seax wica lyblacSeax Wica And Lyblac

Seax Wica
Working within a Seax Wica Coven By Almond

(reprinted with permission from the author)

(An earlier version appeared in Albion Magazine in 2005)

In this article, I will write about what goes on in a Seax Wica coven, as few know, because there isn’t much material out there. I have written about my own Seax Wica coven. I will point out what we do and also how it differs from the primary source for Seax Wica "Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft" by Raymond Buckland. I hope this article helps.

Seax Wica covens are not as secretive as many other Wiccan covens. They simply don’t have the same strict oaths of secrecy, and they are just not as dogmatic. I believe they are different in one crucial way that defines the whole Seax Wica tradition: they are progressive. A high priest and high priestess are elected once every year by the coven; this in itself does stop power plays and keeps egos at bay.

This also I have found makes the coven more democratic. I have found coven members tend to develop and progress at an even pace and all feel involved. There is no “you can’t take part or aren’t allowed to know yet process going on, you are not ready, you haven’t your second degree.” In fact, within Seax Wica there are no degrees. So there is more equality and freedom within the coven, all voices are heard. This really does stop power plays, and I feel captures the true nature of the craft.

Also Seax Wica covens do recognize solitary practitioners and welcome them to take part in coven rites, upon entry into a Seax Wica coven they are accepted as Seax Gesith (priests) and equals. This is the one major difference that differs and breaks the mould within the Seax Wica tradition and coven.

This is a complete contrast to Wiccan covens of the Gardnerian or Alexandrian traditions, which are group initiated only. Seax Wica covens all use the the "Tree: The complete book of Saxon witchcraft" by Raymond Buckland, which was published in 1974 and is the Seax Wica "Book of Shadows". It is the source or foundation of the coven: i.e. the starting point and is known as the Tree amongst the Seax Gesith and I will refer to it as thus. Within the pages of the Tree, Buckland urges the Seax Wica to adapt to what suits them and makes them comfortable. You can add to the Tree as you yourself progress and develop, which again really does set Seax Wica covens apart from other Wiccan covens.

Every Seax Wica coven can therefore add, change and develop to suit the needs of the coven. Seax Wica is seen as and is a progressive tradition; therefore it is only natural for the covens to be progressive. Some Seax Wica covens progress down a more Saxon heathen route, some a more Wiccan route and some Seax Wica covens simply use The Tree as the basis for all coven teachings. Seax Wica covens can progress and will do so to suit the needs of the coven. This means that the covens will not be restricted and can grow. Practicing myself within a Seax Wica coven I have found that the coven now has progressed beyond the tree, although this is still at our core. My coven has reached further into our countries past, bringing in more traditional and historical aspects of our pagan culture as practiced by our ancestors. This has included elements of Saxon Heathenism and British traditional witchcraft. This has been taken and adapted into our modern 21st century climate.

Rituals in some cases have lengthened; some rituals have become more detailed and lengthier in parts some have become shorter, although that wasn’t planned. It developed naturally and as a result everyone in the coven has had his or her spiritual needs meet. One question, which many may ask, is what’s the point of calling it Seax Wica if it drifts away from the teachings with all the adding and taking? My response is there still has to be guidelines, i.e. for my coven, we don’t drift beyond the old English Anglo Saxon pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, because Seax Wica in essence is trying to adapt things from a Saxon perspective. Therefore our coven does not drift away from this point and all of what we adapt is rooted within English/British culture. While I am not taking anything away to those who worship deities from further afield, to me and all the coven members it would seem very strange indeed if we started worshiping Zeus and say Isis, therefore we hold to the Saxon deities of our kin and ancestors. It simply is our choice and works for us. Raymond Buckland states: “I urge you to adapt what I present to meet your own personal requirements. If you want to use the name Frig for your goddess, then do so. If you want to use entirely different names - so long as they are Saxon - do so” (Buckland, 2005) As a result we follow the Saxon pantheon of deities.

Woden and Freya are quoted as the main two deities within The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. However within our coven Freya has been replaced with Frig/Frija because it made sense to us, it was to us more in line with whom our Gods would have been in the past worshipped by our ancestors and Frig/Frija is the wife of Woden his natural companion. Many other deities are used mainly from the Saxon pantheon. Such as Thunor, Freya and Tiw for example.

Our tools for ritual are the tools described in the Tree, except the High Priest in my coven carries a staff, signifying the worlds of the world tree within Germanic mythology and is used for raising energy and incantations, among other things. (Note the high priestess may also use the staff) It is this staff which is used to mark out the circle when holding ritual. The High Priestess in my coven uses a handmade wand made from the Ash tree (ash trees are said to be the tree of Woden). Some of the things the wand used for spell casting and focusing energy. The High Priest also may have a wand but usually this is used for private communication with the Earth Goddess, rather than general ritual. My own coven meets once a month on the full moon, unless festivals or special circumstances take over. Like if someone is ill for example and needs urgent healing.

As a coven we perform ritual robed, this is one thing we have adapted to suit our requirements as many witches and covens practice naked, some Seax Wica wear short tunics as described in the Tree. We wear a robe black for male white for female and a tabard over the top. White and black signifies day and night, light and darkness. We live and practice in a large city where the weather isn?t always good. We simply don’t have the privacy to practice nude and also feel being clothed is more realistic to our Saxon past. The tabard we wear is adapted from a Saxon tabard. We incorporated this from an older Seax Wica coven. We as a coven don’t feel that this effects or hinders us in anyway being clothed as many magicians and witches for centuries have performed robed and have had no negative or less potent effects. In our rites we do use modern English although within sections of our rites and also on certain festivals we use old English Anglo Saxon to commune with the deities and to raise power. This again is something we have adapted. We felt as a coven using the Anglo Saxon language brought more feeling and power to our words whilst holding ritual.

A question I have been asked is one of oaths and lineage. Well there are no oaths in particular to a Seax Wica coven unless the coven members decide amongst themselves on issues of relevance. In my own coven this is holds true to. This is again a massive difference which distinguishes Seax Wica from other Wiccan covens. Within my own coven some things like magical working is kept private to the coven simply because it is personal to our coven. But there are no secret passwords or the like.

Lineage. Well the answer to that is generally no, there is no lineage within a Seax Wica coven, because quite simply you can self-initiate yourself from using the rituals presented in the Tree and in time when you feel ready start your own coven, it is that simple. There are some Seax Wica covens that have branched off from other Seax Wica covens and so forth so in this sense there origin can be traced back. With my own coven all the coven members used the Tree for their self-dedication and then came into contact with more experience Seax Wica Gesith who are members of an existing coven and after initial training a coven was formed. Within the pages of the Tree, it does state there are certain officers within a Seax Wica coven. A High Priest, a High Priestess, a Thain and a scribe. The role of these officers is explained within the Tree, the High Priest and Priestess lead the coven jointly there is no single dominance of Priestess over Priest. Also as explained earlier the High Priestess and Priest are elected every year, if the same High Priest and Priestess are re-elected again they are known from then on as a High Priestess and Priest within the coven even if the following year they are not re-elected. This holds true within my own coven. The High Priest and Priestess focus and lead the coven during ritual. The High Priest and priestess may have councilors whom they can ask for advice, for example a former High Priest and Priestess may be in a position of superior experience working with others and would be seen as people to turn to get advice on coven maters The Thain is essentially a sergeant in arms. The Thain marks out the temple and calls all to ritual and declares when all is finished. Thain is an Anglo Saxon title of nobility, within Seax Wica it is a title that simply denotes one in charge of keeping order once ritual has started.

Within my coven the Thain will mark out the circle with the high priests staff and leave space for the coven members to enter the circle he will then seal the circle behind the last coven member then dedicate the circle to the Gods and inform the others of the importance of the ritual. The Thain is protector of the temple, the keeper of the keys so to speak. The Thain will take part in ritual and in some covens is seen as a third in command. The Thain is selected by the High Priest and Priestess from the coven members and can be changed regularly within the year. Next you have the scribe, whose role is to write down the names of new coven members in the coven’s book of shadows i.e. the covens Tree. The scribe within my coven also keeps notes on meeting times and activities. In many ways the scribe is like a treasurer and also takes care of any money that is used for supplies for ritual use and also is in charge of keeping stock of supplies. The scribe again is selected by the High Priest and Priestess and can be changed throughout the year. The above are the coven officers who simply organise and help organise the coven.

Almond Billingswulf Of Billingswulf Coven Copyright Lee Billington 2005 References Raymund Buckland (1974) "Tree: Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft". Red Wheel/Weiser. Quotes in article refer to the 2005 edition.