So after 5.5 years I finally got my PhD from Tel Aviv University’s School of Historical Studies ! It was an amazing – albeit at times arduous – stage in my journey within academia, and produced a dissertation titled ‘The Priestess, the Witch, and the Women’s Movement: Women and Gender Issues in British Magical and Pagan Groups, c. 1888 – c. 1988’. Here is a link to the dissertation’s synopsis, for those of you who are interested. I hope you’ll all be able to read it in book form in the near future, so stay tuned for updates.
This dissertation could not have been written without the help and support of the following organizations and individuals: My deep gratitude goes to my PhD advisor, Prof. David S. Katz, whose insightful comments throughout the years spent working on this project helped me transform my initial, more modest, idea into a dissertation spanning a whole century. His commitment to my progress as a student and as a scholar has been truly unwavering.
The Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies – under the consecutive leadership of Profs. Billie Melman, Leo Corry and Aviad Kleinberg – has been an academic home in the full sense of the word, and provided me with the best possible conditions for conducting my research, including a generous monthly scholarship, a research allowance that enabled me to visit crucial archives in Britain, and funding for interlibrary loans from the University library. Eilat Shalev-Arato, The School’s Secretary, was ever so kind and informative, and Iris Grunfeld and Daphna Aronheime-Amar of the Sourasky Central Library Interlibrary Loans Department provided immeasurable help. Between 2013 and 2016 the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council for Higher Education granted me the prestigious Lev-Zion Scholarship for Outstanding Ph.D. Students from Peripheral Areas, which – in addition to a generous monthly scholarship – provided me with a substantial annual sum towards acquiring books, attending overseas conferences, and visiting relevant archives.
Profs. Ronald Hutton and Ursula King, who served as the external reviewers of my dissertation, provided me with insightful comments and vital notes which allowed me to further perfect my work. I would like to extend my immense gratitude to Prof. Hutton, whose books on contemporary and historical forms of witchcraft – and especially The Triumph of the Moon – inspired me to embark upon this study almost six years ago. His continuous encouragement and advice over the years have been instrumental to my work. I furthermore wish to thank Dr. Isaac Lubelsky, who has provided me with unremitting philosophical support and guidance for the better part of a decade. Graham and Hannah at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, and Hannah Lowery at the Special Collections Department of the Bristol University Library, were of enormous help during my visit to the archives under their care.
Many other individuals provided crucial support over the course of this study, and while it would be impossible to name all of them, some deserve special mention: Ilan Weiler gave me unlimited access to his occult book collection (especially the works of Aleister Crowley) and shared with me his immense knowledge of British Wicca and witchcraft. Orly Salinas Mizrahi, my ‘partner in crime’ in the study of contemporary forms of Paganism in both Britain and Israel did so as well, and as a fellow PhD student provided sympathy and emotional support in difficult times. Hila Benyovits-Hoffman loaned me her copy of an obscure yet important work by Aleister Crowley, and Ron Rosenfeld provided critical technical support when I was preparing the dissertation for printing. Sheer Yoskovitz kindly allowed me have a book I purchased sent to her US address and then brought it to me when she visited Israel. Haifa resident Nuri McBride, who turned out to be the great-great granddaughter of Maud Gonne, transcribed several letters written by Florence Farr in cursive English. Ethan Doyle White provided me with much needed scans of certain back issues of The Cauldron. Prof. Kayoko Komatsu generously provided me with a copy of her 1986 MA thesis and mailed me her personal archive on the Matriarchal Study Groups, which turned out to be vital for my research. Prof. Henrik Bogdan shared with me a critical fact regarding one of Crowley’s OTO degrees when we met at a conference on Western Esotericism at Colgate University.
This dissertation – and indeed my entire academic activities – could not have been written without the continuous support and encouragement of my family, and particularly my parents, Avi and Hanna, and my grandparents, Ephraim and Batya, whose constant financial support the last decade was instrumental to my ability to devote myself to academia and scholarship. Lastly, but most importantly, I wish to thank Tom, my loving wife and best friend, for believing in me and in my abilities and for never letting me forget my worth throughout the writing process of this dissertation and the MA thesis that preceded it. Her ability to lift me up from the darkest of moments, her comments on earlier drafts of my work and our shared interest in Paganism were invaluable for my success as a scholar.