Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Sybil Leek - The Burley Witch

Sybil Leek was one of the first witches to become public back in the 1960's. She was often accused of becoming a sell-out, because of her media attention and the odd ways. With the publishing of her autobiography, Diary of a Witch Sybil announced that her style of witchcraft was not dead and never had been.....She attracted public attention for almost everything that she did.

In the beginning of Sybil's public life as a witch, her adherence to the craft cost her dearly, as landlords cut off leases on her secular antique stores, and others made her targets of general prejudice against witches. Her family was acquainted with Alesister Crowley, and he felt that she would be the one to take over where he left off.

Sybil was one of the first popular witches to take to environmental causes... She was a master astrologer, and a gifted psychic. Sybil passed on in 1982, at an unknown age....and she lived to see the establishment of Wicca as a recognized religion.

Sybil was born on the 22nd February 1923 in Staffordshire, England. From an early age she lived and grew up in the New Forest area of Hampshire and demonstrated an early gift for writing. The New Forest is one of the oldest forests in England and is steeped in folklore and witchcraft associations. The same area is where Gerald B. Gardner first joined Old Dorothy Clutterbucks coven in 1939. That coven was reportedly descended from one of Old George Pickingill's famous nine covens. Sybil claims that during her time in the area, there were still four old covens that had survived from the days of King William Rufus.

In 1932 when she was only nine years old, Aleister Crowley became a frequent visitor to her home. She claims to have spent time with him climbing the mountainsides and wondering through forests near to her home. In her autobiography Diary of a Witch (New York: Signet 1969.). Sybil wrote that he talked to her about witchcraft and recited his poetry while encouraging her to write her own. He also instructed her on the use of certain magickal words used for their vibratory qualities when used in magick.

I will tell you more about Sybil in another post.......

I have been trying to collect her books for a few years now. These are all I have at the moment, including two of "have mania will collect". I would dearly love to get my hands on "Diary of a Witch" but they are hard to come by. All her books are out of print, and when at boot sales or charity shops I do trawl through all the books. I have read "Diary of a Witch" from the library and its a brilliant book, Your taken right back to Sybil's childhood in the New Forest and the time she spent with the Gypsies.


Sarahs Home said...

I have just had a quick look on Smazon for this book and it is selling for over £60, can you believe it. I assume you dont wish to pay this much for it, sooo expensive. Thanks for the reply about the Stonewylde books, I have ordered the first one today.

Sarah x
If this posts twice I am sorry but blogger way playing up.

Alison said...

I have been listening to some of your muisic. I just love that version of Snow by Loreena McKennitt, I haven't heard it before it is different from the version I have at home on the album A winter Garden.
Take care,
Alison x

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. I had heard of her, but never read about her thank you very much for the info. I'm looking forward to hear more about her.
I know what you mean with collecting. I collect books about witchcraft too. Especially the ones from green witches like Marian Green ; )I have folowed a workshop from marian Green and am doing the written course. The 10th of May I hope to see her again at the Pagan Federation Conference here in the Netherlands.
Have a great day !!

solsticedreamer said...

this is a funny coincidence~i was in burley on saturday at the coven of witches buying the latest pentacle magazine~they have a picture of sybil in the shop as burley is the home of the new forest coven

smudge6397 said...

Does anyone have information about Brian, Sybil Leek's husband??

smudge6397 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pixiedust said...

Sorry smudge, I don't have info on Brian.

Kalessin said...

Hi, I discovered your blog while googling for Sybil. It is always nice to see online tributes. I've been a fan and student of her work for thirty years. Just one correction though: The date of her birth is often mistakenly listed as 1923. It began as a typo on another site, which then spread like a virus. Sybil publicly gave her date of birth as 1922, but her funeral card--which I have a copy of--lists her actual date of birth as 1917. I won't fault a lady for subtracting a few years from her age. ;) I also know Sybil's last surviving initiate and her nurse; it was she who gave me a copy of Sybil's funeral card. Carlo Ravin's astrology site also lists 1917 as her date of birth.