History 9 – Dorreen Valiente (1922 – 1999)

Dorreen Valiente was born “Doreen Edith Dominy” in Mitcham, SouthDorreen Valiente London January 4th 1922. She began to experience magic and spirituality at a very young age. Her parents chose to remedy this by sending her off to a convent resulting in Valiente walking out at the age of 15. This was the beginning of her thirst to study all things occult related that she could find. Eventually she came to be known as The Mother of Modern Witchcraft.

After World War II (1952) she and her husband (Casimiro Valiente, married May 1944) moved to the New Forest area where she was eventually introduced to Gerald Gardner by Edith Woodford-Grimes and initiated into the Bricket Wood Coven a year later on Midsummer’s eve.

Soon after her initiation, Dorreen Valiente started assisting Gardner in the process of re-writing many rituals and materials in his Book of Shadows. The re-writing consisted of removing a lot of what was influenced by Aliester Crowley in favour of things influenced by Charles Leland as well as much of her own writing. This newly revised version of Gardner’s Book of Shadows is what Gardnerian Wicca is based on today. It was during this time that Valiente wrote “The Charge of the Goddess” and assisted with writing “The Wiccan Rede”.

Valiente left the New Forest Coven in 1957 due to a disagreement with Gardener regarding what she called his “over zealous publicity” and it would seem much of the coven agreed with her. She then started her own coven with Ned Grove and after Gardner’s death (her mother also died the same year) was initiated into the “Clan of Tubal-Cain” (led by Robert Cochrane), which is now referred to as the “1734 Tradition”.

After her husbands death in 1972, Doreen Valiente began to focus on her writing. A list of her published works follows this essay. In the 1980’s claims by historian Jeffrey B. Russell that Gardner had made up “Old Dorothy” (Dorothy Clutterbuck) prompted Valiente to search out the truth for herself. The results of this research can be found in “A Witches Bible Complete” by Janet and Stewart Farrar. (Appendix A: The Search for Old Dorothy, pg 283)

In 1995, Valiente agreed to become Patron for the Centre for Pagan Studies. and passed away after a battle with cancer in September of 1999.

Since her death in 1999 after her battle with cancer, the Doreen Valiente Foundation was formed officially on March 6th 2011. The foundation is now in ownership of the items she left to John Belham-Payne (founder of the Centre for Pagan Studies and Valiente’s last High Priest and working partner).

Books by Doreen Valiente:

Where Witchcraft Lives – 1962

An ABC of Witchcraft – 1973

Natural Magic – 1975

Witchcraft for Tomorrow – 1978

The Rebirth of Witchcraft (autobiography) – 1989

Charge of the Goddess (compilation of poetry by Doreen Valiente)– 2000 posthumous

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