The Father of Modern Witchcraft
Gerald “Scire” Gardner was the prophet of the God and Goddess of Wicca. As such, the wealth of spiritual wisdom that he gave to the world is possibly Britain’s greatest contribution to the whole of human history. As the proper founder of contemporary witchcraft, Scire helped to restore an essential connection between the natural and supernatural worlds, which had long since been lost, particularly in Europe. So, even though the Druids didn’t directly give rise to the Wiccans, in many ways in the 20th century Scire picked up in England where Merlin had left on in Scotland in the 6th century.
During Gardner’s time, many British witches convened in secret, gathering at a temple chamber in the basement of an occult supply store called the Atlantis Bookshop. In line with this, Gardner published A Goddess Arrives. Scire also began sending in contributions to the journal Folk-Lore, the first submission of which described a box of witchcraft relics that he believed had belonged to the notorious 17th century “Witch-Finder General”. In this way, Scire worked tirelessly in the service of the Craft at his home at Highcliffe where he lived during the Second World War.
As part of this, he was a royal home guard in the British Army who wanted to repel the Nazis with more than just a bayonet. So, in 1940 Scire and the other members of the New Forest coven went out into the woods to work their magic against Hitler and the Third Reich. There the great neopagan elders danced naked under the Moon and chanted themselves to exhaustion, forming the largest cone of power that has ever been cast. Some of the witches exerted so much force toward Berlin that their lives were drained out entirely, sacrificing themselves in the process. They died shortly thereafter, and the Germans were successfully warded off.
Nonetheless, in spite of all the good the white witches were doing for the Brits, they were seen as diabolical criminals who engaged in forbidden dark arts. Some of this criticism stemmed from the fact that Gerald Gardner had close ties with Aleister Crowley. On May Day of 1947, Gardner’s friend Arnold Crowther introduced the two Freemasons, who hit it off great. Then, shortly before his death that year, Aleister Crowley elevated Gerald Gardner to the IV° of Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and issued a charter decreeing that Scire could admit people into its Minerval degree. This was done in Gardner’s handwriting and signed by Crowley himself. However, Gardner eventually lost interest in leading the Order.
Instead, High Priest Scire and High Priestess Dafo (Edith Woodford-Grimes) established the Bricket Wood coven. Unfortunately, the Wiccans were doing whatever they had to in order to protect their way of life, living as social pariahs. Although the medieval “cunning folk” before them were essentially Dark Age witches, the Craft was barely kept alive throughout the millennia. Gerald Gardner then reinvented witchcraft and brought it to the forefront of modern society. Of course, at first, Scire had to present himself as a fiction author to avoid public persecution. So, in 1949 he wrote a novel that was really a thinly veiled grimoire for his followers, given that the Witchcraft Act still prohibited the use of spellcraft. In that book, Scire wrote:
“In all magical essays things must be especially made. He who makes them must bring to bear all the powers of a trained mind concentrated on his work, so that no other mind or influence bears upon it in any way that can lead the mind astray. The whole force of his being must be centred on that work.”
Thus, High Magic’s Aid became the first published account of Wiccan spellcraft. However, Scire also wrote something in secret. You see, in Gardnerian Wicca, there’s a sacred text similar to the Christian Bible, the Jewish Tanakh, the Hindu Gita, and the Islamic Quran. It took Scire decades to gather everything in his personal “Book of Shadows”. As the Great Work of a High Priest, the unique notebook is a sacred relic and it should be treated as such. The one-of-a-kind magical manuscript is currently valued at more than a million dollars and is being held in a bank vault in England. The intricately detailed handwritten spellbook is filled with many of the rituals and beliefs that became foundational to the religion Scire was establishing.
Eventually though, with the help of Scire and the Bricket Wood coven, enough respect among British communities was garnered to warrant progressive political action, thus ensuring civil rights for witches. Therefore, in 1951 Winston Churchill repealed the Witchcraft Act, and since then it has been legal to proclaim yourself as a witch in England. So, in 1954, Scire finally published Witchcraft Today which recounts his thoughts on the history and practices of the Craft. That same year, Gerald Gardner purchased a private collection of enchanted artifacts belonging to Cecil Williamson and then opened the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man.
Ultimately, Gerald Gardner refused to let Wicca die with him, and the world is much better off as a result of that difficult decision. In 1958, Scire even appeared on TV reaching out to twelve million BBC viewers to profess and defend the tenets of his newfound faith. As a result of this, nowadays more than a million witches can openly practice the Craft around the world. It’s all due to Scire’s courage in the face of overwhelming adversity. Thanks to his efforts, it’s now a whole lot safer for anyone that wants to come out of the broom closet and live loud and proud as a witch. In the end, with his mission accomplished, the founder of Wicca died at peace in 1964 at the age of 79.
Blessed be the King of the Witches in Summerland.