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Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others

Margaret St Clair 


Written and compiled by George Knowles 

Margaret St. Clair was an American science fiction writer and novelist who wrote using the pseudonyms Idris Seabright and Wilton Hazzard.  Initially writing short detective stories for popular pulp magazines during the 1940’s, St. Clair also penned nine science fiction novels, the most popular being the “Sign of the Labrys”, which had an early influence on American contemporary Wicca/Witchcraft and Paganism. 

Margaret St. Clair was born Eva Margaret Neeley in Hutchinson, Kansas, on the 17th February 1911.  She was the second child born to George Arthur Neeley, a Kansas lawyer and politician, and Elvira “Eva” Margaret Hostetter, a Kansas schoolteacher.  The Neeley’s first-born child was George Newland Neeley, but sadly he only survived for 29 months (05th August 1905 – 22nd December 1907), cause of death is unknown.  Just a year after her own birth, her father served two terms as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1912-1915).  Raised as an only child in Kansas, Margaret later described her childhood as being “a rather lonely and bookish one”. 


George Arthur Neeley 

On the 01st January 1919 Margaret’s father died, but left his family fairly well provided for, which in turn allowed her mother to afford her a decent education.  At about the same time as her father passed, she began reading science fiction, beginning her life-long fascination with the genre.  After finishing high school at the age of seventeen (1928), she and her mother moved to California and there she enrolled at Berkeley University to study the Classics.  Graduating in 1932, she remained in Berkeley where she met and married her future long-time husband, the children’s author Raymond Eric St. Clair.  In 1934 she earned a Master of Arts in Greek Classics.  The St. Clair’s lived a comfortable life in a large house with an extensive library up in the hills with panoramic views over Richmond, California, and their Margaret enjoyed gardening and breeding dachshund puppies. 

Raymond Eric St. Clair was born on the 30th July 1903 in Upland, California.  Eight years older than his wife he had worked variously as a statistician, social worker, horticulturist, shop fitter and a laboratory assistant in the Berkeley University Physics Department; he also published numerous short stories and magazine articles and was perhaps the leading American writer of children’s stories about “Bears”, selling close to 100 of them.  Sadly Eric St. Clair passed away on the 10th March 1986 in Mendocino County, California. 

Margaret began writing in 1945, and in 1946 had her first science fiction story “Rocket to Limbo” published in the magazine Fantastic Adventures.  From then on she began publishing in a variety of magazines, including Thrilling Adventure Stories and Startling Stories amongst others.  Sometimes she wrote using the pseudonyms Idris Seabright and Wilton Hazzard.  Her most creative short story period was during the 1950s, when she wrote such acclaimed stories as “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles” (1951), “Brightness Falls from the Air” (1951), “An Egg a Month from All Over” (1952) and “Horrer Howce” (1956).  

For inspiration Margaret drew on her education in the Classics and her knowledge of Greek myths, as in “Mrs. Hawk” (1950), a modern update of the Circe myth, and “The Bird” (1951), about a modern man’s fateful encounter with the mythical phoenix, also “The Goddess on the Street Corner” (1953), in which a down-on-his-luck wino meets an equally vulnerable Aphrodite.  Three of her short stories were later adapted for television.  Mrs. Hawk” was filmed as “The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk” for a 1961 Thriller with Jo Van Fleet in the title role.  The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes” (1950) and “Brenda” (1954) were filmed as segments of the 1971 season of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. 


Jo Van Fleet as The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk  -  Rod Serling - American TV producer 

Margaret is later quoted as saying:  I first tried my hand at detective and mystery stories before finding my niche writing fantasy and science fiction for pulp magazines.  Unlike most pulp writers, I had no special ambitions to make the pages of the slick magazines.  I feel that the pulps at their best touch a genuine folk tradition and  bookhave a balladic quality which the slicks lack.”  She largely stopped writing short stories in the late 1950s (which by her own count then totalled over 130) to concentrate on writing novels. 

 Margaret’s forth novel - “Sign of the Labrys”

Between 1956 and 1973 Margaret authored nine novels.  One of her most highly regarded novels the “Sign of the Labrys” (initially published by Corgi in 1963) was notable for its early use of Wicca elements in fiction.  Based on post-apocalyptic events that take place 10 years after 90% of humanity, animals and natural plant life had been wiped out as a result of toxic yeast released from a government research station.  Those that survive the resulting plague live in large underground complexes initially built to withstand a nuclear war that never came. 

As society breaks down and all government control is lost the main character of the book, a 25-year-old Sam Sewell appears.  Sewell lives alone near the top of a multilevel subterranean cave complex along with thousands of other people (but since the plague most survivors can't stand being in close proximity to others and steer clear of each other), he only ventures to the surface to help dispose of dead bodies.  One day he returns home to find a mystical ring and a note from someone called Despoina, believed to be the High Priestess of an old Witch Cult living in the lower levels of the cave complex.  He soon finds that other people are interested in him when he sees the sign of a Labrys (a double-headed fighting axe) on the cave walls, and mysterious figures begin whispering “Blessed be” out to him from the darkness.  He then receives a visit from an agent of the FBY (Federal Bureau of Yeasts? a menacing government agency that believes Despoina may have the ability to cure not just the lingering plague, but also to right the dysfunction it has brought on society).  Sam therefore embarks on a journey into the lower levels of the cave complex in efforts to locate her and determine the truth. 

On his way down to the next level of the complex, he encounters a mycologist named Kyra doing research on what remains of government laboratories in her sector.  Kyra is also a practising Witch and begins to teach Sam some of the alleged powers of witchcraft.  Through the use of mirror gazing and narcotics, she is able to help him into a past life regression where he has visions of a past Pagan lifestyle dancing around a fire celebrating nature through a Goddess and God.  She’s also able to lead him into the next level of the complex so to continue his journey.  However, each successive level down becomes more dangerous and weird than the last as he encounters mad scientists, a herd of white rats and countless blind alleys filled with technological and human detritus.  He also finds evidence of an older world, one that preserves the ancient teachings of Pagan Witchcraft.  As he works his way through the complex, Sam finds himself not just seeking out Despoina, the High Priestess of the old Witch Cult, but also his own forgotten Pagan past that is the key to humanity’s future revival.

Margaret later wrote that the book was:  primarily inspired by Gerald Gardner’s books on witchcraft.”  Her researches into witchcraft led her into a friendship with Raymond Buckland, who three years after the book was published, in 1966 initiated both the St Clair’s into contemporary Wicca then sweeping across America, Margaret taking the craft name “Froniga” and Eric taking the craft name “Weyland”.  Buckland later described them as “absolutely wonderful people, very warm and loving.” 


Gerald B. Gardner  -  Raymond Buckland 

In her rare autobiographical writings, Margaret reveals few details of her personal life, but interviews with some of those who knew her indicate that she and her husband were well travelled (including a trip to China after their marriage) and were regular members of local nudist colonies.  They had remained childless by choice.  

Margaret St. Clair survived her husband by several years.  A lifelong supporter of the Quaker inspired “American Friends Service Committee”, and had spent her final years living in a Friends House at 684 Benicia Dr, Santa Rosa, California, CA 95409, where she died on the 22nd November 1995 at the age of eighty-four years.  The Margaret St. Clair Papers are archived at the University of California, Riverside. 



Short stories, to many to mention. 


The Green Queen (1956)

Agent of the Unknown (1956)

The Games of Neith (1960)

Sign of the Labrys (1963)

Three Worlds of Futurity (1964)

Message from the Eocene (1964)

The Dolphins of Altair (1967)

The Shadow People (1969)

The Dancers of Noyo (1973)

Story collections 

Three Worlds of Futurity (1964)

Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974)

The Best of Margaret St. Clair (1985) 


Partners in Wonder:  Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965  -  by Eric Leif Davin (Lexington Books 2005).

First published on the 09th August 2020  ©  George Knowles 


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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