Note: When Arthur William “Bill” Bone, Eleanor’s husband, passed away on the 24th of August 1984, Eleanor decided to bury his cremated remains herself in the local cemetery in Garrigill. There is no indication that she asked the council for permission, and he is not officially listed as having been buried there. When a gravestone was bought for Eleanor, it was decided to add his name as well as the name of Eleanor’s son, to the gravestone.
It is unclear when this newspaper article was written, but it was sent by Eleanor to her friends, together with the short ritual she performed. Much thanks is given to Patricia Crowther who kindly shared this article.
A number of eyebrows have been raised by a story carried on Page 1 of last week’s Cumberland News.
It concerns the funeral service conducted by witch Eleanor Bone for her late husband Bill in Garrigill cemetery.
Witchcraft is a very emotive word; even today many people think of it as anti-Christian, so that the idea of a witch conducting a funeral service may seem almost a sacrilege.
Witches are followers of the Old Religion, the nature worship that has existed for thousands of years.
They are not ‘anti’ any religion; they believe that people will follow the path that suits them best.
They observe a God and a Goddess in their rites, personifications of the masculine and feminine aspects of the great Life Force – positive and negative, if you will – the duality which makes a whole.
They think of the Goddess as Mother Earth, out of whom everything is born, by whom everything is nourished, onto whom everything ultimately sinks into death, to provide food for rebirth.
Every man must grow old, die, and physically disintegrate, yet the need of a man to belong permanently in the great cosmos is universal, but a man’s conception of life after death is a very personal thing.
Witches believe in reincarnation and because of this it is natural that when they lose somebody dear to them they prefer to have a farewell ceremony that embodies their beliefs.
This is one ritual which lends itself ideally for this occasion, the ritual which is used at the most important festival of the witches year – Hallowe’en.
This is the night when they remember their dear ones who have gone before.
In 1963, Gerald Gardner, one of the best known witches of this century, died at sea and was buried in Tunis. In 1968 the cemetery was being turned into a pleasure park and it fell upon Eleanor Bone to travel to Tunis and arrange the transfer of his remains to a cemetery in Carthage. She used this ritual at his graveside.
When her husband, Bill, died recently she decided she would like to conduct the funeral herself using the same sort of ceremony.
The funeral took place in the small peaceful cemetery in the little village of Garrigill.
After thanking their many friends for coming to say ‘Goodbye’ to Bill, Eleanor said a few words in tribute to him as a person.
She said nobody could ask for a better epitaph than this: “He was loved by all who knew him.”
She concluded with the following words: “As most of you know, I believe in reincarnation. Therefore I pray that when Bill has rested and refreshed awhile in the Summerlands, he will be born again with sturdier limbs and keener brain, and I pray, by the grace of the Great God and Gentle Mother, that it will be in the same place and at the same time as his loved ones and that he will meet, and know, and remember, and love them again.
“I would like you all to say just two words of farewell to Bill – “Blessed be.”
“Blessed be this place, and this time, and Blessed be those who are with us today.”
This is the first time in the country that a witch has officiated at a funeral and Eleanor hopes that it will give others the strength and courage to follow her example.