Thursday 27 August 2020

Wiccan History: In Search of the New Forest Coven

Whether Gerald Gardner was really initiated into a coven of witches, or whether Wicca started with him, is one of those big questions in modern paganism. For years, Wiccan historian Philip Heselton has been researching the backgrounds of the group of people that Gerald claimed had taught him all about witchcraft.

I went to a talk on the subject given by Philip at Witchfest 2019, and I've long been awaiting his book on the subject. In Search of the New Forest Coven has now been published by Fenix Flames, and my pre-ordered copy has arrived in the post. As a taster, here is the description from the publisher's website:
In 1954 a book was published which claimed that witches were not just some historical oddity but that the author, retired civil servant, Gerald Gardner, had been initiated into a witch coven in the New Forest, Hampshire, England in 1939.
Many dismissed his claims, but Philip Heselton, who has been investigating the story for over 20 years, is convinced that what Gardner wrote about the witch coven was essentially true.
He has found that the New Forest coven was started by a group of esoteric intellectuals in the early part of the 20th century who believed in reincarnation and that they had been witches in a previous lifetime.
Philip Heselton has uncovered the likely membership of the coven and has brought them to life as never before.
I am very much looking forward to reading In Search of the New Forest Coven. You can order copies from Fenix Flames at £14.99 for a paperback and £21.99 in hardback. You can also view on Amazon the Kindle version of In Search of the New Forest Coven. Philip's earlier books include Doreen Valiente - Witch and Witchfather - A Life of Gerald Gardner.

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