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Sergeant Howie—R.I.P.

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on November 16, 2009 | Comments (0)

SgtHowie

This has been a year with numerous losses to our community. Not long ago, Ted Andrews, author of such popular and well-respected books as Animal Speak, left this world for the next one. Now, I am sad to report the death of actor Edward Woodward (June 1, 1930–November 16, 2009).

Woodward began his career as a Shakespearean actor, performed in films such as Breaker Morant, Becket, and Hot Fuzz, and starred on television in the long-running British spy show, Callan, and in the U.S. show, The Equalizer.

But for magickally-oriented people, the movie he’ll be most known for is the original 1973 film, The Wicker Man.

In the film, he plays a contemporary, straight-laced Scottish police officer, the almost fanatically Christian Sergeant Neil Howie. He is summoned by a mysterious letter to visit a distant Scottish island, Summerisle, to find a missing girl. He flies in a small plane to the island and begins his investigation, constantly stymied by recalcitrant locals, who give misleading answers and tell him to go away before a coming festival. It turns out that society on the island has given up modern ways and returned to completely Pagan beliefs, honoring the old deities and the old ways.

I remember the first time I saw it after standing in a long line (where people primarily wore black clothes with silver jewelry) outside an art theater in San Diego. Many people were—and still are—shocked at the ending. Sadly, the film has been cut several times and I own four different edits of the film (not counting the horrible remake in 2006 that starred Nick Cage). If you are interested in what Pagan life in a Pagan village today might be like, this film is well-worth seeing.

My friend, the late Ellen Cannon Reed (1943–2003), creator of The Witches Tarot (with artist Martin Cannon [unrelated], who also created the cover for my Modern Magick and the original cover for Modern Sex Magick) bought a button-making machine and had a sideline of selling Pagan-oriented pin-backed buttons. One of them read, “Save Sergeant Howie.”

Ellen is dearly missed by so many of her friends, fans, and loved ones. And now, the original “Sergeant Howie” is gone, too. Peace to them both.

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