1. Gerald Gardner did not worship the Triple Goddess. Gerald Gardner, the father of Wicca, did not mention a Triple Goddess in his “Book of Shadows”. Nor does Gardner mention a Triple Goddess in Witchcraft Today, which was published in 1954. He does mention a Triple Goddess in his book, The Meaning of Witchcraft, published in 1959, but only briefly. Similarly, Raymond Buckland, who is credited with bringing Gardnerian witchcraft to America does not mention the Triple Goddess in Witchcraft from the Inside (1971) or his book, Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft (1974). The Triple Goddess is mentioned only briefly in his best-selling Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft (1986), published twelve years later, and with no exposition.
2. Gerald Gardner visited Robert Graves. In 1961, Idries Shah brought Gardner to visit Graves at his home on the island of Majorca. (Fred Adams, the founder of Feraferia, also visited Graves in 1959.) Gardner did write an essay about the Triple Goddess entitled “The Triad of the Goddess”. (I am grateful to Morgan Davis of geraldgardner.com for drawing my attention to this essay. I’ll be glad to email a .pdf of the document to anyone who requests or you can download it here.) The essay was found among Gardner’s papers which were purchased by Ripley’s from Gardner’s Witchcraft Museum. Unfortunately, the essay is undated. (I have seen someone else give it a date of 1958, but in any case, it appears to have been written after Gardner read Graves.) In the essay, Gardner describes the “triad of the Goddess” as “LOVE:DEATH:REBIRTH” and compares it to the Christian Trinity and to the triad of “Vrahmin, Vishnu and Siva”. Gardner argues that the death aspect is misinterpreted as a “Hag aspect” (here he seems to be responding to Graves), and that the true death aspect is not frightening, but comforting. This is consistent with Gardner’s conception of the Goddess as “light” and the God as “dark”.
3. Robert Graves wrote about the Triple Goddess before he wrote The White Goddess. Many Pagans will know that Robert Graves described the Triple Goddess in his book The White Goddess, published in 1948. But four years earlier, in Hercules, My Shipmate, or The Golden Fleece, which describes the ascendancy of the Olympian gods over the Triple Goddess, he described the Goddess as Maiden, Nymph and Mother, corresponding to the New Moon, Full Moon, and Old Moon. Then, in 1946, Graves published King Jesus, where he described a Great Triple Moon Goddess of birth, love, and death. In the narrative, the Triple Goddess takes the form of Miriam (Jesus’ mother), Mary of Cleopas (Jesus’ potential wife), and Mary Magdalene (a witch who is a disciple of the old goddess religion).
4. The Triple Goddess was not always Maiden-Mother-Crone…
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