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Dr Leo Martello's Biography (Books) (Photos)

Dr Leo Martello
Dr Leo Martello (1931-2000) is contemporary Wiccan priest. Martello was born on September 26, 1931, in Dudley, Massachusetts. He attended Assumption College and Hunter College and went on to become a Spiritualist minister. In the early 1960s he founded the Temple of Spiritual Guidance and the Spiritual Independents Movement. Through the 1960s he concentrated on his skills as a psychic reader and wrote a series of short booklets: Your Pen Personality (1961), Its in the Cards (1964), and How to Prevent Psychic Blackmail (1966).

By the end of the 1960s, however, he had begun to identify with the slowly emerging neopagan witchcraft movement. In 1970 he founded the Witches Liberation Movement and the Witches Anti-Defamation League as instruments to demand religious rights and reparation payments for the Wiccan community. That same year he organized a Halloween "witch-in" in New York City's Central Park.

Martello was quickly recognized as a leader in the Wiccan community and soon turned out a string of books that were widely read in the community, which had at the time produced only a few texts of its own. His 1973 book Witchcraft: The Old Religions was standard reading for young Wiccans through the rest of the decade and was frequently cited as an authoritative presentation of the beliefs and practices of modern witches. He also began to publish a periodical that flourished through the early 1970s, the WICA Newsletter, and the Witchcraft Digest.

Martello identifies himself as a traditionalist Wiccan with Sicilian roots. His coven operates under the name Witches International Craft Associates. He also founded and heads Hero Press, a small publishing operation. Martello died in June 2000.

Leo Martello (1931-2000) also is an author, lecturer, gay civil rights activist, and an early voice in the American Neopagan movement. He drew heavily on his Sicilian heritage, teaching the Strega Tradition which was named after the Italian word for Witch.

As a founder of the Witches Anti-Defamation League (later the Alternative Religions Education Network) he was known for his lively and sometimes confrontational style. For example, in his books he tried to popularize the "Witches' Curse" which was "I wish you on yourself". He was profiled in Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon.