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Crafting The Art Of Magic:
A Critical Review
By D. Hudson Frew (Morgann)
Copyright 1991 by D. Hudson Frew.
Used by permission of the author.
Charles Cardell & the Weschcke documents: reliable sources?
On page 109, the opening page of "Chapter 5. The Book of Shadows in 1957", Kelly tells us that the text he gives as the Book of Shadows in 1957:
... has been reconstructed from Witch, the Weschcke documents, data in Witchcraft Today and Meaning of Witchcraft, and the data given by the Farrars 1984. (emphasis mine)
Once again, reconstructed by whom? According to what criteria? Why should we accept that this is in any way representative of what Gardner would have said was the Book of Shadows, before Kelly can criticize it?
Also again, the mysterious "Weschcke documents" are used as a source. Kelly never explains where these documents came from, who gave them to Carl Weschcke, or why we should accept them as reliable. Kelly tells us on page xv that the handwriting and typeface in the personal letters in the Weschcke papers match those of the ritual texts in the Weschcke papers. Kelly does not tell us that he ever compared either to known copies of Gardner's handwriting. As he never reproduces a single page from these documents, we cannot judge for ourselves.
Most damning in this case, Kelly uses Witch as a reliable source. It is not until page 140 that we are told that Witch is the name of a pamphlet written by one Charles Cardell, a sensationalist who, with his companion Florannis (nee Olive Green), set out in 1957 to infiltrate and expose Gardner's Witchcraft. In order to gain access to Gardner's material, Florannis sought initiation from Gardner, who was "so infatuated with her that he wouldn't listen to any warnings". Florannis then returned to Cardell who wrote Witch as an expose of Gardner as a "simple-minded old pervert". Kelly, himself, even says on page 142:
... I must suppose that Cardell is untrustworthy... This casts a pall of dubiousness over everything else he says, even those things that I would tend, for independent reasons, to think are true.
Then why on earth should such a document as Witch be considered so reliable by Kelly that he uses it to "reconstruct" Gardner's Book of Shadows?
The answer is simple. The ritual texts in Witch, Kelly tells us on page 141, "are virtually identical to the Weschcke documents". But we don't know where the Weschcke documents came from... or do we? Florannis was very close to Gardner for a time; so close that she might have used his typewriter or written letters for him? The text of Witch is much more poorly written than is Gardner's Book of Shadows or "Ye Bok of ye Art Magical". And Kelly himself dates the Weschcke documents to circa 1957. Might not Florannis have been the one with "dyslexia"?
Without reproductions of a) the Weschcke documents, b) Florannis' handwriting, and c) Gardner's handwriting, we can't be sure. All we can be sure of is that a Book of Shadows "reconstructed" even in part from such documents cannot be considered an original text, or even a reliable one. Any analysis based on such a "reconstruction", i.e. the whole of Chapter 5 and much of Kelly's analysis of the Craft Laws in Chapter 7, is therefore rendered all but worthless.
Consequently, the only thing worth noting in Chapter 5 is Kelly's frequent invocation of Valiente's name without any corroboration. On page 120:
I have given here only the four Sabbat rituals that Doreen Valiente wrote, as far as I know, for the quarter days. (emphasis mine)
And on page 122:
Since this document, like 5.7, may have been typed by Doreen Valiente, it would fall somewhere in the period 1954 to 1957. (emphasis mine)
And on page 128, in the "Commentary on 5.7":
... because this one was typed by Doreen Valiente, some time between 1954 and 1957.
"As far as I know"? "May have been typed"? Doesn't Kelly know for sure? He is in correspondence with Valiente, as is evidenced throughout the book. Didn't he ask her before going into print? And what about document 5.7, which "may" have been typed by Valiente on page 122, but "was" typed by her on page 128? This appears to be yet another case of Kelly's speculations becoming "fact" a few pages later.
As an amusing aside, indicative of the general sloppiness of Kelly's arguments, Kelly states the following in a single paragraph on page 170:
In May 1964, the first edition of Cardell's Witch was published, and in it Cardell published the names Aradia and Cernunnos as the secret names of the deities used by the Gardnerians.... the Gardnerians must have been forced to "change the locks" [i.e. select new names] and so they have. Monique Wilson apparently did choose a new pair of names, and Raymond and Rosemary Buckland, who were initiated in 1963, were among the first to receive them.
The Gardnerians had to pick new God-names in 1964, which were then given to the Buckland's in 1963? I'm surprised an editor at Llewellyn didn't catch this.
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