Mother Shipton  A 15th-century English witch and seer who supposedly prophesied scientific inventions, new technology, wars and politics through several centuries, all written in crude rhymes. The books of her “prophecies” are likely the invention of later writers, among them Richard Head, who published a book of her predictions in[…]

Mother Shipton

  Befana  is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5). A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany or in Italian La Festa dell’Epifania. . In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of[…]


One of the parts of strolling the Crooked Path that is once in a while tended to in books is the feeling of being an untouchable. What we’re discussing is this feeling of being separated, of being distant from everyone else notwithstanding when you’re in a group, notwithstanding when inside[…]

The Crooked Path of the Outcast

Mother Redcap A name applied to English ale-wives, wise women and witches. It was also given to familiar animals. One Mother Redcap was an elderly woman who lived in a village about 14 miles from Cambridge, England, who was known as a witch. She said she was endowed with her[…]

Mother Redcap

Merlin Archetypal wizard of Arthurian lore. Merlin is a Latinized version of the Welsh Myrddin. His exact origins are lost in myth; he may have been a god, perhaps a version of Mabon or Maponos, the British Apollo, the divine ruler or guardian of Britain. The name Merlin may have[…]


Leek, Sybil  (1923–1983) English witch and astrologer who moved to America in the 1960s and gained fame by publicizing the renaissance of witchcraft in the Western world. Her trademarks were a cape, loose gowns and a jackdaw named Mr. Hotfoot Jackson who perched on her shoulder. She always wore a[…]

Leek, Sybil  (1923–1983)

Hohman, John George (d. ca. 1845) The most famous braucher in the powwowing tradition of folk magic, spells, hexes and healing. John George Hohman (also spelled Homan) was a German immigrant to America and the author of the widely circulated magical text The Long Lost Friend. Little is known about[…]

Hohman, John George (d. ca. 1845)

Gwydion the Wizard In Welsh Celtic mythology, the heroic wizard (see wizard) and bard of North Wales, whose tales are told in The Mabinogion. Gwydion the Wizard was the son of Don, the Welsh goddess who is a counterpart of the Irish Celtic goddess Danu. He was one of three[…]

Gwydion the Wizard

Witches, authors and founders of the Church and School of Wicca, located in Hinton, West Virginia. The Frosts have steadfastly followed their own path in the Craft, and whenever that took them out of mainstream views, they have weathered much criticism from others in the Wiccan/Pagan communities. Though the Frosts[…]

Frost, Gavin (1930– ) and Yvonne (1931– )

The magical name of Violet Mary Firth, British occultist and author whose books continue to have an impact on modern witchcraft and Paganism. Considered one of the leading occultists of her time, Dion Fortune was an adept in ceremonial magic and was perhaps one of the first occult writers to[…]

Fortune, Dion (1891–1946)

Farrar, Janet (1950– ) and Stewart (1916–2000) En­glish witches whose “progressive witchcraft” work has had a major influence on the Craft. Janet and Stewart Farrar were initiated by the flamboyant Alex Sanders but were able to transcend the showmanship that surrounded Sanders and his coven, and went on to form[…]

Farrar, Janet (1950– ) and Stewart (1916–2000)

Fairy Witch of Clonmel (1894) A young woman named Bridget Cleary, of Clonmel, County Tipperary, who was tortured and burned to death because her husband believed the fairies had spirited her away and substituted in her place a witch changeling. Changelings are sickly fairy infants that fairies leave in the[…]

Fairy Witch of Clonmel (1894)

 The pseudonym or magical name of the woman who initiated Gerald B. Gardner into witchcraft around 1939–40. The identity of Dafo remains uncertain. She is sometimes confused with Old Dorothy Clutterbuck, who was Gardner’s first high priestess. He described her as his teacher and an authority on witchcraft. Little is[…]


Village witch or healer who provided cures, remedies, charms, spells and divination, usually in exchange for a fee or gift. Scott Cunningham (Courtesy Llewellyn Publications) 86 cunning man/cunning woman “Cunning” comes from the Old English term kenning, meaning “wise” or “knowledgeable.” Other terms for cunning man and cunning woman are[…]

Cunning Man/Cunning Woman

Cunningham, Scott (1956–1993) Prolific Wiccan author and expert on earth and natural magic, best known for his books on magical herbalism, earth power, crystals, gems and metals and “the truth about Witchcraft.” Born June 27, 1956, in Royal Oak, Michigan, Cunningham lived in San Diego from 1961 until his death[…]

Cunningham, Scott (1956–1993)

A Witch and high priestess of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, and one of the last surviving high priestesses initiated by Gerald B. Gardner. Patricia Crowther has, since the 1960s, been a leading spokesperson for the Old Religion in books, the media and lecture appearances. Initiated formally into the Craft by Gardner,[…]

Crowther, Patricia C. (1927– )

English Witch and skilled stage magician, friend of Gerald B. Gardner and husband of Patricia C. Crowther. According to Patricia, Crowther, like Gardner, was an “old” soul who had lived many earthly lives. He discovered a past life as a Tibetan monk, and he experienced vivid dreams in which the[…]

Crowther, Arnold (1909–1974)

The most controversial and perhaps least understood magician and occultist of his time, Aleister Crowley has been both vilified and idolized. He was a man of both low excesses and high brilliance. He considered himself to be the reincarnation of other great occultists: Pope Alexander VI, renowned for his love[…]

Crowley, Aleister (1875–1947)

Chelmsford witches Four major witch trails in the 16th–17th centuries that resulted in numerous convictions and executions. The first trial occurred in the summer of 1566, under the rule of Queen Elizabeth, whose Parliament had passed the second of England’s three witchcraft acts in 1563. The Act of 1563 tightened[…]

Chelmsford witches

Founder of the first feminist witches’ coven and the main branch of Dianic Wicca. Z Budapest (her feminist name) was born Zsusanna Mokcsay in Budapest, Hungary, on January 30, 1940. Her mother, Masika Szilagyi, was a medium and ceramics ar40 Budapest, Z tist whose work was Goddess-inspired. Her grandmother Ilona[…]

Budapest, Z (1940–

English Witch, one of the original high priestesses initiated by Gerald B. Gardner. Eleanor “Ray” Bone followed Gardner’s footsteps in the media attention and was sometimes called the Matriarch of British Witchcraft. Bone was born in London; her mother was a school headmistress. As a child, she saw the ghost[…]

Bone, Eleanor “Ray” (1910–2001)

Famous witch, healer and pellar of Cornwall, England, known as “the Pellar of Helston.” Stories about her were recorded by the Cornish folklorist William Bottrell in the 19th century. Tamsin Blight was born in Redruth in 1798, probably to a poor family. Her first name is sometimes given as Tamson[…]

Blight, Tamsin (1798–1856)

Irish seer and healer, often described as a witch. Most of what is known about Biddy Early has been collected from oral tradition, and many of the stories about her have numerous variations. Nonetheless, Biddy seemed to have possessed real powers, and many people from all over Ireland and even[…]

Biddy Early (1798–1874)

Bargarran Witches (1696–1697) Scottish witchcraft hysteria started by a girl. The case bears similarities to the Warboys Witches and to the Salem Witches, in which the fits of supposedly possessed children led to the executions of accused witches. The cause of the hysteria was Christine Shaw, the 11- year-old daughter[…]

Bargarran Witches (1696–1697)

Aradia The Tuscan legend of Aradia, daughter of the moon goddess Diana who was dispatched to earth to establish witchcraft and teach it to witches, was published by the American folklorist, Charles Godfrey Leland, in 1889. Leland said the legend had been passed on to him by a hereditary Etruscan[…]


Anderson, Victor (1917–2001) Cofounder of the Feri (formerly Faery) Tradition of Witchcraft. Victor H. Anderson was born on May 21, 1917, in Clayton, New Mexico. When he was a young child, his family moved to Bend, Oregon. An uncorrected condition or ailment left him nearly blind for life. In Oregon,[…]

Anderson, Victor

Abramelin the Mage (1362–1460) A Jew from Würzburg, Germany, Abraham, or Abramelin (also spelled Abra-Melin), created a body of magical works that for centuries influenced magicians, including Aleister Crowley. An expert on the Kabbalah, Abramelin said he learned his magical knowledge from angels, who told him how to conjure and[…]

Abramelin the Mage