Slater, Herman

Slater, Herman (1938-1992)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A flamboyant character who did much to educate people on the Craft, Herman Slater managed to alienate as many as he acquired as admirers. Slater was born in a Jewish neighborhood of New York in 1938 and studied business administration at New York University and liberal arts at Hunter College. He worked in various jobs until 1969, when he was forced to stop working because of tuberculosis. Hip replacement surgery required three years of recuperation.

After a number of paranormal experiences, Slater was initiated into a New York coven of Welsh Traditional Witches by the High Priest, Ed Buczynski. Together, Slater and Buczynski opened an occult store named "The Warlock Shop" in Brooklyn. From there they published a periodical-cum-catalog titled Earth Religion News, which rapidly gained notoriety for its content and covers. In 1974 Slater claimed to have been initiated into a Gardnerian coven. He moved the store to Manhattan and renamed it the "Magickal Childe."

Slater had a charming way of blatantly appropriating and commercializing the ideas and objects or others. He was given a cast cross-hilt and pommel for a Gardnerian Wicca sword (made by Gerald Gardner) on the strict understanding that it was for his own personal use and not for commercial use. In a few short weeks his catalog carried copies of the items, cast from that original. In 1974 he published a book titled A Book of Pagan Rituals that was almost entirely taken from the Outer Court Book of the Pagan Way, written by Ed Fitch. In 1981 his The Magickal Formulary appeared with a wide variety of recipes for incense, oils, and powders taken from various sources without permission. Yet for all his faults, Slater was respected, and he did a lot of good spreading the word of the Old Religion.

Slater made his own video, An Introduction to Satanism and Witchcraft, in which he appeared in his ritual robes and wearing an antlered headdress, accompanied by his pet boa constrictor. He also hosted a weekly cable television show called The Magickal Mystery Tour. In 1982 he reprinted Gerald Gardner's two main books, Witchcraft Today and The Meaning of Witchcraft. He died on July 9, 1992, of AIDS.

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