A History of the Craft in America: The BosWash Strip, Alexandrians and Others

Alexandrian Tradition is, in terms of ritual, a minor variant on Gardnerian Witchcraft, although its adherents now far outnumber the orthodox Gardnerians. The tradition goes back to Alexander Sanders (1926-1988), who in 1963 was initiated by Pat Kopanski, an initiate of Patricia Crowther, and allowed to copy her Book of Shadows. As soon as Gerald Gardner died, Sanders began claiming that he had been initiated as a witch at age nine by his grandmother and had received the Book of Shadows from … [Read more...]

A History of the Craft in America: The Family Tree of the New England Coven of Traditionalist Witches, Part II

The New York Coven of Welsh Traditional Witches was founded about 1970 by Edmund Buczynski (1947-1989), Herman Slater (1938-1992), and Leo Martello (1930-2000). All three were among the first to publicly defend gay rights within the Pagan movement, long before the rise of the Gay Rights movement.Ed, who had been working in Lady Gwen’s NECTW coven, brought her rituals to New York and, working with Slater and Martello, gradually rewrote them into the rituals used by the NYCWTW and its d … [Read more...]

A History of the Craft in America: The Family Tree of the New England Coven of Traditionalist Witches, Part I

The New England Coven of Traditionalist Witches was founded in North Haven, CT, in the late 1960s by Lady Gwen Thompson (Phyllis Healey, 1928-1986), who claimed that her family tradition originated in Somerset, England, and was brought to the United States by way of Nova Scotia. This material, she said, was handed down through many generations and blended with popular occultism to become the present form that she named NECTW. Not all who are born into a family tradition are destined to follow … [Read more...]

The Letter to Theophilus, Part III

[This is the last installment of a hypothetical letter that could have been written by Christian Gnostics who believed in sacred sexuality. There really were some. For more explanation see  the "Preview of the Letter to Theophilus" three days back.]Of Baptism as the First InitiationFor their first initiation we lead our students to a place with living water. They descend into the water skyclad, and we baptize them, saying, "Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe, into Truth, … [Read more...]

The Letter to Theophilus, Part II

Of Saint Mark the WonderworkerThe blessed Saint Mark the Wonderworker drew many men and women into our company as students and initiates, teaching skills and celebration of our abilities and gifts.In consecrating the sacred cup of thanksgiving, Mark prayed to the Goddess Charis to drop her sacred blood into the cup that all may be inspired and empowered by it, saying, "May that Charis who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill your inner being and … [Read more...]

The Letter to Theophilus, Part I

The Letter to TheophilusMy dear Theophilus, all the brothers and sisters send you greetings in the name of the Lord and the Lady. I will endeavor to answer your questions concerning the teachings of our founders and of all who have preserved the true mysteries of our faith.The Origin of the True ProphetOur community in Alexandria was founded by our Holy Queen, Mariamme Magdala, wife and successor of the True Prophet Jesus, before she fled for safety to the land of the Gauls. Her … [Read more...]

Preview of “The Letter to Theophilus”

In my recent review of The Gnostic Bible, edited and largely translated by Professors Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer, whose death at 64 has made me even more acutely aware of my own mortality, I commented that the book left me unsatisfied. It is the best study yet of the major segment of the “Gnostic” movement, those who were radically dualistic and radically ascetic, but they were not the only varieties of  “heresy” in the ancient and medieval worlds.Another was the Christians who remaine … [Read more...]

Marvin Meyer, 1948-2012

After I posted my blog yesterday reviewing The Gnostic Bible, edited and translated by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer, I thought I’d copy it to Marvin, since I was taking his name in vain, to see what he thought of it. As I was poking around, trying to figure out where I had stored his contact information, I came across his Wikipedia page, which had been updated, letting me know that he had passed over on August 16th of this year, from melanoma, the same cancer that took my brother a decade a … [Read more...]

The Gnostic Bible: A Review

gnostic-bible-barnstone-willis-meyer-marvin-paperback-cover-art

The Gnostic Bible (Boston & London: Shabala, rev. ed., 2009; $29.95 [a bargain]) collects many important documents from the early sects that have been lumped together under the umbrella term of “Gnostic.” It was edited, with many of the documents translated, by Willis Barnstone (who, among his other achievements, has carried out the best translations of Sappho ever) and the late Marvin Meyer (whom I had the pleasure of knowing since my salad days in the AAR and who, I just learned, passed ove … [Read more...]

Taking Responsibility for Feelings

I see that an all-male court in Iowa has ruled that an employer can fire a woman merely because he finds her attractive. That is, the woman lost a suit for wrongful termination, and the court has allowed yet another form of discrimination against women.  The dentist who fired her argued that he was defending family values because she was a threat to his marriage. Maybe the guy is not an Evangelical Christian. Maybe it's unfair to think he is--but unfortunately he sounds like one, and if he is … [Read more...]


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