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Pagan Pioneers:  Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others


Rosaleen Norton


(The Witch of Kings Cross)



Written and compiled by George Knowles


Rosaleen Norton was an Australian visionary artist, mystic and witch, daubed by the popular press of the time as “The Witch of Kings Cross”.  At the peak of her artistic fame and just before the rise of contemporary witchcraft in the 1960’s, her work was little known outside the confines of Australia.  As such her contribution to pagan art was in many ways diminished and overtaken by the likes of “Austin Osman Spare”.  I hope here to bring her name back to the fore as one of the most outstanding originators of contemporary Pagan Art.





The Bacchanal  -  The Séance

Known as “Roie” to her friends and family, she was born during a thunderstorm in Dunedin, New Zealand, on the 02nd of October 1917.  The youngest of three girls, she was brought up by Protestant parents.  Albert her father worked as a merchant seaman with the New Zealand Steamship Company.  In June 1925, the family moved to Sydney, Australia, settling in Lindfield on Sydney’s North Shore. 

Roie grew up as solitary child, instinctively feeling different she remained aloof from other girls her age.  Her favourite time was the night, and from an early age began to experience strange psycho/spiritual fantasies of mystical ghouls and spirits.  At school she had a passion for drawing, but the pictures she created reflected her nighttime fantasies.  The drawings she produced soon got her into trouble, disturbing her classmates and teachers alike.  Later at the age of 14 while attending the Chatswood Girls Grammar School, the headmistress of the school declared her drawings “a corrupting influence on other pupils” and subsequently expelled her.

Roie next attended the East Sydney Technical College where she studied Art under the noted sculptor Raynor Hoff.  While her main interest was in Art, she was encouraged by friends to develop her talent for writing, and had several macabre short stories published in the popular Australian newspaper, “Smith’s Weekly”.  This led to her first job as an illustrator and reporter in training.  However, her drawings were considered to risqué and unconventional for the papers readers, and she was forced to quit the job after just 8 months.

While out of regular employment Roie survived working part-time in mundane jobs such as waiting tables and bartending.  She also did some modelling for Norman Lindsay, a fellow artist and close friend whose early drawings, like her own, were considered both controversial and notorious.  She also began researching psychology, magic and metaphysics, and studied in depth the writings of Carl Jung and William James, as well as the works of famous occultists:  Eliphas Levi, Madam Blavatsky, Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley.

In 1935, Roie met and married Beresford Lionel Conroy, and together spent the next few years travelling around Australia’s East Coast.  However, with the outbreak of war in 1939, they became separated.  Little is known about Conroy except that he was the son of a Dr Lionel Bigoe Conroy, born in Crookwell, New South Wales in 1914.  During the war he is thought to have spent two years as a Commando in the A.I.F. (2nd Australian Imperial Force 1939-1945) serving in Northern New Guinea.  On his return from the war he divorced Roie, and remarried a Patricia Roberts with who he had three children.  He later died in 1988.

By that time Roie had started drawing again and was contributing illustrations to a monthly journal called “Pertinent”.  While working for Pertinent she also began experimenting with self-hypnosis, trance and automatic drawing.  Through this she discovered new techniques to heighten her artistic perception by transferring her conscious attention “at will” to inner planes of awareness.  These experiments she wrote later “produced a number of peculiar and unexpected results and culminated in a period of extra-sensory perception together with a prolonged series of symbolic visions”.  She also met her magical and artistic partner, the poet Gavin Greenlees.



Black Magic


In 1949, Roie and Gavin, relocated to Melbourne where she held her first major Art exhibition at the Rowden-White Gallery in Melbourne University.  Just two days after opening however, the police raided the exhibition and seized four of her paintings, one of which was a painting called “Black Magic” depicting a black panther copulating with a naked woman.  The police later charged her with offences under their Public Obscenity Laws.



Rosaleen Norton, 1949.


During the following court trial, the Crown prosecution claimed her paintings were pornographic, obscene and decadent, inspired by works of mediaeval demonology, and likely to “deprave and corrupt the morals of all those who saw them”.  However all charges were dropped when various academics were called to defend her religious practice of Pantheism, which Roie described as the pagan worship of ancient Greek Gods.  The police were ordered to pay all costs of the trial.

While the trial caused a public scandal in the popular press and brought with it some notoriety, it did little to help sell her painting or lead on to further exhibitions.  As a result she and Gavin returned to Sydney, and there took up residence in a dingy basement flat at 179 Brougham Street.  This was located in the bohemian centre of Kings Cross, a notorious stomping ground for Sydney’s down-and-out artists, prostitutes and criminals.  There because of her new status as a minor celebrity, Roie soon became a well-known local character. 

In 1951, Roie and Gavin were approached by a publisher named Wally Glover, who after seeing their work, decided to publish a limited edition of 500 leather-bound books entitled:  The Art Of Rosaleen Norton (with poems by Gavin Greenlees)” (1952).  The book caused a huge out cry from literary critics who denounced it as “indecent”, thus attracting widespread media publicity.  Such was the furore; copies of the book being exported for sale in New York were confiscated and burnt by US customs. 

Wally Glover was later charged with producing an obscene publication.  During the court proceeding two pictures in the book were ruled to be indecent because they showed pubic hair and phallic appendages.  One of the pictures entitled “Fohat”, was deemed particularly offensive for it depicted a cheeky looking demon with a snake for a penis.  Once again Roie was called back into court to defend her Art in terms of pagan archetypes based on ancient Greek Gods.  Despite this, the magistrate fined Glover five pounds and ordered the two pictures removed from unsold copies of the book.  The media publicity attracted more notoriety and even commissions for Roie, but poor Wally Glover was forced into bankruptcy.



Due to her renewed notoriety Roie became one of the most famous characters of Kings Cross.  Her paintings soon adorned the walls of well-nown local cafés, such like the “Kashmir” and “Apollyon”, and visitors to Sydney began to seek her out.  The press by now had added to her fame by labelling her “The Witch of Kings Cross”.   It was rumoured that she was the leader of a witch “cult”, but in reality this was no more than a few friends gathering in her flat to talk about metaphysics and the occult, and occasionally experimenting with Pagan rituals. 

Several outbreaks of scandal kept the legend of “The Witch of Kings Cross” alive, and controversy was never far away.  In 1955 a man offering to sell alleged pornographic photos of Roie and Gavin performing unnatural sexual acts approached the Sun newspaper.  These turned out to have been taken as a joke at one of Roie’s birthday parties, but rumours spread and persisted that she was involved in satanic rituals, black masses and magical sexual rites.  Such “would be” stories regularly appeared in Australian newspapers and magazines, and “Rosaleen Norton” became a household name.

Another scandal hit the media pages in 1957, when perhaps under pressure from all the media attention and notoriety, Gavin Greenlees was diagnosed as a schizophrenic and institutionalised.  Later while out on temporary release, he tried to kill Roie with a kitchen knife.  His attack fortunately failed, and he was sent back to the sanatorium never to be heard from again.

Later that year another scandal erupted which rocked “polite” society worldwide.  Sir Eugène Goossens” a famous English conductor/composer, who at the time was the resident conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Director of Music for the ABC and Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, was reported as being a close friend and intimate of Roie.  Apparently he had been a frequent visitor to her flat in Kings Cross since 1952, where allegedly they had an intense affair and took part in occult rituals. 

On the 09th of March 1957 after a trip back to England, Goossens was stopped and searched by customs at Sydney’s Mascot airport and accused of smuggling.  His luggage contained a number of banned books, pornographic photos and ritual masks for use in Roie’s rituals.  Goosens was fined £100, the maximum at that time for a breach of the Customs Act.  Due to the public scandal that followed Goosens was ostracized from Australia’s high society and forced to return to England in disgrace.  He died on the 13th June 1962 at Hillingdon Hospital in Middlesex, England, and later buried in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery.

With the revival of Contemporary Witchcraft in the 1960’s, Roie dropped out of the public eye; her behaviour and life style no longer seemed so strange.  She continued to support herself by selling painting and making magical trinkets for friends and tourists who still sought out “The Witch of Kings Cross”.  In 1974, Roie’s name was again briefly made public when the “Rt. Rev. Marcus Loane”, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney set up a “Commission of Inquiry” into occult practices.  Among his most sensational claims, was that occultism and a belief in satanism was the most sinister of modern craze’s.  After the fuss died down, Roie became reclusive and shut herself away with her cats, music and literature.

By the late 1970’s, Roie’s health began to fail, and in 1979 she was diagnosed with colon cancer.  She was admitted to the “Sacred Heart Hospice for the Dying” where on the 5th of December 1979, she passed away surrounded by nuns despite remaining “a Pagan” to the end.






Rosaleen Norton was a brilliant artist, but like so many famous people before her, she was a victim of ignorance and the prejudices of her times.  She was a devotee of the Pagan god Pan, and during her life and trials maintained a sincere truth about her Art, religion and lifestyle.  Her Art in the main represented supernatural imagery, which in today’s more liberal society has found renewed acceptance.  In her own day, her paintings were regarded as bizarre, obscure and pornographic, and she was not accorded the recognition she deserved.





More recently her Art has been rediscovered and is finding a wide audience.  In 1957, after the debacle concerning the publishing of The Art Of Rosaleen Norton (with poems by Gavin Greenlees)”, when Wally Glover was declared bankrupt and all copyrights to Roie’s artwork were taken over by the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy, the copyrights were finally returned to him in 1981 and the book republish in 1982.  In 1984, Wally followed this up with a new limited edition called the “Supplement to the Art of Rosaleen Norton”, a collection of tastefully mounted colour photographs of 48 more of her works.  Roie’s often controversial Art is again available “uncensored” to the public, were recognition can justly be reinstated.


The Art of Rosaleen Norton with poems by Gavin Greenlees. Walter Glover, Sydney. 1952 (2nd edition: Walter Glover, Bondi Beach. 1982. ISBN 0-9593077-0-2).

Supplement to: The Art of Rosaleen Norton (1982 Edition) with poems by Gavin Greenlees. Walter Glover, Bondi Beach, N.S.W. 1984. ISBN 0-9593077-1-0.

Three Macabre Stories (US: Typographeum Press, 1996; revised edition: US: The Teitan Press, 2010).  A limited edition of her early stories originally written for Smith’s Weekly.  The 2010 edition includes additional material and reprints three of her satirical illustrations.


First published on the 04 March 2007, updated 05th December 2009 © George Knowles





To be posted later


First published on the 04 March 2007, 18:22:06 © George Knowles



Best wishes and Blessed Be



Site Contents - Links to all Pages


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About me:

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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) /  Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /    


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:

(Our Ancestors)


Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagorasParacelsus /  Abramelin the Mage Archimedes AgrippaSocrates  /  AristotleAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” /  



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


Aidan A KellyAleister 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 DuncanHermann Löher /  Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Heinrich KramerIdries ShahIsaac 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" /  Lambert Daneau /  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” /  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-SmithPatricia 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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