A Tapestry of Witches II: The Alexandrians

A Tapestry of Witches II: The Alexandrians April 30, 2017

This is an excerpt from A Tapestry of Witches: A History of the Craft in America, Volume II, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Please note that the book will contain many footnotes.

In 1974, Jim Baker, as a professional historian and museum curator, had realized that Alex Sanders had fed him a pack of, to put it politely, nonsense. He apologized to the members of Du Bandia Grasail, the first Alexandrian coven in America, for having misled them and dissolved the coven. The members then reorganized themselves into three successor covens. Dianis Lucien commented that DBG was one of the very few Alexandrian covens in the U.S. to remain loyal to the Alexandrian family when the rest left to join Mary Nesnick’s Algard Tradition in 1972. In 1992. Jim sent me a copy of his unpublished manuscript, Witches at the Hub of the Universe (co-authored with Mary C. and Derek W.), to be used for this sort of history.

Alex Sanders's record "A Witch is Born" was released in 1970.
Alex Sanders’s record “A Witch is Born” was released in 1970.

The successor covens were:

  • The Coven of the Chthonioi / Order of Ganymede, which was led from 1974 until his death by its founder, Ralph Des Rosiers. It is is currently led by the Rev. Vinnie Russo. In 1980 the OG hived off Starcircle, led by Dianis Lucien, which was active in Boston until 1984, then moved on, becoming the Starcircle Tradition. In 1983 the OG hived off Starserpent.
  • Uil’iomlan Tri-fillte Mathair (Coven of the Omniscient Threefold Goddess, UTM, nicknamed “Gefilltefisch”), which was active from 1974 to 1976. It continued from 1976 to 1980 under the name An Cuairt Naomh, practicing American Celtic (Sheban) Tradition. It was headed by the Lady Morven who later founded Harvest magazine and by Andras Corban Arthen, founder of the Athanor Fellowship. An indirect descendant was Na Fineachan Glice, also headed by Lady Morven, active 1987 to 1991.
  • ArDealrach Baintighearna, active from 1974 to 1981, at which time it remerged with the Coven of the Chthonioi. In 1977 ADB hived off  Earth Rose, and in 1978 Cylch y Lleuad Haidd, which was active until 1988 and has at least three current descendants.

Du Bandia Grasail had also hived off another coven, Astreas, which was active in Dubuque from 1973 to 1975, and in Milwaukee from 1975 to 1984, having also merged with an outer court coven, Sophia, around 1978. Astreas hived off Satyria in 1976; it became Twisted Rose (in Tampa) about 1983

According to Jim’s history, Ralph Des Rosiers and Derek W. began the Order of Ganymede in 1974 as a Golden Dawn/OTO/Wicca hybrid, with the Coven of the Chthonioi as its inner circle; in early 1975, the members of OG decided to form a commune, and in September, Ralph, Derek, Morgan, and Jaime established the OG Temple on Gardener St. in Allston, MA. That year Derek met Morven, whom he sent over to UTM, where she received her First Degree on Jan. 15, 1975, and Andras Corban, who joined both UTM and the OG. Andras was elevated to Third Degree in UTM in mid-1976, resigned from the OG, and became UTM’s High Priest. [It was about this point where UTM became An Cuairt Naomh, practicing Sheban Tradition.] Morven began serving as the High Priestess of UTM in mid-1977, about which time the OG commune broke up, although she did not receive the Second Degree from Andras until Dec 15, 1978. By 1979 Andras was planning to establish the Athanor Fellowship and the first Rites of Spring Festival. In Sept. 1980, after Morven resigned, Andras disbanded UTM..

 

Spawnfar

 Spawnfar was conceived when Derek, Merlin, Mad Alice, and Diana, on June 23, 1981, during their drive back to Boston after the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisconsin, made plans to create a coven on their own. On June 27, 1981, the new group began. It was intended to be a group that would share traditions: Derek with his background from the Order of Ganymede, Merlin from a Jewish / Shamanic view, Mad Alice being Norse, and Diana eclectic with Vulcan / Mediumistic inclinations.

Meetings were held every Wednesday at Derek’s, and the first few were an exchange of ideas and traditions. Another sixteen people joined the coven during the next few months. Later the group decided to call itself Spawn Far, with the intent that members would spawn off from the group, never remaining in one group or tradition for very long. At this time Derek chose the new name, Starspawn, by which he has since been known.

Spawn Far itself continues to be active, led by Jennifer and Roger P.; has at least four current descendants and is thus one of the oldest continually active covens in the United States. One of its descendants was Druid Oak in 1983; it changed leadership in 1986 and became Companions of the Evening Star, then Ildanach, which is still active.

On his website giving the Alexandrian family tree Janus (Roger P.) comments:

“The relationships between these covens are often more complex than can be captured in a simple family tree, as individuals move between covens, and often receive training from more than one coven before starting their own; and initiates of different covens often choose to work together, further muddying the waters.”

Those who study New Religious Movements have noticed that problem.

 

 

 

 

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