"The Gatsby of Goth"
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Edward Fitch (commonly referred to as Ed) is a Wiccan High Priest of the Gardnerian tradition and was a leading figure in the rise of contemporary Wicca and Paganism in America. Fitch was an early initiate of Raymond and Rosemary Buckland after they set up the first Gardnerian coven in America, located on Long Island. Fitch is the original author of two classic underground books on American witchcraft: “The Grimoire of the Shadows” and “The Outer Court Book of Shadows”.
Fitch was born into a family with Russian roots on the 29th April 1937 in Roxboro, North Carolina. His father was a tradesman working in the construction industry, which necessitated the family moving regularly to various locations around the country. At the age of nine while living on a ranch in northern California, he and his father sighted a UFO. Fitch remembers it as a circular object about fifty feet in diameter surrounded by orange flames. It seemed to have drifted up from nearby mountains and was silently cruising around the ranch in full view of them. This sighting started Fitch on a life long search and study of the paranormal, alternative religions and anything mystical.
In the 1950’s Fitch spent four years studying at the Virginia Military Institute, and after graduating joined the Air Force as a commissioned officer. His first tour of duty was spent in Japan were he managed a courier station. Their mission was to relay secret documents too and from a spying operation eavesdropping on Soviet activities in Siberia. While in Japan, Fitch had ample time to pursue alternative Eastern religions, and do some research into Buddhist and Shinto beliefs and philosophies. After completing his three year term of service, he returned to the US as a civilian, and took employment as a technical writer and electronics engineer in Washington D.C.
The start of the 1960’s was a heady, exhilarating time in America, winds of change were blowing across the nation and many social and political changes were taking place. John F. Kennedy had just won the Presidency and inspired the nation with his Inaugural Address: “…we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change” and “…let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed”.
Further inspired by the Rock ‘n’ Roll music culture, many freedom cults, peace movements and new age religions began forming, among them Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism began to grow and spread. In 1963 Raymond and Rosemary Buckland returned from England and in strict compliance to Gerald Gardner’s “Book of Shadows”, founded the first Gardnerian coven in America situated in New York’s Bay Shore district of Long Island. For the next twenty years the New York coven became the centre of the Gardnerian tradition in America, and as other coven’s hived off to form their own, did much to inspire the spread of the movement in general. By this time Fitch had already started his own intensive study of alternative religions, and had read about Gerald Gardner in England. Later he made the acquaintance of Raymond and Rosemary Buckland, and they formed a lasting friendship.
Raymond and Rosemary Buckland
Fitch’s friendship with the Buckland’s was interrupted however, when in 1964 due to mounting hostilities in the Vietnam War, he was recalled by the Air Force and sent first to Vietnam and then on to Thailand. In Thailand he continued his researches into Eastern religions and even earned a black belt in “Tae Kwon Do”, which led him into Zen philosophy and meditation. While still in Thailand, Fitch wrote two books: “The Grimoire of the Shadows” a book about magical training techniques, and “The Outer Court Book of Shadows” containing magical and seasonal rituals based on his knowledge of the ancient rites of Crete, Greece and Druidic Europe. Instead of being published however, they were circulated freely around the pagan community and soon became underground classics.
After Thailand Fitch was posted back to the US and stationed first in North Dakota where he worked on the redesign of the Minuteman rockets, before being reassigned to Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. During this time, whenever he had a weekend free from his duties, he would jump on a plane to Long Island and visit the Buckland’s, who in 1967 initiated him into the Gardnerian tradition and later raised him to the rank of High Priest. He was also trained in trance channelling by Spiritual mediums associated with the Church of All Worlds, founded earlier by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart.
In 1969 Fitch formed a loose association with Joseph B. Wilson and Thomas Giles and helped to create “The Pagan Way”, a non-initiatory Wiccan tradition. The need for such a tradition came in response to the imminent publication of a book by Susan Roberts “Witches USA” (Dell Publishing Co., Inc 1971) and the anticipated resurgence of interest in Wicca and Paganism it would generate. Already, existing covens in America with their traditional screening programs and “year-and-a-day” probationary periods, were struggling to accommodate the large number of applicants wishing to join their ranks. The Pagan Way therefore provided an alternative “nature-based” tradition without the need for a formal initiation.
Fitch wrote and compiled a set of basic introductory material and rituals for use in the new tradition, which he based on Gardnerian witchcraft while excluding their oath-bound details and secret workings. Some of the Pagan Way’s material and rituals were published in “The Waxing Moon”, a magazine founded by Joseph B. Wilson in 1964, and the first magazine devoted to Witchcraft in America. Wilson gave over its editorship to Fitch and Thomas Giles to promote the Pagan Way while he was stationed in England with the Air Force. As a result, Pagan Way groves began to spread across America.
To cope with the
initial surge of interest other contributing members to the founding of the
Pagan Way formed a ‘committee of correspondence’, and included:
Fitch and Joseph B. Wilson (both in the Air Force), Thomas
Giles in Philadelphia, Fred and Martha Adler in
California, Susan Roberts the author of “Witches U.S.A.” in New York,
and through Joseph B. Wilson in England, John Score the founder of the influential English magazine “The
Wiccan”, Tony Kelly a British poet, and the leaders of the Regency and
Plant Bran covens in England. This
led to the founding of the “Pagan Front” in the UK as a counterpart to the
“Pagan Way” in America. While each initially worked together with the same aims, each
In America mailing centres were initially set up in North and South Dakota and in Philadelphia, but such was the demand for information, additional mailing centres were soon required. Thomas Giles who travelled widely on business, carried word of the new tradition to covens and other interested people across America, among them Gwydion Pendderwen and Alison Harlow founders of “Nemeton”, a huge networking organization that played an important role in promoting the early growth of Wicca and Paganism in America. “The Waxing Moon” initially used as the voice of the Pagan Way was later re-named “The Crystal Well”, and many of the rituals and essays it published were collected and compiled into a book called the “Magical Rites from the Crystal Well”.
Pendderwen and Alison
The Pagan Way had its appeal with two main audiences, those just getting started in Witchcraft, and those interested in attending “open” Pagan rituals and ceremonies, and taking part in the associated social activities that surrounded them. In the mid 1970’s Fitch also helped to organize and chaired two Pagan Ecumenical Councils to establish the “Covenant of the Goddess” (COG) as an international umbrella organization representing Pagans. Formed in 1975 from various Wiccan traditions, the elders drafted the covenant and byelaws between themselves; these were ratified by 13 member covens at the summer solstice (Litha) celebration in 1975. The “Covenant of the Goddess” COG was later incorporated as a non-profit organization on the 31st October (Samhain) that same year.
Having fulfilled its function, the Pagan Way disbanded in the 1980’s, but its rituals and practices endured and eventually evolved as the “American Tradition of Witchcraft”. Today its rituals and practices continue to be used and adapted by other Pagan groups, and the book “Magical Rites from the Crystal Well” with its seasonal rituals and structured magical workings, is still an excellent resource for beginners and experienced practitioners alike.
After serving at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, Fitch was reassigned to a base in southern California, from where he was demobbed from the Air Force with the rank of Captain. He then studied at the University of Southern California gaining a master’s degree in Systems Management before taking up employment with a major aerospace company as a research and development engineer. Through the 1980’s Fitch continued to perform as a Gardnerian High Priest, but his researches also led him to initiation in a number of other traditions and orders, including: Faery, Mosian, the Order of Osiris, the Order of the Temple of Astarte and Norse, and Ceremonial Magick.
In the 1990’s the aerospace industry in California hit a depression, which caused Fitch to take up a varied number of work opportunities, including working as a private detective, as a shopkeeper at Disneyland, California, as an editor for a small publishing house, and as a trouble-shooter for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Washington DC, before returning to the aerospace industry in California in 1997. Since then Fitch has focused his occult researches on the Dark Goddess and Shamanism. He is also interested in an ancient art form of “belly dancing”, which he believes is descendant from the ancient Sumerian and Middle Eastern temple dances of Inanna, Fortuna and Venus.
More recently Fitch has become involved with Gothic culture groups, for which he has written poetic and other magical material relating to the modern Gothic movement. Many of these he has performed at Goth parties and at readings given in southern California for the League of Vampiric Bards. His association with the Goth culture recently caught the attention of the prestigious L.A. Times, who have dubbed him “the Gatsby of Goth”.
Ed Fitch - Speaking at the PantheaCon 2011 in San Jose
Once married to Janine Renée who remains a good friend, Fitch
continues to live, work and write from his home called his “Fortress of
Serenity”, an old Victorian house with hidden panels and rooms in Orange
County, California. He
also likes to spend as much time as possible each year in the California
wilderness, exploring old mines, caves and old ghost towns.
by Ed Fitch:
Rites of Odin -
by Ed Fitch
This is a complete source volume on Odinism. It stresses the ancient values as well as the magic and myth of this way of life.
Magical Rites from the Crystal Well
Pagan rituals for the celebration of the seasons, the working of magick, invocations of the Sun and Moon, and rites of passage: birth, handfasting, separation, and death. Also Pagan lore and facts on modern Paganism.
Grimoire of Shadows -
An introduction to magical studies, with a full cycle of rituals and training in magickal circles, indoor/outdoor ceremonies, invocations and banishing. This book provides a complete system of magickal training based on Tibetan and Austrian ceremonial sources.
Castle of Deception
- Ed Fitch
A Novel of Sorcery and Swords and Other-Worldly Matters, With
Seven Short Essays on the Reality of Matters Supernatural
by Susan Roberts
down the Moon -
by Margot Adler
Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi
The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft - By Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-paganism - By Shelley Rabinovitch
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Written and compiled on the 23rd October 2007 © 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, Elders and Others)
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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