I learned today from my friend Jo Frost that her father Gavin Frost has passed away. Gavin had been having health issues in recent years and had been scheduled for surgery this week. He was 86 years old. Gavin leaves behind his wife of more than fifty years, Yvonne, also his partner in writing and teaching. In 1968 the couple founded The Church and School of Wicca, and co-authored nearly two dozen books on witchcraft, magic and related topics. Gavin also had a doctorate in physics and mathematics.
The Frosts lived in West Virginia for the last few years but journeyed nearly every year to give workshops at Sirius Rising, a festival held at the Brushwood Folklore Center in New York state. In addition to giving talks on topics ranging from witchcraft to grimoires to astrology to sacred geography, they also were well known for their delightful classes in ballroom dancing.
The Frosts have long been considered somewhat controversial figures (to put it mildly) in the modern pagan community, due to some often misinterpreted comments on witchcraft initiations in one of their early books (The Witch’s Bible, which was later reprinted as The Good Witch’s Bible); these controversial statements were eventually recanted. I’ve known Gavin and Yvonne for many years, and have always enjoyed their joie de vivre, intelligent conversation and gentle good will toward others. Gavin and Yvonne’s grace in the face of outrageous rumor mongering and hateful campaigns targeting them have inspired me, as a fellow writer and teacher, to speak out against the witch hunts that occasionally take place within our own community.
I last saw them in late July, and Gavin, while somewhat frailer than usual, enjoyed his time at festival. I spoke with them as I was working in one of the gardens at Brushwood, and picked a small bowl of raspberries for Yvonne to share with Gavin. They thanked me graciously, and Yvonne and I went on to have one of our usual brief but spirited conversations, as Gavin sat in the sun with us drinking tea. I shall miss his presence at festival, an elder whose presence and words have drawn ire from many, to be sure; but, to those who knew him, a man with a sparkling intellect and passion for any and all topics related to modern witchcraft. On this day, when so many of us are remembering and still trying to heal from the shocking events that took place fifteen years ago, trying to comfort ourselves in the face of loss and grief with our spiritual lexicon, I am also remembering Gavin Frost, a writer and teacher whose words and teachings are an important part of the legacy of the modern witchcraft movement.