Carl “Llewellyn” Weschcke

The guy who started My favorite publishing company! Taken from http://www.controverscial.com/Carl%20Llewellyn%20Weschcke.htm.

Carl Weschcke is president of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd, one of the largest publishers of occult and New Age books in the world.  He is also a Magician, a Tantric practitioner, a Pagan and a former Wiccan High Priest who played a leading role in the rise and spread of Wicca and Neo-Paganism in America during the 1960’s and 70’s.

Weschcke was born into a Roman Catholic family on the 10th of September 1930 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Early in his life his paternal grandfather, who at the time was vice-president of the American Theosophical Society, exposed him to metaphysics and the occult.  For his 12th birthday he presented the young Weschcke with his own astrological chart, after and guided by his grandfather, he became fascinated with astronomy, religion, the occult and reincarnation.  His parents were vegetarian naturalists who practiced mind reading techniques, and were happy to discuss occult subjects with him.  Even one of the houses they lived in had strange and mysterious thumps and bangs in the night, which were attributed to the ghosts of the deceased former owners.  Such were the influences that shaped Weschcke’s early life and future path.

Weschcke was educated at the St. Paul Academy and graduated in 1948.  He then went on to study at the Babson Business Institute in Massachusetts graduating in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.  After graduating he went to work in the family’s Pharmaceutical business, but found the work unfulfilling.  He had a dream of becoming a publisher, which led him back to school studying for a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Minnesota.  However, his longing to get involved with publishing caused him to leave the university before completing his course, and in 1960 he purchased the little known Llewellyn Publishing Co.

The Llewellyn Publishing Co. was the brainchild of the Welsh astrologer, Lewellyn George, who founded the Llewellyn Publishing Co. in Portland, Oregon during 1901. At that time it was a small mail order business with a limited focus specializing in selling three Astrology books and Calendars.  Lewellyn George later moved the company to Los Angeles where he died in 1954.  Weschche purchased the business in 1960 and moved it to St. Paul in Minnesota where he began to rebuild it.  He quickly expanded the business to include a complete line of books on Astrology and the Occult, and within a decade was publishing some thirty to fifty titles a year, including audio and videotapes.  He also launched a series of magazines including: New Dimension, Gnostica, Astrology Now, New Times and New World.

During the late 1950’s and early 60’s Weschcke became actively involved with the civil rights and liberties movements.  He held office in the St. Paul’s branch of NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) and the ACLU, (Minnesota’s Civil Liberties Union) where he played a major role in bringing about fair-housing legislation in St. Paul

In 1964 Weschcke bought a large stone mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul and used it as both home and a place of business.  The house was reputedly haunted and Weschcke had numerous odd experiences there.  He was often wakened at night by cold drafts coming in from open windows, windows he knew he had closed before going to sleep.  He also heard strange noises and footsteps in the dead of night and saw apparitions of a man and woman.  These he believed were not true ghosts but the vibrations of former occupants that had been recorded in the woodwork of the building.  A newspaper article about the hauntings created an avalanche of public attention and paved the way for his media prominence in the emerging Wicca and Paganism movements.

In 1970 Weschcke opened the Gnostica Bookstore in Minneapolis from which he also incorporated the Gnostica School for Self-Development.  The bookstore quickly became a popular gathering place for Pagans and others interested in the occult and alternative religions, and established the Twin Cities as a major centre for New Age resources.  A year later in 1971, a local convention centre manager suggested that Minneapolis could benefit from a Woodstock style annual festival.  Weschcke thought it a good idea and took the opportunity to host it.  The first of several festivals was staged later that year; called the “First American Aquarian Festival of Astrology and the Occult Sciences”.  The festival attracted many of the best known Witches, Wiccans, Magicians and Neo-Pagans from all around the world.  Witchcraft rituals were conducted and Weschcke led meditations for peace and the healing of the earth.  Later festivals were re-named and became known as ‘Gnosticon’.

The following year in 1972 Weschcke himself was initiated into the American Celtic Tradition of Witchcraft by Lady Sheba, the tradition’s founder.  Holding coven meetings in his Summit Avenue home, Weschcke rose to High Priest and is now an Elder in that tradition.  The same year he met ‘Sandra Heggum’, a High Priestess in the same tradition.  They later married in a heavily publicized handfasting ceremony conducted under a full moon.  They wrote their own vows taken from old Witchcraft rituals, and guests drank from a large cauldron filled with fruit, wine and flowers.

In 1973, Weschcke helped to form and organize the ‘Council of American Witches’ and became its first Chairman.  During his brief tenure as Chairman he drafted the now famous ‘Thirteen Principles of Belief’ statement, which he considers his proudest accomplishment for the Craft.  The statement was later incorporated into the U.S. Army’s handbook for Chaplains.  That same year his wife gave birth to their son who they named Gabriel.

By the mid-1970’s Weschcke began to wind down his public activities, feeling his publishing business was starting to stagnate.  Weschcke believed his constant media publicity and its resulting attention was the cause of it, and so resolved to do something about it. Selling the haunted mansion on Summit Avenue he moved the family to the country where he could spend and devote more time to them.  He restructured the business by closing the bookstore, dropping the festivals and increasing the number of book titles they were publishing.  He also included computer software to his range of audio and videotapes.

The Weschckes continue to support the Wiccan and Pagan communities primarily through their publishing, and many of their authors are sent out to organized conferences and activities.  Today, most of their time is taken up by the demands of their business, which by the mid 1990’s had grown into a medium sized publishing house issuing about 100 new titles a year, spanning the general Spirituality and New Age markets.  Their son Gabriel, holds a master’s degree in publishing science from Pace University, New York, and now works for the business as its regional sales manger.

Weschcke holds two honorary doctorates, one in magick, and was for a time the Grandmaster of Aurum Solis, an international magickal Order originally founded in England in 1897, but now based in St. Paul.  He withdrew from the Order in 1991 and is currently not affiliated with any group.  His media prominence during the 1960’s and 70’s did much to bring Wicca and Paganism into the light of acceptability in a skeptical American society.

In 1970 Weschcke opened the Gnostica Bookstore in Minneapolis from which he also incorporated the Gnostica School for Self-Development.  The bookstore quickly became a popular gathering place for Pagans and others interested in the occult and alternative religions, and established the Twin Cities as a major centre for New Age resources.  A year later in 1971, a local convention centre manager suggested that Minneapolis could benefit from a Woodstock style annual festival.  Weschcke thought it a good idea and took the opportunity to host it.  The first of several festivals was staged later that year; called the “First American Aquarian Festival of Astrology and the Occult Sciences”.  The festival attracted many of the best known Witches, Wiccans, Magicians and Neo-Pagans from all around the world.  Witchcraft rituals were conducted and Weschcke led meditations for peace and the healing of the earth.  Later festivals were re-named and became known as ‘Gnosticon’.

The following year in 1972 Weschcke himself was initiated into the American Celtic Tradition of Witchcraft by Lady Sheba, the tradition’s founder.  Holding coven meetings in his Summit Avenue home, Weschcke rose to High Priest and is now an Elder in that tradition.  The same year he met ‘Sandra Heggum’, a High Priestess in the same tradition.  They later married in a heavily publicized handfasting ceremony conducted under a full moon.  They wrote their own vows taken from old Witchcraft rituals, and guests drank from a large cauldron filled with fruit, wine and flowers.

In 1973, Weschcke helped to form and organize the ‘Council of American Witches’ and became its first Chairman.  During his brief tenure as Chairman he drafted the now famous ‘Thirteen Principles of Belief’ statement, which he considers his proudest accomplishment for the Craft.  The statement was later incorporated into the U.S. Army’s handbook for Chaplains.  That same year his wife gave birth to their son who they named Gabriel.

By the mid-1970’s Weschcke began to wind down his public activities, feeling his publishing business was starting to stagnate.  Weschcke believed his constant media publicity and its resulting attention was the cause of it, and so resolved to do something about it. Selling the haunted mansion on Summit Avenue he moved the family to the country where he could spend and devote more time to them.  He restructured the business by closing the bookstore, dropping the festivals and increasing the number of book titles they were publishing.  He also included computer software to his range of audio and videotapes.

The Weschckes continue to support the Wiccan and Pagan communities primarily through their publishing, and many of their authors are sent out to organized conferences and activities.  Today, most of their time is taken up by the demands of their business, which by the mid 1990’s had grown into a medium sized publishing house issuing about 100 new titles a year, spanning the general Spirituality and New Age markets.  Their son Gabriel, holds a master’s degree in publishing science from Pace University, New York, and now works for the business as its regional sales manger.

Weschcke holds two honorary doctorates, one in magick, and was for a time the Grandmaster of Aurum Solis, an international magickal Order originally founded in England in 1897, but now based in St. Paul.  He withdrew from the Order in 1991 and is currently not affiliated with any group.  His media prominence during the 1960’s and 70’s did much to bring Wicca and Paganism into the light of acceptability in a skeptical American society.

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