For the first time in our podcast, I have unfortunately to do an obituary here in the news section. Many of you have probably heard of the passing of one of the great figures of the Pagan and Wicca movement, Raymond Buckland. This is an important loss for the whole esoteric and occult community and I think we owe Raymond a few minutes of remembrance and also gratitude here. He was born in England on August 31, 1934. His father’s brother introduced him to spiritualism when he was only 12 years old and that way created a lifelong interest in all things occult. In 1955 he met his first wife Rosemary and after obtaining a doctorate in anthropology, the couple decided to emigrate to the United States and settled in Long Island, New York. Working for British Airways, then known as BOAC, he did extensive traveling. Shortly after his arrival in the US, he came across two books which were going to influence him greatly: Margaret A. Murray’s “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe” and Gerald Gardner’s “Witchcraft Today”:
Now Buckland had found what he felt was missing for himself, and he also started a long-distance friendship with Gerald Gardner. IN 1963 he and his wife were initiated in Perth, Scotland by Gardner’s Main High Priestess, Monique Wilson. Gardner also attended the ceremony, during which Buckland was given his craft name “Robat”.
Soon after this Gardner died but Buckland had become Gardner’s spokesman in the United States, and as the interest in Witchcraft was increasing quickly, so he established his own coven in Long Island, and also opened a Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. He was so successful that he quit the airline and could devote his whole time to teaching, writing and the coven.
In 1974, he remarried after a divorce and moved to New Hampshire and then Virginia, where he established Seax-Wicca, based on Anglo-Saxon paganism.
Buckland, who can be seen as one of the creators of modern witchcraft and paganism, at least in the US, was also a prolific writer, especially with Weiser Books and Llewellyn. In his book “The Tree” he laid out all about his own Seax-Wicca and its background, but his writings comprise a vast range of subjects from Witchcraft and the occult in general.
Raymond Buckland had had a failing health since 2015. In late September, he started to have heart and lung problems, and he died in Ohio on 27 September.