Eleanor “Ray” Bone (1910-2001 ) was an English Witch, one of the original high priestesses initiated by Gerald B. Gardner. Eleanor “Ray” Bone followed Gardner's footsteps in the media attention and was sometimes called the Matriarch of British Witchcraft.
Bone was born in London; her mother was a school headmistress. As a child, she saw the ghost of a pet, which stimulated her interest in Reincarnation, folklore, magic and the occult.
During World War II, Bone served in the military and was sent to Cumbria, where she met a couple who revealed themselves to be hereditary witches. They initiated her into their tradition in 1941, and she practiced with them for four years before returning to London.
After the war, Bone married a man named Bill and took a job running a home for the elderly. She was introduced to Gardner and was initiated into his coven. She became acquainted with Doreen Valiente, Patricia Crowther and others and became a close friend of Dafo.
Bone established a flourishing coven in South London and was an active public proponent of the Craft. She made numerous public appearances and posed skyclad (nude) for the media. She went to the United States on a media tour. On one television show, where she appeared with a testy Sybil Leek, she was asked to turn Leek into a toad. She retorted, “Why should I improve on nature?”
In 1966, Bone and Crowther joined forces to publicly denounce Alex Sanders as an imposter. They and others were incensed that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood had hired Sanders to consult on a film about witchcraft.
In 1968 Bone went to Tunis to visit the grave of Gardner. She learned that the government planned to turn the cemetery into a park. Bone took up a collection among Witches and had the remains of Gardner moved to Carthage, Tunisia.
Over time, Bone preferred to practice the folk magic-oriented tradition she learned from the Cumbrian couple rather than the Gardnerian tradition. She had many pupils, among them Vivianne Crowley and her husband, Chris Crowley.
In 1972, Bone retired to Alston, a village in Cumbria.
In 2001, the Pagan Federation (PF) invited Bone to be an honorary member, but she declined, saying that she did not recognize several of the traditions with the PF, believing them to be spurious.
Her final public appearance was in the summer of 2001, when she gave an address over the telephone to the Occulture Festival, speaking about the Craft revival and divulging personal information about the New Forest Coven that had initiated Gardner. In August 2001, in failing health, she announced that she would soon be “called back to the Old Gods,” and she got her affairs in order.
She died on September 21, 2001.
- “Eleanor Bone.” Witchvox. Available online. URL: https:// www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va. html?a=usfl&c=passages&i d=4227. Downloaded September 30, 2007.
- Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Valiente, Doreen. The Rebirth of Witchcraft. London: Robert Hale, 1989.