Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884 – 1964), also known by the craft name Scire, was an English Wiccan, as well as an author and an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist. He was instrumental in bringing the Contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca to public attention, writing some of its definitive religious texts and founding the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca.
Born into an upper-middle-class family in Blundellsands, Lancashire, Gardner spent much of his childhood abroad in Madeira. In 1900, he moved to colonial Ceylon, and then in 1911 to Malaya, where he worked as a civil servant, independently developing an interest in the native peoples and writing papers and a book about their magical practices. After his retirement in 1936, he travelled to Cyprus, penning the novel A Goddess Arrives before returning to England. Settling down near the New Forest, he joined an occult group, the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, through which he claimed to have encountered the New Forest coven into which he was initiated in 1939. Believing the coven to be a survival of the pre-Christian Witch-Cult discussed in the works of Margaret Murray, he decided to revive the faith, supplementing the coven's rituals with ideas borrowed from Freemasonry, ceremonial magic and the writings of Aleister Crowley to form the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca.
Moving to London in 1945, following the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1736 he became intent on propagating this religion, attracting media attention and writing about it in High Magic's Aid (1949), Witchcraft Today (1954) and The Meaning of Witchcraft (1959). Founding a Wiccan group known as the Bricket Wood coven, he introduced a string of High Priestesses into the religion, including Doreen Valiente, Lois Bourne, Patricia Crowther and Eleanor Bone, through which the Gardnerian community spread throughout Britain and subsequently into Australia and the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Involved for a time with Cecil Williamson, Gardner also became director of the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft on the Isle of Man, which he ran until his death.
Gardner is internationally recognised as the "Father of Wicca" among the Pagan and occult communities. His claims regarding the New Forest coven have been widely scrutinised, with Gardner being the subject of investigation for historians and biographers such as Aidan Kelly, Ronald Hutton and Philip Heselton.