Edmund “Eddie” Buczynski (Jan 28th, 1947 - March 16, 1989) was a prominent American Wiccan, archivist, writer, and archeologist who found the Minoan Brother, a sect of Paganism for queer men in the 1970’s.
Edmund “Eddie” Buczynski was born into a working-class family in Brooklyn, New York. His mother was a 2nd generation Italian American and his father a 2nd generation Polish American. Buczynski's family was deeply Catholic but at an early age, the pre-Christian religions of ancient Greece and Egypt served as points of interest for Buczynski. He had an early interest in becoming a Catholic priest like an uncle of his but this was eventually abandoned as he began to embrace his sexuality and the community he found after moving to Greenwich Village in 1964.
Entrance into Wicca
While living in Greenwich Village Buczynski would go on to explore his interest in the growing Pagan religion and would eventually meet and become the partner of Herman Slater, a well-known activist and author in the queer pagan community, and together they would open The Warlock Shop, an occult bookshop and meeting palace for the growing pagan community in New York. Buczynski attempted to join several covens and religious traditions within Wicca but was turned down due to his sexuality by most of these organizations. He joined the New England Coven of Traditionalist Witches, becoming High Priest of this group but was eventually expelled from the coven due to his sexuality and the refusal of the advances of Gwen Thompson, matriarch to the Coven. Spurred on by the lack of a welcoming tradition within Wicca. Buczynski created the Welsh Traditionalist witchcraft sect, one of the first groups open and welcoming to the LGBTQ community as well as non-Caucasian practitioners. This new tradition centered itself around Welsh mythology and incorporated parts of the Arthurian mythic cycles. Much of the coven's day-to-day operations happened out of Buczynski and Slater's Occult bookshop. Buczynski and the Welkish Traditionalist Witchcraft coven would eventually join CORE, The Council of Earth Religions, a pan-pagan collection of religious organizations focused on preserving the rights and freedoms. A strained relationship with Slater due to infidelity from both partners led to the dissolution of their occult bookshop and the covens that were housed there dissolved shortly after that. Over the following years, Buczynski would take an interest in many sects of Pagan religion and would eventually be initiated into the Church of the Eternal Source as well as the Gardnerian Tradition, which he would be a high priest in until the founding of the Minoan Brotherhood.
By 1975 Buczynski had become increasingly dissatisfied with Gardnerian Wicca and other contemporary sects of Pagan spirituality due to their focus on male and female couples and a sense of feeling excluded entirely or being treated as a second-class citizen in these circles, with many explicitly creating their ritualistic practices in a way that meant gay men could not participate in them due to their explicitly heterosexual framework. The previous research into pre-Christian religions in Europe into the Middle East showed him that historically, there were cults entirely made up of a queer priesthood, an example of this in the Minoan Culture of late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Crete were of particular interest to Buczynski. This research would later go on to be the foundation for the Minoan Brotherhood, a sect of neopaganism that was meant exclusively for gay men and where sexuality was central to their religious identity and practices. The sect sees itself as a modern interpretation of a mystery cult where much of the information about the group's inner workings is intended for initiates only. On the creation of the group Buczynski said the following:
"I decided that, in order to find fulfillment in my religious beliefs, I must find a pagan cult that would welcome me as I am – a proud gay man. I began to research ancient religions involving the worship of the Mother Goddess ... All I needed now was to find a place in which I could function openly and freely as myself. Most of the pagan Mother Goddess cults of antiquity were overtly tolerant of homosexuals; most had a homosexual priesthood. But none seemed quite right. I continued my search. In 1973 I discovered the answer on an island in the Mediterranean: Crete." (1977)
What is known about the beliefs of the sect is that The Cretan Snake Goddess Rhea and her son, the Minoan Bull God was the central deities worshipped and the admission to the sect was restricted to men, queer men. The sect adopted the traditional Wiccan Sabbat holidays but they were adjusted to be more like the traditional holidays of the pre-Christian Mediterranean religions. Many considered this to be the first modern religious sect that was meant to be a priesthood exclusively for queer men.
Later Years and Death
Buczynski would go on to turn his fascination with the pre-Christian societies of the Mediterranean into a career in academia. Beginning in 1980, Buczynski pursued a bachelor's in Classics and Ancient History from Hunter College and would go to different archaeology sites several times a year to participate in the archaeological research done there. He would go on to pursue postgraduate studies at Bryn Mar College. Many of the activities of the Minoan Brotherhood were halted or slowed due to the HIV/AID epidemic that was sweeping through its members. Buczynski himself began exhibiting symptoms as early as 1986 but refused to get tested but would eventually be formally diagnosed with AIDS in November of 1987 while in hospital with a severe case of pneumonia. Buczynski became Ill with the toxoplasma gondii parasite in 1989. Shortly before his death, he was given the confession of reconciliation with the Catholic Church. He died from complications relating to AIDS/HIV on March 16th, 1989. Eddie Buczynski was declared a Saint of Antinous in 2014, by the Temple of Antinous, a Wiccan group that was founded around many of Buczynski's beliefs.
(This biographical statement written by Brandon Luepkes from these sources: Lloyd, Michael G. (2012). Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan. Hubbarston, Mass.: Asphodel Press; and Doyle White, Ethan (2016). Wicca: History, Belief, and Community in Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Brighton, Chicago, and Toronto: Sussex Academic Press.)
Biography Date: June 2021
Neo-Pagan | WICCAN | New York City | New York | Author/editor | Minoan Brotherhood
“Eddie Buczynski | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed December 09, 2022, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/eddie-buczynski.
“Eddie died before I was old enough to remember him, but he was my grandmother's cousin (my 1st cousin twice removed) and I’ve heard interesting stories of his life! Rumor had it he was on the Dick Cavett show but I can’t seem to find a recording of that.”
– as remembered by Dominique DeFrancisci on May 24, 2022
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