Today I am celebrating Gerald Brosseau Gardner (June 13, 1884 – February 12, 1964). Gerald is considered the father of the Witchcraft Revival by many, he is responsible for the proliferation of what is today known as Wicca/Wica. Gardnerians today still recite their Witch lineage back to him.
Here is an attempt at a simple timeline. It is possible some of these dates are approximations and I tried to make note of that where applicable.
1884, June 13: Born in Blundellsands, Lancashire
1900: Moved to Ceylon
1911: Moved to Malaya
1927, August 16: Married Dorothea Frances Rosedale, known as Donna
1936: Gerald published his first book "Keris and Other Malay Weapons"
1938-39: Involvement with the Rosicrucian Order
1939: Gerald joined the Folk-Lore Society
1939: Gerald published his second book "A Goddess Arrives"
1938-44: Involvement with the New Forest Coven
1945: Moved to London
1946 (approx): Gerald founded the Bricket Wood Coven
1947: Introduced to Aleister Crowley, the ceremonial magician who founded Thelema, and was elevated to the IV degree of the Ordo Templi Orientis as well as issued with an O.T.O. Charter
1949: Gerald published his third book "High Magic's Aid"
1953: Initiation of Doreen Valiente
1954: Gerald was the owner of the "The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft" on the Isle of Man after buying it from Cecil Williamson
1954: Gerald published his fourth book "Witchcraft Today"
1959: Gerald published his fifth and final book "the Meaning of Witchcraft"
1960: Gardner's official biography, entitled "Gerald Gardner: Witch" was published, written by Idres Shah
Picture of the Gerald working in the Witches Cottage
1964, February 12: Gardner, returning home on the ship "The Scottish Prince" from wintering in Lebanon suffered a fatal heart attack during breakfast. At the next ship’s port of call in Tunisia, he was buried. In 1968, with the help of Eleanor Bone, his remains were moved close to the city of Carthage, where he rests today.
His gravestone no 246 which was added later reads:
Gerald Brosseau Gardner
13th June 1884 - 12th February 1964
Author Archaeologist Artist
Father of Modern Wica
Beloved Of The Great Goddess
Picture of the Gerald enjoying the Wishing Well
Books by Gerald Gardner
Old Gerald wrote many books before his death in 1964.
This is a bibliography of his fiction and non-fiction books.
- Keris and Other Malay Weapons, in 1936
"Keris and Other Malay Weapons" is a book that will be of interest to all who wish to understand the timeless link between weaponry and warfare, superstition and magic, in the greater Malay world. Gardner spent significant effort in discussions on the origin of the keris (or kris) and its close association with occult beliefs among Malays, an interest of Gardner's which was to have a huge effect on him, later in life. Following his retirement from the British Civil Service in Malaya, not long after the original publication of this book, Gardner returned to the UK, where he focused his interests on magic and witchcraft, his writings and efforts eventually serving to revive the tradition of Witchcraft of the British Isles, known as Wicca/Wica.
- A Goddess Arrives (fiction), in 1939
While visiting the island of Cyprus Gardner identified locations familiar to him from dreams. Based on the reality of these dreams, Gardner became convinced that he had lived on Cyprus in a previous life. In 1939 he penned the fiction novel "A Goddess Arrives", which is set in Cyprus and concerns magic and warfare there in 1450 B.C.E.
- High Magic's Aid (fiction), in 1949
"High Magic's Aid" was written as fiction but with the intent to show a bit about what the Craft was actually about without telling too much but to give the reader a taste of Witchcraft.
- Witchcraft Today, in 1954
- The Meaning of Witchcraft, in 1959
"Witchcraft Today" and "The Meaning Of Witchcraft" are necessary reading for any one on a Wiccan path or people interested in the history of Wicca/Wica. I would venture to say at least these two would be interesting to all those practicing a form of Neo-Paganism or good old fashioned Witchcraft.
I believe we all owe Gerald some appreciation for what he did.
Gerald Brosseau Gardner 1884-1964
A VERY BRITISH WITCHCRAFT: The extraordinary story of Britain's fastest-growing religious group - the modern pagan witchcraft of Wicca - and of its creator, an eccentric Englishman called Gerald Gardner.
For more on the history of Wicca/Wica
and Gerald’s life read Philip Heselton