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books to Wilson. Other beneficiaries of his estate were PATRICIA C. Crowther and Jack L. Bracelin, author of a biography on Gardner, Gerald Gardner: Witch (1960). Wilson and her husband operated the museum for a short time and held weekly coven meetings in Gardner's cottage. They then closed the museum and sold much of the contents to the Ripley organization, which dispersed the objects to its various museums. Some of the items have since been resold to private collections.

Valiente describes Gardner as a man "utterly without malice," who was generous to a fault and who possessed some real, but not exceptional, magical powers. His motives were basically good and he sincerely wanted to see "the Old Religion" survive. Others, such as Williamson, saw him as manipulative and deceitful, not above fabrication in order to accomplish his objectives: to establish an acceptable venue for his personal interests in naturism and voyeuristic sex. (Gardner was a nudist, and the ritual nudity in the Craft is likely to have been one of his inventions; hereditary Witches say they have worked robed.)

Unfortunately, Gardner's personal papers prior to 1957 no longer exist. He destroyed them at Valiente's urging during the aforementioned period of unfavorable publicity.

From the 1960s onward, Witchcraft, the religion, continued to grow and spread around the world. Initially, new Witches accepted Gardner's assertion of an old and unbroken heritage, but that was soon exposed as unfounded. The Gardnerian tradition has inspired other traditions, and Witchcraft has taken on a life of its own as a predominantly Goddess-centered mystery religion, part of a larger reconstruction and revival of Paganism.

Whatever his flaws and foibles, Gardner deserves respect and credit for what he started. As scholar Ronald Hutton notes, contemporary Witchcraft, or Wicca, is the only religion that England has ever given to the world.

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