Farrar, Janet (1950-)
Farrar, Janet (1950-)
Janet Farrar, author and Wiccan priestess, was born Janet Owen on June 24, 1950, in London, England. She was raised in the Church of England, and after high school worked as a model and receptionist. Her uneventful life changed in 1970 when, after being attracted to witchcraft, she was initiated into the London coven headed by Maxine and Alexander Sanders. During her training she met Stewart Farrar (1916-2000), and though he was more than 30 years her senior, they formed a working relationship as priest and priestess. In the Wiccan faith, as developed by Gerald B. Gardner and expounded by Sanders, women play a dominant role, with the priestess taking the lead in the annual cycle of esbats and sabbat rituals.
In spite of Sanders' charisma, all was not well within the coven and early in 1971 the Sanderses were to separate. In December of 1970, Owen and Farrar left and formed their own coven. Their relationship grew closer and in 1974 they were handfasted (marriage in the Wiccan world) and officially married the next year. Meanwhile, Farrar, who had worked as a journalist, left his job and launched a successful career as an author.
In 1976 the Farrars relinquished leadership of their London coven and moved to Ireland, settling in County Wexford. Responding to letters from Stewart's earlier book, What Witches Do (1971), the two began work on what became a more detailed look at the annual cycle of Wiccan festivals, Eight Sabbats for Witches (1981). This book became the first of a set of collaborative works including The Witches' Way (1984), Life and Times of a Modern Witch (1987), The Witches' Goddess (1987), and The Witches' God (1989).
In 1988, the Farrars moved back to London where by now they had become celebrities within the growing international Wiccan community. They continued to write and also were popular speakers at Wiccan events for which they made several trips to North America. Stewart Farrar died in 2000, but Janet continues as a major Wiccan leader, one of the few with a direct experience of the founding generation.
Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. Eight Sabbats for Witches. London: Robert Hale, 1981.
——. Life and Times of a Modern Witch. London: Piatkus, 1987.
——. The Witches' Way. London: Robert Hale, 1984. Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do. London: Peter Davies, 1971.