Author Ray Buckland

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Wiccan author Ray Buckland in 2008. Photo Credit: Patti Wigington

Author Raymond Buckland (born Aug. 31, 1934) is perhaps one of the best-known authors in the Pagan community. His book Complete Book of Witchcraft, also nicknamed “Big Blue,” is one often recognized as the first book that drew many of us into Pagan belief systems. However, Buckland has written dozens of books, many of which you can find in your favorite Pagan shop or online book retailers. Let’s take a look at who Ray Buckland is, and why he’s mattered so much to the modern Pagan community.

Early Years

Ray Buckland was born in London, to a mother who was English and a father of Romani background. He developed his interest in the occult and metaphysical world at a fairly young age.

In a 2008 interview with About Paganism/Wicca, he said, “Briefly, I was introduced to Spiritualism by my uncle when I was about twelve years old. As an avid reader, I read all the books he had on the subject and then went to the local library and started reading what was there. I went from Spiritualism into ghosts, ESP, magic, witchcraft, etc. I found the whole metaphysical field fascinating and continued to read and study from then on.”

The Bucklands left London and moved to Nottingham at the beginning of World War II, and Ray attended Kings College School. He later served a stint in the Royal Air Force, married his first wife, and immigrated to the United States in 1962.

Bringing Modern Paganism to America

After moving to New York, Buckland continued to learn about the occult, and happened across the writings of Gerald Gardner.

They struck up a correspondence, and eventually Buckland traveled to Scotland to be initiated into Wicca by HPs Monique Wilson, with Gardner present for the ceremony. After returning to the US, Buckland founded a coven in Long Island, which was the first American Gardnerian coven. All Gardnerian groups in the US can trace their lineage directly through this coven.

In the late 1960s Buckland founded a witchcraft museum, and began writing. He told us in his 2008 interview, “Over the years my interest came to focus on witchcraft, especially finding that it is a positive, nature-based religion. After being brought into it, through Gerald Gardner, I made it my job to try to straighten people’s misconceptions about it. Gardner’s books went out of print, so I wrote to try to replace them.”

In the late 1970s, Buckland formed his own tradition of witchcraft, which he called Seax-Wica. Based on Anglo-Saxon mythology, symbolism and traditions, the Seax-Wica tradition included a correspondence course through which Buckland taught approximately a thousand members.

The Importance of "Big Blue"

Today, many modern Pagans cite Buckland’s work as having a significant influence on their practice. Danae is an eclectic Wiccan who lives in western Pennsylvania. She says, “I think the first book about witchcraft that I owned was Big Blue, and I really had no idea what to expect the first time I opened it. But what I realized pretty soon was that it was a solid foundation for my later practice, as I learned more and expanded my horizons. I still keep it as a reference and go back to it regularly.”

Countless seekers, both American and around the globe, have used the Complete Book of Witchcraft as a basis for their practice. It includes sections on rituals and spellwork, magical tools and divination, and the various aspects of coven life versus solitary practice.

Author Dorothy Morrison says, "Never in the history of the Craft has a single book educated as many people, spurred as many spiritual paths, or conjured as much personal possibility as Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft."

Bibliography

Ray Buckland has written dozens of books, which you can find listed on his website, but here are a few popular titles you may want to check out just to get started: