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Chthonioi Alexandrian Tradition (of Wicca) - Beyond an Initiatory Line and into a Tradition:

(A properly formatted version may be found at: http://www.arsenic.com/personal/C-A%20Tradition%20October%202010.pdf)

The following is a statement of identity of a "Line" of Alexandrian Craft that grown into a Tradition . We began the writing of this document at the Chthonioi Family Grand Council held on May 30, 2009 C.E. and finished it in celebration of Samhain, October 31, 2010 C.E. We are now making this document public. Please feel free to contact me ( Vinnie Russo <a href="mailto:custserv@arsenic.com">custserv@arsenic.com</a> ) for additional information.

Chthonioi Alexandrian Tradition (of Wicca)

Beyond an Initiatory Line and into a Tradition:

The Chthonioi branch of the Alexandrian Du Bandia Grasail (DBG) Line has
developed innovations that were and are significantly different from the
practice of the more traditional DBG family, and from the practice of
the wider Alexandrian community. The results have led to an
extraordinarily rich heritage comprising Sabbats, Esbats, Initiations,
Elevations, and kabalistic rites which acknowledge the ceremonial magic
which Alex Sanders brought into the Gardnerian foundation of his

The heritage of the Chthonioi is one of thoughtful, committed, and reverent worship, practice, teaching and
service. It includes a tendency to teach about the perils of "glamour"
and to mandate the practice of self-awareness techniques that minimize
glamour. This has allowed the Line to produce generally sane and
effective, sequential leadership through the daughter covens. As a
result, the Chthonioi covens maintain close family ties with each other
and even in some cases with "cousins" from the more traditional branches
of DBG. We consider the Chthonioi Line to be a distinct path which is
Alexandrian-derived, and we have practiced as such since 1974 alongside
and in harmony with those Traditional Alexandrians who consider us Kin.

As is proper in a hierarchical tradition, we discuss questions of
tradition with our elders, both within the Chthonioi family and with our
traditional Du Bandia Grasail Line cousins, and come to a consensus. In
this case, many generations of Chthonioi, as well as other traditional
Alexandrians in the Du Bandia Grasail Line, have discussed the changes
in our practice over the years and have concluded that we do, in fact,
deviate enough from core Alexandrian practice that we should add the
modifier “Chthonioi” to our Line name. Based on the long established
working relationship and history with our kin, we feel that a
clarification in name accomplishes several things:

1. It defines us as an identifiable derivation of the Alexandrian Tradition without claiming to be Traditional Alexandrian

2. It allows the more Traditional Alexandrians to choose for themselves if
they want to acknowledge our Line as kin without having our praxis
imposed on them

3. It allows those Traditional Alexandrians who do consider us kin to still share with us a diverse magical working
relationship and attend each others′ events, as has been done since
1974/5 (the birth of Chthonioi Coven/Order of Ganymede), as well as to
cross-train students in more than one family line.

Claiming the right to define ourselves, based on consensus from many available
generations of elders in our line, we have made the decision to formally
establish ourselves as the "Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition" or
“Chthonioi-Alexandrian Wicca”.

Chthonioi-Alexandrian Wicca, a brief description:

The term “Chthonioi-Alexandrian Wicca” is used to describe the practice of
the Boston-based family of covens directly downline from and including
Coven Chthonioi. Coven Chthonioi (and daughter Covens) grew out of the
Alexandrian practice of its founders in the 1960′s/1970′s, and is the
oldest continuous Line descended from Du Bandia Grasail, the first
documented Alexandrian Coven in the USA. Chthonioi and its downline are,
in general, open and non-secretive, on the principle that the Mysteries
guard themselves well enough without us throwing additional obstacles
in the path of understanding.

Originally purely Alexandrian, Coven Chthonioi early on changed its worship from that of
the Celtic Gods and Goddesses of Britain to that of the Gods and
Goddesses of Greece (Greco-Roman Pantheon and Isian worship), and
changed its ritual form somewhat to suit this change in mythology. Many
of the original founders (Chthonioi/Ganymede) were students of
comparative religion and Classics. Given the enormous effect Greek and
Roman culture has had on American arts, architecture, law and politics,
since before the founding of the country, this pantheon has proven
especially well-suited to our culture and our focus on social workings.
In addition, the comprehensive documentation of Greco-Roman religious
practice and philosophy allowed early leaders of the coven to easily
form a coherent Tradition. Nonetheless the basic ritual form we use
(Casting the Circle, Drawing Down the Moon, Initiations) is closely
enough based on our Alexandrian background that most all of the local
completely traditional Alexandrians consider us Kin or

Most Traditional Alexandrians consider themselves to fall under the description of BTW or British
Traditional Wicca. The term "Wicca" here refers specifically to the
lineaged, initiatory mystery religions with roots in the New Forest
region of Great Britain, manifested today through various "traditions"
all linked with a common ancestry back to the New Forest area. "Wiccans"
or "The Wica" are the properly initiated and lineaged members of those
Traditions. Like our more traditional Alexandrian kin, our Tradition′s
members are properly initiated and lineaged members who also trace our
lineage back in an unbroken initiatory succession to Alex Sanders.

Coven Chthonioi is the originator of the cycle of rituals that has become
known as the Book of the Provider (or Provider Cycle). The Provider
Cycle is a series of rituals performing sacred enactments of ancient
fertility lore surrounding the Wheel of the Year within the growing and
harvest times, and using the symbology of the Earth Mother/Harvest
Maiden and the Sun King/Harvest Lord. Most Covens in the
Chthonioi-Alexandrian family practice a recognizable form of the
Provider Cycle as part of their material and pass down the original
Alexandrian Book of Shadows (the “Burned Book” version) as well as
considerable additional material.

The name Coven of the Chthonioi, which is Greek — χθωνιοι— means “the People of the Earth,”
or “the earth-born,” since first in our prayers we call on Earth, the
Mother of us all. The name also refers to the gods of the earth and the
realm under the earth, especially Demeter and Persephone, who are
central to our Book of the Provider. These were the gods particularly
associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, the ancient initiatory
religious tradition that inspired most, if not all, later secret
initiatory societies.

General practices:

We share many things in common with our Traditional Alexandrian Kin. We
celebrate the eight Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, and we celebrate
both the New and Full Moons (with variations from coven to coven.) The
original Book of Shadows material passed to our Line is present within
our Lore and rituals (sometimes obviously, sometimes hidden) and honors
our origin and core practice. As a family we do not believe that the
Book of Shadows defines or limits us, rather it provides a starting
point from which to grow. We feel that Tradition and Innovation are two
sides of one coin that, when wisely integrated together, foster healthy
growth and fruitful spirituality.

The Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition is organized into Covens, and families
of Covens. It is not possible to self-initiate into the
Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition; it is only possible to be Initiated
into the Line by someone already in the Line authorized to do so. Each
coven is autonomous and we claim the sole right to determine for
ourselves what constitutes our core practices. As of this writing,
Chthonioi-Alexandrian Wicca has at least 6 generations of active Covens.

Covens in the Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca tend to emphasize the
creative and dynamic character of the Alexandrian Tradition. Since Alex
Sanders himself continued to change and evolve his practice of Wicca
throughout his life, the Chthonioi branch feels empowered, and even
obliged, to continue the creative growth and development of the
tradition. These covens place a great emphasis on group ritual, and
often incorporate ideas and techniques from non-Wiccan forms of ritual
magic. The magic practiced in this branch is primarily theurgic in
nature, aiming to effect a subtle inner transformation of the spirit. It
is our deeply held belief that Wicca, and specifically
Chthonioi-Alexandrian Wicca, is a living growing being of beauty and

Some features that distinguish us from traditional Alexandrians include:

  1. The use of pantheons other than the traditional gods of Wicca,
    primarily but not exclusively Greek/Greco-Roman. In particular, the
    Tradition works with gods that were involved in the ancient
    Eleusinian and Isian Mystery religions. Some covens have developed
    rituals based on ancient mystical and initiatory traditions from
    other regions as well. The approach taken to the worship of the
    gods involves both scholarly study of ancient traditions and direct
    experiential interaction with the gods.
  2. The teaching and use of the Provider Cycle and other materials written by Lucifer, the
    founding High Priest of Coven Chthonioi, and expanded by others.
    The following selected excerpts from “Raise the Song of Harvest
    Home” [1] give an idea as to the nature of the Book of the
    Provider/Provider Cycle:
    1. The Provider Cycle( PC) is a series of rituals performed during the growing season starting at the
      New Moon or Full Moon (depending on timing) immediately after the
      Spring Equinox, and continuing on each Full Moon until the closest
      one before Samhain (October 31st). (Note: some Covens practice
      the PC throughout the entire year by using material in addition to
      the original.)
    2. Arachne, a Sister of the Order of Ganymede, states in her published remembrance of Lucifer, “The Cycle is
      perhaps best seen as a rewriting of the Mysteries of Eleusis
      appropriate to our time and climate; a celebration of the endless
      cycle of life and death.” The PC owes much of its meaning
      and drama to its representation of a “Sacred King cycle”.
    3. The Provider Cycle is an example of successful creation of modern
      “traditional” ritual. Traditionalization of these new rites was
      accomplished by careful incorporation of material from pre- and post
      -20th Century literary sources. The old materials were
      chosen for their ability to be supportive of the flow of the
      ritual story, and are made to appear as part of the larger PC whole
      by the context in which they appear, and by judicious word
      substitution that does not break the flow of the original meter.
  3. The concept that the polarity of “male” and “female” energies and
    their immanent divinity reside within each one of us, and can be
    accessed at will. This may be influenced by physical gender but is
    not necessarily bound by it. The work of polarity magic is expected
    to take place primarily on the inner planes. The goal of the work
    is for each priestess and each priest ultimately to have access to
    both God and Goddess energies within themselves, and to be able to
    encompass the full creative polarity each within their own auras.
  4. Some branches of the Chthonioi-Alexandrian have incorporated Same-Sex
    Initiations (SSI) as a way of acknowledging the importance and
    validity of inner contacts and true connection to the divine regardless
    of physical gender. Although not universally practiced by all
    within our Tradition, we nonetheless acknowledge SSIs as equally
    valid, lineaged, proper Initiations and part of our Tradition.

Standards of Conduct:

Chthonioi-Alexandrians adhere to the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law. We do not charge money
for teaching or ritual, beyond a fair sharing of actual ritual
expenses. We are mindful of the power differential between Elders and
students and so strive to avoid inappropriate personal, material or
sexual exchanges within the context of coven relationships. Exploitative
or abusive relationships of any kind are not tolerated. We have a
strong ethic of personal initiative, responsibility, and accountability,
and encourage the kind of personal development that allows members to
function highly in these respects.

History of the Chthonioi-Alexandrian Line:<span> </span>

(The following is paraphrased from “Witches at the Hub of the Universe [2])

The Du Bandia Grasail Line is one of the oldest continuous
Alexandrian-derived lines in America, dating from the initiation of
Summanus by Alex and Maxine Sanders in 1969, and his development of the
early coven which became Du Bandia Grasail. Summanus was the original
founder of DBG and worked with the coven for several years before
turning the leadership over to "Lucifer" (who took his name for its
original meaning, “Light-bearer”) in 1973.

In 1974, Lucifer and the other coven elders recognized that, even at that time,
there were already differences within the Alexandrian Tradition and they
as elders were unable to decide which direction the coven would or
should take. Lucifer returned to consult with Summanus on the issues
involved. Lucifer was advised to set up his own group, one that could
celebrate all the “traditional” holidays, but also allow them to
continue to build on the original Wiccan system.

As the original coven was unavoidably going to break up, and since none of
the factions could truly be said to embody the original coven any
longer, none of them were to retain the Du Bandia name. Instead, in
1974, the DBG line split in into three traditional branches which kept
to rituals more closely based on the original Alexandrian BOS, and one
more progressive branch (Chthonioi/ Ganymede Line), which kept the
original Alexandrian BoS at its core but continued to expand, change,
and actively incorporate further materials.

The original daughter covens of the original Alexandrian DBG coven were:

  • Coven of the Chthonioi / Order of Ganymede, 1974-present (originator of the
    cycle of rituals that has become known as The Book of the Provider)
  • Astreas, 1973-1984 (Dubuque 1973-75, Milwaukee 1975-84), merged with outer court
    Sophia ca. 1978, and still continues through “hives”
  • Uil′iomlan Tri-fillte Mathair ("Gefilltefisch"), 1974-1976
  • ArDealrach Baintighearna, 1974-1981

DBG Today:

The Lines off the original DBG coven, both more traditional and more
progressive, continue and prosper today in Massachusetts and elsewhere,
with active training given by people who were present in the 1970’s and
later. Some members of the DBG line are responsible for the development
of the Society of Elder Faiths, (a 501(c)3 Pagan church) which has been
providing public ritual, workshops and retreats for thirteen years.
Other members of the DBG line have been active in helping to produce
some of the major festivals and newsletters which drew pagans together
in the decades before the Internet made it easier for people to find
each other. And others have quietly offered public ritual in small
occult stores for decades. These positive outcomes were made possible by
members of both the more-traditional Line (Uil’iomlan Tri-fillte
Mathair) and the more-progressive Line (Chthonioi/Ganymede) working
loosely with each other as members of the same Family, as equals.

Finally, a small disclaimer and a word of thanks:

Because Elders are autonomous in our Tradition, none of us can possibly speak
for all of us. Because we value individual autonomy within our
Tradition, we understand that there may be disagreement over particular
choices made by covens or individuals of our Line. We consider dynamic
and enlightened exploration of such disagreements to be healthy, and do
not see them as creating barriers between friendly, working
relationships within our Wiccan family. In light of this, we do not
expect all members of our family to agree with everything presented.

It is with thanks and deep appreciation that those of us "old enough to
remember" wish to acknowledge the Protean Line of the Gardnerian family,
and specifically Judy Harrow. Proteus and it′s downline have an
analogous relationship to the Gardnerians as the Chthonioi Line does to
the Alexandrians. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their willingness
to declare themselves different, liberal and progressive, while
nonetheless definite members of the Gardnerian Family. May the Protean
Line always prosper!

This essay was written, edited, compiled, and approved by the following Elders and Initiates of
the Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca and made public in
celebration of Samhain, October 31, 2010 C.E.:

Vincent Russo HP, Coven Synchronos, Sheaves of Dememter

Raven HPs, Coven Synergy

Arachne HPs, Symbios

Lakshmi HPs (Current), Chthonioi

Shamash HP, Chthonioi, Ganymede

Steve Wage, Delios Eros, Chthonioi, Ganymede

Astrea, Chthonioi, Ganymede

Albion, Cthonioi

Gwyddion, Chthonioi, Ganymede

Mabon, Chthonioi

Lucia, Ganymede, Chthonioi

Iris, Moonfire, Ganymede

Marilyn Bernstein, W.W., Chthonioi, Ganymede

Janus HP, Spawn Far Coven

LoriJoy, SpawnFar Coven

Iris, Symbios

Pomona, Symbios

Aurora, Symbios

Briannan HPS, Amaltheia, Sheaves of Demeter

Ain, Sheaves of Demeter

Thymele HP of Synergy

Binah, Coven Synergy

Ash, Coven Synergy

Cypress, Synergy Coven

Hanuman HP, Holoklaros, Ganymede, Symbios

Dragonfly HPS, Holoklaros

Epona, Holoklaros

Tree, Holoklaros

Blackthorne, Holoklaros

Anubis HP, Kouretes

Runa HPs, Kouretes

Miranda, Kouretes (Symbios, Earthclad, Amaltheia)

Nyx, Kouretes

Marta, Kouretes

Berta A. Miller-Daniels, Order of Ouroboros

TreeFire, Mnemosyne′s Well, Spawnfar, Silver Cauldron

Wade Birdwell, Urla 303, Rabbit Hole Koven, New Orleans

Rowan, Persephone’s Midden/Coven Temenos

Bran, Temenos/Solitary


[1] Raise the Song of Harvest Home: The Created Ritual Cycle of a Modern Wiccan Lineage – A research Essay by Betty Widerski, © 2002 (selected excerpts).

[2] Witches at the Hub of the Universe: The History of Du Bandia Grasail and its Successors (Summanus’ Account) – Part 1 & Part 2 (selected excerpts).


Coven Chthonioi: <a href="http://orderofganymede.org/">http://orderofganymede.org/</a>;

DBG Family Tree: <a

Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition: <a
(This is the website of the Chthonioi-Alexandrian Tradition, a
progressive Alexandrian based tradition of Wicca.)

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