Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Helen Duncan's Family Tries Again for a Pardon

Helen Duncan, Spiritualist medium
Mary Martin was 11 years old when her father taught her to box. She would come home from school scratched and bruised, her ears ringing with abuse from the playground. Mary Martin had the unhappy distinction of being the granddaughter of Britain's last convicted witch.

Descendants of Helen Duncan, the "last convicted witch," are trying again for an official pardon.

It was the Spiritualists who worked hardest to get the old Witchcraft Act repealed, but the Wiccans who took advantage of the change.

The Guardian article, in my opinion, is incorrect in this statement:

Gerald Brousseau Gardner founded the modern Wicca movement in the 1940s, 11 years before the repeal of Britain's witchcraft laws. Followers revere nature, worship a goddess and practice ritual magic. In the 2001 census, 7,000 people listed Wicca as their religion.

On the contrary, during the 1940s Gardner was still checking out various esoteric groups and collecting initiations, which gives the lie to his statement about being initiated in 1939 at Dorothy Clutterbuck's house and thus finding the spiritual path that he had always been seeking.

It is much more likely that he and his associates were able to create Wicca in the early 1950s, after it was no longer illegal to call yourself a witch and after he and Cecil Williamson had founded their witchcraft museum on the Isle of Man.

The Boscastle Witch Museum is its successor. And it has a blog.

My earlier post on Helen Duncan is here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen Duncan was never associated with witchcraft, wicca in life. It was only the government that charged her because they had to get a conviction. It angers me that people have associated my grandmother with this.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...

Agreed. That is the irony: she was charged because of her mediumship, yet the subsequent change in British law allowed Wicca to emerge and flourish.

5:49 PM  

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