Which Witch Is Which? - Traditions
British Traditional Witch:
Alexandrian Tradition: Founded in England during the 1960's, Alex Sanders referred to himself as the "King" of his Witches. The rituals are said to be modified Gardnerian.
British Traditional Witch:A mix of Celtic and Gardnerian beliefs. Most famous organization at this time is the Red Cross Garters. British Traditionalists move mostly from within the Farrar studies (the famous Witch husband and wife from England.) They too are fairly structured in their beliefs, and train through the degree process. Their covens are also co-ed.
Celtic Wicca:The use of a Celtic/Druidic pantheon mixed with a little ritual Gardnerian, and heavily stressing the Elements, Nature and the Ancient Ones. They had a vast knowledge of and respect for the healing and magickal qualities of plants and stones, flowers, trees, elemental spirits, the little people, gnomes and fairies.
Caledonii Tradition:Formally known as the Hecatine Tradition, this denomination of the Craft is Scottish in origin, and still preserves the unique festivals of the Scots.
Ceremonial Witchcraft:Followers of this Tradition use a great deal of ceremonial magick in their practices. Detailed rituals with a flavor of Egyptian magick and sometimes a favorite, or they may use the Qabbalistic magick.
Dianic Tradition:First pinpointed by Margaret Murray in 1921 in "The Witch Cult in Western Europe", this term appears to include a mixture of various traditions. However, their prime focus in recent years is on the Goddess, and has been pegged as the "feminist" movement of the Craft.
Eclectic Witch:Look in any personals column in a Craft-oriented newsletter or journal and you will see this catch-all phrase. Basically, it indicates that the individual does not follow any particular tradition, denomination, sect, or magickal practice. They learn and study from many magickal systems and apply themselves to whatever works best.
Gardnerian Tradition:Organized by Gerald Gardner in England in the 1950's. Just why is the guy so darned important? Gerald was one of the few people so determined that the Old Religion should not die that he took the risk of publicizing it through the media. Under all the hype, I truly believe he understood that the young needed the Craft as much as the Craft needed a new generation to survive.
Both the Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions follow a more structured route in ceremony and practices. Usually, they are not as vocal as other Witches and are careful both in screening and the practice of their Craft. Therefore, if you are ever invited to visit or join either circle, do not expect the High Priest or Priestess to spill his or her guts during your first encounter. They adhere to a fairly foundational set of customs.
The Wiccan Witch:
Hereditary Witch:One who can trace the Craft through their family tree and who has been taught the Old Religion by a relative who was living at the same time. Channeling doesn't count. How far one has to go back on the family tree to meet the conditions of the first part of this definition is debatable. Family Trades (another name for Hereditary witches) occasionally adopt individuals into their dynasty. This decision is never a light one, and usually stems from the lack of offspring to carry on the line, or the high regard they hold for the person in question. The ceremony is intricate and important. After all, it is not every day you can pick your relatives! It is much like the marriage of an individual into a family.
Kitchen Witch:You will hear this term every once in a while. Basically, this type is one who practices by hearth and home, dealing with the practical side of the religion, magick, the earth and the elements. There are some who groan loudly at this type of terminology, viewing it as degrading or simply inappropriate. Just remember that the Old Religion started somewhere, and most likely the kitchen (or cookfire) was the hub of many charms, spells, healings, and celebrations. After all, where does everyone congregate during the holidays? Grandma's kitchen has always produced magickal memories for humanity; visions of Mother making that something special for a sick child still holds true today for many of us.
Pictish Witchcraft:Scottish Witchcraft that attunes itself to all aspects of nature: animal vegetable, and mineral. It is a solitary form of the Craft and mainly magickal in nature with little religion.
Pow-Wow:Indigenous to South-Central Pennsylvania. This is a system, not a religion, based on a 400 year old Elite German Magick. Pow-Wow has deteriorated to a great degree into simple faith healing. Although Pow-Wow finds it's roots in German Witchcraft, few practicing Pow-Wows today in Pennsylvania follow the Craft or even know the nature of it's true birth.
Seax-Wicca:Founded by Raymond Buckland in 1973. Although of Saxon basis, it was authored by Buckland himself without breaking his original Gardnerian oath. Raymond Buckland's contribution to the Craft is a significant one. Not only did he develop a tradition that is more than acceptable to many individuals, he also has written a large volume of textbooks on different magickal aspects and practices of the Craft, thereby enhancing many lives in a positive direction.
Solitary Witch:One who practices alone, regardless of Tradition, denomination, or sect. Solitaries come in various forms. Some were at one time initiated into a coven and eventually chose to extricate themselves from that environment and continue practicing a particular tradition or sect by themselves. A solitary can also be an individual who has no desire to practice with or learn from a coven structure, but still may adhere to a specific trad or sect through the teachings of another. A solitary Witch can be a person who has decided to tough it out on their own, learning from books, networking and fellow Witches of different traditions. These people have the ability to pick themselves up and brush themselves off, and live to try again. More and more individuals are selecting the solitary path rather than that of group interaction. Another name for a solitary Witch is "Natural Witch". You may hear this word from time to time as well.
Strega Witches:Follows a tradition seated in Italy that began around 1353 with a woman called Aradia. Of all the traditional Witches, this group appears to be the smallest number in the United States; however, their teachings are beautiful and should not be missed.
Teutonic Witch:From ancient time the Teutons have been recognized as a group of people who speak the Germanic group of languages. Culturally, this included the English, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples. This is also known as the Nordic Tradition.
The Wiccan Witch:So far in this rundown of Witches you may have noticed that I rarely use the term "Wiccan", and that many of the definitions -other than the individuals' names and dates- are derived from my own understanding of each term. I have listened to and read many arguments for and against the use of the words "Wiccan" and "Witchcraft". I will tell you quite honestly that I have used both words when discussing my faith, depending on the recipients of my conversation. There are those that feel the term "Witch" is an egotistical one. Maybe so. Different words mean different things to a variety of people. Each individual must draw their own conclusion as to the terms they use tom describe themselves. I personally like the term "witch" very much. To me, it means mystery, healing, power, special, different, balanced, and history. It means knowledge, secrets, the earth, and a bond with both the male and female sides of myself. The word "Wiccan" does not give me those feelings. It projects a different set of associations- church, new earth, wicker furniture (don't ask me why), the new age movement, and hiding the true nature of oneself. It also means 'front', a way to bring the public into accepting our belief system for what it actually is, not what their preconceived ideas of a word dictates to them. Both words have their strong and weak points. It is simply how you view them that makes the difference. Neither definition is better than the other; you must choose for yourself.
These are a few of the different Wicca Traditions out there today. This is by no means a complete list. If I am missing a tradition please contact me. Special Thanks to EagleFeather
A tradition founded by Alex Sanders, in England. The rituals are basically Garderian but have been modified with many Judeo-Christian and ceremonial magick elements. Covens work skyclad. The eight sabbaths are observed and both God and Godess are honored. Sanders himself is unique in the craft world in that he claims the title of a "King" of his witches ( details may be found in June Johnsī book King of the Witches). An attempt was made, a few years back, to create a denomination known as "Algard"- a blending of Alexandrian and Gardnerian. Since Alexandrian is already blended with Gardnerian, there didnīt seem much point to it. Alexandrian Wicca is now found in many countries around the world.
AMERICAN CELTIC WICCA
"The American Order of the Brotherhood of the Wicca" covens stem from Jessica Bell ("Lady Sheba"), a self - styled Witch Queen. The traditionīs rites are virtually the same as the Gardnerian, though covens work robed. They follow the same practice of Gardnerians in prefering couples; preferably husband and wife. "Ceremonial magick is the primary work of the American Celtic tradition and it is conceived as being the most powerful and ancient means of psychological and occult therapy by which normal, healthy people can undertake a program of initiation and development."
The Craft is alive and well "down under" (as it is in virtually every country around the globe), with Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Seax-Wica and other groups there. There is a branch of The Church of the Old Religion in Western Australia. Unfortunately, I donīt know much about this tradition.
CHURCH OF Y TYLWYTH TEG
Their stated purpose is "to seek that which is of the most worth in the world....to exalt the dignity of every person, the human side of our daily activities and the maximum service to humanity....to aid humanities, search in the Great Spiritīs Universe for identity, for development and for happiness....to re-link humanity with itself and nature." It is, as its name suggests, a Keltic/Welsh tradition and was originally organized by Bill Wheeler, in Washington D.C in 1967, as "The Gentle People." It teaches the balance of nature, folklore, mythology and the mysteries and was incorporated as a non-profit (religious) organisation, in the state of Georgia, in 1977. The Church has an "Outer Circle" of students, who may learn through correspondence, together with its inner core.
Circle was begun in 1974 by Selena Fox and Jim Alan. Its headquarters are at Circle Sanctuary, a 200 acre Nature preserve and organic herb fram in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin. Circle coordinates Circle Network, "an international exchange and contact service for Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, Pantheists, Goddess Folk, Shamans, Druids, Eco-Feminists, Native American Medicine People, Seers; Ceremonial Magicians, Mystics and others on related paths." They publish an annual source, the Circle Guide to Pagan Resources and a quarterly newspaper, Circle Network News. Circle sponsors a variety of seminars, concerts and workshops at their home base and around the United States. At least once a year they also sponsor a special program for Wiccan and other Pagan ministers, and at Summer Solstice hold the National Pagan Spirit Gathering. Circle is incorporated as a non-profit spiritual center and is recognized as a legal Wiccan Church by the American state and governments. Circle differs from many traditions of Wicca in that it is more aligned with Shamanism and it seems to me, Amerindian ways than with the Wicca of Western Europe found in the majority of Craft traditions.
COVEN OF THE FOREST, FAR AND FOREVER
This is newer denomination and therefore not found as widely spread as some of the others listed. It was formed by a Priest and Priestess with collective experiences in Dianic, hereditary Spanish, Egyptian and Gardnerian Wicca plus Qabbalism. There is good balance between the male and female aspects. The group "sees the Goddess and God figures as living representatives of even more fundamental, living forces which manifest on a variety of levels." Their stated purpose is "is to make ourselves more fit as vehicles for these forces, by invoking them to, in turn, balance and develop our own natures and grow closer to the universe." The worship is skyclad and without the use of drugs. Esbats are held at each moon and there is emphasis on the Book of Shadows being personally handwritten.
" The Deboran branch is eclectic. They make little ritual use of nudity. They work with balanced polarities (Goddess-God; positive-negative). What they are aiming for is a reconstruction of the Craft as it would be if the Burning Times had never happened - as if Wiccedom had continued without interference to this day. They use research, logical deduction and divination in this quest." Sabbats are open to guests but Esbats are closed. They do not have First, Second and Third degrees as such, but "apprentices, 'sealed and sworn' Witches and Elders.They view the Craft as a priesthood with a ministry and their principle job, as Witches, is to help others find pathways to religious experience and to their own power." The Deboran tradition was founded by Claudia haldane.
DIANIC FEMINIST WICCE
A tradition started by Ann Forfreedom that is both religious and practices magick. It includes both female and male practitioners (" Its not lesbian oriented and not separatist" states Ann), solo practitioners, mixed covens and all female covens. " Dianic Feminist Wicce encourages female leadership, insists that a Priestess must be present for a Circle ritual to be held and involves its practitioners in feminist and humanist issues." Groups work either skyclad or robed.
This is one of the many Welsh-based traditions. It was originally founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in the early 1970s. As "The Church and School of Wicca" the material is presented to students by correspondence, though the course is virtually the same as the material presented in their book The Witches Bible. Originally (in the book) there was no mention of the Goddess at all and there were various sexual aspects which dismayed many who were otherwise drawn to the tradition. The latter situation has been modified and there is now mention of the Goddess. It is a widely spread tradition.
This was the first denomination of the Craft to make itself known publicly (in the 1950s, in England). Because of that, many people mistakenly think that it is the only "true" Wicca. It is named for its founder, Gerald Gardner, who actually launched the tradition a few years after the end of the second World War. For many years Gardner was accused of inventing the whole concept of Wicca and of getting Aleister Crowley to write its rituals. Today he has been pretty well cleared of both these charges. The Gardnerian Book of Shadows can now be seen as a compilation from various sources, much of it actually contributed from Doreen Valiente. For a detailed examination of the birth of Gardnerian, see Janet and Stewart's excellent books Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches' Way. The Gardnerian tradition places emphasis on the Goddess over the God, with the female generally lauded over the male. It has a degree system of advancement and does not allow for self-initiation. Covens work skyclad and aim to have "perfect couples" - equal numbers of male and female, paired. Covens are, theoretically at least, autonomous. Gardnerian Wica is found in most countries around the world. Today there are many traditions which base their rites on the Gardnerian ones. There are also a large number of groups who call themselves "Gardnerian" even though their Books of Shadows bear little resemblance to Gardnerīs original.
The Georgians, founded by George E. Patterson in 1970, were chartered by the Universal Life Church in 1972, as The Church of Wicca of Bakersfield. In 1980 they chartered as The Georgian Church. " The Georgians are eclectic, much based on Gardnerian-Alexandrian plus some English traditionalist and some original....God-Goddess oriented but lean more towards the Goddess." They generally work skyclad but individual groups may do as they wish. They are both religious and magickal and celebrate the eight sabbats. Members are encouraged to write rituals and to learn from all available sources.
A " traditional " Wiccan group established in 1979 and having strong ties with The Coven of Rhiannon in Manchester, England. " Their main focus is the worship of the great Goddess and her Consort, the Horned God....Their coven does not limit worship to one particular cultural-ethnic 'tradition'. Rather, a thorough training in basic Gardnerian wica is taught and members are urged, after mastering these basics, to find that particular myth, cycle or path consistent with their beliefs."
A non-initiatory tradition that works robed. " They try to emulate as authentic and traditional re-creation as possible of old Norse garb....Their God-names are Old Norse, not Teutonic. They do cast a Circle, they do not 'call Quarters'....Their tradition is Norse...the group, however, is not hereditary in that members need to be of any particular family or ethnic group." The Northern Way was founded in 1980 and incorporated in 1982, in Chicago. Its religion is sometimes called Asatru. They observe the four Solar Fire Festivals as well as those indigenous to the Norse religion.
An eclectic group founded by two Gardnerians. They work robed at Esbats and skyclad at initiations. The Gardnerian deityt names are used, though " working pairs may use others if they wish." Nova has a degree system, which is very finely tuned, and an in-depth training, some classes being open to newcomers. Grand Sabbats are also open to interested persons, at the covenīs discretion. Nova classifies it self as " a Mixed Traditonal, Teaching/Training Coven."
A Scottish Solitary tradition passed on by Aidan Breac, who personally teaches students in his home at Castle Carnonacae, in Scotland. The tradition is attuned to the solar and lunar changes, with a balance between the God and the Goddess. Meditation and divination play a large part in the tradition and it also teaches several variations on solitary working of magick.
This tradition was founded by Raymond Buckland in 1973. It has a Saxon basis but is, in fact, a new denomination of the Craft. It does not pretend to be either a continuation or a re-creation of the original Saxon religion. Main features of the tradition are the fact that it has open rituals (all of them are published and available), it has a democratic organization that preludes ego trips and power plays by coven leaders, there can be Coven or Solitary practice and there is the reality of Self Initiation in lieu of Coven Initiation, if desired. Covens are lead by Priest and/or Priestess and decide for themselves whether to work robed or skyclad**** The Term skyclad that means NAKED for those who are not familiar with the term********.
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