Farrar, Stewart (1916–2000)
Stewart Farrar, international leader of the contemporary
Wiccan community, was born on June 28, 1916, in Highams
Park, Walthamstow, Essex, now a London suburb. His family
were Christian Scientists, but as a young man he left the faith
and spent much of his life as an agnostic. He attended University
College in London as a journalism major, graduating in
1937. With war approaching, in 1939 he joined the army and
became a gunnery instructor. He rose to the rank of major by
the time of his return to civilian life in 1946.
After the war, Farrar spent the next quarter of a century was
spent pursuing his journalism career. Attracted to Marxism, in
1953 he became a reporter for the Communist Party’s Daily
Worker, but quickly became dissatisfied with both the party and
the newspaper. He subsequently worked as a scriptwriter for
Associated British-Pathe, a movie production company, and
gradually transformed into a freelance author. His first novel,
The Snake on 99, was released in 1958.
In 1969 he took a position as a feature writer for The Reveille,
a weekly periodical. The job changed his life, as it led to his
meeting Alexander Sanders, a charismatic teacher who had
developed a variant of a new religion, Wicca or witchcraft, as
originally proposed by Gerald B. Gardner. Dissatisfied with
the agnosticism that had dominated his life, he found himself
attracted to the new faith and in 1970 was initiated. Assisting
his conversion was the research required for his next book,
What Witches Do, a basic volume describing Alexandrian Wicca.
Despite its repeating many elements of Sanders’ fictional biography
concerning his own Wiccan accomplishments, the book
attracted many to the Craft.
Once in the coven, Farrar met Janet Owen (1950– ), another
new initiate, and after eight months of training they left
Sanders and formed their own coven. They functioned as priest
and priestess for several years and were finally handfasted
(married) in 1974. Two years later they moved to Ireland, Farrar
having returned to his work as a freelance author. Through
the mid- and late 1970s he wrote a series of occult novels but
in the 1980s turned his attention to a series of books on Witchcraft
that he and Janet coauthored. The first, Eight Sabbats for
Witches (1981), was the first published detailed discussion of the
annual cycle of Wiccan celebrations. They followed with The
Witches’ Way (1984) and the Life and Times of a Modern Witch
(1987). A pair of volumes, The Witches’ Goddess (1987) and The
Witches’ God (1989) detailed the many expressions around the
world of the primary deities of the polytheistic Wiccan religion.
By the time their books appeared, Wicca was a growing religion
in both Europe and North America, and as pioneering figures,
the Farrars became international celebrities in wide demand
as speakers at Wiccan events. In 1988 they moved back
to London, and collaborated on several books with Gavin Bone.
Stewart Farrar died on February 7, 2000.
Sources
Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. Eight Sabbats for Witches.
London Robert Hale, 1981.
Farrar, Janet Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
546
———. Life and Times of a Modern Witch. London Piatkus,
1987.
———. The Witches’ Way. London Robert Hale, 1984.
Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do. London Peter Davies,
1971

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