Why the need for Witches today? The answer is simple. The Earth Needs It!
… There’s small wonder why the churches and synagogues have been abandoned by the young. Turned off by hypocrisy, blatant religious bigotry, anti-scientific thinking, and repressive moral codes which are imposed without reason. Today’s young people are looking for something relevant to the real world. And this is why many turn to Wica–the religion of Nature, the religion of the Real World.
People want to know about the world around them–about the unknown, and about themselves. They are tired of Gods who are “jealous” and “vengeful.” Gods who condemn them for living their lives with happiness and joy. And so they turn back to the very Gods whose worship is happiness by definition. The God and Goddess are only happy when their worshippers are happy! Our Gods are Gods of Life and Joy…
Edmund M. Buczynski, Witchcraft Fact Book (circa 1979?)
Among the visionaries who led the establishment of the Craft in the US during the turbulent period of the mid 20th century, Edmund “Eddie” Buczynski stands tall. In a period barely longer than half a decade, roughly from 1972-78, Eddie (known and remembered to many as Lord Gwydion) founded four Craft Traditions. Each new Tradition was both a culmination upon, and a deepening of, the work that had preceded it. The aspect of his legacy that holds my heart most dearly is his founding of the Minoan Brotherhood, an initiatory, oathbound tradition founded specifically for the celebration of the ancient, long-neglected sacred Mysteries given of old for men who love men. At the time that Eddie accomplished this, in the mid-1970s, very few Craft or occult groups were welcoming to gay and bisexual men. In some covens and lodges, in fact, we were explicitly forbidden from membership–though many did become initiates and adepts by concealing their true nature. A prevalent attitude of the time was summed up by the statement of Gareth Knight that gay male sexual acts were “fit only for the practice of black magic.” Equally typical was old Gerald Gardner’s statement that anyone who dared to initiate a gay male into the Mysteries of the Craft would suffer “the curse of the Goddess.” Since those days, we have seen the publication of such books as Blossom of Bone by Randy Conner, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture by the late Arthur Evans, and Celebrating the Male Mysteries by R. J. Stewart. Despite seeing greater openness and a more exploratory attitude to the fluidity of human gender realities and expressions, in this year of 2015 there are still very few esoteric orders in existence that provide a consecrated space for the celebration of these particular Mysteries. The Minoan Brotherhood remains an important exemplar of these immemorial teachings, a most precious jewel in the family of modern Craft traditions.
Beloved as the Brotherhood is to me personally, it may prove, historically, that Eddie’s founding of the Wica Tradition has had an even greater impact. In conversations with an initiate of this Tradition, I have been impressed with both the democratic way in which the covens are organized. I have been further struck by the fact that initiation and the Priesthood are not tied to gender roles. Given that this was established in the mid 1970s, all of this makes the Wica Tradition a very significant advance in the history of American Initiatory Witchcraft. Eddie’s realization of this new way of working in the Craft has a very modern ring to it, especially when compared with existing practices and conventions during the period of the Seventies. It is also worth noting that Eddie’s work in establishing the Minoan Brotherhood, and assisting in the establishment of the Minoan Sisterhood, built solidly upon the work he did in formulating the Wica Tradition.
Eddie published very little in his lifetime. Besides the short Witchcraft Fact Book quoted above, there were some essays and articles included in the short-lived Earth Religion News, edited and published by Eddie’s lover, Herman Slater. Only occasionally in this published work do Eddie’s sterling qualities emerge clearly: his integrity, his passion for the Craft and its traditions, his love of lore and learning, his fierce commitment to truth and justice, and most notably of all, his great personal love for the Goddess and Her Consort.
In the Craft, we honor and remember our great ones who have passed beyond the Veil, our Mighty Dead, with devotion and steadfastness. For us, these foremothers and forefathers are not merely pictures in an album or names inscribed upon a memorial stone. They are a part and parcel of our living Work in every Circle. Their spirits come to us at moments of trial and testing; they guide and guard our dedication to the Work; their potent teachings come alive once more as new gnosis unfolds in the ceaselessly evolving fabric of the Craft. For those of us who have known him through this sacred heart connection, Eddie’s spirit still burns bright and true.
One of Eddie’s favorite authors was Thomas Burnett Swann (1928-1976). Eddie particularly admired Swann’s novel How Mighty are the Fallen, a fanciful retelling of the David and Jonathan romance (from the Hebrew Bible). These lines from the novel always call to my mind Eddie’s passion, his vision, and his unflagging belief that the love men share with one another is a sublime exaltation that both honors and is given from the immortal Gods:
Jonathan held him with a wild urgency, meeting mood for mood, making of touch a language more articulate than song, and in that ancient oak tree the eternal Ashtoreth was honored more richly than by prayer or sacrifice… (How Mighty are the Fallen, DAW Books 1974, p. 94)