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Elders of the Craft – Raymond Buckland

Raymond Buckland (August 31, 1934 – September 27, 2017 was an English writer on the subject of Wicca and the occult, and a significant figure in the history of Wicca, of which he was a high priest in both the Gardnerian and Seax-Wica traditions.


Known as “the Father of American Wicca,” Raymond Buckland is credited for introducing Wicca to the United States. His book, “Witchcraft From the Inside,” was the first American book about the Old Religion written by an actual witch, rather than an outsider. Since that time, he has become a well-respected and renowned spirituality and occult author, writing more than 60 books, including the classic “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” (one of my first books on witchcraft and I highly recommend it) and the three encyclopedias: “The Witch Book,” “The Fortunetelling Book,” and “The Spirit Book.”


Today, Raymond Buckland has nearly two million copies of his books in print and has had them translated into 17 foreign languages. Buckland has received numerous awards for his work, and his books have been featured in several national book clubs. He has served as a Technical Director for movies—working with the likes of Orson Wells, John Carradine, Vincent Price, and William Friedkin (director of the film The Exorcist).


In addition to his writings, he has also appeared on numerous national radio and television talk shows, including the Virginia Graham Show, the Dick Cavett Show (appearing with Faye Dunaway), the Tom Snyder Tomorrow Show, Barbara Walters’ Not for Women Only, and the Sally Jessy Raphael Show, as well as on BBC-TV, England, RAI-TV, Italy, and CBC-TV, Canada. He has appeared extensively on stage in England and played small character parts in several American movies. I realize that many readers will not be acquainted with some of the TV shows mentioned, but trust me, in their time they were popular and impressive.


 As a teacher, Raymond has taught courses at colleges and universities and has been a featured speaker at conferences and workshops. He is listed in a number of reference works, including Contemporary Authors, Who’s Who in America, Men of Achievement, and International Authors’ & Writers’ Who’s Who.


He introduced the lineage of Gardnerian Wicca to the United States in 1964, after having been initiated by Gerald Gardner's then-high priestess Monique Wilson in Britain the previous year. He later formed his own tradition dubbed Seax-Wica which focuses on the symbolism of Anglo-Saxon paganism.


Buckland was born in London on August 31, 1934 to Eileen and Stanley Buckland. Buckland was of mixed ethnicity; his mother was English, and his father was Romanichal ("English Gypsy"). He was raised in the Anglican Church but developed an interest in Spiritualism and the occult at about age 12, after encountering it from a Spiritualist uncle.


He went on to be educated at King's College School. In 1955 he married Rosemary Moss. From 1957 to 1959, he served in the Royal Air Force, and then went on to work in a London publishing company for four years, before he and his wife emigrated to the United States in 1962, where they lived on Long Island, New York.


In the US, Buckland soon read the books “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe” by Margaret Murray and “Witchcraft Today” by Gerald Gardner, which gave him an insight into the Witchcraft religion, or Wicca as it is now more commonly known. He and Gardner corresponded and the two became friends. They had several telephone conversations, which led to Buckland eventually becoming Gardnerian Witchcraft’s spokesman in America.


Both Buckland and his wife Rosemary travelled to Scotland, where, in Perth, they were initiated into the craft by the High Priestess Monique Wilson (known as the Lady Olwen). Gardner attended the ceremony, but did not perform it himself. Gardner died shortly after, having never met Buckland again.


 The Bucklands returned home to the United States following their meeting with Gardner, bringing the Gardnerian Book of Shadows with them. They moved to Timberline Drive in Brentwood. That same year they founded a coven in Bay Shore. This was the first group in the US following the Gardnerian Wicca lineage of direct initiation.


Many fully initiated Gardnerians in the US can trace their origins back to this coven, which was a center for Neopaganism in America for twenty years. The Bucklands tried to keep their identities secret at first, due to concern about unwanted and negative attention, however journalist Lisa Hoffman of the New York Sunday News published a news story on them without permission.


Buckland also appeared on the Alan Burke talk show, a popular TV show that commonly featured controversial and counter-culture guests that often represented the fringe of opinions on social, political and religious subjects, which is when his neighbors discovered that he practiced Wicca. Once 'outed', Buckland purchased and drove around in a hearse, where he was a familiar sight in the community. When Buckland and his wife separated in 1973, they both left the coven.


Over the next decade, Buckland continued to write and to teach Wicca to those that sought out him out. He interacted with the growing Pagan community, attending festivals, and speaking publicly to the media about Wicca. Rev. Selena Fox remembers appearing on the Sally Jessy Raphael television talk show with both Buckland and Scott Cunningham. She says, “It was a dynamic show and we worked well together talking about Witchcraft, Wicca, and contemporary Paganism.”


In 1968 Buckland formed the First Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in the United States, as influenced by Gardner's Museum of Witchcraft and Magick. It started off as a by-appointment-only policy museum in his own basement. After his collection of artifacts grew, he moved the museum to a 19th-century house in Bay Shore. The museum received some media attention, and a documentary was produced about it.


In 1973, following his separation from his wife, Buckland moved his museum to Weirs Beach in New Hampshire. In 1978, he moved to Virginia, disbanded the museum, and put all his artifacts in storage.


In 2008, the artifacts of the Museum were housed and entrusted to the care of The Covenant of the Pentacle Wiccan Church (CPWC), based in New Orleans, Louisiana, and led by Arch Priestess Rev. Velvet Rieth. After a period of neglect and mismanagement of the previous curator, Rev. Velvet, along with many members of her church, were able to begin the restoration process.


In 2015, the artifacts were turned over to the Temple of Sacrifice, a coven based in Columbus, Ohio, founded by Raymond Buckland and Kat Tigner. Toni Rotonda, APS of T.O.S., is the museum collections current owner. The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick is currently being displayed in Cleveland, Ohio. The Buckland Museum was established in 2017 in Cleveland and is a well-known tourist location for those curious about witchcraft and magic and interested in the occult.


Buckland formed his own Wiccan tradition, Seax-Wica, based upon symbolism taken from Anglo-Saxon paganism. He published everything about the movement in The Tree: Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. He then began a correspondence course to teach people about Seax-Wica, which grew to having around a thousand members.


The Buckland Museum


His health began failing in 2015, as he suffered first from pneumonia and then a heart attack. After recovering, he experienced more heart and lung problems in late September, 2017, which resulted in his death on September 27 2017.


For a wonderful look at Ray Bucklands life, this obituary in The Wild Hunt is hard to beat.


Thanks so much for reading this. Ray Buckland’s writing were a huge part of my path in the craft, filled with wisdom, wit and knowledge. I miss not being able to look forward to his next one. Have you read any of Buckland's books" What did you think of them" Let us know in the comments! Subscribe below to reveive our monthly newsletter with upcoming happenings and special articles on magic and such.


Blessed Be

Sterling Knight



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