Thursday, 8 October 2015
CENTRE FOR PAGAN STUDIES, THE DOREEN VALIENTE FOUNDATION AND THE CASTLE BYTHAM SPIRIT CIRCLE 30th SEPTEMBER 2012
On Sunday the 30th of September 2012 I journeyed with friends the not inconsequential distance by car, to the Castle Bytham public house in the picturesque Lincolnshire village of Bytham itself. The evening trip was to attend a meeting of the Castle Bytham Spirit Circle. This is a monthly meeting held for those with interests in a variety of esoteric subjects, hosted by the convivial landlord and Steward of the Hell Fire Club, Mr Eamonn Loughran.
This particular meeting featured a presentation by Mr Ashley Mortimer, a trustee of the Centre for Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation. The presentation, informal talk and later discussion was of a broad sweep covering the history of Gardnerian Witchcraft or Wica, the life of the founder Gerald Gardner himself, the life and influence of Doreen Valiente, together with a brief exploration of the aims of the Doreen Valiente Foundation. The meeting was notable for the attendance of several literary luminaries, including Shani Oates the Maid of the Clan of Tubal Cain and Philip Heselton, who is himself an author and authority on the history of the Gardnerian Craft. Both of these illustrious personages knew Valiente in life.
Mr Mortimer due to the breadth of the subject matter and the time permitted, was only able to a give the most limited exploration of the complex subject matter, correctly concentrating upon the most important factors relevant to our understanding for the evening. This he did with practiced competence and maintained the interest of the audience throughout. Taking us on a journey that included Gardner’s return to England, his meetings with persons living in the New Forest area and finally, moving on to discuss the influence of Valiente, not only upon Witchcraft but Paganism as a whole and her role in the foundation of the Pagan Front, later to become the Pagan Federation.
The evening was further enlivened by the presence of various artefacts owned by the Doreen Valiente Foundation, many of which were of a personal significance to Valiente during her lifetime. This informal exhibition enabled Mr Mortimer to discuss plans for the future of the Doreen Valiente Collection, including the search for a permanent home. The evening ended with mention of the much hoped for biography of the lady in question, before a short break and questions.
The evening was most enjoyable and well attended, with many present having made a journey of no mean distance. Those not returning the same night having booked rooms at the various boarding houses in the village, those offering bed and breakfast, were able to stay and move into the public bar. The company was therefore, genial and stimulating.
The Castle Bytham Spirit Circle continues to hold regular monthly meetings with a speaker each month and has an active Facebook group (see below).
CASTLE BYTHAM SPIRIT CIRCLE FACEBOOK GROUP
CENTRE FOR PAGAN STUDIES BLOG: