Sybil Leek (February 22, 1917 – October 26, 1982) was an English witch, astrologer, psychic, and occult author. She wrote more than 60 books on occult and esoteric subjects. She was dubbed “Britain’s most famous witch” by the BBC.
Sybil Leek was born in Normacot Staffordshire to a well-to-do family. The family had a long history of witchcraft, which can be traced back to the 16th century to her ancestor Molly Leigh.
Sybil’s immediate family all played a part encouraging her to follow the craft. She learned much from her father about nature, animals and the power of herbs, and even discussed eastern philosophies. Her grandmother taught her astrology, by decorating biscuits and cakes with astrological symbols and asking Sybil to put them in order and describe what each symbol meant.
She only had 3 years of orthodox schooling. Her family continued to school her at home, but her grandmother focused on her esoteric training, such as the knowledge of herbs, astrology, the psychic arts, and divination much more than she did mathematics and English.
Sybil’s family played host to some very scholarly characters. H. G. Wells, Sybil and her father used to take long walks discussing all things metaphysical. Another famous friend of the family was Aleister Crowley. Aleister was a regular visitor to the family home, and used to read his poetry to Sybil. She first met him when she was 9. It was Aleister who encouraged Sybil to begin writing herself. Sybil became a keen poet, and she published her first book, a slim volume of poetry, while she was still a teenager.
Sybil soon met a prominent concert pianist who became her music teacher, and she married him when she was 16. He died two years later, and stricken with grief Sybil returned home to her grandmother’s house.
Shortly after, she was sent by her grandmother to a French coven based at Gorge du Loup (Wolf Canyon) in the hills above Nice, to replace a distant relative of hers as High Priestess.
Eventually she returned to England. For a short while she stayed with an acquaintance in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, but soon found the lifestyle there tiresome and decided to run away.
She became friends with the Romany Gypsies in the forest. Sybil learnt much from the Gypsies about the forest, ancient folklore, and even more about the practical use of herbs than she had learnt from her grandmother. She lived with the Gypsies for a year, and attended rituals with the Horsa coven in the New Forest, of which for a short time she was High Priestess, and therefore a member of the Nine Covens council.
When she was 20, Sybil returned to her family, who had now moved to the edge of the New Forest. She then opened three antique shops; one in Ringwood, one in Somerset, and one in the heart of the New Forest in Burley. She then moved to Burley herself. She refused to sell anything to do with witchcraft in the antique shops, much to the disappointment of visitors.
However, her open attitude about being a witch caused problems, too. As media interest grew, Sybil found herself constantly being pestered by news reporters and tourists, who traveled to Burley and would turn up on her doorstep, day and night. Sybil even had to create decoys in order to be able to escape out of the village to go to the secret coven meeting places, for fear of being pursued by cameramen. Although the village itself thrived on the extra tourism and visitors, some people were not so happy about the extra traffic and noise being caused. Her landlord eventually asked her to move out.
At the same time, an American publishing house had approached Sybil to speak about her new antique book ‘A Shop in the High Street’ on a TV programme in the States. She took the opportunity to go, and flew to New York. While in New York, she was contacted by Hans Holzer, a parapsychologist, who invited her to join him investigating psychic phenomena. They went on to do numerous TV and radio programmes on the subject.
She then moved to Los Angeles where she met Dr. Israel Regardie, an authority on Kabbalah and ritual magic, and they spent much of their time together discussing and practicing the Golden Dawn rituals together.
Strong in defense of her beliefs, Sybil sometimes differed and even quarreled with other witches. She disapproved of nudity in rituals, a requirement in some traditions, and was strongly against the use of drugs, but she was at odds with most other witches in that she did believe in cursing. She was also one of the first of the modern day witches to take up environmental causes.
Sybil died at her Melbourne, Florida home on 26 October 1982.