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A Pagan Gathering for Australia and the world



After I read Michel’s story a whole cascade of memories came flooding back. My memory tends to present me with images and feelings, rather than time lines, so I’ll just give you an overview of people and happenings, in no real order.

People, how many faces and feelings! Our friend Stuart Bruce, with his wry sense of humour, who helped us sort the first couple of gatherings. Of course our teacher and initiator Simon Goodman, whose early and tragic death deprived him of the satisfaction of seeing our gathering be such a long time success. David O’Connor, mischievous, wickedly funny and the “Queen of the May”, who far from bearing fools gladly, didn’t bear them at all. His death was the first that really hit home to us, and part of his ashes were spread at Mt Franklin in a moving memorial ritual.

Anatha Wolfkeepe, our old and dear friend, a singer and Witch of great talent and enthusiasm is greatly missed since she moved north, but some of the old time participators are returning. It’s been amazing to greet old friends and realize they were just out there waiting to help us when we needed it. The organizing of the Gathering has always been an organic and friendship based activity. Somehow everything we need is obtained and transported to the mountain with a minimum of fuss. Over the years we have all been content to remain “The Organizers”, feeling no need for names or egos to be paraded.

And how many wonderful, moving and profound rituals we have all shared. So many different groups have presented their version of a Beltane ritual, (for example the Asatru folk call it “Finding Summer”), the only proviso being that the ritual always begins with the spiral dance, and there is a bonfire, to provide a feeling of continuity between the rituals. So many people have seen their first pagan ritual at Mt Franklin, and have thanked the celebrants with tears in their eyes. Something about the very atmosphere and culture of the mountain seems to bring out the best in ritual.

Now I am remembering the first maypole dance. If you prefer slapstick comedy, this would have been a side splitter. For a start, we had sixteen red and sixteen green ribbons. We wanted to let everyone have a go! To say that this was too many hardly begins to describe it. Add to this that none of us had ever actually danced a maypole before and you have a recipe for a world class tangle. I thought David O’Connor was going to split a gusset before we finally got it sorted, reduced the number of ribbons to eight of each colour, and by golly we did get it. By the end of the afternoon we were all swinging in and out, over and under as to the manner born. What satisfaction! As the years passed and a good number of regular participants got more experienced at dancing we began to notice the strange sense of detachment and shiver of power you get from a well danced maypole. Our forbears were really onto something here, it produces a strong and immediate sense of connection with your fellow dancers. Curious.

I’ve lost track of how many different groups have come together on the mountain to celebrate Beltane, including Witches, pagans of a dozen different flavours, Asatru, and unnamed groups who just follow their hearts in the Western path. Even ceremonial magicians have participated, bringing their solemn discipline to the rites. Mt Franklin has always welcomed anyone with “a sense of fun, and a Love of the Old Gods”, to quote our oldest flyer. And doesn’t it just sum up what the Gathering is all about! We wanted to bring back the public worship of the Old Gods of our peoples, a worship that had been suppressed for goodness knows how long. To do this we needed a public space, not a private one, and Mt Franklin was our inspiration. Some of the more memorable gatherings have been a whirlwind of joyous ritual, singing, dancing, feasting and fellowship, in the full tradition of the sacred celebration of Beltane.

We anticipate many more such wondrous times. As anyone who has ever joined us on the Mountain will agree, it is indeed a special place, but for love and joy and friendship to flourish, we must all make an effort. Negativity is always waiting to pounce if we don’t take care. As the old saying has it: “for evil to flourish good men must just do nothing” The road to Mt Franklin is all uphill, we carry our hearts and dreams up to the high hill, as did our ancestors, to be closer to the Gods. Be welcome at the mountain an you come with joy in your heart, for surely you get back what you bring, be it good or ill.

Mount Franklin has been a big part of my life for the best part of thirty years. Together with my husband, Michel, whose original inspiration it was, and our loving friends and fellow initiates who have worked so hard, we feel we have created something really worth sharing with the greater pagan community, so that by their participation they become part of it as well.

Blessed Be to you all, from Linda.

Here is a memorium dedicated to Simon Goodman a pioneer of Alexandrian Wicca and Craft/Paganism in Australia. This was written and sent as a media release upon his death. It may be of interest to those who are unfamiliar with Simon and the origins of Alexandrian Craft here in Australia. Shortly we hope to post an article about Alexandrian Craft and its place in Australian paganism. Enjoy!

Simon Goodman: A Profile (In Memorium)


The late Simon Goodman has often been described as one of Australias most influential and respected magical figures. The effects of his lifes work for the Craft continue and grow with each passing year. How better to introduce him than by offering this obituary, written by one who knew him well:

At approximately 5.20am on 23 September 1991ce Simon Goodman passed through the veil to the Summerlands. Born at Victoria Park on 16 September 1951ce Simon, whose birth name was Ian Watts, came to be interested in the Craft whilst still at school in the 1960s and received the title of Magister after five years study within traditional Sussex witchcraft. However, Simons interests transcended witchcraft and he preferred in his later years to be referred to as an Occultist. In occult circles he is known amongst others as High priest and Magus of the Wicca, Priest of Maat of the Fellowship of Isis and Brother.

Whilst forming a Wiccan group Covanentus Quercus in the mid 1970s, Simon et al were approached to do a documentary The Supernatural Influence. This was one of the first films to show complete nudity on television in Western Australia during an initiation ceremony and showed various Craft workings.

Simon was forever promoting the Craft and he was the catalyst for the formation of a number of groups that appeared in not only Western Australia but also South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. He established the Occult Reference Centre in Canberra and initiated some annual pagan Wiccan festivals that exist today in the Eastern States of Australia.

Simon was, as early as 1991, available to media and others to advise on various informative current affairs programmes such as The 7.30 Report, Sixty Minutes and the talkback radio show The Howard Slatter File, on the Craft and non-Craft workings. Much of Simons time was spent advising outsiders of the differentiation between Wicca (witchcraft, paganism) and Satanism indicating of course that there is no connection between the two. His dedication to the Craft and his pursuit of knowledge led him to the British Isles and Continental Europe, where he cemented bonds of friendship with Traditional, Gardnerian and Alexandrian groups overseas.

Although Simon was ever ready to discuss Craft, he was ever more so ready to help individuals in need, with proviso the need was genuine and the person was prepared to help themselves. He had a deep desire to help those less fortunate than he, and his great ability to retain knowledge and his knowledge of Craft is unsurpassed both here and overseas. Like the death of Alex Sanders, the passing of Simon Goodman is a great loss not only to the Wicca but to the Whole occult world.

To his immediate family, we express our deep and sincere sympathy and share their loss. But to Simon who has shown so many The Old Ways that lead to the Great Mother we say Vale Simon, Blessed Be and Farewell.
Thomas CQ

A few points which could be added to this obituary are; Simon in his personal, day to day life was a Royal Australian Navy man, and served in the rank of Medical Petty Officer. It was during his time in the navy that he became a Freemason, and this was a dedication which was to stay with him for the rest of his life. After leaving the sea, he joined the Federal Public Service and for many years held a responsible position as a Canberra public servant.

It was during this time in the 1970s that he gathered with a group of friends and students to found the Covanentus Quercus. Members of this Wiccan group come from all walks of life, and are carrying on the work of the foundation coven in all the mainland states of Australia. In the spirit of the memory of Simon, they are always ready to assist and direct people who want to learn about Paganism, Magic and Wicca, and who would become initiated into the Old Ways.

In 1988ce, Simon composed an obituary for his close friend and mentor, Alex Sanders, who died on the 30th of April that year. What Simon wrote about Alex at that time --Alex was always ready to pass on the extensive information learned in his years of Craft practise. A warm, sincere and generous and giving man, he was ever ready to give freely of himself, and to share with the many people who sought him out-- could so equally and with great accuracy, apply to Simon himself.

One other aspect of Simon passed over in his obituary (for at the time of its writing there was great debate over the appropriateness of its inclusion in what formed a memory of the happier more positive things in Simons life), was the fact that he did not suffer fools gracefully. He would be uncompromising and undiplomatic. He had little time for the dilettantes, even less for charlatans and none whatsoever for the power-mongers as he scathingly called them. There have been many self-serving individuals who have felt the sharp edge of Simons tongue. Like so many other people touched with magical greatness (Alex Sanders and Dr. Gerald B. Gardner being two classic cases in point), Simon -- living or dead -- has never been short of detractors. Always loudest among those who would diminish his memory are the ones who have been recipients of his acerbic criticisms of their quest for personal power over others, and their use of my beloved Craft as a springboard to hoist their puny egos as Simon put it.

Simon will be honoured and respected long, long after those silly detractors have been forgotten. He is remembered with respect and love by those who truly knew him. As this series of articles on the Craft Working Tools being presented in Esoterica reveals, Simon was a person of scholarship and creative thought.

Tuan, the non-de-plume under which this series of articles is published, was a great chieftain of the race of Cesair in the mythological time of the Celtic people. As he survived by transformation all the mythological catastophies which destroyed the lineal ancestral races of the Celts, he embodies the Spirit of Celtic lore.

At about 5.20 on the morning of the Vernal Equinox 1991ce, Simon cast off mooring lines and set sail across the Great Ocean. Good sailing Simon, smooth seas and happy landfall. Your bodily presence is missed by friends and colleagues -- your spirit lives on through them!

Footnote: Covanentus Quercus can be contacted by writing to PO Box 54 Castlemaine Victoria 3451.