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Gardner, F(rederick) L(eigh) (1857-ca. 1930)

Gardner, F(rederick) L(eigh) (1857-ca. 1930)

British occultist, member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn occult society. Gardner's private papers and correspondence have helped to throw light on some aspects of the Golden Dawn and its members, such as W. W. Westcott, S. L. M. Mathers, and W. A. Ayton.

Gardner was born in Highbury, North London, March 31, 1857, the son of an accountant. His parents were Spiritualists and held séances at their home, at one of which young Gardner was controlled by an Indian guide.

Gardner began employment as a stockbroker's clerk, becoming a member of the Stock Exchange in 1886. He joined the Theosophical Society around 1884 and was informed that his mahatma (a master or adept of the Society) was "Koot Hoomi." He married soon after this, and his wife shared his theosophical interests. Gardner knew Helena Petrovna Blavatsky personally and became a member of the Blavatsky Lodge in 1890. He lost interest in the Theosophical Society after joining the Golden Dawn in 1894.

He corresponded frequently with Rev. W. A. Ayton, another member of the Golden Dawn, who was a student of alchemy, and their letters (a collection of which, edited by Ellie Howe, was published in 1985) are valuable for their sidelights on the order. Gardner was also a Freemason, later joining the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia and becoming its librarian. He became financially involved in sponsoring publication of the English translation by Mathers of the important occult treatise The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin in 1898.

Gardner retired from membership of the Stock Exchange in 1903 and thereafter was an antiquarian bookseller, with special interest in occult works. He edited and privately published the limited edition, three-volume Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the Occult Sciences, consisting of Rosicrucian Books (1903), Astrological Books (1911), and Freemasonry: A Catalogue of Lodge Histories (1912). These remain very useful bibliographical contributions.


Howe, Ellic, ed. The Alchemist of the Golden Dawn: The Letters of the Revd W. A. Ayton to F. L. Gardner and Others 1886-1905. Wellingborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1985.

. The Magicians of the Golden Dawn. London: Rout-ledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

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