Frost, Gavin and Yvonne

Frost, Gavin and Yvonne

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

GAVIN FROST Gavin, born in 1930, was raised in a tight-knit family group ruled by his hard-working, hard-drinking Welshman grandfather, who was the family's patriarch. All of the family's sons and cousins worked in its galvanizing business, and members lived together on a wooded ridge outside Aldridge where the Welsh patriarch had built homes for each of his children. When the old man passed in 1936, the family promptly moved away from Aldridge, and Gavin was enrolled in boarding school.

During the war years, the family's kitchen garden and business paid dividends, and family members sought advice from Granny on putting down eggs, storing, and canning, so that there would be food through the winter. That ancient knowledge became essential to life and health. The methods Gavin learned in youth served his family well in later years.

At war's end, a particular hero of Gavin's graduating class was a decorated navy commander who taught mathematics. From that man, Gavin derived his love of mathematics and physics, and in college he continued in the two disciplines.

In his final year at the University of London (King's College), Gavin grew interested in the prehistoric peoples of the British Isles, and in the reconstruction of their spiritual beliefs. The influence of T. C. Lethbridge (Witches) and Glyn Daniel (Megalithic Monument Builders), and the heady atmosphere in London after the repeal of the Witchcraft Act, made this a formative time in Gavin's life.

After earning an honors degree, Gavin was requested to work for the Department of Atomic Energy, but before he moved to the wilds of Cumberland, he was initiated into the Coven of Boskednan. (Boskednan is a Nine-Maidens circle in Cornwall.) Today the spirit-through-fire scar that the initiation entailed is still visible on his wrist.

The Coven of Boskednan was formed after a number of London University students contacted a Penzance group that had formally been at the university. Gavin's group was instructed on what books to study and what lectures were pertinent if members hoped to be considered for initiation. Individual tasks were also allocated. Gavin's was to walk around Cornwall on the cliff path, carrying tents and supplies, which turned out to be quite a trial—he encountered numerous signs with warnings such as "Dangerous path. Beware of land slips." When the tasks were completed and further interviews held, four members of Gavin's group were initiated.

Roots of that Penzance coven's practice always intrigued Gavin because (a) they seemed to owe nothing to Gerald Gardner's work, and (b) the order of service (as shown in The Good Witch's Bible) did not resemble that of most other groups.

Gavin's move to Cumbria and research proceeded. He completed his doctoral thesis and moved on to other research. Soon he had a long-term "significant other" in Dorothy Whitford. Gavin and Dorothy moved to de Havilland Aircraft in Hatfield, near London, where his research concentrated on the investigation of longwave infrared radiation for the British equivalent of the Sidewinder missile. Much of that missile's testing was carried out at night on Salisbury Plain. This gave Gavin time during the day to explore nearby ancient monuments such as Stonehenge and to talk with local historians on what may be called the pagans of Stonehenge.

At the time archeologists, led by Gerald Hawkins' Stonehenge Decoded, were reinvestigating the old monuments and the people who built them. Fascinating discoveries were being made. One that Gavin vividly recalls was that of a skull that showed evidence of three trepanning surgeries—holes carved into it for brain surgery or perhaps for reduction of pressure. One such scar had been covered with a screwed-on silver plate, yet the man had lived to a great age after the operations (as shown by regrowth of bone). Incredibly, scientists estimated that his age at death was as much as three hundred years.

Gavin and Dorothy married in January 1953 and honeymooned in Ireland. At that time, finding pagan sites was difficult and, most likely, not the highest priority for a young married couple. A trip to the Isle of Man to see the TT races was more memorable for seeing Old Man Honda than for the visit to the Witch's Mill. Although Dorothy assured him that he met Gerald Gardner, quite frankly Gavin has no memory of it.

The young couple was extremely happy when Dorothy became pregnant and Gavin obtained three offers of employment. One was at MIT, one with the group that became Hewlett Packard, and one with Canadair in Montreal, Canada. Gavin and Dorothy elected to emigrate to Montreal to work on the Canadian missile program. Upon arrival they learned they would immediately be assigned to Quebec City, site of Canadair's Research Institute. Gavin declined, joining instead the firm's Training and Simulator group. On one assignment Gavin visited a remote village in Chile, and in his four days there, he got his first taste of religion and healing as practiced by shamans. The villagers could not believe that an outsider (especially a Caucasian!) would have any interest in their procedure or would be receptive toward it. He saw many parallels in what they were doing to what he had been taught in England.

Gavin later moved to California, where he became senior project engineer on the radar system used in the F-104 military jet. This gave him the opportunity to travel around the world extensively. In Milan, Italy, he seized the opportunity to investigate Leland's Aradia, through police contacts and records. In his search, he uncovered both truth and fiction.

The long work hours required in the aerospace industry took their toll on Gavin's personal life, and when an opportunity arose to become his firm's European representative, he took it. He and his family moved to Munich, Germany. Although the hours and work expectations were still high, there was more free time in Munich to investigate the fascinating subject of German sorcery. Gavin studied for initiation with a group of German sorcerers in Geiselgasteig, the old Bohemian artists' colony south of Munich. Because Dorothy had no interest in the occult or in writing for a living, the family was beginning to fragment and, upon their return to the United States, Gavin and Dorothy divorced. It was not an amicable divorce, and it became evident that if Gavin remained in southern California, Dorothy would continually harass him and any new associates. So, accompanied by his new love interest, Yvonne Wilson, Gavin accepted a post as international sales manager for a firm in St. Louis, Missouri. There, he and Yvonne began the long process of getting the U.S. government to accept Wicca as a religion (see Church and School of Wicca, below).

Gavin felt that his international travel gave him opportunities that were not available to most Wiccans. For example, the King of Thailand arranged for Gavin to live as a monk for one week in a monastery outside Bangkok. Further, Gavin's copy of the Bhagavad Gita bears the signature of Madame Indira Gandhi, who also introduced him to some authentic Tantrists.

YVONNE FROST Yvonne, born in 1931, felt she was reincarnated into a family of Kentucky footwashing, hard-shell Baptists in the heart of the Depression. A large group of relatives from the Cumberland Gap area moved from the poverty in Kentucky to Depression-era Los Angeles. As the eldest of four children, Yvonne lived in silent obedience and conformity, wondering why she did not fit in. The best lessons of those early days were a frugal approach that she never outgrew and a gratitude for every good experience that enriched her life.

A marriage to a well-meaning "Neanderthal," as she described him, lasted ten years. At some point in that era, she came across Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision and mentioned it, with excitement, to her Sunday-school teacher. His response: "If it isn't in the Bible, I don't want to hear about it." She says she never looked back.

For the next eight years, Yvonne lived as a self-supporting, single woman. In that time she earned her degree in Orange County, California, and began exploring alternative paths of spirituality. She considered espousing Buddhism, but found the Eastern philosophy too passive for her spiritual needs. She finally discovered Spiritualism. At a séance in 1965, a voice came to her through the medium's trumpet: "Can I be your little girl?" Because she was single, she was taken aback, but she still managed to answer, "Yes. You come when it's time." (Bronwyn was born in 1969.) In another séance her spirit guide, Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace (the first proponent of evolution), brought her a green cabochon stone, which she had set into a bracelet. Wallace once pointed out (as a spirit) that a photo in his biography had been printed as a mirror image. Yvonne found a copy of the book and confirmed the complaint.

Her career at that time was in the aerospace industry; Gavin was her boss's boss. During Gavin's stint in Munich, he began writing a novel titled Pagans of Stonehenge and asked her to edit it for him. The two eventually became linked romantically. Once Yvonne met Gavin and learned of the Craft, she found that some of its aspects overlapped with the teachings of Spiritualism and Buddhism; for the first time, she felt she was finally on the right path. After Gavin's divorce, the couple moved together to St. Louis.

Once there, Gavin's work as an international sales manager led to more travel and longer hours away from home. Yvonne used her time alone to type all of the school's lectures (see The Church and School of Wicca, below) and the draft of The Witch's Bible.

In late July 1969, Gavin flew in from Australia, full of excitement. He had traveled on a Qantas flight especially rescheduled so passengers could see the reentry of the capsule carrying the first astronauts to walk on the moon. When he finally paused to take a breath while telling Yvonne about his special flight, Yvonne calmly informed him, "My water broke this morning." Witnessing Bronwyn's birth brought Gavin an epiphany. He gave up his career in aerospace, although he worked intermittently for a year or so as a consultant, and committed his life and energies to the Craft.

Effectively, the two of them sawed off the limb they had been sitting on: no more gold credit cards, no more first-class flights, no more captain of industry and management matron. They traded all of that in for a vow of poverty and full-time commitment to living and teaching the Craft.

In retrospect, they both felt that their shared life showed a pattern. They spent a couple of years remodeling a derelict building in St. Charles, Missouri, three years raising pigs on unimproved rural Missouri acreage and restoring an abandoned schoolhouse, twenty years in New Bern, North Carolina. These experiences served to fill in gaps in their respective learning. What the Frosts did not already know about humility from the discomforts of rehabbing buildings and from raising pigs, they learned well and thoroughly from the Pagan/Wiccan community and the warmth of its reception.

Today their life marches on. Yvonne says, "As we respectively approach our seventieth birthdays, we are eager to meet our successors—poor devils!"

THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL OF WICCA When Gavin and Yvonne moved to Missouri in 1968, their first act was to attempt to form a coven. They quickly found that they were not comfortable having people come to their home to attend classes. The answer seemed to be a correspondence course, especially since Gavin was still on the road much of the time. Together they wrote a series of lectures that later formed the nucleus of their book, The Witch's Bible (Nash Publishing, 1972).

In order to meet IRS requirements as a nonprofit organization, the church had to have a defined philosophy. The Frosts symbolized that philosophy using the five points of the pentagram: (1) The Wiccan Rede—"If it harm none, do what you will." (2) Power through knowledge. (3) The Law of Attraction and of Threefold Return. (4) Harmony with the universe. (5) Reincarnation. The center of the pentagram represented deity.

A furor was created in Wiccan circles when the Frosts published their rituals and revealed that a dildo was used in the female initiation. Despite that furor, they have stood by their teachings.

Having finally satisfied all the IRS demands, the Church of Wicca was issued a Letter of Determination on August 31, 1972, after which fifteen other Church of Wicca facilities were chartered across the United States. Six years later, Gavin and Yvonne retired from active leadership in the church but retained responsibility for the correspondence school. The school has since grown to be the largest Witchcraft correspondence school in the United States. It also offers courses in astrology, Tantra, psychic development, healing, herbs, and other subjects.

The church continues to work for Wiccan rights, especially by making its teachings available to those in prison and in the military. The church was a leader in the fight against the Helms Amendment (see Helms, Senator Jesse). The church and school publishes a periodical called Survival that is edited by the Frosts' daughter, Bronwyn.

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