Gleb Botkin and the Church of Aphrodite


  • Dmitry Galtsin Library of Russian Academy of Science



Church of Aphrodite, Gleb Botkin, Paganism


The Church of Aphrodite was the first Pagan religious group officially recognized as a religion by a modern state. The Church of Aphrodite was incorporated in the United States in 1939, headed by Gleb Botkin, son of the physician of the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II. Gleb Botkin emigrated to America after the Revolution in Russia, and in the 1920–1930s created a religious and philosophical system, which finally was embodied in his church. The church didn’t survive its founder and vanished after Botkin’s death in 1969. Besides Botkin’s printed works the author makes use of Botkin’s letters to Philip Proctor (1944–1963) to reconstruct the theology of his church and his life as its Arch-Priest. Ironically, Botkin did not want to revive or create Paganism: he viewed his “true” and timeless religion, based on “the laws of the cosmos,” as separate both from world religions with their “distorted” teachings, and from the Pagan element, no matter, whether that of the ancient or the modern world.

Author Biography

  • Dmitry Galtsin, Library of Russian Academy of Science
    Dmitry Galtsin is a Researcher in the Rare Books Department, Library of Russian Academy of Science, Saint-Petersburg, Russia.


Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. New York: Viking Press, 1978.

Botkin, Gleb. “An American in the Making,” The North American Review 229, no. 1 (1930): 23–29.

Botkin, Gleb. Baron’s Fancy. New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1930.

Botkin, Gleb.The Czar of Shadowland, The North American Review, Vol. 229, No. 5 (May, 1930), 536-543.

Botkin, Gleb. The Fire Bird: An Interpretation of Russia. NEW YORK: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1940.

Botkin, Gleb. The God Who Didn’t Laugh. New York: Payson & Clarke Ltd., 1929.

Botkin, Gleb. Her Wanton Majesty. New York: The Macaulay Company, 1933.

Botkin, Gleb. The Immortal Woman. New York: The Macaulay Company, 1933.

Botkin, Gleb. In Search of Reality. Charlottesville, Va.: Church of Aphrodite, n.d.

Botkin, Gleb. “This Is Anastasia.” The North American Review, 29, no. 2 (1930): 193–99. Botkin, Gleb. Marianna. New York: Longmans, Green, 1931.

Botkina, Tatyana Evgenyevna. “Vospominaniya o tsarskoi semye (The memories of the royal family)”. In Tsarskiy leyb-medik: Zhizn’ i podvig Evgeniya Botkina (Czar’s Physician: life and heroism of Evgeny Botkin). Saint-Petersburg: Tsarskoye Delo, 2010.

Chase, Christopher W., Approaching the Sacred Grove: The Orphic Impulse in Pagan Religious Music PhD diss. Michigan State University, 2009.

“Church of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, Is Chartered in New York.” Life, December4, 1939.

Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press 2006.

Dunwich, Gerina. The Wicca Book of Days: Legend and Lore for Every Day of the Year. Secaucus: The Citadel Press, 1998.

Hubbard, Kim, and Jane Sims Podesta. “Tsar Wars: Gleb Botkin’s Martial Fairy Tales, Drawn to Enchant the Doomed Children of Nicholas II, Resurface In Virginia.” People, June 16, 1997.

Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Johnson, Marguerit, “Drawing Down the Goddess: The Ancient Female Deities of Modern Paganism.” In The Handbook of Contemporary Paganism, edited by Murphy Pizza and James R. Lewis, 311–35. Leiden: Brill.

Kurth, Peter. Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson. Boston: Little, Brown, 1983.

Moore, Oliver. “Founder Tells of Church.” Richmond Times-Dispatch, April, 12, 1965.

Proctor, Philip. Correspondence with Anna Anderson and Gleb Botkin. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University: Folders 3 (1944–1947); 4 (1948–1956); 5 (1957); 7 (1959–1960); 8 (1961); 9 (1962); 10 (1963).

Waldron, David. Sign of the Witch: Modernity and the Pagan Revival. Durham, S.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2008.






How to Cite

Galtsin, D. (2013). Gleb Botkin and the Church of Aphrodite. Pomegranate, 14(1), 91-107.