Founded in England during the 1960's by Alexander Sanders, self-proclaimed "King of the Witches". An nearly contemporary precurser of Gardnerian, Alexandrian covens focus strongly upon training, emphasizing on areas more generally associated with ceremonial magic, such as Qabalah, Angelic Magic and Enochian. The typical Alexandrian coven has a hierarchical structure, and generally meets on weekly, or at least on Full Moons, New Moons and Sabbats. Rituals are usually done skyclad.
Most Alexandrian covens will allow non-inititiates to attend circles, usually as a "neophyte," who undergoes basic training in circle craft prior to being accepted for the 1st degree initiation. Alexandrian Wicca uses essentially the same tools and rituals as Gardnerian Wicca, though in some cases, the tools are used differently, and the rituals have been adapted. Another frequent change is to be found in the names of deities and guardians of the Quarters. In some ways these differences are merely cosmetic, but in others, there are fundamental differences in philosophy. Over the last 30 years, the two traditions have moved slowly towards each other, and the differences which marked lines of demarcation are slowly fading away.
"The American Order of the Brotherhood of Wicca" covens stem from Jessica Bell("Lady Sheba"), a self-styled Witch Queen. The tradition's rites are vertually the same as the Gardnerian, though covens work robed. They follow the same practice of Gardnerians in preferring 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."
Founded in 1968 by Lady Amethyst. Tradition is rooted in the Order of the Garter, Order of the Royal Oak. Traditional with lots of Hermetic beliefs. Dedicated to preserving old traditions while growing into a new generation of enlightened ones. Teaches by example in daily life, at home and at work, as well as when among our own. Known through work and deeds. Believes in a strict code of ethics exemplified by one's actions and lives by the Wiccan Rede.
ASATRU (NORSE PAGANISM)
Asatru or Ásatrú is an Icelandic word, a translation of the Danish word Asetro. Unlike Wicca, which has gradually evolved into many different traditions, the reconstruction of Asatru has been based on the surviving historical record; it has been maintained as closely as possible to the original religion of the Norse people.
Forn Siðr (which means the Ancient way), Forn sed (the Old custom), Nordisk sed (Nordic custom), or Hedensk sed (Pagan custom). The religion's origin is lost in antiquity. At its peak, it covered all of Northern Europe. In 1000 CE, and is considered a preservation of the "Heathen" religion.
The Craft is alive and well "down under" (as it is in virtually every county 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.
Founded in 1976 Norristown, PA by Frank Dufner ("the Wizard") and Tzipora Katz, who later moved to Manhattan, where they trained and initiated a number of people. Early rituals were based on Alexandrian and Greco-Roman Traditions. After Frank and Tzipora's divorce, in the early 1980's, Kenny Klein became high priest, steering the Tradition towards a more traditional British form, discarding Alexandrian and ceremonial rituals and replacing them with British Isles folkloric Craft practices, including the 8 Paths of Power, the 7 Tenets of Faith, and the Drawing Down of the Moon and Sun. Touring the country from 1983-1992 performing music, Kenny and Tzipora taught Blue Star, initiated many people, and founded many covens, recording and distributing lessons on cassette tapes. The rigorous training may take 2-3 years before initiation.
The term "British Traditional" refers to a variety of traditions which originated in the British Isles and which have certain characteristics in common. There is a mix of Celtic and Gardnerian beliefs, mostly based on the Farrar studies. Worship of the God and Goddes is balanced, covens and co-ed, and there is a degree system. The New Wiccan Church is a federation of British Traditions (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Mohisian, and Central Valley Wicca-Kingstone, majestic Order and Silver Crescent). NWC is dedicated to preserving initiatorty Craft.
CELTIC WICCA and/or WITCHCRAFT
The Celtic path is really many traditions under the general heading of "Celtic." It encompasses Druidism, Celtic Shamanism, Celtic Wicca or Witta, the Grail Religion, and Celtic Christianity or Culdees. Each path is unique and stand
alone meld together with another and still be part of the Celtic tradition which is primarily derived from the ancient pre Christian Celtic religion of Gaul and the British Isles.
They generally use a Celtic/Druidic pantheon; heavily stressing the elements of nature and/or the Ancient Ones. Theyse may have a vast knowledge of and respect for the healing and magickal qualities of plants and stones, flowers, trees, elemental spirits.
Some traditions like the Pictish; stress the little people, gnomes and faieries.
As it is practiced today, most of the Celtic paths are part of the Neo-Pagan revival, focusing on Nature and healing with group and individual rituals that honor the Ancient Shining Ones and the Earth. Most are very eclectic, and hold to the Celtic myths, divinities, magic and rituals. Celtic paths are some of the more popular traditions.
Uses a great deal of Ceremonial Magick in practices. Follows a traditions of Enocian Magick as developed by the Golden Dawn society. Uses Qabalistic ritual forms; relying highly on secret names and Sigils; purportedly to access the secret power of the "Tree of Life".
This is the most feminist Craft Tradition. Most Dianic covens worship the Goddess exclusively (Diana and Artemis are the most common manifestations) and most today are women only. Rituals are eclectic; some are derived from Gardnerian and Faery traditions, while others have been created anew. Emphasis is on rediscovering and reclaiming female power and divinity, consciousnes-raising, and combining politics with spirituality.
The Dianic Craft included two distinct branches:
The first Dianic coven in the U.S. was formed in the late '60s by Margan McFarland and Mark Roberts, in Dallas, Texas. This branch gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology, but honors the Horned God as Her beloved Consort. Covens include both women and men. This branch is sometimes called 'Old Dianic,' and there are still covens of this tradition specially in Texas. Other coven, similar in theology but not directly descended from the McFarland/Roberts line are sprinkled around the country.
The other branch, Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, focuses exclusively on the Goddess and consists of women-only covens, often with a strong lesbian presence. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchial, using consensus decision making and simple, creative, experimental ritual. They are politically femisnist groups, usually very supportive, personal and emotionally intimate. The major network is Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess. Z Budapest founded the Susan B. Anthony Coven in 1971, declaring Dianic Witchcraft to be "Wimmin's Religion". The Wommin's Spirituality Forum was Founded by Z Budapest in 1986, and is dedicated to bringing Goddess consciousness to the mainstream of feminist consciousness through lectures and, retreats, classes, cable TV shows, and rituals in the effort to achieve spiritual and social liberation.
The origins of Druidry are lost in remote antiquity, although its history, has been one of continuous evolution; which continues to the present day. Druidry had no human founder, nor does it have a fixed canon of scriptures; but evolved from tribal shaman into a an educated priestly class. Contemporary Druidry focuses on its place in celtic history. It brings the re-emergence of a `shamanic` understanding and practice, and elemental magick; working directly in unity with the land, rocks, trees, plants, animals and spiritual elements.
Refers to groups and individuals that are generally self directed and proclaimed witches and/or wiccans; not following any one particular Tradition or mythos, but incorporating elements of several, according to the training, preferences and experiences of the practitioners. Generally it is expeessed by the individuals personal attraction to particular totems or gods or goddesses. In ritual and spell work uses (the Buffet approach) Deities from several pantheons may be invoked, sometimes even in the same ritual, particularly when a working is being created for a specific cause. In such a case, Eclectics may call upon, for example, an assortment of Love Goddesses, etc. from many different cultures.
FAERY (Faerie/Fairy/Feri/ Faery)
It is an ecstatic, rather than fertility tradition, emphasizing on polytheism, practical magic, self-development and theurgy. Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression. This is a mystery tradition of power, mystery, danger, ecstasy, and direct communication with divinity. Most initiates are in the arts and incorporate their own poetry, music and invocations into rituals. The Tradition is gender-equal, and all sexual orientations seem able to find a niche. According to Francesca De Grandis, founder of the 3rd Road branch: "Faerie power is not about a liturgy but about one's body: a Fey shaman's blood and bones are made of stars and Faerie dust. A legitimate branch of Faerie is about a personal vision that is the Fey Folks' gift to a shaman." Initially small and secretive, many of the fundamentals of the Tradition have reached a large audience trough the writings of Starhawk, the most famous initiate. Some secret branches remain. While only a few hundred initiates can trace their lineage directly to Victor Anderson, many thousands are estimated to practice neo-Faery Traditions.
FROST SCHOOL OF WICCA
This is one of the many Welsh-based traditions. It was originally founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in the early 1970's. As "The Chuch and School of Wicca" the material is presented to students by correspondence, though the course is vertually the same is the material presented in their book The Wiches' Bible. Numerous covens have resulted from this school, although it is somewhat unconventional (if, that is, anything dealing with Wicca could be called conventional). The Frosts' views on Wicca as a religion do differ with the majority.. in that they do not consider Wicca as "Pagan", but rather as Monotheistic. Originally (in the book) there was no mention of the Goddes at all and there were various sexual aspects which dismayed many who were otherwise drawn to the tradition. The latter situation has recently been modified and there is now mention of the Goddess. It is a widely spread tradition, found throughout this country and abroad.
This is a closed initiatory Tradition which was founded in England ca 1953 by Gerald Gardner. This tradition claims to have existed, in secret, since the Witch-Burnings began during the Middle Ages. While there is some doubt as to whether or not it is as old as it claims, there is no denying that the Gardnerian sect has been one of the most influential of the traditions andwas further developed by Doreen Valiente and others. Gardner is considered to be the father of Wicca. Gardner was initiated into a coven of Witches in the New Forest region of England in 1939 by a High Priestess named 'Old Dorothy' Clutterbuck. In 1949 he wrote High Magic's Aid, a novel about medieval Witchcraft in which quite a bit of the Craft as practiced by the coven was used. In 1951 the last of the English laws against Witchcraft were repealed (primarily due to to the pressure of Spiritualists) and Gardner published Witchcraft Today, which set forth a version of rituals and traditions of that coven.
Gardner gave his Tradition a ritual framework strongly influenced by Freemasonry and Crowleyan ceremonial magic, as well as traditional folk magic and Tantric Hinduism. The typical Gardnerian view of the God/dess is that of a Dominant three-faced Goddess (maiden, mother, and crone) with a male consort (who has many names.. the Young Summer King, and the Old Winter King). Ceremonies include a series of initiations into higher levels of the craft, various holiday celebrations (based, of course, upon the "Wheel of the Year" calendar of Feast days. Gardnerian covens are always headed by a High Priestess and have three degrees of initiation closely paralleling the Masonic degrees. Worship is centered on the Goddess and the Horned God.
The tradition emphasizes polarity in all things, fertility, and the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Eight seasonal Sabbats are observed, and the Wiccan Rede is the guiding principle. Power is raised through scourging and sex magick ("The Great Rite"), as well as meditation, chanting, astral projection, dancing, wine and cords. Designed for group/coven work, through solitary workings have been created. Covens work skyclad.
The Tradition was brought to the USA in 1965 by Raymond & Rosemary Buckland, who were initiated in 1964 by the Gardner's High Priestess, Lady Olwen.
"The Georgieans are eclectic, much based on Gardnerian-Alexandrian plius some English traditionalist and some original...God-Goddess oriented buy lean more towards the Goddess." They generally work skyclad but individual groups or indidviduals may do as they wish.
Also known as Hecatine, This is of Scottish origin and still preserves the unique festivals of the Scottish.
This is a person that can trace the Craft back on their family tree and was taught by a living relative. Most hereditary Witches have a Celtic background. But there are many hereditary practitioners: of Afro-american and Meso american spirituality; and Shaman; who do not consider themselves to be witches.
This is generally a practitioner of Folk Medicine, herbalism, and perhaps midwifery; that practices by home and hearth, concentrating on the practical side of magick, and the healing arts of the earth and elements.
A Gay Men's tradition of Witchcraft established in New York by the late Lord Gwydion (Eddie Buczynski) in the mid - 1970's, at the same time as the Minoan Sisterhood was being established by Lady Miw, also in New York. The Brotherhood remains exclusively a venue for Gay men to explore a traditional ritual Witchcraft, one which can foster a similar, though Gay, sexual mysticism and sense of personal empowerment as in some British traditions of Wicca. As the founder was a Gardnerian initiate, the rituals are roughly Gardnerian, with changes to accommodate a different core mythology and ritual custom. Imagery and deities are those of Ancient Crete and Mycenae. Working tools and their uses are virtually identical to those of British traditional Wicca.
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 called the Nordic tradition. See: Asatru.
A non-initiatory tradition that works robed. "We try to emulate as authentic and traditonal re-creation as possible of old Norse garb...Our God-names are all Old Norse, not Teutonic. We do cast a Cirl; we do not 'call Quarters'...Our tradition is Norse...the group however, is not hereditary in that members need not be of any particular family or ethnic group."
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 with some stress belief in the "little people", gnomes and faieries.
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.
This is a system, not a religion, based on 400 year old German Magick. In this day and time it has lost much of its concentrations and is basically now a discipline of simple faith healing.
SATANIST (Satanic Witch)
Fundamentalist Wiccanas say that one cannot be a Satanic witch because witches do not believe/worship Satan. However; I consider a Witch to be anyone who considers themselves a witch; and practices magick. a Satanist, (follower or worshipper of demonic entities) rather than what is considered traditional Pagan deities; would then be a "satanic witch".
*SEAX WICA (or Saxon) WICCA:
I met Dr. Raymond Buckland, in 1963 when he was the "head witch" of New York city; before he was initiated in 1964 by the Gardner's High Priestess, Lady Olwen. He brought the Gardnarian Tradition back to the USA in 1965. In the early seventies he created his own version of Wicca. as an alternative to the existing covens; is based on Saxon traditions and mythology.
Unlike most traditions, which consider the coven group to be the normal unit of division for ceremonies/rituals and group rites), the Seax version has provision for Solitary practitioners. Which is considered set apart by non-reliance on being properly initiated into the Wiccan community. Many other groups require that new members be brought to existing covens to be ceremonially initiated into that tradition, and only after years of study within the group is one ready to start a new coven.
I believe this is because the main interest of Dr. Buckland, who is an educator, is promoting witchcraft instruction through his books. These teach Wicca in easy lessons, allow for self-initiation, and auto setup of a coven. Most new young wiccans receive their education through his books.
SHAMAN (Shamanic Witchcraft)
This term refers to practices associated with those of tribal shamans in traditional Pagan cultures throughout the world. A shaman combines the roles of healer, priest, diviner, magician, teacher and spirit guide. They may utilizing altered states of consciousness to produce and control psychic phenomena and travel to and from the spirit realm. Many followers of this path believe that historical Witchcraft was the shamanic practice of European Pagans; and that Medieval Witches actually functioned more as village shamans than as priests and priestesses of :the Old Religion."
Shamanic Witchcraft emphasizes serving the wider community through rituals, herbalism, spellcraft, rites and iniation, handfastings, healings and spiritual counseling. One distinguishing element of some Shamanic Witchcraft is the knowledge and sacramental use of psychotropic plants to effect transitions between worlds. The theory and practice of Shamanic Witchcraft has permeated widely though out many other established Traditions.
One who practices alone, (unaffiliated with a coven) in the tradition of their choice. Many times following a hereditary tradition.
Stregheria is the Craft of the Italian Witches. It's an ancient system, that follows a tradition seated in Italy that began around 1353 with a woman called Aradia. Strega are the descendants of an ancient people who used moonlore, nature, symbolism, and Spirits (Faery) to work their magick. Strega accept the duality of both a female and male God, known by different names in different traditions. Stregheria also recognizes a spiritual teacher and wise woman, Aradia, known as the Holy Strega.
The message of Aradia, called the Covenant, offered her followers the path to freedom and personal empowerment. Aradia also taught that the traditional powers of a Witch would belong to any who adhered to the way of the Old Religion. Aradia called these Gifts and Beliefs. The Charge of Aradia is the message she left her followers.
The Tools of the Stregherian are likened to the armor and weapons of a Knight: any true Witch must be to some degree a spiritual warrior. The magickal focus is largely upon spells, omens and natural objects. These are used in amulets, talismans and charm bags. Nature is viewed as the manifestation of spiritual forces. Magick is the art of understanding the interplay between these forces and the ways in which they can be influenced. Ritual circles are seldom used for spell casting or other works of magick. Stregheria and Wicca celebrate many of the same seasonal Festivals even though the names and some of the dates are different.
Thelema came to notice and acclaim in the early part of this century through the workings of Aleister Crowley. Crowley was a English poet, author, mountaineer, magician, and member of the occult society known as the "Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn".; was the first proponent of the law of Thelema "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law"; which became modified by Alex Sanders and Gerald Gardner in the formation of Wicca.
The Law of Thelema is a system of experiential spirituality. This means engaging in various spiritual practices to realize the truth of the spiritual life for themselves. The ultimate goal to identify with and become a spiritual being, free of the constraints and constrictions of conditioned existence.
The Law of Thelema teaches that all religions are variations of one fundamental underlying spiritual truth, which become fragmented into different religious traditions because of variations of place, time, and the passage of time, have become diversified and exclusive. It rejects "religiosity" altogether, as harmful spiritual life and impeding real spiritual progress and seeks to destroy it. However; they incorporate practices from all religion to reconstitute the primordial tradition that underlies them all. Crowley compared this process to recombining the colours of the spectrum into white light. This reconstruction is the special task of Scientific Illuminism, which is one aspect of the Law of Thelema, the operative branch of which is Magick.
Like Dianic, this is a sub-class and a mix of Celtic and Gardnerian beliefs (and others). Each traditionalist group is usually based upon the traditions, literature, myth, and folktales of that particular geographic/demographic area (However There can be Traditional Eclectic Witchcraft as well as that of a particular individual tradition). This is evident in the names of the God/dess used by individual groups. They usually tend to be fairly structured in their beliefs, and some train through the degree processes.
Founded by Selena Fox in the 1980's. Ecumenical and multicultural focus. Combination of Wicca, humanistic psychology and a variety of shamanistic practices from around the world. Emphasis on healing. Uses traditional shamanistic techniques to create altered consciousness, such as drumming and ecstatic dancing.
A Wiccan, is a Witch who follows the Wiccan Rede, and the principals of Wicca; the wheel of the year; along with using the wiccan correspondance and of course identifies themselves as wiccan. See tracing Witccraft and Wicca below.
Is the Craft of the Wise. A Witch Is usually deined as someone who performs spells and/or practices magick. I would add to that; identity. In addition to the practice of magic; no matter what their philosophy or framework of belefs one must consider themselves to be a witch. Which would be the same for "Christian Witches"; "Satanists" or persons who follow other frames of reference entirely.