Gerald Brousseau Gardner (June 13, 1884 – February 12, 1964), who sometimes used the craft name Scire, was an influential EnglishWiccan, as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer, weaponry expert and occultist. He was instrumental in bringing theNeopagan religion of Wicca to public attention in Britain and wrote some of its definitive religious texts. He himself typically referred to the faith as “witchcraft” or “the witch-cult”, its adherents “the Wica”, and he claimed that it was the survival of a pre-Christian pagan Witch cult that he had been initiated into by a New Forest coven in 1939.
Gardner spent much of his life abroad in southern and south-eastern Asia, where he developed an interest in many of the native peoples, and wrote about some of their magical practices. It was after his retirement and return to England that he was initiated into Wicca by the New Forest coven. Subsequently fearing that this religion, which he apparently believed to be a genuine continuance of ancient beliefs, would die out, he set about propagating it through initiating others, mainly through the Bricket Wood coven, and introduced a string of notable High Priestesses into Wicca, including Doreen Valiente, Lois Bourne, Patricia Crowther and Eleanor Bone. He would go on to develop his own variant of the Craft that has come to be named after him, Gardnerian Wicca, which combined the teachings that he had received from the New Forest coven with additional ideas taken from a number of disparate sources, including Freemasonry, ceremonial magic, mediaevalgrimoires and the writings of the occultist Aleister Crowley, a man whom Gardner knew personally.
He also published two books on the subject of Wicca, Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959), along with a couple of novels, and ran the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man, which was devoted to the subject. For this, he has left an enduring legacy on the modern Wiccan and Neopagan movement, and is frequently referred to as “the Father of Wicca”.