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Philip Heselton

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Philip Heselton

Philip Heselton
Philip Heselton in 2005
Born 1946
Occupation Retired planning officer, author
Nationality British
Period 1980s onwards
Genre Factual/historical works
Subject Earth mysteries, Wicca

Philip Heselton (born 1946) is a retired British Conservation Officer, a Wiccan initiate, and a writer on the subjects of Wicca, Paganism and Earth mysteries. He is best known for two books, Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival and Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration, which gather historical evidence surrounding the New Forest coven and the origins of Gardnerian Wicca.

In his non-literary life his interest in landscape led to a degree in Geography and a career in Town and Country Planning; eventually he became a Conservation Officer for Hull City Council before his retirement in 1997.[1]

1960s–1970s: Ley hunting

Heselton has been described by Allen Watkins, son of Alfred Watkins, as the person who "...led the post-war revival of academic and practical interest in Leys".[2] In 1962, Heselton and others collaborated to form the Ley Hunters' Club, a revival of Alfred Watkins' Straight Track Club. The Ley Hunters worked on a hypothesis that Ley lines were not just prehistoric trackways, but were in some way connected with UFOs.[3] Heselton edited the first issues of the club's journal, The Ley Hunter, in 1965–66 and frequently contributed articles to the journal when it reappeared between 1969 and 1976.

2000 onwards: Gerald Gardner and the origins of Wicca

Since 2000, Heselton's publications have all centred on the origins of Wicca and its populariser (or inventor) Gerald Gardner. His first publication in this area was Wiccan Roots.

Heselton's second tome detailing his investigations was Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft (2003), again published by Capall Bann.[4] The book was reviewed by Pagan studies scholar Chas S. Clifton in The Pomegranate academic journal, in which he praised Heselton as "an outstanding researcher", who had "dug deeper than anyone before him" into Gardner's life. Clifton however criticised Heselton's interpretation of his data, remarking that he was handicapped by his desire to vindicate Gardner's account of events. Clifton then proposed an alternative account to Heselton's, in which Gardner founded Wicca in the early 1950s and invented the story of the New Forest coven to post-date it.[5] Reviewers in the Pagan press were enthusiastic about the book, treating it as a vindication of traditional accounts of Wiccan origins,[6][7] although one described it as speculative.[8] A more critical account of the origins of Wicca was previously provided by Ronald Hutton[9] but the relationship between the two appears warm: Hutton has written in the foreword to Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: "Philip Heselton is the most interesting, valuable and enjoyable author who has yet written on what is becoming one of the greatest riddles in the history of modern religion: the origins of pagan witchcraft".[10]

In 2012 Heselton's biography of Gardner, Witchfather, was published in two volumes by Thoth Publications. This is the first posthumous biography of Gardner, and only the second after Gerald Gardner, Witch, published in 1960 and attributed to Gardner's initiate Jack Bracelin, but in fact written by Idries Shah.[11][12] In The Pomegranate, the biography was reviewed by Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White, who commented that it was "more exhaustive with greater detail" than Heselton's prior tomes and was "excellent in most respects".[13] He nevertheless expressed a sceptical opinion of Heselton's "uncritical" use of Patricia Crowther's testimony regarding Alex Sanders, the omission of any mention of Anton Miles, and the lack of biographical depth on the individuals who surrounded Gardner.[14] He was very critical of Thoth's decision to divide the book into two volumes, believing that it was done to increase revenues and was detrimental to Heselton's text.[15] Overall he was positive about the biography, describing it as "the definitive biography of this fascinating pioneer" and argued that it crowned Heselton as "the foremost and greatest independent researcher" active in the field of Pagan studies.[16]

Publications

  • With Jimmy Goddard and Paul Baines: Skyways and Landmarks Revisited (1985)
  • With Brian Larkman: Earth Mysteries – An Explanatory Introduction (1985)
  • Tony Wedd: New age pioneer (1986). Northern Earth Mysteries. ISBN 0-948635-01-0
  • The Elements of Earth Mysteries (1994). Element Books. ISBN 1-85230-228-3
  • Secret Places of the Goddess: Contacting the Earth Spirit (1995). Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-898307-40-7
  • Mirrors of Magic: Evoking the Spirit of the Dewponds (1997). Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-898307-84-9
  • Leylines – A Beginner's Guide (1999). Hodder Arnold. ISBN 0-340-74316-6
  • Magical Guardians: Exploring the Spirit and Nature of Trees 2nd revised edition. (1999). Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-057-3
  • Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival (2000). Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-110-3
  • Gerald Gardner and the Witchcraft Revival: The Significance of His Life and Works to the Story of Modern Witchcraft (2001). I-H-O Books. ISBN 1-872189-16-4
  • Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft (2003). Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 1-86163-164-2
  • Witchfather: A Life of Gerald Gardner. Vol 1: Into the Witch Cult (2012). Loughborough, Leicestershire: Thoth Publications. ISBN 978-1-870450-80-5
  • Witchfather: A Life of Gerald Gardner. Vol 2: From Witch Cult to Wicca (2012). Loughborough, Leicestershire: Thoth Publications. ISBN 978-1-870450-79-9

References

Footnotes


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^ Interview with Philip Heselton, The Wiccan/Pagan Times.
  2. ^ Watkins, Allen (1972) Alfred Watkins of Hereford, Garnstone Press, London.
  3. ^ Screeton, Paul (1974). Quicksilver Heritage. The Mystic Leys: Their Legacy of Ancient Wisdom. Thorsons Publishers, Wellingborough, p.37.
  4. ^ Heselton 2003.
  5. ^ Clifton 2004, pp. 267–270.
  6. ^ Randall, Jon (2004). Book review: Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration. Pentacle, Imbolc issue, p.46.
  7. ^ Sumner, Alex (2004). Book review: Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration. Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, Vol 1 No 6.
  8. ^ Murphy-Hiscock. A (2004) Book review: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival. [1].
  9. ^ Hutton, Ronald (1999) The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft . Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-285449-6
  10. ^ Hutton in Heselton, Philip (2003),Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration: An Investigation into the Sources of Gardnerian Witchcraft. Milverton, Somerset, England:Capall Bann Publishing. p.11.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Doyle White 2012, p. 172.
  14. ^ Doyle White 2012, pp. 172–173.
  15. ^ Doyle White 2012, p. 173.
  16. ^ Doyle White 2012, pp. 173–174.

Bibliography

  • Interview with Philip Heselton, The Wiccan/Pagan Times.
  • The Ley Hunter Full text scanned issues from 1969–70.

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