Gerald Gardner, from the cover of The
Meaning of Witchcraft
B.C. on Paganism: A Biography of Gerald Brosseau Gardner
WORK IN PROGRESS...
- Born: June 13th, 1884 at Great Crosby, near Blundell Sands in Lancashire,
- Began travelling at the age of four; his nursemaid took him to warmer
climates to help alleviate his asthma.
- Had jobs planting tea and rubber in the Far East. He eventually became
a Customs officer until he retired in 1936.
- Was initiated into the New Forest Coven, a traditional Wiccan coven
by "Old Dorothy" -- Dorothy Clutterbuck -- in September, 1939.
- Published High Magick's Aid, a fictional account of witches,
in 1949 under the pen-name Scire. After the repeal of witchcraft laws
in Britain in 1951, Gardner published Witchcraft Today
in 1954, a non-fictional account of modern witchcraft.
- Became a spokesperson for the pagan community
- Invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace in 1960.
- Died: February 13th, 1964, while returning from abroad on the SS
It is important to note that Ray Buckland was initiated by Monique
Wilson in 1963 and didn't actually know Gardner very well. In his own
words: "I had been corresponding with Gerald for over a year prior to
[the initiation] and finally met him face-to-face, briefly, at that time."
Shortly thereafter, Gardner left on vacation to Lebanon, and died on the
Buckland had been living in the United States at this time.
According to Ray Buckland, Ph.D., in 1934 Gardner was working in Singapore:
Among his archaeological finds, he identified the real site of the
ancient City of Singapura. He also reconstructed models of one of the
old sea-going ships of the ancient civilization. One of his models is
in the Singapore Museum and another in the Victoria and Albert Museum,
London. As a result of his work, he received an honorary doctorate from
the University of Singapore.
However, Doreen Valiente [1989:pp.41-42]
In 1951 Gerald Gardner told the journalist Allen Andrews, or at any
rate allowed him to receive the impression that he had been created
a Doctor of Philosophy in Singapore and a Doctore of Literature in Toulouse.
However, when I wrote to the University of Singapore some while after
Gerald's death and asked him them if they could confirm that they had
given him this honourary degree, they replied that not only had they
never done so but the University of Singapore was not even in existence
in 1934. Later I wrote to the University of Toulouse, asking about the
alleged Doctor of Literature referred to in the 1951 press cutting.
They too replied that they had never conferred any such degree upon
anyone called Gerald Brosseau Gardner.
It has been suggested to me that in the Far East it was customary
to give the courtesy title of 'Doctor' to almost any learned person.
However, the claims in Gerald's case are rather too detailed for that
explanation to hold water.
These "falsifications of credentials", unfortunately, do a great deal
to undermine Gardner's credibility in other issues.
Enigmas and Questions
Jeffrey B. Russell 
[Gardner's] followers tell the story that he was initiated into witchcraft
in 1939 by Old Dorothy Clutterbuck, a witch of the New Forest who later,
they say, led the covens of England to the seashore where they prevented
Hitler's invasion by sending out the cone of power towards him with
the instruction, 'You cannot come.' When the Craft was destroyed in
the 'Burning Time', it was argued, a few kept it alive secretly, and
old Dorothy was the heir of this ancient tradition. In fact there is
no evidence that old Dorothy ever existed, and the ancient tradition
is very dubious.
Doreen practically dedicates this research to Jeffrey Russell
-- she was so convinced that Prof. Russell was wrong, that she set out
to find documentary evidence to contradict him.
Regarding the existence of Dorothy Clutterbuck, however, there is considerable
evidence, as researched by Doreen Valiente:
Dorothy Clutterbuck had been born on 19 January 1880 and baptized
in St. Paul's Church, Umbala, on 21 February 1880. Her parents were
Thomas St. Q. Clutterbuck, Captain in the 14th Sikhs and Ellen Anne
Clutterbuck. (p. 292).
Other material that Valiente acquired places Dorothy Clutterbuck (later,
Mrs. Fordham) in the right area (Gardner was a resident in Christchurch
in 1939) from 1933 to at least 1938, so it is highly likely that Gardner
knew a real Dorothy Clutterbuck.
Julia Phillips 
It is a marvellous piece of investigation, but proving that Old Dorothy
existed does nothing to support Gardner's claims that she initiated
Obviously, there is no direct proof that Old Dorothy initiated Gardner,
but Valiente believes his claim.
Gerald Gardner without his distinctive beard.
The Origins of the Wiccan Rituals
Doreen Valiente writes:
The big question which remains to be answered is, how much of the
Gardnerian 'Book of Shadows' represents the rites of the old New Forest
coven and how much is Gerald Gardner's own concoction? I braved some
hostile criticism from devoted Gardnerians by trying to answer this
questions when I collaborated with Janet and Stewart Farrar in their
book The Witches' Way. I remain totally unrepentant, because
I too seek the answer and shall continue to do so. There has been too
much childish cloak-and-dagger business in the world of the occult,
too much of what Aleister Crowley satirized as swearing someone to the
most frightful penalties if they betray the secret knowledge and then
confiding the Hebrew alphabet to their safekeeping.
Julia Phillips 
points out that:
It seems to me quite clear that even if Gardner received a traditional
set of rituals from his coven, they must have been exceptionally sparse,
as the concepts that we know of as Wicca today certainly derive from ceremonial
magic and Freemasonry to a very great extent. Indeed, Gardner always claimed
that they were sparse.
It could be argued that all derive from a common source. That
the appearance of a phrase, or technique in one tradition does not automatically
suggest that its appearance elsewhere means that the one was taken from
the other. However, Gardner admits his sources in many cases, and Doreen
confirms them in others, so I think it is safe to presume that the rituals
and philosophy used by Wicca descends from the traditions of Freemasonry
and Ceremonial magic, rather than from a single common source.
Wiccan Family Tree
Julia Phillips 
has reconstructed a "family tree" for Gerald Gardner; although
I haven't seen it, from her words, I've pieced together this basic map.
Some of the relationships are more complicated than appear here. For
example, Gardner had several High Priestesses including Doreen Valiente,
and Monique Wilson. Alex Saunders, although initiated as first degree
by Pat Kopanski, later claimed third degree status by hereditary initiation.
Vivienne Crowley has been initiated in both the Alexandrian and Gardnerian
Copyright © 1997, 1999 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated November 18th,
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