appear that the Wiccan Third Degree is one of the most blatant
   examples of that influence.
   
   Take, for example, this excerpt from what is perhaps the most
   intimate, most secret and most sublime moment in the entire repertoire
   of Wicca rituals, the nonsymbolic (that is, overtly sexual) Great Rite
   of the Third Degree initiation, as related by Janet and Stewart Farrar
   in The Witches' Way (p.34):
   
   The Priest continues: `O Secret of Secrets, That art hidden in the
   being of all lives, Not thee do we adore, For that which adoreth is
   also thou. Thou art That, and That am I. [Kiss I am the flame that
   burns in the heart of every man, And in the core of every star. I am
   life, and the giver of life. Yet therefore is the knowledge of me the
   knowledge of death. I am alone, the Lord within ourselves, Whose name
   is Mystery of Mysteries.'
   
   Let us be unambiguous as to the importance in Wicca of this ritual; as
   the Farrars' put it (p.31) "Third degree initiation elevates a witch
   to the highest of the three grades of the Craft. In a sense, a
   third-degree witch is fully independent, answerable only to the Gods
   and his or her own conscience..." In short, in a manner of speaking
   this is all that Wicca can offer a devotee.
   
   With this in mind, observe the following, from Aleister Crowley's
   Gnostic Mass, first published in The Equinox over 80 years ago and
   routinely performed (albeit in the symbolic form) by me and by many
   other Bishops, Priests, Priestesses and Deacons in the OTO and
   Ecclesia Gnostica (EGC) today. The following is excerpted from Gems
   From the Equinox, p. 372, but is widely available in published form:
   The Priest. O secret of secrets that art hidden in the being of all
   that lives, not Thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also Thou.
   Thou art That, and That am I. I am the flame that burns in every heart
   of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of
   Life; yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death. I
   am alone; there is no God where I am.
   
   So, then, where, apart from Freemasonry and the Thelemic tradition of
   Crowley and the OTO, is the "traditional material" some Wiccan writers
   seem to seek with near desperation? I am not trying to be sarcastic in
   the least, but even commonplace self - references used among Wiccans
   today, such as "the Craft" or the refrain "so mote it be" are lifted
   straight out of Freemasonry (see, for example, Duncan's Ritual of
   Freemasonry). And, as Doreen Valiente notes in her letter to me
   mentioned before, "...of course old Gerald was also a member of the
   Co-Masons, and an ordinary Freemason..." as well as an OTO member.
   
   THE REAL ORIGIN OF WICCA
   
   We must dismiss with some respect the assertion, put forth by Margot
   Adler and others, that "Wicca no longer adheres to the orthodox mythos
   of the Book of Shadows."
   
   Many, if not most of those who have been drawn to Wicca in the last
   three decades came to it under the spell (if I may so term it) of the
   legend of ancient Wicca. If that legend is false, then while
   reformists and revisionist apologists (particularly the peculiar
   hybrid spawned in the late sixties (under the name "feminist Wicca")
   may seek other valid grounds for their practices, we at least owe it
   to those who have operated under a misapprehension to explain the
   truth, and let the chips fall where they may.
   
   I believe there is a core of valid experience falling under the
   Wiccan-Neopagan heading, but that that core is the same essential core
   that lies at the truths exposed by the dreaded bogey-man Aleister
   Crowley and the` wicked' pansexualism of Crowley's Law of Thelema.
   That such roots would be not just uncomfortable, but intolerable to
   the orthodox traditionalists among the Wiccans, but even more so among
   the hybrid feminist "Wiccans" may indeed be an understatement.
   
   Neopaganism, in a now archaic "hippie" misreading of ecology, mistakes
   responsible stewardship of nature for nature worship. Ancient pagans
   did not `worship' nature; to a large extent they were afraid of it, as
   has been pointed out to me by folk practitioners. Their "nature rites"
   were to propitiate the caprice of the gods, not necessarily to honor
   them. The first Neopagan revivalists, Gardner, Crowley and Dr. Murray,
   well understood this. Neopagan Wiccans usually do not.
   
   In introducing a "goddess element" into their theology, Crowley and
   Gardner both understood the yin/yang, male/female fundamental polarity
   of the universe. Radical feminist Neopagans have taken this balance
   and altered it, however unintentionally, into a political feminist
   agenda, centered around a near-monotheistic worship of the female
   principle, in a bizarre caricature of patriarchal Christianity.
   
   I do not say these things lightly; I have seen it happen in my own
   time. IF this be truth, let truth name its own price. I was not sure,
   until Norm and John got back from the Old Jail.
   
   A couple of months earlier, scant days after hearing that I was to
   become a Gnostic Bishop and thus an heir to a corner of Crowley's
   legacy, I had punched on my answering machine, and there was the
   unexpected voice of John Turner saying that he had located what seemed
   to be the original Book of Shadows in an inventory list, locating it
   at Ripley's office in Toronto.
   
   He said he didn't think they would sell it as an individual item, but
   he gave me the name of a top official in the Ripley organization, who
   I promptly contacted. I eventually made a substantial offer for the
   book, sight unseen, figuring there was (at the least) a likelihood I'd
   be able to turn the story into a book and get my money back out of it,
   to say nothing of the historical import.
   
   But, as I researched the matter, I became more wary, and confused;
   Gardner's texts "A" "B" and "C" all seemed to be accounted for.
   Possibly, I began to suspect, this was either a duplicate of the
   "deThelemicised" post - 1954 version with segments written by Gardner
   and Valiente and copied and recopied (as well as distorted) from hand
   to hand since by Wiccans the world over.
   
   Maybe, I mused, Valiente had one copy and Gardner another, the latter
   sold to Ripley with the Collection. Or, perhaps it was the curious
   notebook discovered by Aidan Kelly in the Ripley files called Ye Book
   of Ye Art Magical, the meaning of which was unclear.
   
   While chatting with Ms. Deska, Norm returned from his mission, we
   introduced in businesslike fashion, and he told me he'd get the book,
   whatever it might be, from the vault.
   
   The vault?! I sat there thinking God knows what . Recently, I'd gotten
   a call from Toronto, and it seems the Ripley folks wanted me to take a
   look at what they had. I had made a considerable offer, and at that
   point I figured I'd had at least a nibble. As it so happened Norm
   would be visiting on a routine inspection visit, so it was arranged he
   would bring the manuscript with him.
   
   Almost from the minute he placed it in front of me, things began to
   make some kind of sense. Clearly, this was Ye Book of Ye Art Magical.
   Just as clearly, it was an unusual piece, written largely in the same
   hand as the Charter I had obtained earlier -- that is, in the hand of
   Gerald Gardner. Of this I became certain, because I had handwriting
   samples of Gardner, Valiente and Crowley in my possession. Ms.
   Valiente had been mindful of this when she wrote me, on August 8th,
   1986:
   
   I have deliberately chosen to write you in longhand, rather than send
   a typewritten reply, so that you will have something by which to judge
   the validity of the claim you tell me is being made by the Ripley
   organisation to have a copy of a "Book of Shadows" in Gerald Gardner's
   handwriting and mine. If this is..."Ye Book of Ye Art Magical,"
   ....this is definitely in Gerald Gardner's handwriting. Old Gerald,
   however, had several styles of handwriting....I think it is probable
   that the whole MS. was in fact written by Gerald, and no other person
   was involved; but of course I may be wrong....
   
   At first glance it appeared to be a very old book, and it suggested to
   me where the rumors that a very old, possibly medieval Book of Shadows
   had once been on display in Gardner's Museum had emerged from.
   
   Any casual onlooker might see Ye Book in this light, for the cover was
   indeed that of an old volume, with the original title scratched out
   crudely on the side and a new title tooled into the leather cover. The
   original was some mundane volume, on Asian knives or something (an
   interest of Gardner's), but the inside pages had been removed, and a
   kind of notebook -- almost a journal -- had been substituted.
   
   As far as I could see, no dates appear anywhere in the book. It is
   written in several different handwriting styles, although, as noted
   above, Doreen Valiente assured me that Gardner was apt to use several
   styles. I had the distinct impression this "note-book" had been
   written over a considerable period of time, perhaps years, perhaps
   even decades. It may, indeed, date from his days in the 1930s when he
   linked up with a NeoRosicrucian performance theatrical troupe, that
   could have included among its members the legendary Dorothy
   Clutterbuck, who set Gardner on the path which led to Wicca.
   
   Thinking on it, what emerges from Ye Book of Ye Art Magical is a
   developmental set of ideas. Much of it is straight out of Crowley, but
   it is clearly the published Crowley, the old Magus of the OTO and A. .
   . A. . .
   
   Somewhere along the line it hit me that I was not exactly looking at
   the "original Book of Shadows" but, perhaps, the outline Gardner
   prepared over a long period of time, apparently in secret (since
   Valiente, a relatively early initiate of Gardner's, never heard of it
   nor saw it, according to her own account, until recent years, about
   the time Aidan Kelly unearthed it in the Ripley collection long after
   Gardner's death).
   
   Dr. Gardner kept many odd notebooks and scrapbooks that perhaps would
   reveal much about his character and motivations. Turner showed me a
   Gardner scrapbook in Ripley's store room which was mostly cheesecake
   magazine photographs and articles about actresses. Probably none are
   so evocative as Ye Book of Ye Art Magical, discovered hidden away in
   the back of an old sofa.
   
   I have the impression it was essentially unknown in and after
   Gardner's lifetime, and that by the Summer of 1986 few had seen inside
   it; I knew of only Kelly and my own party. Perhaps the cover had been
   seen by some along the line, accounting for the rumor of a "very old
   Book of Shadows" in Gardner's Museum.
   
   If someone had seen the charter unquestionably signed by Crowley
   ("Baphomet") but written by Gerald Gardner, and had gotten a look, as
   well, at Ye Book, they might well have concluded that Crowley had
   written BOTH, an honest error, but maybe the source of that
   long-standing accusation. There is even a notation in the Ripley
   catalog attributing the manuscript to Crowley on someone's say-so, but
   I have no indication Ripley has any other such book. Finally, if the
   notebook is a source book of any religious system, it is not that of
   medieval witchcraft, but the Twentieth Century shining sanity of the
   famous Magus Aleister Crowley and the Thelemic/Gnostic creed of The
   Book of the Law.
   
   As I sat there I read aloud familiar quotations or paraphrases from
   published material in the Crowley-Thelemic canon. This is not the
   "ancient religion of the Wise" but the modern sayings of " the Beast
   666 " as Crowley was wont to style himself.
   
   But, does any of this invalidate Wicca as an expression of human
   spirituality? It depends on where one is coming from. Certainly, the
   foundations of Feminist Wicca and the modern cult of the goddess are
   challenged with the fact that the goddess in question is Nuit, her
   manifestation the sworn whore, Our Lady Babalon, the Scarlet Woman.
   Transform what you will shall be the whole of history, but THIS makes
   what Marx did to Hegel look like slavish devotion.
   
   What Crowley himself said of this kind of witchcraft is not merely
   instructive, but an affront to the conceits of an era.
   
   "The belief in witchcraft," he observed, " was not all superstition;
   its psychological roots were sound. Women who are thwarted in their
   natural instincts turn inevitably to all kinds of malignant mischief,
   from slander to domestic destruction..."
   
   For those who neither worship nor are disdainful of the man who "made
   sexuality a god" or, at least, acknowledged it as such, experience
   must be its own teacher. If Wicca is a sort of errant Minerval
   encampment of the OTO, gone far astray and far afield since the days
   Crowley gave Gardner a charter he "didn't use" but seemed to value,
   and a whole range of rituals and imagery that assault the senses at
   their most literally fundamental level; if this is true or sort of
   true Mythos has its place and role, but so, too, does reality.
   
   WICCA AS AN OTO ENCAMPMENT
   
   It is of more than passing interest that the late Jack Parsons, one
   time Master of Agape Lodge OTO in California, began writing
   extensively of a revival of witchcraft from 1946 on; that is, at about
   the time of Crowley and Gardner's acknowledged association. Crowley
   referred to Dr. Gardner and his OTO encampment in private
   correspondence almost to the time of his death, and spoke of it with
   optimism and enthusiasm.
   
   When Lady Harris wrote Karl Germer that she believed Gardner was the
   head of the OTO in Europe after Crowley's death, Germer didn't refute
   her; he simply indicated he hoped to see Gardner during his U.S.
   visit, which he did. Furthermore, as alluded to in the previous
   section, Gardner himself claimed in a letter written shortly after
   Crowley's death that he WAS, in fact, the head of the OTO in Europe.
   
   The letter to Vernon Symonds, sent from Memphis, Tennessee where
   Gardner was then resident, and dated December 24, 1947, asserts that "
   . . . Aleister gave me a charter making me head of the O.T.O. in
   Europe. Now I want to get any papers about this that Aleister had; he
   had some typescript Rituals, I know. I have them, too, but I don't
   want his to fall into other people's hands . . ." I am editing
   Gardner's spelling with great kindness. This claim should be viewed
   with a grain of salt, but Lady Harris and Gardner were both intimate
   Crowley associates, and this should be kept in mind. The Charter in
   question referred to by Gardner is probably the one now in my
   possession. He almost certainly had no other.
   
   The question of intent looms large in the background of this inquiry.
   If I had to guess, I would venture that Gerald Gardner did, in fact,
   invent Wicca more or less whole cloth, to be a popularized version of
   the OTO. Crowley, and his immediate successor Karl Germer, who also
   knew Dr. Gardner, likely set "old Gerald" on what they intended to be
   a Thelemic path, aimed at reestablishing at least a basic OTO
   encampment in England.
   
   It is also possible, but yet unproved, that, upon expelling Kenneth
   Grant from the OTO in England, Germer, in the early 1950s, summoned
   Gardner back to America to interview him as a candidate for leading
   the British OTO. Gardner, it is confirmed, came to America, but by
   then Wicca, and Dr. Gardner had begun to take their own, watered-down
   course.
   
   Let me close this section by quoting two interesting tidbits for your
   consideration.
   
   First consider Doreen Valiente's observation to me concerning "the
   Parsons connection". I quote from her letter above mentioned, one of
   several she was kind enough to send me in 1986 in connection with my
   research into this matter.
   
   ...I did know about the existence of the O.T.O. Chapter in California
   at the time of Crowley's death, because I believe his ashes were sent
   over to them. He was cremated here in Brighton, you know, much to the
   scandal of the local authorities, who objected to the `pagan funeral
   service.' If you are referring to the group of which Jack Parsons was
   a member (along with the egregious Mr. L. Ron Hubbard), then there is
   another curious little point to which I must draw your attention. I
   have a remarkable little book by Jack Parsons called MAGICK,
   GNOSTICISM AND THE WITCHCRAFT. It is unfortunately undated, but
   Parsons died in 1952. The section on witchcraft is particularly
   interesting because it looks forward to a revival of witchcraft as the
   Old Religion....I find this very thought provoking. Did Parsons write
   this around the time that Crowley was getting together with Gardner
   and perhaps communicated with the California group to tell them about
   it? Parsons began forecasting the "revival of Witchcraft" in the
   notorious "Liber 49 - The Book of Babalon" written in 1946. The timing
   of the genesis of "The Book of Babalon" -- which forecast a 'revival'
   of witchcraft in covens based on the number eleven (the Thelemic
   number of magick) rather than the traditional thirteen, seems to
   coincide with Crowley's OTO Charter to Gardner, Gardner's U.S. visit,
   and also coincides rather closely with the writing of HIGH MAGIC'S AID
   by Gardner.
   
   We must remember that Ms. Valiente was a close associate of Gardner
   and is a dedicated and active Wiccan. She, of course, has her own
   interpretation of these matters.
   
   The other matter of note is the question of the length of Gardner's
   association with the OTO and with Crowley personally. My informant
   Col. Lawrence, tells me that he has in his possession a cigarette case
   which once belonged to Aleister Crowley. Inside "is a note in
   Crowley's hand that says simply: `gift of GBG, 1936, A. Crowley'."
   (Personal letter, 6 December, 1986)
   
   The inscription could be a mistake, it could mean 1946, the period of
   the Charter. But, as Ms. Valiente put it in a letter to me of 8th
   December, 1986:
   
   If your friend is right, then it would mean that old Gerald actually
   went through a charade of pretending to Arnold Crowther that Arnold
   was introducing him to Crowley for the first time - a charade which
   Crowley for some reason was willing to go along with. Why? I can't see
   the point of such a pretense; but then occultists sometimes do devious
   things...
   
   Gnosticism and Wicca, the subjects of Jack Parsons' essays,
   republished by the OTO and Falcon Press in 1990, are the two most
   successful expressions to date of Crowley's dream of a popular
   solar-phallic religion. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Aleister and
   Gerald may have cooked Wicca up. The issues for Thelemites AND Wiccans
   here are, as I see it, two - fold:
   
   If Wicca is the OTO's prodigal daughter in fact, authorized directly
   by Crowley, how should they now relate to this?
   
   Then too, what are we to make of and infer about all this business of
   a popular Thelemic-Gnostic religion? Were Crowley, Parsons, Gardner
   and others trying to do something of note with regard to actualizing a
   New Aeon here which bears scrutiny? Or is this mere speculation, and
   of little significance for the Great Work today?
   
   If the Charter Crowley issued Gardner is, indeed, the authority upon
   which Wicca has been built for half a century, then it is perhaps no
   coincidence that I acquired that Charter in the same year I was
   consecrated a Bishop of the Gnostic Catholic Church. Further, it was
   literally only days after my long search for the original of Gardner's
   BOOK OF SHADOWS ended in success that the Holy Synod of T Michael
   Bertiaux's branch of the Gnostic Church unanimously elected me a
   Missionary Bishop, on August 29, 1986.
   
   Sometimes, I muse, the Inner Order revoked Wicca's charter in 1986,
   placing it, so to speak, in my hands. Since I hold it in Trust,
   perhaps Wicca has, in symbolic form, returned home at last. It remains
   for the Wiccans , literally (since the charter hangs in my temple
   space), to read the handwriting on the wall.
   
   
   
   Personal letters referenced in this essay
   
   Aleister Crowley to W.B.C., May 30, 1947
   Frieda Harris to Frederic Mellinger, December 7, 1947
   Gerald Gardner to Vernon Symonds, December 24, 1947
   Frieda Harris to Karl Germer, January 2, 1948
   Karl Germer to Freida Harris, January 19, 1948
   Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, August 8, 1986
   Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, August 28, 1986
   Doreen Valiente to Allen Greenfield, December 8, 1986
   
   * I am indebted to Frater Y.V. for a rare, autographed copy of the
   1949 Michael Houghton Edition of HIGH MAGIC'S AID by "Scier" (that is,
   Gardner) identified as "O.T.O.4 = 7" on the title page. This is likely
   a confusion of A. ' . A . ' . and OTO titles; it is doubtful that
   Gardner was a VIIo in the OTO. He was, however, at least a P.I. in
   OTO, and may have been a VII( as Crowley indicated in a late letter
   that he anticipated the Gardner Lodge of OTO in London could be
   expected to initiate as high as the P.I. Degree. )

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