A Brief History of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel

By Leanne Pemburn and Adam McGee — Originally posted on the Witches’ Voice

Blessings to those who come in the name of the Goddess and the God! May Wisdom, Understanding, and Beauty guide our actions in this and all other worlds.

— The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is a progressive Wiccan tradition founded in 1984.


In September of 1983, Jim Welch and Ivo Domínguez, Jr., the celebrated writer and teacher, posted a flyer at their store Hen’s Teeth in Wilmington, DE to form a study group. Hen’s Teeth was an alternative bookstore with a large occult section. Ivo had begun his esoteric studies in earnest in 1974 and connected with the Wiccan/Pagan community in 1978. The study group began in October and met every other week in different members’ homes, mostly in the Newark, DE area. Keepers of the Holly Chalice, the mother coven of the Assembly, was founded in March of 1984 and celebrated its first ritual that Beltane at Paula and John Fasbenner’s house in Newark, DE. Ivo Dominguez, Jr. was the coven’s first High Priest and Paula Fasbenner the first High Priestess, elected to serve by the members of Keepers based on their skills and knowledge. It was during this seminal period that Dominguez and others began shaping the magical and theological aesthetic that continues to be the hallmark of the Assembly.

In 1991, Keepers of the Holly Chalice began a formal process of planning the growth from being a coven to being a Tradition. Later that year Nancy G. Stewart hived off to form the coven that at length came to be called the Coven of the Rowan Star. Soon after, the Assembly incorporated in the state of Delaware as a not-for-profit religious organization and then received its 501 (c) (3) status from the IRS. Since then, the Assembly has continued to grow – we now have fourteen covens. In addition to Coven of the Rowan Star and Keepers of the Holly Chalice, we have Oak and Willow, Weavers of the Moonfire (both in the Philadelphia area) , Guardians of the Windsword (southern Delaware) , Fellowship of the Ancient White Stag (Silver Spring, MD) , Troupe of the Starry Door (southern Delaware) , Chalice of the Living Stars (west of Philadelphia) , Tenders of the Earth Temple (Germantown area Philadelphia) , Order of the World Tree (northern New Jersey) , Grail of the Birch Moon (Wilmington DE) , Coven of the Mystic Path (Springfield PA) , Archers of the Sacred Flame (Abingdon, PA) and our newest coven, Bears of the Earth Flame (Dover, DE) .

The ecclesiastical calendar of the Assembly is based upon the standard Wiccan Wheel of the Year, with the eight sabbats being celebrated. In addition to these holy days, there are several other rituals that have come to be part of our calendar. These include a ritual for the triple goddess Hecate, as well as a ritual for the god Cernunnos. Furthermore, the Assembly acknowledges teaching as a spiritual responsibility, and regularly hosts classes, events, and rituals with the intent of instructing the community in our ways. This commitment is most especially fulfilled every four (or so) years, when the Assembly hosts Between the Worlds, a weekend gathering of celebrated teachers and dedicated students that culminates in a momentous ritual.

Core beliefs

The Assembly draws inspiration from a broad range of traditions including Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, Witchcraft of the Keepers of the Ancient Mysteries (KAM) style, the Sabian Society, Sun Bear’s teachings, Patricia Hayes’ teachings, Masonry, the Golden Dawn system, and the Western Magical Tradition as a whole. There is particular emphasis on astrology, Qabala, and hermeticism — as well as the pre-Christian religions of the Celtic and Germanic peoples. These often-divergent systems have been combined, largely through the vision of Ivo Dominguez, Jr., to create a coherent and original Wiccan tradition. While the Assembly’s aesthetic places a certain emphasis on ceremonialism (down to the white robes and turquoise tabards which are the customary ritual dress of Assembly members) , our highest goal is always to unite the celestial with the chthonic, the rose with the cube, the constructive with the ecstatic. Most, though not all, Assembly rituals utilize a form of divine embodiment original to the Assembly, called Aspecting. This technique, similar to both Assumption and Drawing Down, allows us to have corporeal and immediate interactions with the Divine.

Religiously, the Assembly is dedicated to the health of Mother Earth, and to all of her children. We recognize that every human carries the divine spark of God and Goddess, a gift that carries the obligation to make manifest this divine heritage. Divinity itself, source of the Universe, is a single and incomprehensible force that emanates as the God and the Goddess. God and Goddess reveal themselves to us in the threefold aspect of Maiden-Mother-Crone and Youth-Father-Sage. Divinity is immanent, inherent in all that exists and transcendent, supporting all that exists – whole, distinct, incorruptible, and outside of time. Between human beings and the Divine exists a vast ecology of disembodied, or un-embodied, spiritual entities which we work with in order to promote growth and earthly harmony. When working with these entities — which include the Elements, Faeries, and Ancestors — we invite them, rather than command them, to join us. This is in keeping with the doctrine of Free Will, which we believe must equally extend to all spirits — human or otherwise.


The structure of the Assembly was designed to encourage the formation of a magical community that is close-knit and yet gives individual covens room for growth and experimentation. The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, when it is complete, will consist of 12 Zodiacal Circles each representing one of the 12 Zodiacal signs. Each Zodiacal Circle consists of four covens each of which holds in stewardship one of the Tools of the Elements (Air, Fire, Water, and Earth) forming a complete set. The Tool of the Element of each coven provides an anchor for the coven’s group mind, and a relationship to the other covens in each Wheel, and in other Wheels. The symbol and the focus of unity for the Assembly is a central Cauldron, representing Spirit.

The pattern of the Tradition’s structure creates a powerful and subtle interweaving of the cycles of nature, the levels of reality, and the evolution of spirit. The structure represents the four Quarters, the day/night cycle, the Wheel of the Year, the four phases of the Moon, the wisdom of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, and our progress through eternity in the Great Year of the Zodiacal ages. The Sacred Tools and the Cauldron form a plexus that shapes and articulates the group minds of the Covens into the larger group minds of the Circles, and finally into the group mind of the Tradition.

Further Information

The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel website: www.sacredwheel.org. Our website contains more information about the Assembly’s history, practices, and structure. It can also be used to contact us, and to learn about upcoming our events.

For more information about teachings original to the Assembly, we recommend the books written by our founder and Elder, Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Casting: The Creation of Sacred Space and Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels and the Divine. Both may be purchased through his website ( www.ivodominguezjr.com/) , or through any well-stocked esoteric bookstore.