As much as being widely agreed that there are only few differences between Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, personal observation has led me to the conclusion that while differences appear to be only subtle on an external level, they are much more profoundly demarcated on the inner.
An example that immediately comes to mind concerns how the experience of the Mysteries impacts on an Initiate’s personal life.
Trauma – an in most cases severe trauma – features prominently among Alexandrians.
I wish it would say on the label, still I don’t think one can ever prepare you for what’s to come. Even after it has happened the mind struggles to come to terms and keeps on looking for a reasonable and logical explanation.
It is also said that one key difference lays with the founders of each tradition. Alex Sanders came to Wicca through a Gardnerian. It is unquestioned at least as far as his 1* is concerned. It is also pointed out that he came to Wicca as an already accomplished magus and that his experimentations revolved areas of magic not pertaining to traditional Wicca. If a lineage accumulates Karma through its founder and is passed in succession with the power and the inner contacts, then given the travailed and fallen from grace life of Sanders, it all begins to make sense.
Many initiates have reported a remarkable shift and change of energy when making a transition from one tradition to the other.
For example S. was initiated 1* Gardnerian before getting 2* and 3* Alexandrian. He spoke about a rush of power infusing the circle during a ritual. I can account for that. The energy generated within an Alexandrian rite is dangerously high voltage, at times almost palpable and visible. It’s so strong that it can become difficult to harness and direct and if ever control is lost one can be sure someone is going to suffer. But you get used to it and then you become addicted to it and nothing else will do, unless it feels stronger. I know one person who started off as Alexandrian, changed to Gardnerian and then regretted it because she missed the old circles. Other former Alexandrians, instead say it gave them a sense of relief and would never go back.
Now, I’ve only ever worked with a Gardnerian once. In comparison it was like smoking a Silk Cut as opposed of puffing on a pipe. The ritual turned out to be just as effective, but at the time I was quite baffled as the power seeped in quite subtly and silently into the circle. It was much better contained, unthreatening and easier to handle. Other former Alexandrians also report that in Gardnerian tradition the power flow is much gentler, it feels safer and easier to handle as it is much more attuned to the rhythm of the Earth.
It makes me wonder: are the two traditions dipping for power from different sources?
I’d speculate that Alexandrian tradition is more heaven and hell orientated as opposed to Earth centred. The majority of Alexandrians, Maxine included, are anything but bothered with ecological or social issues, as if those were affairs pertaining only to those who were mere mortal. For the most part, Alexandrians are engrossed in writing books, making a name for themselves, setting up networks, YouTube channels, argue with and disrespect each other. Most Alexandrians do not have children, and for a fertility cult, the birth rate is seriously low, bordering on the nil. But those who do have children, often experience life threatening situations around them and so modify or limit their magical practice with some external philosophy. Including, if not first and foremost, Maxine herself.
Why do so many Alexandrians come to such close encounters with death or some other form of tragedy involving their offspring? Have the murders of Aylsbury Hill – where many rituals took place in the 60’s – tainted the power that was raised, thus infecting the lineage with corrupted inner contacts?
These are just some of the questions to which I have yet to find an answer.