Gardner, F(rederick) L(eigh) (1857–ca. 1930)
British occultist, member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn occult society. Gardner’s private papers and correspondence
have helped to throw light on some aspects of the
Golden Dawn and its members, such as W. W. Westcott, S. L.
M. Mathers, and W. A. Ayton.
Gardner was born in Highbury, North London, March 31,
1857, the son of an accountant. His parents were Spiritualists
and held séances at their home, at one of which young Gardner
was controlled by an Indian guide.
Gardner began employment as a stockbroker’s clerk, becoming
a member of the Stock Exchange in 1886. He joined
the Theosophical Society around 1884 and was informed that
his mahatma (a master or adept of the Society) was ‘‘Koot
Hoomi.’’ He married soon after this, and his wife shared his
theosophical interests. Gardner knew Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
personally and became a member of the Blavatsky Lodge
in 1890. He lost interest in the Theosophical Society after joining
the Golden Dawn in 1894.
He corresponded frequently with Rev. W. A. Ayton, another
member of the Golden Dawn, who was a student of alchemy,
and their letters (a collection of which, edited by Ellie Howe,
was published in 1985) are valuable for their sidelights on the
order. Gardner was also a Freemason, later joining the Societas
Rosicruciana in Anglia and becoming its librarian. He became
financially involved in sponsoring publication of the English
translation by Mathers of the important occult treatise The
Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin in 1898.
Gardner retired from membership of the Stock Exchange in
1903 and thereafter was an antiquarian bookseller, with special
interest in occult works. He edited and privately published the
limited edition, three-volume Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the
Occult Sciences, consisting of Rosicrucian Books (1903), Astrological
Books (1911), and Freemasonry A Catalogue of Lodge Histories
(1912). These remain very useful bibliographical contributions.
Howe, Ellic, ed. The Alchemist of the Golden Dawn The Letters
of the Revd W. A. Ayton to F. L. Gardner and Others 1886–1905.
Wellingborough, England Aquarian Press, 1985.
———. The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. London Routledge
& Kegan Paul, 1972.

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