A Wiccan priest, a Gardnerian initiate, and founder of Seax-Wica, Raymond Buckland (1934-2017) is credited with bringing Wicca to the United States in 1964. Not only did he start the first American coven, known simply as the Long Island coven, but he also founded a sect of Wicca known as Seax-Wica, established the First Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in the U.S., served as a public face of paganism and authored many books about the Craft.
In his early years, Buckland earned a doctorate in anthropology and spent years in the air force, both of which may have contributed to his desire to explore theology in that it is nearly impossible to study humankind without learning of the various cultural customs, of which religion is one. Buckland formed a relationship with Gardner via written correspondence which grew to a closer acquaintance and desire to espouse the Gardnerian path in America. Eventually, Buckland and his wife Rosemary flew to Perth, Scotland to become initiated by High Priestess Monique
Wilson, one of Gardner’s priestesses.
Buckland’s influence on Wicca was unique in that he profoundly influenced the development of Eclectic Wicca as well as established a foundation for Solitary Wicca practitioners. While Buckland himself was a coven leader, he recognized the desire of others for another path for Wiccan worship and study. In allowing a young initiate named Fitch to create an “Outer Court,” aimed towards Wiccan study outside of the confines of a coven, a path to Paganism and Witchcraft without formal initiation was established. This path is considered to be instrumental in the evolution of Eclectic Wicca. Ten years after Buckland brought Wicca to the United States, he established the tradition of Seax-Wica. Seax-Wica draws heavily from Anglo-Saxon paganism and was disseminated to willing learners through a correspondence course which boasted over a thousand members. With his publication of The Tree: Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft, Buckland documented a holistic approach to Seax-Wicca, including the notable lack of a requirement of initiation. Buckland pioneered the establishment of a foundation for those who wished to study and practice the Craft but did not wish to do so through the common means available at the time.
Solitary wiccans were equipped with the tools for practice and study through his publications. It is also vital to note that Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, affectionately nicknamed “Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book” has been a staple in many Wiccans’ bookshelves and has been deemed a foundational narrative by many practitioners.
All in all, without Raymond Buckland, Wicca would not have been the same. Buckland profoundly influence the proliferation and evolution of Gardnerian Wicca, Seax-Wica, solitary practice and Eclectic Wicca in America and in Wicca practitioners everywhere.
”I guess I’d like to be remembered as someone who did his best to expand Gardnerian from the U.K. to the U.S., who tried to write truthfully about the Craft (without ever breaking his original oath of secrecy) and as someone who very much enjoyed working with others in many different fields.”
Written by Gita Nallapati, AAW Member