A Witchcraft Tradition for Men that Love Men
I was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca in 2001. Since then, it has become my spiritual foundation and helped me to form my beliefs. When I applied to join this coven, I was sure to tell them that I am gay. “I want to be sure that I won’t run into any prejudice,” I explained. They assured me that I would not. While my time in this coven was supportive and celebratory, after some time in the tradition, I began to understand why so many LGBTQ+ people felt unwanted or even unfit for a Gardnerian coven.
Years after my initiation my husband joined my pre-initiation training group. Like many queer seekers, he realized that the underlying heteronormative current embedded in the rites did not speak to him the way they spoke to me. He started to show some interest in other traditions and started to ask about the Minoan Brotherhood, an initiatory tradition of witchcraft for men who love men.
At the time, I knew almost nothing about the tradition. I knew it was founded by Edmund M. Buczynski (aka Eddie) in New York City. During my time as a Gardnerian, I heard conflicting information about Eddie from those in the Gardnerian community. But as we all know, there are several sides to each story.
I reached out to a friend who I knew was Gardnerian and Minoan. I asked him if he ever did any public talks about the tradition I would like to know since my husband and I were both potentially interested in initiation. A year later this friend became our initiator into the Minoan Brotherhood.
Today, my husband and I run our own grove in the Central Florida area called Alsos Ampelos which is located in a small town in Central Florida (Flagler County) on semi-rural acreage of private land.
Who was Edmund M. Buczynski?
Eddie and his partner Herman Slater opened a well-known occult shop in NY called the Warlock Shop, which later was rebranded the Magickal Childe. They were fixtures in the occult scene in the late 70’s.
Eddie faced quite a bit of adversity within what he considered a heterosexist culture prevalent in Wiccan traditions. Many of these traditions believe that the inherent polarity in nature should be mirrored in their magical operations otherwise they will fail. This belief exacerbated homophobia in some groups that refused to let same sex partners work together or refused gays entry at all.
Eddie initiated as a Gardnerian and was one of the founders of both the New York Welsh Tradition and of the NY Wica Tradition. He was academically inclined towards archaeology which made him the perfect person to construct a Pagan mystery-cult for the people to whom he felt profoundly connected. Later in life he studied archaeology at Hunter College and Bryn Mawr's Classical Studies Department.
He desired a witchcraft tradition that would speak to gay people which is what bore the Minoan Brotherhood and the Minoan Sisterhood.
What is the Minoan Brotherhood?
Working in a Gardnerian-influenced framework Eddie formed the Minoan Brotherhood. He blended elements of pre-Doric Aegean mythology (primarily Cretan and Mycenaean) with what he had previously learned in other witchcraft traditions.
The Minoan Brotherhood is a mystery tradition with three degrees of initiation and elevation much like other Wiccan traditions. Each group traces their lineage back to Eddie Buczynski (Gwydion). Rather than groups being called covens, they are referred to as groves and ran by a high priest called the Minos.
We honor the gods of the Minoan culture, primarily through the forms of the Great Mother (Rhea) and Her Divine Son (Asterion). We celebrate our rites at the 13 Full Moons and 8 Festivals of the Wheel that are rooted in the Aegean cycles and myths. The Brotherhood Initiates work magic skyclad together in groves, in couples, or alone.
The Minoan Brotherhood is a beautiful tradition that has been both powerful and empowering to me. In a time where gay people are being attacked and pushed into the shadows, I think it’s important that gay people have access to spiritual traditions that are uplifting to them and for me the Minoan Brotherhood has been that.
ABOUT SI MANDRAGORA
Si is a Gardnerian High Priest and Minos in the Minoan Brotherhood operating in Flagler County, FL. A practitioner of various kinds of witchcraft since adolescence, he now runs Mandragora Magika, creates occult art, grows all kinds of plants but mostly in love with the poisonous variety. Si holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute.