Doreen Valiente

Died aged c. 77

Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente (4 January 1922 – 1 September 1999) was an English Wiccan who was responsible for writing much of the early religious liturgy within the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca. An author and poet, she also published five books dealing with Wicca and related esoteric subjects. Born to a middle-class family in Surrey, Valiente began practicing magic while a teenager. Working as a translator at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, she also married twice in this period. Developing her interest in occultism after the war, she began practicing ceremonial magic with a friend while living in Bournemouth. Learning of Wicca, in 1953 she was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition by its founder, Gerald Gardner. Soon becoming the High Priestess of Gardner's Bricket Wood coven, she helped him to produce or adapt many important scriptural texts for Wicca, such as The Witches Rune and the Charge of the Goddess, which were incorporated into the early Gardnerian Book of Shadows. In 1957, a schism resulted in Valiente and her followers leaving Gardner in order to form their own short-lived coven. After investigating the Wiccan tradition of Charles Cardell, she was initiated into Raymond Howard's Coven of Atho in 1963. She went on the following year to work with Robert Cochrane in his coven, the Clan of Tubal Cain, although she later broke from this group. Eager to promote and defend her religion, she played a leading role in both the Witchcraft Research Association and then the Pagan Front during the 1960s and 1970s. That latter decade also saw her briefly involve herself in far right politics as well as becoming a keen ley hunter and proponent of Earth mysteries. As well as regularly writing articles on esoteric topics for various magazines, from the 1960s onward she authored a number of books on the subject of Wicca, as well as contributing to the publication of works by Wiccan friends Stewart Farrar, Janet Farrar, and Evan John Jones. In these works also she became an early advocate of the idea that anyone could practice Wicca without requiring initiation by a pre-existing Wiccan, while also contributing to and encouraging research into the religion's early history. Living in Brighton during these years, she was a member of the Silver Malkin coven and worked with Ron Cook, who was both her partner and initiate. In her final years she served as patron of the Sussex-based Centre for Pagan Studies prior to her death from pancreatic cancer. Valiente's magical artefacts and papers were bequeathed to her last High Priest, John Belham-Payne, who donated them to a charitable trust, the Doreen Valiente Foundation, in 2011. Having had a significant influence in the history of Wicca, she is widely revered in the Wiccan community as "the Mother of Modern Witchcraft", and has been the subject of two biographies.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Doreen Valiente 1922-1999 poet, author and Mother of Modern Witchcraft lived here

Tyson Place, Grosvenor Street, Brighton, United Kingdom where they lived