25 Most Influential People in the Birth of Modern Paganism (Top 5)

The response to this series has far exceeded my expectations, which is of course both flattering and terrifying. If you are just coming aboard you are at the end of a 3-part series highlighting the people I think have been most important to Modern Paganism over the last 200 years. Part one looked at ten European pioneers, while part two focused on their eleven American cousins. Interspersed with those two lists were some smaller lists featuring people who just missed the cut or might make the cut fifteen years from now.

I’ve had a few people question my methodology so I thought I would explain how I made my selections. The most important question posed to myself while putting together this list was “Out of the 75 or so candidates, which of them affect how Pagans think and practice on a day to day and moment to moment basis?” That’s why someone like Philip Heselton isn’t on this list and Helena Blavatsky is. Most of us aren’t wondering if Gerald Gardner was initiated back in 1939 on a day to day basis, but we are probably contemplating the ideas of karma or reincarnation.

A lot of the list is also about what people have read, or will read in the future. Personally I adore Patricia Crowther, but the simple fact remains that more people have read Janet and Stewart Farrar. Their reach on Pagandom is bigger as a result of that. Including Wren Walker and Jason Pitzl-Waters is a reflection of that criteria, the traffic at their websites indicates that they have a lot of readers.

I also firmly believe that Modern Paganism is a direct descendant of the Western Magickal Tradition. The English branches of both Druidry and Witchcraft are tied directly and indirectly to institutions such as Freemasonry and the Golden Dawn. Many Pagans have moved away from the practice of Ceremonial Magick, but it’s still there anytime someone casts a circle or calls the Quarters.

I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with my choices, but I like to think I made a valiant case for each. I think four of my top five are all very obvious choices, I expect a lot of disagreement about numbers three and four. Thanks for reading all three parts, all the comments, and sharing them all on social media.

No 5. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)

Why he’s on this list: The hoofprints of the Great Beast are all over Modern Paganism. From the way Crowley refined the magickal rituals of the Golden Dawn to his poetry and language, Uncle Al has had a huge impact on what most of us do on a day to day basis. Much of Crowley’s language and poetry was “borrowed” by both Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente when assembling much of the liturgy that would come to define British Traditional Witchcraft. While there’s a lot of doubt about just how religious and spiritual Crowley was, poems like Hymn to Pan capture the Horned God at his randiest, and Crowley’s work also call out to female deity, most notably “Sweet Nuit” in The Book of the Law.

Many of Crowley’s idea were inserted nearly whole scale into early Witchcraft, most certainly “an it harm none, do what you will” is a re-imagining of “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Crowley’s re-writing of OTO Ritual was almost certainly influenced many English Witches. His practice of sex magick may have led to practices such as The Great Rite.

Why Crowley is not ranked higher: I think there is a case for Crowley at number one, and certainly in the top three, but I’m going to argue against it. Time has not been as kind to Crowley as it has to the others on this list. Books like Magick in Theory and Practice have a rather limited appeal, and while we often use fragments of Crowley’s words and writings in ritual, the context is often different. I’d probably make the argument that Crowley gave much of Modern Paganism its structure and spine along with certain ambiance, but he didn’t become our heart or soul.

No. 4 Doreen Valiente (1922-1999)

Why she’s on this list: To put it simply Valiente is the most important liturgist in the history of Modern Pagandom. Sure not everyone recites her Charge of the Goddess but it’s familiar to just about everyone. Valiente took some of the rather rudimentary rituals of early Witchcraft and turned them into poetry. Her influence on how we speak the language of Paganism will still be felt in a hundred years, and that’s an amazing achievement.

Valiente is not on this list just because of her early work with Gerald Gardner, she’s here because she’s one of the unifying threads of Modern Paganism. She researched the beginnings of Modern Witchcraft with Stewart and Janet Farrar, and worked with Robert Cochrane. She was one of our first historians, when it comes to Pagan History Books Valiente’s The Rebirth of Witchcraft is an essential text (and a book I treasure and have re-read at least a dozen times). She was also a leading light in the attempt to build Pagan Community in Great Britain. When Valiente is called “The Mother of Modern Witchcraft” it’s not an exaggeration.

Why she’s not ranked higher: I don’t have a good answer for that, if anything Valiente is the soul of Modern Paganism; she’s what many of us aspire to. I have no doubt that Valiente would have been fully capable of creating her own Witchcraft Tradition had she chosen to do so, but she seemed to mainly refine and polish the Paganisms she encountered. I don’t mean that as an insult, because it takes real genius to make what was already good into something truly great.

No. 3 Starhawk (1951-present)

Why she’s on this list: The first draft of this list had Starhawk listed at number five, but upon further consideration I decided that the ranking was just too low. I know it probably makes more sense to put Valiente in the number three spot, but hear me out. The influence of Starhawk (and people like her) is what changed British Witchcraft into Paganism. Starhawk wasn’t the first person to fuse political action, feminism, and Witchcraft, but she did it better (and more articulately) than anyone else. Starhawk brought new ideas and passions into Paganism and made them feel as if they had always been there.

Over thirty years after its initial publication The Spiral Dance (1979) remains a vital “how to” book. Sure Raymond Buckland might have done it first, but The Tree feels incomplete when compared to Dance. Starhawk also introduced concepts from Victor and Cora Anderson’s Feri Tradition to the wider world, she bridged the worlds between American and European Witchcraft. If that wasn’t enough she helped to found the Reclaiming Tradition, and has been an active participant in religious dialogue on a global scale.

Why she’s not higher: I think in some ways that Starhawk is the heart of Modern Paganism. Her gifts to the umbrella were those of awareness and activism. She certainly changed what was already there, but she didn’t create it, she only added to it.

No. 2 Margaret Murray (1863-1963)

Why she’s on this list: If there’s a surprise inclusion on this list it’s Murray. Talking to friends the last 48 hours she was the one figure that everyone trying to figure out my “Top 5″ seemed to forget about. Murray was a well respected Egyptologist and mostly a serious academic (books like God of the Witches were obviously meant for a general audience) but is a major figure in the Modern Pagan Revival because of her books on Witchcraft and the Horned God.

It’s easy in retrospect to dismiss Murray’s Witch-cult in Western Europe (1921). Murray’s hypothesis that the innocents killed in Europe’s “Witch Trials” represented a secret underground pagan religion has been dismissed by a majority of scholars today, but the theory continues to hold a lot of power in Modern Paganism. Regardless of how factual the Murray hypothesis is, it became one of the founding myths of Witchcraft, and as a result Modern Paganism. In addition to providing a mythology, Murray provided the terminology that would become a part of many Pagan traditions. We use words like coven and esbat because they were words that Murray used.

Murray redeemed and legitimized the word “witch.” After reading Murray you want to practice Witchcraft and you want to be a Pagan. Her history of the Horned God in God of the Witches is everything you want a Pagan archetype to be. She traces the worship of Old Horny back to the Cave of the Three Brothers in France and its portrait of “The Sorcerer” to Pan and Cernunnos and then later Robin Hood. Murray’s Witch Religion is a faith of joy and exuberance and I’m certain that it influenced countless people to want to be Witches. She also endorsed Gardner’s version of Witchcraft writing the introduction to Witchcraft Today back in 1954.

Why she’s not higher: There’s only one person who could be number one on this list, but it’s important not to overlook Murray. Without Murray it’s possible that early Pagans might have all called themselves Druids or Heathens and the empowering mantle of witch would have never been worn in Contemporary Paganism. Certainly the influence of Murray’s “Witch-cult Hypothesis” will continue to fade in the coming decades, but her other contributions to Modern Paganism will continue. Besides even if Murray’s theory isn’t exactly true in the literal sense I think many of us will continue to feel a kinship with the women (and men) who were needlessly murdered in the name of religion centuries ago.

No. 1 Gerald Gardner (1884-1964)

Why he’s here: I don’t think there was any real suspense about the number one spot on this list. Even Gardner’s detractors (and there are many) can’t deny his accomplishments. To put it simply Gardner was the first person to share with the world what would become a long-lasting religious and/or magickal tradition that most of us today would recognize as Pagan. His “Wica” had four quarters, a magick circle, a Goddess, a God, and a High Priestess. All of those elements existed before Gardner, but had never endured together for decades until Gardner.

It also doesn’t matter if Gardner was initiated into a coven back in 1939 or completely made his Witch Religion up. If he was initiated and his faith tradition traces back to that group then he’s the great revealer, sharing a new religion with the rest of the world. If he simply assembled the various pieces that make up Modern Witchcraft then he’s the great architect, the creator of a religious tradition that has now taken a seat next to the other great religions of the world. If you were to ask my opinion, I think Gardner exists somewhere between revealer and architect, someone who was probably initiated into something back in 1939 and then added to it.

I know my Top 5 is rather “Wicca-centered” but that’s only because Wicca has been the most dominant branch of the Pagan tree for the last 70 years. If it makes any of you feel better, Gardner himself was no doubt influenced by Druids like Ross Nichols and most likely encountered New Orleans Voodoo when he visited the United States back in 1947-48. Gardner’s interests were wide-ranging and he absorbed influences from various spiritualities. Gardner’s version of Witchcraft was the first public and long-lasting religion Pagan religion of the 20th Century, as such it’s going to have a high place on lists such as this one.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your own “Top 5″ list in the comments section.

Endings and Beginnings
How the Claim of Being Old Saved Modern Paganism
Finding the Common Ground at PantheaCon
Maybe I Don’t Need a Temple
About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven

    I’d like to see a follow-up list: 25 most overlooked Pagans who made a difference but are forgotten today. In fact, if anyone wants to write an article on this topic, please let me know, as I’m interested in publishing such a piece in Witches&Pagans magazine.

    I’d also love to see a follow-up list that includes Heathens, polytheists, Goddess-worshippers (with the notable exception of Starhawk, there’s nothing here reflective of the women’s spirituality movement) and other important figures whose spirituality diverges from the Western Wicca mainstream.

    • http://www.facebook.com/VeronicaMeeYoung Veronica Young

      Anne, you and your efforts are saddley overlooked! I would write for you anyday.

      • Anne Newkirk Niven

        Veronica, I realized quickly that this is a list of (in the sociological jargon) Prospectors, not of Pioneers. If Z Budapest doesn’t make the list, (and she was very much a Prospector) then I surely can’t complain that I’m not there. Jason has very nicely done another list of 25 notables and there’s so many more that I can’t name them all, it should really be more like a top 100. (BTW, if you want to write for me, contact me at editor2@bbimedia.com.)

    • http://twitter.com/Panmankey Jason Mankey

      25 Who Made a Difference? I can do that in my sleep. Of course making a list like that offends people because they’ll think “hey, they aren’t forgotten.”

      Leight Hunt
      Matalida Jocelyn Gage
      Johan Bacohfen
      Emmanuel Swedeonborg
      Paschal Beverly Randolph
      Merlin Stone
      Marija Gimbutas
      Madeline Montalban
      Herman Slater
      Gleb Botkin
      Charles Algernon Swinburne
      Ross Nichols
      Michael Howard
      Ray Bone
      Paul Huson
      Gwydion Pendderwen
      Florence Farr
      Rosaleen Norton
      John Hohman
      Raymond Howard
      Jules Michelet
      Pauline Campanelli
      Tom Robbins
      Jim Morrison

      • Anne Newkirk Niven

        Want to write that article for me? (You could do much shorter bios to keep word count down.) I’d love it for our Element of Earth issue… You know where to find me!

      • Annelise

        add Christine Hartley and Charles Seymour

    • http://www.facebook.com/victoria.m.laughlin Victoria Marie Laughlin

      I would love to read this article. I am a Druid, and there are not really many Druids on this list, though Isaac Bonewits was included (I’m an ADF Druid, so that makes me happy).

      The one important figure I can think of is Zuzsanna (Z) Budapest. She is often forgotten, but Dianic Wicca continues to be important as a force of feminism and Goddess-oriented spirituality. I’m sure there are others that I currently am not thinking of.

    • http://twitter.com/vogelbeere + Yvonne Aburrow

      Overlooked by nearly everyone, but should be remembered for their contributions?

      * Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, gay Pagan pioneer.

      * Edward Carpenter, poet, writer, socialist, gay Pagan pioneer, vegetarian.

      * Harry Hay, founder of the Radical Faeries.

      Not generally overlooked, but not in your list:

      * Kenneth Graeme, author of The Wind in the Willows.

      * Rudyard Kipling, author of Puck of Pook’s Hill, which Gardner drew upon.

      * Terry Pratchett, widely regarded as a Pagan theologian for his wonderful Discworld series (although he is an atheist).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000451145781 MrsBs Confessions

    I’d love to see a list of important magical practitioners (who may not have been Pagan). Marie Laveau just needs to be on this list some where. And perhaps John George Hohman.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

    Thanks for this, Jason. It’s informative for newcomers and thought-provoking for all of us. A list like this is subjective by nature, but you did a good job justifying your choices. And your “first five out” (getting ready for March Madness?) and “ask me again in 15 years” show you put some serious thought and processing time in on this. I may disagree with some of your choices, but I can’t say any of them are wrong.

    I’d like to have seen Ross Nichols recognized for more than influencing Gardner – I would have grouped him and Philip Carr-Gomm together for their work with OBOD. Then again, I’m an OBOD Druid, so what would you expect me to say?

    • http://twitter.com/Panmankey Jason Mankey

      Has there been a serious scholarly work focused completely upon Nichols yet? His influence might be larger than we imagine.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

        I don’t think there are any scholarly works on Nichols, only a biography by Philip Carr-Gomm, his pupil and successor as Chosen Chief. I imagine it’s professional, but I also imagine even Philip wouldn’t claim it’s “objective”. I just ordered it from OBOD – I’ll see if any other influences turn up in it.


    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Have to say that I was somewhat surprised at Nichols’ absence here. I figured he was about as influential in Druidry as Gardner was in Wicca.

  • 12StepWitch

    I too often wonder what a Valiente tradition would look like. I kind of wish she had given it a go.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      I’ve never been a fan of her. I think Wicca was better without her input, quite honestly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SornSkald Sorn Skald

    A fun and interesting list. I’d never heard of some of these people, and many of those I had heard of, I only knew their names and that they were involved with Paganism in some fashion. Thank you.

    From the beginning you said your list was going to be Wicca-centric, and you added in this post your belief that Western Magickal Tradition is the ancestor of modern Paganism. Still, I can’t help but be disappointed that the closest thing, IMO, to early figures in Reconstructionist-style traditions like Heathenry were Bonewits and an honorable mention of Paxson in the American section. It kind of reinforces for me the idea that the big umbrella of Paganism isn’t as big as some think it is and that Heathens and similar folks aren’t really well-described by the name “Pagan.”

    • Anne Newkirk Niven

      Skorn: I’m fishing for authors to write similar lists for an article in Witches&Pagans magazine. I’d be especially interested in a Heathen one. Hint, hint. (See my comments above on how to reach me if you are interested.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/SornSkald Sorn Skald

        I’m very glad to hear of your interest. When would you need the list? As I mentioned in my reply to Jason’s reply, while I could conceivably write such a thing, I don’t know that I could get it done in the immediate future. Also, if Jason agreed to host the list, would I be able to give you substantially the same list?

        • Anne Newkirk Niven

          Sorn: In my case, it would be more than a list; it would be an article. And, as much as I like Jason and support his work, I’d prefer not to overlap 100% with an article at TWH. We can discuss this more at my email editor2@bbimedia.com.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514264967 Bianca Bradley

      Why not write it up then, and post it on Patheos. See if you can do some research and do some on Hellenic reconstruction as well.

    • JasonMankey

      I’ve written about four responses to this and I keep deleting them all. I don’t know how to reply exactly without coming across as an arrogant jerk. When it comes to including Reconstructionist type groups on this list it’s just going to take time. They aren’t quite there yet in numbers or influence. There’s not that one national spokesperson, group, or book for Modern Hellenic Recon (for example). If everyone is doing it on their own (or with a small group of friends) in their backyard how do you pick one person to include?

      Eventually there will be a book similar to “The Spiral Dance” that articulates a Reconstructionist path which will have a broad appeal and speak to a large number of seekers, it just hasn’t happened yet. We are only 70 years into the grand experiment that is Paganism, and organized Recon groups that are actively speaking to each others in numbers for less than that. In fifteen years there’s going to be a Heathen on a list like this, because those numbers keep growing.

      Bonewits fit my criteria because he put together a group with a solid structure that has grown to include several thousand members. He also wrote many things outside of the sphere of “Druidry.” He was a cross-over into many areas of Paganism.

      This was also a list of just 25 people, certainly there have been more than 25 people with a strong influence on Modern Paganism. I couldn’t include them all. Of course if you want to write up a list on ten individuals who contributed have contributed to Reconstrutionist groups I’d be happy to host it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/SornSkald Sorn Skald

        Thank you for your thoughtful response. At no point reading it did I think to myself “wow, this person sure is an arrogant jerk.” :)

        I apologize in advance for the length of my reply, but I wanted to try to give the same attention to your response that you did to mine. I’ve been thinking about your generous offer to host a list of individuals who have contributed to Reconstructionist groups. At first, I thought it was a great idea. Then, I began to think about the people I would choose to populate such a list, and I began to think you were probably right to not put any on your list, though for somewhat different reasons.

        At risk of reigniting the “is Paganism an indigenous faith debate,” I think that though the comparison fails in many important areas, reconstructionist/revivalist religions (which I’m going to shorten to “recons” ‘cuz otherwise this reply will be even longer) are somewhat like the religions of different modern indigenous groups in the Western Hemisphere. Creating a list of people of influence in recon religions would be about as difficult as creating such a list of influential people in the religions of Native Americans, and for similar reasons. Because recon religion is an approach to religion that recreates the religion of a particular culture as accurately as possible, there are as many potential religions as there have been different cultures in human history. While the recons generally don’t have the same sort of unbroken tradition (if they did, they wouldn’t be recons), in Europe the emergence of recon groups still has more been a legalization, formalization, and/or organization of something that’s been going on for some time. In Iceland, for example, taking care of boulders used as homes by elves and other attempts to live well with the spirits of the land weren’t things that began with Sveinbjorn Beinteinsson and the other founders of Ásatrúarfélagið when they got legal recognition for their group in 1973. In Eastern Europe, as Soviet and church influence have receded, new groups have emerged to publicly acknowledge and practice long-standing traditions native to the area. The American recon phenomenon is a little different in that the erasure of immigrant heritage and the pressure to assimilate have very much been a part of the history of the US, resulting in some rather different looking religions than those that have emerged across the ocean. So while it’s true that what the recons have is very like people doing it on their own or with friends in a backyard, lacking a recon Spiral Dance or a specific national spokesperson or group, I sincerely doubt that’s going to change; it really would be like having a single book or group for all the Native American religions.

        Having said all that, I think it would be more appropriate to do something like “A list of persons who’ve influenced modern American Heathenry.” Even then, there would be a lot of names that would end up on the cutting room floor, but at least then there would be less chance of completely disregarding an entire religious movement. If you’d be willing to have something like that, I’d be happy to try to put one together in the not-too-distant future (with spring coming, there’s a lot to do in my household, but it’d be something fun to do in spare time).

        Incidentally, even with everything I’ve said so far about the difficulty of including recons, I think Sveinbjorn deserved to make the list, not necessarily for founding a group, but for being the frontman for the first modern legal recognition of a native Pagan faith as an official religion. It’s easy to overlook the importance of something like that for people who live in countries with fairly well-established traditions of religious freedom (I mean, it took until 2006 for the Athens court decision to give official recognition to the worship of the Greek gods in Greece) but what Sveinbjorn and his fellows did was to secure rights that had been denied to individuals all over Europe since the conversion and to provide an example and inspiration to others seeking similar rights all over the continent.

        Thanks again, both for the information in the lists and for your response.

        • http://www.facebook.com/valerie.voigt Valerie Voigt

          Regardless of other concerns, surely Stephen McNallen would be near the top of the list. And also Prudence Priest, I think: though less of a public figure, she has made a huge contribution by fostering Heathen scholarship, communication, and events.

      • Elysia

        “Eventually there will be a book similar to “The Spiral Dance” that articulates a Reconstructionist path which will have a broad appeal and speak to a large number of seekers, it just hasn’t happened yet.”

        Anyone want to write that book, please submit it to me! : )

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Considering that a large number of Heathens (and Heathen organisations) do not include themselves in the Pagan Umbrella, I wasn’t overly surprised at their omission.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=573907649 Mari-Anne Mahlau

    Nicely done!

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    It’s important to point out that many modern scholars still support one of the most central tenets of the “Murray Thesis”, namely that the process of Christianization in Europe was still very much incomplete in Europe in the 15th century, and the Witch Hunts, at least in part, were carried out to try to eradicate remaining vestiges of Paganism. Which, it should also be pointed out, they failed to do.

    • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

      there is at least (apart from recently “converted territories” in the Baltic) strong evidence for e.g. the German Allgaeu (Behringer’s “Shaman of Oberstdorf”) or Friaul (Ginzburg’s “Night battles”) that there were highly non-orthodox religious tendencies in the 16th century European countryside, the question if they were pre-christian or post-christian (simply reflecting the needs of a pre-modern rural population for season-based or fertility related rituals)

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

        Actually, it is not in doubt that various pre-Christian beliefs and practices have survived right up to today, and that many of these form a part of many different modern Pagan religious traditions. Three highly significant examples of this are 1. metempsychosis, 2.sympathetic magic, 3. Hermeticism (including especially, but not exclusively, the strong Hermetic components of Astrology).

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.platz Justin Platz

    You are mistaken,in regards to Aliester.”Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law” is his re imagining of “An it harm none,do what thou will”,not the other way around.I am one of many who is immune to the perverted indoctrination he’d hoped to spread.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Interesting claim. Any supporting evidence?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Anna.Greenflame Anna Greenflame

    Although I have disagreed with some of the American future choices, and I have reservations about a “Top 25″ type of format, you’ve done a really important service by highlighting the names and accomplishments of many people who definitely deserve to be recognized, remembered, and honored.Kudos!

  • Anne Newkirk Niven

    Happy, happy dance! I have successfully acquired an author to pen a related article on Influential Women (and a Few Men) in the Goddess Spirituality movement. Look for it in the upcoming summer issue of SageWoman #84 “Women & Men.” I’m starting to ponder whether the Goddess spirituality movement should be considered a separate branch of Paganism, just as reconstructionist faiths are now being seen.

  • Kilmrnock

    I will agree with your list even with the reasons for the order . But i also have to agree the list is a wee bit too Wiccan centric . Altho Wicca is still the largest , most well known pagan religion , at this point our community is diversifing.With recons , polytheists , eclectics and the miriad of other flavors of pagan , the rest of us deserve to be mentioned as well . The inclusion of Bonowits was a nice touch tho .altho ADF is technicaly Neopagan . Most ADF groups/groves operate more like a Recon group .Todays paganism is more diverse than ever before , a trend i believe that will only continue and spread. We are not just Wiccans anymore . I am a CR btw, Celtic Recon .

  • http://twitter.com/MondayAddams Monday Addams

    Just as some have mentioned that there is not enough attention given to the Dianic side of Paganism (I realize Z Budapest did something very in-PC but to ignore her influence seems short sighted), I think there should be a slot for someone like Michael Harner/Carlos Castaneda/Lynn Andrews. The awareness & “commercialization” shamanism has been extremely influential on Pagans as a whole.

    When I think of modern pagansim it seems to me it came partly from European spiritualism at the turn of the 20th century, but then hippie ideology in the 60′s & 70′s got added in, then came the New Agers. That’s not so popular now (it seems to me) with less influence on spirituality & more on “traditionalism/reconstruction”. I don’t know where I’m going with this except I think it’s good not to forget history.

    Glad you didn’t get too caught up in what’s popular at this moment. I’ve been around long enough to see some “celebrity Pagans” make a splash for a year or so then disappear.

  • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

    all these lists are very Anglo-centric

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Probably due to the fact that most modern Pagans are anglophones.

      • http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com Entdinglichung

        wouldn’t say so, e.g. 1.2% according to a recent survey identifying as Pagan in Russia (29% in Northern Ossetia-Alania and 12% in Kabardino-Balkaria) and the relatively strong position in countries like Estonia, Iceland

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          It would be an interesting one to look at.

          Certainly, I would suggest that Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson would have made a great candidate, as he was the founder of the Ásatrúarfélagið in Iceland and was instrumental in getting it recognised by the national government as an official religion.

  • Docet Umbra

    Though not a druid, one person I was very suprised not to see on any of the lists is Ross Nichols, founder of OBOD, and probably the instigator of modern Pagan Druidry as we know it today. Though I realize you write from your experience and perspective, the cross fertilization between Gardner and Nichols, and the almost parallel development of Pagan Witchcraft and Pagan druidry should (i feel) be acknowledged. http://www.druidry.org/about-us/ross-nichols-founder

  • Lee Shawnus

    Jason – good work, and i know it had to be hard to narrow the long list down, and i know you knew the responses you would get positive and negative. I have reblogged this so let me know if it all looks ok to you. Thanks.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven

    We’re happy to offer a top 25 Canadian Pagans list at the 48 degrees north blog at PaganSquare: http://witchesandpagans.com/Pagan-Culture-Blogs/25-most-influential-people-in-the-birth-of-modern-paganism-canadian-wing.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Taffy-Dugan/625236087 Taffy Dugan

    Thank you Jason, I love reading your blogs!

    I’d be interested in a list of current influential Pagans, or perhaps gateway or up-and-coming Pagans. A few new Pagans have found their way in through Patti Wigington and her blog at about.com. Mrs. B, you, and the rest of Patheos are also influential.

  • Dorothy

    I don’t think it is time that has been unkind to Crowley’s legacy. If anything, I think Crowley gets more open acknowledgement and respect in Pagan circles than he used to. I think it is Crowley who was unkind to Crowley.

    “I turn aside daily from the appointed task. I waver. I falter. I lag. Let this then be of great comfort to you all, that if I be so imperfect–and for very shame I have not emphasized that imperfection–if I, the chosen one, still fail, then how easy for yourselves to surpass me! Or, should you only equal me, then even so how great attainment should be yours! Be of good cheer, therefore, since both my failure and my success are arguments of courage for yourselves.” – from De Lege Libellum

    As for whether or not the man was genuinely spiritual and/or religious…I’ll admit I find any assertion (even from the man himself) that he somehow wasn’t, patently absurd. The man was clearly obsessed with all things mystical and was the quintessential seeker. You don’t spill that sheer volume of ink on those kinds of topics for the sex and drugs alone. Nor do you attempt to re-imagine Western esotericism in its entirety and syncretize all the world’s spiritual traditions to be a troll. Well….not -just- to be a troll, anyhow. ;)

    Love is the Law, Love under Will.

  • http://www.facebook.com/krogersm Kenny Rogers

    so i cant remember what it was on the radio….but they lister aleister crowley as a satanist……any thoughts or just ignorance of the media

    • JasonMankey

      It’s pretty common to hear Crowley described as a Satanist. I attribute mostly to lazy journalism, “he practiced magick, must be a Satanist.” Some of it’s Crowley’s own fault, calling yourself “The Great Beast” kind of asks for the label. I don’t know how many Led Zeppelin books I’ve read where Crowley is described as a Satanist, but those biographers aren’t occultists and don’t understand the context. It’s frustrating, but never surprising.

      • http://www.facebook.com/krogersm Kenny Rogers

        ty jason………figured as much