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            Being A Radical Revisionist History of the  Origins of the Mod
ern 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 clas
sical beliefs by the
            religions of Syria and Egypt which were  principally solar, gr
adually affected the
            conception of Apollo, and there is a certain  later identifica
tion of him with the
            suffering God of Christianity, Free - masonry  and similar cul

                                   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 friend
s that gifts of
            personal  value would be exchanged several times, and  that GB
G would have been able
            to aquire the  vast majority of Crowley's effects after his  d

                                   Merlin the Enchanter, personal letter,

             "...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 d
ays to come..."

                                        Stewart Farrar in What Witches Do,

             "Actually I did write a scholarly book about the Craft; its t
itle was Inventing
            Witchcraft. . . But I spent most of the last fifteen years fai
ling 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 factor
s in what has become a
            far  bigger and more significant movement than  Gardner can ha
ve envisaged; so
            historical  interest alone would be enough reason for  definin
g 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 han
dwriting 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 Wi
tchcraft....' The
            reasoning and speculation in Aidan's book are  intricate.  Bri
efly, his main
            argument  depends on his discovery of one of Gardner's  workin
g notebooks, Ye Book
            of Ye Art Magical,  which is in possession of Ripley  Internat
ional, Ltd...."

                              Margot Adler in
                             Drawing Down the Moon, 1979

                              PART ONE

              I was, for the third time in four years,  waiting a bit nerv
ously 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 mi

             The jail?  Ah, St. Augustine, Florida. "The  Old Jail,"  was
the `nation's oldest
            city's'  second most tasteless tourist trap, complete  with ca
ge-type cells and a
            mock gallows.  For  a moment I allowed myself to play in my he
ad  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 Gera
ld  Gardner collection
            from Gardner's niece, Monique Wilson, sitting in the slammer.
 But  no, Turner
            apparently had just been showing  Deska the town.  I straighte
ned my suit for the
            fiftieth time, and suppressed  the comment. We  were talking B
IG history  here, and
            big bucks, too.  I gulped.  The  original Book of Shadows.  Ma

             It had started years before. One of the last  people in Ameri
ca 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, acq
uired the Gardner
            stuff, but as far as I knew it was all located at their Tennes
see resort museum. I
            think I'd heard they'd closed it down. By  then, the social li
beralism 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, wit
chcraft is sacrile-
            gious, as  we all know.

             So, I was a bit surprised, when I discovered  some of the Gar
dner stuff - including
            an  important historical document, for sale in  the gift shop,
 in a case just
            opposite the  little alligators that have "St.Augustine,  Flor
ida - America's Oldest
            City" stickered on  their plastic bellies for the folks back h
ome to use as a
            paper-weight.  The pricetags on  the occult stuff, however, we
re way out of my


           Back again, three years later, and I  decided, what the hell, s
o I asked the
            cashier about the stuff still gathering dust  in the glass cas
e, and it was like I'd
            pushed  some kind of button.

             Out comes Mr. Turner, the manager, who  whisks us off to a st
ore room which is
            filled, FILLED, I tell you, with parts of the Gardner collecti
on, much of it, if not
            "for  sale" as such, at least available for  negotiation. Turn
er told us about
            acquiring the collection when he was manager of  Ripley's Blac
kpool operation, how
            it had gone  over well in the U.S. at first, but had lost  pop
ularity and was now
            relegated for the most  part to storage status.

             Visions of sugarplums danced in my head.   There were many tr
easures here, but the
            biggest plum of all, I thought, was not surprisingly, not to b
e 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 cour
se, 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

             It revolved around elemental rituals, secret  rites of passag
e and a mythos of
            goddess and  god that seemed attractive to me as a  psychologi
cally valid
            alternative to the  austere, antisexual moralism of Christiani
ty.  The Book of
            Shadows, in this context, was the  `holy book' of Wicca, copie
d 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 fina
l years to write the
            Book  of Shadows, perhaps whole cloth.  The rumor's  chief exp
onent 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 contain
ed 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 t
he 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  G
ardner chose to do
            this is speculative, but  I've got some idea.  But, I'm gettin
g ahead  of myself.

             While Turner showed me a blasphemous cross  shaped from the b
ody of two nude women
            (created for the 18th century infamous "Hellfire Clubs" in Eng
land and depicted in
            the MAN MYTH AND MAGIC encyclopedia; I bought it, of course) a
nd a statue of
            Beelzebub from  the dusty Garderian archives, a thought  occur
red to me. " You
            know," I suggested, "if  you ever, in all this stuff, happen a
cross a  copy of The
            Book of Shadows in the handwriting of Aleister Crowley, it wou
ld 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 writte
n not by God Himself,
            but  by Moses, pure and simple. (Better still,  eleven command
ments, 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 docu
ment I first mistook
            for  Gerald Gardner's (long acknowledged)  initiation certific
ate into Crowley's
            Thelemic magickal Ordo Templi Orientis.  To  my eventual surpr
ise, I discovered
            that, not  only was this not a simple initiation certificate f
or the Minerval
            (probationary-lowest) degree, but, to the  contrary, was a lic
ense 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 "Pri
            of Jerusalem," that  is, he is acknowledged to be a Fourth Deg
            Perfect Initiate in the Order. This, needless  to say would us
ually 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 hi
gher  status in one
            edition) this runs somewhat  contrary to both generally held W
iccan and contemporary
            O.T.O. orthodox understandings  that the O.T.O. was then fallo
w in England.

             At the time the document was written, most  maintained, Gardn
er could have known
            Crowley  for only a brief period, and was not himself deeply i
nvolved in the O.T.O.
            The document is  undated but probably was drawn up around  194

             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 i
n California, and is
            the direct  antecedent of the contemporary authentic Ordo  Tem
pli Orientis. Karl
            Germer, Crowley's  immediate successor, had barely escaped dea
th  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, alon
g with other
            freemasonic  organizations, and Crowley himself was in declini
ng health and power,
            the English OTO  virtually dead.

             The Charter  also displayed other  irregularities of a reveal
ing nature. Though
            the signature and seals are certainly those  of Crowley, the t
ext 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, wh
ich got by me for some
            months and probably got by Crowley when it was presented to hi
m for signature, the
            document is probably authentic.  It hung for  some time in Gar
dner's museum,
            possibly giving rise, as we shall see, to the rumor  that Crow
ley 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 Crowl
ey 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, howe
ver, 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 Cha
rter from Crowley
            himself; Crowley was a  personal friend of his, and gave him t
he  Charter because he
            liked him."

             Col. Lawrence ("Merlin the Enchanter"), in a  letter to me da
ted 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  gal
lery" (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 n
ot the long-dead
            Crowley and (then)  relatively moribund OTO.

             Now, the "my friend Aleister" ploy might  explain the whole t
hing. 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 h
anded 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 seeke
r 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 le
tter to me dated 28th
            August, 1986,  Ms. Valiente tells of a meeting with Yorke  "..
.in 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 Ch
arter. Still,  one

             I have a Thelemic acquaintance  who, having advanced well alo
ng the path of
            Kenneth Grant's version of the OTO, went back  to square one w
ith the unquestionably
            authentic Grady McMurtry OTO.  Over a period  of years of subs
tantial 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 chartere
d initiator, and can
            tell you from experience that becoming a Companion of the Roya
l Arch of Enoch,
            Perfect  Initiate, Prince of Jerusalem and Chartered  Initiato
r 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  a
re three distinct
            versions of the Book of  Shadows in Gerald Gardner's handwriti
ng which incorporate
            successively less material from  Crowley's writings, though th
e last (termed  "Text
            C" and cowritten with Doreen Valiente after 1953) is still hea
vily 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 dis
cusses 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 h
is publisher's
            magazine? Ms. Valiente observed to me that  the "...eastern Bo
ok of Shadows does not
            seem  to have anything to do with witch-craft at th
is 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

             The claim is frequently made by those who  wish to `salvage'
a preGardnarian source
            of  Wiccan materials that there is a `core' of  `authentic' ma
terials. But, as the
            Farrars'  recently asserted, the portions of the Book  of Shad
ows "..which changed
            least between  Texts A, B and C were naturally the three initi
ation rituals; because
            these, above all,  would be the traditional elements which wou
ld  have been
            carefully preserved, probably for  centuries...." (emphasis ad

             But what does one mean by "traditional  materials?" The three
 initiation rites, now
            much-described in print, all smack heavily of  the crypto-free
masonic 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  w
hich were, it is
            widely known, the  fountainhead of much that is associated wit
h  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  atten
ding 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 T
hird Degree is one of
            the most blatant examples of that influence.

             Take, for example, this excerpt from what is  perhaps the mos
t intimate, most
            secret and  most sublime moment in the entire repertoire  of W
icca 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


           The Priest continues:
             `O Secret of Secrets, That art hidden in the being of all liv
es, 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  wi
tch to the highest of
            the three grades of  the Craft. In a sense,a third-degree witc
h is  fully
            independent, answerable only to the  Gods and his or her own c
onscience..." In
            short, in a manner of speaking this is all  that Wicca can off
er a devotee.

             With this in mind, observe the following,  from Aleister Crow
ley's Gnostic Mass,
            first  published in The Equinox about 80 years ago  and routin
ely 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.  T
he following is
            excerpted from Gems From the  Equinox, p. 372, but is widely a
vailable 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. Th
ou 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 Crow
ley and the OTO, is
            the  "traditional material" some Wiccan writers seem to seek w
ith near desperation?
            I am not  trying to be sarcastic in the least, but even   comm
onplace self -
            references used among  Wiccans today, such as "the Craft" or t
he  refrain "so mote
            it be"are lifted straight  out of Freemasonry (see, for exampl
e,  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 b
y Margot Adler and
            others, that "Wicca no longer adheres to the orthodox mythos o
f 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 lege
nd of ancient Wicca.
            If that  legend is false, then while reformists and  revisioni
st apologists
            (particularly the  peculiar hybrid spawned in the late sixties
  under the name
            "feminist Wicca") may seek  other valid grounds for their prac
tices, 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 t
he Wiccan-neopagan
            heading, but that that core is the same essential core that li
es at the truths
            exposed by the dreaded boogy-man Aleister  Crowley and the` wi
cked' 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  underst

             Neopaganism, in a now archaic "hippie"  misreading of ecology
, mistakes responsible
            stewardship of nature for nature worship. Ancient pagans did n
ot `worship' nature;
            to a  large extent they were afraid of it, as has  been pointe
d out to me by folk
            practioners.   Their "nature rites" were to propitiate the cap
rice of the gods, not
            necessarily to honor  them.  The first neopagan revivalists,
Gardner, Crowley and
            Dr. Murray, well understood this.  Neopagan wiccans usually do

             In introducing a "goddess element" into  their theology, Crow
            and Gardner both  understood the yin/yang, male/female fundame
ntal polarity of the
            universe.   Radical feminist neopagans have taken this  balanc
e and altered it,
            however unintentionally, into a political feminist  agenda, ce
ntered around a
            near-monotheistic  worship of the female principle, in a bizar
re caricature of
            patriarchal Christianity. Bigotry, I submit, cuts both ways.

              I do not say these things lightly;  I have  seen it happen i
n my own time. IF this
            be  truth, let truth name its own price.  I was  not sure, unt
il 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  leg
acy, I had punched on
            my answering machine, and there was the unexpected voice of  J
ohn 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 unsee
n, figuring there was
            (at  the least) a likelihood I'd be able to turn  the story in
to a book and get my
            money back  out of it, to say nothing of the historical  impor

              But, as I researched the matter, I became  more wary, and co
nfused; Gardner's
            texts "A"  "B" and "C" all seemed to be accounted for.   Possi
bly, I began to
            suspect, this was either  a duplicate of the "deThelemized" po
st1954  version with
            segments written by Gardner and  Valiente and copied and recop
ied (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  Mag
ical, 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 bo
ok, 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 loo
k 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  routi
ne 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 beg
an to make some kind
            of  sense.  Clearly, this was Ye Book of Ye Art  Magical.  Jus
t as clearly, it was
            an unusual  piece, written largely in the same hand as  the Cr
owley Charter- that
            is, the hand of  Gerald Gardner. Of this I became certain, bec
ause I had handwriting
            samples of Gardner,  Valiente and Crowley in my possession.  M
s.  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  organis
ation to have a copy
            of a "Book of  Shadows" in Gerald Gardner's handwriting and  m
ine.  If this is..."Ye
            Book of Ye Art Magical,"  ....this is definitely in Gerald Gar
dner's  handwriting.
            Old Gerald, however, had several  styles of handwriting....I t
hink it is  probable
            that the whole MS. was in fact  written by Gerald, and no othe
r person was
            involved; but of course I may be wrong....

              At first glance it appeared to be a very  old book, and it s
uggested to me where
            the  rumors that a very old, possibly medieval  Book of Shadow
s had once been on
            display in  Gardner's Museum had emerged from.

              Any casual onlooker might see Ye Book in  this light, for th
e 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 ha
d  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 considerab
le period of time,
            perhaps  years, perhaps even decades. It may, indeed, date fro
m 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 c
learly the published
            Crowley, the old magus of the Golden Dawn, the A.A., and the 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 relati
vely 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 perh
aps would reveal much
            about his character and motivations. Turner showed me a Gardne
r scrapbook in
            Ripley's  store room which was mostly cheesecake  magazine pho
tographs 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 a
n  old sofa.

              I have the impression it was essentially  unknown in and aft
er 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  Museu

              If someone had seen the charter signed by  Crowley ("Baphome
t") 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,  bu
t maybe the source of
            that long-standing  accusation.  There is even a notation in t
he Ripley catalog
            attributing the manuscript to  Crowley on someone's say-so, bu
t 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 Aleis
ter Crowley and the
            Thelemic/Gnostic creed of The Book of the  Law.

              As I sat there I read aloud familiar  quotations or paraphra
ses from published
            material in the Crowley-Thelemic canon. This  is not the "anci
ent 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 h
uman spirituality?  It
            depends  on where one is coming from. Certainly, the  foundati
ons of feminist Wicca
            and the modern cult of the goddess are challenged with the  fa
ct 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 m
erely instructive, but
            an  afront to the conceits of an era.

              "The belief in witchcraft," he observed, "  was not all supe
rstition; its
            psychological  roots were sound. Women who are thwarted in  th
eir natural instincts
            turn inevitably to  all kinds of malignant mischief, from slan
der  to domestic


           For the rest of us, those who neither worship nor are disdainfu
l of the man who
            made sexuality a god or, at least, acknowledged it as such, ex
perience must be  its
            own teacher. If Wicca is a sort of errant  Minerval Camp of th
e OTO, gone far astray
            and far afield since the days Crowley gave Gardner a charter h
e "didn't use" but
            seemed  to value, and a whole range of rituals and imagery tha
t assault the senses
            at their most  literally fundamental level; if this is true  o
r sort of true, maybe
            its time  history be owned up to. Mythos has its place  and ro
le, 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, inven
t Wicca more or less
            whole  cloth, to be a popularized version of the  OTO.  Crowle
y, or his successor
            Karl Germer,  who  also knew Dr. Gardner, likely set "old  Ger
ald" on what they
            intended to be a  Thelemic path, aimed at reestablishing at  l
east a basic OTO
            encampment in England.

             Aiden Kelly's research work on all this is most impressive, b
ut at rock bottom I
            can't help feeling he still wants to salvage something origina
l in Wicca. In a way,
            there is some justification for this; the Wicca of Gerald Gard
ner, 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.  Ga
rdner, it is
            confirmed, came to America,  but by then Wicca, and Dr. Gardne
r had begun to take
            their own, watered-down course. Today most Wiccans have no ide
a of their origins.

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

              First consider Doreen Valiente's observation to me concernin
g "the Parsons
            connection". I quote from her letter abovementioned, one of se
veral 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 Cal
ifornia at the time

            of  Crowley's death, because I believe his ashes  were sent ov
er 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 refer
ring 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 dra
w your  attention. I
            have a remarkable little book by  Jack Parsons called MAGICK,
            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 witchcraf
t 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 perhap
s  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 int
erpretation of these
            matters. The OTO recently reprinted the Parsons "witchcraft" e
ssays in Freedom is a
            Two Edged Sword , a postumous collection of his writings. It d
oes 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 Gar
dner'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 belo
nged 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 Decembe
r, 1986:

            If your friend is right, then it would mean  that old Gerald a
ctually went through a
            charade of pretending to Arnold Crowther that  Arnold was intr
oducing 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; b
ut  then occultists
            sometimes do devious  things...

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

             Gnosticism and Wicca, the subjects of Jack  Parsons' essays,
republished by the OTO
            and  Falcon Press in 1990, are the two most successful express
ions 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 s
uccessors and heirs in
            the OTO deal with it?


           Then too, what are we to make of and infer  about all this busi
ness 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 author
ity upon which Wicca
            has  been built for half a century, then it is perhaps no coin
cidence that I
            acquired that  Charter in the same year I was consecrated a  B
ishop 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 t
he Holy Synod  of T
            Michael Bertiaux's Gnostic Church  unanimously elected me a Mi
ssionary Bishop,  on
            August 29, 1986.

             Sometimes, I muse, the Inner Order revoked  Wicca's charter i
n 1986,placing it in
            my  hands. Since I hold it in trust for the OTO,  perhaps Wicc
a 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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