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Experiencing the spirit

Occult collection of “mother of modern witchcraft” Doreen Valiente to go on display

By WITW Staff on March 19, 2016

The occult collection of Doreen Valiente, the “mother of modern witchcraft” who died in 1999, will go on public display from April at Brighton’s Preston Manor, a 17th-century English mansion known for being associated with ghost sightings and folklore. John Belham-Payne, the final High Priest to Valiente, died last month. But before his death, Payne, who was also the Chair of the Foundation caring for Valiente’s occult collection, had negotiated with curators in Brighton about the possibility of an exhibition. Included in the exhibition are works from Gerald Gardner, the so-called ‘father of Wicca’ who inducted Valiente into the tradition.

Valiente first practiced her spells as a South London schoolgirl in the 1920s, before leaving the convent she had been enrolled in by her strongly Christian family and joining the Bricket Wood Coven. Philip Heselton, who recently produced a biography of Valiente, says she didn’t believe one needed to be formally initiated to practice Witchcraft. “She was happier going out at night under a full moon and communing, if you like, with the spirits that are there, rather than elaborate rituals,” says Heselton. “She was happiest… just being and experiencing the spirit that’s there.”

Read the full story at Culture24.