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Raymond Buckland's Biography (Books) (Photos)

Raymond Buckland
Known as "The Father of American Wicca," Raymond Buckland was responsible for introducing Wicca to the United States. Author and Wiccan high priest who, with his wife, Rosemary Buckland, introduced Gardnerian Witchcraft into the United States. Buckland was born August 31, 1934, in London, England, where he attended high school. He served in the Royal Air Force, 1957-59, and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology at King's College, Cambridge. Raymond Buckland is also the founder of his own tradition of Witchcraft called Seax-Wica, and for a time operated his own Museum of Witchcraft in America. He has been a leading spokesman for the Craft in America for more than three decades.

As a child Buckland was brought up in the Church of England, but had no particular interest in religion. When he was 12 years old his father's brother "uncle" George, a practising Spiritualist, introduced him to Spiritualism and sparked his life long interest in all things occult. By this time Buckland was already an avid reader, and started to read all he could find on alternative religions and such related subjects as: Ghosts, ESP, Magick, Voodoo and witchcraft. Raymond Buckland became familiar with the books of Margaret Murray and Gerald Gardner on Witchcraft. Buckland contacted Gardner and established a relationship with him and his priestess Monique Wilson (Lady Olwen). Shortly before Gardner's death in 1964, Buckland and his wife became Gardner's first American initiates, and they assumed the religious names Robat and Lady Rowan. After they moved to the United States in 1962, they began the first Gardnerian coven (an assembly or band of usually 13 witches. Whenever Americans contacted Gardner and his followers in England, they were referred to the Bucklands, thus establishing the Gardnerian movement in the United States. They also opened a Witchcraft Museum on Long Island modeled on the museum Gardner had established on the Isle of Man. Buckland also authored a set of books on Wicca, including Ancient and Modern Witchcraft (1970) and Witchcraft from the Inside (1975).

After his his family immigration to the States In February of 1962 two books came into his possession that would greatly influence his life and beliefs, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret A. Murray (1921), and Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner (1954).

Until reading these two books, Buckland had never looked upon Witchcraft as a religion, but now he realized he had found what he felt was missing, an old but new religion that appealed to his own beliefs and sense of history, "Wicca". For more information about Wicca, he contacted Gerald Gardner in the Isle of Man, and soon began a long-distance mail and telephone friendship with him. As their friendship matured Buckland became Gardner's spokesman in the United States, and whenever Gardner received a query from the U.S., it was forwarded to and answered by Buckland.

In 1963 Buckland and his wife Rosemary flew back to the UK to be initiated and raised in Perth, Scotland by Gardner's main High Priestess 'Monique Wilson'. Gardner joined them for the initiation ceremony, during which Buckland was given a craft name "Robat" and Rosemary named "Lady Rowen". This was the first and only physical meeting between Buckland and Gardner, for shortly after Gardner left the UK to vacation the winter months in the Lebanon. On the 12th February 1964 while returning on board The Scottish Prince, Gardner suffered a fatal heart attack and was buried on shore in Tunis the following day.

In America interest in Witchcraft was catching on quickly, but Buckland built his coven slowly and with caution. There were many that wanted to become Gardnerian Witches who felt that Buckland was being over cautious, those who didn't want to wait for initiation simply went away and started their own covens. Buckland persisted; he wanted only those with a genuine interest in the craft as a religion. Initially Buckland was secretive, and kept his name and address from the press, but eventually it was published by journalist Lisa Hoffman in the New York Sunday News, which focused attention on him as a leading authority and spokesman of the craft. On the other hand it also led to a deal of negative persecution on himself, his wife and two children.

In the early 1970s Buckland divorced and began to disagree with some of the elements of the Gardnerian tradition. In 1973 he turned the leadership of the Gardnerian movement over to another couple, Lady Theos and Phoenix, and created a new non-secret form of Witchcraft that he called Seax (or Saxon) Wicca. He presented this new Witchcraft in a 1974 book, The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. That same year he also married Joan Helen Taylor, who became his new high priest.

Buckland then developed a correspondence course in Seax Wicca, which he offered through the 1970s. He also moved to Southern California where his approach to the craft evolved. He continued to write on a wide variety of magical and Witchcraft themes and his latest books include Practical Color Magick(1983), Complete Book of Witchcraft (1986), and the Secrets of Gypsy Fortunetelling (1988), which is of a series of books on gypsy occult practices. As of the mid-1990s, Buckland has written more than 20 books. One, a spoof on the books of James Church-ward, was called Mu Revealed and appeared under the Pseudonym Tony Earll (an anagram for "not really"). Buckland also wrote novels under the pseudonym Jessica Wells.