Alex Sanders and Maxine Sanders
(1926 - 1988) (1946 - )
Alex Sanders, was the founder of the Alexandrian tradition of Wicca. Born Orrell Alexander Carter, (June 6, 1926 -
April 30, 1988), a Gemini with Scorpio rising. Alex was the son of Harold, a musician, and Hannah Carter. His Welsh
grandmother, Mrs Bibby, was apparently a cunning woman and medium who gave him an early interest in the occult. His
mother was also a medium as was Alex and all his brothers. The young Alex Sanders (he later changed his surname to
Sanders by deed poll) became quite well known as a trance medium where he lived.
Alex claimed to have been initiated into the Craft by his grandmother at the age of seven, after he interrupted one of her
solitary rituals, was later determined to be a hoax. According to Sanders, neither he nor the family had any idea [Mrs
Bibby] was a witch, but she gave him no time to brood. She had the clothes off him, initiated him on the spot, and told
him that he was now a witch too and that various dreadful things would happen if he betrayed the secret. Bearing in
mind that Alex was a seven-year-old child at the time, the claim is more redolent of child abuse than witchcraft as
understood by today practitioners. His assertion was that his book of shadows was given him by his grandmother is
therefore also certainly false, it is fundamentally a Gardnerian one with some differences and some of the prose
Alex, was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca on March 9, 1963 by Medea of the Derbyshire Gardnerian Coven. Medea
also initiated Sylvia Tatham and raised Patricia Kopanski to the Second Degree. Patricia Crowther had refused to raise
Kopanski to the Second Degree in her Sheffield Coven, so Pat left. When Medea's husband suddenly died, she closed
her Coven and left the area, leaving Pat, Alex and Sylvia without a Coven or a complete BOS. They started their own
Coven in Manchester, with Pat as HPS, Alex as acting HP and Sylvia as Maid. After Sylvia received her Second and
Third Degree Initiations from Scotty Wilson (Loric) at Gardner's Witches' Mill Coven, she initiated Alex to the Third
Degree, and brought a complete BOS from the Witches' Mill. Pat left the Coven when Alex refused to marry her, and
Sylvia became the HPS. After Sylvia left for New Zealand and the Coven dissolved, Alex formed a new coven with Paul
King and Maxine Morris in late 1964. Alex made Maxine, a redhead who dyed her hair blonde, his High Priestess.
Alex married Maxine December 1965 in one of the earliest examples of a Wiccan handfasting. In June of 1967, Alex and
Maxine Sanders moved to London, where they became well-known in the city's alternative scene, providing introductory
talks on witchcraft on a weekly basis.
Alex reversed some of the reforms of Doreen Valiente, making the God and Goddess once again equal, adding
Kabbalistic ceremonial magick, and changing the coven emphasis from group activity to individual magical development.
Sanders proved to be just as passionate about promoting "the Craft" as Gardner, and, consequently, the number of
Alexandrian covens grew to rival the number of Gardnerian covens. Sanders' initiates started calling themselves
'Alexandrians' to differentiate themselves from the Gardnerians in May 1966, after Pat Crowther and Rae Bone
denounced Sanders. They claimed, wrongly, that he was not properly initiated, carrying on a feud that had simmered
between them and Medea and Pat Kopanski. Medea was one of those Witches Gardner had initiated in a frenzy of
initiations that Crowther and Bone considered poor judgement on his part. The Alexandrians and Gardnerians have
constantly cross-fertilized each other, until today their similarities outweigh their differences.
In 1969, June Johns published a biography of Sanders entitled King of the Witches, based on Sanders' own testimony.
Toward the end of the 60's, Alex was shunned by many of his previous supporters when he embarked on a series of
magickal workings to make contact with extraterrestrial entities.
In 1970, Alex and his High Priestess Maxine, initiated Stewart and Janet Farrar into their 'tradition'. As a writer, Farrar
started writing about the Alexandrians. Alex provided much of the material for the book What Witches Do, published by
Stewart in 1971. Stewart and his wife Janet were two of his Alex's enthusiastic followers. It was Stewart who came up
with the popular name of "Alexandrian" for the tradition of Wicca founded by Alex. Later, Stewart mixed the Gardnerian
and Alexandrian Traditions in his work. Prior to his recent death, Farrar switched to a Gardnerian format for his
Circa 1970/1971, Alex composed a series of lectures written by himself and others which were privately distributed as a
course for novices in Alexandrian Wicca. These lectures were published in the book The Alex Sanders Lectures in 1984
but were in private circulation since the 1970's.
After Alex and Maxine's marriage dissolved between 1972-1973, Alex made a bonfire of his private papers, including
those relating to his time as a Witch. Alex was a gifted medium from a family of mediums, and he worked with another
medium named Derek Taylor. Two of the manuscripts produced were called The Southern Quarter Speaks: Set and
Sekhmet and Derek Taylor's work Children of the Stars. Alex also claimed to have been initiated into one of the oldest
continuous covens on earth, 'The Ordine della Luna' in Constantinople. Before his death in 1988, Alex gave a charter to
Derek to establish 'The Ordine della Nova', a coven pursuing the Great Work as the stellar mysteries of the Divine
Mother ignored by Wicca. The two groups work closely together and were often referred to as the Ordine Della Luna
Nova, but they were two separate Orders.
Alex died of lung cancer in a hospice on the East Sussex coast of England, close to where Aleister Crowley had also
died four decades earlier. He died at the age of sixty-one, on Beltane April 30, 1988.
Both Gerald Gardner and Alex conferred a secret Fourth Degree upon those initiates they deemed worthy. Gerald's was
the OTO Fourth Degree, while Alex used the Adeptus Minor Ritual of the Golden Dawn. Although both of their traditions
contain some seed of the old Cunning Craft, they contain even more that is different and stand alone as a newly
created religion of Witchcraft generally known as 'the Craft' or 'Wicca.' Both the Gardnerians and the Alexandrians
exported their Craft to other countries before it came to the US, and neither showed much interest in 'colonizing' the US
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thank you Leonard Stevens for your corrections!
Alex initiates a novice into the Sacred Mysteries
1970, Handfasting of Alex and Maxine
Alex Sanders performing a fire spirit ritual, at his home.
1995, Maxine Sanders interview on a Dutch Witchcraft documentary.
In The News: The following are transcripts of found newspaper articles re: Mr. and Mrs. Sanders
1966 - February 4 Kokomo Morning Times (Kokomo, ID)
A Rich Witch
Alex Sanders and Doreen Valiente Speak
From the 1989 video 'Earth Magic'. Interview with Doreen Valiente was conducted by Kevin
Carlyon in 1988.
1969 Winter Ritual
1988 - May 2
Farewell chuckle of king witch
One of the world's most influential and respected witches, Maxine Sanders first caught worldwide public attention while married to the
celebrated - and controversial - 'King of the Witches', Alex Sanders.
A highly respected Priestess of the Sacred Mysteries, in her role of teacher she has encouraged, enabled and inspired students of the
Priesthood to take on the conscious mantle of their spiritual potential.
In this Long awaited autobiography Maxine reflects on her life and magical experiences spanning Modern Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Gods
and Goddesses, Season rituals, Sabbats, Ceremonial magic, Kabbalah and The Sacred Magic of the Angels.
This is a unique, poignant and often humorous memoir of an extraordinary life, by a rare, courageous an inspiring woman.
"This is one of the most important books ever published on modern paganism: a full and candid autobiography by one of its most
influential, and charismatic figures." Professor Ronald Hutton. Author of 'The Triumph of the Moon'