English Witch, one
of the original high priestesses initiated by Gerald B.
Gardner. Eleanor “Ray” Bone followed Gardner’s footsteps
in the media attention and was sometimes called
the Matriarch of British Witchcraft.
Bone was born in London; her mother was a school
headmistress. As a child, she saw the ghost of a pet, which
stimulated her interest in reincarnation, folklore, magic
and the occult.
During World War II, Bone served in the military
and was sent to Cumbria, where she met a couple who
revealed themselves to be hereditary witches. They initiated
her into their tradition in 1941, and she practiced
with them for four years before returning to London.
After the war, Bone married a man named Bill and took
a job running a home for the elderly. She was introduced
to Gardner and was initiated into his coven. She became
acquainted with Doreen Valiente, Patricia Crowther
and others and became a close friend of Dafo.
Bone established a flourishing coven in South London
and was an active public proponent of the Craft.
She made numerous public appearances and posed skyclad
(nude) for the media. She went to the United States
on a media tour. On one television show, where she appeared
with a testy Sybil Leek, she was asked to turn
Leek into a toad. She retorted, “Why should I improve
In 1966, Bone and Crowther joined forces to publicly
denounce Alex Sanders as an imposter. They and others
were incensed that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in
Hollywood had hired Sanders to consult on a film about
In 1968 Bone went to Tunis to visit the grave of Gardner.
She learned that the government planned to turn the
cemetery into a park. Bone took up a collection among
Witches and had the remains of Gardner moved to Carthage,
Over time, Bone preferred to practice the folk magic–
oriented tradition she learned from the Cumbrian couple
rather than the Gardnerian tradition. She had many pupils,
among them Vivianne Crowley and her husband,
In 1972, Bone retired to Alston, a village in Cumbria.
In 2001, the Pagan Federation (PF) invited Bone to
be an honorary member, but she declined, saying that she
did not recognize several of the traditions with the PF,
believing them to be spurious.
Her final public appearance was in the summer of
2001, when she gave an address over the telephone to the
Occulture Festival, speaking about the Craft revival and
divulging personal information about the New Forest co32
ven that had initiated Gardner. In August 2001, in failing
health, she announced that she would soon be “called
back to the Old Gods,” and she got her affairs in order.
She died on September 21, 2001.
English Witch, one