British Witch Initiation c. 1970 April 3, 2013Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval , trackback
Witchcraft became a force to be reckoned with in Britain after the Second World War. There is a lot of writing, but most by the witches themselves (who can’t be trusted) or by CofE bishops who are just too silly for words because they take said witches seriously. Intelligent third-party descriptions like the following are too rare to be wasted. These words have been mined from an obscure book by a Dutch journalist Peter Brusse. The witch ‘king’ in question was Alex Sanders, who was famous in post-war Wicca circles and who regularly appeared in the tabloids for his naked larks in the 1960s and 1970s: he is pictured above.
Alex Sanders lives with his wife Maxine in a basement flat off Hyde Park. He enjoys the company of young people, who come to his home where he teaches them the principles of Wicca, the religion of witchcraft. He told me he had converted more than a thousand people, and invited me to attend a third-grade initiation. The witch-to-be was a heavily built Rubenesque girl of eighteen. It was her big day, and she was initiated by the King himself [Sanders]. He wore a red velvet tunic, and the congregation too were dressed for the occasion. That is to say they wore nothing. Once again I decided to disagree with those who claim that nakedness is a great leveller.
This reminds Beach of one of his favourite bon mots: ‘nudity, the best form of contraception’. Anyway back to the Rubenesque initiate.
The young girl was blindfolded, tied up with ropes and placed in the middle of the magic circle. For about half an hour the other witches danced solemnly round the circle [a long time?], hand in hand, while King Alex said his prayers. The King entered the Circle and crossed the girl with a sword. It was like the sacrifice of Abraham performed by sensuous schoolchildren [!wth!]. The King placed a dagger between her breasts, kissed her body intensely and slowly released her. The new witch staggered about like a new-born calf. The King produced a chalice filled with cider and the ten witches drank to the health of their new third-grade colleague. The ceremony was at the same time tense, lugubrious and hilarious. The King was pleased to see that I needed time to adjust myself to it. The trick had worked.
Allegedly Alex Sanders was drawn into witchcraft by his Welsh grandma who claimed to be a hereditary witch going back to the fifteenth-generation: that’s about five centuries… She dragged him naked into a magic circle when he was just seven, a little alarming. Beach’s hand was reaching for the Yellow Pages to look up ‘social worker’ (memories of Psyche) when he recalled this happened the best part of a century ago and, in fact, it didn’t happen at all as Sanders later admitted making it all up: including some subsequent mutilation of his infant scrotum. Sanders also claimed that his gran knew the great beast, Aleister ‘Do what though wilt, and pretend to be a philosopher while you are doing it’ Crowley. Beach has spent two years studying now these peculiar healers and mystic leaders around the edge of formal religion. Between ecstasy and revelations the one thing that almost have in common – at least those with pretensions to be ‘kings’ – is that they are shysters. Can magic and lies ever be separated? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
5 April 2013: Ruththeunstoppoablycurious writes. This one made me giggle. It brings to mind a bon mot by Mark Twain, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” I think I saw a video of Sanders about 10 years ago. He was all solemn, nude except for a loincloth covered with sigils and whatnot. Said loincloth caught on fire from one of the candles on his altar, and it took a few moments for him to notice. Thanks Ruth!