A Question to Wiccans Apr 13, 2007 22:16:55 GMT -5
Post by Senbecc on Apr 13, 2007 22:16:55 GMT -5
New Forrest coven wasn't it? I think anyway.
HMMM. I would like to actually read some of that or be directed to this coven's information if possible.
OK, the New Forrest coven is the coven Gardner claimed to be initiated into. Now bare in mind that I don't buy much of what I'm about to post, but it does show that Gardner had associations with it. Now whether he was indeed a part of this coven or made it up, I will leave to the reader to decide.
The New Forest coven was a witchcraft coven that allegedly met in England's New Forest region. Gerald Gardner claimed to have been initiated into this group before writing Witchcraft Today, a book describing their beliefs and practices. This variety of witchcraft formed the basis of modern Wicca. Certain historians have suggested that this coven never existed, and was a fabrication of Gardner's, while others claim strong evidence in support of its existence. Gardner himself admitted that their rites were fragmentary and that he had added material from other sources to make a coherent system of rituals.
Wiccan Roots begins with a fairly detailed examination of Gerald Gardner's life up to his retirement to England in 1936, establishing Gardner as a gentleman of independent means with a complaisant wife, and an active interest in esoteric subjects. After setting the scene by discussing the geography of the New Forest area, including the village of Highcliffe where Gardner eventually settled, Heselton examines the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, which established the Garden Theatre in the village of Somerford, between Christchurch and Highcliffe. It was among the membership of the Crotona Fellowship, and the casts and crews of the various plays produced by the Fellowship in the Garden Theater that Gardner is supposed to have found "a small group of people apart from the rest." It is this smaller group which is supposed to have been made up of members of the New Forest Coven, and which eventually initiated him into "the Craft of the Wica." Heselton identifies several of these persons by name, and provides some details of their lives. Among these is the woman known as "Dafo," who became Gardner's initiator and first magical partner, and who later broke with him over the question of publicizing witchcraft.
So now for the big question. Did the New Forest Coven exist? There is evidence of the existence of 'Old Dorothy' - Dorothy Clutterbuck. She was in fact far from old compared to Gardner. There was in fact only six months between them in age (Doreen Valiente obtained the birth certificate of Ms D Clutterbuck). It should be remembered that adding 'old' to the beggining of a name in the south of England is a term of endearment. So what else do we know of Ms Clutterbuck? For starters she was friends with Annie Besant's (one of the founders of the Theosophy Movement) daughter. Was Dorothy in fact a Theosophist? Here are several possibilities listed:
There was no Magical Group at all, and Gerald just learn't a few bits of Theosophy from Dorothy Clutterbuck and other members of the Christchurch Rosicrucian Theatre.
There was a Magical Group in the New Forest, but it didn't call itself a coven, but Gerald had notions that it was. In this case, he was probably thrown out for calling it a coven in High Magicks Aid which upset the members who did not want to be associated with the 'W' word.
There was a group calling itself 'The New Forest Coven', but it had very little in the way of written ritual.
The whole thing is a conspiracy by Doreen Valiente and Janet and Stewart Farrar to sell more books! (Sorry, couldn't resist that, snigger!)
Anyway as I said I will leave it to the reader to decide if there really was a new Forest coven or not.