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Biografie Raymond Buckland

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Raymond Buckland ( 1934 - ) 


Raymond Buckland, Englishman, prolific Author and Witch.  He is probably best known as an agent of Gerald B. Gardner.  It was Buckland who was responsible for introducing Gardnerian Witchcraft into America in 1964.  He 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.

Buckland was born in London, England, on the 31st August 1934.  His father came from a line of Gypsies, which means Buckland himself is a half-blooded Gypsy or in their terminology a 'poshrat'.  He was brought up in the Church of England but when he was 12 years old, an uncle introduced him into Spiritualism and the occult.  Over time this interest would evolve to include Witchcraft and Magic.

Educated at King’s Collage School in London, Buckland then studied at Brantridge Forest Collage in Sussex, earning a doctorate in anthropology.  In 1955 he met and married his first wife Rosemary before serving a short term in the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1957 to 1959.  In 1962 he and Rosemary immigrated to the United States.  They settled in Brentwood, Long Island, where Buckland went to work for British Airways, then known as BOAC.

Buckland’s interest in Spiritualism and the occult had continued to this time, but he felt there was something missing.  Within a short period of time two books came into his possession that would greatly influence his life and beliefs, 'The Witch-Cult In Western Europe' by Margaret A. Murray and 'Witchcraft Today' by Gerald B. Gardner.  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.  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 Gardner came together for their first and only physical meeting.  They met at the home of Monique Wilson (Gardner’s - High Priestess) in Perth, Scotland.  The occasion was for Buckland’s initiation which was performed by Monique.  Rosemary was initiated separately sometime later.  Shortly after the meeting Gardner left to vacation the winter in the Lebanon.  While returning aboard ship on the 14th February 1964, Gardner suffered a heart attack.  He was buried on shore the following day in Tunis.

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 and this focused attention on him as a leading authority and spokesman of the craft.

In imitation of Gardner’s Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in the Isle of Man and perhaps inspired by it, Buckland began to collect artefacts and pieces for his own museum.  He called it the First Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in the United States.  His collection started in a bookcase, and then as it grew it took over the basement of their house and eventually had to be housed in a separate building.

Buckland started to write about witchcraft in 1968, and in 1969 he published his first book 'A Pocket Guide to the Supernatural'.  He followed it in 1970 with 'Witchcraft Ancient and Modern' and 'Practical Candleburning Rituals'.  That same year he wrote his first novel 'Mu Revealed' under the pseudonym of 'Tony Earll', an anagram for 'not really'.  Writing became a passion for Buckland and he wanted more time to devote to it.  By 1973 his collection of artefacts had grown large enough for him to occupy a rented building.  He quit his job with BOAC and opened the museum proper, running it himself while at the same time writing full-time.

That same year his marriage to Rosemary broke up and they handed the leadership of their coven over to 'Theos and Phoenix', who became the local Gardnerian High Priest and Priestess of Long Island.  Buckland moved to New Hampshire where he reopened his museum and later married 'Joan Helen Taylor'.  At about the same time he decided to leave the Gardnerian tradition feeling it no longer met his religious needs.  He was also fed-up with the egotism and power trips exhibited by others within the craft.  He developed and founded a new tradition called Seax-Wica.  He based it on a Saxon heritage and made it more open and democratic.

In the early eighties he and Joan moved on to Virginia and established the Seax-Wica Seminary.  This was a correspondence school that grew to have more than 1,000 students worldwide.  They had plans to build a campus for it, but these fell through due to lack of funds.  After nearly 10 years of marriage together working and building the school, their marriage deteriorated and finally broke down leading to divorce.

Buckland next met and married 'Tara Cochan' of Cleveland.  Together they moved to Charlottesville in Virginia, where they re-established the seminary school and set up a publishing company called 'Taray Publications'.  In December 1984 they moved again this time to San Diego, where they phased out the seminary correspondence course.  By this time the Seax-Wica tradition was well established worldwide.

In 1992 after more than a quarter of a century working in and leading the craft in America, Buckland decided to retire from active participation.  He moved his family to a small farmstead in north central Ohio.  There except for occasional public appearances, he’s content to practice as a solitary. As well as Seax-Wica, Buckland also practices Pecti-Wita, a Scottish tradition inspired by an 'Aidan Breac' and which Buckland helped to develop (see the 'Note' below).

Buckland was a much sought after authority on the occult, magic and the supernatural.  He was a prolific and diverse writer covering such subjects as mystery and fantasy fiction, screenplays, divination systems, spiritualism and metaphysical nonfictions.  He has averaged more than one book a year over the last thirty years.  He has also written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, television scripts for the ITV’s 'The Army Game', a pilot script 'Sly Digs', for the BBC and for a short time was the personal scriptwriter for the English comedian 'Ted Lane'.  He served as technical adviser for the Orson Welles movie 'Necromancy', and worked with 'The Exorcist' director William Friedkin on a stage production of 'Macbeth'.

As well as writing Buckland his appeared in public promoting the craft all across America, he has been seen on BBC-TV in England, the RAI-TV in Italy and the CBC-TV in Canada.  He has also appeared extensively on stage in England as an actor and played small role character parts in moves in America.  Buckland was also a distinguished teacher on craft subjects and has taught courses at New York State University, Hofstra University, New Hampshire Technical Collage, as well as work for Hampton Virginia City Council.

Without doubt Ray Buckland can be considered amongst the top of America’s leading Witches and his contribution to the revival of Witchcraft in America is perhaps without equal.


While researching the above piece and after much debate about Pecti Witta on several British e-mail lists, I have found that the vast majority of Scottish Witches I have spoken to, rubbish and reject all claims made by Raymond Buckland about Pecti Witta, as a made up figment of his imagination similar to his Seax-Wica.  They point out that nobody to-date has been able to confirm the existence of an 'Aidan Breac', and that no records about him, not even a birth certificate, has ever been found or materialized?


Written and compiled by George Knowles


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