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FIFTY YEARS OF WICCA

By Frederic Lamond, published by Green Magic at £9.99. 140pp. ISBN: 0-9547230-1-5

This is a book which, in a sense, the pagan, or at least wiccan, community has been awaiting for some years and it is, too, something of a coup for the small and relatively young Green Magic.

After many years, even decades, of relative obscurity, Lamond has emerged recently as a speaker at a number of conferences on matters wiccan and, specifically, on his involvement with Gerald Gardner. He is also probably the last of those who knew Gardner and was a member of his coven to pen to paper about that involvement and about Gardner himself.

In a field in which the temptation seems to be to spin one's involvement and importance, Lamond is disarmingly and reassuringly honest. He freely admits that he met Gerald and was initiated just before the famous split which led to Doreen Valiente and most of the coven leaving Gardner, and admits too, to having doubts about Gardner's honesty and bona fides; of discovering Gardner's lies about the background of Dayonis, the replacement high priestess, Lamond writes: ... I wondered a mere eight weeks after my initiation whether the old fraud had invented witchcraft altogether. However in staying with Gardner rather than joining Doreen, Lamond is able to provide a view on the history of Gerald's coven after the split, including the attempts by Charles Cardell to discredit Gardner and stage a takeover of wicca and the processes which led coven-member Jack Bracelin taking ownership of the Bricketts Wood Naturist Club and to Eleanor Bone and the Crowthers inheriting the mantle of Gardner's work, as well providing a different view of the workings of the coven itself.

It is not all Gerald even so, for Lamond also writes, amongst many other topics, about his meeting with the then-emerging Alex and Maxine Sanders and his impressions of them and their subsequent influence on wicca's development, about the spread of wicca to the US and the impact of that on the religion's development and about his own ongoing magical education and development after Gardner's death. He explores, too, the impact of the new field of women's studies on approaches to religions ancient and modern, the founding and early years of the Pagan Federation, issues of training and initiation and all sorts of byways which catch his attention.

Overall this is an easy, essentially anecdotal, and chatty read, packed with information, and one of the most useful of Green Magic's offerings to date.