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Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits
Born October 1, 1949 (1949-10-01) (age 60)
Spouse(s) Phaedra Bonewits
(since 2007)

Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits (born October 1, 1949) is an influential Neopagan leader and author. He is a liturgist, speaker, journalist, Neo-druid priest, and a singer, songwriter, and independent recording artist. Born in Royal Oak, Michigan, Bonewits has been heavily involved in occultism since the 1960s.



In 1966 while enrolled at UC Berkeley, Bonewits joined the Reformed Druids of North America or RDNA. Bonewits was ordained as a Neo-druid priest in 1969. During this period Bonewits was recruited by the Church of Satan,[1] but left due to political and philosophical conflicts with Anton LaVey. During his stint in the Church of Satan, Bonewits appeared in the 1970 documentary Satanis : The Devil's Mass.[2] Bonewits, in his article "My Satanic Adventure", asserts the rituals in Satanis were staged for the movie at the behest of the filmmakers and were not authentic ceremonies.[3]

Bonewits graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic[4], becoming the first and only person to have ever received any kind of degree in Magic from an accredited university[5]. His first book, Real Magic, was published in 1971. Between 1973 and 1975 Bonewits was employed as editor of Gnostica magazine in Minnesota (published by Llewellyn Publications), established an offshoot group of the RDNA called the Schismatic Druids of North America, and helped create a group called the Hasidic Druids of North America (despite his life-long status as a "gentile"). He also founded the short-lived Aquarian Anti-Defamation League (AADL), an early Pagan civil-rights group.

In 1976 Bonewits moved back to Berkeley and rejoined his original grove there, now part of the New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA). He was later elected ArchDruid of the Berkeley Grove.

In 1983 Bonewits founded Ar nDraiocht Fein (also known as "A Druid Fellowship" or ADF), which was incorporated in 1990 in the state of Delaware as a U.S. 501(c)3 non-profit organization. He made the organization's first public announcement in 1984, and began the membership sign-up at the first WinterStar Symposium in 1984. Over the years Bonewits has also had varying degrees of involvement with Ordo Templi Orientis, Gardnerian Wicca, the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (a Wiccan organization not to be confused with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn) as well as others.[5] Bonewits is a regular presenter at Neopagan festivals in the US.

Bonewits served as Archdruid of ADF until 1996, when he resigned due to the onset of symptoms of Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. He retains the lifelong title of ADF Archdruid Emeritus.

A songwriter, singer and recording artist, he has produced two CDs of Pagan music and numerous recorded lectures and panel discussions, produced and distributed by the Association for Consciousness Exploration. He lives in Rockland County, New York, and is a member of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS). On July 23, 2004 he was married in a handfasting ceremony to a former vice-president of the organization, Phaedra Heyman Bonewits, and has a son from a previous marriage to author Deborah Lipp, Arthur Shaffrey Lipp-Bonewits. At the time of the handfasting, the marriage was not yet legal because he had not yet been legally divorced from Ms. Lipp, although they had been separated for several years by that point. Paperwork and legalities caught up on December 31, 2007 making them legally married.[6]

Bonewits is currently encouraging charity programs to help Neopagan seniors,[7] and in January 2006 was the key note speaker at the Conference On Current Pagan Studies at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, CA.[citation needed]

Contributions to Neopaganism

In his book Laws of Magic(1971), Bonewits proposed his hypothesis on the Laws of Magic, which were then elaborated in his Authentic Thaumaturgy. These "laws" are synthesized from a multitude of belief systems from around the world, and were collected in order to explain and categorize magical beliefs within a cohesive framework. Many interrelationships of these areas exist, and some are subsets of others.

Bonewits has also coined much of the modern terminology used to define and articulate many of the conceptual themes and issues which affect the North American Neopagan community.


  • Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic. (1972, 1979, 1989) Weiser Books ISBN 0-87728-688-4
  • Authentic Thaumaturgy. (1978, 1998) Steve Jackson Games ISBN 1-55634-360-4
  • Rites of Worship: A Neopagan Approach. (2003) Earth Religions Press ISBN 1-59405-501-7 OP
  • Witchcraft: A Concise Guide or Which Witch Is Which?. (2003) Earth Religions Press ISBN 1-59405-500-9
  • The Pagan Man: Priests, Warriors, Hunters, and Drummers. (2005) Citadel ISBN 0-8065-2697-1, ISBN 978-0806526973
  • Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca. (2006) Citadel ISBN 0-8065-2711-0, ISBN 978-0806527116
  • Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. (2006) Citadel ISBN 0-8065-2710-2, ISBN 978-0806527109
  • Real Energy: Systems, Spirits, And Substances to Heal, Change, And Grow. (2007) New Leaf ISBN 1564149048, ISBN 978-1564149046. Co-authored with Phaedra Bonewits.
  • Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. (2007) Llewellyn ISBN 0738711993, ISBN 978-0738711997



  • Be Pagan Once Again! - Isaac Bonewits & Friends (including Ian Corrigan, Victoria Ganger, and Todd Alan) (CD) (ACE/ADF)
  • Avalon is Rising! - Real Magic (CD)(ACE/ADF)

Spoken word

  • The Structure of Craft Ritual (ACE)
  • A Magician Prepares (ACE)
  • Programming Magical Ritual: Top-Down Liturgical Design (ACE)
  • Druidism: Ancient & Modern (ACE)
  • How Does Magic Work? (ACE)
  • Rituals That Work (ACE)
  • Sexual Magic & Magical Sex (with Deborah Lipp) (ACE)
  • Making Fun of Religion (with Deborah Lipp) (ACE)

Panel discussions

See also


  • Berger, Helen A. (2005) Witchcraft and Magic: Contemporary North America. University of Pennsylvania Press ISBN 081223877X, ISBN 978-0812238778
  • Berger, Helen A. (1998) A Community of Witches: Contemporary Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the United States. University of South Carolina Press ISBN 1570032467, ISBN 978-1570032462
  • Berger, Helen A. & Helen H. & Evan A. Leach, Leigh S. Shaffer (2003) Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States. University of South Carolina Press ISBN 1570034885, ISBN 978-1570034886
  • Bond, Lawrence & Ellen Evert Hopman (1996) People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out. (reissued as Being a Pagan: Druids, Wiccans & Witches Today in 2002 Destiny Books ISBN 0-89281-904-9) Interview.
  • Clifton, Chas S. (2006). Her hidden children: the rise of Wicca and paganism in America. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. ISBN 0-7591-0202-3. 
  • Lewis, James R. & Shelley Rabinovitch (2002) The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism. C Trade Paper ISBN 0806524065, ISBN 978-0806524061
  • Pike, Sarah M. (2004) New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. Columbia University Press ISBN 0231124023, ISBN 978-0231124027
  • Urban, Hugh B. (2006) Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism. University of California Press ISBN 0520247760, ISBN 978-0520247765
  • Vale, V.; Sulak, John (2001). Modern pagans : an investigation of contemporary pagan practices. San Francisco, Calif.: RE/Search Publications. pp. 70-77. ISBN 1-889307-10-6. 


  1. ^ My Satanic Adventure
  2. ^ Satanis at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ My Satanic Adventure
  4. ^ "Berkeley Student Will Graduate With Bachelor of Arts in Magic". New York Times: p. 24. 1 June 1970. ISSN 03624331. "BEREKLEY, Calif., May 31 (UPI)—Among June graduates at the University of California is Isaac Bonewits, who will receive a bachelor of arts in magic." 
  5. ^ a b A Brief Biography of Isaac Bonewits
  6. ^ Views from Cyberhenge
  7. ^ Adopt an Elder
  8. ^ Bonewits, Isaac (2006). Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism. New York: Kensington/Citadel. pp. 131. ISBN 0-8065-2710-2.  Author is unsure whether he "got this use of the term from one or more of the other culturally focused Neopagan movements of the time, or if [he] just applied it in a novel fashion."
  9. ^ McColman (2003) p.51: "Such reconstructionists are attempting, through both spiritual and scholarly means, to create as purely Celtic a spirituality as possible."
  10. ^ "The Aquarian Manifesto"

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Phillip Emmons Isaac Bonewits (born October 1, 1949) is an influential Neopagan leader and author. Bonewits has been heavily involved in occultism with an emphasis on Neo-druidism since the 1960s.


  • Christians have oppressed Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Pagans, and each other throughout their centuries of power, preaching religious intolerance as the word of Jehovah whenever they had the military, political, or economic power to make it stick — and then piously preaching brotherhood, peace, and toleration when they didn't.

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