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Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Lady Gwen Thompson


(The Rede of the Wiccae)



Written and compiled by George Knowles


Born on the 16th September 1928 in Nova Scotia, Canada, Lady Gwen Thompson (also known as Lady Minerva and Rhiannon) was the craft name of Phyllis Thompson (née Healy).  Lady Gwen claimed to be a hereditary witch from New England and that her grandmother “Adriana Porter” had been the custodian of a secret tradition of folk-craft passed down to her from ancestors dating back to the seventeenth-century.  It was her grandmother who initiated her into the family tradition and gave her the craft name Lady Gwen.


At first Lady Gwen intended to keep the tradition within the family and in turn initiated her own children into it.  However, her son and his family left to joined a Christian Church, while her daughter had no children to carry-on the line.  In the late 1960’s fearing the tradition would be completely lost and forgotten, she began initiating outsiders into their family coven.  By 1970 as people hived off to form their own covens, in 1972 she founded the New England Covens of Traditionalist Witches (N.E.C.T.W.) as an umbrella organization named after her family practice.


In around 1974 Lady Gwen retired from active partition in the N.E.C.T.W., and conferred leadership onto two of its early members.  Under new leadership the N.E.C.T.W. continued to developed and now includes:  the Coven of Minerva (Rhode Island), Nemed Cuculatii (Washington), the Needfire Grove (Maryland), the Coven of Athena and the Coven of the Crossroads (Rhode Island), the Coven Sidera (Michigan) and the Raven Eyrie Coven (Massachusetts), plus others.  Today the N.E.C.T.W. is listed in the State of Rhode Island as a subsidiary of the Society of the Evening Star.


Lady Gwen remained actively teaching her form of witchcraft, a blend of her family tradition mixed with more contemporary forms of witchcraft into the 1980s, during which she carried on an extensive worldwide correspondence.  Through her letters and teachings she contributed to the development of other traditions, including the Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries and the Georgian Tradition.


In her later life Lady Gwen altered her craft name to “Lady Gwynne Thompson”, she had been married and divorced three times, and Thompson was her final married surname.  In the mid-1980s, she was diagnosed with cancer and while on a visit to her birth place in Nova Scotia, Canada, died on the 22nd May 1986.  Many of her craft artefacts, including her personal Book of Shadows are now in the possession of the N.E.C.T.W., having been given to them by her daughter.




Lady Gwen is perhaps best known for an article she wrote entitled “A Wiccan-Pagan Potpourri”, which was published in the Green Egg magazine (Vol. VIII, No.69) at Ostara in 1975.  A portion of the article included a poem called:  The Rede of the Wiccae, about which she stated:  “... Our own particular form of the Wiccan Rede is that which was passed on to her by Adriana Porter, who was well into her nineties when she crossed over into the Summerland in the year 1946. ...”


Adriana Porter had been born in Nova Scotia, Canada in July 1857 and died in Melrose, Massachusetts, on the 01st March 1946.  Lady Thompson claimed that she inherited her own beliefs and practices from Porter, who had summarised them in the poem.  The full poem as published by Thompson is as follows:



The Rede Of The Wiccae

Being known as the counsel of the Wise Ones:


Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Live an’ let live - Fairly take an’ fairly give.

Cast the Circle thrice about To keep all evil spirits out.

To bind the spell every time - Let the spell be spake in rhyme.

Soft of eye an’ light of touch - Speak little, listen much.

Deosil go by the waxing Moon - Sing and dance the Wiccan rune.

Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, An’ the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

When the Lady’s Moon is new, Kiss thy hand to Her times two.

When the Moon rides at Her peak Then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the Northwind’s mighty gale - Lock the door and drop the sail.

When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.

When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.

When the West wind blows o’er thee, Departed spirits restless be.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go - Burn them quick an’ burn them slow.

Elder be ye Lady’s tree - Burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.

When the Wheel begins to turn - Let the Beltane fires burn.

When the Wheel has turned a Yule, Light the Log an’ let Pan rule.

Heed ye flower bush an’ tree - By the Lady Blessèd Be.

Where the rippling waters go Cast a stone an’ truth ye’ll know.

When ye have need, Hearken not to others greed.

With the fool no season spend Or be counted as his friend.

Merry meet an’ merry part - Bright the cheeks an’ warm the heart.

Mind the Threefold Law ye should - Three times bad an’ three times good.

When misfortune is enow, Wear the Blue Star on thy brow.

True in love ever be Unless thy lover’s false to thee.

Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill - An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.


However, the true authorship of the poem is still disputed as a similar poem was included in a speech given by Doreen Valiente on October 3, 1964 at what may have been the first witches dinner organized in modern history and sponsored by the Witchcraft Research Association.  The event was covered and later reported by Pentagram, a quarterly newsletter and “witchcraft review” started and published by Gerard Noel in 1964.  The poem has since been very widely circulated and has appeared in other versions, with additional or variant passages.


When the Green Egg published her article they credited it as “Lady Gwen Thompson, Welsh Tradition Wicca”, but this sparked a protest by Lady Gwen in a later letter published in issue No 71, which was followed by an apology from the then editor Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (then known as Tim Zell) in issue No. 72.


In her opening letter Lady Gwen stated:  “... For the record, we are not Welsh.  I do believe we ran this route a few years ago, and it seems that once more clarification is needed.  We are and always have been simply Traditionalist.  We use the term Celtic Traditionalist to differentiate us from the ones who claim to be Welsh, and I know of only one tradition that has the right to use that name.  If there are others, I do not know of them.  My apologies, but we are not Welsh.  We prefer to be simply known as "Traditionalists. ...


While Lady Gwen maintained the use of the term Witch and Witchcraft in her teachings and writings, by this time the term Wicca was becoming more fashionable to use in it’s place.  This has led to numerous instances of her tradition being labeled as Celtic Wicca despite her objections and preference for the term Traditionalist.


Lady Gwen claimed to be a hereditary witch from an established family tradition, but sadly there is no documentary proof to support this.  Allegedly, after copying the contents of her grandmother’s original ‘Book of Shadows’, she claimed to have destroyed it, and since then her own Book of Shadows has been rewritten several times obliterating much of its original content, it cannot now be used to substantiate her linage by succession.  Neither has any other family documentation providing first-hand information ever been made public.


In their book:  The Rede of the Wiccae (2005), Robert Mathiesen, a medieval philologist and professor at Brown University, and Theitic, an Elder in the N.E.C.T.W., have documented the ancestral history of the Thompson family.  This includes an account of a seventeenth-century alchemist called Jonathan Brewster, and several families involved in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, however, there is no direct evidence to prove an unbroken established family tradition of Witchcraft.  And so, controversy over the origins of the Rede continues.





Plus to many others to mention.



Best Wishes and Blessed Be


Site Contents - Links to all Pages


Home Page


A Universal Message:


Let there be peace in the world  -   Where have all the flowers gone?


About me:

My Personal PageMy Place in England / My Family Tree (Ancestry)


Wicca & Witchcraft


Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is Wicca What is Magick


Traditional Writings:


The Wiccan Rede Charge of the Goddess Charge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches Chant The Witches Creed Descent of the Goddess Drawing Down the Moon The Great Rite Invocation Invocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of Chivalry A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality


Correspondence Tables:


IncenseCandlesColours Magickal Days Stones and Gems Elements and Elementals




Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /


Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /


Other things of interest:


Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 Doreen Valiente Witch” (A Book Review) /   


Sabbats and Festivals:


The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)


Rituals contributed by Crone:


Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon




Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing




Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansUnicornWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat /  Rats /  Unicorn




In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder


Sacred Sites:


Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /


Rocks and Stones:


Stones - History, Myths and Lore


Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:


Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble


Wisdom and Inspiration:


Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /


Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:


Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark


Old Masters of Academia:


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras





A "Who's Who" of Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)


Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)


Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /   Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda MetteyyaAllan Kardec (Spiritism) /  Alphonsus de SpinaAmber KAnn Moura /  Anna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman SpareBalthasar Bekker /  Biddy EarlyBarbara Vickers /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristopher PenczakChristina Oakley Harrington Cornelius Loos /  Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-NowickiDonald Michael Kraig Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edain McCoy /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne /   Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIsaac Bonewits Israel RegardieIvo Domínguez Jr. /  Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick /  James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJean Bodin Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer  / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /   Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim  -  the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John Score /  Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" /   Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceLodovico Maria Sinistrari Ludwig LavaterMadeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMichael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" /  Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” /  Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMartin Antoine Del Rio Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillOlivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis /  Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPaul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school /  Peter Binsfeld /  Philip HeseltonRaven GrimassiRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Richard BaxterRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Rossell Hope Robbins /   Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWalter Ernest ButlerWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  



Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)



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