Wiccan Bell, Books, And Candle

It may come as a surprise to many, but the occult religion of Wicca started in 1953. It may copy the practices of millennia-old Druidic rituals or the primordial ceremonies of witches, but it was a self-proclaimed British Warlock who got the whole thing started.

Gerald Gardner spent most of his early adulthood in South Asia, sopping up the local cultural practices in ceremonies. When he returned home, the amateur ethnographer fashioned himself as a warlock. He became involved with notable occult figures—including Aleister Crowley—before organizing his own coven of witches in a stone tower he owned.

A growing expert on all things relating to witches and witchcraft, Gardner was always trying to organize the spiritually inclined. Though he found a hard time getting other groups to join him, he was a team player at times. When Britain was under siege during World War II, for example, he participated in the formation of a mystical “cone of power.”

Supposedly, he and a vast number of witches gathered to project their power on the mind of Adolf Hitler, to confuse and weaken the leader of Germany. Later they claimed their actions helped undermine the Nazis and ultimately defeat the S.S.

In the period of peace and reconstruction following the War, Gardner had his dreams of an organized witchcraft religion realized. He introduced Wicca to the world. This wasn’t a religion based on devil worship or ostensible frivolity, but instead borrowed much of its teachings from ancient pagans in Europe.

When Gardner died, much of the contents of his tower devoted to witchcraft ended up in the Ripley’s collection. Ceremonial daggers, hand-written spell books, treatises on the mystic arts, and various Wiccan paraphernalia have filtered into our various Odditoriums.

The bell shown here was believed to be used in the evocation of protective Goddesses or to exorcise evil spirits. The books contain hand-written notes on a variety of rituals in conference with other mystics in Europe at the time.