Raymond Buckland: The Life and Legacy of Uncle Bucky of Wicca


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.”

-Raymond Buckland



Written by Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

Sources

Loving the God and Goddess Taught Me to Love Myself

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As I walk around town running my errands in my short shorts, heels, and plus sized figure, I get looks from strangers staring at my hairy legs as though my legs were a personal affront to them. If I were my younger self, I would have been mortified to walk around with “unfeminine” body hair visible. The fearful thoughts of “what would others think of me” and “i look so disgusting” would have filled my head with shamefulness to be seen in “revealing clothing.” I would have ruminated on how unattractive I seemed to others, and therefore myself. These thoughts and internalizations of others’ perception led me to starve myself, develop anorexia and consequently lose my hair from the stress of it all. 

Now I barely notice the stares and looks of consternation from others as I bask in the glow of the newly emerged spring sun. My thoughts turn outward as I’m appreciating the beauty of the blooming flower, green grass and tall trees that grow in abundance all over my town. I feel gratitude for the endless blue skies and perfect 70 degree weather. 

The God and Goddess created this world and all in it. The wonders of nature reflect them. I see the Goddess in her mother form as a mother duck tends to her ducklings in the pond below. I see the God’s strength in the strong rays of sunshine which illuminate the sunny patch of grass in front of me amidst the arbor circle. I feel their warm embrace with my eyes closed to meditate. I am engulfed in Their protection and I feel love. I love the God and Goddess. I love their world and all they have created. I remember that They are a part of me and I am a part of Them. Therefore to love Them, I love myself. 

I love myself enough to present my body however I feel like. Hairy, hairless, fat, skinny, covered up, revealed.. I love myself. I let go of my stress and fill myself with contentment and gratitude.  I love the God and Goddess, everything that is Their creation and myself as a part of that creation and as a part of Them. 

Written by Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

Crafts for The Craft: Ostara Edition

Ostara is such a beautiful time of year, with the cold of winter finally leaving to bring us the warmth of the spring. For more information on Ostara, check out our Ostara post. With the flowers blooming and baby birds singing, I’m inspired to create and celebrate the God and Goddess through art. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate the Ostara season:

  • Start your gardens indoor if your area is still cold during this time OR if your plants require lots of sun and warmth to grow.
Woman writing labels for plant seedlings.
  • Upcycle your old plastic eggs into decor by painting them
Easter Eggs
  • Send spring greetings to your loved ones with seed packets inside
Plant seeds in bags for planting
  • Protest St. Patrick’s Day by making a serpent wreath for your front door
Snake Wreath
  • Make an Ostara tree with your upcycled egg decor
Colourful Easter tree in garden
  • Make an Ostara spring Goddess corn dolly to honor the Goddess
  • Go on a nature walk and gather local blooms while thinking positive thoughts to create an enchanted flower bouquet
flowers
  • Create a spring altar piece with upcycled materials around your home or a quick trip to your local craft store
ostara altar box with nest
  • Brew your own dandelion wine. Get the recipe here.
Dandelion Wine
  • Make a raindrop sun-catcher. Get the tutorial here.
raindrop suncatchers fine motor for preschool

Sources:

I hope you all enjoy these crafts and have a very Blessed Ostara season!

By Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

The History and Astronomy of Ostara

Ostara is our Sabbat that falls on the Spring Equinox. It’s the second of the three fertility Sabbats, where we celebrate the Earth’s life-giving energy that is so pronounced in the growing season. I notice that in Austin this is the time of year when flowers really start to come out, however the equinox itself is an astronomical event that the whole planet experiences.  Many cultures and religions observe a holiday marking the equinox, so what makes this date so special?

Technically, the word equinox refers to an exact moment when the sun is positioned directly over the equator and the axis of the Earth is exactly perpendicular to the sun, tilted neither towards the sun nor away from it. But colloquially, we know this day to be the time when the daylight hours and nighttime hours are just about equal, marking the half-way point between our journey from solstice to solstice. Although we don’t celebrate it, the day and night that are precisely equal is called the equilux, and this day can subtly drift before or after the equinox depending on latitude. 

Equinoxes happen exactly twice per year, once in the range of March 19th-21st, and then again around the range of September 22nd-23rd. The equinox that happens in March is the spring equinox (Ostara) in the northern hemisphere and the autumn equinox (Mabon) in the southern hemisphere. It’s also the moment when the sun goes from the 30th degree of Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, into 0 degrees in Aries, beginning the cycle anew. 

Everyone loves an equinox! Some other holidays celebrated on this day include the Summers Finding of our Heathen Cousins, as well as The Equinox of The Gods, which is the Thelemic new year. Many other modern Pagans and eclectic witches also follow the same wheel of the year we Wiccans do, so they call the Sabbat Ostara, and celebrate it largely the same way we do.

One will notice that the name Ostara sounds awfully familiar to the name of the popular Christian holiday Easter (which some of you may have heard of.) This is because, in pre-Christian England and Germany, they venerated a Goddess of Spring named Ēastre in Old English and Ôstara in old high German, for whom the month of April was named. She was, not unlike our maiden Goddess, a Deity of light and joy and fertility, hence her association with eggs and rabbits. Once Christianity became a dominant faith, Her name survived as the name of a new holiday which took place within her month. This is also why the whole vibe of Easter is so similar to that of our Sabbat, Ostara!

Thank you for learning about Ostara with me! The equinox is very important for us who are Wiccan and care deeply for the Earth and her cycles, as well as to the secular world. I wish you a Blessed Ostara, or happy holidays no matter what you celebrate!

By Alice Quintanilla, AAW Member

The Truth about St. Patrick’s Day

In the middle of March, we adorn our green outfits, leprechaun hats and drink copious amounts of green beer while we cavort with our friends in the name of St. Patrick. However, how many of us know the history behind St. Patrick’s Day? 

St. Patrick was a Christian bishop in the 5th century who was credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. His death day has been celebrated as the Festival of Saint Patrick since the 17th century for its cultural and religious significance. As a zealous missionary, Saint Patrick struggled to introduce Catholicism to a heavily pagan Ireland. In order to “convert” people to Catholicism, he fused many Irish traditions with his Christian teachings. One of such is the shamrock, revered for its three leaves and representative of pagan trinities like mother-maiden-crone, birth-life-death, mind-body-spirit. Patrick used this sacred pagan symbol to illustrate the Christian trinity of the father-son-holy spirit and as such, it became a national symbol of Ireland. In modern times, this would be called cultural appropriation. While this fusing resulted in the Celtic cross and many other lovely Irish icons, the forced conversion also resulted in many deaths. 

Patrick is famous for ridding Ireland of snakes. Interestingly, fossils and historical naturalist studies have shown that at no time were snakes ever actually present in Ireland. The ‘ridding of snakes’ is a euphemism for the massacre of the druidic peoples who revered the serpent which represents the cycle of life and death. It is estimated that 800 Druids were murdered at the time. 

Patrick is also known for putting a stop to ‘baby sacrificing’ pagan practices at Killycluggin Stone upon which, purportedly, pagans smashed the heads of first borns and used the blood to draw a circle, ensuring a good crop for the upcoming year. Surprisingly, when St. Patrick stopped this practice by ‘smashing the stone and banishing the devil within it ,’ three quarters of Irish men, including two High Kings, were slaughtered while they knelt at their devotions. They were smitten down by their own Gods according to Christian observers. It is fascinating that such a large pagan population was decimated at an annual harvest festival and that the entirety of the events were only ever recorded by Christian observers. 

There is a story that Saint Patrick is known to have ‘baptized’ two Druid priestesses who then immediately died after consuming the eucharist, purportedly saying they ‘wished to see the face of Christ.’ His most holy site, Croagh Patrick formerly known as Cruchan Aigli (Eagle Mountain), was where he performed ‘miracles’ such as casting reptiles, snakes, and dragons over the side of the mountain. Cruachan Aigli, with its quartzite studded, gold-gleaming mountainside, was actually the destination of pagans to worship the God Lugh on Lughnasadh with the magical sunshine and picturesque views of the countryside. These miracles were attributed to Patrick after his death as a way to discourage paganism and the correlation of the holy site with the Sun God/Lugh

Patrick has never formally been recognized by the Pope and much of his miraculous fame stems from stories which revere Christianity and hide the atrocities committed on pagans. It’s important to remember that history is written by the victors and in this instance, the victors were the Catholic church who drove out the common practice of paganism and druidry which abounded at the time in Ireland. 

So if you really want to indulge this St. Patty’s day when you don your shimmery shamrock necklaces and slurp your extra stout Guinness, try drinking in honor of the Goddess Brigid, known to Catholics as the Irish Saint Brigid! She is associated with wisdom, poetry, healing, protection, blacksmithing and domesticated animals. Along with her two sisters, Brigid the Healer and Brigid the Smith, She represents the sacred trinity of Mother-Maiden-Crone. She is celebrated in her Maiden form with ritual and feast on Imbolc (Feb 1) and is correlated with the ushering in of Spring and fertility. You can light some white candles in Her name and perhaps sing a Druidic ballet or recite some poetry in Her honor. And don’t forget to pour one out for the massacred pagan souls in remembrance!

By Gita Nallapati, AAW Member

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