One for the Witches…

It only occurred to me when replying to comments on this post, where I mentioned the Simon Goodman collection, that I have (copied and stored somewhere) some information that may be of interest to Witches and other Pagans.

Simon Goodman was one of the most influential early Wiccans and occultists in Australia, particularly Perth and Canberra. Shortly before his premature death (age 40) in 1991 Simon kindly donated his not inconsiderable library to the Murdoch University.

Some items of the collection were stolen within a week of its arrival at Murdoch, by three self-identified Wiccan women who gave false names. The rest I shelved, catalogued and read over the following months, copying items of interest.

Amongst my papers this morning I found this chant, based on the pursuit of Gwion-Bach by the Witch-Goddess Ceridwen. Now Celtic Wiccan stuff leaves me breathless – but only in the sense of being bored to death. But, whatever blows your hair back I guess. To be fair when I heard Phillip Carr-Gomm, Chosen Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids tell the story of Gwion-Bach/Taliesin I was strongly touched and felt a transmission of spiritual blessings.


Cunning and arte he did not lack,
By, aye, Her whistle will fetch him back  –

“I flee from thee as an autumn hare,
A Child born of Earth without a care.
Forever I’ll stay in earthy form,
Wishing to be as I was born.”

“A speckled trout now I flee from thee.
A Child of Water rather I’ll be.
From Truth I hide in flowing form,
Wishing to stay as I was born. ”

“Into a bee then I shall go.
Dust-covered hummer, all secrets I know.
A Child of Air I’d rather be.
Like a thought I shall be free”

“From open fields to the miller’s house,
I flee from thee as a summer mouse.
From ripening grain a Fire Child,
Soul of crops and woodlands wild.”

“A seed, earth-grain, within this sack,
I shant be found, nor fetched back.
Grain of wheat, or grain of sand –
Each is made by the Mother’s hand.”

(Scanned version).

This chant was the subject of some secrecy and discussion in the 80s in Perth. As you can see, it is marked “Not for release” which meant it was originally to stay inside Simon’s circles of initiates. Since however, it was included in his donation to a library, obviously later on he was happy for it to be made available to a wider audience. I am unclear why so much fuss was made over this (and other) elements of Simon’s tradition.

Personally, Simon was unfailingly kind, polite and considerate in all his dealings with me, even though we disagreed on many topics. He also had a lovely habit of using his work facilities to make literally dozens of copies of entire books and handing them out to his students and friends without charge. He ran the Occult Reference Centre in Canberra for many years and shared an immense amount of resources and information over that time.

Of course Simon was not without his faults or detractors, including at times the King of the Witches himself, as this letter talking about the Pickingall Wicca theory shows:

5th Sept ’83.

Dear Simon,

I was born into the craft and having been born my grandmother told me to keep my hands out of my pockets and stand up straight. I think your ‘Pickingsgill disitation’ ( I can’t find words for it ) is very trite. You are keeping your hands in your pockets. You are teaching a type of Wicca I know not what of forsooth and forsake me you varlot.

This is not the way of the Wicca.

So, he moved steam rollers and threshing machines (so what) to me that is not Wicca. This is not the way of the Wicca. The Wicca is the worship of the Great Mother and the Mighty One who grants Her the power. Do something original that works not only in theory but in practice. Use your past experience with knowledge and wisdom you useless cunt.

I remain,

The King of Witches,

Alex Sanders.

(Scanned version).

Simon also played the leader-politics game of Wicca very well, which obviously annoyed people. One of his habits was to place fake adverts in the Sunday Times personal column requesting occult training and then see who would respond. He got some colourful replies, as this one shows. I have removed identifying names (the Baron bit is obviously false), but if you must know the gentleman in question is now running a coven in Queensland that insists on full sexual initiations to orgasm at each degree (whose orgasm, I would like to know :)) That should be enough for you to track him down if you must 🙂

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have read your advertisement in the Sunday Times with interest. This advertisement has been discussed, and at least one of us – vis myself, were instructed to contact you.’ We assume that you have heard of the hermetic order of the Golden Dawn,  which makes up the first five initiations or stations. The R.C. ( which is my own lodge), makes up the next three, whilst the S.S. makes up the last three stations of purety. The whole group of the ten stations aligning to the Tree of life is usually taken as being the Golden Dawn.

I should therefore, like to meet with you, and discuss your requirements. Training, I must warn you is long and hard. I therefore greet you, and look forward to receiving your reply.

I remain,

Yours sincerely
The Rt. Hon. XXX  (Baron Von XXX)

Adeptus Minor (the order of the RC) G.D.
High Priest – Wicca – Fide Defendem
G.O.K.T., S.O.K.O, K.E.P., Dr. Occ. Th, F.S.W.S.T., M.S.E.S., S.S.I.O.S.

(Scanned version).

*Sigh* Occultism in Australia in the 70s and 80s may be described by any number of adjectives, but certainly not boring 🙂 More from the Simon Goodman collection in later posts.



  1. Dean Wilson · August 6, 2008

    Very intriguing stuff, Peregrin. I wouldn’t be the most knowledgeable person on Wicca, so I was suprised at how childish and insulting Sanders’ letter was. It certainly paints him in a new light for me!

    Likewise, while the chant is nice, I don’t see what all the “fuss” was about. But then that’s what happens with secrecy in general. Some people want to get their hands on “secrets”, and it doesn’t matter if the secrets are meaningless or not.

    Thanks for sharing, Brother 🙂


  2. Niall · August 9, 2008

    Wow what an interesting find! Well Sander’s always did come across as a bit of an egotist but something of a tolerable one to me personally. It’s odd because in a book by Stewart Farrar (who was a journalist first sent to interview Sanders) Sanders indicated that the title ‘King of the Witches’ was only ever applied to his own tradition…and not to others because as article had said something along the lines of: “Sanders King of the British Witches”, which had upset some of the Gardnerians because they naturally hadn’t recognised this title.

    So it is odd that Sanders would sign simply as King of the Witches. Perhaps an oversight made in haste on his behalf or even just controlled PR with Farrar later on?!

    Thank you so much for sharing! x

    Buaileadh shona agus briseadh shona agus bualieadh shona aris. lvx


  3. Peregrin · August 10, 2008

    Hi Niall,

    thanks for the comment.

    Though Simon practiced “Sussex Craft”, he was an initiate of Alex’s. Some detractors say only to the first degree, but a taped message from Alex to Simon’s “people” (in the collection) suggests the Third Degree. So Alex, from his own perspective, would have been writing to an Alexandrian.

    The Farrars had already been in and out of Alex’s life when this letter was written, so no PR work there 🙂


  4. AlexM · August 12, 2008

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  5. Baphomet's Left Nad · May 18, 2012

    Wasn’t that rascal Bill Wirth was it?

  6. Yes my understanding is that Simon Goodman was also a 3rd degree initiate of Alex Sanders. What is not shown by the Alex Sanders letter is that Alex Sanders and Simon Goodman were lovers and great drinking partners. What Dean and others seem to misunderstand the context of the letter, is that when people are as close as Alex and Simon (Ian) were then a little abuse at each other, only shows the level of intimacy between Alex and Ian. .. btw (1) hope no one can steal the Goodman materials again, and that they are safe (2) re our Christanity / Western Tradition debate on Griffins site.. I cannot see where to post my comment, as done on Google+. Cheers

  7. Scott · May 30, 2012

    As far as I know that chant seems adapted from the old Gowdie chant. That would perhaps be a good reason to keep it out of public view.

    Alex sure had a way with words. It is interesting though to read such in the context of his claims (as they varied) as regards his family “inheritance”. This is to say nothing of the Goodman “Pickingill” claims.

    History should be entertaining as well as informative!

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