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Conclusions (WMB)

What follows in this and subsequent blogs are the "possible" conclusions David Rankine and myself reached when we wrote Wicca Magickal Beginnings. Naturally, as I am sharing this nearly 15 years after we wrote the book, my own conclusions might be different today - as I am sure David's would be. A lot more snippets have been uncovered since with the publication in recent years of so many more books and source texts shining light on the magical history of the decades, but also centuries leading up to Gerald Gardner and friends revealing to the world their tradition of Wicca.

I still agree with much of what we wrote - but today, if asked, I would state more clearly and confidently that I believe that Gerald Gardner was a "catalyst," rather than an "inventor" of the tradition now known as Gardnerian Wicca and its dozens (if not hundreds) of derivative traditions. I have no reason to doubt Gardner's story and version of account, but do believe that he - perhaps through excitement and lack of context for some of the things he encountered - sometimes misunderstood what he encountered. His enthusiasm might have blinded him at times, but at the same time it meant he was the ideal person to undertake a fools journey for the Gods of the Craft and perhaps many other Gods too! Through his enthusiasm and passion for what he encountered he was driven to share it with the world, both in private (in his covens) but also in public through the press and media attention he gathered around him. It seems to me wrong that we should imply he fabricated his New Forest Encounters, when the evidence we have today (see the works of Philip Heselton on Gerald Gardner's life and Vikki Bramshaw's book New Forest Folklore: Traditions & Charms for a flavour).

Of course the book itself would have been very different if it was written today too. When it was published Avalonia was a "hobby project" I had created while also doing other freelance work, so perhaps it wasn't as polished as it should have been, nor publicised as much as it should have been (my son was born just as we finished the manuscript!) . I restate what I said on social media when announcing I was going to share the entire book in this format - which is this: It is my hope that by sharing this word in this format, it will be discovered by a new generation looking for answers to the questions - and that they will find it useful and that they will improve on it into the future.

So without further ado, the first part of "Conclusions".

x Sorita d'Este, Glastonbury

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @



The other grimoire we need to consider is the Grimoire of Pope Honorius, which should not be confused with the Sworn Book of Honorius. Copies of this black magick grimoire, usually in French, can be found dating from 1670 to 1800. The magick circle, calling of spiritual creatures at the cardinal points, and double-edged black-handled knife are all components it has in common with the subsequent Wiccan tradition.

The period of five hundred years or so which comprises the main corpus of the grimoire tradition from the thirteenth to eighteenth century also coincides with the witch trials and changes in attitude to magick from occasional tolerance to hostility to ridicule. The survival relatively unscathed of practitioners of grimoire magick may be due to their social position, as the surviving manuscripts have usually been passed through the hands of the educated social elite, such as royalty and aristocracy, clerics, doctors and lawyers. Nor can we ignore the scope of this tradition as a transmitter of magickal practice when we consider the high number of manuscripts that have survived. Research for another book has unearthed more than fifty different manuscripts of the Key of Solomon, for example. Allowing for the destruction of a high percentage of the manuscripts, this clearly shows that the grimoire tradition thrived for many centuries.

In the nineteenth century the tradition continued through the reproduction of the material in both books and by hand. This can be seen with the publication of Francis Barrett’s his classic work The Magus in 1801, which compiled large amounts of grimoire material with Qabalah and natural magick. Likewise in the early nineteenth century the occult book dealer John Denley, based in Covent Garden, London, employed Frederick Hockley to copy manuscripts for resale at a handsome profit. Hockley would later leave much of his material to the Freemason Kenneth Mackenzie, and some was also bought by Wynn Westcott, indicating the transmission of grimoire material into the Golden Dawn.[1]

That the two currents of the grimoires and witchcraft are interlinked has been demonstrated numerous times in this work, and the grimoires remain a useful source of information for Wiccans and other magickal practitioners.

[1] The Goetia of Dr Rudd, Skinner & Rankine, 2007

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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