Gerald Gardner (Wiccan)

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Gerald Gardner (Wiccan) : biography

13 June 1884 – 12 February 1964

Arriving in the country, the couple settled into a bungalow at Bukit Japon in Johore Bahru.Heselton 2012a. p. 117. Here, he once more became involved in Freemasonry, joining the Johore Royal Lodge No. 3946, but had retired from it by April 1931.Heselton 2012a. p. 122. Gardner also returned to his old interests in the anthropology of Malaya, witnessing the magical practices performed by the locals, and he readily accepted a belief in magic.Bracelin 1960. p. 59. During his time in Malaya, Gardner became increasingly interested in local customs, particularly those involved in folk magic and weapons. Gardner was not only interested in the anthropology of Malaya, but also in its archaeology. He began excavations at the city of Johore Lama, alone and in secret, as the local Sultan considered archaeologists little better than grave-robbers. Prior to Gardner’s investigations, no serious archaeological excavation had occurred at the city, though he himself soon unearthed four miles of earthworks, and uncovered finds that included tombs, pottery, and porcelain dating from Ming China.Bracelin 1960. pp. 102–103.Heselton 2012a. pp. 118–121. He went on to begin further excavations at the royal cemetery of Kota Tinggi, and the jungle city of Syong Penang.Bracelin 1960. p. 104.Heselton 2012a. p. 119. His finds were displayed as an exhibit on the "Early History of Johore", at the National Museum of Singapore, and several beads that he had discovered suggested that trade went on between the Roman Empire and the Malays, presumably, Gardner thought, via India.Bracelin 1960. p. 106. He also found gold coins originating from Johore and he published academic papers on both the beads and the coins.Gardner, G.B. (1937) , Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol 69, pp. 467-470.Gardner, GB (1933) "Notes on some Ancient Gold Coins, from the Johore River", Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol XI, Part II, pp. 171-176.

By the early 1930s Gardner’s activities had moved from those exclusively of a civil servant, and he began to think of himself more as a folklorist, archaeologist and anthropologist.Bracelin 1960. p. 74.Heselton 2012a. p. 123. He was encouraged in this by the director of the Raffles Museum (now the National Museum of Singapore) and by his election to Fellowship of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1936. En route back to London in 1932 Gardner stopped off in Egypt and, armed with a letter of introduction, joined Sir Flinders Petrie who was excavating the site of Tall al-Ajjul in Palestine.Bracelin 1960. pp. 137–138.Heselton 2012a. pp. 124–126. Arriving in London in August 1932 he attended a conference on prehistory and protohistory at King’s College London, attending at least two lectures which described the cult of the Mother Goddess.Heselton 2012a. pp. 126–128. He also befriended the archaeologist and practicing Pagan Alexander Keiller, known for his excavations at Avebury, who would encourage Gardner to join in with the excavations at Hembury Hill in Devon, also attended by Aileen Fox and Mary Leakey.Bracelin 1960. p. 139.Heselton 2012a. pp. 126, 128.

Returning to East Asia, he took a ship from Singapore to Saigon in French Indo-China, from where he traveled to Phnom Penh, visiting the Silver Pagoda. He then took a train to Hangzhou in China, before continuing onto Shanghai; because of the ongoing Chinese Civil War, the train did not stop throughout the entire journey, something that annoyed the passengers.Heselton 2012a. p. 130. In 1935, Gardner attended the Second Congress for Prehistoric Research in the Far East in Manila, Philippines, acquainting himself with several experts in the field.Heselton 2012a. pp. 130–132. His main research interest lay in the Malay kris blade, which he unusually chose to spell "keris"; he eventually collected 400 examples and talked to natives about their magico-religious uses. Deciding to author a book on the subject, he wrote Keris and Other Malay Weapons, being encouraged to do so by anthropologist friends; it would subsequently edited into a readable form by Betty Lumsden Milne and published by the Singapore-based Progressive Publishing Company in 1936.Heselton 2012a. pp. 133–141.Gardner (1936). It was well received by literary and academic circles in Malaya.Heselton 2012a. pp. 140–145. In 1935 Gardner heard that his father had died, leaving him a bequest of £3,000. This assurance of financial independence may have led him to consider retirement, and as he was due for a long leave in 1936 the Johore Civil Service allowed him to retire slightly early, in January 1936. Gardner wanted to stay in Malaya, but he conceded to his wife Donna, who insisted that they return to England.Bracelin 1960. p. 142.Heselton 2012a. p. 139.