and compiled by George Knowles.
Alex Sanders – the “King of the Witches” as he became known - was responsible for founding the Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca, now one of the main traditions of the Wicca/Witchcraft movement. But his reign was fraught with criticism and controversy.
Alex Sanders was born Orrel Alexander Carter on the 06th June 1926 in a house on Moon St, Birkenhead. He was the eldest of six children to parents Hannah and Harold Carter. His father Harold Carter was a music hall entertainer who suffered from alcoholism, and soon after the birth of Alex, moved the family to Grape St in Manchester, there he unofficially changed the family name to Sanders. Alex was unaware of his official surname until he applied for a passport later in life, at which time he officailly changed his name to Sanders by deed poll.
As a young boy Sanders suffered with tuberculosis
and would regularly visit with his grandmother
in Wales, where he could benefit from the Welsh fresh air.
At the age of seven, he is believed to have happened upon his grandmother
“Mary Biddy” performing some sort of pagan ritual.
Taken by surprise she immediately swore young Sanders to secrecy, and
initiated him on the spot claiming, “Now, you are one of us”.
Thus he became her student and started on the path of the Old Religion.
Sanders was a natural psychic who learned all he could from his
grandmother. He claimed that she
gave him her “Book of Shadows” to copy and taught him all the rites and
magic of the witches including clairvoyance by scrying in inky water and using his
grandmother's crystal. Sanders also
claimed that following the Blitz during WWII and just a few months before her
death at age 74, his grandmother conferred upon him the second and third grade
initiations involving ritual sex. After
her death he tried to contact other witches, and though failing continued with
his studies while working for a time as a healer in Spiritualist Churches under
the pseudonym of Paul Dallas.
After the War had ended Sanders began working as an analytical chemist
at a laboratory in Manchester, were 1947 he met and then married a co-worker
called "Doreen". He was
21 at the time, she 19, and together they had two children "Paul and
Janice". Sanders had wanted more children but not Doreen, she also disapproved of his practicing
years later the marriage deteriorated and Doreen took the two children and left
him. According to his later second
wife Maxine, Sanders had been so grief-stricken that he cursed Doreen with a
fertility spell; when she later re-married she had three sets of twins??
Depressed Sanders began drinking; he drifted from one low paid job to
another and indulged in sex with both men and women. He started on the left-hand path, worshiped the devil and
studied "Abra-Melin" magic, hoping to use it to gain wealth and fame.
He regularly boosted about his feats of magic and made some amazing
claims. One like "Aleister
Crowley" before him, he claims to have created a “magical child”.
He created it during a rite of ritual masturbation with the aide of a
male assistant. He says, “the
baby disappeared shortly after its creation and grew up as a spirit called
"Michael" was the spirit he used during trance work, and it
was Michael (he claims) who was responsible for forcing him to act badly at wild
parties, to insult people, and generally act in an abominable way.
“Eventually the spirit of Michael settled down and I was able to
control it”, he says. When
channeling Sanders used a familiar entity called "Nick Demdike", who
claimed to have been a persecuted witch from Lancaster during the trails of the
In the early 60’s, Sanders is reported to have sought entrance to some
Gardnerian covens (see Gerald Gardner), including that run by "Patricia and
Crowther", who refused to accept him.
Not to be put off so easily, he somehow managed to obtain a copy of the
Gardnerian Book of Shadows. This he
copied (badly from all accounts) and embellished it with a few of his own
amendments. He then used this as
the bases to found his own coven, claiming it to be a copy of his
grandmother’s Book of Shadows.
Sanders was a born showman who avidly courted publicity. In September of 1962 he even succeeded in convincing the Manchester Evening News to run a front-page article about Wicca. As a result he soon attracted a large following. During this period Sanders and his coven worked from his home at 24 Egerton Road North, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. One of his initiates was "Maxine Morris", a Roman Catholic 20 years his junior. After her initiation, they handfasted and she became his High Priestess. They were married in a civil ceremony in 1968 and moved into a basement flat near Nottinghill Gate, London. Later that same year, Maxine bore him a daughter they called "Maya".
Sanders and Maxine
From their new home the Sanders’ ran his London coven and taught training classes, he claimed to have initiated more than 1,623 witches working in 100 covens around the country, all-practicing what had become known as the Alexandrian Tradition. At one meeting, a gathering of sixteen of his covens, Sanders was bestowed with the title of “King of the Witches”. Sanders frequently appeared in ritual photos as robed or wearing only a loincloth while Witches surrounding him were naked. His explanation for this was that the old “Witch laws” required that the Elder of a coven should be easily identifiable from the other coven members.
In 1968-69, Sanders with 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 and were introduced to "Stewart Farrar", then a reporter for the Reveille. Stewart would later be initiated by Maxine, and move on to become famous himself as a witch and author.
Sanders leadin a "skyclad" dance during a sabbat ritual.
In 1972 Maxine gave birth to another child, a son they named
"Victor", then just a year later in 1973 they separated.
Sanders moved to Sussex were he resided in relative obscurity until he
died on the 30th April 1988 after a long battle with lung cancer.
His funeral was a mass media event, Witches and Pagans from all over the
country attended to pay their respects. During
the course of the funeral a pre-recorded tape was played in which he declared
that his son "Victor" should succeed him as “King of the Witches”.
Victor Sanders had no desire to take up the title and left the country
for the United States. Maxine stay
on in London and continued to run a coven and teach the craft, her half-brother
"David Goddard" acting as High Priest. A short time after his funeral, a Witches Council of Elders
was convened formed mainly from the Alexandrian tradition. They
decided there would be no successor to the “King of Witches” and the title
Without doubt Alex Sanders was a controversial and flamboyant man, who without scruples plagiarized the work of others to embellish he own. Whither he did so with malice, remains a question? Personally I don’t think so. More I assume through innocuous indifference, and mainly for the benefit of his students, even though it resulted in criticism from many in the craft. He was also without doubt a very skilled witch, and powerful magician, whose contribution to the newly evolving movement, brought witchcraft back into the public arena and changed the face of Wicca. He helped to influence many newcomers entering the craft and Alexandrian Wicca remains today one of the largest traditions of the craft.
The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi
A Witches' Bible - By Janet and Stewart Farrar
What Witches Do - By Stewart Farrar
Man, Myth and Magic -
Edited by Richard Cavendish
Triumph of the Moon - Ronald Hutton
First published on the 04th May 2001, 21:12:38 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
"FAIR USE NOTICE"
While I have taken due care and dilligence to credit all sources where possible, this website may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. My use of making such material available here is done so in my efforts to advance our understanding of religious discrimination, the environmental and social justice issues etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the information for research and educational purposes. For more information about 'fair use' see: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this wedsite for purposes of your own that goes beyond this 'fair use' statement, you must obtain permission from the relevant copyright owner yourself.
My online email discussion group:
Dove of Peace
Help send a message of peace around the world! The Dove of Peace flies from site to site, through as many countries as possible. It does not belong to ANY belief system. Please help make a line around the globe by taking it with you to your site, by giving it to someone for their site, by passing it on to another continent or to the conflict areas of the world. May trouble and strife be vanquished in it's path.
Please take time to sign my Guest Book.