. (1916 - 2000)
Stewart Farrar (June 28, 1916 - February 7, 2000) was a British author of books on Alexandrian Wicca. Along with his
wife, Janet Farrar, he was an influential Neopagan author and teacher. According to George Knowles, "some seventy
five percent of Wiccans both in the Republic and North of Ireland can trace their roots back to the Farrar's [sic]". A
journalist, scriptwriter, and World War II veteran, Farrar also published a number of works of fiction, including detective
novels, many of which dealt with the occult and witchcraft.
Early life and career
Farrar was born in Essex in 1916. He was raised as a Christian Scientist, but gave up the religion in favour of agnosticism
at age twenty. Farrar attended the City of London School boys' school, and graduated from University College, London
in 1937 with a degree in journalism. In college, Farrar had served both as president of the London University Journalism
Union and editor of the London Union Magazine.
In 1939, Farrar volunteered for service in the British Army. He served as an instructor in Anti-aircraft gunnery during
World War II, and wrote an instruction manual for a Bofors gun. After the war's end, Farrar, then a major, continued
to work for the military in Germany as a civilian public relations and press officer for the Control Commission for
Germany, liaison to the German Coal Board. Farrar was one of the first British officers to enter Auschwitz, an
experience that Knowles claims "greatly influenced his personal and political beliefs".
Farrar returned to England after 1947. He began his career in journalism, and from 1953 to 1954 worked in London's
Reuters office and became involved in journalism. In 1954, Farrar joined the British Communist Party, and began
reporting for the Daily Worker, but left both the party and the paper in protest over the Soviet response to the 1956
Hungarian Revolution. For the six years following, Farrar worked for Associated British-Pathe and A. B. C. Television
as a scriptwriter, and also did freelance work for the British Broadcasting Company.
Farrar published his first novel in 1958, The Snake on 99. By the end of 1963 Farrar had published two more detective
novels, Zero in the Gate and Death in the Wrong Bed. Farrar also wrote a romance novel, Delphine, Be a Darling, also
published in 1963.
In 1969, Farrar was once again working as a journalist, employed by the weekly newspaper Reveille. It was an assignment
from this paper that would introduce Farrar to Wicca.
Involvement in Wicca
Farrar was sent by Reveille to a press screening of the film Legend of the Witches. The screening was also attended by
Alex Sanders and Maxine Sanders, the founders of Alexandrian Wicca, who had served as advisors during the film's
creation. According to his biography at mystica.com, Farrar was "skeptical about Witchcraft but was interested in Sanders
upon meeting him". The paper requested that Farrar interview Sanders and published the interview as a two-part story.
Sanders, "impressed" with the interview, invited Farrar to attend an Alexandrian Wiccan initiation ritual, and
prompted Farrar to write an entire book on Wicca. According to mystica.com, Farrar "found the ceremony both
dignified and moving". Farrar began work on his first non-fiction book, What Witches Do, and began taking classes on
witchcraft from the Sanders'. Maxine Sanders remembers Farrar as "a charming man, a sincere student with an active
flexible mind". Maxine Sanders also notes that it was in response to Farrar's questions about how to describe their
practice in his book that the Alexandrian tradition was named.
On February 21, 1970 Farrar was initiated into Alexandrian Wicca and joined the Sanders' coven. Farrar met his future
second wife, then Janet Owen, in the coven. Janet Farrar asserts that the couple were both elevated to the second
degree "in an unoccupied house in Sydenham" by the Sanders on October 17, 1970, and that they received the third,
and final, degree of initiation in their flat April 24, 1971, but that these events are disputed by some Alexandrian
"revisionists". What Witches Do was published in 1971. The book has been called "controversial" because of Farrar's
assertion that Sanders should be "ranked above Gerald B.Gardner and alongside of Aleister Crowley and Eliphas Levi in
terms of magical achievement". Farrar later backed away from the assessment.
Farrar and Owen had begun running their own coven in 1971, before their third degree initiation ceremony, and were
handfasted in 1972 and legally married in 1975. The ceremonies were attended by Farrar's two sons from his first
marriage. The late 1970s saw the publication of several more novels by Farrar, all of which were occult-themed fantasy
novels or science fiction. Farrar left Reveille to pursue a full-time freelance writing career in 1974. In 1976 the Farrars
moved to Ireland to get away from the busy life of London. They lived in County Mayo and County Wicklow, finally
settling in "Herne Cottage" in Kells, County Meath. Both husband and wife went on to publish a number of books on the
Wiccan religion and on coven practises. Their 1981 Eight Sabbats for Witches included material the authors claimed to
be from the Alexandrian tradition's Book of Shadows. The Farrars, with the support of Doreen Valiente, argued in the
book that even though the publishing of this material broke their oath of secrecy, it was justified by the need to correct
misinformation. Janet Farrar indicates that some of the rituals contained in the couple's books were actually written by
them, and that they left the Alexandrian tradition after the book's research was complete. The couple co-authored four
more books on Wicca.
The Farrars returned to England in 1988, but by 1993 had returned to Ireland. They were joined by Gavin Bone, with
whom they entered into a "polyfidelitous relationship". The three of them would co-author two more books, The Pagan
Path, an investigation into the many varieties of Neopaganism, and The Healing Craft. Farrar died in February 2000
after a brief illness.
One of the last pictures
of Stewart, taken by Bev
Richardson in 2000.
Used on Wikipedia with
The following books, written by Farrar as the sole author are works of fiction, with the exception of What Witches Do.
1958: The Snake on 99
1960: Zero in the Gate
1963: Death in the Wrong Bed
1963: Delphine, Be a Darling
1971: What Witches Do: A Modern Coven Revealed (non-fiction)
1974: The Twelve Maidens
1976: The Serpent of Lilith
1977: The Dance of Blood
1977: The Sword of Orley
1986: Forcible Entry
With Janet Farrar
The following are non-fiction books.
1981: Eight Sabbats for Witches
1984: The Witches' Way
1987: The Witches' Goddess: The Feminine Principle of Divinity
1989: The Witches' God: Lord of the Dance
1990: Spells and How they Work
1996: A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook (re-issue of The Witches' Way and Eight Sabbats for Witches)
With Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone
1995: The Pagan Path
1999: The Healing Craft: Healing Practices for Witches and Pagans
2001: The Complete Dictionary of European Gods and Goddesses
Notes and references
George Knowles. Stewart Farrar (1916-2000). Controverscial.Com. URL accessed on December 10, 2005.
Farrar, Janet (1950-) and Stewart (1916-2000). www.themystica.com. URL accessed on December 10, 2005.
Knowles, Farrar, gives the caliber of the gun as 30mm. The well-known anti-aircraft Bofors gun was 40mm.
Bone, Gavin and Farrar, Janet. Our Wiccan Origins. Wicca na hErin. URL accessed on December 10, 2005.
Priestess of the Goddess: TWPT talks with Maxine Sanders. The Wiccan/Pagan Times. URL accessed on December 11, 2005.
Farrar, Janet and Stewart (1988). Eight Sabbats for Witches, revised edition, Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0919345263.
Bone, Gavin and Farrar, Janet. Our Views. Wicca na hErin. URL accessed on December 10, 2005.
Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Bone, Gavin (1995). The Pagan Path, Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0919345409.
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewart_Farrar"
The following document is the official Obituary for Stewart Farrar approved by Janet, his wife. It is very objective, and will be followed later by our
own 'memories' of him. We would be grateful if you would not publish any other Obituaries unless approved by ourselves first.
Gavin Bone Acting on behalf of Janet Farrar
The son of a bank official and schoolteacher, Stewart Farrar was born on the 28 June 1916, at 239 Winchester Road, Highams Park,
Walthamstow, in what is now the London borough of Waltham Forest.
Stewart Farrar's interest in the occult field came very much as a late vocation, having had little more than a passing interest in many other
philosophies including communism and Marxism. By the time he met Alex and Maxine Sanders, the well known London witches, in late 1969 he
was, in his own words, an "interested agnostic". In the process of writing his first non-fiction book, What Witches Do, having warmed to its themes
and philosophy, he was initiated into the Craft on 21 February 1970. What Witches Do proved to be a milestone for the Craft for many reasons. It
was perhaps the first book written from the inside as it were, with a sense of sobriety and intelligence, which many of its cloak and dagger, garbled
predecessors lacked. In Stewart's own words, it filled a gap. It combined an overall survey of the basic beliefs and practices of a modern witch with
a new witch's reactions to the process of learning those beliefs and practices. It is still recommended reading for serious minded students of the
Stewart with his beloved wife Janet, moved to Ferns, County Wexford, Ireland, in the spring of 1976 and it was here that they began to produce
the first of their own independent writings. Here, immersing themselves in rural Irish tradition and culture, they formed a coven nucleus and worked
out ritual drama for their Eight Sabbats for Witches published in 1981. They spent a short time in the west of Ireland before moving to a rural
backwater in Swords close to Dublin City where they began working on another milestone The Witches Way (1984). From here they moved to
Beltichburne near Drogheda and then on to Kells, County Meath where they produced The Witches Goddess (1987); The Life and Times of a
Modern Witch (1987); The Witches God (1989) and Spells and How They Work (1990). Stewart and Janet co-authored with Gavin Bone, a
qualified nurse, The Pagan Path (1995) and The Healing Craft (1999).
Stewart also wrote seven witchcraft novels of which Omega was perhaps the most outstanding and idealistic. It depicts a world ravaged by man's
corruption, his rape of the planet and the final coming to terms with a New World through the philosophy of Wicca.
I think it is fair to say that Stewart Farrar did more than any Craft writer on this side of the Atlantic to expound the spirit of Wicca in its 'purest' form
since Gerald Gardner. Certainly, he has few, if any contemporaries that can rival him for sheer volume alone. His rational, intelligent and easy to
read style of writing has proved immensely popular and has given witchcraft the 'respectable' image it needed for so long. Farrar was not without
his critics who were quick to dwell on his occasional misdemeanours in the field as sometime spokesman for the Craft movement. These however,
with the passage of time, along with the critics, will be seen as inconsequential storms in a tea cup.
Suffice to say that Farrar was, is and may remain the most prolific writer on the subject of contemporary witchcraft that perhaps the world has ever
known. He more than anybody else, has put his shoulder to the wheel of the Western Mystery Tradition to make Wicca a viable and workable path
for many to tread.
Peter J. Doyle
Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin. Ireland. 7th February 2000