Temple of the Dark Moon


Alex Sanders

Alex Sanders - the "King of the Witches" (as he became known after the publication of June Jones' book of the same name) - was responsible for founding the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca, one of the main traditions of the Wicca/Witchcraft movement. But his reign was fraught with criticism and controversy.

Born in Manchester, England, Alex originally claimed that he had been initiated into the Craft by his grandmother when he was seven years old, but later admitted that this was untrue. He was later initiated into a Gardnerian coven by Pat Kopanski, who herself had been initiated by Patricia and Arnold Crowther in the early 1960s. However, rumours abound state that this entrance was refused and that Alex managed to obtain a copy of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows which he embellished with a few of his own amendments - an account disputed by those who had met and trained with him.

Like many occultists before him, Sanders avidly courted publicity, actions which were strongly opposed by other members of the Craft. Some perceived Alex's actions as a bid of personal notoriety, while others held the view that he was profaning the Mystery. Whatever his true reason was, he attracted a strong following including Maxine Morris, a Roman Catholic 20 years his junior, who he handfasted and later married in 1967.

In 1968-69, Alex and Maxine appeared in and gave technical advice on a film called "Legend of the Witches". During the press preview of the film, they met with a reporter by the name of Stewart Farrar. Stewart himself became interested in the Craft after researching an article on Witchcraft, which led to a highly successful book, "What Witches Do". Stewart was initiated in 1970 and it was during this time in Alex's coven that he met Janet Owen, who he later married. By December 1971 the Farrars had left Alex's coven and moved to Ireland where they produced a number of highly respected books including "The Witches Way", "Eight Sabbats for Witches", and "Spells and How They Work" until Stewart's death in 2000.

Alex and Maxine separated in 1973 and Alex moved to Sussex where he resided in relative obscurity, however working on what has now been termed as "advanced" magickal workings, including planetary and angelic magick. For this work, Alex, together with Derek Taylor established the "Ordine Della Luna" where they experimented such workings, including in the original Wiccan degree system a fourth degree.

Alex battled with cancer during the later part of his life and died on 30 April 1988 (Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere but Bealtaine in the Northern Hemisphere). His funeral was said to have been a mass media event with Wytches and Pagans from all over England attending to pay their respects. Maxine continue to run a coven and teach the Craft.

It is without doubt that Alex Sanders was a controversial and flamboyant character, but despite criticism from many in the Craft, Alex was both a skilled Wytch and a powerful magickian. He brought Wytchcraft back into the public arena and changed the face of Wicca. The Alexandrian Wiccan Tradition today is said to be one of the largest traditions of the Craft.

"Triumph of the Moon" by Ronald Hutton
"Firechild" by Maxine Sanders
"The Rebirth of Witchcraft" by Doreen Valiente
"The Witchs Bible Complete" by Janet and Stewart Farrar

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