As described in another article on this blog site, Janus-Mithras established the first Isis Urania coven from his Spanish family tradition of witchcraft, and expressed some of that family tradition in English through Gardnerian elements.
The Isis Urania covens are unusual among Wicca traditions in that they do not draw solely on a British heritage, but also on a much older European heritage. While the language and many of the wordings are distinctly Gardnerian, there are slight differences in accord with an underlying meaning and core teaching. This old underlying teaching stresses meditation and realizing one’s true nature. It shows forth and celebrates its profound message through the Gardnerian rituals and prayers, as well as others translated from the Spanish, where nothing equivalent could be found in the Gardnerian.
This web site is all about that underlying teaching, the message that is the “traditional” part in traditional Wicca, as embodied in the Isis Urania system and other Mystery Traditions. Many people will recognize that this underlying message is similar to that of other ancient wisdom traditions, including Qabalism as well as Hinduism and Buddhism. This is because the Spanish roots of the tradition originate before the Inquisition, including a time when the city of Toledo (Spain) was a great center of magical and mystical training in the medieval world. Here one could study from a great assortment of masters from Europe, the Near East, and from the Orient. It could be said that Toledo was a university of philosophy, magic and spirituality, the likes of which Europe had never seen before or since.
Elements of that eclectic time are still present in the roots of the Spanish tradition that is the basis for the Isis Urania covens. While Isis Urania is especially Wiccan, the study of Qabalah is a foundation for the student. As in the glory times of Toledo, a formalized study curriculum in magic and spirituality is used in Isis Urania training (though the exact content of that curriculum varies from coven to coven). There are elements of ancient European, Greco-Roman, Qabalistic, Egyptian, and Gypsy teachings found sprinkled throughout the system. As Janus-Mithras once explained, “An approach was taken over the centuries of, ‘If it works, use it.’” Of course, our ancestors worked these additions into what already was, and remains a distinct belief system that is today in English called “Wiccan.” That distinct system includes a set of elements such as specific wording (with special meaning), specific style, practices and celebrations that are unmistakably Wiccan and are designed to produce illumination, often through theurgy. (These originate well before 1940, when Gerald Gardner is believed by many to have invented Wicca. Perhaps he did invent the word “Wicca”, but not the tradition. In Spanish, the much older word for a witch is “Bruja” for a female, or “Brujo” for a male, and the word for “Wicca” is Brujeria. Gerald Gardner did not invent these words or what they mean.)
The name Isis Urania has several implications, and comes to us from a period in history just after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. His conquest triggered a spread of the Isis cult throughout the Greco-Roman world, eventually reaching to the farthest edges of the Roman Empire, before paganism was suppressed at the Christianization of the Roman Empire. Each of the temples that sprang up throughout this ancient world combined the worship of Isis with the worship of a local goddess. In this manner, goddess worship throughout all of Europe became imbued with the wisdom teachings, the magic and spirituality of the Isis cult.
And what was this teaching? It is that of the journey of the goddess throughout the world (or underworld) to find the God of Death (Osiris in this case), for the answer to the suffering in the world. She learned everything she could about magic and meditation to carry out this goal. Upon meeting Death and thus Realizing who and what we really are, she returned to teach all her children that magic, and what she learned about each and every one of us from the god of Death. (In another perspective, you and I, and every one of us, is a piece of Osiris that Isis is forever working to gather and bring home, to restore our rightful place in the Universe.) This is the same theme as the story of Aradia, the goddess of the witches, as well as countless other ancient goddesses including Sumerian Inanna and Babylonian Ishtar, who were the predecessors for the Egyptian Isis. It is through this link with ancient goddess worship that the Isis Urania covens follow an ancient tradition, even though the first Isis Urania coven of Wicca was founded in 1960. It is through the partially traceable lineage of teachers, reaching back through medieval Toledo, that the Isis Urania covens define their heritage and tradition.
As is the practice with traditional Wiccan covens, students that reach or complete the second degree training may choose to “hive-off”, to form a new coven on their own. Following the tradition of Isis cult in Greco-Roman times, each newly established temple or Isis Urania coven often takes the name of Isis and of another goddess who works with her. (Urania was a Greek muse of magic and astrology among other things, and the Isis Urania temple was a stronghold and starting point for many other temples of the Isis cult in the Greco-Roman era.)
Here is a list of covens known by me to have hived-off from Isis Urania, or from its daughter covens, all of which carry the lineage of Isis Urania:
- Isis Augusta – New Zealand
- Three covens hived off from the first Toronto Isis Urania coven (names unknown – one in Willowdale, Canada)
- Isis Invictus – Ottawa, Canada
- Isis Sothis – Toronto, Canada
- Isis Maut – Hamilton, Canada
- Isis Faria – Toronto, Canada
- Isis Artemis – Montreal, Canada
- Isis Astarte – Montreal, Canada
- Isis Hathor  – Montreal, Canada
- Isis Sophia  – Montreal, Canada
- Aphrodite Urania  – Toronto, Canada
- Isis Ma’at  – Toronto, Canada
While traditional Wicca covens share a lineage, teachings and style, and each honors their ancestors at the beginning of every ritual, they are autonomous and self-governing. There is no over-arching formal association or formal “Wiccan Church” that organizes them in any way. This is an essential quality of traditional Wicca. Autonomy was not only necessary for reasons of security during times of persecution, it also divorced the religion from politics and allowed members to practice their religion in secrecy. It allows each coven the freedom to govern themselves according to their particular “group personality,” building a group mind of their own and leveraging the benefits inherent in that. Secrecy in traditional Wicca has many advantages besides safety in times of persecution. It also allows members to focus on their practice and spiritual growth without pressure, interference or distraction by outside elements such as political organizations, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. “Isis Urania” therefore does not refer to a governing body or uniting organization. Besides being the name of a coven, Isis Urania is only a term of lineage, common ancestry and style. With this ancient practice of secret autonomy, there is typically little communication between covens. As a result, the above shown list of covens sharing the Isis Urania lineage is most certainly incomplete because there are probably other covens that have grown from these since the 1980s that I am naturally not aware of. There are also countless traditional Wicca covens throughout the world that are not part of the Isis Urania lineage, some operating in complete secrecy, that have never heard of each-other.
While there are certainly other covens descendant from the list shown above, all but the last four on this particular list are probably not operating at the present. The last four on the list, Isis Hathor, Isis Sophia, Aphrodite Urania and Isis Ma’at, are the only Isis Urania covens that I know of that are currently operating. They are teaching covens, accepting serious students, and involve a formalized training curriculum for those students. The High Priest of the Isis Hathor coven  is Apollonius-Mithras, who is a student of my own teacher, Janus-Mithras. Apollonius-Mithras is one of the most intelligent, well-read and well-informed people I have ever met. If you wish to read more about the Isis Hathor coven, you will find a link to their web site at the left of this page, in the box entitled “Covens.” The Isis Sophia coven  has newly hived-off from the Isis Hathor coven, and is headed-up by two of Apollonius-Mithras’ students, both of whom I regard with the highest esteem as being so very kind, loving and wise at the same time. The Aphrodite Urania coven  is headed-up by Belinus, a student of the Isis Maut coven in Hamilton who has more than 30 years experience as a coven leader. The Isis Ma’at  coven is headed up by my wife, my son and I. We are accepting applicants now, for training and membership that begins on February 2, 2019. Click on the name of the coven for details.
An example of a traditional Wicca coven with no known connection to Isis Urania, is “The Wicca of the Ancient Harmony,” based in Oshawa, Canada. This is both a “working coven” and also “teaching coven.” They accept a few students each year for training in an extensive and very well organized curriculum of study, possibly leading to initiation and further training. Training in this coven includes both written and oral instruction for up to 7 years, and similar to most traditional Wiccan covens, demands serious commitment, study, practice, meditation and research by the student. The coven Elder there is Mr. Ron Weroski who has a very similar training background to myself. He expresses, sometimes in the very same words, the same sentiments, emphasis, and values as we were taught in Isis Urania. He has published on his web site a wonderful article about traditional Wicca and its philosophy. The article is called “The Philosophy of Traditional Wicca” and can be seen by clicking on “Wicca of the Ancient Harmony” at the left of this web page, in the box entitled “Covens.”