Training in The Derby Coven

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

Training within the Derby Coven are based on the same methodology 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.

After considerable experience and training in the magic of the circle, 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.


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, such as the 2nd and 3rd degree being given together.

The Witchcraft 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. The first degree is often spoken about as being the initiation into the mysteries, the second degree being the penetration of the mysteries and the third is a celebration and seal of the former.

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 appreciation and coveting of  beauty’ in everything; The way they speak, the way they compose themselves.

“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

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 degrees.

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. 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).

On Lineage

The concept of lineage has been a rather big headache and a cause of great confusion for a lot of people in the magickal community, especially in South Africa. There has been quite a bit of misunderstanding about what it is and how it works. This is understandable, as Traditional Wicca, as far as what is known, has only come to South Africa very recently.

Note that this statement is not referring to the many wonderful and diverse new traditions and lineages that sprang up on South African soil over the years, neither to those that may be loosely based on the outer structures of Traditional Wicca. This is specifically referring to legitimate Alexandrian and Gardnerian lines.

The thing is that; if you are a practicing Witch or Pagan, but not initiated into a lineaged form of Wicca/Witchcraft, there is no problem. This does not mean that these practices of a more eclectic persuasion in the great big world of modern witchcraft are any less valid. Lineage however DOES become important when some claim to be practicing initiates of traditions of, which quite frankly, they are not.

But what is lineage anyway?

At its most simplistic level, lineage is a way of confirming who initiated who and tracing that line back to the founders of a tradition.

Lineage, in Alexandrian Wicca, is transmitted through the initiation rites, and would also be effected by the subsequent training. These are specific rites, containing the specific core liturgy, and specific methods of initiation into said tradition. It implies that a person was brought into the Wicca, by an already initiated member of that tradition, and that the initiator was brought into the mysteries of the tradition in the same way. As already mentioned, this also implies that this line of descent can be traced back to the founders of that tradition. In the case of Alexandrian Witchcraft, that would be Alex and Maxine Sanders. For Gardnerians this would be Gerald Gardner.

Now in theory this should be simple, but in practice can bring quite a bit confusion.

For example, let us say witch A was initiated by Alex Sanders into Alexandrian Wicca. Now A works the Craft for a couple of years and initiates witch B. B works the craft a couple of years but then goes on to form a completely NEW tradition and changes the initiation rites, changes the names of the Gods, the components of the rite, that now barely resembles, if at all Alexandrian Craft, and initiates witch C into this new tradition.

Now, although B originally has Alexandrian lineage, C does not, as she was not brought into the original tradition but a completely new one. In this case, B would be the founder of a new tradition, with a completely new lineage. A good real world example would be Raymond Buckland, who brought Gardnerian Wicca to the USA, and then later found Seax Wica. A person initiated into Seax Wica CANNOT claim Gardnerian lineage, just because Raymond was one. This is the same in the case of Ordine Della Luna and Alexandrian Craft.

Another important thing about lineage that is often not realized, or perhaps not known, is that when it is transmitted properly, it would also transmit the magickal current of the tradition to the initiate, which would in turn be passed on. Without digressing into this topic, anyone who has some understanding of occult principle and the work in occult groups and traditions should realize the significance in the matter, and why it would be important in a tradition.

I hope this clarifies some of the questions about what lineage is and how it works.

At this stage there is one line of Alexandrian Witchcraft in South Africa and no Gardnerian lines.