Jack Bracelin's Biography (Photos)
Jack L. Bracelin was an influential figure in the early history of the neopagan religion of Wicca, being a High Priest of Gardnerian Wicca who had been initiated into the craft by Doreen Valiente in 1956 and had been a member of the Bricket Wood coven.
Jack Bracelin ended up running the Five Acres Sun Club for Gardner. This was also where 'The Witches Cottage' was placed; a small hut that became the location for meetings of the Bricket Wood Coven. Jack is also attributed with being the writer of Gardner's biographer Gerald Gardner: Witch, though it was actually written by Idries Shah and was first published under Shah's own publishing label, Octagon Press.
Prior to being initiated into the craft, Bracelin had worked for the British police in Palestine and had later worked for a paint company.
In 1956, Bracelin was initiated into Wicca through the Bricket Wood coven by the High Priestess Doreen Valiente.
In 1959 Bracelin met the Sufi writer and practitioner Idries Shah at a table in the Cosmo Restaurant in Swiss Cottage, North London. Shah was interested in Wicca, and Bracelin introduced him to Gardner. Shah wrote Gardner's official biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch, which was published by his own company, Octagon Press, in 1960. However, he used Bracelin's name as a pseudonym because he did not want to cause confusion amongst his Sufi students and friends as to his interest in a different religion.
Bracelin was one of the beneficiaries of Gardner's estate at his death, along with Monique Wilson and Patricia Crowther. Bracelin himself inherited enough of the naturist club that he could take it over.
Bracelin later resigned from being the Bricket Wood coven's High Priest, and soon left the coven itself, because, according to coven member Frederic Lamond, "he asked himself whether the Book of Shadows' simplified ceremonial magic rituals expressed his own religious feelings, and concluded they did not". In 1966 he married a young woman in a ceremony held in a Roman Catholic church, which many members of the Wica felt showed that he had turned his back on the craft.
However, Bracelin continued to allow the coven to meet at the Witches' cottage, on the condition that they paid rent on the plot of land upon which it was situated. In 1975, Bracelin tried to get them to pay for the nudist club's electrictiy as well, which the coven members were unwilling to do, and so they sold their plot to another nudist.
Bracelin was a supporter of the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, believing that it embodied the "life-affirming Goddess values" in its "true expression". Partially for this reason, he opened a disco in the West End of London, but it was a financial failure.
In June 1976, Bracelin, who was in financial failure, was forced to sell the nudist club, though the new owners agreed to pay Bracelin a small pension. Bracelin retired to live in Greece, and it was here that he died in 1983 of a heart attack.
Bracelin is survived by his son Leon Bracelin (1973) and Grandson Jacque Leon Talbot (1991)
Jack Bracelin Bibliography:
Lamond, Frederic R. (2004). Fifty Years of Wicca. Sutton Mallet, UK: Green Magic. ISBN 978-0-9547230-1-9.