Today is February 12, 2014. That means that it is exactly 50 years today since Gerald Gardner died aboard The Scottish Prince. He was buried in Tunisia the following day. Some years later, Eleanor Bone traveled there to visit his grave and subsequently discovered that the cemetery in which he had been interred would shortly be redeveloped into a park.* Eleanor clearly realized that the loss of Gardner’s resting place would be a great tragedy, so she solicited funds from witches across Britain and had Gardner’s remains moved to their current resting place. A plaque honoring him as “Author. Archaeologist. Artist. Father of Modern Wica, Beloved of the Great Goddess” was subsequently added in 2007 by Patricia Crowther and Larry Jones. I thank them both for their care.
I wonder what Gardner would have thought about the state of modern witchcraft?
I hope he would be delighted. I know that lots of Gardnerians today seem to look down upon non-initiatory traditions which, frankly, are the majority of contemporary witches currently practicing…but I think Gardner would love it. And he’d probably be flabbergasted by the Craft’s growth and increasing acceptance by dominant culture. Since April of 2007, the U.S. Government through the Veteran’s Administration is even permitting pentacles on graves of fallen soldiers and veterans. Who would have even thought that possible in 1964? Who could have foreseen Wiccans lecturing high school students? Who could have thought we’d be able to support a seminary and have an academic discipline dedicated to us? From the shadows to the mainstream in just over half a century…it is utterly mindboggling.
I think Gardner would delight, too, in the diversity of the Craft and how practitioners are empowered to create their own rituals. The way I see it, Gardner used his own creativity to pull together practices and liturgy that worked in conjunction with the Craft–who wouldn’t love seeing how that blueprint was continually edited through the years? Who wouldn’t love to see all the beauty that followed?
Here’s to another 50 years of productive practice, Gerald. Thanks.
*In the United States, if bodies are found in a place where development needs to happen, the bodies must be respectfully removed and reburied. In Tunisia, this is apparently not the case. Grave markers are instead bulldozed and it is uncertain what happens to the remains beneath. Currently the Jewish cemetery dating from the late 1800s in the center of the city is threatened with a similar fate. Maybe someday we’ll have to move Gardner back to Britain.