Gerald Gardner born Gerald Brosseau Gardner (June 13, 1884 – February 13, 1964) was a British civil servant, amateur anthropologist, writer, and occultist who published some of the definitive texts for modern Wicca, which he was instrumental in founding.
Gerald Gardner claimed to have been initiated in 1939 into a tradition of religious witchcraft that he believed to be a continuation of European Paganism. Doreen Valiente, one of Gardner’s priestesses, later identified the woman who initiated Garder as Dorothy Clutterbuck in a book published by Janet and Stewart Farrar. This identification was based on references Valiente remembered Gardner making to a woman he called “Old Dorothy”. Scholar Ronald Hutton instead argues in his Triumph of the Moon that Gardner’s witchcraft tradition was largely the inspiration of members of the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship and especially a woman known by the “magical name” of Dafo. Dr Leo Ruickbie in his Witchcraft Out of the Shadows analysed the documentary evidence and concluded that Aleister Crowley played a cruicial role in inspiring Gardner to establish a new pagan religion. Ruickbie, Hutton, and others, further argue that much of what has been published of Gardnerian Wicca, as Gardner’s practice came to be known by, was written by Doreen Valiente, Aleister Crowley and also contains borrowings from other identifiable sources.
Gardner, in his two books on the subject, referred to religious witchcraft as “Wica”, or “The Craft”. Gardner’s spelling was quickly replaced by usage of “Wicca”. In Old English, a “Wicca” is a male necromancer, “Wicce” a female one, and “Wiccae”, is the plural form, “necromancers” Historical use of the word “Wicca” as any sort of religion is unsupported by etymology. The verb form, “wiccian”, which means “to practice witchcraft”, does not appear in Gardner’s written material, and is not commonly used in literature about the religious movement.
(The Gardenerian Book Of Shadows – Attributed To Gerald Gardner)