Category Archive: P

Jan 13

Elizabeth Clare Prophet

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)


Elizabeth Clare Prophet (née: Wulf) (April 8, 1939 – October 15, 2009) was an American New Age minister and religious figure, self-proclaimed prophet, author, orator, and writer. In 1963 she married Mark L. Prophet, who five years earlier, in 1958, had founded The Summit Lighthouse. Mark and Elizabeth had four children. In their nine years of marriage, they embarked on spiritual pilgrimages to Europe, Ghana and India, where they met Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. Elizabeth, just 33 years of age at the time of husband Mark’s death on February 26, 1973, assumed control of The Summit Lighthouse at that time.

In 1975, Prophet founded Church Universal and Triumphant, which became the umbrella organization for the movement, and which she expanded worldwide. Prophet controversially called on her members in the late 1980s to prepare for the possibility of nuclear war at the turn of the decade, encouraging them to construct fallout shelters. In 1996, Prophet handed day-to-day operational control of her organization to a president and board of directors, maintaining her role as spiritual leader until her retirement due to health reasons in 1999.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Prophet appeared on Larry King Live, Donahue and Nightline, among other television programs. Earlier media appearances included a feature in 1977 in “The Man Who Would Not Die,” an episode of NBC’s In Search Of… series. She was also featured in 1994 on NBC’s Ancient Prophecies.


Early years

Elizabeth Clare Prophet was born Elizabeth Clare Wulf at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey on April 8th, 1939, to Hans and Fridy Wulf. She grew up with her family in Red Bank, New Jersey during the Second World War.Her earliest memories of her childhood she describes as idyllic, however problems arose such as the detention of her father as a suspected German spy in 1942. Upon his release he conveyed the need of her to help others who may also suffer because of their nationality, their race or religion. After seeing the horrors of the Holocaust in media and print, she became convinced of the reality of absolute evil in the world which contributed to her decision to major in political science in her studies.

One of the major difficulties in her early life was her father’s addiction to alcohol. He verbally abused her mother and had a violent temper which he directed towards them and the destruction of his beloved fish tanks. After witnessing this for many years Elizabeth became convinced that when the blood alcohol content creates a chemical imbalance in the body possessing demons take over the mind and the emotions.

In Prophet’s early life she periodically blacked out. This happened in the third grade when she was about to say her lines in a Christmas play, and continued after that throughout her life. Her condition was first diagnosed as petit mal epilepsy, know more commonly today as absence seizures. She did not find medication helpful, and discontinued using it. Her mother later confessed that in 1937 she took some pills in an unsuccessful attempt to abort her pregnancy when she was carrying Elizabeth. Prophet thought that her mother was implying that the medication may have contributed to her childhood blackouts. Prophet herself did some research and found out that the use of quinine sulfate could have damaged the developing nervous system and the brain.

Elizabeth Wulf claimed mystical experiences while growing up. When she was about 4, she claims that she had a vision of herself playing on the sands of the Nile river in Egypt (her mother told her it was a past life). As a child, she claimed to feel God’s light around her naturally, and to hear a sound in her inner ear like that of an ocean wave or the roar of Niagara Falls. Another experience she had while water-skiing was that of being suspended in a place where other spiritual beings existed who were joyous in the light, radiating love. This motivated her to find out more who these “saints robed in white” (Rev. 7:9-17) were for she had always believed in the “universality of all true religion”.


Betty Clare grew up in a home that was mainly non-religious except for major holidays. Her father was Lutheran, her mother Catholic. Yet it was her mother’s interests in Theosophy, the I AM Activity, and Christian Science that had the most influence on Elizabeth. In Theosophy and the I AM Activity she heard about the Ascended Masters, Karma, and Reincarnation; in Christian Science she was told that matter was not the only reality and that the spirit part of us made in the image of God was our true nature. Prophet stayed with Christian Science until she met Mark Prophet at the age of 22.


Elizabeth Clare Wulf spent her junior year studying French in Switzerland in 1956 and a year later graduated from Red Bank Regional High School second in her class. She attended Antioch College in Ohio from September 1957 to March 1959 majoring in political science and economics. She transferred to Boston University in September 1959, from where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in August 1961.


In summer 1958, Prophet took a co-op job as a camp counselor in a French immersion school in Vermont. She was in charge of a number of high school girls between 15 and 16 years old and her role was to discipline them. She described the experience as frustrating and said she ended up praying to God that she never be put in a position of authority over others.

In fall 1958 she served an internship at the United Nations as secretary for Leo Rosenthal, a UN photographer. Her experience at the UN showed her that many of the ambassadors were not there to solve the world’s problems but rather were engaged in power politics and manipulation of the world’s economies. Leaving after three months made her depressed, with the opinion that to solve the world’s problems people would need to change their concept of themselves and of God.

After moving to Boston in 1959, she worked as a secretary for the Christian Science church and the Christian Science Monitor. According to Prophet, that is where she learned much about the publishing operations, organization, and administration of a church on a worldwide scale which was to help her later in running her own church.

Prophet claimed that she realized that she was intended to be a messenger while meditating with Mark L. Prophet at a public meeting in Boston on April 22, 1961. He had come to teach about what he called “the Ascended Masters”. She later claimed to have received a vision while meditating with him that her role in life was to pass on a higher teaching to further humanity’s spiritual evolution. She confided to Mark the next day that like him, she was also to be a messenger; he accepted her as a student at his mystical school, The Summit Lighthouse. She said she received another vision in June of that year in the way of a visitation by the Ascended Master El Morya who told her to go to Washington, D.C. to be trained as messenger. attending her first conference in Washington in July, Mark Prophet returned to Boston in August to help her move to Washington to begin her training under him. They married in 1963, and upon his death on February 26, 1973, Elizabeth Clare Prophet assumed leadership of the organization.

Ministry and expansion

In 1965 the Prophet family relocated to Fairfax, Virginia, and in 1966 to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 1970, the Prophet family founded Montessori International, a school based on the principles of educator Maria Montessori. Classes were offered for students ranging from preschool age to high school. Montessori information courses were also offered to parents and students. Staff were trained at Montessori organizations such as the Association Montessori Internationale and the Pan-American Montessori Society,
In 1970 the Prophets went to India with their family and several dozen church members. (Elizabeth traveled again in the early 1980s and established the ASHRAM OF THE WORLD MOTHER in New Delhi, India.) They toured the country, meeting with Indira Gandhi as well as with the Dalai Lama. They also met with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

In 1974 the headquarters of the Church were moved to Santa Barbara, California, where Elizabeth Prophet founded Summit University, a 12 week program of instruction in her teachings. In 1975, she founded Summit University Press.

The church eventually became the umbrella organization for Prophet’s work, with The Summit Lighthouse becoming the publishing arm of the church.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet in front of the chapel at the summit of Croagh Patrick, Ireland, 1980
In the summer of 1976, the church’s headquarters were again relocated to the campus of Pasadena College, in Pasadena. Summit University, Montessori International, and quarterly church conferences were held there. About 300 staff members were then in residence.

In 1977 the church purchased a former Claretian seminary in Calabasas, a 218-acre (0.88 km2) campus near Los Angeles, and moved its operations there in 1978.

In 1981 the Church Universal and Triumphant purchased the 12,000-acre (49 km2) Forbes Ranch, just outside of Yellowstone Park, near Gardiner, Montana.

Final years in the ministry

In 1986, Prophet relocated her headquarters to Montana near the Yellowstone National Park. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in November 1998.

Retirement and death

She retired in 1999 and died on October 15, 2009.  Prophet was survived by her five children


The dogma of The Summit Lighthouse included a doctrine called the Path of Personal Christhood, or the way of the soul’s one-on-one relationship with God through Christ consciousness. Elizabeth Clare Prophet believed that she shared the gift of the word, both written and spoken. She claimed to be in constant communion with God.

The Science of the Spoken word, as Elizabeth and Mark taught it, was thought to be a gift of sound combined with meditation, prayer and visualization. They believed that a Divine Gift (The Ascension) of union with God was possible.

Taken from:

Dec 02


Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

drparcParacelsus (/ˌpærəˈsɛlsəs/; born Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 11 November or 17 December 1493 – 24 September 1541) was a Swiss German Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist. He founded the discipline of Toxicology. He is also known as a revolutionary for insisting upon using observations of nature, rather than looking to ancient texts, in open and radical defiance of medical practice of his day. He is also credited for giving zinc its name, calling it zincum. Modern psychology often also credits him for being the first to note that some diseases are rooted in psychological illness.

His personality was stubborn and independent. He grew progressively more frustrated and bitter as he became more embattled as a reformer.

“Paracelsus”, meaning “next (in his status as physician) to Celsus” or “beyond Celsus”, refers to the Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus from the 1st century, known for his tract on medicine.
Paracelsus’ most important legacy is likely his critique of the scholastic methods in medicine, science and theology. Although these faculties did not exist separate from each other during his time, his attitudes towards the uncritical copy of the teachings of the old Fathers of Medicine, such as Avicenna and Averroes, without categorically denying their obvious merits, was his first and foremost achievement for independent and empirical approaches to research and teaching. Much of his theoretical work does not withstand modern scientific thought, but his insights laid the foundation for a more dynamic approach in the medical sciences.

Monument to Paracelsus in Beratzhausen, Bavaria
Memorial in Einsiedeln, Switzerland
Paracelsus was born and raised in the village of Einsiedeln in Switzerland. His father, Wilhelm Bombast von Hohenheim, was a Swabian (German) chemist and physician. His mother was Swiss; she presumably died in his childhood. In 1502 the family moved to Villach, Carinthia where Paracelsus’ father worked as a physician, attending to the medical needs of the pilgrims and inhabitants of the cloister. He received a profound humanistic and theological education by his father, local clerics and the convent school of St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal. At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna. He gained his doctorate degree from the University of Ferrara in 1515 or 1516.

His wanderings as an itinerant physician and sometime journeyman miner took him through Germany, France, Spain, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Russia.

As a physician of the early 16th century, Paracelsus held a natural affinity with the Hermetic, Neoplatonic, and Pythagorean philosophies central to the Renaissance, a world-view exemplified by Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. Paracelsus rejected the magic theories of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Nicolas Flamel in his Archidoxes of Magic. Astrology was a very important part of Paracelsus’ medicine, and he was a practicing astrologer — as were many of the university-trained physicians working at this time in Europe. Paracelsus devoted several sections in his writings to the construction of astrological talismans for curing disease, providing talismans for various maladies as well as talismans for each sign of the Zodiac. He also invented an alphabet called the Alphabet of the Magi, for engraving angelic names upon talismans.

Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. He used the name “zink” for the element zinc in about 1526, based on the sharp pointed appearance of its crystals after smelting and the old German word “zinke” for pointed. He used experimentation in learning about the human body. It is said that Paracelsus was also responsible for the creation of laudanum, an opium tincture very common until the 19th century. As a physician and medical chemist at the time, he also sharply criticised apothecary practices that were often not applied in a dosage correct manner. From the study of his texts, he was an advocate and critic of the common use of guaiac wood and hellebore.

Paracelsus gained a reputation for being arrogant, and soon garnered the anger of other physicians in Europe. Some even claim he was a habitual drinker. He held the chair of medicine at the University of Basel and city physician for less than a year. He angered his colleagues by lecturing in German instead of Latin in order to make medical knowledge more accessible to the common people. He attacked conventional academic teachings and publicly burned medical textbooks, denouncing some of his predecessors as quacks and liars. After slandering his opponents with vicious epithets due to a dispute over a physician’s fee, he had to leave Basel secretly fearing punishment by the court. He became a tramp, wandering through Central Europe again. In 1530, at the instigation of the medical faculty at the University of Leipzig, the city celementsouncil of Nürnberg prohibited the printing of Paracelsus’ works.

His travelings to Africa and Asia Minor in the pursuit of hidden knowledge are speculative. He revised old manuscripts and wrote new ones but had trouble finding publishers. In 1536, his Die grosse Wundartznei (“The Great Surgery Book”) was published and enabled him to regain fame.

Paracelsus’ contributions to medicine can be seen in the context of the birth of Lutheranism, although he remained a Catholic and never officially assigned to the reformatory changes taking place during his time. He was a contemporary of Copernicus, Leonardo da Vinci and Martin Luther. During his life he was compared with Luther partly because his ideas were different from the mainstream and partly because of openly defiant acts against the existing authorities in medicine, such as his public burning of ancient books. This act struck people as similar to Luther’s defiance against the Church. Paracelsus rejected that comparison.Famously Paracelsus said, “I leave it to Luther to defend what he says and I will be responsible for what I say. That which you wish to Luther, you wish also to me: You wish us both in the fire.”

In 1526 he bought the rights of citizenship in Strasbourg to establish his own practice. But soon after he was called to Basel to the sickbed of Johann Froben or Frobenius, a successful printer and publisher. Based on historical accounts, Paracelsus cured Frobenius.
Paracelsus was one of the first medical professors to recognize that physicians required a solid academic knowledge in the natural sciences, especially chemistry. Furthermore, he allowed for the access of medical academic work to learned people. Surgeons for example often were not academically trained and ranked with the barbers and butchers in the same guild.

Paracelsus is also a folk legend, and bizarre tales about his life circulated Central Europe for centuries. In the minds of many, he became a wonder-healer and spiritual protector of health. His aid to villages during the plague in the 16th century was for many an act of heroism, his works and achievements therefore often abused and falsely copied.

While attending the sick bed of Frobenius (see above), Erasmus of Rotterdam witnessed the curative powers of Paracelsus’ therapy. Deeply impressed by his skills, he must have recommended him to his humanist friends at the University of Basel, one of the most progressive schools at that time. Paracelsus’ contact with Erasmus also initiated a letter dialogue between them.

parcelusHe died at the age of 47 in Salzburg, and his remains were buried according to his wishes in the cemetery at the church of St. Sebastian in Salzburg. His remains are now located in a tomb in the porch of that church.After his death, the movement of Paracelsianism was seized upon by many wishing to subvert the traditional Galenic physics, and his therapies became more widely known and used.His motto was “Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest” which means “Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself.”

Paracelsus largely rejected the philosophies of Aristotle and Galen, as well as the theory of humors. Although he did accept the concept of the four elements as water, air, fire, and earth, he saw them merely as a foundation for other properties on which to build. From his study of the elements, Paracelsus adopted the idea of triparite alternatives to explain the nature of medicine, taking the place of a combustable element (sulphur) a fluid and changeable element (mercury) and a solid, permanent element (salt.) The first mention of the mercury, sulphur, salt model was in the Opus paramirum dating to about 1530 Paracelsus believed that the principles sulphur, mercury, and salt contained the poisons contributing to all diseases. He saw each disease as having three separate cures depending on how it was afflicted, either being caused by the poisoning of sulphur, mercury, or salt. Paracelsus drew the importance of sulphur, salt and mercury from medieval alchemy, where they all occupied a prominent place. He demonstrated his theory by burning a piece of wood. the fire was the work of sulphur, the smoke was mercury, and the residual ash was salt. Paracelsus also believed that mercury, sulphur, and salt provided a good explanation for the nature of medicine because each of these properties existed in many physical forms. With every disease, the symptoms depended on which of the three principal caused the ailment.Paracelsus theorized that materials that are poisonous in large doses may be positive in small doses, he demonstrated this with the examples of magnetism and static electricity, where a small magnet can attract much larger metals.

The tria prima also defined the human identity. Sulfur embodied the soul, (the emotions and desires); salt represented the body; mercury epitomised the spirit (imagination, moral judgment, and the higher mental faculties). By understanding the chemical nature of the tria prima, a physician could discover the means of curing disease.

Contributions to medicine
Planet Metal
Sun Gold Heart
Paracelsus pioneered the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. His hermetical views were that sickness and health in the body relied on the harmony of man (microcosm) and Nature (macrocosm). He took an approach different from those before him, using this analogy not in the manner of soul-purification but in the manner that humans must have certain balances of minerals in their bodies, and that certain illnesses of the body had chemical remedies that could cure them.

As a result of this hermetical idea of harmony, the universe’s macrocosm was represented in every person as a microcosm. According to the insights at the time, there were Seven planets in the sky, Seven metals on Earth and Seven centers (or major organs) in Man — seven was a special number. Everything was heavenly and closely interrelated (see table below). Paracelsus mobilized the microcosm-macrocosm theory to demonstrate the analogy between the aspirations to salvation and health. As humans must ward off the influence of evil spirits with morality, they also must ward off diseases with good health.

Diseases were caused by poisons brought here from the stars. But ‘poisons’ were not necessarily something negative, in part because related substances interacted, in part because only the dose determined if a substance was poisonous or not. Evil could expel evil. Therefore, poisons could have beneficial medical effects. Because everything in the universe was interrelated, beneficial medical substances could be found in herbs, minerals and various chemical combinations thereof. Paracelsus viewed the universe as one coherent organism pervaded by a uniting lifegiving spirit, and this in its entirety, Man included, was ‘God’. His views put him at odds with the Church, for which there necessarily had to be a difference between the Creator and the created.

His work Die große Wundarzney is a forerunner of antisepsis. This specific empirical knowledge originated from his personal experiences as an army physician in the Venetian wars.

It is not historically proven that he was the first to apply Laudanum, an analgesic opium preparation. He first encountered this drug on an also speculative visit to Constantinople. If this speculation held true, he would have been the first doctor to apply an effective pharmacological agent against pain, especially in case of wounds caused by military confrontations at the time.

One of his most overlooked achievements was the systematic study of minerals and the curative powers of alpine mineral springs. His countless wanderings also brought him deep into many areas of the Alps, where such therapies were already practised on a less common scale than today.

He summarised his own views:
Many have said of Alchemy, that it is for the making of gold and silver. For me such is not the aim, but to consider only what virtue and power may lie in medicines.

Hippocrates put forward the theory that illness was caused by an imbalance of the four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. These ideas were further developed by Galen into an extremely influential and highly persistent set of medical beliefs that were to last until the mid-1850s. The dominant medical treatments in Paracelsus’ time were specific diets to help in the “cleansing of the putrefied juices” combined with purging and bloodletting to restore the balance of the four humors. Paracelsus supplemented and challenged this view with his beliefs that illness was the result of the body being attacked by outside agents. He objected to excessive bloodletting, saying that the process disturbed the harmony of the system, and that blood could not be purifed by lessening it’s quantity. During his time as a military surgeon, Paracelsus was exposed to the crudity of medical knowledge at the time, when doctors believed that infection was a natural part of the healing process. He advocated for cleanliness and protection of wounds, as well as the regulation of diet. Popular ideas of the time opposed these theories and suggested sewing or plastering wounds Historians of syphilitic disease credit Paracelsus with the recognition of the inherited character of syphilis. In his first medical publication, a short pamphlet of syphilis treatment, he wrote a clinical description of syphilis in which he maintained that it could be treated by carefully measured doses of mercury.

Paracelsus’ major work On the Miners’ Sickness and Other Diseases of Miners documented the occupational hazards of metalworking including treatment and prevention strategies. He also wrote a book on the human body contradicting Galen’s ideas.

Contributions to toxicology
Paracelsus, sometimes called the father of toxicology, wrote:
Dosis facit venenum.
(deutsch: “Die Dosis macht das Gift.”) – or  The dose makes the poison.

That is to say, substances considered toxic are harmless in small doses, and conversely an ordinarily harmless substance can be deadly if over-consumed.

Contributions to psychotherapy
Paracelsus is credited as providing the first clinical/scientific mention of the unconscious. In his work Von den Krankeiten he writes: “Thus, the cause of the disease chorea lasciva is a mere opinion and idea, assumed by imagination, affecting those who believe in such a thing. This opinion and idea are the origin of the disease both in children and adults. In children the case is also imagination, based not on thinking but on perceiving, because they have heard or seen something. The reason is this: their sight and hearing are so strong that unconsciously they have fantasies about what they have seen or heard.”

Carl Gustav Jung studied Paracelsus intensively. His work Mysterium Conjunctionis further drew from alchemical symbolism as a tool in psychotherapy. Following Paracelsus’ path, it was Jung who first theorized that the symbolic language of alchemy was an expression of innate but unconscious psychological processes.

Findings of Hydrogen
Paracelsus in the beginning of the sixteenth century had unknowingly observed hydrogen, because he noted that in reaction when acids attack metals, gas was a by-product. Later, Théodore de Mayerne repeated Paracelsus’s experiment in 1650 and found that the gas was flammable. However neither Paracelsus nor de Mayerne proposed that hydrogen could be a new element.

Legend and rumor
Many books mentioning Paracelsus also cite him as the origin of the word “bombastic” to describe his often arrogant speaking style, which the following passage illustrates:

I am Theophrastus, and greater than those to whom you liken me; I am Theophrastus, and in addition I am monarcha medicorum and I can prove to you what you cannot prove…I need not don a coat of mail or a buckler against you, for you are not learned or experienced enough to refute even a word of mine…As for you, you can defend your kingdom with belly-crawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last?…Let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, and my shoe buckles are more learned than your Galen and Avicenna, and my beard has more experience than all your high colleges.
—Paracelsus, Selected Writings

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of the word “bombastic” is “bombast”, an old term for cotton stuffing, rather than a play on Paracelsus’s middle name, Bombastus.

Jan 25

Jack Parsons

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)


jparsonsJack Parsons (1914-1952), an explosives expert, pioneer in rocket propulsion, and follower of the thelemic magic of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), was born Marvel Whiteside Parsons, the son of Marvel and Ruth Whiteside Parsons in Los Angeles, California, on October 2, 1914. Shortly after his birth, his parents separated, and his mother raised him as John Parsons. His friends and magical associates would know him as Jack.

During his teen years he developed an interest in rocketry and explosives, and carried out a number of amateur experiments. In 1932, while still in high school, he landed a job with the Hercules Powder Company. He graduated the following year and entered Pasadena Junior College and then spent two years at the University of Southern California, though he never graduated. In 1935 he married Helen Northrup and shortly thereafter left school to take a job at the California Institute of Technology, even though he lacked the formal training that such a job usually required. He took the lead in the development of liquid-fuel propellants, and made a secure place for himself in the history of rocket science.

In 1939 Parsons discovered a book by Crowley and then met Winifred Smith, a resident of Pasadena, who also led what was then the only active chapter of Crowley’s organization, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), then in existence. Thus began his double life, rocket scientist by day and magical student by night. In 1941 he and his wife both formally joined the OTO. From that time forward he would be the occasional object of surveillance by law enforcement officials who were concerned with his keeping explosive materials at his home. Also, neighbors and some who had attended various events at Parsons’ home reported that he was engaged in immoral actions and black magic. As a whole, the police discounted them. In 1943, Parsons and his wife divorced, and he began a relationship with Helen’s sister Sara Elizabeth “Betty” Northrup.

In the months immediately after World War II (1939-45), Parsons began a set of independent magical operations that would become known collectively as the Babalon Workings. These workings brought him into contact with a preternatural entity and also coincided with another shift in his personal relations. Betty was attracted to a new friend of Parsons’, L. Ron Hubbard. Soon after the workings began, Marjorie Cameron came to Pasadena, and Parsons introduced her to magic work. They would eventually marry.

The results of the Babalon Workings were manifold. Parsons channeled a document, “Liber 49,” which he came to believe was a fourth chapter to Crowley’s basic magic text, The Book of the Law. As the workings became more involved, Crowley, then living out his last years in England, became concerned and sent a representative to examine the situation with the Pasadena OTO. Parsons formed a company with Hubbard and Betty to purchase boats on the East Coast and transport them to California. This company failed after Parsons and Hubbard had a disagreement and the assets were divided in a court settlement. Hubbard would later go on to found the Church of Scientology.

Parsons went through a period of disillusionment with magic and the OTO and resigned. He became convinced that the organization had proven itself an obstacle to reach its own magical goals. He began to work his magic outside of the OTO system. In 1948 he lost his security clearance at the California Institute of Technology. It was reinstated the following year, but in January of 1952, he lost it again. His involvement in magic was the stated reason for his lost status. Then on June 17, 1952, Parsons died when his home was destroyed in an explosion. The exact nature of what occurred has never been satisfactorily explained. His mother committed suicide after hearing of his death.

Parsons was a minor figure in the magical world at the time of his death. However, in the wake of the revival of interest in Crowley and magic in the 1970s, his work was rediscovered and in the early 1980s published. It has remained in print and been reproduced widely on the Internet. A first biography appeared in 1999.

Jan 03

George Pickingill

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)


George_Pickingill,_Cunning_ManGeorge Pickingill (c.1816 – 10 April 1909) was an English farm labourer and cunning man, or vocational folk magician, who lived and worked in the village of Canewdon in Essex, eastern England. He employed magical means to offer cures for ailments and to locate lost property, although was also recorded as threating to curse people’s property. During his lifetime and following his death he attracted limited press attention for his erroneous claims to being one of the oldest men in England.

Pickingill was only brought to wider public attention by the folklorist Eric Maple in the early 1960s, as part of his research into beliefs regarding folk magic and witchcraft in nineteenth-century Essex. Collecting oral history from local residents in the area, Maple established a number of stories about Pickingill and his reputation as a cunning man. Although it has been suggested that local people were inventing claims to please Maple, many of which were based on older claims regarding the Essex cunning man James Murrell, subsequent research by historian Ronald Hutton has confimed the folklorist’s original accounts.

In the 1970s, the occultist E.W. “Bill” Liddell began publicising claims that secretive hereditary witch families had informed him that Pickingill was not simply a rural cunning man but that he was a major figure in the nineteenth-century esoteric scene. According to Liddell’s account, Pickingill was a member of a hereditary witch-cult, leading a Canewdon coven and forming nine other covens across southern England. Liddell claimed that Pickingill reformed the established English witch-cult by introducing new concepts from French and Danish witchcraft and from Classical sources, and that in doing so, Pickingill created the structure from which Gardnerian Wicca emerged in the 1950s. Liddell’s claims have been discussed in print by prominent Wiccans like Doreen Valiente and Lois Bourne, and have also been analysed by historians and scholars of Pagan studies like Maple, Hutton, Owen Davies, and Aidan A. Kelly, all of whom have rejected his claims as spurious.

Life and family
George Pickingill was the son of Charles Pickingill, a labourer and blacksmith, and Susannah Cudner, a woman who also went by the name of Hannah Cudmore; the couple had married on 17 September 1813. Although he had no known birth record, according to parish records, George Pickingill was baptised on 26 May 1816 at the church in Hockley. The year of Pickingill’s birth is however in question, as he made differing claims in different censuses; in the 1851 census, he claimed to be 26, meaning that his birth would have occurred circa 1825, while in the 1861 census, he claimed to be 46, which would have placed his birth c.1815. By the time of the 1901 census, he was claiming to be 95, moving his birth to c.1806; it has been suggested that he made himself appear older to ease the process of collecting parish assistance from the church. Throughout his life, Pickingill would also use a variety of different spellings of his surname on official records, including Pickengill, Pickingale, Pickengal, Pettingale, Pitengale, and Pittengale.

It is apparent from census data that Pickingill lived with his parents from 1816 until the 1830s, although it is not stated where he was living at the time of the 1841 census. By 1851, he is recorded as lodging in the household of David Clemens in Little Wakering, Essex, and described his profession as that of a farm labourer. On 18 May 1856 he married Sarah Ann Bateman at St George’s Church in Gravesend, Kent according to the marriage rites of the Church of England. In that record, both Pickingill and Bateman described themselves as residing in Gravesend, and Pickingill declared that he was working as a labourer; no profession was listed for Bateman. Described on the record as a “spinster”, Bateman was born c.1831 in Tillingham, Essex, as the daughter of Joseph Bateman and his wife Mary Ann Aggus; throughout married life, she identified as “Mary Ann Pickingill” and appeared as “Sarah Ann Pittengale” in her burial record.

On 22 June 1858 the couple’s daughter, Martha Ann, was born in Hawkwell, Essex; however by 1861 they had moved to Eastwood, Essex, where they were recorded in that year’s census. Here, Pickingill described himself as an agricultural labourer. That same year, their son Charles Frederick was born.The following year, Pickingill’s wife was caught stealing two pecks of potatoes, and subsequently fined ten shillings. In 1863, a second daughter, named Mary Ann, was born to the couple.

At some point in the coming four years, the Pickingill family moved to Canewdon, where another son, George, was born in 1876. The couple and their four children were then recorded in the 1871 census, where Pickingill was again recorded as working as an agricultural labourer.In the 1881 census, the couple were recorded as living with two of their children, Mary Ann and George, and Pickingill was again identifying as a labourer. On 17 August 1887, a homeless man named James Taylor stole a jacket and pair of leather gloves from Pickingill. Taylor was arrested and brought to trial in Rochdale on 24 August; in October, he pleaded guilty to the theft of the jacket, although not to those of the other items. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment with hard labour.

On 13 September 1887 Pickingill’s wife died in Canewdon; her death, aged 63, was attributed to a disease of the liver by the certifying doctor. She was buried at Canewdon’s St. Nicholas Church on 17 September. According to the 1891 census, Pickingill was still employed as an agricultural labourer, and was living in Canewdon with his married daughter Marry Ann and his granddaughter, Emily Wood. Records show that he was living in a rented cottage with an adjacent garden, and that in July 1899 the owner sold the property at auction. By 1901 he was listed as living on parish relief, with his two sons back living with him.

By this time, Pickingill was increasingly inflating his age, eventually claiming that he was 105 years old. This attracted attention from other areas, including London, and in September 1908 a journalist visited Canewdon; he arrived by automobile, the first that Pickingill had ever seen, and allowed the old man to ride in it. The journalist subsequently wrote an article about the alleged centegenerian, in which he claimed that his name was “Frederick Pickingale”; it is possible that Pickingill gave the false name so that no one would be able to look up the parish records and discover his real age. Maple described Pickingill as “a tall, unkempt man, solitary and uncommunicative. He had very long finger-nails, and kept his money in a purse of sacking”. He also noted that he worked as a farm labourer and that he was a widower with two sons.
Magical activities
Aerial Photo of Canewdon
The first printed account of Pickingill that described him as a cunning man appeared fifty years after his death.This was provided by the folkorist Eric Maple, who was making a systematic study of nineteenth-century traditions regarding witchcraft and magic in south-eastern Essex,and who examined the case of Canewdon in the winter of 1959–60. He had begun his enquiries by meeting with a number of elderly local residents at the home of the schoolmistress, from whom he gained a variety of tales pertaining to magical practices in the village.His initial findings were published in 1960 in the scholarly journal Folklore, produced by The Folklore Society. He subsequently produced a sensational popular history of witchcraft, The Dark World of Witchcraft (1962), in which he repeated many of the claims regarding Pickingill. In this work, he erroneously described south-eastern Essex as the last bastion of English witchcraft beliefs, and ignored scholarly conventions in relating his information, resulting in a critical reception from folklorists; the book nevertheless was popular and sold well.

Maple noted that unusually given his role as a cunning man, Pickingill did not charge for his services, but did receive some money from visitors, and his recorded roles included restoring lost property and curing minor ailments, both of which were common practices amongst British cunning folk. According to one account, he cured a woman of rheumatism by transferring the ailment to her father. Maple wrote that Pickingill was known to use cursing and malevolent magic on occasion, something that the folklorist contrasted with the activities of other contemporary cunning folk that he had studied, such as James Murrell. At harvest time, Maple recorded, Pickingill was known to wander around the field threatening to bewitch farm machinery, with many farmers thus offering him beer so that he would leave them alone. He was also recorded as coercing local people to obtain water for him from the village pump by threatening to set white mice on them, a rodent which in local folklore were associated with misfortune. Another tale that Maple recorded also associated Pickingill with white mice; according to this, a visitor travelled to the cunning man’s cottage only to find him lying in bed, with the mice suckling from his nipples.

Pickingill was also known for his ability to control animals, namely horses, and it was believed that when he struck a hedgerow with his stick, game animals would run out that could then be caught, killed and eaten. It was also rumoured that he could do things faster than ordinary human beings, and that he could do an hour’s job in only a few minutes, with some believing that he got his imps – his familiar spirits – to do the job for him.Maple also noted that people who visited his cottage reported seeing ornaments and furniture dancing around the room of their own accord; the folklorist believed that this story had originated in a Dutch folkloric tradition that may have been imported to Essex when many Dutch migrants settled there in the seventeenth century.

According to Maple, Pickingill was sufficiently well known in Essex as an accomplished cunning man that people came to visit him from outside the village of Canewdon in search of magical aid, sometimes “from great distances”, including men from the Essex village of Dengie, who sought his advice in a wage dispute Meanwhile, as Maple noted, the agricultural village of Canewdon had developed a reputation associating it with witchcraft and magic by the end of the nineteenth century, when it was often thought of as “The Witch Country” and avoided by many wagoners who feared having their vehicles bewitched. This was possibly due to its relative isolation from neighbouring settlements, as it was surrounded by marshland, and the insular nature of its community. Maple recorded that in this period there was a rumour that there were either six or nine elderly women living in Canewdon who were malevolent witches and used their magic to harm others. It was believed that whilst they were not known to one another, they all owed their allegiance to a singular wizard or master of witches, and there was a rumour in the local community that Pickingill himself was this figure. It was claimed that as “Master of Witches”, Pickingill simply had to whistle in order for these nine witches to stand by their front doors and reveal their identities,or that alternately he could “will them” to dance for him in the local churchyard.

Subsequent researchers also travelled to Canewdon to meet with Maple’s informants and confirm his account for themselves. In April 1967 Ronald Hutton visited the village where he met with elderly resident Lillian Garner, who had been one of Maple’s informants. He also found an informant that Maple had not encountered, an old man named Jack Taylor, then living in a retirement home. Taylor claimed that as a young man he knew Pickingill, and that the latter had the power of horse-whispering. On the whole, Hutton asserted that the account of Pickingill which he discovered among local people was entirely consistent with that provided by Maple.In 1977 Hutton was followed by the Gardnerian Wiccan initiate Michael Howard, who met with Garner, then eighty-seven years old. On this occasion, she recalled Pickingill being photographed with the first car to arrive in the village, and also gave Howard the original copy of a photograph of him that was in her possession. She then added the information – which she had not given to Maple or Hutton – that her own mother had talked of Pickingill leading a local coven, and that he received “many visitors” from “a long way away” who sought his magical knowledge.

A different account was provided by Charles Lefebvre, an American author of the sensationalist Witness to Witchcraft (1970). Here, his use of sources was unclear, although he asserted that Pickingill had had an ageless body, was a relative of Roma people, was the last survivor of an old witch family, held Black Masses and orgies in the church yard, and was visited by “black magicians” from across Europe. According to Lefebvre, Pickingill was finally killed when confronted by the sign of the cross. Hutton later described these as “fantasies” which served to support Lefebvre’s view that witchcraft should be criminalized.

However, claims have since been made that Pickingill was not a cunning man or involved in folk magic at all. Local Canewdon historian Sylvia Webster expressed her view to Howard that tales regarding Pickingill’s magical practices had been invented by the locals of Canewdon to impress Maple. Supporting this position, she highlighted that there was no evidence to suggest that Pickingill was a cunning man prior to Maple’s publications. Similarly, Richard Ward asserted that the contemporary obituaries and interviews conducted with Pickingill had shown no evidence of any magical activities, when such might have been expected. Ward suggested that many of the stories regarding Pickingill’s magical activities were adopted from those of a genuine Essex cunning man, James Murrell. Hutton responded critically to Ward’s assertions, highlighting his own investigations into the local folklore and his interview with Taylor to express the view that there “seems little doubt” that Pickingill was a cunning man, although “there are still questions over what sort of one he was”.At the same time, Hutton also accepted the possibility that some of the legends associated with Murrell had come to be associated with Pickingill, although lamented that this seemed to be “incapable of solid proof”.In his counter-response to Hutton, Ward accepting that Pickingill could have been associated with “some apparent supernatural control or knowledge of horses” as Taylor had claimed, but that this did not automatically make him a cunning man, for which there remained no contemporary historical evidence.


Pickingill was buried at Canewdon’s St Nicholas Church.  According to Maple’s account, in the last few weeks of Pickingill’s life, when he had become very ill, the local people moved him to the infirmary against his will, where he declared that at his funeral there would be one more demonstration of his magical powers. Many locals interpreted this as coming true, when as the hearse carrying his coffin drew up to the churchyard, the horses stepped out of their harness shafts. He was subsequently buried in the church’s graveyard, whilst his abandoned house gradually fell into dilapidation before falling down.

According to his death certificate, “George Pettingale” died on 10 April 1909; described as being 103 years old, his cause of death was recorded as senial decay and cardiac failure.[3] He was then buried at Canewdon’s St Nicholas Church on 14 April; although his stated age of 103 was recorded, the vicar added a note asserting that this was erroneous, for in reality Pickingill was “born at Hockley 1816 [and] was only in his 93rd year”.

Pickingill’s death attracted national press attention; both the Essex Newsman and The Times asserted that he was “believed to be the oldest man in England”, recording his age as 106.It was also picked up by New Zealand newspaper The Star, which described him as “the oldest man in England”.

Maple asserted that Pickingill left “a legacy of myth which is curiously alien to the general run of witch traditions. In all the stories told of Pickingill there is a subtle undercurrent of horror which one finds hard to pinpoint. Possibly it arises from the fact that many of those who recount the tales actually knew the man and experienced just such a quiet terror when he passed them in the village street.”

Bill Liddell’s claims
In 1974, a writer began sending articles to Pagan newsletter The Wiccan, then edited by the Gardnerian Wiccan John Score, articulating an alternative account of Pickingill’s life and relation to the British occult movement. First identifying himself only as “a well wisher”, he later began using the pseudonym Lugh, named for the Irish mythological figure. In 1977, Lugh ceased sending the articles to The Wiccan and instead began publishing them in a rival British magazine, The Cauldron, edited by Michael Howard; he claimed to have switched outlets because The Wiccan had been too dominated by Gardnerian perspectives. Lugh later revealed his name to be E.W. “Bill” Liddell, describing himself as an Englishman born in Essex. He added that circa 1960 he had moved to Auckland, New Zealand, before later relocating to Australia, from where he was authoredhis articles. Claiming that Pickingill had been the first-cousin of his paternal great-great grandfather, Liddell asserted that he had been initiated into his family’s hereditary form of witchcraft in 1950, and that he had subsequently been initiated into both the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions of Wicca. His partner, Sylvia Tatham, had been heavily involved in the development of the Alexandrian tradition in the early 1960s, having been one of those present when its founder, Alex Sanders, was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition In 1982, Wiccan Publications collected together and published these articles as two pamphlets: Old George Pickingill and the Roots of Modern Witchcraft and Medieval Witchcraft and the Freemasons. The articles were republished in one single volume in 1994 as The Pickingill Papers, edited by Liddell and Howard.

Liddell’s claims regarding Pickingill are not all consistent, and are sometimes self-contradictory. Liddell explained this by stating that the information contained in his articles had been passed on to him by three separate sources, all of which had decided to use him as a mouthpiece for their own claims. The first were the members of a hereditary tradition of Pagan witchcraft, while the second were the practitioners of a similar yet separate tradition of Pagan witchcraft which, Liddell alleged, had been greatly influenced by Pickingill in the nineteenth century. The third source cited by Liddell was his own experiences gained from being born into a witchcraft family and subsequently being initiated into both of the aforementioned traditions and a separate “cunning lodge”. He claimed that most of the information that he was publishing came from “Elders”, or older members, involved in the first two of these traditions, and that as such he could not vouch for its accuracy, going so far as to state that he doubted the veracity of much of it.

Noting that these Elders themselves had very different opinions on Gardnerian Wicca, he also stated that the Elders ceased providing him with new information in the early 1980s. He stated that these various Elders had chosen him to disseminate the information because he had been involved in both hereditary witchcraft and Gardnerian Wicca and because he was based in New Zealand, thereby making it hard for anyone to trace their identities. Despite Liddell claiming that the material he was putting forward came from various sources, the historian Ronald Hutton noted that it was all presented in a “single, dogmatic, authorial voice”, with no indication of where the different pieces of information came from.Hutton also asserted that Liddell’s changing claims would be entirely consistent with a single individual making up stories and changing them as they went along.

Liddell’s account
According to Liddell’s initial 1974 claims, since the eleventh century the Pickingill family had been priests of a pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to the worship of the Horned God.In this, his claims fitted within the historical framework of the witch-cult hypothesis as propagated in the works of Margaret Murray. Later he added that the “medieval witch cult” was influenced by the “tenets” of the Iron Age druids, in particular their knowledge of ley lines which were marked out by the stone circles erected in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.Conflicting with these ideas, in 1998 Liddell personally informed Hutton that the witch-cult did not derive from ancient pre-Christian religion but that it instead had been founded in fifteenth-century France, emerging from a union between Christian heretics, cunning lodges, and a cult of Lucifer founded by Islamic Moors with the intent of undermining Christianity.
Liddell claimed that the Pickingill family had many links to the travelling Romani population, and that Pickingill spent many of his early years in a Romani caravan. Liddell claimed that Pickingill faced persecution as a result, and that he “set out to terrify” the locals of Canewdon in retaliation.According to Liddell, Pickingill was trained in Romani magic, and thus in later life became “the most famous gypsy kako in England”. Liddell also claimed that Pickingill despised Christianity and wanted to see it overthrown; to this end he collaborated with Satanists and included Satanic elements within his ritual practices, something which horrified other members of the East Anglian witch-cult. Thus, according to Liddell, Pickingill was “England’s most feared and vilified ‘Satanist'”. Elsewhere, he stressed that Pickingill was not a Satanist, but rather that he had been considered such by other witches because he practiced sex magic.

Liddell asserted that Pickingill spent time in France, where he was initiated into a local form of the witch-cult.[46] According to this account, upon his return to Canewdon, Pickingill was invited to lead a local coven which had been operating since the mid-fifteenth century – the “Seven Witches of Canewdon” – and that he continued to lead the group until disbanding it several years prior to his death. Liddell added that Pickingill proceeded to introduce many new innovations into English witch-cult by applying concepts borrowed from the Danish and French witch-cults, namely the idea that the coven should be led by a woman.Liddell asserted that Pickingill then established nine covens in England, spread out in Essex, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Sussex, and Hampshire;he further added that two of those covens, based in Hertfordshire and Norfolk, survived into at least the 1970s. According to Liddell, Pickingill was propagating witchcraft in a reformed, female-oriented form because the oncoming Age of Aquarius would be more receptive to this form of spirituality.

In Liddell’s account, Pickingill travelled widely and joined a variety of cunning lodges, gaining access to their grimoires and libraries. According to Liddell, from the 1850s onward Pickingill began cooperating with a group of Freemasons who considered themselves to be Rosicrucians and who wanted to prove that Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism were “siblings” of the witch-cult. Two of these Freemasons, Hargrave Jennings and W.J. Hughan, became pupils of Pickingill, who aided them in producing a Rosicrucian Manifesto that was used in the formation of the Societas Rosicruciana in 1865. According to Liddell, Pickingill’s involvement with Freemasons also led to the foundation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1888. Liddell also asserted that Pickingill was influenced by a coven that had been founded in the early nineteenth-century by a group of Cambridge University academics led by Francis Barrett and whose rituals were based largely on Classical sources.
Liddell also claimed that the prominent occultist Aleister Crowley had been initiated into one of these nine covens as a young man. According to this account, Crowley had been introduced to the coven in 1899 or 1900 by his magical mentor, Allan Bennett. Liddell asserted that Crowley was subsequently ejected from the coven for his misbehaviour. As evidence for these claims, he stated that his own grandfather had been present on three occasions at which Bennett and Crowley met with Pickingill, and that he had seen a photograph in which the three figures are together. When asked to present this photograph for public scrutiny in 1977, Liddell claimed that it was “not available”; when independently asked again in 1983, he asserted that it had been stolen by “interested parties”.

Further, Liddell stated that one of Pickingill’s covens was the New Forest coven, a Wiccan group which Gerald Gardner – the founder of Gardnerian Wicca – claimed had initiated him in 1939. Conversely, Liddell later stated that he was not certain whether this was true. He also asserted that Gardner later joined another of the Pickingill covens, based in Hertfordshire, through which he received “the Second Rite of the Hereditary Craft”. Liddell stressed that this group was separate from Gardner’s own Bricket Wood coven. He furthermore claimed that Gardner received the “Third Rite” from an East Anglian coven, with this three-degree system of initiation influencing that in Gardnerian Wicca. As a result, he stated that the structure and rituals of Gardnerian Wicca were based on those devised by Pickingill, and that “no impartial observer could fail to see that they formed the nucleus of the rites of Wicca.” Liddell believed that while many hereditary witches despised him, Gardner represented “the spiritual heir of Pickingill”, because he had similarly reformed and propagated witchcraft for contemporary purposes.

Pagan response
Liddell’s claims have received a mixed response from the British Wiccan community. Score championed them in private letters to his correspondents, declaring that they proved that the Gardnerian tradition had historical origins predating Gardner. His successor as editor of The Wiccan, Leonora James, was intrigued by Liddell’s claims and investigated the original records pertaining to Pickingill’s life, however by the 1980s she had concluded that Liddell’s claims were spurious. In her 1978 book Witchcraft for Tomorrow, the Wiccan Doreen Valiente – who had been Gardner’s High Priestess in the Bricket Wood coven during the 1950s – stated that she had an “East Anglian source” from Essex who claimed that many of Liddell’s assertions were correct. In particular, the informant championed Liddell’s claims that Crowley had been an initiate of one of Pickingill’s covens. By the time of her 1989 book The Rebirth of Witchcraft, Valiente was more sceptical of Liddell’s claims, noting that any supporting evidence was “still sadly lacking”.

Another of Gardner’s High Priestesses, Lois Bourne, asserted that she was “as sure as I can be” that Gardner had nothing to do with any witches from Canewdon and that if they existed in the first place, then they must have belonged to a tradition distinct from Gardnerian Wicca. Privately, the Gardnerian initiate and founder of Alexandrian Wicca, Alex Sanders, rejected the claims that Liddell made. In his 2013 biography of Valiente, Jonathan Tapsell stated that the Liddell material was “generally regarded as a hoax”, being “a spurious history at best, or a malicious prank at worst.” Hutton asserted that the only “sustained champion” of Liddell’s claims has been Michael Howard, noting that he had defended such ideas in a “limited and measured” manner. Howard has maintained that he keeps an “open mind” about Liddell’s claims, noting that while no evidence has been brought forward to substantiate them, similarly he does not believe that “any real evidence” has been brought forth to disprove them.

Support for Liddell’s story came from Cecil Williamson, founder of the Museum of Witchcraft, who claimed to have known about Pickingill through his acquaintances with both Crowley and Gardner. However, Williamson was an unreliable source, and was known to repeatedly fabricate claims regarding past events. Another figure, known only as Colonel Lawrence, also supported Liddell’s story, asserting that his own great-grandmother had studied under Pickingill and thus been introduced to Crowley; as with Williamson however, Lawrence’s claims are unreliable, particularly as he has made the unsupported claim that his great-grandmother studied witchcraft under the American folklorist Charles Leland. Also supporting Liddell’s claims was the Wiccan Ralph Harvey, who following the publication of Liddell’s material publicly declared that in the 1950s or 1960s he had been initiated into one of Pickingill’s Nine Covens, located in Storrington, Sussex. Similarly, following the publication of Liddell’s claims, a number of covens appeared in both the United States and Australia claiming to be practitioners of a tradition originating with Pickingill. Liddell himself has been critical of such groups, expressing his regret that the material he published led to their formation.

Academic response
Liddell’s claims have had a far more critical reception from scholars specialising in magic and witchcraft in British history. In 1975, Eric Maple dismissed Lugh’s claims as preposterous. He believed that such tales had been fabricated by someone who had used his own book, The Dark World of Witches, as a basis. Maple informed the historian James W. Baker that he believed people connected to Valiente were behind the Lugh claims, although Baker disagreed, commenting that Valiente was “one of the most honest of commentators on the subject” of contemporary witchcraft, and that as a result was unlikely to be involved in such duplicity.

Historian Ronald Hutton also scrutinised Liddell’s claims, although asserted that he had corresponded with Liddell “at length and in detail”, over the course of which he had come to like him, noting that “he has responded to often forceful criticisms with patience, modesty, and good humour”. However, Hutton highlighted that no independent witnesses have emerged to support the existence of Liddell’s alleged informants, while no supporting documentation has appeared to back any of his many claims. Hutton deemed this particularly unusual, because were Liddell’s claims to have been accurate, much documentary evidence could be expected to exist. Focusing on Liddell’s claim that Crowley had been initiated into one of Pickingill’s covens during the 1890s, Hutton noted that there is no mention of Pickingill or a witches’ coven in either Crowley’s published work or personal diaries. Similarly, he highlighted no mention of either in Bennett’s diaries, who was Crowley’s magical tutor during the 1890s.

Hutton’s assessment was shared by historian Owen Davies; in his study of English cunning-folk, he described Liddell’s stories as “seductive but entirely unsubstantiated”. Instead, he maintained that Pickingill was “a simple rural cunning-man whose small world of village affairs never crossed with that of middle-class occultists. He received a Christian burial and the idea that he was a pagan priest would probably make him turn in his grave. He added that while agreeing with Maple’s assessment that Pickingill was “one of the last practising cunning-folk in the country”, he stressed that Pickingill was not one of the “major regional figure[s]” such as Murrell, James Tuckett, John Wrightson, or William Brewer.

American Pagan studies scholar Aidan A. Kelly similarly rejected Liddell’s claims. Kelly highlighted that whereas Liddell had claimed that Gardnerian Wicca had adopted the concept of a female coven leader from French and Scandinavian witch covens, the historical evidence clearly showed that Gardner developed the concept of a coven being led by a high priestess during the late 1950s, thus disproving Liddell’s assertions. Kelly believed that either Liddell or his Elders were thus “purposely creating a phony history in order to throw researchers off the trail” which would have revealed that Gardner had invented Wicca in its entirety in the early 1950s. Similarly, in a 2014 article about Pickingill in The Cauldron, Richard Ward asserted that Lugh’s claims did not stand up under scrutiny, and that they had simply been made in an attempt to promote claims regarding the existence of a “pre-Gardnerian tradition” of witchcraft. Liddell has specifically denied these charges.

Jan 03

Albert Pike

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)


albert_pike_pipe_fAlbert Pike (1809–1891)
Albert Pike was a lawyer who played a major role in the development of the early courts of Arkansas and played an active role in the state’s politics prior to the Civil War. He also was a central figure in the development of Masonry in the state and later became a national leader of that organization. During the Civil War, he commanded the Confederacy’s Indian Territory, raising troops there and exercising field command in one battle. He also was a talented poet and writer.

Albert Pike was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1809. He was one of the six children of Benjamin Pike, a cobbler, and Sarah Andrews. He attended public schools in Byfield, Newburyport, and Framingham, Massachusetts. His received an education that provided him with a background in classical and contemporary literature and in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. He passed the examination required for entry into Harvard when he was sixteen. He was unable to pay the tuition at Harvard, however, and began to teach, working at schools in Newburyport and nearby Gloucester and Fairhaven.

He began to write poetry as a young man, which he continued to do for the rest of his life. When he was twenty-three, he published his first poem, “Hymns to the Gods.” Subsequent poems appeared in contemporary literary journals such as Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and local newspapers. His first collection of poetry, Prose Sketches and Poems Written in the Western Country, appeared in 1834. He later gathered many of his poems and republished them in Hymns to the Gods and Other Poems (1872). After his death these appeared again in Gen. Albert Pike’s Poems (1900) and Lyrics and Love Songs (1916).

Pike left Massachusetts for Santa Fe, in what was then Mexico, in 1831, one of many at the time attracted to the developing West. From Santa Fe, he joined in an expedition into the lands around the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red rivers. Somewhere along the route, he left the expedition and walked to Fort Smith (Sebastian County). He taught there in rural schools for a short time, but his literary skills early involved him in Arkansas politics. In 1833, he published in local newspapers letters in support of Robert Crittenden’s candidacy for territorial delegate to Congress. The anonymous letters, signed “Casca” after one of the Roman politicians who assassinated Julius Caesar, were considered very persuasive and secured for him a statewide reputation as a writer. They also attracted the attention of Charles Bertrand, owner of the Whig Party’s Arkansas Advocate, who invited Pike to Little Rock (Pulaski County) to work as the paper’s editor. Pike accepted the job and moved to the capital city. While working for the Advocate, Pike published a series of stories and poems about his adventures in New Mexico, the material later published in his Prose Stories and Poems Written in the Western Country.

In addition to editing the newspaper, Pike secured additional work in Little Rock as a clerk in the legislature. He married Mary Ann Hamilton on October 10, 1834. The couple had six children. Hamilton brought to the marriage considerable financial resources, and she helped Pike purchase an interest in the Advocate from Charles Bertram in 1834. The next year, he became its sole proprietor. Pike studied law while editing the newspaper, ultimately passing the Arkansas Bar exam in either 1836 or 1837. In the latter year, he sold the newspaper and devoted his time to the law. He demonstrated considerable legal prowess early and represented clients in courts at every level, including the United States Supreme Court, which he received permission to practice before in 1849.

Pike developed a lucrative law practice, and his clients included many of the tribes in Indian Territory. Among his clients at this time were the Creek (Muscogee) and Choctaw, whom he represented in a case against the U.S. government that secured payment for lands taken in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. Pike learned several Native American dialects while working as their attorney.

From 1836 to 1844, Pike was the first reporter of the Arkansas Supreme Court, charged with writing notes on the relevant points in court decisions, then publishing and indexing the court’s opinions. In 1842, he published the Arkansas Form Book, a tool for lawyers providing models for the different kinds of motions to be filed in the state’s courts. His reputation as an attorney also secured him the appointment of receiver for the failed Arkansas State Bank in 1840. As receiver, he attempted to collect the debts owed to that institution. At the same time, the fees he received for this work were lucrative and secured his fortune.

An ambitious public figure, Pike joined others in 1845 in supporting actions against Mexico, what became the Mexican War. He helped raise the Little Rock Guards, a company incorporated into the Arkansas cavalry regiment of Colonel Archibald Yell, and served as its captain. Pike concluded early on that the senior officers of his regiment were incompetent, and he shared his observations with the people back in Arkansas through letters to the newspapers. Following the Battle of Buena Vista, he leveled particularly harsh criticism against Lieutenant Colonel John Selden Roane. After the publication of a particularly vitriolic letter by Pike in the Arkansas Gazette, Roane demanded that Pike apologize or “give him satisfaction.” Pike refused to apologize, and the two fought a duel near Fort Smith on a sand bank in the Arkansas River. In the exchange of fire, neither hit his antagonist, and the two were persuaded to halt the duel, with honor satisfied.

Returning from Mexico, Pike reestablished his law practice. He promoted the construction of a transcontinental railroad from New Orleans to the Pacific coast, writing numerous newspaper essays urging support for this project. He moved to New Orleans in 1853 to further his railroad activities, although he also continued to practice law. He translated French legal volumes into English while preparing to pass the local bar exam for Louisiana. Ultimately, he successfully obtained a charter from the Louisiana legislature for one of his railroad projects. He returned to Little Rock in 1857.

In the years immediately following the Mexican War, Pike’s concern with the developing sectional crisis brought on by the issue of slavery became apparent. He had long been a Whig, but the Whig Party repeatedly refused to address the slavery issue. That failure and Pike’s own anti-Catholicism led him to join the Know-Nothing Party upon its creation. In 1856, he attended the new party’s national convention, but he found it equally reluctant to adopt a strong pro-slavery platform. He joined other Southern delegates in walking out of the convention. Pike believed in the idea of state’s rights and considered secession constitutional. He philosophically supported secession, demonstrating his position in 1861 when he published a pamphlet titled State or Province, Bond or Free?

In 1861, the Arkansas state convention named Pike its commissioner to Indian Territory and authorized him to negotiate treaties with the various tribes. As a result of his experience there, the Confederate War Department appointed him a brigadier general in the Confederate army in August 1861 and assigned him to the Department of the Indian Territory. Pike assisted the tribes that supported the Confederacy in raising regiments. He believed that these units would be critical to protecting the territory from Union incursions, but his belief that the Indian units should be kept in Indian Territory brought him into early conflict with his superiors. In the spring of 1862, General Earl Van Dorn ordered him to bring his 2,500 Indian troops into northwestern Arkansas. Despite his opposition to the move, Pike obeyed, and his Indian force of about 900 men joined Confederate forces in northwest Arkansas. On March 7–8, 1862, they participated in the Battle of Pea Ridge (a.k.a. Elkhorn Tavern), led by Pike. Pike proved a poor leader, and he failed to keep his force engaged with the enemy or in check. Charges circulated widely that the men had stopped their advance to take scalps. After the battle, Pike and his men returned to Indian Territory.

Opposition to Confederate policy over Indian Territory would continue to be a source of conflict between Pike and his superiors. Unhappy with Pike, in the summer of 1862, General Thomas C. Hindman, commander of Confederate forces in Arkansas, attempted to extend his authority over the territory. Pike responded by issuing a circular that refused to surrender control and charged Hindman with trying to replace constitutional government with despotism. Ultimately, the dispute between the two went to Confederate authorities at Richmond. The authorities decided in favor of Hindman and reprimanded Pike. On July 12, Pike resigned from his position in protest. With his resignation, Pike retired to Greasy Cove (Montgomery County). He was appointed as a judge of the state Supreme Court in 1864, but little is known of his activities on the court.

At the end of the Civil War, Pike moved to New York City, then for a short time to Canada. After receiving an amnesty from President Andrew Johnson on August 30, 1865, he returned for a time to Arkansas and resumed the practice of law. In 1867, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and entered a new law partnership with General Charles W. Adams. He also edited the Memphis Appeal. He may have become involved in the organization of the Ku Klux Klan at this time, although this is not certain. He moved to Washington DC in 1870. There, he engaged for a time in politics, editing The Patriot, a Democratic newspaper, from 1868 to 1870. He also practiced law in partnership with Robert W. Johnson, former U.S. senator, until 1880. Although less interested in Arkansas affairs, one of his last major roles in the state would be his support to the Grant administration of Elisha Baxter’s claims for the governorship in 1874.

After he ceased practicing law, Pike’s real interest was the Masonic Lodge. He had become a Mason in 1850 and participated in the creation of the Masonic St. Johns’ College in Little Rock that same year. In 1851, he helped to form the Grand Chapter of Arkansas and was its Grand High Priest from 1853 to 1854. In 1853, he also associated with the Scottish Rite of Masons and rose rapidly in the organization. In 1859, he was elected grand commander of the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, the administrative district for all parts of the country except for the fifteen states east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio, and held that post until his death. After the war, he devoted much of his time to rewriting the rituals of the Scottish Rite Masons. For years, his Morals and Dogma (1871), still in print, was distributed to members of the Rite. Over his career, he published numerous other works on the order, including Meaning of Masonry, Book of the Words, and The Point Within the Circle. As he aged, he also became interested in spiritualism, particularly Indian thought, and its relationship to Masonry. Late in life, he learned Sanskrit and translated various literary works written in that language. As a result of his work in this area, he published Indo-Aryan Deities and Worship as Contained in the Rig-Veda.

Pike died at the Scottish Rite Temple in Washington DC on April 2, 1891. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery there. On December 29, 1944, the anniversary of his birth, his body was removed from Oak Hill Cemetery and placed in a crypt in the temple.

Pike was much honored after his death. His Masonic brothers erected a statute to him in 1901 in Washington DC, making him the only former Confederate general to have a monument there. Authorities also named the first highway between Hot Springs (Garland County) and Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Albert Pike Highway. The Albert Pike Memorial Temple in Little Rock bears his name, and his Little Rock home remains standing. After renovation, the home opened as the Arkansas Arts Center’s Decorative Arts Museum in March 1985. In 2004, it became the Arts Center Community Gallery, a multi-purpose gallery in which local and regional art is shown.

For additional information:
Albert Pike Letters and Documents. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Allsopp, Frederick William. Albert Pike: A Biography. Little Rock: Parke-Harper, 1928.

Baker, Virgil L. “Albert Pike: Citizen Speechmaker of Arkansas.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 10 (Summer 1951): 138–156.

Brown, Walter L. A Life of Albert Pike. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.
Duncan, Robert Lipscomb. Reluctant General: The Life and Times of Albert Pike. New York: Dutton, 1961.

Keller, Mark, and Thomas A. Besler Jr. “Albert Pike’s Contributions to the Spirit of the Times, Including His ‘Letter from the Far, Far West’.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 37 (Winter 1978): 318–353.…/entry-detail.aspx…