Buckland, Raymond (1934– )

PaganGreen Pagan Witches

Buckland, Raymond (1934– ) English Witch called
“the Father of American Witchcraft,” who introduced
Witchcraft to America. After moving to the United States
in 1962, Raymond Buckland became a leading authority
on witchcraft and Wicca and enjoys a career as a prolific
author, public speaker, media consultant and media personality.
He has written more than 50 books translated
into 17 languages.
Buckland was born in London on August 31, 1934, to
Stanley Thomas Buckland and Eileen Lizzie Wells. His
father was a Romani (Gypsy) who worked in the British
Ministry of Health as Higher Executive Officer. A poshrat,
or half Gypsy, Buckland was raised in the Church of England.
Around age 12, a Spiritualist uncle interested him
in Spiritualism and the occult, and the interest expanded
over time to include witchcraft, magic and the occult.
Buckland was educated at King’s College School in
London and served in the Royal Air Force from 1957 to
1959. He earned a doctorate in anthropology from Brantridge
Forest College in Sussex, England. He performed in
theaters, taught himself to play the trombone and led his
own Dixieland band.
He married his first wife, Rosemary Moss, in 1955.
The couple had two sons. They immigrated to the United
States in 1962 and settled in Brentwood, Long Island.
Buckland went to work for British Airways (then BOAC),
first in reservations service and then as a sales manual
His decision to embrace Witchcraft as his religion
was influenced by two books, The Witch-cult in Western
Europe, by Margaret Murray, and Witchcraft Today, by
Gerald B. Gardner. They helped him realize that Witchcraft
was the religion for which he had been searching.
Buckland wrote to Gardner, who was living on the Isle
of Man, and struck up a mail and telephone relationship.
He became Gardner’s spokesperson in the United States;
whenever Gardner received a query from an American, he
forwarded the letter to Buckland.
Buckland went to England in 1963, where he met
Gardner. Buckland was initiated into the Craft by one of
Gardner’s high priestesses, Monique Wilson, or Lady Olwen.
The initiation took place in Perth, Scotland, where
Wilson lived. Rosemary was initiated at a later time. It
was the first and last time Buckland would ever see Gardner,
who died in February 1964.
Interest in witchcraft caught on quickly in America,
but the Bucklands built their own coven slowly and cautiously.
They were later criticized for their caution; people
who did not want to wait to be witches by traditional initiation
simply started their own covens. Initially, Buckland
kept his real name and address out of the media. The
information eventually was published in the New York
Sunday News, which focused more attention on him as a
spokesperson for the Craft.
Buckland was inspired by Gardner’s Museum of
Witchcraft and Magic on the Isle of Man and began collecting
pieces for his own museum, the first Museum of
Witchcraft and Magic in the United States. The collection
Buckland, Raymond 39
Raymond Buckland (Courtesy Raymond Buckland)
began in a bookcase, spilled out into the Bucklands’ basement
and eventually needed a separate building.
In 1969, Buckland published his first book, A Pocket
Guide to the Supernatural, followed in 1970 by Witchcraft
Ancient and Modern and Practical Candleburning Rituals.
Also in 1970, he published a novel Mu Revealed, written under
the pseudonym Tony Earll, an anagram for not really.
The novel was written tongue in cheek, inspired by the successful
books on the lost continent of Mu by James Churchward.
Witchcraft from the Inside was published in 1971.
The year 1973 was transitional. The museum collection
was big enough to fill a rented building, and Buckland
quit his job to run it full time. However, the Bucklands’
marriage broke up, and they turned the leadership
of their coven over to Theos and Phoenix of Long Island.
Buckland moved to Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, where
in 1974 he married Joan Helen Taylor and reopened the
At about the same time, Buckland left the Gardnerian
tradition and founded Seax-Wica, a new open and democratic
tradition based on Saxon heritage. He had two primary
reasons for making this move: Gardnerian witchcraft
no longer met his religious needs, and he had been
dismayed at some of the ego and power trips exhibited
within the Craft. His book The Tree: The Complete Book of
Saxon Witchcraft was published in 1974.
Four years later, the couple moved to Virginia Beach,
Virginia, where Buckland became educational director of
the Poseidia Institute. He and Joan established the SeaxWica
Seminary, a correspondence school that grew to
have more than 1,000 students worldwide. Plans to establish
a campus, however, did not materialize.
After nearly 10 years of marriage, Buckland and Joan
divorced in 1982. In 1983, he married Tara Cochran of
Cleveland. They moved to Charlottesville, Virginia,
where they operated the seminary school and Taray Publications.
In December 1984, they moved to San Diego,
and the seminary correspondence course was phased out.
Seax-Wica covens remain established around the world.
In San Diego, Buckland withdrew from having a
high profile in witchcraft, practicing with his wife with
a small coven and as solitaries. In 1986, his 11th book
on witchcraft was published, Buckland’s Complete Book of
Witchcraft, which comprised everything Buckland felt he
had to say on the subject. Some witches criticized him
for revealing too much. While the book does not reveal
Gardnerian secrets, it does reflect his view that the Craft
should be more open.
In the late 1980s, Buckland turned to new creative
avenues, writing books on other topics, plus screenplays
and novels in comedy, mystery and Tolkien-style fantasy
genres. In addition, he wrote numerous magazine
and newspaper articles on witchcraft and appeared on
talk shows and lectured at universities. He also served
as technical adviser for Orson Welles’ movie Necromancy
and for a stage production of Macbeth, working with
William Friedkin, the director of The Exorcist. Buckland
acted in small parts in several films, including the role of
the crazy psychiatrist in Mutants in Paradise.
In 1992, Buckland and his family moved to a small
farm in north-central Ohio. He retired from active involvement
in the Craft, save for occasional public appearances.
He continues his solitary practice in Seax-Wica and
PectiWita, a Scottish tradition inspired by Aidan Breac
and developed by Buckland.
In 1999, Buckland sold his Museum of Witchcraft
and Magic, a collection of about 500 pieces, to Monte
Plaisance and Tolia-Ann, a Gardnerian high priest and
high priestess couple in Houma, New Orleans. The metaphysical
store “Crossroads” housed the museum and also
serves as the location of the Church of Thessaly.
Buckland continues to make public appearances, lecturing,
teaching workshops and working as a medium at
Lily Dale Assembly Spiritualist camp in New York.
His other nonfiction books are Witchcraft . . . the Religion
(1966); Amazing Secrets of the Psychic World (1975);
Here Is the Occult (1974); Anatomy of the Occult (1977); The
Magic of Chant-O-Matics (1978); Practical Color Magick
(1983); Secrets of Gypsy Fortunetelling (1988); Secrets of
Gypsy Love Magic (1990); Secrets of Gypsy Dream Reading
(1990); Scottish Witchcraft (1991); Witchcraft Yesterday
and Today, a video (1990); The Book of African Divination
(1992); Doors to Other Worlds (1993); Ray Buckland’s
Magic Cauldron (1995); Truth About Spirit Communication
(1995); Advanced Candle Magic (1996); Buckland Gypsies
Domino Divination Cards (1995); Gypsy Fortune Telling
Tarot Kit (1998); Gypsy Witchcraft and Magic (1998);
Gypsy Dream Dictionary (1999); Coin Divination (2000);
Buckland Romani Tarot Deck and Book (2001); Wicca for
Life (2001); The Witch Book (2001); The Fortune-Telling
Book (2003); Signs, Symbols and Omens (2003); Cards of
Alchemy (2003); Wicca for One (2004); Buckland’s Book
of Spirit Communications (2004); The Spirit Book (2006);
Buckland Spirit Board and Ouija—Yes! Yes! (2006); Mediumship
and Spirit Communication (2005); Face to Face
With God? (2006); “Death, Where Is Thy Sting?” (2006);
and Dragons, Shamans and Spiritualists (2007). Other novels
are The Committice (1993); Cardinal’s Sin (1996); and
The Torque of Kernow (2008).