Wicca’s Holy Relics


March 27, 2013 by weekiwitch


If you look at the very bottom of this ad from FATE Magazine (Nov 1981), you can see that the remains of Gardner’s Witches Mill collection somehow ended up in Florida.

Want to know something? They’re still in Florida. Crazy right?? Is this common knowledge? I have no idea.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m fairly materialistic. That’s probably bad…but I like my stuff. I love my witchy stuff, and I extra love stuff with historical context. The idea that I could own something that used to be on display at the Witches Mill fills me with childish glee.

I spend a lot of time in Florida, and have been able to sort of retrace the steps of this collection’s migration patterns. Allen Greenfield tells a remarkable story about his search in Florida for the Gardner’s Ripley’s left overs, finding the OTO Charter and other priceless treasures at the “Old Jail” tourist trap museum in St. Augustine…which might be the most ludicrous tale I’ve ever heard.

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic postcard

When Ripley’s shut down their museums in Gatlinburg and San Fransisco, the collection went to a broker in Florida and… just sat around mostly. They made a catalog of the items in the early 1980’s, but then not much happened as far as I can tell. In the mid 1990’s, the Floridian dealers “Unique and Precious” put the items up for sale online individually. They’ve been on the exact same website ever since, slowly selling one piece at a time.

(Side note: I can’t believe that Gardner’s stuff was in dedicated Witchcraft museum in Gatlinburg of all places. I go there several times a year and just wistfully sulk.)


I’ve put together a crude pdf of the catalog, there are several copies of the real one on ebay (for $25) if that’s your thing.

Museum of Witchcraft Catalog


After discovering this, there was no way I couldn’t buy something. I ended up getting a little charm that seemed to call to me. It’s not much, but I like it. What’s great is it came with a whole packet of stuff, an authentication letter from Ripley’s, excerpts on Gardner from Valiente and the Witches Mill booklet. It also included some newspaper articles and the folder it came in looked like it hadn’t been opened since the early 1980’s. All pretty awesome, IMO.





7 thoughts on “Wicca’s Holy Relics

  1. naturaltruth says:

    Hello! Thank you for sharing gems from your collection and travels on the internets — I have really enjoyed your blog. I have some information on the Ripleys situation if ever you’re curious. Some of it’s over at geraldgardner.com, but I’ve got a copy of the San Francisco museum’s guidebook that Ripley’s has forbade me to put on the internet and a few other bits. I hear that you’ve met Thorn — perhaps we could all meet sometime for drinks and witchy ephemera 🙂

    • weekiwitch says:

      Ahh! Thorn’s mentioned you, big fan of geraldgardner.com. It’s kind of hilarious that Ripley’s cares about the brochure, I was actually bidding on the Gatlinburg version last week–would love to see one in person. Up for drinks anytime!

  2. I really share your love of ‘witchy’ items with an historical provenance and especially a Gardner provenance. There was a small auction sale in Kentucky on March 1st 2013. Amongst the items for sale were several lots that had come from an estate of a husband and wife who had purchased items from Ripley’s, St Augustine, Florida in the 1980’s when Ripley’s were selling items that had come from the Witches Mill Museum on the Isle of Man allegedly alongside plastic alligator souvenirs and other such junk. Two buyers bought most if not all the lots at the Kentucky auction and then sold them on eBay – although I have not seen item 9 and 10 in my list below appear as yet . The lots were as follows:

    1. Photo of entrance to Witches Mill,
    2. Photo of Lady Olwen (Monique Wilson) in Witches Mill,
    3. Photo of Queen Jualiana of Holland on the Scales,
    4. Photo of the Tower Casletown Isle of Man,
    5. Brass Nut Cracker,
    6. Brass Tibetan Mini Helmet,
    7. Brass Tibetan-Style Goddess,
    8. Brass Wick & Fat Lamp,
    9. Bronze Demon Head Ink Well,
    10. Italian Double Oil Lamp with London Wax Museum Sticker,
    11. Copper Plate with Wiccan Symbols,
    12. Metal witch’s mace or staff
    I managed to buy items: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 11.
    What item 5 was doing at the museum is beyond me but I quote from an article by Walter J. McGraw of the U.S ‘Fate’ magazine March 1969 describing some of the exhibits on a visit to the Witches Mill museum on the Isle of Man:
    ’The other displays are a mixture of fascinating and authentic objects dealing with not only witches but with astrology, alchemy, necromancy and satanic. Unfortunately these are crowded in with pure junk, bad art and some rather anachronistic books’
    I suspect the little nutcracker with a hagoday image on it falls within the ‘pure junk’ category!
    The Tibetan piece is in fact the cover from a small Tibetan bronze cup in the form of a skull and was probably in Case 12 in Gardner’s museum which contained ethnographical pieces from Africa, Tibet and elsewhere. The ‘Tibetan-Style goddess’ was in fact a little statue of teh Hindu Goddess Devi and from India.
    Number 12 on the list above was not a ‘witch’s mace or staff’ at all – it was in fact an Indo-Persian mace. I was outbid on that. It is interesting to note that in Gardner’s biography: ‘Gerald Gardner: Witch’ at page 163, mention is made of a meeting between Gardner and someone calling himself ‘Aurelius’. Aurelius showed him what he referred to as ‘a genuine African witch doctors wand with a devil’s head knob on the end. Gardner recognised it as in fact an Indo-Persian mace. I just wonder if the one sold on eBay was the one Gardner had seen and perhaps later acquired for the museum…
    Number 8 is a small bronze lamp with two symbols crudely engraved on either side. One symbol is a kind of ‘u’ shape and the other is an upward pointing triangular symbol for the element Fire. What its provenance was before GBG owned it I guess will remain forever unknown.
    Number 11 on my list is in my opinion the most important as it is a pentacle engraved on copper – not with ‘Wiccan Symbols’ but in fact with medieval sigils and holy names in the traditional of the old grimoires and of the Elizabethan magus Dr John Dee. I waited with anxiety almost verging on panic attacks until that arrived through the post!
    I added a contribution to our Coven Newsletter last month entitled: ‘Gerald Gardner’s collection of witchcraft, occult and related items in the Witches Mill Museum – where did it go?’ my concluding paragraph read:
    ‘If you are fortunate ever to own a Gerald Gardner related item (even of the ‘junk’ variety) ALWAYS keep all the details of its provenance with it. None of us will be here forever and when we go, the information that proves the Gardner link may be lost forever – paperwork is vital to establishing authenticity – these things are part of OUR history, and they are therefore of the greatest importance’ to us and to those who come after us

    • weekiwitch says:

      Wow, thank you for commenting! I just went over to ebay and had a look. I’m kicking myself for somehow missing this but I’m glad it all went to a proper home. That pentacle is an absolutely stunning find. Also, I would really like to think that it is the same mace as mentioned in Bracelin’s biography–what a terrific story that would be. I actually have a copy of the March 1969 Fate as well, love having original sources. I bought the Nov 1981 issue just for that liquidation ad.

      The advice in your last paragraph was very well stated, here’s hoping these items stay with us for a long time.

    • naturaltruth says:

      Thanks for sharing about your find! Of all things, the “London Wax Museum” sticker on item #10 stands out to me. I have a book from the Witches Mill with one of those stickers on it, but I am fairly certain the book belonged to Gardner from the time it was printed. I’m wondering if Gerald loaned some items to the wax museum at some point where they had stickers put on. Either that or this book had a much more interesting life than I know about…

      • Thank you!
        Regarding the ‘London Wax Museum’, I have a suspicion that the label is not from the historic ‘Madame Tussaud’s wax museum that has been in London since shortly after the French Revolution, but in fact a Ripley’s company. Ripley’s seem to have, or have had several outlets by the name of ‘The London Wax Museum’ in London and at various locations in the U.S.A. They have also used the name ‘Tussaud’s’, but not ‘Madame Tussaud’s.’ The name seems to have changed at times to ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ – in fact there is one open in Piccadilly Circus London.
        My guess then is that Gardner did not in fact lend anything to Madame Tussaud’s, but that these are Ripley’s stickers from one of their own ‘attractions’. I guess that having purchased the Witches Mill collection it was dispersed to several of their outlets and then sold from these.

  3. Cloven-hoofed says:

    I was recently given a photocopy of an original advertising poster for the Witches Mill. I guess most of us know the standard GBG drawing of the witch flying over the tower – but I haven’t seen this drawing before. Will gladly attach images, but I can’t find a way to attach them to this reply.

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This blog is mostly a depository for things I find interesting, funny or unusual in the rich & strange world of Witchcraft. Also, books.


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