The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Sanders, Alex (1926—April 30, 1988)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame
Alex Sanders, once known as the “King of the Witches,” founded a Wiccan tradition and was once considered Gerald Gardner’s primary competitor.
Born in Manchester, Sanders stated that age seven he accidentally stumbled onto his Welsh Grandma Bibby naked in the kitchen in the midst of a ritual. Those who stumble onto rituals must be initiated and so he was sworn to secrecy.
Grandma Bibby initiated Alex and advised him that now he was one of “us.” She explains that she (and he, through her) derived from a long line of witches stretching back to the fourteenth-century Welsh chieftain Owen Glendower who preserved Celtic traditions.
Alex and Grandma became very close. She taught him magic, how to create charms, potions and write a Book of Shadows. Grandma Bibby died in 1942. Sanders burned her Book of Shadows but retained many of her ritual tools including a magic sword.
Sanders said he initially engaged in magic for personal financial and sexual gratification, apparently quite successfully, but then resolved to continue his grandmother’s work and began initiating covens in the Manchester area.
Sanders met Maxine Morris (1946—), convent-educated and raised a devout Roman Catholic. She had had visions since her childhood and Sanders recognized her as a natural witch. They married in 1967 and moved to London, establishing a new coven together. They became celebrities of a kind: Maxine was very beautiful and the couple made various radio and television appearances.
Maxine and Sanders separated in 1973. Maxine began a new lower-key coven and Sanders, semi-retired, moved to Sussex where he died of lung cancer in 1988.