You are here: Wild Ideas > Temple > Library >
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.
Kelly's apparent ignorance of folk magic
On page 37, Kelly refers to the "New Forest group's" interest in incorporating folk magic in their new tradition:
...the problem with folk magic is that it is all practice, no theory.... From a hundred such workings, no one could deduce a hundred-and-first, since no system lies behind them; they cannot be generalized.
For this reason, Kelly argues, the alleged "New Forest group" of conspirators turned to Masonry, Rosicrucianism, the Hermetic tradition, etc. to create a structure and an underlying theory for their magic. That Kelly believes they would have had to do this is strange, since he himself argues on page 134 that the Gardnerian ritual structure "is a standard sort of magical procedure, quite in keeping with Frazer's laws of magic." Kelly seems to assert that folk magic does or doesn't have laws and structure according to what suits his argument at the time.
Additionally, Kelly seems to be unaware of the work of scholars such as Felix Grendon, whose "The Anglo-Saxon Charms" is a marvelous structural analysis of the formulaic nature of some early English folk charms. From these hundred charms, one can easily deduce the hundred-and-first.
On page 71, Kelly, speaking of the relative "pagan-ness" of Gardner's Sabbats, asserts:
It will not do to argue that "pagans" would have gone for the "Great Rite" (by another name), feasting, and dancing, and would not have bothered with drawing magic circles.... all religious ritual sets apart some sort of "sacred time" and "sacred space" to distinguish it from ordinary time and space. Hence a pre-1939 coven would have had some way of doing that.
This is an unfounded assumption. The surviving "pagan" traditions of Britain, in the form of such festivals as the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss and the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, do not demarcate sacred time and space in any special way. The time and place simply are sacred. (Bord, 1982)
Ye Bok of ye Art Magical
As part of his claim of 1939 as the beginning of Gardner's fabrication of Witchcraft, Kelly states on page 37 that, subsequent to that September meeting, Gardner "began gathering his notes on this topic in a notebook titled 'Ye Bok of ye Art Magical'". For all that Kelly spends pages and pages supporting his chronology of Gardnerian texts based on extensive cross-comparison, he never proffers any evidence to date the beginning of the "Bok". Consequently there is no evidence presented that Gardner did not record material, possibly oral material, from an earlier coven into the "Bok" before 1939.
On page 45, Kelly says that Doreen Valiente currently owns the copy of the Book of Shadows used by Gardner and Dafo at her initiation:
...Gardner led her to believe that he had copied it from Dorothy Clutterbuck's Book of Shadows, but the extant evidence is that Dorothy never had any such book.
What "evidence"? The "fact" that Dorothy was part of the "conspiracy" that decided to make it all up that September evening in 1939? That claim of Kelly's is never proven. It is entirely possible that the truth behind this recollection of Valiente's (almost 40 years after the fact) is that the Book of Shadows was mostly copied from the "Bok of ye Art Magical", which in turn could well have been a recording of oral tradition from Dorothy.
All content copyright 1999-2006 by the
individual authors, where cited, or by
where not specifically credited.
Except where otherwise noted, this site is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
Site design: Spider Silk Design - Toronto web designers
This page last modified: January 29, 2006