Neo-Paganism Timeline: 1960s

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[Note: Dates in the same year are not listed in chronological order.]


1960: Carl Weschke purchases Llewellyn Publishing Co. and develops it into the largest publisher of Pagan titles in the world. Today, Llewellyn has generally synonymous for many Pagans with amateurish beginner’s books.

1960: A. Irving Hallowell coins the term “other than human beings” to describe the understanding by the Ojibwa people he studied that many more things could be a person for them than for most Westerners. The phrase is later adopted by many neo-animists.
1960: World human population reaches 3 billion.

1961: Robert Heinlein publishes A Stranger in a Strange Land, which later inspires The Church of All Worlds.

1961: Idries Shah takes Gardner to visit Robert Graves at the poet’s home on Majorca.

1961: Approximate date of Alex Sanders’ initiation. Sanders goes on to found a Wiccan tradition separate from Gerald Gardner’s, later called the Alexandrian tradition.

1962: The Esalen Institute is founded in Big Sur, California. The community is a center for the human potential movement and draws influential teachers like Alan Watts, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Fritz Pearls (Gestalt therapy).

1962: Doreen Valiente publishes Where Witchcraft Lives.

1962: Tim Zell founds the Church of All Worlds (CAW) in Missouri, a Neo-Pagan religious organization modeled after the fictional organization in the novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, including polyamory, sacraments (“Never Thirst”; water-sharing), immanent divinity (“Thou art God”), and pantheism (“all that groks is God”). The group originally derived its ideas from Ayn Rand and Heinlein, but later became more clearly Neo-Pagan.

1962: Rachel Carson, the “mother of the environmental movement” publishes Silent Spring, in which she calls for balance between human needs and the needs of the environment. The book is credited with starting the global ecological movement.

1963: Raymond and Rosemary Buckland begin initiating Americans into Gardnerian witchcraft in New York. According to Fred Lamond, Gardnerian Wicca did not arrive on the West Coast until a decade later, in 1973. However, Aidan Kelly puts this date earlier at 1967.

1963: The Reformed Druids of North America begins as a protest against a requirement that students at Carleton College, in Minnesota, attend religious services. Since any religious service would count, some students, including Robert Larson, started RDNA as a humorous way to test the system. The founders were Jewish, Christian and agnostic and did not intend to start a new religion. However, it subsequently evolves into one and spreads.

1963: Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique.

1963: Aidan Kelly writes a “Goddess Wedding” for two friends, several years before NROOGD is organized in San Francisco.

1963: Amendment to the Clean Air Act.

1963: Robert Greenway coins the term “psycho-ecology” (which later becomes “ecopsychology”).

1963: John Carver, assistant secretary to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which supervises the National Park Service, likened the Park Service to the Hitler Youth Movement. Later, conservatives came to label environmental activism as “ecofascism”.

1964: The Pentagram periodical is first published in the UK. The Waxing Moon periodical is first published in the U.S., created by Joseph Wilson. These are the first Pagan periodicals.

1964: Gerald Gardner dies.

1964: The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) is founded by Ross Nichols.

1964: The Wilderness Act is passed to ensure that lands are designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition.

1965: Justine Glass publishes Witchcraft, the Sixth Sense and Us. It includes in interview with Robert Cochrane.

1965: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is published in paperback edition in the U.S. Some have read environmentalist themes in the series, including nature loving elves, nature despoiling orcs, and sentient tree “shepherds” called Ents.

1965: Adlai Stevenson gives a famous speech to the UN in which he describes the earth as a space shop with limited reserves of air and soil. The following year Barbara Ward coins the phrase “Spaceship Earth”. The phrase is popularized by Buckminster Fuller in 1968, the year of the Apollo 8 crew photographs “Earthrise”. In 1971, United Nations Secretary-General U Thant spoke “Spaceship Earth” on the second Earth Day.

1966: The Californian psychedelic counterculture peaks.

1966: The Sierra Club succeeds in preventing the damming of the Grand Canyon.

1966: Robert Cochrane (Roy Bowers), founder of the Clan of Tubal Cain, dies after ingesting belladonna on Midsummer’s Eve. Other traditions were influenced by Cochrane, including the Roebuck Tradition, and Joseph Wilson’s 1734 Tradition. Doreen Valiente was also a member of Cochrane’s coven for two years until shortly before Cochrane’s death.

1966: Robert Graves’ The White Goddess is republished by an American publisher in a revised and enlarged edition.

1966: The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is begun as a backyard party at the home of Diana Paxton in Berkley, California. Marion Zimmer Bradley is also an early member who coined the name of the Society.

1966: Samuel N. Kramer publishes his findings that the Sumerian Dumuzi — counterpart to the Babylonian Tammuz and consort to Inanna/Ishtar — in fact rises from the dead annually. This provides additional support for James Frazer’s Dying and Rising God theory.

1966: The occult soap opera “Dark Shadows” airs. The series continues until 1971.

1967: Frederick Adams’ Feraferia is incorporated. Sarah Pike marks this, together with the founding of NROOGD, as the beginning of the Neo-Pagan movement.

1967: Aidan Kelly, E.l.f. Silverlocke, Glen Turner, and Judy Greenwood found the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn (NROOGD) in San Francisco, California. The group begins as a class project and then continues, according to Kelly, as an attempt to recreate the ecstatic experience of the rock dances of San Fransisco. They write an original Book of Shadows, by experimentation and library research, without any direct contact with an existing craft tradition, drawing on Gerald Gardner’s writings, as well as Robert Graves’ The White Goddess. NROOGD was later influenced by Victor Anderson’s Faerie Tradition of witchcraft. Sarah Pike marks the organization of NROOGD, together with the founding of Feraferia, as the beginning of the Neo-Pagan movement.

1967: Tim (Otter/Oberon) Zell files for incorporation of the Church of All Worlds as a “church”. Official status was granted in 1968, making it the first Neo-Pagan state-recognized “church”. Zell begins using the term “Pagan” to describe the new religion. CAW was influenced by Frederick Adams’ Feraferia cosmology and Wiccan ritual forms. CAW was formally chartered on March 4, 1968.

1967: Lynn White publishes “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” in the periodical Science. The essay examines the effect of Christianity on humankind’s relationship with nature.

1967: Rhuddlwm Gawr and Dynion Mwyn establish The Gathering of the Tribes in Maryland.

1967: The Environmental Defense Fund is founded.

1967: Amendment to the Clean Air Act.

1968: The Roman Polanski film, “Rosemary’s Baby”, starring Mia Farrow, premieres. The film wins many awards and helps further cement the conception of witchcraft as Satanism in the popular mind.

1968: Apollo 8 crew crew photographs the famous “Earthrise photo”. This view of the living Earth rising from the horizon of the dead moon helped many humans realize the fragility of their home. Another iconic photo “Blue Marble”, the first photograph in which Earth is in full view, was taken in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew.

1968: Carlos Castaneda publishes The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowing. Together with Mircea Eliade’s Shamanism, published in 1964, it stimulated interest in shamanism and indigenous spirituality.

1968 Isaac Bonewits joins the RDNA. The organization becomes more explicitly Neo-Pagan.

1968: W.I.T.C.H. (Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell) in New York stages an ironic “hexing” of Wall Street in the form of street theater mixed with protest.

1968: The Church of All Worlds begins publishing the Green Egg newsletter. It becomes the most important Neo-Pagan forum for many years. The publication is instrumental in the formation of a emerging identity around the word “Neopagan” (later just “Pagan”).

1968: The height of the American Counterculture movement. According to Theodore Roszak, the Counterculture was a response to a sense of deep-seated alienation and disillusionment felt by many Americans brought on by modernity, secularization, industrialization, bureaucratization, and capitalism.

1968: Monica Sjoo exhibits her painting “God Giving Birth”, displaying a large woman, with a face half-black and half-white, in the act of childbirth.

1968: Sybil Leek publishes Diary of a Witch.

1968: Central Valley Wicca, a Gardnerian variant, is founded in California.

1968: The Whole Earth Catalog begins publication and serves as a bible for the back-to-the-land movement.

1968:  The term “biological diversity” was used first by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond Dasmann. The term is not widely adopted until the 1980s.

1968: Paul R. Ehrlich publishes The Population Bomb.

1968: The term “biological diversity” was used first by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond Dasmann.

1968: Edward Abbey publishes Desert Solitaire.

1969: Andrew Fleming publishes “The Myth of the Mother-Goddess” in World Archaeology. He demonstrates that the archaeological evidence cited in favor of prehistoric Goddess worship was susceptible to other interpretations. This brought an end to about 30 years of scholarly fascination with the subject. In the meantime, the writings of Murray continue to dominate the popular consciousness.

1969: Donna Cole (Shultz) is initiated into a Gardnerian coven in England. Shortly thereafter, Donna returned to Chicago where she and Herman Enderle formed the first Pagan Way grove, eventually called the Temple of the Pagan Way, which adopted Ed Fitch’s new Pagan Way materials.

1969: Hans Holzer publishes The Truth about Witchcraft. Holzer was one of the early writers to promote Paganism and Wicca. Three years later, in 1972, he publishes The New Pagans: An Inside Report On the Mystery Cults of Today.

1969: Wiccan traditions begin to multiply over the next decade. Examples include the Mohsian/American Eclectic Traditional Wicca founded by Bill and Helen Mohs, the Georgian Tradition founded by George Patterson, the American Welsh Tradition founded by Ed Buczynski, Algard Wicca founded by Mary Nesnick, Blue Star Wicca founded by Frank Dufner, the Lothlorien tradition founded by Paul Beyer, and the Odyssean tradition founded by Richard and Tamarra James.

1969: David Brower resigns as executive director of the Sierra Club and founds Friends of the Earth.

1969-1970: Anticipating Susan Roberts’ publication of Witches U.S.A., Ed Fitch, together with Joseph Wilson, Thomas Giles, Tony Kelly, and others begin circulating Fitch’s “Outer Court Book of Shadows”, which initially was intended as an introduction to Gardnerian Wicca, and his Pagan Way materials, which ultimately were used as an exoteric alternative to traditional Wicca. The Pagan Way became a tradition in itself, with autonomous Pagan Way groves spreading across the country. In the UK, the movement was called the Pagan Movement, which later split into the Pagan Front in 1971, and was later renamed the Pagan Federation. On the West Coast, Gwydion Pendderwen’s Nemeton was to perform the same function. Nemeton later became part of the Church of All Worlds.


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