Hunting Coven of the Old Craft


Article 1…. A Craft History

Article 2 …Sybil Leek (1923-1983)

Article 3… An Interview with Doreen Valiente (video)

Article 4… Pat Crowther and her Coven chant

Article 5… Robert Cochrane (1931-1966)

Article 6…Israel Regardie (1907 – 1985)

Article 7… Eliphas Levi (1810-1875).


Exodus 22:18Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (KJV)

Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (KJV)


The Bull of Pope Innocent VIII

Innocent, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God, for an eternal remembrance.

DESIRING with the most heartfelt anxiety, even as Our Apostleship requires, that the Catholic faith should especially in this Our day increase and flourish everywhere, and that all heretical depravity should be driven far from the frontiers and borders of the Faithful, We very gladly proclaim and even restate those particular means and methods whereby Our pious desire may obtain its wished effect, since when all errors are uprooted by Our diligent avocation as by the hoe of a provident husbandman, a zeal for, and the regular observance of, Our holy Faith will be all the more strongly impressed upon the hearts of the faithful.
It has indeed lately come to Our ears, not without afflicting Us with bitter sorrow, that in some parts of Northern Germany, as well as in the provinces, townships, territories, districts, and dioceses of Mainz, Cologne, Tréves, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation and straying from the Catholic Faith, have abandoned themselves to devils, incubi and succubi, and by their incantations, spells, conjurations, and other accursed charms and crafts, enormities and horrid offences, have slain infants yet in the mother’s womb, as also the offspring of cattle, have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine, the fruits of the trees, nay, men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, vineyards, orchards, meadows, pasture-land, corn, wheat, and all other cereals; these wretches furthermore afflict and torment men and women, beasts of burthen, herd-beasts, as well as animals of other kinds, with terrible and piteous pains and sore diseases, both internal and external; they hinder men from performing the sexual act and women from conceiving, whence husbands cannot know their wives nor wives receive their husbands; over and above this, they blasphemously renounce that Faith which is theirs by the Sacrament of Baptism, and at the instigation of the Enemy of Mankind they do not shrink from committing and perpetrating the foulest abominations and filthiest excesses to the deadly peril of their own souls, whereby they outrage the Divine Majesty and are a cause of scandal and danger to very many. And although Our dear sons Henry Kramer and James Sprenger, Professors of Theology, of the Order of Friars Preachers, have been by Letters Apostolic delegated as Inquisitors of these heretical practices, and still are Inquisitors, the first in the aforesaid parts of Northern Germany, wherein are included those aforesaid townships, districts, dioceses, and other specified localities, and the second in certain territories which lie along the borders of the Rhine, nevertheless not a few clerics and lay folk of those countries, seeking too curiously to know more than concerns them, since in the aforesaid delegatory letters there is no express and specific mention by name of these provinces, townships, dioceses, and districts, and further since the two delegates themselves and the abominations they are to encounter are not designated in detailed and particular fashion, these persons are not ashamed to contend with the most unblushing effrontery that these enormities are not practised in these provinces, and consequently the aforesaid Inquisitors have no legal right to exercise their powers of inquisition in the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and territories, which have been rehearsed, and that the Inquisitors may not proceed to punish, imprison, and penalize criminals convicted of the heinous offences and many wickednesses which have been set forth. Accordingly in the aforesaid provinces, townships, dioceses, and districts, the abominations and enormities in question remain unpunished not without open danger to the souls of many and peril of eternal damnation.
Wherefore We, as is Our duty, being wholly desirous of removing all hindrances and obstacles by which the good work of the Inquisitors may be let and tarded, as also of applying potent remedies to prevent the disease of heresy and other turpitudes diffusing their poison to the destruction of many innocent souls, since Our zeal for the Faith especially incites us, lest that the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and territories of Germany, which We had specified, be deprived of the benefits of the Holy Office thereto assigned, by the tenor of these presents in virtue of Our Apostolic authority We decree and enjoin that the aforesaid Inquisitors be empowered to proceed to the just correction, imprisonment, and punishment of any persons, without let or hindrance, in every way as if the provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, territories, yea, even the persons and their crimes in this kind were named and particularly designated in Our letters. Moreover, for greater surety We extend these letters deputing this authority to cover all the aforesaid provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, territories, persons, and crimes newly rehearsed, and We grant permission to the aforesaid Inquisitors, to one separately or to both, as also to Our dear son John Gremper, priest of the diocese of Constance, Master of Arts, their notary, or to any other public notary, who shall be by them, or by one of them, temporarily delegated to those provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, and aforesaid territories, to proceed, according to the regulations of the Inquisition, against any persons of whatsoever rank and high estate, correcting, mulcting, imprisoning, punishing, as their crimes merit, those whom they have found guilty, the penalty being adapted to the offence. Moreover, they shall enjoy a full and perfect faculty of expounding and preaching the word of God to the faithful, so often as opportunity may offer and it may seem good to them, in each and every parish church of the said provinces, and they shall freely and lawfully perform any rites or execute any business which may appear advisable in the aforesaid cases. By Our supreme authority We grant them anew full and complete faculties.
At the same time by Letters Apostolic We require Our venerable Brother, the Bishop of Strasburg (Albrecht von Bayern, 1478-1506 – ed.), that he himself shall announce, or by some other or others cause to be announced, the burthen if Our Bull, which he shall solemnly publish when and so often as he deems it necessary, or when he shall be requested so to do by the Inquisitors or by one of them. Nor shall he suffer them in disobedience to the tenor of these presents to be molested or hindered by any authority whatsoever, but he shall threaten all who endeavour to hinder or harass the Inquisitors, all who oppose them, all rebels, of whatsoever rank, estate, position, pre-eminence, dignity, or any condition they may be, or whatsoever privilege or exemption they may claim, with excommunication, suspension, interdict, and yet more terrible penalties, censures, and punishment, as may seem good to him, and that without any right of appeal, and if he will he may by Our authority aggravate and renew these penalties as often as he list, calling in, if so please him, the help of the secular arm.
Non obstantibus … Let no man therefore … But if any dare to do so, which God forbid, let him know that upon him will fall the wrath of Almighty God, and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given atRome, at S. Peter’s, on the 9 December of the Year of the Incarnation of Our Lord one thousand four hundred and eighty-four, in the first year of Our Pontificate.

The translation of this Bull is reprinted by permission from “The Geography of Witchcraft,” by Montague Summers, pp. 533-6 (Kegan Paul).

Malleus Maleficarum written 1486


Sybil Leek (1923-1983)

Written and compiled by George Knowles.

Sybil Leek was an English Witch, a gifted Psychic, Astrologer and prolific Author who wrote more than 60 books on such subjects as Astrology, Numerology and Reincarnation. She was born with a witch’s mark and claimed to be a hereditary witch of Irish and Russian Descent. A colorful character in her time, her trademarks were a cape, loose gowns and a pet jackdaw named Mr. Hotfoot Jackson perched on her shoulders. She always wore a crystal necklace that she claimed had been passed down to her from a psychic Russian grandmother. Her entire family was involved in astrology and some of the guests who visited her home included: H.G. Wells, Lawrence of Arabia and Aleister Crowley.

Sybil claimed to be able to trace her mother’s ancestry back to the witches of southern Ireland in 1134, and her father’s ancestry to occultists close to royalty in czarist Russia. Her most notable ancestor was Molly Leigh from Burslem near Stoke-on-Trent, and her choice of a pet Jackdaw as a familiar, bears an uncanny relationship:

Molly Leigh

As the story goes, Molly was born in 1685 and lived in a cottage on the edge of the moors at Burslem near Stoke-on-Trent. Molly was a solitary character who never married; she talked to the animals and kept a pet Blackbird. She made her living selling milk from a herd of cows to travellers and passers-by. An eccentric person, the Blackbird was often seen perched on her shoulder as she delivered milk to the dairy in Burslem.

Molly was known for her quick temper and the people of Burslem were suspicious and frightened of her. This was not uncommon in those times, for throughout the country ‘women’ and particularly elderly women who lived on their own in remote places, were labelled as witches.

In Molly’s case it was the local vicar the Rev. Spencer who made witchcraft accusations against her. He claimed that Molly sent her Blackbird to sit on the sign of the Turk’s Head pub, a pub that the vicar frequently visited, and when it did the beer turned sour. She was also blamed for other ailments suffered by numerous townsfolk.

Molly died in 1746 and was buried in the Burslem churchyard, but then many claimed that her ghost haunted the town. A short time after her burial, the Rev. Spencer along with clerics from Stoke, Wolstanton and Newcastle went to open her cottage and retrieve her pet Blackbird. When they arrived they were shocked to see Molly (or an apparition of her), sitting in a favourite armchair knitting with her pet Blackbird perched on her shoulders (just as she had often been seen in real life). Frightened, the vicar and others returned to the graveyard and reopened her grave. They drove a stake through her heart and threw the living Blackbird into the coffin. The vicar then decreed that as she was a witch, she would not rest easy until her body was buried lying North to South. To this day, Molly’s tomb is the only one that lies at right angles to all the other graves in the churchyard.

Sybil took special pride in being descendant from Molly Leigh, and on a visit to Burslem she visited Molly’s grave. Later she was seen about town with her own pet jackdaw perched on her shoulders, following the same custom that old Molly had done before her.

Sybil was born on the 22nd February 1923 in Straffordshire, England. From an early age she lived and grew up in the New Forrest area of Hampshire and demonstrated an early gift for writing. The New Forrest is one of the oldest forests in England and is steeped in folklore and witchcraft associations. The same area is where Gerald B. Gardner first joined Old Dorothy Clutterbuck’s coven in 1939. That coven was reportedly descended from one of Old George Pickingill’s famous Nine Covens. Sybil claims that during her time in the area, there were still four old covens that had survived from the days of King William Rufus.

In 1932 when she was only nine years old, Aleister Crowley became a frequent visitor to her home. She claims to have spent time with him climbing the mountainsides and wondering through forests near to her home. In her autobiography Diary of a Witch (New York: Signet, 1969.), Sybil wrote that he talked to her about witchcraft and recited his poetry while encouraging her to write her own. He also instructed her on the use of certain magickal words used for their vibratory qualities when used in magick.

Sybil’s family was relatively well to do and she grew up as a young lady of privileged societal standing, her mother was related to the Masters family, well known in high society. In their New Forest home her mother and a group of friends regularly met for tea, they called their group the Pentagram Club. When she was fifteen years old and during one of the family’s regular trips to the south of France, Sybil was initiated into a French coven based at George du Loup in the hills above Nice. According to Sybil, she was initiated to replace an elderly Russian aunt who had been High Priestess of the coven, and it was from this coven that the New Forest covens in England were descended.

Returning home Sybil met a well-known pianist-conductor who was 24 years her senior. Despite the age difference they fell in love and were married shortly after her 16th birthday. During the relative quiet of the pre-war years they toured and traveled about England and Europe. He died two years later and she returned home to Hampshire. During World War II, Sybil joined the Red Cross and worked as a nurse in a military hospital near Southampton. Later she was sent to help nurse the wounded at Anzio Beach, before returning to England and being stationed at a military barracks in the isolated Scottish Hebrides Islands. She ended the War with a handful of medals, but the prosperity of her family had been lost to the austerity of the War.

After the war and into her twenties, Sybil returned to Hampshire and lived in a small village called Burley situated in the heart of the New Forest. There she mixed with and lived among the Gypsies. She also joined their ‘Horsa’ coven, a coven they claimed had existed for 700 years. The Gypsy knowing she was a witch born, accepted Sybil as one of their own. From them she learned a great deal about herbal potions and elixirs. When the time came for her to move on, they honored her in the traditional Gypsy way reserved only for the most respected of outsiders. They made her a ‘blood-sister’. This was done by cutting her wrist and mixing her blood with the blood of the Gypsy leaders.

While living in Burley, Sybil started up and ran a successful antique shop. Then at some point she met and married a man called Brian. Together they had two sons Stephan and Julian who are reported to have inherited the family’s psychic gifts. While walking in the woods one day Sybil had a vision, it brought to her the realization that her purpose in life was to promote the craft and the Old Religion. She began to do just that and into the 1950’s her reputation as a Psychic, Astrologer and Witch, began to attract attention. Media publicity brought tourists to her village but in the wake of autograph seekers her antique business began to suffer. Witchcraft was still viewed with suspicion in those times and her landlord refused to renew her lease unless she publicly denounced it. Sybil declined and was forced to close up shop and leave.

With the revival of a modern Witchcraft movement in the late 1950’s early 60’s, and the growing prominence of such people as Gerald B. Gardner, Alex Sanders, and Arnold Crowther. Sybil feeling she still had more to do accepted an invitation to visit the United States, there witchcraft in general was still in its infancy. In the early 1960′s after making several media appearances in the States, she decided to stay and become a resident. She settled first in New York but found it a depressing city and particular gloomy in winter. Later she moved on to Los Angeles which was much more agreeable. There she became acquainted with Aleister Crowley’s old secretary Israel Regardie, and much they must have reminisced about the great man.

In her later years Sybil moved again to Melbourne in Florida, and divided her time between there and her work base in Houston. She continued to promote the craft and the Old Religion in a positive sense, both as an author and a media celebrity dispelling myths and educating the public. She worked as an astrologer and gained quite a reputation in the field editing and publishing her own astrological journal. Such was her reputation that she toured frequently holding lectures throughout the States as well as making trips to England and Europe.

Strong in defence of her beliefs, Sybil sometimes differed and even quarrelled with other witches. She wrote and spoke a great deal about reincarnation, guided she said by the spirit of Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, the cofounder of the Theosophical Society. She disapproved of nudity in rituals, a requirement in some traditions, and was strongly against the use of drugs as were most modern Witches, but she was at odds with most other witches in that she did believe in cursing. She was also one of the first of the modern day witches to take up environmental causes.

Sybil died on the 26th October 1983. One report of her death has it that a train derailed near to her Melbourne home and dosed her with a toxic gas. She will be remember as a remarkable woman of many accomplishments, a gifted Psychic, Astrologer and Writer who did much to influence the revival of the modern day movement. Blessed she be.

Some of the many books she wrote are: Diary of a Witch (1968), My Life in Astrology, The Night Voyagers, Numerology: The Magic of Numbers, Phrenology, Reincarnation: The Second Chance, Star Speak, Astrological Guide to Love and Sex, Astrological Guide to Financial Success, Astrology and Love, Driving Out the Devils, Sybil Leek’s Book of Curses (1975), Sybil Leek’s Book of Fortune Telling, Moon Signs, ESP – The Magic Within You, Herbs, Medicine and Mysticism, The Complete Art of Witchcraft (1971), The Jackdaw & The Witch (Mr. Hotfoot Jackson), and How To Be Your Own Astrologer.


The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft – by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Encyclopedia of Wicca &Witchcraft – by Raven Grimassi.

Plus numerous website to many to mention.

First published on the 03rd May 2001, 20:29:02 © George Knowles


An Interview with Doreen Valiente


Pat Crowther and her Coven chant


Robert Cochrane (1931-1966)


Written and compiled by George Knowles.

Robert Cochrane (real name Roy Bowers) was by all counts an impressive, flamboyant, charismatic yet controversial person whose contribution to the rise of contemporary witchcraft, was perhaps overshadowed by that of Gerald Gardner. Cochrane was a practicing English witch who had founded his own coven the “Clan of Tubal Cain”, at about the same time as Gerald Gardner started his first coven in the early fifties. As Gardner’s coven formed the base of the Gardnerian tradition, so the Clan of Tubal Cain, after its import to America, became known as the “1734” tradition.

Cochrane was born into a Methodist family on the 26th January 1931. They lived in London, England, but much of his early life is somewhat obscure based as it is on his own telling. He claimed to be a hereditary witch and at times spoke of a great-grandfather who supposedly practiced witchcraft in Warwickshire, he also referred to an Aunt Lucy who kept an impressive collection of ‘Witchy’ things in her home. In one of his letters he describes her as a ‘terrible old woman’. Another claim was that he had ancestors who had been executed for witchcraft, and at other times a great uncle on his mother’s side who had been his teacher. Then in contradiction to this he claimed his mother had taught him as her grandmother had taught her. Whatever the truth none of the above has yet been proved.

During his teens it is thought that he sought out and found a teacher, most probably from a Druidic or Celtic tradition. What is known for sure is that he studied books, did research and tried the best he could to recreate what he believed to be the Old Religion. By his early twenties he had formed his own coven called the Clan of Tubal Cain (a reference to his work as a blacksmith). This was around the time that the old witchcraft laws in England were being repealed, and about the same time Gerald Gardner started his first coven. Cochrane held Gardner in distain and would frequently express his contempt for the Gardnerian Witches of his time.

His coven always work out doors, sometimes near to his home in London on a council estate in Slough, Berkshire or they would travel to more remote places like into the Mendip Hills situated in Somerset, or to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. There they would don black hooded robes and while dancing and chanting around a fire built in the center of a circle, they would ‘call down the power’. They worshiped both the Horned God and the Goddess. God was the goat-foot God of fire, craft and death, while the triple aspects of the Goddess ruled life, fate and destiny. From their union was created the Horned God (also referred to as the young solar deity).

Cochrane was a talented poet and philosopher who loved to write in a cryptic and mystical manner. His coven was based on a combination of Celtic mysticism and village Witchcraft philosophy. He delivered his teachings in the manner of the Druids using poetry, riddles and folksongs as apposed to actual facts. He and his wife Jean successfully combined traditional village Witchcraft (his ritual tools consisted of a cauldron, knife, cord, cup and a stone) and Druidic methods of training and practice with a guided meditation for creating an astral temple as a magickal tower of sanctuary. He inspired research and evolution rather than a strict adherence to dogma, and once stated that: “A driving thirst for knowledge is the forerunner of wisdom”.

In the early sixties Cochrane began to correspond with an American witch called Joe Wilson, who started the tradition in America. The information he wrote in his letters to Wilson, plus articles he wrote for several periodicals of the time: Psychic News – (1963), Pentagram – (1964-66) and New Dimensions – (1965), form the bases of the tradition as it is practiced today.

As time went by Wilson and several of his American friends worked together to solve Cochrane’s puzzles and filled in the gaps in his letters. Wilson gave copies of the letters to a number of other people who in turn did their own research and found their own answers. As a result different covens were created, no two exactly alike, and so began the renamed 1734 Tradition. Today each coven of the tradition is completely autonomous and there is no central authority. The tradition has no common Book of Shadows, but Cochrane’s letters serve the same purpose and these are passed down from teacher to student in a similar fashion as the Book of Shadows in other traditions.

The figure 1734 was originally one of Cochrane’s puzzles. Cochrane himself described it in a letter to Joe Wilson dated the 12th Night (6th January) 1966, which reads:

“The order of 1734 is not a date of an event, but a grouping of numerals that mean something to a witch. One that becomes seven states of wisdom is the Goddess of the Cauldron. Three that are the Queens of the Elements, fire belonging to Man alone and the Blacksmith God. Four are Queens of the Wind Gods. The Jewish orthodoxy believe that whomever knows the Holy and Unspeakable name of God has absolute power over the world of form. Very briefly the Name of God spoken as Tetragrammaton (‘I amthat I am’) breaks down in Hebrew to the letters IHVH, or the Adom Kadomon (The Heavenly Man). Adom Kadomon is a composite of all Archangels – in other words a poetic statement of the names of the Elements. So what the Jew and the Witch believe alike, is that the man who discovers the secret of the Elements controls the physical world. 1734 is the witch way of saying IHVH.”

Cochrane believed that different types of vision contained the various approaches to and apprehensions of truth: ‘Poetic Vision’ – inward access to dream images and symbols; ‘Vision of Memory’ – remembers past existences and past perfections; ‘Magical Vision’ – undertakes part of a Triad of services and contacts certain levels; ‘Religious Vision’ – admission to the True Godhead and part of true Initiation; ‘Mystical Vision’ – divine union with the Godhead with no form only energy present.

In 1964 Doreen Valiente joined his group and was initiated into the Clan of Tubal-Cain. Doreen however soon became disillusioned with Cochrane as she realized he was more fiction than fact. Cochrane was becoming increasingly more controlling of his group and openly before his wife Jean; began an affair with one of the other women in his coven. His wife left him and the other members of his coven grow more and more disenchanted. His verbal attacks on Gardnerian Witches began to increase, which irked Doreen, and when she noticed his obsession with ‘witches potions’ (Cochrane by some accounts had become fascinated with psychedelic drugs derived from herbs) she left.

Cochrane died on the 21st June 1966, on the eve of Summer Solstice in what would appear to be a ritual suicide. He had ingested belladonna leaves, more commonly known as Deadly Nightshade. Much speculation surrounds his death. Some believe it was an accident, others believe it was plain suicide. Still others, particularly his craft members believe that he appointed himself the “actual” male sacrifice, as is sometimes symbolically enacted at the height of the Summer Solstice.

Epitaph for a Witch

by Doreen Valiente

To think that you are gone over the crest of the Hill.
As the Moon passed from her fulness, riding the Sky,
And the White Mare took you with her.
To think that we must wait another life
To drink wine from the Horns and leap the Fire.
Farewell from this world, but not the Circle.
That place that is between worlds
Shall hold return in due time. Nothing is lost.
The half of a fruit from the Tree of Avalon
Shall be our reminder among the fallen leaves
This life treads underfoot. Let the rain weep.
Waken in sunlight from the realms of sleep!

While his early life is shrouded in mystery and his later life in controversy, Cochrane’s contribution to contemporary witchcraft lives on through his tradition. A tradition that today continues to grow stronger, most particularly in America. Whatever his personal faults, he was indeed a wonderful and wise teacher of the old ways. His knowledge and wisdom can clearly be seen in his magazine articles and personal correspondences. Sadly after his death many of his personal papers were destroyed by his family, then in 2001 his late widow gave legal copyright for all his letters and articles to a member of his original coven, Evan John Jones.

Most of his articles and letters have now been re-printed for prosperity. The “The Roebuck in the Thicket” by Robert Cochrane with Evan John Jones, edited and introduced by Michael Howard (Capall Bann Publishing 2001), contains his articles to Psychic News – (1963), Pentagram – (1964-66) and New Dimensions – (1965). His letters can be found in a book called “The Robert Cochrane Letters” by Robert Cochrane with Evan John Jones, edited and introduced by Michael Howard (Capall Bann Publishing 2002), this contains his correspondence with Joe Wilson, his original contact in America, William Gray, a ceremonial magician and Norman Gills, a traditional witch and old style cunning man.

“We teach by poetic inference, by thinking along lines that belong to the world of dreams and images. There is no hard and fast teaching technique, no laid down scripture or law, for wisdom comes only to those who deserve it, and your teacher is yourself seen through a mirror darkly. The answer to all things are in the Air – Inspiration, and the winds will bring you news and knowledge if you ask them properly. The Trees of the Wood will gave you power, and the Waters of the Sea will give you patience and omniscience, since the Sea is a womb that contains a memory of all things”.

(An extract from his third letter to Joe Wilson dated 1st February 1966).

Aside Note.

While Cochrane during his time may have dabbled with “psychedelic drugs derived from herbs”. There is no evidence that today’s members of the 1734 tradition, or any other tradition of that matter, use any type of drugs to aid ritual or vision.


Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft – By Raven Grimassi

The Robert Cochrane Letters – by Robert Cochrane with Evan John Jones, edited and introduced by Michael Howard


First published on the 23rd March 2001, 20:22:26 © George Knowles


Israel Regardie (1907 – 1985)


Written and compiled by George Knowles.

Francis Israel Regardie was an occultist, author and one time secretary to the legendary Aleister Crowley. As an adept of the now defunct secret order known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, he became infamous among the occultists of his day for breaking his oath of secrecy and publishing the order’s complete rituals in his book “The Golden Dawn”. Today this book is a classic best seller and has been revised and re-issued several times. Overshadowed by his association with Crowley, much of his work has been left unappreciated by those outside of the realms of high magic and occultism.

Regardie was born Francis Israel Regudy in London, England on the 17th November 1907. His parents were poor Jewish immigrants and during the course of WW1 when his older brother joined the army, his name was accidentally written down as “Regardie”. Rather than change it, it was then adopted as the family name. Later Regardie also dropped the use of Francis, preferring to be known simply as Israel Regardie.

In August 1921 at the age of 13, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Washington D.C. There Regardie was educated and studied art in schools in Washington and Philadelphia. A bright an intuitive scholar, even at that age, he became interested in the theosophical works of Madame Blavatsky, yoga, and Hindu philosophy. He would often be found at the Library of Congress conducting his own studies. Soon after he found a Hebrew tutor who taught him to read Hebrew, an ability that aided him enormously when he started his Qabalistic studies.

On the 18th February 1926, Regardie applied for membership to the Washington College of the Societas Rosicruciana in America (S.R.I.A.). He was initiated into the Neophyte grade on 18th March 1926 and advanced to the Zelator grade on 2nd June 1927. It was during this time that Regardie became interested in occultism and having discovered a book by Aleister Crowley, was soon captivated by his activities and writings.

Regardie wrote to Crowley in Paris and eventually received a reply. Soon after he was offered the job as his secretary in Paris. Regardie saw this as an opportunity to learn magic from a published authority, and in October 1928 he traveled to France and accepted the job. For the next three years Regardie tried to get Crowley to teach him the magical arts. However Crowley never offered and Regardie, a reserved and modest young man, did not pursue the matter. Instead he continued to study on his own, reading every book, article or manuscript that became available to him.

As would happen with Crowley, fueled on by the British tabloids, his reputation got the better of him and the French authorities asked him to leave the country. Crowley returned to England and later married his second wife Maria Ferrari de Miramar in 1929. In an effort to repair Crowley’s damaged image, Regardie co-authored with P.R. Stephenson (another of Crowley’s associates), the book called “The Legend of Aleister Crowley “. It was published in 1930, by which time they were gradually drifting apart.

Regardie continued with his occult studies and already established as a co-author, published the first of his own books A Garden of Pomegranates and The Tree of Life in 1932. The first contained his Qabalistic studies and was based on research and knowledge gleaned from various sources. The Tree of Life however was based on the teachings of the Golden Dawn, which had ceased to exist in 1903. When published it caused a lot of excitement among the occult elite and was considered one of the most complete and understandable texts on practical magic ever written. That same year 1932 he became secretary to Thomas Burke.

Although the original Golden Dawn had ceased to exist, it continued to live on through its descendant orders, the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega. As a result of The Tree of Life and with the encouragement and assistance of one of its members, Dion Fortune, Regardie was invited to join the Stella Matutina in 1933. However as had happened to the original order, there was much infighting among its leaders and the order was in an advanced state of decline. Regardie due to his extraordinary abilities made rapid progress through the grades, but considered the chiefs to be more concerned with attaining grandiose titles than with the practice of magic. He also concluded that the Order and its teachings would not survive much longer without some effort to place its teachings in the hands of a greater number of people, those who could appreciate them. After reaching the grade of Theoricus Adeptus Minor, he left the Order in December of 1934.

That same year in 1934, Aleister Crowley became embroiled in a famous and sensational libel case in which he sued Nina Hamnett, a prominent sculptress. Losing the case he was forced into bankruptcy and could no longer afford to keep Regardie on as his secretary. As a result, and as would happen with many of Crowley’s friends and associates, they suffered a complete falling out. Regardie was deeply wounded by the break-up of their friendship, and was only able to pardon him in later years. Regardie throw himself into his work writing The Art of True Healing, and doing his groundwork for The Philosopher’s Stone.

Regardie next turned his attention to psychology and psychotherapy, and began studying psychoanalysis with Dr. E. Clegg and Dr. J. L. Bendit in London. He also continued writing and in 1936 published My Rosicrucian Adventure followed by The Philosopher’s Stone, a book about alchemy from a Jungian perspective. At the time he didn’t believe in the validity of laboratory alchemy, (but later in the 1970’s while working with practical alchemists such as Frater Albertus of the Paracelsus Research Society, he changed his mind on the matter. Unfortunately one of his alchemical experiments went wrong and he seriously burned his lungs in the lab. He gave up the practice of alchemy and suffered from the effects of the accident until the end of his life).

In 1937 breaking his oath of secrecy to the Stella Matutina, he published the bulk of the Golden Dawn’s rituals and teachings. Written in four volumes he called it simply The Golden Dawn. It caused a storm of protest at the time and some people openly criticized him for his actions, although many Adepts of the Order were secretly grateful to him. His reasons for doing so he explains in his book My Rosicrucian Adventure:

“…it is essential that the whole system should be publicly exhibited so that it may not be lost to mankind, for it is the heritage of every man and woman and their spiritual birthright. My motives have been to prove without a doubt that no longer is the Order the ideal medium for the transmission of Magic, and that since there have already been several partial and irresponsible disclosures of the Order’s teachings, a more adequate presentation of that system is urgently called for. Only thus may the widespread misconceptions as to Magic be removed.”

Later that year Regardie returned to the U.S. where he entered the Chiropractic College in New York City to study psychology. Studying psychotherapy under Dr. Nandor, his training encompassed Freudian, Jungian, and Reichian methods and techniques. A year later in 1938 he published The Middle Pillar, which gives a step-by-step account on how to perform the practical exercises of Golden Dawn’s ceremonial magic. In the same book he also compares these magical techniques to the methods and hypotheses of psychoanalysis. He sought to remove the synthetic walls that had been erected between magic and psychotherapy.

After graduating in 1941, Regardie served in the U.S. Army till the end of WWII, during which time he explored Christian mysticism and wrote about his ideas in The Romance of Metaphysics published in 1946. After leaving the army he relocated to southern California and set up practice as a chiropractor and Reichian therapist. He taught psychiatry at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and contributed articles to various psychology magazines. He also wrote several more books including: The Art and Meaning of Magic, Roll Away the Stone, Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment, A Practical Guide to Geomantic Divination, How to Make and Use Talismans, and Foundations of Practical Magic.

During the 1960′s an old acquaintance of Aleister Crowley moved into Los Angeles and made herself known to him. They met occasionally for he and Sybil Leek had much to reminisced about the great man.

Through out his career, Regardie’s own achievements were often overshadowed by his association with Aleister Crowley, which often frustrated him, but his charitable nature and his ability to be forgiving toward his old friend was evident when he authored perhaps the most definitive biography on Crowley called The Eye in the Triangle. But he was also irritated when people linked him solely to Crowley’s teachings:

“One of his pet hates was people associating him with Crowley’s brand of Thelemic Magic and the Book of the Law. I can still recall him thumping the table at dinner one night saying “Dammit, I’m a Golden Dawn man and not a Thelemite, and I wish people would realize it”, writes Pat Zalewski author of The Secret Inner Order Rituals of the Golden Dawn.”

Regardie retired from his practice in 1981 and moved to Sedona, Arizona where he continued to write. His later books included Ceremonial Magic, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Relaxation, and The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic. While retired he continued to give advice on health and magical matters until the end of his life. He died of a heart attack on the 10th March 1985 while having dinner with friends at one of his favorite restaurants. Although he is gone, his legacy remains in his written works, which continue to teach and inspire new generations of students.

One of Regardie’s primary objectives throughout his career had been to preserve the teachings of the Golden Dawn, but he had also set himself another task. As an Adept of the Golden Dawn, he felt it was down to him to bring a valid branch of the initiatory lineage of the order to America. He waited patiently for four decades before he was able to achieve his goal. A couple in Georgia were inspired to build a Rosicrucian Vault, the powerful ritual chamber required to pass on the Adept Initiation. At the same time two magicians (one on the east coast of the United States and one on the west coast), unknown to each other or to the Georgia couple, came to be ready to receive that Initiation. Regardie was the connecting link between them and using his title and order motto A. M. A. G. he had the right to confer the Initiation in such a Vault. And so in one remarkable weekend, Regardie presided over two Initiations into the Inner Order, the first and the last that he ever performed, and with the following oath the Lamp of the Keryx was passed into American hands:

“I further promise and swear that with the Divine Permission, I will from this day forward, apply myself to the Great Work, which is: to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite to my Higher and Divine Genius, and that in this event I will not abuse the great power entrusted to me.”

Regardie’s Order Motto A.M.A.G. – Ad Majorem Adonai Gloriam – “To the Greater Glory of God”


To be posted later

First published on the 09th December 2001, 17:07:20 © George Knowles


Eliphas Levi (1810-1875).

Written and compiled by George Knowles.

Eliphas Levi is the pseudonym of Alphonse Louis Constant, a French occultist and author whose work greatly influenced many of the early revivalists of the 19th century. Interestingly Aleister Crowley was born the same year Levi died and later claimed to be his reincarnation.

Constant was born in Paris on the 08th February 1810 and was the only son of a shoemaker. He was an intelligent young man and quick to learn but his father did not have the funds to privately educate him. Determined his son should have a decent education, he sent Constant to the seminary of Saint Nichols du Chardonnet and later to Saint Sulpice to be educated and trained as a priest. While he was there he became intrigued by a lesson received from his headmaster, who during the course of the lesson explained his belief that animal magnetism was a vital energy of the human body controlled by the “Devil”. This sparked his curiosity and surreptitiously he began to study all that he could find out about magic and the occult.

Early in the 1830’s Constant became acquainted with an old couple called ‘Ganneau’ who practiced witchcraft. Ganneau believed himself a prophet and a reincarnation of Louis XVII, while he also believed his wife was the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette. Constant joined Ganneau and became one of his followers delving deeper into the mysteries of magic and the occult. Continuing to pursue his career in the church, he was ordained a deacon in December 1835, but did not become a priest.

Constant wrote a number of minor religious works: Des Moeurs et des Doctrines du Rationalisme en France (Of the Moral Customs and Doctrines of Rationalism in France, in 1839), L’Evangile du Peuple (The Gospel of the People in 1840), La Mère de Dieu (The Mother of God in 1844) and Le Testament de la Liberté (The Testament of Liberty published in 1848), the same year Napoleon III in a revolutionary coup overthrew King Louis Philippe and became president of the Second Republic. Thrown out of the church and excommunicated due to his left-wing political views, Constant’s writings led on to him serving three short jail sentences.

In 1846 when he was 36 years old, Constant met and married Noemie Cadiot who was 18 years his junior. Together they had one child but sadly it died in early childhood. After the loss of the child the marriage deteriorated, they separated in 1853 and their marriage was annulled in 1865. In the meantime, Constant was earning a meagre living writing as a journalist and by giving lessons in occult studies. He took on the pen name ‘Magus Eliphas Levi’, which he arrived at by translating his given names ‘Alphonse Louis’ into Hebrew.

After his wife had left him, Levi made his first trip to England in May 1854, hoping to increase his fortunes by giving private lessons on occult subjects. So far Levi had not written anything on the subject, but his reputation as a leading French Magus had preceded him, he also came furnished with letters of introduction to some of London’s high society and England’s more prominent personages. One such was the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton (Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton 1803-1873 – the 1st Baron Lytton of Knebworth) and they formed a firm and lasting friendship.

Bulwer-Lytton was regarded as a leading authority on magic and occultism in England, his interests extended to the study of clairvoyance, magic, astrology and mesmerism, he was also the president of a local Rosicrucian group seeking esoteric wisdom from psychic and spiritual enlightenment. It was Bulwer-Lytton who encouraged Levi to write a treatise on magic. As a result he later wrote: Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie in 1855. This was later translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite of the Golden Dawn as Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual. The opening lines of the introduction to the book leaves the reader with little doubt as to its theme of Occult Mysticism:

Baphomet – Frontispiece to Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie

Behind the veil of all the hieratic and mystical allegories of ancient doctrines, behind the darkness and strange ordeals of all initiations, under the seal of all sacred writings, in the ruins of Nineveh or Thebes, on the crumbling stones of old temples and on the blackened visage of the Assyrian or Egyptian sphinx, in the monstrous or marvellous paintings which interpret to the faithful of India the inspired pages of the Vedas, in the cryptic emblems of our old books on alchemy, in the ceremonies practised at reception by all secret societies, there are found indications of a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed.

It was during this trip to London in 1854 that Levi first tried necromancy. Unable to speak but a smattering of English, his ability to give lessons proved to be disappointing and he failed to make any money teaching. Instead and much to his dismay, he was expected to perform ‘miracles’ and give practical demonstrations of ceremonial magic. One titled lady, a friend of Bulwer-Lytton who claimed to be an adept, asked him to conjure the spirit of ‘Apollonius of Tyana’ a famous magician of ancient times. Levi confessed that he had never before attempted such a conjuration and until then had purposely avoided any such activity. However after much persuasion and due preparation he consented to make the attempt.

During three week of preparation including dieting and fasting, Levi meditated on Apollonius and imagined conversations with him. The Ritual of Conjuration was performed in a specially prepared ‘Temple’ in which only he took part and consisted of 12 hours of incantations, after which the floor began to shake and a ghostly apparition appeared. Levi admitted to feeling extremely cold and frightened and when the apparition touched his ritual sword, his arm went suddenly numb. He dropped the sword and fainted. He claimed later that his sword arm was sore and numb for days after the incident. Levi was inclined to treat his experience as a subjective experiment, but observed that it had been sufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness of magical ceremonies. He also condemned their use as dangerous on moral and health grounds outside the hands of an experienced adept. An account of the ceremony he performed can be found in Arthur Edward Waite’s translation of his work: Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual.

Levi returned to Paris in August 1854, penniless and without a home. He was help and provided room and board by an old friend Adolphe Desbarolles. Desbarolles later achieved some prominence as the author of Les Mysteres de la Main, an important 19th century work on palmistry. While Levi’s trip to England had been less than financially rewarding, it did much to enhance his reputation. Back in France his exploits again preceded him, and soon he was attracting students to study the Cabala under his private tuition.

In May 1861, Levi made another trip to England and so as not to repeat the conditions of his last trip, he brought with him one of his pupils Count Alexander Branicki with whom he was welcomed to stay with Baron Bulwer-Lytton at his estate in Knebworth. During this visit Levi met with Kenneth Mackenzie, a leading member of the S.R.I.A. (Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia) and the author of the influential “Royal Masonic Encyclopedia”. Mackenzie had also been popularly theorized as the author and originator of the controversial “Cipher Manuscripts” upon which the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded. Later Mackenzie published an account of their meeting, in which Levi stated that he had studied the symbolism of Tarot cards for over 26 years. Levi never produced a complete treatise on Tarot cards, but his references to the cards throughout his writings, continued to fascinate, influence and inspire many generations of occultists after his death.

After his trip to England in 1861, Levi published: La Clef des Grands Mystères (The Key to the Great Mysteries), a sequel to his earlier work. Other magical works followed and include: Fables et Symboles (Stories and Images) in 1862 and La Science des Esprits (The Science of Spirits) in 1865. He also wrote Le Grand Arcane, ou l’Occultisme Dévoilé (The Great Secret, or Occultism Unveiled) in 1868, but published posthumously in 1898. Initially Levi’s writings and beliefs were thought to be highly imaginative for he believed in the existence of a universal “secret doctrine of magic” that had prevailed throughout history and was evident everywhere in the world. He also expanded on the theory of “Astral Light” based on his belief in animal magnetism.

Until his death on the 31st May 1875, Levi continued to earn a comfortable living from his writings and giving occult lessons. Through a growing interest in Spiritualism and the popular rise of esoteric groups such as the S.R.I.A. (Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia), the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, Levi’s writings soon gained a respectable following. Levi’s magic had a deep impact on the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and greatly influenced such people as S.L. MacGregor Mathers who wrote most of the orders rituals, Arthur Edward Waite who adopted the Baphomet sigil as the death card in his Rider Waite Tarot Deck, and of course Aleister Crowley with his associations with ‘The Beast’.

Eliphas Levi today is remembered as one of the key founders of the twentieth century revival of magic and contemporary witchcraft.


Book Sources:

The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft – by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Man Myth & Magic – Edited by Richard Cavendish

Just a few website sources:

First published on the 26th May 2001, 02:08:48 © George Knowles


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