Leo Louis Martello (1930 – 2000)
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Leo Louis Martello was an American Witch, a certified hypnotist and
graphologist, and an author with a number of books to his credit.
He first came to prominence during the 1960’s as a leader involved in
the early spread of Contemporary Witchcraft in America.
A colorful and sometimes controversial figure, he is perhaps best known
as an activist involved with - Civil Rights, Animal Rights, and Gay and Lesbian
Rights issues. He is particularly
famed for his manifesto seeking retribution for atrocities caused to Witches
during the Witch hysteria of the 15th – 17th centuries
in Europe, and filing suits of $500 million against the Roman Catholic Church
and $100 million against Salem, Massachusetts.
Martello was born on the 26th of September 1930 in Dudley, Massachusetts.
His father was an immigrant Sicilian who owned a small farm, but this was
the time of the Great Depression, when poverty, joblessness, homelessness and
hunger were all too prevalent throughout the United States.
As he struggled to raise his young son, they were forced to move first to
Worcester and then to Southbridge, during which time Leo was baptized as a
due to the stress of the times the marriage between his parents deteriorated and
they were divorced while Leo was still very young.
As a consequence Leo was sent to a Catholic boarding school to begin his
education. Leo later contended that
the following six years at boarding school, were the unhappiest years of his
life, a time he was regularly up to mischief and often in trouble.
a child, Leo had many psychic experiences and in his early teens began to study
palmistry and tarot with a Gypsy woman. He
also learned about hypnotism and graphology.
By the time he was sixteen, he was making radio appearances, giving
handwriting analyses and selling articles to magazines, at the same time
continuing his education at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.
the age of 18, Leo moved to New York and there studied at Hunter College and the
Institute for Psychotherapy in New York City. This he managed to do on his own, supporting himself with a
variety of odd jobs. A year later
aged 19, he won a gold medal for the best fiction story written by a teenage
author in New York City.
until this time Leo had little knowledge of his ancestral heritage, except for
his father’s brief references that he resembled his maternal grandmother in
Sicily, a lady called Maria Concetta. He
also stated that he had inherited her temperament and psychic abilities.
Maria had been a well-known Strega Maga (a female Witch) and a High
Priestess of a secret coven called ‘Goddess of the Sikels’.
After the sudden death of a local Mafiosi by heart attack, it was rumored
that she had caused his death after he had threatened to kill her husband for
not paying protection money.
moving to New York, Leo’s father informed him that there were cousins from the
old country there who wished to meet with him.
After meeting with his cousins, he was told they had been watching him
for years, waiting until he was ready to be brought back into the Old Religion.
On the 26th of September 1951, Leo was initiated into his
cousin’s secret Sicilian coven, and thus he became a Stregone Mago (a male
Witch). The initiation involved a
“bloodletting Oath”; he was never to reveal the secrets of the coven, its
members, or any of their secret teachings.
1950 combining his talents as a hypnotist and graphologist, he studied
handwriting obtained under hypnotic age regression, and worked professionally as
a graphologist analyzing handwriting for businesses and various corporate
clients. He also founded and was
director of the American Hypnotism Academy in New York from 1950 to 1954, and
treasurer of the American Graphological Society from 1955 to 1957.
1955 aged 25, Leo was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity degree by the National
Congress of Spiritual Consultants and became an ordained minister of the
Spiritual Independents-Nonsectarian. He
served as pastor for the Temple of Spiritual Guidance from 1955 to 1960.
No-longer accepting the theology of the National Congress of Spiritual
Consultants, he then left this position to pursue wider interests connected with
In 1964, Leo traveled to Morocco in North Africa and for a year resided in Tangiers studying oriental religion, magic and witchcraft. Returning to New York and in order to promote the truth about witchcraft, Leo next sought the permission from his Sicilian coven to go public as a Witch. With their consent, he contacted other friends and associates leading to his initiation into Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Traditionalist traditions. In 1969 finally going public, Leo had his first book on Witchcraft published: Weird Ways of Witchcraft (New York – HC Publishers, 1969).
Leo Martello circa. 1960's
was one of the first American witches to go public and championed such causes as
Legally incorporated tax-exempt Wiccan churches, Civil rights for Witches to
hold public activities and demonstrations, and Paid days off from work for
Witches on their holidays. To aid
his work, he founded the Witches' Liberation Movement and the Witches
International Craft Association (WICA), for which in 1970, he launched the WICA
Newsletter and Witchcraft Digest. By
the mid-1980’s, this Newsletter had gained a circulation of around 3,500
sometimes a controversial man, received much publicity in 1970 when he organized
the now famed “Halloween (All Hallows Eve) Witch-in" in New York City’s
Central Park. The New York City
Parks Department initially refused to issue a permit for the ‘Witch-in’, but
soon changed their minds when Leo secured the services of the New York Civil
Liberties Union and threatened to file suit for discrimination on behalf of a
minority religion whose rights were being violated. On Thursday the 29th of October just two days
before the event, the permit was granted.
the evening of the 31st October 1970 (the Eve of Samhain,
Halloween’s Eve and All Hallows Eve), the “Witch-in” in Central Park New
York was a tremendous success. Over
a 1,000 people attended the “Witch-in”, which was filmed and turned into a
documentary by Global Village. The
highlight of the evening was when Witches and non-Witches alike, held hands in
an ever-widening circle and danced a Witches reel.
They sang new words to the old folk tune "London Bridge is Falling
meet in Central Park, Central Park, Central Park,
the success of the “Witch-in”, Leo then founded the Witches Anti-Defamation
League, later renamed the Witches Anti-Discrimination Lobby (WADL), which he
dedicated to ensuring Witches' religious rights. By the late 1980's, the League had established chapters in
every state in the U.S.A.
then drafted his now famed ‘Witch Manifesto’, which called for a National
Witch Day parade and the condemnation of the Catholic Church for its torture and
murder of Witches during the Inquisition. He
also sought and proposed a $500 million lawsuit against the Church for damages,
the proceeds of which would to go to the descendants of victims, paid for by the
Vatican. A further suit for $100
million was made against Salem, Massachusetts for damages in the 1692 Witch
Trials. It was an imaginative but
an impossible goal to be achieved in this late day and age.
working professionally as a writer, graphologist and lecturer, Leo made numerous
public appearances speaking at many major festivals, events and gatherings,
helping to educate others about the craft.
His definition of a Witch was: “A
wise practitioner of the craft, a nature worshipper and a person who is in
control of his/her life”, and inline with his own Sicilian tradition, he
felt that “A Witch must not condone injustices”.
Regardless of sensitivities, he taught not to turn the other cheek, but
to be strong and right a wrong when needed.
He also felt that there was too much emphasis on personalities in the
broader Pagan community.
following is an extract from his book: Witchcraft:
The Old Religion (Seacaucus, N.J. University Books, 1973):
the Craft, there is no hard dogma. Hard drugs are forbidden. Mindless morons
can't be a compliment to our Mother Goddess. Sex is sacred, not something to be
exhibited at a peep show. Power is something personal, not to be used over
others, which is contrary to Craft ethics. Those who think the Old Religion will
make them masters over others are slaves to their own self-delusions. A happy
person is always a powerful person and is hated by those who aren't. A happy
person is in many ways selfish; in the Craft we must protect our best interests
and ensure that the power that comes from joy remains constant, knowing that
none of us are immune from the vicissitudes of life, but that our Old Religion
will help us handle and adversity. The Craft has survived for thousands of
years. After everything else has come and gone, it will remain. And one day, in
the coming Age of Aquarius, there will once again be magnificent temples to the
retired from public life in the early 1990’s, yet he continued to give his
help and advice whenever leaders, groups and others asked for it.
Dr. Leo Louis Martello passed into Summerland on the 29th June 2000.
Following his wishes, the Rev. Lori Bruno of Medford, MA, an elder in
Leo’s tradition and the administrator of his estate, had his remains cremated.
In October 2000, Lori also officiated at a very moving memorial service
in New York City. It was held at
the Gay and Lesbian Center where many people had shared their experiences with
him throughout his years.
During his time Leo was a prolific writer and wrote numerous magazine articles and books. His major published credits and his legacy to Witchcraft include: Weird Ways of Witchcraft; Witchcraft: The Old Religion; Black Magic, Satanism and Voodoo; Understanding the Tarot; It's Written in the Stars; It's Written in the Cards; Curses in Verses; Witches’ Liberation and Practical Guide to Witch Covens; Your Pen Personality; and The Hidden World of Hypnotism.
Blessed was he, may he rest in peace.
The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Witch Book (The Encyclopdia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-paganism) - By Raymond Buckland
The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and - By Shelley Rabinovitch & James Lewis
Most helpful in compiling the above was Lori Bruno' memorial tribute which can be seen at: http://www.geocities.com/leomartellomemorial/bio.html
Plus numerous other websites to many to mentions.
First published on the 25th June 2004, updated on the 28th June 2009 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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