Gerald Brousseau Gardner (June 13, 1884 - February 12, 1964; died at age 79), was the creator of Wicca, as well as an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist, writer, expert in bladed weapons, and occultist. He wrote Wicca's definitive religious text- the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, and he publicized Wicca by writing the books High Magic's Aid (1949), Witchcraft Today (1954), and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959). He wrote High Magic's Aid under the craft name 'Scire'. He typically referred to the faith as "witchcraft" or "the witch-cult", and its adherents as "the Wica". He got the term "witch-cult" from Margaret Murray's writings.
Gardner was initiated into the New Forest Coven in september of 1939. Gardner falsely believed that that coven was a remnant of a pre-christian pagan witch cult, when in fact it was inspired by Margaret Murray's two books about witches- the same books that Gardner himself had read, which allowed Gardner to recognize the distinctive practices described by Murray. Recent scholarship suggests that Gardner synthesized much of what he called "witchcraft" from the writings of Margaret Murray (in particular, her 1921 book The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, and her 1931 book The God of the Witches) and Charles G. Leland (in particular, his 1899 book Aradia: Gospel of the Witches), Freemasonry, and the Key of Solomon and other ceremonial magic, though that does not mean that Wicca is any less valid as a religion. Regardless of some of its more contemporary influences (e.g., The Key of Solomon), anthropologists (Lydia Cabrera, "El Monte") have examined other traditional religions, such as Santeria, which have been influenced by the Key of Solomon through El Libra de San Cipriano, and no scholar has taken that evidence and concluded that Santeria must be a modern invention! Modern Wiccan scholarship is unfortunately flawed since it uses inadequate methods to research a religion other than the discipline of a Religious Historian.
- 1936: Keris and Other Malay Weapons
- 1939: A Goddess Arrives (fiction)
- 1949: High Magic's Aid (fiction)
- 1954: Witchcraft Today
- 1959: The Meaning of Witchcraft
- The Story of the famous Witches Museum at Castletown, Isle of Man, a guidebook