Stewart Farrar (1916-2000)
Written and compiled by George Knowles.
Stewart Farrar was a journalist and prolific author of contemporary
fiction and non-fiction books and articles about Witchcraft.
Through his books, Farrar with his seventh
wife Janet did much to explain the workings of modern witchcraft to the curious.
Initiated into the craft in 1970 by the flamboyant Alex Sanders, over the
following 30 years until his death in 2000, Stewart Farrar became the UK’s
leading voice and expert on matters pertaining to Witchcraft.
Stewart Farrar was born on the 28th of June
1916, at 239
Winchester Road, Highams Park in Walthamstow, London. The
son of a bank official Frank Farrar and Agnes (nee Picken) a schoolteacher,
he was brought up in middle-class suburbia as a Christian scientist, but turned
agnostic by the time he was 20. For
his early education he attended
the City of London School for Boys, before enrolling at University College
London to study journalism. While
in college he served as President of the London University Journalism Union and
Editor of the London Union Magazine before graduating with a degree in
journalism in 1937.
the outset of World War II in 1939, Farrar voluntarily joined
the Army where he remained for the duration.
Commissioned as a Captain, he became an officer instructor in charge of
Anti-aircraft gunnery, in which capacity he was asked to write the instruction
manual for the 40mm Bofors gun, his first taste of serious writing. Discharged in 1946 with the rank of Major, Farrar
decided to stay on in Germany and worked as
a civilian for the Allied Control Commission as liaison/public
relations and press officer for the German Coal Board. His
experiences in post-war Germany and the things he saw in the immediate aftermath
of war (he was one of the first British officers to enter Auschwitz) greatly
influenced his personal and political beliefs.
Returning to England in 1947, he again took up journalism and by 1953 was working
out of London's
Reuters office. In
1954, he quit his job with Reuters and joined the British Communist Party as editor of the Daily
He remained a member of the Communist Party until the Hungarian
uprisings, during which time he became disillusioned with the force the Soviets
were using and left the party.
the next six years, Farrar worked for the Associated British-Pathe and A. B. C.
Television as a scriptwriter, he also did freelance work for the BBC (the
British Broadcasting Company). His
work for the BBC during the 1960's included the award-winning radio play
“Watch the Wall my Darling”, a children's TV series called “The Boy
Merlin” and “Pity About the Abbey”, a play for television that he co-wrote
with the poet John Betjeman.
1958, Farrar wrote his first fiction novel, a detective thriller called ‘The
Snake on 99’ (published by Collins Press, London), followed by two more
detective novels ‘Zero in the Gate’ (published by Walker,
NY in 1961) and
‘Death in the Wrong Bed’ (also by Walker, NY in 1963). Using the pen name ‘Laurie Stewart’, Farrar also wrote a
romance novel called ‘ Delphine, Be a Darling’ (published by Hurst &
Blackett, London in 1963).
In 1969 while working as a reporter for the weekly newspaper Reveille,
Farrar was sent to review a film called “Legend of the Witches”.
His assignment was to write an article on Alex
Sanders, the so-called
“King of the Witches” and his wife Maxine.
Both had appeared in and provided technical advice on the film.
Alex Sanders was something of a showman and was gaining notoriety in the
news of that time, and Farrar’s editor felt there might be a story to tell.
Farrar succeeded in gaining an interview with Alex Sanders and from it
wrote a two-part feature, this was later published in the Reveille.
Due to the success of this feature, Sanders invited Farrar to write a new
book, a compliment to his already published biography the “King of the
Witches” written sometime earlier by June Johns.
The new book was be about modern witches, “What they do, believe and
why”. The result was the writing
of Farrar’s most famous book, now a classic in it’s own time “What Witches
While writing “What Witches Do”, Stewart decided that in order to write a true account of ‘what they do’, he would need to become a witch himself. Maxine Sanders, Alex Sanders’ wife and High priestess, initiated Stewart into their craft tradition on the 21 February 1970. While training with their coven, Farrar met another initiate called Janet Owen (thirty-four years his junior), who later became his wife. According to Janet, they were both elevated to the second degree by Sanders on the 17th October 1970, and received their third degree on the 24th April 1971, but some Alexandrian revisionists have disputed these events.
Witches Do”, Farrar’s first non-fiction book was published in 1971 by Peter
Davies of London. The book clearly
established Farrar as a voice promoting Wicca in the community.
However the book was controversial, for it included incidents that
Sanders had fabricated about himself. Farrar
also asserted that Sanders ranked above Gerald B. Gardner and alongside
Crowley and Eliphas Levi in terms of magical achievement, a statement that was
ridiculed by many. To his credit,
Farrar later admitted that he may have been too credulous, and no long placed
Sanders on the same level as Crowley, Levi and Gardner.
Nevertheless, he refused to disparage Sanders by adding that in his own
way he had made a significant contribution to Contemporary Witchcraft.
After taking their second degree Stewart and Janet decided to leave the
Sanders’ coven and set up on their own, but under supervision.
They founded their own coven during the Yule festivities of 1970,and
after gaining their third degrees in April 1971 became independent.
While indebted to the Sanders’ for their initial training in the craft,
both Stewart and Janet felt that much of their teaching was sparse in content. From the start of their own coven in 1970, they both worked
to develop and structure their own rituals and training methods for use within
their own covens. Stewart and Janet
1972, and were legally married at the Registry Office in Woking, Surrey in 1975, attended by Farrar's two daughters and
two sons from three previous marriages. His
marriage to Janet Owen was his seventh.
In April 1976, fed-up with the pace and toil of life in the crowded
streets of London, they turned their coven over to Susan and David Buckingham
and moved to the Republic of Ireland for the peace and quiet of the fields and
mountains in County Mayo and County Wicklow, finally settling in at a two-bedroom cottage on the bog
called “Herne Cottage” in Kells, County Meath. From there they continued
to expand and found new covens. The
structure and method of their workings had by this time developed and had
changed radically from their original Alexandrian beginnings. Today some seventy five percent of Wiccans, both in the
Republic and Northern Ireland, can trace their roots back to the Farrar’s.
Living in peaceful surrounding they each collaborated on writing some of
the most influential books on modern witchcraft published to date.
Such books as: Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches Way (jointly
published as The Witches Bible), also The Witches Goddess, The Witches God, and
Spells and How They Work (see Bibliography below).
Their writings, some of which have now reached classic status, are an
influence to both practitioners and future craft writers alike.
They have also lectured in the United States, as well as Europe and the
Netherlands, and are now exploring video as a medium for presenting further
information on modern Paganism.
The Farrar’s returned to England in 1988, but returned to Ireland in
1993. There they were joined by
Gavin Bone and entered into a “polyamory relationship”. In 1995, Stewart Farrar suffered a stroke, and Gavin as a
trained nurse and healer was instrumental in helping him back to good health.
The three of them co-author two more books ‘The Healing Craft’ and
‘The Pagan Path’.
Having developed their own brand of witchcraft, the Farrar’s became
honorary initiates of several other traditions including “Traditional Italian
Strega”. In 1999, they were
ordained as third-level clergy with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, and also
hold the charter for the same in Ireland. This
is now based at the Tempal Na Callaighe in Ireland.
Despite all their achievements and adornments, the Farrar’s prefer to
be known simply as “Wiccans”, working on the Pagan Path.
They believed strongly in the idea of Wicca being a progressive and
dynamic religion that is accessible to all whom wanted to belong.
After a brief illness Stewart Farrar passed into the next world on the
7th of February 2000.
by Stewart Farrar as the sole author:
Snake on 99
(1958) Collins Press, London
in the Gate
(1961) Walker, NY
in the Wrong Bed
(1963) Walker, NY
Be a Darling
(1963) (under pen name Laurie Stewart) Hurst & Blackett, London
A Modern Coven Revealed (1971) Peter Davies, London - ISBN: 0963065777
(1973) Michael Joseph, London - ISBN 1578633907
Serpent of Lilith
(1976) (under pen name Margot Villiers) Arrow Books, London
Dance of Blood
(1977) Arrow Books, London
Sword of Orley
(1977) Michael Joseph, London
(1980) Arrow Books, London - ISBN 1578633893
(1986) Robert Hale, London
Robert Hale, London
(1996) Godolphin House, New Bern, NC
with Janet Farrar:
The Complete Witches' Handbook (1981 re-issue of The Witches' Way and Eight
Sabbats for Witches) Robert Hale, London - ISBN 0919345921
Sabbats for Witches
(1981) Robert Hale, London (Hardcover) - ISBN 0-7091-8579-0
(1984) Robert Hale, London - ISBN 0-7090-1293-4
The Feminine Principle of Divinity (1987) Robert Hale, London - ISBN 0919345913
Life and Times of a Modern Witch
(1987) Piatkus Books, London
Lord of the Dance (1989) Robert Hale, London - ISBN 0919345476
and How They Work
(1990) Robert Hale, London - ISBN 0-7090-3842-9
with Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone:
The Wiccan Way of Life (1995) Phoenix Publishing - ISBN 0-919345-40-9
Healing Practices for Witches and Pagans (1999) Phoenix Publications Inc.,
Custer, WA - ISBN 0-7090-6563-9
The Complete Dictionary of European Gods and Goddesses (2000) Capall Bann Publishers - ISBN 1-86163-122-7
Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi
A Witches' Bible - By Janet and Stewart Farrar
What Witches Do - By Stewart Farrar
First published on the 25th April 2001, 22:01:18 © 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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