This week, the covenette at Bluestone Luth is talking about the history of Wicca.
I’m not a historian; I’m just that Wiccan that reads Hutton and Helseton and The Pickingill Papers. I’m just interested and I can tell you about the history and development of the Craft in England and into the USA, but I know almost nothing about Australia. The abundance of material that exists in England and the USA isn’t present here. That’s not to suggest there isn’t anything at all, but I didn’t even know where to start looking. Thankfully, a few members of the group helped me get the ball rolling.
Below are some resources for further investigating the history and development of Wicca and Witchcraft in Australia. This is an ongoing project.
Douglas Ezzy is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania. His contribution is mainly academic with a number of studies and essays appearing in other works aside from his own books.
- Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky
- Sex, Death and Witchcraft: A Contemporary Pagan Festival
Julia Philips is an English-born Wiccan high priestess who established covens in London, Sydney, and Melbourne. In 1991, she founded the Australian Pagan Alliance and its magazine Pagan Times. I’m not sure if these are still functioning.
Books & Other Resources
- The Witches of Oz
- History of Wicca in England: 1939 to the Present Day, adapted from a talk she gave at the Australian Wiccan Conference in Canberra, 1991. This is PDF file.
Lynne Hume is a University of Queensland anthropologist who published the first and major defining academic study of Australian Paganism. Unfortunately, it is out of print, like so many other of these important works.
Books & Other Resources
- Witchcraft Paganism in Australia
- Tomalin, Emma (1999). “Review of Lynne Hume’s Witchcraft and Paganism in America”. Nova Religion: The Journal of Alternate and Emergent Religions 3 (1): 174–175.
- “Magic in the air for modern-day witches” from University of Queensland News
Nevill Drury (1 October 1947 – 15 October 2013)
Nevill Drury was an English-born Australian editor, publisher, and author of over 40 books on subjects ranging from shamanism and western magical traditions to art, music, and anthropology. He has many titles worth exploring, but one book of special interest here is Other temples, Other Gods: The Occult in Australia. Please also see the entry below on Rosaleen Norton. Drury also served as co-producer, researcher, and interview on a 1985 documentary titled The Occult Experience.
Rhiannon Ryall is the pseudonym of an English-born Australian Wiccan who established a coven-based tradition in Australia. She said she was initiated into a pre-Gardnerian local Wiccan tradition in England, a claim historians and scholars are skeptical of. Her work appears to be a blend of Gardnerian and Alexandrian material. Ryall passed away some years ago. Ryall published a number of books, but her most important and best known work is probably West Country Wicca: A Journal of the Old Religion.
Rosaleen Norton (2 October 1917 – 5 December 1979)
Rosaleen Norton was an Australian artist and occultist and pagan who established a coven in Sydney. A devotee of the god Pan, Doreen Valiente said Norton’s tradition was called The Goat Fold. There are numerous works by and about Rosaleen Norton.
- Nevill Stuart Drury, “The Magical Cosmology of Rosaleen Norton”, The Pomegranate. The International Journal of Pagan Studies, 12,2 (2010), 208–238.
Simon Goodman (16 September 1951 – 23 September 1991)
Simon Goodman (aka Ian Watts) is described as the main Australian promoter and initiator of Wicca in Australia. He was from Perth and when he moved to a government job in Canberra, he made good use of the photocopier, copying entire books of his network of covens across Australia. When he died, he left his collection of documents to Murdoch University. Peregrin Wildoak of the blog Magic of the Ordinary has cataloged them.
According to the website of Bill Liddell, Goodman claimed that he was initiated into the Conventus Quercus coven, which was run in Perth by Paul Morley. This coven claimed that it originated from a parent group in the Etchingham area of Sussex. Goodman was also associated with an Alexandrian coven run by David Paltrige, which broke up in 1972. Goodman and his partner then ran their own coven until they separated in 1975. Although Goodman was not actually initiated as an Alexandrian, Goodman corresponded with Alex and Maxine Sanders and may have met with them. The Grand Council of Alexandrian Elders gave him a Charter to initiate others. This website also states that Rhiannon Ryall received a “backdoor initiation” from one of Simon Goodman’s initiates.
According to Douglas Ezzy, Alexandrian Wicca is the most numerous initiate tradition in Australia mostly deriving from individuals who trained with Goodman (“Australian Paganisms”, Handbook of Contemporary Paganism edited by Murphy Pizza, James R. Lewis).
The blog website of Mouth Franklin Annual Pagan Gathering has an in memorium to Goodman here. It sounds like he was much beloved and his loss was a tragedy to the Australian community. Goodman was said to have done many media appearances. If you have links to those, please do share them in the comments below.