Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Doreen Valiente remembered

Hecate reminds us that ten years have passed since the Wiccan world lost Doreen Valiente, who still does not get enough credit for her part in creating the religion.

I corresponded with her some in the 1980s, but, ironically, arrived in her home of Brighton just weeks after passing. Riding city buses with E. John Jones, he would point and say, "Doreen used to live on that street," or "Doreen had a flat in that building."

I got the impression at third-hand that there was a bit of struggle over who would become the official custodian of her papers and thus her memory--perhaps one of my British readers could enlighten us on that.

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Blogger Yewtree said...

Well, someone probably could, but it would probably fall under the category of bicker and bitchcraft. I am not party to the specific details in any case...

People should make definite and specific provision in their wills for their stuff to go to a specific and well-recognised archive.

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


John Belham Payne, and the Centre for Pagan Studies, was the undisputed heir to Doreen's legacy.It is a great pity that he had to sell the Centre shortly after her death, however he has tried to make her legacy available as she wished, allowing serious authors full access, adn putting on shows of her interesting museum worthy things. He has been working with Atlantis Books to put on the "Day for Doreen" 13th September in London's Conway Hall.

Doreen gave me her collection of press cuttings re Wicca and random fascinating things, which has since been used by Ronald Hutton, Gareth Medway, Philip Heselton,for research. In accordance of Doreens wishes for it to be available to the public Graham King at the Meuseum of Witchraft in Boscastle has pohotographed it and has it in his archives. This archive has been sucessfully used by several net sources including the excellent site by Melissa Siems on early Gardnerian Wicca.

Chas and Yvonne I dont do blogs but popped on here cos it was important, thanks for all your work in this internet area.

best regards and blessings

Melissa Harrington.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Yewtree said...

Thanks Melissa.

I am going to the Day for Doreen and looking forward to it.

10:16 AM  
Blogger George Knowles said...

I'm not aware of any conflict arising from her last will and testament', here's a snippet from a bio I wrote about her:

In her later years Doreen lived in Brighton, Sussex, where after a long struggle with cancer, illness finally overcame her. In her last few days she was moved to a nursing home for extra care and attention, and there friends would visit and keep her company. Through-out her final mortal hours, John Belham-Payne and his wife Julie were at her bedside, and at 6.55 a.m. on the 1st September 1999, she cross the threshold into the Otherworld.

Doreen had been a strong person in life, strong in her belief's through-out her life, and while her illness sapped her physical strength, she retained her mental strength right up until the end. Just two weeks before she passed away, Doreen notarised her 'Last Will and Testament'. In it she bequeathed to John Belham-Payne her extensive collection of witchcraft artefacts, her personal library, and copyrights to all her writings, research material and poetry for prosperity. The artefacts included many items made for her by Gerald Gardner, together with some of his ritual items, his original Book of Shadows and her own Book of Shadows, thought by many to be contemporary witchcraft’s most important documents. She also requested John to perform a simple pagan service for her funeral and invite all her friends to the same.

One of her last wishes John tells us, was that the poetry she had written over the years, be published. To achieve this last wish, John and his wife Julie moved to Spain in the following year 2000. This allowed them the time and freedom to restore and archive Doreen's now famous collection, and more importantly, to publish posthumously her final gift to the community, a new book of her poetry entitled "Charge of The Goddess" (published in 2000 by Hexagon Hoopix, the publishing arm of the Hexagon Archive). The book is available to order on-line from

To add to Melissa Harrington's reply, I believe John Belham-Payne also puts up a display of her artefacts for view at the annual Pagan Federation Conference held during October in Croydon. I haven't being for a couple of years but I believe this has now been taken over by the Children of Artemis - "WitchFest International", this year held on Saturday the 7th November 2009???

Hope this helps.

George Knowles

4:58 AM  

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