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New witchcraft museum features occult artifacts once owned by Aleister Crowley
04.28.2017
12:28 pm
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Any discussion of Wicca in America must begin with Raymond Buckland. A disciple and correspondent of English Wicca’s acknowledged father Gerald Gardner, Buckland established America’s first Wiccan coven on Long Island in the early ‘60s. He literally wrote the book on Wicca, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, along with dozens of smaller volumes. In 1968 (some sources say 1966), he established the USA’s first museum of witchcraft. Initially just a showroom in his basement, the collection grew and moved repeatedly, from Long Island to New Hampshire, to Virginia, to New Orleans. Sadly, in NOLA, the collection endured a period of neglect and damage.

Buckland has been an Ohioan since 1992, and two years ago, the collection returned to his Temple of Sacrifice coven, and is now going on display again, in a modest gallery in Cleveland. The Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick opens on April 29, 2017 in a room off of the Tremont record store A Separate Reality. (An aside—ASR should be a Mecca for punk, jazz, prog, and psych collectors. It’s owner, Gus Payne, has an incredible gift for procuring vinyl Holy Grails, and he’s a really swell guy, to boot.) The space has been a gallery before—a few years ago, under the name “Gallery Wolfy Part II,” it hosted a large exhibition of artwork by Half Japanese singer Jad Fair. That gallery was a white-wall space, but the Buckland incarnation is an intimate and inviting room in blood-red and exposed brick. The gallery’s curators Steven Intermill and Jillian Slane were accommodating enough to give Dangerous Minds some time with the collection. It features artifacts from a number of Wiccan luminaries, and even some possessions of legendary occultist Aleister Crowley’s.
 

Horned God Helmet - there’s a picture of this in The Complete Book of Witchcraft
 

Examples of Baphomet Talismans
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.28.2017
12:28 pm
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King of the Witches, Gerald Gardner
08.30.2013
06:17 pm
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Gerald Gardner, a contemporary of Aleister Crowley, is credited with being the father of modern Wicca. Although his influence on modern paganism can’t be overstated, he hasn’t received the same level of attention over the years as the darker and more charismatic Crowley.

Gerald Gardner was supposedly initiated into the already established New Forest, England coven of witches in 1939 at age 55 after retiring to Highcliffe in Dorset. Anthropology and folklore professor Sabina Magliocco wrote in her book, Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America, that the “New Forest coven” Gardner described in his autobiography and other books may have actually been members of George Alexander Sullivan’s Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship/Order of Twelve.

Gardner created the rituals and beliefs that we now associate with Gardnerian Wicca, although he is said to have borrowed some language and ideas from Crowley and Freemasonry. Of course, it was illegal to publicly identify as a witch in the U.K. until 1951, when the Witchcraft Act was finally repealed. After that, Gardner was quite public about his religion, publishing Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft under his own name (his novel High Magic’s Aid had been published in 1949 under a pseudonym) and granting print and television interviews. A woman whose family was involved in the original group of occult enthusiasts who met at Atlantis Bookshop in Bloomsbury describes Gardner as having style, presence, and “a great cracking wit.”

Gerald Gardner was the director of the Folklore Center of Superstition and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man in the early 1950’s. He bought the building (the Witches’ Mill) from owner Cecil Williamson and opened his own Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, which he ran until his death in 1964. Many of the artifacts from the museum were purchased by Ripley’s Entertainment (as in Ripley’s Believe It or Not), but several of Gardner’s personal ritual items, including his original Book of Shadows (with an estimated worth of $1 million), are in the hands of a British real estate investor now living in Spain.

A recent documentary A Very British Witchcraft looks at Gardner’s background and some of the the spiritual influences in his life prior to Wicca, including Malayan shamanism, spiritualism via Arthur Conan Doyle, English folklore spells, Rosicrucianism, and Freemasonry. It includes a description of the New Forest coven’s famous ritual, raising the “cone of power,” performed to ward off Nazi Germany’s invasion of Britain in 1940. There are fascinating clips from Gardner’s 1958 BBC Panorama interview, where he manages to keep his cool when accused of holding nudist orgies rather than pagan rituals.

A Very British Witchcraft, below:


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
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08.30.2013
06:17 pm
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