Gerald Brousseau Gardner (June 13 1884 - February 12 1964) was an English civil servant, amateur anthropologist, writer, and occultist who published some of the definitive texts for Wicca, which he was instrumental in founding.
Gardner became a member of the Folklore Society in 1939. His first contribution to its journal 'Folklore', appeared in the June 1939 issue and describes a box of witchcraft relics. Later, in 1946, he became a member of the society's council. He seemed to be anxious to achieve academic acceptance, and for a period claimed to have doctoral degrees from the Universities of Singapore and Toulouse. Doreen Valiente has shown this not to be the case.
While cycling around Christchurch, Gardner discovered the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, where he took part in theatre productions. It was at this theatre that Gardner claims he first met members of the New Forest coven, who initiated him into a surviving tradition of English witchcraft. It has been suggested that Gardner may also have been introduced to Co-Freemasonry through this theatre; Mabel Besant Scott, the one-time head of the British Federation of Co-Freemasonry, was a prominent member of the theatre, and several of the members that have been proposed as members of the New Forest coven were also very active in Co-Freemasonry.
Gardner published two works of fiction, A Goddess Arrives (1939) and High Magic's Aid (1949) under the pen name of Scire. These were followed by two books, Witchcraft Today (1954) which was edited by Ross Nichols and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959), in which Gardner described the tradition of witchcraft he had been initiated into. He claimed that High Magic's Aid had been an attempt to portray the tradition under the guise of fiction, without revealing oath-bound material, but that following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act in 1951 he had received permission from others in the coven to discuss the tradition more openly in the two non-fiction books.
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