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22 February 1917|
Normacot, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
|Died||26 October 1982(aged 65)|
|Residence||England, later United States|
|Occupation||Witch, antiques dealer, author, television personality|
Sybil Leek (22 February 1917 – 26 October 1982) was an English witch, astrologer, occult author and self-proclaimed psychic. She wrote many books on occult and esoteric subjects, getting dubbed as "Britain's most famous witch" by the BBC.
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Sybil Leek was born on 22 February 1917 in the village of Normacot in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England to a comfortable, middle-class family. She claimed to have been descended from the historical Molly Leigh, who had been accused during the witch hunts. At the age of 16 she married her music teacher, though he died two years later, whereupon Leek returned to live with her grandmother. She later stayed with an acquaintance in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, and claimed to have spent some of the following years living amongst the New Forest gypsies. When she was 20, Sybil returned to her family, who had now moved to the edge of the New Forest. She opened three antique shops; one in Ringwood, one in Somerset, and one in the New Forest village of Burley. She soon moved to Burley herself, into a house behind the shop Lawfords of Burley.
Her eccentric habits as a self-described witch soon resulted in problems. Media interest grew, and Sybil became tired of the attention from news reporters and tourists. According to a contemporary, "People either thought she was a bit of a joke or a fraud." Although the village itself benefited from the extra tourism and visitors, some were unhappy with the extra traffic and noise. Her landlord eventually refused to renew her lease, prompting Leek to move away from the area and emigrate to the United States of America.
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When Leek moved to America, she became an astrologer, describing astrology as her "first love". In April 1964, an American publishing house wanted Sybil to speak about her new book A Shop in the High Street, and she was invited to appear on "To Tell the Truth" a TV programme in the States; her appearance occurred on April 13, 1964. She took the opportunity to go, and flew to New York City, where she gave many interviews. While in New York, she was contacted by Hans Holzer, a parapsychologist, who invited her to join him investigating hauntings and psychic phenomena. They went on to do numerous TV and radio programmes on the subject. She would later move to Los Angeles, where she met Israel Regardie, an authority on Kabbalah and ritual magic.
Strong in the defence of her beliefs, Sybil sometimes differed and even quarrelled with other witches. She disapproved of nudity in rituals, a requirement in some traditions, and was strongly against the use of drugs, but she was at odds with most other witches in that she did believe in cursing.
Her student Christine Jones admitted that Leek "mixed truths with untruths liberally, causing great harm as she went."
She died of cancer Tuesday, 26 October, 1982 at the Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, FL.
Leek, Sybil, Diary of a Witch (Prentice-Hall, 1968).
- "BBC Inside Out - Sybil Leek; White witch". bbc.co.uk. 28 October 2002.
- Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Judika Iles, p746
- "The G-T Big 4: To Tell the Truth (CBS Nighttime)". kinescopes.com.
- Jones 2010, p. 121.
- Bramshaw, Vikki. Craft of the Wise: A Practical Guide to Paganism & Witchcraft. ISBN 1-84694-232-2.
- Jones, Christine. Sybil Leek: Out of the Shadows. ISBN 978-0-9827263-6-5.
- The Raveness. Molly, Sybil and Crowley a popular poem from her book Lavinia : Volume one. (2006) ISBN 978-1-5023139-6-6.
- Sybil Leek at Find a Grave
- Sybil Leek Memorial Page
- Lovestarz.com article on Sybil Leek
- BBC article on Sybil Leek
- controverscial.com article on Sybil Leek
- A Biographical Sketch of a Friend & Acquaintance of Aleister Crowley