Witchcraft Today

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By Gerald B. Gardner

This is perhaps the book that started the modern pagan revival. Gerald Gardner claimed to be a member of a coven of witches surviving in England with an unbroken oral history that dated back to pre Christian times. Originally published in the early fifties he claimed that his coven worshiped a Horned God representing death and a Moon Goddess representing fertility and rebitrh. He described how the male priest presided as the Horned God at Halloween and February Eve Sabbats while the Priestess presided as the Moon Goddess at the May and August Eve Sabbats.

This rare and highly collectable book says that it contains many of the secrets of the ancient tradition it describes, however, do not expect to find details of witchcraft ceremonies and practices herein. At the time when Gardner wrote this book there was no real information published about witchraft and all the ceremonies were written in what Gardner described as Books of Shadows copied by hand when new covens were formed.

Today we know, through the work of more recent writers and academic historians such as Ronald Hutton, that this unbroken oral history is unlikely ever to have existed. Furthermore, many of the rituals carefully copied from one book of shadows to another were probably constructed by Gardner from whatever sources were available to him. On the other hand this book contains a great deal of folklore from the mid twentieth century perspective and the texts he left us with have a place in pagan history of their own.

This book is probably of most interest to collectors and academics. It is an interesting read, but even to a modern practicing Wiccan there are most likley more useful sources. Witchcraft Today has been out of print for many years, so second hand copies are likely to be the only source.


Gardner, Gerald; Witchcraft Today, Arrow Books Ltd., Hutchinson, Tiptree, England, (second edition) 1970, 192 pages including notes and bibliography.


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