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Wiccan Tradition

Alex Sanders

Tradition Name
Alexandrian Tradition
Founder Name
Alex Sanders
Date Founded
1960 (approx)
Lineage
[information not yet entered]
Date Disbanded
N/A
Type
British Traditional Wicca
Country
Britian


The Alexandrian Tradition was founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders in the 1960s. The name is taken from the library at Alexandria, which is considered to be the first of it's kind- a repositary of knowledge from all over the world. Sanders claimed that he was originally initiated by his grandmother, who was a cunning healer, and that his practice was therefore hereditory, with links to the "witch cult of Europe" that the author Margaret Murray invented. Maxine Sanders also maintained that although Sanders was later initiated into Wicca, he was indeed taught a form of witchcraft by his grandmother when he was young. She describes Mrs Bibby as an austere lady, wise in folklore, who taught her grandson magic with his mother's knowledge and permission. According to the accounts by his ex-wife Maxine Sanders, he was a member of at least two covens before marrying Maxine and founding the Alexandrian "London Coven", from which many modern Alexandrians descend. It is known that he was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca in 1963, before establishing his own tradition.

Alex Sanders was introduced to esoteric ideas from a young age, and went on to study ceremonial magic. As a result, this tradition has many influences drawn from ceremonial magic. It is very similar to the Gardnerian tradition.

Alexandrian Wicca is one of the British Traditional Witchcraft traditions- a group of related wiccan traditions that share a common initiatory history, often tracing back to Gerald Gardner.

Initiatory SystemEdit

Alexandrians stress the importance of initiation, and that in order to become wiccan, one must complete this vital rite of passage. The early initiates of the Sanders' referred to themselves simply as "the Wicca", or witches. The name of the Sanders' particular lineage was later codified in the early 1970s. The Alexandrian tradition has been both fortunate and unfortunate enough to be one of the most, if not the most, documented wiccan tradition to date. Naturally many misconceptions have arisen about the Alexandrian tradition.

Neophyte/DedicantEdit

Prior to becoming a neophyte or dedicant, the existing coven members would have identified the person as a good fit with their group and would have subtly interviewed the prospective member through inviting him/her to open rituals or other casual gatherings. Then the official offer to join the coven would be made and, if accepted, the member would become a neophyte in order to start studying without being bound by oaths to the group. This initial phase may last a year or longer, depending on the person. This exposes the candidates to the tradition and to the close family bond, which is the heart of a coven. It also allows both the candidate and the coven elders to decide if the vocational calling is there as well as the necessary interpersonal dynamics. The tradition is matrifocal. The high priestess is considered "first among equals" and holds the final word in all coven matters. Once deemed ready by the high priestess, the neophyte will now have the option to undertake the first degree of initiation and make a more serious commitment to the path. In preparation and training for our entry into the priesthood, the initiate must show a dedication to learn and commit to the knowledge of the craft and have a great desire to learn the ways of the goddess. As a priest or priestess, it will be our sworn duty to keep the knowledge and rituals of our craft, to pass them on to those who are worthy, and to manifest the gods in our lives. For the gods need us just as we need them, and the craft itself must grow.

First DegreeEdit

To become an Alexandrian initiate one must be initiated by a properly prepared and authorized Alexandrian High priestess or priest in a cross-gendered Initiation. Traditional initiatory rites must be used without subtraction, as passed through each lineage from the original Alexandrian coven. It is not possible to "self-initiate" into Alexandrian Wicca. A first-degree initiate is a priest or priestess of the tradition; a second-degree initiate is a high priest or priestess of the tradition and a coven elder. The third degree is often reserved for coven leaders. The time between each degree can vary greatly from one lineage to another, and depends upon each line's and coven's focus and views on the initiatory and training experience. In the Alexandrian tradition, one progresses through the degrees not through time in grade, but through growth within oneself and the gods. Before he/she can be initiated, the coven must vote. A single "no" vote is sufficient to not allow the candidate to be initiated into that particular coven.

It is common that the initiate goes through the trials of the elements. Each initiation draws the seeker deeper into the mysteries. The mysteries, being non-rational, are also experiential: each ritual takes the initiate through a process by which they come to understand on a deep level the nature of the mysteries as reflected and manifest in their lives. Initiation also gives a framework, both symbolic and metaphysical, by which to understand the internal transformative processes which we will undergo. The ritual, and the training given before and after it, give the initiate a framework by which to structure and understand what is happening to them. Candidates for initiation should be in good mental and physical health. They should also be of legal age, and sought out the craft of their own free will.

Traditionally, the word of the high priest/ess is law within the coven, although the authority of coven leaders does not extend beyond craft matters. It has been called a benevolent dictatorship by some. Traditionally, the high priest and high priestess co-lead the coven. Initiatory lineage is traced cross-gendered (female to male to female etc.) back to the late Alex Sanders and his high priestesses, such as Maxine. While lineage is not oath-bound within the tradition, it is not a matter of public record either, and is often considered "private".

Shortly after the initiation, each initiate begins to copy the book of shadows out of his or her initiator's handwritten book. It is considered the responsibility of each initiator to pass on the tradition, both written and oral lore, as it was passed onto them with no omissions. In this way, the continuity of our heritage is ensured.

Second DegreeEdit

A second-degree initiate can hive, form a new coven, and may initiate up to his or her own degree in most lines, with the permission of their elders. Second-degree high priest/ess-led covens are under the supervision and authority of the HPS and HP of the mother coven until they are deemed ready to take the third degree. The amount of autonomy a second degree elder has varied from line to line. A third degree high priest/ess is completely autonomous in our tradition, answering only to the gods and the tradition as a whole. Autonomy does not mean lack of accountability. A second-degree initiate can initiate a member up to his/her degree.

Third DegreeEdit

This is the final stage of initiation. A third-degree initiate is referred to as a high priestess or high priest. They may leave to form new covens of their own and initiate anyone up to their level.

Deities and RitualsEdit

Alexandrians are similar to Gardnerians. Alexandrians also have emphasis upon ceremonial magic which could be called "high magic". Most of the book of shadows, its liturgies and other material, are nearly identical for both Gardnerians and Alexandrians. Some poetic versions of specific liturgical rites are missing, and so is the "ardanes", AKA "the laws of witchcraft". Both traditions practice their rites skyclad, perform the Great Rite and Drawing Down the Moon, and celebrate a communion rite of cakes and wine. Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches is considered to be one of a few important sacred books. According to Ronald Hutton, in his book Triumph of the Moon, many of the differences between Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca have blurred over the past few decades. It is not uncommon to find someone who is degreed in both systems, or to find a coven of one tradition that accepts a member that is degreed in the other system.

Alexandrian Wicca, in similarity with other traditional wiccan practices, emphasizes gender polarity. This emphasis can be seen in the sabbat rituals, which focus upon the relationship between the wiccan goddess and god. In the traditional craft, the goddess is the central figure; she is the goddess that is all goddesses. As the goddess is to all women, so the god is to all men. He is the god who is all gods. Traditionally, Alexandrians work with and worship the old gods of Europe, primarily focusing upon our lady of the moon and her consort, the horned one. The gods are not jealous, and Alexandrian initiates may work with other deities on a personal or group basis as well.

Where Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions depart from each other is the obvious incorporation of the Golden Dawn corpus of the Adeptus Minor. It would seem that some of the Alexandrians were required to learn and master the Golden Dawn magical rituals, although this is no longer emphasized. This was required of some initiates in order to receive a second-degree initiation, and it may have an important part of the tradition back in the 1970s. It is still practised today in some covens. It requires taking or either perfectly memoring or rewriting variations of the six most basic rituals taught in the four elemental degrees of the Golden Dawn, and particularly, the rituals taught in the beginning adept grade. Those six rituals are as follows: Lesser Banishing and Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram, Qabalistic Cross, Middle Pillar, Superior Pentagram Ritual, Lesser and Superior Hexagram Ritual, and the sixth and final Rose Cross Ritual.

Alexandrian Wicca celebrate the eight sabbats of the wheel of the year. They also meet for esbats on the full moon for love feast, healing work, psychic training, and celebration of the lady, and other coven activities. Contrary to popular belief, Alexandrians do not work with the cycles of the Oak and Holly Kings as written by the Farrars for their book Eight Sabbats For Witches. While individual covens and witches may decide to work the rituals, the Oak King/Holly King cycle is not a part of the Alexandrian Tradition, nor derived from it in any but the most superficial way. The Farrars themselves make this very clear in their book, yet that misinformation still persists.

Handfastings, also known as weddings, are also performed.

Ritual ObjectsEdit

Before the ritual objects are used, they must first be consecrated. The book of shadows states that items must be consecrated inside of a magic circle, and in the center lies a paten. Each item that is to be consecrated is in turn placed upon the paten, sprinkled with salt and water, and then passed through incense. This is followed by a specific declaration. Magical tools should not be used for any purpose other than ritual work.

Athame - Witches own one or more ritual knives. These are commonly known as "athames" in Wicca. As with all ritual objects, the athame is a very personal magical item- one which is personal. Wiccans take some care in obtaining and picking these out. It should fit well and comfortably in the user's hand. The athame can be used to cast the magic circle, call the "quarters" or elements, and is part of many opening rituals, handfasting (wedding), and initiation rites. It is associated with the element of fire, and with the cardinal direction south. It is customary to receive the athame as a gift.

Prominant MembersEdit

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