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Crowther, Arnold (1909-1974)
He was an
English Witch, a skilled stage magician, and married to Patricia C.Crowther.
Crowther was born on October 7, 1909, in Chestham, Kent, one of a pair of
fraternal twins. His mother was Scottish, and his father, who was an optician,
was from Yorkshire.
Crowther was always fascinated by sleight-of-hand, magic tricks, ventriloquism, and puppeteering. When about
eight years old he began practicing trick secretly in his bedroom. He along
with his twin was to enter their father's occupation as opticians, but magic
won out with Arnold. By his early twenties he was performing in his own
professional magic act. He possessed a good stage personality coupled with
a clever sleight-of-hand performance.
During his career he worked in cabaret, and in 1938-1939, he entertained
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose at Buckingham Palace, which got him
invited to numerous engagements to entertain the titled gentry of England.
He was a founder member of the Puppet Guild, and made more than 500 puppets.
Being a collector of odd items from around the world, he lectured at societies
and clubs on the "curios of the world." An African witch doctor
gave him the name of "White Witch Doctor." Crowther was a Freemason
and interested in Buddhism until he entered Witchcraft.
Shortly before World War II Crowther met Gerald
B.Gardner and his wife Donna. They became friends
and Crowther frequently visited the Gardners' London flat. They also met
at the Caledonian Market, an antique market where Gardner loved to browse.
Crowther became very interested in Witchcraft after meeting Gardner but
was not initiated until eighteen years later. When they met Gardner's coven
was very adverse to publicity and was afraid that Crowther might use Witchcraft
in his act. However, Gardner assured in that in time he would meet a "very
special person" who would initiate him into the Craft.
During the war Crowther entertained with the Entertainment National Services
Association, touring throughout Europe and entertaining service men with
his "Black Magic" show. The show's name was derived from its African
Basuto choir. Crowther entertained where ever required, including on a DC
3 plane at 4,000 feet en route from Tripoli to Malta on November 10, 1943.
When performing in Paris, Crowther learned of his past life as a beggar
Tibetan monk. He with an officer visited a palmist, Madame Brux, who invited
them to a seance and introduced them to the medium. Shortly afterwards the
medium entered a trance and begun communicating with a masculine spirit
who said he had been Crowther's teacher in a past life and was his guide
in the present. The medium reported that Crowther had been a young student
in a Tibetan lamasary and had been killed. She spoke the name of "Younghusband"
but Crowther did not recognize it or know anyone by such a name. The medium
said, "Your possessions will be return to you." After she said
that an object fell upon the seance table. It was a Tibetan prayer wheel
inscribed with the most holy of mantras: "Om mani padme hum."
The medium claimed it to be an apport.
Following the war, other Tibetan articles seem to come into Crowther's possession
including a butter lamp, a trumpet made of a human thigh bone, a drum made
of a human skull, and a small rattle-hand drum. An expert informed Crowther
that such articles were used by the Z'I-jed-pa, "The Mild Doer,"
a homeless medicant class of the Yogi regarded as a saint, who should attain
after death, and who should not have to experience birth anymore.
Crowther reasoned that if he had been such a monk in a past life he would
not have been reincarnated as Crowther in this one. He inevitably discovered that
as a monk, if he had killed someone, he would have to return to balance
off the karma.
At a London exhibition of Tibetan curios, Crowther discovered that there
had been a Colonel Younghusband who had led a military attack against Tibet
in 1904. Crowther came to believe that he had killed a solder in the attack
before being killed himself.
Also, during his wartime travels he had met Aleister Crowley who he introduced
to Gardner in 1946.
Following the war Crowther returned to performing on public stage and, just
as Gardner predicted, he met that special person , the fair-haired Patricia
Dawson, who did nitiate
him into the Craft. After they were married in 1960, he and Patricia lived
in Sheffield and became prominent spokespersons for the Craft.
Crowther died on Beltane (May 1) l974. At his funeral he was given the Passing
Rite of the Old Religion. At his request before his death, a piper played
a lament. As the music ended the sound of a running brook was heard: the
Brook of Love, according to Dion Fortune, from the other side.
Crowther authored in collaboration with Patricia two books, numerous magazine
articles, and a radio series on Witchcraft. His other publishing efforts
include: Let's Put on a Show (1964), a how-to magic book that he
illustrated himself; Linda and the Lollipop Man (1973), a book on
road safety for children; Yorkshire Customs (1974); and Hex Certificate
(late 1970s), a collection of cartoons which he drew on the themes of Witchcraft.
His autobiography, Hand in Glove, was not published but made into
a series by the B. B. C. Radio and heard in Bristol, Sheffield, Medway and
Leeds between l975 and 1977. A.G.H.