World’s oldest Wiccan, a Jewish man, dies

Lamond was Jewish according to religious law, but found his true calling in Wicca. A modern religion which is inspired by pagan rites.

The Book of Shadows by Gerald Gardner (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Book of Shadows by Gerald Gardner
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Frederic Lamond, who was undoubtedly the longest practicing Wiccan in the world, died on May 24, he was 89 years old. The author of the 2004 book Fifty Years of Wicca, Lamond was also Jewish according to Jewish religious law seeing as his mother was Jewish.  
Born in Prague in 1931 his parents divorced when he was four years old and he was raised by his grandmother. He was able to survive the Holocaust when his maternal grandmother, who was Jewish, married pianist Frederic Lamond, who also adopted him. A famous anecdote claims that when he escaped Czechoslovakia from the Nazis the older Lamond was asked by a German officer if he himself is an Aryan or not. ‘I’m a monkey,” responded the gruff musician.  
The young Lamond was raised in Switzerland and introduced to the Protestant religion by his grandmother, who thought any educated person should know the bible. He was confirmed as a Christian at the age of 15 and attended an Anglican School in the UK, however, his love of nature prevented him from fully embracing that spiritual path.  
Lamond found out about Wicca, a modern religion which seeks to recreate the pagan beliefs of the ancient people of the UK, by reading the 1954 book Witchcraft Today by Gerald Gardner in which Gardner presented himself as a writer who was able to speak with living witches in the modern England of his day and age. Meaning, women who were part of an ancient magical tradition dating back to the pre-Christian days of Britain. Gardner was interested in magical practice in relation to celebrating divinity in nature, something Lamond was very much interested in as well.  
Lamond wrote to Gardner and the two met. Eventually he was initiated to the Bricket Wood coven and began a life-long practice of the religion.  
While Wicca is recognized as a legitimate religion today, its claim to be a continuation of ancient pagan rites cannot be confirmed, as any non-Christian pagan practice was suppressed and deemed offensive when Christianity took over Europe, or rejected as scraps of lore and tales survived. Most neo-pagans today view their faith as an attempt to re-construct the ancient religions and not a direct continuation of the druids or Vikings.  
Lamond married his first wife, Gillian, in what was the first Wiccan wedding in modern Britain. Gillian died six years later and Lamond married his second wife, Hildegard, in 1994. The two moved to Austria and lived there until his passing.  
Lamond wrote two other books on Wicca, The Divine Struggle, and Religion without Beliefs. He worked professionally as a computer technician.  
Lamond is not the only Jewish person to be interested in pagan magic and spirituality. Jewish-American writer Margot Adler wrote the 1976 Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America about her own experiences in the field.