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Raymond Buckland and Seax-Wica

By Aidan Kelly

In my last blog about the Gardnerians, I indicated that, because of changes in his life situation, in 1973 Ray Buckland found himself at loose ends. Further, after a decade of administering the Long Island coven, he had come to see some disadvantages in the Gardnerian Tradition as received from Lady Olwen, particularly its hierarchic structure.

The “Old Laws” or “Ardanes,” which both Doreen Valiente and I have established were not written until 1959, do provide for two kinds of governing structure in a coven. The first is the rather monarchic rule by the High Priestess. The other is governance by a Council of Elders, which becomes possible once the coven has several Second or Third Degree initiates. However, in practice, the latter system seems to be rare. Usually a Third Degree High Priestess is expected to hive off and form her own coven, although she still owes fealty to the High Priestess who elevated her to the Third Degree and who thus becomes her Queen. This custom at least avoids the common stress from having two Queen Bees in the same hive. The new High Priestess is expected to abide by the established rules of her mother coven and of the Tradition and is subject to sanctions if she does not. This situation is difficult to harmonize with another Tradition, that each coven should be autonomous. This situation is usually dealt with by diplomacy and compromise, but serious problems do arise.

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