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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at


                         A TRUE HISTORY OF WITCHCRAFT

              updated through January 3, 1992. copyright (c) 1992 by Allen Greenfield. All
            rights reserved.]

              "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

               "As attunement to psychic (occult) reality  has grown in America, one often
            misunderstood  and secretive branch of it has begun to flourish also -- magical 
                              J. Gordon Melton
                              Institute for the Study of
                              American Religion, Green Egg, 1975

             "Curse them! Curse them! Curse them!
              With my Hawk's head I peck at the eyes of
              Jesus as he hangs upon the cross
              I flap my wings in the face of Mohammed &
              blind him
              With my claws I tear out the flesh of the
              Indian and the Buddhist, Mongol and

               Liber Al Vel Legis 3:50 - 53

             "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

              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 fellow 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

             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; I think they read a lot of
            Frazier and Margaret Murray. 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'. Priest-
            esses, 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

             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. This entire work is, in fact, an attempt to approximate 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 

             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 lineally  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).

              One could  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.) I do not
            doubt that bits of pagan folklore survived
            on the Continent through the first millenium -- Northern Europe remained overtly
            pagan until the High Middle Ages. But what has this to do with Wicca?

             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.
            It is now  the conventional wisdom on the witchburning  mania which swept like a


          plague over much of  Europe during the transition from medieval world to modern 
            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 Sabbats and Devil-marks, was a  rather late invention,
            borrowing but little  from remaining memories of actual  preChristian paganism.  We
            have seen a  resurrection of this mania in the 1980s  flurry over `Satanic
            sacrificial' cults, with  as little evidence.

             "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 cavilled 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 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
            friend 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
            for  Aleister Crowley AND Gerald Gardner have  taken on such serious tones as well
            aspretensions 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 postGardnarian 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 Gardnarian 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 in the magickal orders under his direct

              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

              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 magickal  religion. The Gnostic Mass, which


          Crowley  wrote fairly early-on, had come since his  death to somewhat fill this
            function through  the OTO-connected 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  more targeted towards interna-
            tional 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.

               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.

             Though Wiccan writers give some lip service  (and, no doubt, some sincere credence)
            to the  notion that the validity of Wiccan ideas  depends not upon its lineage, but
            rather upon  its workability, 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.

              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 observe 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 answer, as Dr. Israel  Regardie's introduction to the posthumous  collection
            of Crowley's late 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

             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 disaster 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 inept 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

              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 con-men. If so, more power to them, and to those who truly
            follow in  their path. I do know that, around 1945,  Crowley chartered Gardner, an
            initiate of the Ordo  Templi Orientis, giving him license to  organize an OTO

              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 licensed 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, nonChristian religion.

              Still, it should be noted, so much of our  society has been grounded in the 
            repressiveness and authoritarian moralism of 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 beyong 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 Cabbalah; 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 Gardnarian Wicca, the Goddess and Horned  God - and the Priestess and Priest,
            represent  that balance. There is nothing, nothing of  pacts with the "Devil" or the
            worship of evil  in any of this; that belongs to misguided  exChristians who have
            been given the absurd  fundamentalist Sunday school notion that one must choose the
            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 Satanic, and groups like the 
            Process Church of the Final Judgement 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
            millions of  children each year, " that is, that he  masturbated. 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. He was dead serious, though,
            about the "Satanism" of Miltonian eternal rebellion, and the "Satanism" of
            fundamentalism's dark fear of sexuality. The Devil, however; the Satanic "god of
            evil" was an absurdity to him, as to all thinking people, and he freely said so.

              The most popular form of  "counterChristianity" 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 
            theatre; 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 are manifestly potent, 
            but hardly criminal or murderous.

              LaVey, like Gardner and unlike Crowley,  appears to have "the common touch" --
            perhaps  rather more so than Gardner.

             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.

                          "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, Free - masonry  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 aquire 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

             "Actually I did write a scholarly book about the Craft; its title was Inventing
            Witchcraft. . . But I spent most of the last fifteen years failing to persuade Carl
            Weschcke of Llewellyn or any other publisher that there was a market for it."

                              Aidan A. Kelly, Gnosis, Winter, 1992

              "...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 handwriting 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

                              PART ONE

              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 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, I mean, witchcraft is sacrile-
            gious, as  we all know.

             So, I was a bit surprised, 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 pricetags on  the occult stuff, however, were way out of my 


           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. 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 

              Rumor number #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 magickal 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 license for Gardner to
            begin  his own chapter 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 is understood that no viable  chapter of the O.T.O. was supposed to
            exist  in England at that time; the sole 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 Concentartion
            Camp during the War, his  mere association with Crowley being  tantamount to a death

             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.

             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

             Leaving aside the  misquotation from The  Book 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 probably 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."

             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.

             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  " 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 may explain the Charter. Still,  one

             I have a Thelemic acquaintance  who, having advanced well along the path of 
            Kenneth Grant's 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 IVo `plus' status implied by  Gardner's "Prince of Jerusalem"
            designation  in the charter, and has since gone beyond.

              I am, myself, a Vo member of the OTO,  as well as a chartered initiator, and can 
            tell you from experience that becoming a Companion of the Royal Arch of Enoch,
            Perfect  Initiate, Prince of Jerusalem and Chartered  Initiator is a long and
            arduous task.

              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 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 witch-craft at 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 preGardnarian 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...." (emphasis added)

             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 neorosicruci-
            an 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

               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

             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 about 80 years ago  and routinely performed (albeit
            ,usually in  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

             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 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.

                              PART TWO
                     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

              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 boogy-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
            practioners.   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. Bigotry, I submit, cuts both ways.

              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 "deThelemized" post1954  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 I was chatting with Ms.Deska,  Norm returned  from his mission, we introduced
            in best  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 Crowley Charter- that
            is, 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, 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 "notebook" 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 neorosicrucuian grouping  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 Golden Dawn, the A.A., and the O.T.O.


               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,it has  been intimated,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 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  indica-
            tion Ripley has any other such book.  Finally, if the notebook is a sourcebook of 
            any religious system, it is not that of  medieval witchcraft, but the twentieth 
            century madness or sanity or both of the  infamous 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

             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 may be  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  afront 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


           For the rest of us, 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 Camp 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, maybe
            its time  history be owned up to. Mythos has its place  and role, but so, too, does

                             PART THREE
                     WICCA AS AN OTO ENCAMPMENT

             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, or his 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.

             Aiden Kelly's research work on all this is most impressive, but at rock bottom I
            can't help feeling he still wants to salvage something original in Wicca. In a way,
            there is some justification for this; the Wicca of Gerald Gardner, OTO initiate and
            advocate of sexual magick produced a folksy, easier version of the OTO, but by the
            middle nineteen fifties some of his early "followers" not only created a revisionist
            Wicca with relatively little of the Thelemic original intact, but convinced Gardner
            to go along with the changes.

              It is also possible, but yet unproven, that, upon expelling Kenneth Grant from the 
            OTO in England, Germer, in the early 1950s,  summoned Gardner 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. Today most Wiccans have no idea of their origins.

              Let me close this section by quoting two interesting tidbits for your consider-

              First consider Doreen Valiente's observation to me concerning "the Parsons 
            connection". I quote from her letter abovementioned, 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?

             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 OTO recently reprinted the Parsons "witchcraft" essays in Freedom is a
            Two Edged Sword , a postumous collection of his writings. It does indeed seem that
            Gardner and Parsons were both on the same wave-length at about the same time.

             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 pretence; but  then occultists
            sometimes do devious  things...

             Crowley may have played out a similar scene with G.I. Gurdjieff, the other
            enlightened merry prankster of the first half of the twentieth century.

             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.

             If Wicca is the OTO's prodigal daughter in  fact, authorized directly by Crowley,
            how  should Wiccans now relate to this? How should Crowley's successors and heirs in
            the OTO deal with it?


           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 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 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 in
            my  hands. Since I hold it in trust for the OTO,  perhaps Wicca has, in symbolic
            form, returned  home at last. It remains for the Wiccans to,  literally (since the
            charter hangs in my  temple space), to read the handwriting on the  wall.

             " Witchcraft always has a hard time, until it becomes
            established and changes its name."  - Charles Fort


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