How to approach a Coven

As a training coven, we regularly get approached by prospective seekers in search of the magic of Witchcraft and the touch of the Goddess. We understand that to discover a coven in the city of residence might be an exciting prospect, and we welcome all sincere seekers that feel they have vocation for the Priesthood of Alexandrian Witchcraft to make contact. That being said, to ask in your first email where for the physical address of where our coven meets because you ‘are thinking about joining’ will however probably not get you very far. In traditional Wicca we adhere to the old Craft laws and we do not reveal where the physical covenstead is to anyone but the witches who are part of it. Neither do we reveal who the witches are in our coven.It seems necessary to perhaps give some guidance into what we look for and what the best ways are to approach a coven when seeking initiation into the Craft.

Initiation into Alexandrian Witchcraft is a life altering experience that is a culmination of seeking, thorough research and utter vocation on the part of the seeker. If you are to approach a coven, make sure you know whether they are eclectic or traditional. It is up to you to find out and research what that means. An email that reads ‘Tell me more about your coven’ , will not be getting you the response you are looking for. Chances are that we will rather be asking you as a seeker what YOU know about the Craft and our tradition. There is ample information on our pages About the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft, The Derby Coven in Johannesburg .There is a thorough reading list on the page Recommended Reading for Seekers and Priesthood. This material is enough to give you a good understanding of what we are about and an idea of whether initiation into our Craft is truly what you are looking for. If you still feel the same, by all means make contact.

As a coven there are three qualities we look at when approached by a seeker. They are vocation, dedication and appreciation and consciousness of beauty. We therefore would appreciate a well structured and formal communication, which clearly states who you are, and why you are interested in our coven and the Alexandrian Tradition. In this way, we can enter into a discussion, and you will be also be better informed about pursuing a path that will change your life forever.

Blessings

RF

Recommended Reading for Seekers and Priesthood

We regularly get asked what we recommend seekers to read. Here is a selection enjoyed and recommended by the Derby Coven

1. What Witches Do- Stewart Farrar

2. Fire Child -Maxine Sanders

3. A Coin For The Ferryman- Jimahl Di Fiosa

4. A Voice in the Forest- Jimahl Di Fiosa

5. The Alex Sanders Lectures -Sanders

6. Anything and Everything by Dion Fortune, but especially ‘Sea Priestess’, ‘Moon Magic’ and ‘The Mystical Qabalah’

7. King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders- June Johns

8. Maxine: Witch Queen- Maxine Sanders

9 . A Spark in the Void- Apawaae

10. The Book of Law- Daniel McDonald

11. The Seedbearers Trilogy- Peter Valentine Timlett

12. Initiation into Witchcraft- Brian Cain

13. The Ecstatic Mother: Portrait of Maxine Sanders- Richard Deutch

14. Born to be King (previously published as the Alex Sanders Notebook)

And for traditional Wicca in general

1. Witchcraft Today- Gerald Gardner

2. The Rebirth of Witchcraft- Valiente

3. Lid off the Cauldron- Patricia Crowther

5. Modern Wicca- Michael Howard

6. The Witch Cult in Western Europe- Murray

7. God of the Witches- Murray

8. Doreen Valiente:Witch- Philip Heselton

9. Aradia: The Gospel of the Witches- Leland

10. Wicca: Magickal Beginnings- de’Este & Rankine

11. Doreen Valiente: Witch- Heselton

12. High Priestess: The Life and Times Of Patricia Crowther.

13. Dancing With Witches- Lois Bourne

14. Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide -Thorn Mooney

15. Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration-Philip Heselton

16. Wiccan Roots- Philip Heselton

Occult and Magic

1. Dion Fortune

2. W.E. Butler

3. William G. Gray

4. Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki

5. David Goddard

6. Israel Regardie

7. J.H Brennan

8.Stephen Skinner

9. Agrippa

Bright Blessings

The Sabbats,Celebration, and the Pillar of Silence

circls

This time of the year in Johannesburg is delightful. With the sweltering heat subsiding into the crisp coolness of autumn, the air crackles with Witch magic. We have just experienced the major festival of Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere. This festival is arguably the festival that receives the most PR and attention of the modern Witchcraft and Pagan movement. It is understandable, as we as a modern culture have lost most of the spiritual and religious customs concerning Death and dying. There is of course the widely celebrated Halloween in the Northern Hemisphere, however it does not coincide with the Witch festival in April here down south.

I received a rather interesting email just before this year’s celebrations. The gentleman asked me whether the Derby Coven, and therefore Alexandrian witches no longer celebrate the Sabbats. This question apparently came about due to the fact that there are never any photographs of our celebrations and altars on social media outlets like Facebook or Instagram.

As aspects of the Craft seemed to become more open in the 1970’s and 80’s, a public exoteric form of modern Paganism developed, inspired by what was available in published sources. The Craft festival names and celebrations were adopted into this new movement. This culminated in a massive growth globally in what was to become the modern Pagan Witchcraft movement. You now find covens and groups from various traditions and movements all over the world that have Instagram accounts and Facebook pages on which they share their altars, photos from their events and , somewhat bizarrely to this writer, photographs taken during their rites. I realize that setting up and photographing of altars could be inspiring and beautiful to some. In our coven , they are certainly so, but our altars and ritual spaces are meant for the inspiration and preparation of consciousness of our own witches.

I would not dare to speak for Alexandrian witches as a whole, but what I can say is that most initiates I know, keep their altars and works private. You would therefore rarely, if ever, see photographs depicting our true rites. Do we celebrate and experience the Sabbats? Absolutely we do! All of them.

Every single festival carries a core mystery to be pierced, experienced and celebrated. Besides being utterly magical and spiritually inspiring, it will trigger realizations on many different levels for the Witch. They are also outright joyful, and so it should be.

There is also an old Craft law that states that no one shall know who the members of your Coven are. This could be argued to be only a remnant of the times of persecution. There might be more to it than that after all, but that I will leave as a post for another day.

Knowledge, Courage, Volition and Silence are the Pillars of the Temple. Each one is encountered and internalized on the path of the Initiate. Silence however, is one of the most important to learn and yet often one of the most eluding. Silence is might. It is the pillar of silence which transforms “secret” into what it truly should be in it’s higher aspect; sacred. That which is held in a state of dedication and consecration.

Now, it could be easily argued that Alex and Maxine Sanders permitted photographs to be taken of their rites. A Google search could easily lead to that conclusion, however this would be misleading . What is not commonly known, is that most, if not all of these rites were staged specifically for those photographs and films, and many of us carry on in this manner.

I enjoy seeing and adoring beauty, whether that be in a beautiful natural setting, a work of art, a piece of music, or for that matter, a beautifully prepared and devoted altar. We in Derby and many other Alexandrian witches just prefer to keep ours sacred and therefore- unpublished.

#traditionalwicca #alexandrianwitchcraft

The Derby Coven in Johannesburg

The Derby Coven is the first Traditional Alexandrian Witchcraft Coven to be formed in South Africa. We facilitate Initiation and training as was done in the original Alexandrian Covens in England, headed by Alex and Maxine Sanders (The London Coven and the Temple of the Mother and the later groups).

The Priest who formed the Derby Coven was duly initiated, consecrated and dedicated to the works of Witchcraft in Boston, USA, where he also received formal training within the circle.

The Coven is currently considering those who feel they have vocation and dedication for the Alexandrian Priesthood , to be considered for initiation into the mysteries and subsequent training in the Traditional Wicca,and the Art Magical. Please contact for details about the application process.

As a training coven, we meet weekly for training and working circles, as well as the eight Seasonal Sabbats, connecting us with the rhythm and forces of the cosmos, and the inner mystery aspects of the Craft of the Wise. We also are dedicated to the study of Hermetic pathworking, the Ceremonial Magical Arts, Qabalah and the Pauline Art of Angelic Magic.

Please refer to the page ‘Requesting Initiation ‘ for more information .

Contact:

johannesburgcoven@gmail.com

About the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft

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Photo by Karagan Griffith- Original Chalice of both The London Coven and Temple of the Mother (center). Alex Sanders’s Kingship crown (left), Maxine Sander’s priestess necklace.

Alexandrian Wicca, more frequently referred to as Alexandrian Witchcraft, is a tradition of the religion of Witchcraft and forms part of the traditions now collectively known as British Traditional Witchcraft. It was founded by Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine Sanders, and they established the movement in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. Although the Alexandrian Tradition shares similarities with Gardnerian Wicca due to their common origins, it is regarded as a unique lineage of modern Witchcraft.  The tradition receives regular mention in books on Wicca as one of the religion’s most widely recognized traditions.

==Origins and history==

The Alexandrian Tradition has its origins in Gardnerian Wicca. At the time of its development however, the idea of distinction between traditions was not yet common, and the movement was simply referred to “The Old Religion”, or “The Wica”.

Alex Sanders, was initiated into the Gardnerian Tradition in 1963 by a Derbyshire witch named Medea. He later became known as “King of the Witches”, which was a magical and functional title bestowed upon him by the members of his covens at the time.  According to Maxine Sanders, by the time she was initiated, Alex was a member of at least two covens. In 1964, Maxine Sanders was initiated into Alex Sander’s Manchester coven, eventually becoming the High Priestess . At that point however, Alexandrian Craft had not yet come into being, but that it only distinctly developed in the Sander’s later London Coven.

In 1967, the Sanders’s accepted employment in London, moving into a basement apartment in Clanricarde Gardens, Nottinghill Gate. It is at this point that the tradition really took form, and where the ‘London Coven’, the first training coven in modern Witchcraft, came into being. The London Coven is also noteworthy, as it is in this coven that well known witch Stewart Farrar wrote the book “What Witches Do”. This book was a unique look at the practices of the London coven, and the first of its kind at the time. Farrar also played a role in the naming of the tradition. Although the witches that were initiated by the Sander’s were at times referred to as ‘Alexandrian’ especially by initiates of other traditions, the official reference to the Sanders’s lineage as Alexandrian Witchcraft came near the time of publication of “What Witches Do”.  Maxine recalls that Stewart did not yet have a designation of what ‘type’ of witches they were. In a meeting between her, Alex and Farrar, he asked what he could call the witches initiated by them.  Thus far, Maxine and Alex were happy to be called witches. ‘Alexandrian’ is what was then settled on by the three of them.

In 1973, the Sanders’s separated, Maxine continuing in London, and Alex moving to Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex. The initiates of the London coven were given the option whether they wanted to remain in London or continue on to the Bexhill Coven. Both Alex and Maxine continued their work in the Craft and the Alexandrian Tradition respectively. Alex however also later developed work with a man named Derek Taylor in their magickal order known as The Ordine Della Luna and Nova. This order, and the others that stemmed from it however, are not considered part of the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft today but a different magical order with different objectives.

Another noteworthy coven in the history and development of Alexandrian Craft is the ‘Temple of The Mother’, which was a coven that Maxine Sanders ran with her High Priest at the time. In Temple of the Mother, Maxine continued to develop the work of the Alexandrian Tradition, and many well known witches today were members of and trained in this coven. It has also been noted that many are of the opinion that the ritualistic and ceremonial hallmarks of Alexandrian Witchcraft was honed and solidified as working system in the Temple of the Mother.

==Practices & Beliefs==

The Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft is a fertility based mystery religion , and its inner workings and practices are taught to initiates only. The tradition, compared to others, is not necessarily as secretive, but inner workings are considered sacred, and therefore private to those who are initiated into the tradition. The tradition shares some aspects with other forms of traditional Wicca, for instance the Wheel of the year, initiation and degree structure and the importance of gender polarity in its workings. There are however key differences between the traditions in practice and philosophy.

Traditionally Alexandrians pay homage to the Ancient Gods of Europe – the Goddess of the Moon and the Horned God. Similar to other traditions, the exact names of the Gods in the tradition are kept private and are known only amongst initiates. The Priesthood of the tradition seeks a personal connection and understanding of Divinity and the ancestors, but also, through the rhythms and tides of nature and, ultimately the inner rhythms of the Cosmos, and the unfolding and development of the initiate and witch. Alexandrian witches believe in the power of magick and the use of both traditional and innovative techniques to achieve its objectives.

Alexandrian covens do at times work Skyclad, especially for specific ceremonies, and when the magick calls for it, however robes are also used.

==Training==

Proper, systematic and complete training is a strong component in the Alexandrian tradition and has been emphasized from its inception.

Training within the Alexandrian Tradition, which includes both the oral lore and practical work commences after initiation and the time frame between the first and higher degrees are usually a minimum of 2 years, but at times longer.

==Ranks and degrees==

The Alexandrian Tradition shares with other traditional Wiccan systems the belief that “only a witch can make another witch”. The process through which an individual is made a witch is called initiation.

There are “degrees”  of initiation and are known as First, Second, and Third degree.  Maxine Sanders has also called the First degree, initiation into the mysteries; the second degree, penetration of those mysteries; and the third as a celebration. There are no intermediaries in traditional Wicca between the initiate and the Gods and every initiate is a Priest or Priestess unto him or herself. A third degree initiate is referred to as a “High Priestess” or “High Priest”, and they are usually, but not always, the leaders of the coven.

In the Alexandrian Tradition, the Second and Third degree are given together, and not separately, as in other traditions. Historically there have been exceptions, which was truly the exception rather than the norm. One of the notable exceptions was the initiation of Janet and Stewart Farrar. There has been some recent dispute whether this has always been the practice in the tradition, but evidence shows that this was indeed the case from the beginning. In an interview with Sanders in 1970, which appears in a later version of “What Witches Do”, Alex Sanders clearly states the following:

“The First Grade makes you a Witch. Second grade enables you to break away and form a coven of your own. The Third grade isn’t really a grade, it is a ceremony, and it has to be taken at the same time as the Second”

Initiation in the Alexandrian Tradition is passed between individuals of the opposite gender, and same sex initiation is not considered valid traditional Alexandrian practice. >

==Relationship to other Traditions ==

It is known that many initiates of the Alexandrian Tradition also choose to train in various aspects of magic and occultism, such as Hermetics, The Sacred Magic of the Angels, Qabala, and other aspects of the Western Mystery Tradition. Alexandrian Witches generally tend to consider themselves as Priesthood of Witchcraft as well as Occultists.

It has been commonly observed that Alexandrian practices are as a whole, more ceremonial compared to other traditions.

Beauty in the spoken word

mouth flower

‘Mouth of Flower’ by Merixon

Witchcraft teaches us consciousness. This ‘consciousness’ comes about in various areas of being, and on various levels. One often overlooked area, is in the way we speak. As initiates we try to be as conscious as we can, of the words coming out of our mouths. Words have power. It can change things. It can affect things.

As a seeker of the Alexandrian Tradition, a good place to start this awareness is in the way we communicate with each other or the Priesthood, whether in person or online. When we are communicating with each other in these instances, we are not a group of friends, neither are we on a socializing ‘witchy group’ spending our time posting memes…

In these instances we are entering a mindset which is set apart from the normal mundane world. We are entering with a mindset of being prospective initiates of the Craft of the wise, or at least out of curiosity. Curiosity is perfectly fine and acceptable, as long as with respect and good manners are remembered.

When we contact one of the Priesthood, it should be treated as a formal communication. A “howzit”; “whats up dude?’’, ‘Oi’, is not regarded as formal communication. The initiate will usually not correct this person, as it would be equally disrespectful to do so, but would rather reply in a dignified manner, hoping that the individual would take cue. Consciousness of the fact that one is working toward initiation, or at least better understanding of the Craft should always be present in communication. A standard ‘Hello’ or ‘Greetings’, is perfectly acceptable, followed by “Brightest Blessings” or if not that “Kind Regards”. This is especially important to keep in mind in written communication to initiates, for example a letter of request for initiation.

Initiates will NOT use ‘Blessed Be’ as a greeting with non initiates, as this is a special meaningful greeting and acknowledgment between initiates, stemming from a moment in the rite of initiation, that all initiates would have gone through.

In a world where very few things are held sacred, and manners are no longer held important, a consciousness of the way we interact and speak to others, might be a refreshing awareness for many, which might even enhance your life in the mundane.

In closing, I am reminded of those 3 qualities looked for in potential initiates, so often mentioned ; Vocation, Dedication and a sense for Beauty in all  things.

 

Brightest Blessings

Ruan

Training in The Derby Coven

The following is a piece written on training specifically within the Derby Coven.

Training within the Derby Coven follows along the same concepts, practices and philosophies as that of the London Coven and the later Temple of the Mother in London, United Kingdom, which were headed by Alex and Maxine Sanders.

An initiate is expected to master amongst other things, the following after the First degree initiation:

~Copying the Book of Shadows by hand ,which is traditionally only allowed for an hour at a time;

~Developing and using the Golden Cross of Equilibrium (not to be confused with the ‘gold cross’ as that term is used in other traditions and orders);

~Making contact with the Altar;

~Working in unison with the other witches in the circle;

~Casting the circle;

~Invoking the Quarter Lords;

~Consecrations;

~Invocations;

~Drawing, sensing and feeling energy;

~Various methods of raising and directing power;

~Ritual movement and the meaning of each and every movement;

~Banishing;

~Ritual voice;

~Group Mind;

~ Acts of Worship;

~Acts of Magic.

These are the basics on which the rest of the training is built

After considerable experience and training, the Witch may then decide to embark on the preparation for the Higher Degrees and the subsequent inner workings and deeper knowledge and gnosis.

Training within the First degree takes -usually a minimum of 2 years.

As a training coven, we meet weekly for training and working circles, as well as the eight Seasonal Sabbats, connecting us with the rhythm and forces of the cosmos, and the inner mystery aspects of the Craft of the Wise. We also focus on aspects of Hermetic pathworking, the Ceremonial Magical Arts, Qabalah and the Pauline Art of Angelic Magic.

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The Alexandrian Tradition is composed of men and women who have dedicated their lives to the Priesthood and service of the Ancient Gods. Every coven is completely autonomous and there is no central authority within the tradition.

The structure of the Priesthood of the Tradition is the same as that observed in the Gardnerian Tradition, being First, second and Third degree,but there are a couple of notable differences between practices .

The degrees indicate the spiritual progression of the individual. Each degree contains its own mysteries to be experienced and the Mysteries are both revealed and discovered, as the Craft is a initiatory and experiential tradition. This implies that the mysteries will have to be experienced by the individual to be understood and internalized.

One of the fundamental characteristics of the Priesthood is the fact that they should be aspiring to the quality of ‘beauty’. ‘Beauty’ here means ‘a greater  beauty’ applied to everything; The way they speak, the way they compose themselves.The initiates who undergo Alexandrian training, should act and behave in a dignified and priestly manner, since they are representatives of the Goddess and God and as such, every step they take should always take this into account.

“Magic itself is simple and direct, it is the rituals that lead us to acts of magic that require years of student practice and discipline.” – Maxine Sanders

In order to work a Circle of power effectively, takes years of practice and discipline. There are several components in the creation of a circle that have to be taken into account and each moment in this process has to be mastered in a concrete and efficient way. The Magic Circle is one of the most important components of a rite. Without the Circle, none of the work can be done and the Witch who has not been properly trained to do so, will fail. How to create and work an effective Circle of power and all that this entails, is the work of the first degree. To master this Circle, is the work of subsequent

At higher grades, there are no profound  “revelations” or “secrets” that make 2 or 3 special grades. At these levels, there is only a clearer perception, and accumulation of techniques and responsibilities that are developed and exercised. Philosophically and hermetically, there are levels that are reached,  but evolution never stops and in the end, degrees are only representative of levels of development. The Work is more important than any degree that has been obtained.

Training in the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft may take several years and depends on the dedication, vocation and consistency of the work of the Initiate, and whether there is progress or not in his training. Alex Sanders writes in the book “The Alex Sanders Lectures” in Chapter IV titled “The First Degree of Initiation in Wicca”:

 “Why does anyone want to be a witch? It is a question that most people ask. Do they seek sensation or home from home or do they really want  or spiritual progression? The answer is that people come for all these reasons. Neither does the reason matter, for one gets out of the Wicca as much as one puts into it. “- Alex Sanders

The High Priesthood should be like “strings on a harp, which produces a clear note, and when played together, sympathy shall form a beautiful symphony” (Alex Sanders, The Alex Sanders Lectures, 1970).

Book Excerpt, “The Chalice and the Blade – On the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca” of Karagan Griffith

All Rights Reserved (c) 2016

Contact:

johannesburgcoven@gmail.com

Translated from wiccaalexandrina.com