Reprinted with the gracious permission of Raymond Buckland from this book "The Witch Book. The Encyclopedia of
Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism.
Doreen Valiente was one of Gerald Gardner's High Priestesses. With him, she coauthored what became known as the
Gardnerian Book of Shadows, the book of rituals used in that tradition of Wicca. Although that book is a gathering of
material from a wide variety of sources, much of it originated with Valiente. She was one of the most influential people
in the Wiccan revival.
Doreen Dominy was born in London, England, living in Horley, Surrey, in her early years even though her family came
from the New Forest area of Hampshire and from Cerne Abbas, Dorset. She read extensively on Theosophy as well as
the writings of Aleister Crowley, her interest in matters occult growing rapidly. In 1944 she met and married a wounded
and recuperating refugee from the Spanish Civil War.
Valiente learned of the Folklore Center of Superstition and Witchcraft, opened in 1950 by Cecil Williamson at
Castletown, on the Isle of Man, and entered into a correspondence with Williamson. From him, Valiente learned of an
existing Witchcraft coven in New Forest, and she eventually became acquainted with Gerald Gardner, a member of that
coven. Gardner presented her with a copy of High Magic's Aid, his novelized version of Wiccan practices. Valiente's
husband was not interested in Wicca but did not stand in her way. By 1953 Gardner had initiated Valiente into his own
coven, which was then separate from the original New Forest group.
Valiente studied Gardner's Book of Shadows, which was based on the one belonging to the New Forest coven but
heavily modified by Gardner. Valiente, with her knowledge of occult literature, identified material attributable to Aleister
Crowley, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Carmichael, Charles Godfrey Leland, and others that Gardner had added to the
text. She set about editing the book so that it was not so obviously laced with outside material, contributing much
original work herself, including the universally admired Wiccan "Charge of the Goddess." This she wrote in verse, but
she also revamped the original prose version, which was largely written by Leland and in part by Crowley. Valiente
worked on the Gardnerian Book of Shadows from 1954 till 1957 before they were both satisfied with it. It has since
become the mainstay of modern Wicca.
By the end of 1957, Valiente left Gardner's coven and formed her own with a man hamed Ned. From 1964 till 1966
she received a series of trance communications from a spirit claming to be a Witch. He gave his name as Jack
Brakespear and said that he lived in Surrey in the early nineteenth century, where he had a coven. Later, in 1978,
Valiente incorporated some of this spirit material in her book, Witchcraft For Tomorrow. In that book Valiente also
criticized such people as Lady Sheba, the self-proclaimed "Witch Queen of America," who published the Gardnerian
Book of Shadows under her own name, claiming it to be "words handed down by word of mouth for generations."
Several writers have claimed great antiquity for their particular tradition while producing only a version of the
Valiente's husband died in 1972. For the later years of her life Valiente lived in Brighton, Sussex, on the south coast of
England. She became very much a recluse until her death on September 1. 1999.
Elegy for a Dead Witch
by Doreen Valiente
To think that you are gone, over the crest of the hills,
As the Moon passed from her fulness, riding the sky,
And the White Mare took you with her.
To think that we will wait another life
To drink wine from the horns and leap the fire.
Farewell from this world, but not from the Circle.
That place that is between the worlds
Shall hold return in due time. Nothing is lost.
The half of a fruit from the tree of Avalon
Shall be our reminder, among the fallen leaves
This life treads underfoot. Let the rain weep,
Waken in sunlight from the Realms of Sleep.
Obituary for Doreen Valiente
On Wednesday 1st September 1999 at 06.55 am, Doreen Valiente passed into the Summer Lands in her home town of Brighton.
There are few who had met her who did not find her unassuming, modest, and unpretentious. There were many reasons for her to be the
opposite though. She was (and still is) the mother of one of the fastest growing religions of the later 20th Century - Wicca.
Her books have introduced thousands to the concept of the Goddess for the first time, as well as the joys of a fresh spirituality. While many who
had done far less had donned titles, her humility prevented her from ever using a title such as ‘Queen of the Witches’; but she more than
anyone was responsible for it’s growth, it’s poetry and beauty in it’s ritual.
And in her own words (From the Charge of the Goddess):
"I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond
death, I give peace and freedom and reunion with those who have gone before."
May the Great Goddess Indeed welcome her with open arms. May she be re-united with those she has loved. She will be sadly missed by all who
practise the Old Religion.
(Obituary written by : Janet and Stewart Farrar and Gavin Bone.)
Alex Sanders and Doreen Valiente Speak
From the 1989 video 'Earth Magic'. Interview with Doreen Valiente was conducted by Kevin
Carlyon in 1988.
Doreen Valiente, The Mother of Gardnerian Wicca By OathBoundSecrets
In The News: The following are transcripts of found newspaper articles re: Mrs. Valiente
1966 - April 17 The Independent Star-News, Pasadena California
Mrs. Doreen Valiente, guest of honor at a cocktail party in London to launch a book "Witchcraft," admitted she had
been a "witch" for 12 years, said it didn't interfere with her marriage as "My husband doesn't mind -- his hobby is
1962 - December 7
Witches Ride High Over English Cities;
And They Are Not All Female Pagans
1978 - April 24 The Valley Independent, Monessen, Pennsylvania
LONDON (UPI) -- Britain's witches, who haven't been burned at the stake since the 17th century, now are demanding
protection under the Race Relations Act.
The Daily Express said today white witch Doreen Valiente of Brighton told the newspaper many witches dared not tell
their co-workers the truth about themselves for fear of losing their jobs.