and compiled by George Knowles
Philip Heselton is
an independent historian and researcher, a highly
respected writer and author on the subjects of Earth mysteries, Wicca,
Witchcraft and Paganism. He is best known for his books documenting the life of Gerald
Brosseau Gardner, arguably the
father of Contempory Witchcraft, which include: Wiccan Roots: Gerald
Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival (2000), and Gerald Gardner and
the Cauldron of Inspiration (2003).
Philip was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, on the 29th March 1946 and
spent the first few years of his life growing up in suburban London.
After the birth of his younger brother Nigel Heselton in 1950, his
parents, father Kenneth Yeaman Heselton and mother Joan Heselton, enrolled
Philip at the Beckford Junior School in West Hampstead to start his schooling.
From 1952-1957 he attended the Kenyngton Manor Primary School in
Sunbury-on-Thames, then moved up to Sunbury Grammar School where he completed
his early education in 1964.
A mainly solitary person, from an early age Philip had gained an affinity
for the land and a deep respect for nature. He would often on his pushbike, cycle and travel out of
London into neighbouring counties seeking out the wild woods and desolate heaths
for his spiritual inspiration. At
the same time he was always aware that realms beyond the physical existed, and
this led to his early interest in psychic phenomena, UFO’s and other
associated Earth mysteries.
The first indication that other people felt the same way he did came in
1960, when his parents borrowed a book from the local library called:
Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner.
On reading the book, much of what it said had a familiar ring, almost as
if some strange echo from a past lifetime was attracting him.
However it was what the book didn’t say that fascinated him, the
answers to which led him on a life-long quest of research and exploration into
earth mysteries, and much later to undertake an in-depth investigation into the
life of the book’s author.
By his mid-teens Philip’s main interested was in UFO’s, which led to
his meeting with John Anthony Dunkin (Tony) Wedd, his first mentor, and the
person who introduced him into the mysteries of leys (sometimes referred to as
“ley lines”). Wedd was the
founder of the STAR Fellowship, an organization dedicated to finding evidence of
UFO’s from space and making contact with their people.
The STAR Fellowship first came to public attention through an article he
had written for the Flying Saucer Review (issue Jan/Feb 1961), a magazine
dedicated to UFO’s, and entitled: Diffusionist
Theory and the STAR Fellowship. Wedd
also authored a small booklet: Skyways
and Landmarks, which he wrote to coincide with the first STAR Fellowship
Rally held on Saturday 27th May 1961, a rally Philip eagerly attended.
In 1962, together with Jimmy Goddard and other UFO enthusiasts, Philip founded The Ley Hunters Club, a revival of The Straight Track Club (1927-1948) first founded by the earlier pioneer of leys … Alfred Watkins. In 1965 to support growing interest in the club’s activities and findings, they also founded: The Ley Hunter magazine. Philip edited the first few issues of magazine from 1965-66, before handing it over to other members so he could concentrate on his University studies.
Anthony Dunkin Wedd (1919 - 1980)
Watkins (1855 - 1935)
In 1964 Philip’s interest in leys and landscapes led him to the North
East of England and the study of Geography at the University of Hull.
He graduated from Hull in 1967 with a BA (Hons) degree.
Deciding on a career in Planning, from 1968-1970 he continued his studies
at the University of Manchester, gaining a Diploma in Town and Country Planning.
He then took employment as a Planner with the East Riding of Yorkshire
County Council, and in 1973 was granted membership of the Royal Town Planning
Institute (MRTPI). Later in 1985 he
took a position as a Conservation Officer with Hull City Council.
It was not until 1972 that Philip first met some practicing pagans, but
of these, one in particular was dogmatic in his thinking, which put him off
seeking others for several years. In
the late 1980’s he met another group of pagans whose ideas and theologies
coincided with his own. Soon after,
he became involved with various other local groups, some members of which have
become his closest friends.
In 1979 Philip helped to found The Northern Earth Mysteries Group, for
which he edited their magazine called Northern Earth Mysteries.
The remit of the magazine was to record history and archaeology both
ancient and modern, as well as folklore and its customs, and to act as a
cauldron for unexplained and scientific facts.
From hollow mounds to sleeping giants and from rural landscapes to the
urban myths of cityscapes, it brought together a host of people with shared
interests. Having edited the
magazine for more than a few years, Philip passed on the task to another member,
Rob Wilson in 1987, so he could move on with his other interests.
During the mid-1980’s together with Jimmy Goddard and Paul Baines,
Philip co-wrote a booklet: Skyways
and Landmarks Revisited (1985). This
was a re-evaluation of the work that Tony Wedd had started on leys and their
connection with UFO’s. As well as
a detailed history of the leys, it contained the full text of the original
booklet written by Wedd, together with the findings of the STAR Fellowship and
his ideas on the significance of sound to earth energies, which he believed
flowed along the alignments and could be used by extraterrestrials.
Philip then followed this with another booklet:
Earth Mysteries - An Exploratory Introduction (1985) co-written
with Brian Larkman.
A year later Philip wrote his first book, a biography in honour of his
mentor called: Tony Wedd:
New age pioneer (1986). This
he self-published and even organised the printing and binding.
While the book only sold about 100 copies, he felt he had achieved his
aim in respect for his dear friend. It
was about this time that he found a new interest and began a serious study of
Astrology. In 1988 he gained a
Diploma from the Faculty of Astrological Studies (D.F.Astrol.S.), and through
the early 1990’s was a part-time professional astrologer.
During his writing career thus far, Philip had edited various magazines,
had contributed articles to associated magazines in the earth mysteries and
pagan genre, had co-written and produced a number of independent booklets, and
had self-published a book about his friend and mentor Tony Wedd.
What still eluded him however, was his desire to have his own work
published by an “established book publisher”.
That opportunity came just a few years later.
In 1989 a friend of his, Caroline Wise suggested he contact Element
Books, who at the time were publishing a series of books (The Elements of
... series) based on various esoteric subjects. So Philip wrote to them and offered to write a book based on
Earth Mysteries. After submitting a
synopsis with a sample chapter, the editor of Element Books invited him in to
discuss it. As a result in July
1990 he was offered a contract, and a year later: The Elements of Earth
Mysteries (1991) was published.
In the 1990s, he
moved away from his earlier fascination with UFO’s and leys, to
investigating our experience and understanding
of the landscape and nature around us, and this he expressed in his next series
of books: “Secret Places of
the Goddess: Contacting
the Earth Spirit”
(1995), “Mirrors of Magic:
Evoking the Spirit of the Dewpond”
(1997) and “Magical Guardians - Exploring the Spirit and Nature of Trees”
retirement from Hull City Council in 1997, Philip returned to his roots and
began researching and gathering evidence for a project he had long been wanting
to fulfil. Ever since he first read
Witchcraft Today in 1960 he had been curious about its author Gerald B.
Gardner and the many mysteries surrounding his life.
Equally mysterious was the secrecy and origins of the New Forest coven,
which had allegedly survived through generations of witches.
After an in-depth investigation spanning several years, Heselton revealed his findings in a new series of books: Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival (2000), and Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft (2003), in between which Philip himself had bowed to the inevitable and was initiated into a Gardnerian coven in 2002.
Philip’s study and detailed research into the life of Gerald Gardner
and the existence of the New Forest coven has been well received and welcomed in
the pagan community. Many see his
books as the most authoritative account to date of the true origins of the
Gardnerian Tradition of modern witchcraft, but he wasn’t yet finished. At
the end of his last book: Gerald
Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration, he stated: “I have enjoyed researching and writing this book
immensely: I hope you will enjoy
reading it. I am still enthusiastic
and hopeful that a fuller story will one day emerge. As I said in Wiccan Roots and will repeat here – the
subject has not finished with me yet!!!”
Indeed it was not,
for Philip has just released a new two volume book, a full-scale
biography of Gerald Gardner called: Witchfather:
A Life of Gerald Gardner.
Volume 1 - Into
the Witch Cult,
chronicles his life up to 1939, when
he was initiated into the ‘Witch Cult’ by people who called themselves
‘the Wica’. Volume 2 - From
Witch Cult to Wicca, chronicles
the last quarter of his life and his efforts to ensure that not only did the
‘Witch Cult’ survive, but that it would become a significant player on the
world’s religious stage. The book
is currently available as an e-book
from Thoth Publications,
and hard copy books are expected to be available by the end of January 2012.
Never one to remain idle, Philip has travelled extensively around the
country giving lectures and promoting his books. He still resides in Hull, the city he made his home early in
his career, and where with his long time partner of over 30 years, Hilary
Byers, he has raised two sons, Owen (born in 1987) and Aidan (born in 1990).
When not travelling he continues his researches into various esoteric
With Jimmy Goddard
and Paul Baines: Skyways and Landmarks Revisited (1985)
Larkman: Earth Mysteries - An Exploratory Introduction (1985)
Tony Wedd: New
age pioneer (1986).
The Elements of
Earth Mysteries (1991).
of the Goddess: Contacting the Earth Spirit
School – 1896-1996 – Our Past, Present and Future
(1996). A second edition, published in 2006, was given the title
"Newland Avenue School - 1896-2006"
Magic: Evoking the Spirit of the Dewponds
Guardians: Exploring the Spirit and Nature of Trees
Leylines - A
Beginner's Guide (1999).
Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival
and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian
Witchfather: A Life of Gerald Gardner (2012)
grateful thanks to Philip Heselton for all his help in compiling this brief
Philip now has his own website at: http://philipheselton.com/
Plus others to numerous to mention
Written and compiled on the 05th June 2009, updated January 2012 © 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 :-)
"FAIR USE NOTICE"
While I have taken due care and dilligence to credit all sources where possible, this website may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. My use of making such material available here is done so in my efforts to advance our understanding of religious discrimination, the environmental and social justice issues etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the information for research and educational purposes. For more information about 'fair use' see: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this wedsite for purposes of your own that goes beyond this 'fair use' statement, you must obtain permission from the relevant copyright owner yourself.
My online email discussion group:
Dove of Peace
Help send a message of peace around the world! The Dove of Peace flies from site to site, through as many countries as possible. It does not belong to ANY belief system. Please help make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent or to the conflict areas of the world. May trouble and strife be vanquished in it's path.
Please take time to sign my Guest Book.