Dr Leo Louis Martello

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Gerald B. Gardner's biography has been published many times, including a chapter on him in my own Witchcraft: The Old Religion. For the record his first Craft book was High Magic's Aid published in 1949, a self-published work. His second was Witchcraft Today in 1954 and his last was The Meaning of Witchcraft, 1959, five years before his death. Prior to these he had written A Goddess Arrives, 1948, and Keris and Other Malay Weapons, 1936. The latter and High Magic's Aid were published under his pen-name of Scire.

In Witchcraft Today the Bibliography has no listing of Charles Godfrey Leland and in this book he lists only Leland's Gypsy Sorcery. Yet a careful study of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows reveals that many passages were copied directly from Leland's Aradia. The secret name of the Goddess used in Gardnerian rites is also most revealing. His new converts shed lots of heat but not too much light, especially in view of all the hagiographical hogwash written about him. Those converts who saw the light preferred to keep others in the dark. This is characteristic of all new converts to any faith. And today none of this matters as the Craft... The Old Religion... Paganism has grown and expanded worldwide where the myths of the past, the factual inconsistencies, the claims and counterclaims fade into insignificance. The stress is on spontaneity rather than rigid rituals.

Gardner was the apostle of modern Witchcraft, whether he was ever given a third degree initiation or not. And many who have claimed to be "Traditional" or "Hereditary" as opposed to "Gardnerian," give themselves away by both the rites and the "tools" used in their ceremonies, traceable to Gardner's influence. If Gardner published his books without permission from his High Priestess there are thousands today who can be grateful that he did. Ditto Alex Sanders whose Book of Shadows is a direct replica of Gardner's, with minor variations. The point is that if one is not initiated into a genuine coven, that doesn't make their initiation invalid. Attraction to the craft is an inner calling and even self-initiations are valid. As I've said many times, an initiation depends more on the one receiving it than on the one giving it.

Pioneer, publicist, advance pressman, Gardner was the right man for the right time, a channel, who tapped the dormant spiritual reservoir of thousands. Not his faults, nor his distortion or omission of certain facts, not the matter of his idiosyncratic existence but the spirit of his life and works, these live on. Without Gardner there are many today, regardless of what they call themselves, who simply wouldn't exist... not as Witches or Pagans. For those who believe in "giving the devil his due" the least they can do is pay tribute to Gardner who was neither devil nor saint... just the Grand Old Man of Witchcraft!

Note: For fuller information on Gardner see Dr. Martello's books WITCHCRAFT: THE OLD RELIGION and BLACKMAGIC, SATANISM & VOODOO.

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