Written and compiled by
Belham-Payne is perhaps best known as the last working High Priest of Doreen
Valiente, England’s most famous contemporary Witch.
He is also a co-founder of the Centre For Pagan Studies (CFPS) and
custodian of Doreen’s extensive collection of artefacts, which together with Gerald Gardner’s original “Book of Shadows”, are
considered to be modern witchcraft’s most important documents.
Doreen Valiente - Gerald Gardner
John Patrick Belham-Payne was born on the 05th January 1952 in Dudley near Birmingham, England. During his youth John showed a keen interest in music, and encouraged by his theatrical parents, was working as a musician playing drums by the time he was 11. After leaving school he studied photography at College, before moving to Italy where he worked as a musician and ran a bar on the Italian Riviera Del Fiore. On his return to the UK, he took employment in the marketing department of Dudley Zoo and Castle, rising to the position of assistant general manager before leaving after a public disagreement concerning animal welfare policy.
After leaving Dudley Zoo, John again took up music and throughout the 1970’s played with a number of prominent group/bands as a drummer, and as a professional session player backed numerous recording groups of the same era. Later working as an executive for the EMI record company, he lived for a time in San Diego, California, while working in Hollywood. Returning to the UK, the last band he played with was a Brighton based post-punk group called The Piranhas, who during their hay-day recorded two Top Twenty hits in the UK. Sadly however, while returning from a late-night gig in 1982, a serious car accident on Hove Seafront resulted in John breaking his back, which ended his days as a working musician.
After the accident John began to focus more on his spiritual and religious beliefs. During his earlier years at school while attending his local church services, he had often felt the pull of a spiritual calling, but soon became disillusioned with formal religion. After leaving school he also left the church, and had since been studying alternative religions. His studies eventually led him to Paganism and Witchcraft, but like many choosing this as their path, he found it difficult to find someone to teach him. He prevailed however, and at Samhain (Halloween) in 1973 he was initiated into a traditional Welsh coven headed by Patricia and John Edwards. In a later interview with TWPT (The Wiccan Pagan Times) John states:
“Like many new to the studies of the Old Ways I was desperate to be initiated and when I was, it soon became obvious that these people knew a lot less than I did. For me casting a circle seemed a natural extension to my arm. They seemed to be more concerned with getting the words right. They had a lineage, but I felt there was little in the way of content. I did go through a full traditional year and a day before initiation, but I now believe that I should have waited until the right teacher came along”.
Moving to London shortly after his initiation, John worked solitary for a number of years and eventually found another teacher. He met Ralph and Audrey Harvey who ran the well-established Gardnerian Coven of Artemis in Brighton, England. After a period of study with them, John was initiated into their coven. Later he received his second degree from two Alexandrian witches, Ray and Lynda Lindfield, themselves taught and trained by the late Alex Sanders.
Harvey - Ray and Lynda Lindfield
In 1995 seeing the need for a meeting place where people could learn more about their chosen paths, and more particularly, from well-known and respected teachers of the craft, John together with his wife Julie, and Ray and Lynda Lindfield, founded the Centre For Pagan Studies (CFPS). They converted an old 17th Century barn in the grounds of their Sussex home, and turned it into a meeting place facility complete with it’s own temple.
The CFPS was the first building in the UK ever to be given planning permission containing the word ‘Pagan’. Situated on the outskirts of an old English village, to convert it into a place of public use they had to display local notices about their intentions and proposed use of the building. After overcoming a number of their local residents objections, the council finally granted permission and work began. Later to encourage local residents to participate in their activities, and to quell any leftover fears about Witches and Pagans practising in their locality, they held several open events to celebrate the seasonal changes. During the Beltane celebration in the following year, many local residents attended the Centre and had a great time dancing around a Maypole erected outside in the grounds.
The CFPS was founded with the intention of raising the ethical and educational standards of the Craft. They didn’t teach magic or witchcraft, nor did they charge high prices, all they needed was to cover their costs. They held lectures and seminars and invited some of the countries leading teachers to talk about specialized subjects. By doing so they were able to guide genuine students in the right direction, and to suitable teachers, without any association to the Centre itself. The Centre’s temple was also made available for private hire to anyone that needed to use it, and several successful Rituals and Handfastings were held there.
Later that year at Samhain (Halloween) a large party complete with a huge firework display was held at the Centre. Among the VIPs who attend the party was Doreen Valiente, England’s most influential modern Witch. She soon became a firm friend and supporter of the CFPS, and was later made its Patron. It was Doreen who initiated John to the 3rd degree and made him her last High Priest. Sadly after a long struggle with cancer, illness finally overcame Doreen, who in her last few days was moved to a nursing home for extra care and attention. There, throughout her final hours, John and his wife Julie were at her bedside, and at 6.55 a.m. on the 01st September 1999, she cross the threshold into the Otherworld.
In her Last Will and Testament, Doreen bequeathed to John her famous collection of witchcraft artefacts, her extensive library, and copyright to all her poetry and research materials. The collection also included many items made by Gerald Gardner, some of his ritual items, and his original and last Book of Shadows. This together with Doreen’s own Book of Shadows, are thought by many to be contemporary witchcraft’s most important documents. She also requested that John perform her funeral service. This was to be the last time that the temple at the CFPS was used, and where Doreen was laid for a few days prior to her funeral surrounded by candles and woodland flowers.
Doreen at rest in the Temple
After the death of Doreen Valiente, in the following year 2000, John and his wife Julie moved to Malaga in southern Spain, where they now live and work running their own interior design business called “Pueblo Interiors”. Here they also started the task of restoring and archiving Doreen’s famous collection of artefacts, from which they later posthumously publish her book of poetry The Charge of The Goddess, a request they promised to Doreen on her deathbed. Since then together with a travelling exhibition of her artefacts, John runs a series of lectures in his efforts to raise funds for a new and permanent venue for the CFPS. He also hope’s in the future to fund a Museum so that Doreen’s whole collection and library, and those donated by other well-known witches, can be made available to the general public.
Doreen and John - Book of Poetry
Aside from his obvious dedication and preoccupation with Doreen Valiente, during a visit to the United States in 2001, in recognition for his contribution to Witchcraft, the well-established Aquarian Tabernacle Church bestowed on John the honorary title of Reverend. John has also been a long-standing committee member of the Pagan Federation here in the UK, twice declining to take on the role of President. He is also one of the longest standing members of their National Conference team, as part of which, he attended the 2004 Parliament of the World’s Religions meeting in Barcelona.
at the 2004
Parliament of the World’s Religions
When questioned about the future of Witchcraft in the UK, in an interview with TWPT (The Wiccan Pagan Times) John states:
Comes to mind. I keep getting letters from around the world telling me that I am
now the head of the Gardnerian tradition. Do
people really think of me in that way? It
seems such a responsibility somehow that I have to admit I haven't really taken
on board. I truly believe that the
craft is served best in a coven set-up, with a High Priestess and a High Priest
being responsible for the group and their training, by sticking to the laws in
both practical and spiritual terms. They
are responsible for running structured 'open meetings' for those seeking the
craft. If these ‘open meetings’
are run properly then in that ‘year and a day’ they will know from the
questions the newcomer asks whether the craft is right for them and whether the
person is right for that group. These
hard working priests and priestesses are our real leaders. To run an extended family in this way is such a
responsibility. Doreen Valiente
always stuck to the rules, she never waivered.
Neither has Patricia Crowther.
I will follow their example. I have been asked to set up and run a coven for years, but I think those upstairs have other plans for me. I certainly promise to honour that magical lineage that has been passed on to me until it is my turn to find a lady to pass the magical flame onto at my death. I also admire those that decide to work solo and self initiate. This is a difficult path to follow and I am always happy to help where I can though I still believe that structured coven training works best. I work alone a lot of my time and like Doreen I am always honoured when I am invited by a coven to help celebrate the turning of the year with them. By not working with a particular group I think I can be more helpful to any that seek my help”.
John Belham-Payne of the Centre For Pagan Studies has issued the following press release:
Doreen Valiente Foundation was officially formed on the 6th March
2011 and has now received ownership of all artefacts bequeathed to John
Belham-Payne of the Centre For Pagan Studies by Doreen Valiente.
The objects of the foundation are: “To
protect artefacts which are important to the past, present and future of all
pagan religions”, and “to make such artefacts available for future education
Foundations first Trustees each signed a “Declaration of Trust”, they
include: John Belham-Payne, Julia
Belham-Payne, Brian Botham, Patricia Botham and Ashley Mortimer.
Foundation held its first meeting and resolved to:
Seek charitable status from the Charities Commission, which has now been
achieved, and to design and prepare all artefacts for their new purpose, that of
The Foundation has already received pledges of further artefacts to add to the Collection, and anticipates continued growth from future donations.”
In support of the “The Doreen Valiente Foundation”, the Centre For Pagan Studies promotes a number of conferences throughout the year. The next is scheduled for the 16th September 2012:
My grateful thanks to John Belham-Payne and his wife Julie for their correspondence and help in compiling this short biography.
Plus to many others to mention
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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