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A brief view of the Alexandrian Tradition: its origins, evolution, and unique approach to witchcraft

A witches' crown in dark background

The Alexandrian tradition refers to a specific group that follows a set of beliefs, practices, and rituals passed down through generations of initiates. Its origins can be traced back to the witch cult that emerged in London in the 1950s with the publication of Gerald Gardner's books on witchcraft, which formed the foundation of modern-day Wicca.

Gardner's coven initiated numerous individuals, who in turn initiated others, eventually leading to Alex Sanders. During the 1960s, Sanders became involved in witchcraft and established his own coven. However, he incorporated Ceremonial and High Magic elements into his practices, creating a distinct approach.

Sanders quickly gained prominence within the witchcraft movement due to his charismatic personality and theatrical rituals. It is estimated that he initiated over 1600 people, attracting significant media attention. Over time, the practices of Sanders' coven and his initiates began to diverge from the original precepts that Gardner and his group established.

Alex Sanders (using a white robe) during a rite
Alex Sanders (using a white robe) during a rite

As a result, the covens following Gardner's teachings started referring to Sanders' initiates as "Alex's Witches," eventually leading to the term "Alexandrian Witches," coined by Stewart Farrar. The turning point came when Sanders was affectionately nicknamed the "King of the Witches" by his initiates. Although Sanders clarified that he did not claim to be the king of all witches, this nickname created a permanent separation between Alexandrians and Gardnerians.

Despite their differences, Alexandrians and Gardnerians share many commonalities, and some initiates, and lineages have what is known as a "dual lineage," meaning they have been initiated into both traditions.

In both the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, initiation is a prerequisite for practitioners. One must be initiated by someone who has undergone training in the chosen tradition, adhering to its precepts, techniques, and way of working. Both traditions maintain a vow of secrecy, with knowledge passed down exclusively among initiates.

“Alex’s Witches” played a crucial role in popularizing modern witchcraft and raising awareness about pagan spirituality. The Alexandrian Tradition stands as a testament to the evolution and diversity within the craft, continuing to contribute to the rich tapestry of modern witchcraft, honouring the past while embracing the ever-evolving nature of the craft.

A brief view of the Alexandrian Tradition


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