Farrar, Janet and Stewart

Farrar, Janet and Stewart

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Janet Farrar was born Janet Owen in London on June 24, 1950. Her mother died when Janet was five. She attended school in London and in Hertfordshire. In 1970 she was initiated into the coven of Alex and Maxine Sanders, where she met Stewart Farrar.

Stewart was born in Essex on June 28, 1916. He was raised as a Christian Scientist but, by age 20, became an agnostic. He was educated at City of London School and then at University College, London, where he studied journalism, graduating in 1937. He served in the army from 1939 till 1946, then, on discharge, worked for a year as a public relations and press officer for the Control Commission for Germany. From 1947 on, he worked for a number of different newspapers, including the Communist Party's Daily Worker. But after only a year, disillusioned, Stewart left both the Communist Party and its journal.

For six years he worked as a scriptwriter for Associated British-Pathé and for ABC Television. As a freelance writer, he also authored radio dramas for the BBC.

From 1969 to 1974 Stewart worked as a feature writer for Reveille, a British tabloid newspaper. While working there he came in contact with Alex and Maxine Sanders. Interviewing Alex, Stewart was impressed by him and accepted an invitation to attend a Witch Initiation. He subsequently wrote an article for the newspaper on the subject and began attending the Sanders's training classes. On February 21, 1970, he was himself initiated.

On December 22, 1970, after only a few months with the Sanders's coven, Stewart and Janet broke away to form their own group. Stewart had written a book, What Witches Do, which the publisher of Alex Sanders's biography published. It came out in 1971 and helped establish Stewart as a voice for Wicca. (He later stated that he had been overly credulous in his admiration for Sanders.)

For the next six years the Farrars concentrated on building their coven. On January 31, 1974, they were handfasted, and they legally married in a civil ceremony on July 19, 1975. In 1976 they turned over their coven to Susan and David Buckingham and moved to the Republic of Ireland. There the Farrars jointly authored several books that have become classics in the modern Witchcraft field. Principle among these are the companion volumes, Eight Sabbats for Witches (1981) and The Witches Way (1984), in which they detail and dissect the Gardnerian rituals, aided by Gardner's associate, Doreen Valiente.

Their other works include The Witches' Goddess (1987) and The Witches' God (1989). In recent years they co-authored The Pagan Path and The Healing Craft with Gavin Bone, a Seax-Wica initiate who joined the Farrars in Ireland in 1993. Stewart was in failing health for some time and died on February 7, 2000.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.