Alexandrian Wicca


Alexandrian Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca is a tradition of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, founded by Alex Sanders (also known as "King of the Witches" [cite book | author=Johns, June | title=King of the witches: The world of Alex Sanders | publisher=P. Davies | year=1969|id=ISBN 0-432-07675-1] ) who, with his wife Maxine Sanders, established the tradition in the 1960s. Alexandrian Wicca is similar in many ways to Gardnerian Wicca, and receives regular mention in books on Wicca as one of the religion's most widely-recognized traditions. [See cite book | author=Adler, Margot | authorlink=Margot Adler | title=Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today | publisher=Viking | year=1979 | id=ISBN 0-670-28342-8 , and cite book | author=Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Bone, Gavin | title=The Pagan Path | publisher=Phoenix Publishing | year=1995 | id=ISBN 0-919345-40-9, amongst others.]

Origins and history

The tradition is based largely upon Gardnerian Wicca, in which Sanders was trained to the first degree of initiation,cite book | author=Rabinovitch, Shelley and Lewis, James R. | title=The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism | pages=5-6 | publisher=Citadel Press | year=2004 | id=ISBN 0-8065-2407-3|url=http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&id=xuvLRbKvyGEC&dq=%22Janet+Farrar%22&prev=http://books.google.com/books%3Flr%3D%26q%3D%2522Janet%2BFarrar%2522%26start%3D0&lpg=PA95&pg=PA95&sig=XGGTFUOOrBOlalf5J7h3ArphKXY] and also contains elements of ceremonial magic and Qabalah, which Sanders had studied independently.

The name of the tradition is a reference both to Alex Sanders and to the ancient library of Alexandria, which was one of the first libraries in the world. [cite web | title=The Alexandrian Tradition | url=http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usxx&c=trads&id=8796 | accessmonthday=18 March |accessyear=2007] The choice of name was inspired by a view of the library as an early attempt to bring together the knowledge and wisdom of the world into one place.cite web | title=An Introduction to Alexandrian Wicca | work=Gay Pagans, Gay Witches...? | url=http://www.thewellhead.org.uk/GP/moottalk2.html | accessmonthday=11 December |accessyear=2005] Maxine Sanders recalls that the name was chosen when Stewart Farrar, a student of the Sanders', began to write "What Witches Do". "Stewart asked what Witches who were initiated via our Covens should be called; after much discussion, he came up with "Alexandrian" which both Alex and I rather liked. Before this time we were very happy to be called Witches".note label|Maxine|5|a cite web | title=Priestess of the Goddess: TWPT talks with Maxine Sanders | work=The Wiccan/Pagan Times | url=http://www.twpt.com/sanders.htm | accessmonthday=11 December | accessyear=2005]

Alexandrian Wicca is practiced outside of Britain, including both Canada and the United States. "Encyclopedia Mystica" states that Alexandrian Wicca "never gained the popularity as did the Gardnerian tradition because it is believed Sanders’ negative publicity hurt it. As of the 1980s none of the American Alexandrian covens had any connection with Sanders himself. The Alexandrian covens have done better in Canada where they were more firmly established before all of Sanders’ negative publicity". [cite web | title=Alexandrian Wicca | work=Encyclopedia Mystica | url=http://www.meta-religion.com/Spiritualism/Wicca/alexandrian_wicca.htm | accessmonthday=11 December | accessyear=2005]

Practices

Alexandrian Wicca, in similarity with other traditional Wiccan practices, emphasizes gender polarity. This emphasis can be seen in the Sabbat rituals, which focus on the relationship between the Wiccan Goddess and God.

As compared to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca is "somewhat more eclectic", according to "The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism". Maxine Sanders notes that Alexandrians take the attitude "If it works use it". Tool use and deity and elemental names also differ from the Gardnerian tradition. Skyclad practice, or ritual nudity, is optional within the tradition, training is emphasized, and ceremonial magic practices, such as those derived from Hermetic Qabalah and Enochian magic may be part of ritual.

Alexandrian covens meet on new moons, full moons and during Sabbat festivals.

Ranks and degrees

Alexandrian Wicca shares with other traditional Wicca systems the belief that "only a witch can make another witch". The process through which an individual is made a witch is called "initiation". As in Gardnerian Wicca, there are three levels, or "degrees", of initiation, commonly referred to as "first", "second", and "third" degree. Only a second or third degree witch can initiate another into witchcraft, and only a third degree witch can initiate another to third degree. A third degree initiate is referred to as a "High Priestess" or "High Priest". The Farrars claimed to have published the rituals for the three ceremonies of initiation in "Eight Sabbats for Witches".cite book | author=Farrar, Janet and Stewart | title=Eight Sabbats for Witches, revised edition | publisher=Phoenix Publishing | year=1988 | id=ISBN 0-919345-26-3]

Some Alexandrians have instituted a preliminary rank called "neophyte" or "dedicant." In these Alexandrian covens, a neophyte is not bound by the oaths taken by initiates, and thus has an opportunity to examine the tradition before committing to it. Neophytes are not, however, considered to have actually joined the tradition until they do take first degree. As such they would not experience certain aspects of rituals that were considered oathbound.

Relationship to other traditions

Scholar Ronald Hutton records comments from British practitioners of Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca that distinctions between the two traditions have blurred in the last couple of decades, and some initiates of both traditions have recognized initiation within one as qualification for the other. [cite book | first=Ronald | last=Hutton | authorlink=Ronald Hutton | title=Triumph of the Moon | publisher =Oxford University Press | year=2000|id=ISBN 0-500-27242-5 ] Author Vivianne Crowley often trains her students in both traditions. In the United States, Alexandrian priestess Mary Nesnick, an initiate of both traditions, created a deliberate fusion of the two, which she named the Algard Tradition.

Janet and Stewart Farrar, both of whom were initiated into the Alexandrian tradition by the Sanderses, describe themselves as having left the tradition after the release of "Eight Sabbats for Witches".cite web | title=Our Wiccan Origins | work=Wicca na hErin | author=Bone, Gavin and Farrar, Janet | url=http://www.wicca.utvinternet.com/origins.htm | accessmonthday=11 December | accessyear=2005] They were later referred to as "Reformed Alexandrian", [cite book | author=Dunwich, Gerina | authorlink=Gerina Dunwich | title=The Wicca Book of Days | pages=78 | publisher=Citadel Press | year=1995 | id=ISBN 0-8065-1685-2 | url=http://books.google.com/books?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&id=rJkia3vwbAEC&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=%22Janet+Farrar%22&prev=http://books.google.com/books%3Flr%3D%26q%3D%2522Janet%2BFarrar%2522%26start%3D20&sig=YR89puXVILVdVe164BCNeoQfIqo] a description that Janet Farrar does not use. The "Starkindler Line" is derived from Alexandrian Wicca, [cite web | title=The StarKindler Line | url=http://www.starkindler.org/starkind.html | accessmonthday=11 December | accessyear=2005] and Alexandrian Wicca was a major influence on both Blue Star Wicca [cite web | title=Home Again: An Introduction To Blue Star Wicca | author=Gillette, Devyn Christopher | url=http://www.bluestarwicca.org.uk/homeagain.html | accessmonthday=11 December |accessyear=2005] and Odyssean Wicca. [cite web | title=A Brief History of the WCC and the Odyssean Tradition | author=Landstreet, Lynna | url=http://www.wcc.on.ca/history.html | accessmonthday=11 December | accessyear=2005]

The High Magical and Qabalistic strands of the Alexandrian tradition also informed the "Ordine Della Luna in Constantinople" which, from 1967 onwards, Sanders operated as a 'side-degree' or ancillary rite to Alexandrian Wicca, most notably in collaboration with Derek Taylor in the 1980s. [cite book |last=Strachan |first=Francoise |year=1970 |title=The Aquarian Guide to Occult, Mystical, Religious, Magical, London and Around |location=London |publisher=Aquarian Press |id=ISBN 0-85030-074-6] [cite web |url=http://www.geocities.com/triple-moon/alexandderek.html |title=The Ordine Della Luna/Nova: The Work of Alex Sanders and Derek Taylor |accessmonthday=27 August |accessyear=2006]

References

External links

* [http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usxx&c=trads&id=8796 Witchvox listing for the Alexandrian tradition] ----


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