Eclectic Wicca

Eclectic Wicca

By , About.com Guide

Eclectic Wicca is an all-purpose term applied to NeoWiccan traditions that don’t fit into any specific definitive category. Many solitary Wiccans follow an eclectic path, but there are also covens that consider themselves eclectic. A coven or individual may use the term “eclectic” for a variety of reasons. For example:

  • A group or solitary may use a blend of beliefs and practices from several different pantheons and traditions.
  • A group could be an offshoot of an established tradition of Wicca, such as Gardnerian or Alexandrian, but with modifications to their practice that make them no longer that original tradition.
  • An individual may be creating his or her own tradition of beliefs and practices, and because this system can’t be defined as something else, it can be defined as eclectic.
  • A solitary may be practicing what he or she has learned from publicly available sources on Wicca, but not be using oathbound, initiatory material, and so recognizes that his or her practice is eclectic.

Because there is often disagreement about who is Wiccan and who isn’t, there can be confusion regarding existing lineaged Wiccan traditions, and newer eclectic traditions. Some would say that only those lineaged covens are permitted to call themselves Wiccan, and that anyone who claims to be eclectic is, by definition, not Wiccan but Neowiccan. Bear in mind that the term Neowiccan simply means someone who practices a newer form of Wicca, and is not meant to be derogatory or insulting.

British Traditional Wicca

British Traditional Wicca

By , About.com Guide

British Traditional Wicca, or BTW, is an all-purpose category used to describe some of the New Forest traditions of Wicca. Gardnerian and Alexandrian are the two best-known, but there are some smaller subgroups as well. The term “British Traditional Wicca” seems to be used in this manner more in the United States than in England. In Britain, the BTW label is sometimes used to apply to traditions which claim to predate Gerald Gardner and the New Forest covens.

Although only a few Wiccan traditions fall under the “official” heading of BTW, there are many offshoot groups which can certainly claim kinship with the British Traditional Wiccans. Typically, these are groups which have broken off from a BTW initiatory line, and formed new traditions and practices of their own, while still being loosely connected with BTW.

One can only claim to be part of British Traditional Wicca if they (a) are formally initiated, by a lineaged member, into one of the groups that falls under the BTW heading, and (b) maintain a level of training and practice that is consistent with the BTW standards. In other words, much like the Gardnerian tradition, you can’t simply proclaim yourself to be British Trad Wiccan.

Geography doesn’t necessarily determine whether or not someone is part of BTW. There are branches of BTW covens located in the United States and other countries — again, the key is the lineage, teachings and practice of the group, not the location.

Alexandrian Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca

By , About.com Guide

Origins of Alexandrian Wicca:

Formed by Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine, Alexandrian Wicca is very similar to the Gardnerian tradition. Although Sanders claimed to have been initiated into witchcraft in the early 1930s, he was also a member of a Gardnerian coven before breaking off to start his own tradition in the 1960s. Alexandrian Wicca is a blend of ceremonial magic with heavy Gardnerian influences and a dose of Hermetic Kabbalah mixed in.

Alexandrian Wicca focuses on the polarity between the genders, and rites and ceremonies often dedicate equal time to the God and the Goddess. While Alexandrian ritual tool use and the names of the deities differ from Gardnerian tradition, Maxine Sanders has been famously quoted as saying, “If it works, use it.” Alexandrian covens do a good deal of work with ceremonial magic, and they meet during new moons, full moons, and for the eight Wiccan Sabbats.

Influences from Gardner:

Similar to the Gardnerian tradition, Alexandrian covens initiate members into a degree system. Some begin training at a neophyte level, and then advance to First Degree. In other covens, a new initiate is automatically given the title of First Degree. According to Ronald Hutton, in his book Triumph of the Moon, many of the differences between Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca have blurred over the past few decades. It is not uncommon to find someone who is degreed in both systems, or to find a coven of one tradition that accepts a member degreed in the other system.

PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

PRACTICING WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT TODAY

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion.  You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up  to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals.  Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven.  Once again  this is a person choice.  Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca:  Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner.  Groups tend to work skyclad.  Covens use a degree system.  Individuals are initiated by the  coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca:  Started in the 1960’s in England.  In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca:  Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s.  They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and  Gardnerian crafts.  Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca:  Founded in 1972.  Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition.  They are very close to the  Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner.  He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon  traditions.  Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s.  Feri teacher tend to add something of  themselves to the religion as they teach.  They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God.  This is a feminist movement of the craft.  The  covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca:  The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru.  This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches:  This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches:  This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete.  Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background.  This need not be  so.  Follow the one that calls to you.

What type of a witch are you?

Solitary:  Practices the craft alone and does not work with a group or coven.  By the Gardnerian and Alexandrian way solitary witches    are not witches.  In order to be considered a witch you must work with a coven.

Eclectic:  These witches pick chose and mix various traditions.  They have no set path.

Hereditary:  These are the practitioners who have been taught the craft from their relative.  The craft was passed, unbroken, from    generation to generation.

So, now, do you want to be a solitary witch or work with a coven?  Let me give you a few Pros and Cons to consider.

PRO

If you join a coven you will receive lots of support.  There are people available with the same beliefs to talk to.  You will also get some structure.    You can work your way up from dedicant to High Priest(s).

CON

Just by the fact that there is structure in a coven may discourage some people.  The coven decides on the where, when at time of the Sabbats and    meetings.  If you break the laws of the coven (dishonor) you will be asked to leave.   The cons of a coven are not unlike those that relate to any group    activity.

PRO

OK, so you will go solo and be a solitary.  This means that you can learn at your own pace.  You can follow your own schedule for Sabbats, within    reason.  You attire is strictly up to you.  Some solitaries will join with a know coven to celebrate Sabbats.  You can design your own rituals.

CON

The major downside is that you are on are on your own.  Help and guidance from knowledgeable witches are not going to be readily available.  The    solitary had no linage to look back on for guidance.  Solitary witches are looked down on by name of the coven witches.  What do you know – a class    structure L

So what type of training do you want?  You can find metaphysical shops and seek help from them.  You can use the local library or book shop.  If you    have internet access there is a wealth of information available for you.

You may want to join a coven.  This decision must be made carefully.  Some covens are basically nothing more than social groups.  Others are based on    the D & D games.  Be selective, just as they will want to interview you, you should reciprocate in kind.

NOTE:  Witches do not try to convert people.

Once you have decided upon a coven go to a few open Sabbats and meetings, if permitted.  If you can not attend an open Sabbat write the coven off.  With    the exception of two Sabbats, all others can be open.

Sit down with the Priestess / Priest and see what the coven will want of you.  The will also ask what you can bring to the coven.  Remember, a coven    becomes your family away from home.  The coven should NEVER supercede your home life.  You family will always come first.

Once you are in total agreement – both ways you can apply to become a dedicant.  During this time you will be kept under the eye of the Priestess and    Priest.  Your initial training will last for a year and a day.  After that time, if upon the agreement of all, you can become an initiate.  From that point    on you will go through the three degrees of initiation.  Each degree will take a minimum of a year and a day to complete.

Being a member of a coven is a commitment.  You will be expected to attend coven functions.  Covens usually meet to celebrate the 8 Sabbats – holidays    of the God and 13 Esbats – holidays of the Goddess.  Members of the coven are given a part to perform during the rituals.  Not showing up for ritual is a    major NO-NO.  If you do not make it you can ruin the ritual.

You may also be asked to help the coven.  Many covens take on community work to help the community.

Many covens plan outing and fun events for their members…

One thing to remember no matter what path you choose; When the Student is ready, the Teacher Will Appear.

Things to Remember

There are possibly hundreds, possibly thousand different types of witches.

You need not join a coven to be a witch.

If any witch asks you to do something that is immoral, illegal or makes you uncomfortable, DO NOT DO IT.

You will find your teacher when the time is right.

Later Developments In Wicca

Wicca has developed in several directions and institutional structures from the time it was brought to wider attention by Gerald Gardner. Gardnerian Wicca was an initiatory mystery religion, admission to which was at least in theory limited to those who were initiated into a pre-existing coven. The Book of Shadows, the grimoire that contained the Gardnerian rituals, was a secret that could only be obtained from a coven of proper lineage. Some Wiccans such as Raymond Buckland, then a Gardnerian, continued to maintain this stance well into the 1970s. Further degrees of initiation were required before members could found their own covens. Interest outstripped the ability of the mostly British-based covens to train and propagate members; the beliefs of the religion spread faster by the printed word or word of mouth than the initiatory system was prepared to handle.

Other traditions appeared. Some claimed roots as ancient as Gardner’s version, and were organised along similar lines. Others were syncretistic, importing aspects of Kabbalah or ceremonial magic. In 1971 “Lady Sheba” published a version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, dispelling what little secrecy remained as to the contents of Gardner’s rituals. Increasing awareness of Gardner’s literary sources and the actual early history of the movement made creativity seem as valuable as Gardnerian tradition.

Another significant development was creation by feminists of Dianic Wicca or feminist Dianic Witchcraft, a specifically feminist faith that discarded Gardnerian-style hierarchy as irrelevant; many Dianic Wiccans taught that witchcraft was every woman’s right and heritage to claim. This heritage might be characterized by the quote of Monique Wittig “But remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent.” This tradition was particularly open to solitary witches, and created rituals for self-initiation to allow people to identify with and join the religion without first contacting an existing coven. This contrasts with the Gardnerian belief that only a witch of opposite gender could initiate another witch.

The publications of Raymond Buckland illustrate these changes. During the early 1970s, in books such as Witchcraft – Ancient and Modern and Witchcraft From the Inside, Buckland maintained the Gardnerian position that only initiates into a Gardnerian or other traditional coven were truly Wiccans.

However, in 1974, Buckland broke with the Gardnerians and founded Seax-Wica, revealing its teachings and rituals in the book The Tree: The Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft. This “tradition” made no claims to direct descent from ancient Saxons; all its ritual was contained in the book, which allowed for self-initiation. In 1986 Buckland published Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, a workbook that sought to train readers in magical and ritual techniques as well as instructing them in Wiccan teachings and rituals.

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Beliefs and practice Of Wicca

Its is commonly understood that Wiccans worship two deities, the Goddess and the God sometimes known as the Horned God. Some traditions such as the Dianic Wiccans mainly worship the Goddess; the God plays either no role, or a diminished role, in Dianism. Many Gardnerian Wiccans do not claim to be duotheistic, but rather, may practice some form of polytheism, often with particular reference to the Celtic pantheons; they may also be animists, pantheists, agnostics or indeed any of the other spectacular range of possibilities.

Wiccans celebrate eight main holidays (or Sabbats): four cross-quarter days called Samhain, Beltane (or Beltaine), Imbolc (also called Imbolg, Oimelc, or Candlemas) and Lammas (or Lughnasadh), as well as the solstices, Litha and Yule, and equinoxes, Ostara (or Eostar or Eostre) and Mabon (see Wheel of the Year). They also hold Esbats, which are rituals held at the full and new moon.

Generally, the names are of ancient Germanic or Celtic holidays held around the same time, although two do not have any historical precedent. Ritual observations may include mixtures of those holidays as well as others celebrated at the same time in other cultures; there are several ways to celebrate the holidays.

Some Wiccans join groups called covens, though others work alone and are called “solitaries”. Some solitaries do, however, attend “gatherings” and other community events, but reserve their spiritual practices (Sabbats, Esbats, spell-casting, worship, magical work, etc.) for when they are alone. Some Wiccans work with a community without being part of a coven.Many beliefs hold that the ideal number of members for a coven is thirteen. When a coven grows beyond their ideal number of members, they often split into multiple covens, yet remain together as a group. A grouping of multiple covens is known as a grove.Wiccans weddings can be called “bondings”, “joinings”, or “eclipses” but are most commonly called “handfastings”.

Some Wiccans observe an ancient Celtic practice of a trial marriage for a year and a day, which some Traditions hold should be contracted on Lammas (Lughnasadh), although this is far from universal. When someone is being initiated into a coven, it is also traditional to study with the coven for a year and a day before their actual initiation into to the religion, and some Solitary Wicca choose to study for a year and a day before dedicating themselves to the religion.

A much sensationalized aspect of Wicca, particularly in Gardnerian Wicca, is that some Wiccans practice skyclad (naked). Though many Wiccans do this, many others do not. Some Wiccans wear a pure cotton robe, to symbolise bodily purity, and a cord, to symbolise interdependence and which is often used during rituals.

Others wear normal clothes or whatever they think is appropriate. Robes and even Renaissance-Faire-type clothing are not uncommon.In usual rites the Wiccans assemble inside a magic circle, which is drawn out in a ritual manner followed by a cleansing and then blessing of the space. Prayers to the God and Goddess are said, and spells are sometimes worked. Traditionally, the circle is followed by a meal. Before entering the circle, some Traditions fast for the day, and have a thorough wash.

Many Wiccans use a special set of altar tools in their rituals; these can include a broom (besom), cauldron, Chalice (goblet), wand, Book of Shadows, altar cloth, athame (personal knife), altar knife, boline, candles, and/or incense. Representations of the God/Goddess are often also used, which may be direct, representative, or abstract. The tools themselves are just that–tools, and have no innate powers of their own, though they are usually dedicated or charged with a particular purpose, and used only in that context. It is considered rude to touch another’s tools without permission.

There are different thoughts in Wicca regarding the Elements. Some hold to the earlier Greek conception of the classical elements (air, fire, water, earth), while others recognize five elements: earth, air, water, fire, and spirit (akasha). It has been claimed that the points of the frequently worn pentagram symbol, the five pointed star, symbolise five elements.

The pentacle (a pentagram (five-pointed star) inside of a circle) is most often shown with its point facing upward. Alexandrian Wicca believe that the upper point represents spirit, and the four remaining points symbolise earth, air, fire, and water. This symbolism has slowly worked itself into other traditions such as Solitary Wicca and Seax-Wica, but most Gardnarian Wicca will deny that the points of the pentagram or pentacle actually represent anything at all.

Some people believe that the top point of the pentacle was chosen to represent the spirit as it is often recognized as being more important than the four elements. When, in Satanism for example, the pentacle is usually inverted, the point representing spirit faces downward, and it is often taken that this symbolises that it is less important than physical things.

Another much less common view on the symbolism of the pentacle is that the upright pentacle is a protective charm which protects its wearer through passive energies, such as good will or pleasing emotions, and that the inverted pentacle protects its wearer using aggressive energies, such as curses or angry emotions.

In either case, these are the elements of nature that symbolize different places, emotions, objects, and natural energies and forces. For instance, crystals and stones are objects of the element earth, and seashells are objects of the water element. Each of the four cardinal elements, air, fire, water and earth, are commonly assigned a direction and a color. The following list is not true for all traditions, or branches of Wicca:

  • Air: east, yellow
  • Fire: south, red
  • Water: west, blue
  • Earth: north, green

Elemental, directional correspondences, and colors may vary between traditions. It is common in the southern hemisphere, for instance, to associate the element fire with north (the direction of the equator) and earth with south (the direction of the nearest polar area.) Some Wiccan groups also modify the religious calendar to reflect local seasonal changes; for instance, in Australia Samhain might be celebrated on April 30th, and Beltane on October 31st to reflect the southern hemisphere’s autumn and spring seasons.

The Secret of the Witch

The Secret of the Witch

Author: Lady Lira

Keeping something a secret is sometimes one of the hardest things a person might have to do, especially if it’s a really big, juicy, important secret.

Like being a witch.

It’s tough to hide part of who you are, but the fact is large sums of pagans out there have to do it every day. Perhaps your co-worker is a Druid, or your classmate is a Wiccan. Maybe your Aunt Marge is a Hedge Witch, or that stranger walking down the street is a Shaman. You may never know it, even when they’re staring you right in the face…all because they keep it a secret.

I, like most pagans, have to live with the secret that I am studying the Magickal Arts. My mom is aware that I’ve dabbled in a bit of Wicca, and goddess bless her open-minded soul, but it’s not a topic that I’m too eager to bring up at dinner-time, since she’s not too fond of religious discussions. But except for her, I keep my secret hidden from the rest of the world, afraid that I’ll be beaten down for my ‘offbeat’ interests.

I was raised Christian, since the majority of the family followed that faith though it wasn’t long before I (and my mother) began to fade away from the church (I was probably about eleven at the time) . Eventually we became agnostic, though it took a while before the guilt of not believing in the Bible eased up. I found myself feeling lost and confused with no solid beliefs, and often wondered about those heavy universal questions: “How?” and “Why?”

I was so frustrated with the world, and I couldn’t seem to sort out what was truth and what was just a bunch of woven lies.

Growing up, even in a Christian family, I had always adored magic (k) and fantasy. I was always the kid who wanted to believe in something a little longer than she should, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I was the avid Harry Potter Fan, even though my grandma looked down begrudgingly on its witchly contents. In my heart, I knew it was all real to some degree. It HAD to be real…the magic (k) , the wonder, the dreams of a young child. Because if it wasn’t…then I would have lost a part of my soul.

It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I came across the workings of real Witchcraft. A good online friend admitted to me the experiences she went through as a young teen Wiccan- the fun and wonder it brought her, but also the terrible mockery and discrimination she faced.

That night I decided to Google ‘Wicca’ and ‘Witchcraft’ and I found pages and pages of beliefs and a wealth of information. Wicca and all its forms (from Fae and Draconic to Gardnerian and Alexandrian and all the versions in between) , Druidry, Shamanism, Dianic, Minoan, Eclectic… the list went on forever! I couldn’t believe it! All these different religions, and they all practice magick? Real, actual magick? Plus they tied in with my growing love of ancient mythology!

I was enthralled, intrigued, and deliriously delighted beyond my wildest and craziest dreams. I had stumbled upon the secret, the part of myself that I would mask from my friends and classmates. I’d discovered the occult arts, “The knowledge of the hidden, ” as it translates. I was back on the path to spiritual enlightenment, and very excited (Well, it was more like I was wandering through the woods, edging clumsily toward the path) . I looked into Wicca more closely, and found was one of the closest religions I had found yet that complimented my personality. I’ve been on and off then on again in my study, learning what I can, when I can, always tempted by the oh-so-fascinating and mysterious subject.

My Wondrous Path So Far: I keep a tiny composition notebook wrapped in rustic brown paper that serves as an inconspicuous Book of Shadows, and any form of an altar is yet to be set up. I’m still trying to discover what Gods and Goddesses I will follow, but that is all part of my journey in finding my path and myself. As far as any books involving Wicca or Witchcraft… they are allowed to rest freely on my rickety wooden shelf, except when company stops by for an over-night visit. Sometimes I feel more comfortable hiding them away under the bed or a crummy sofa cushion just to avoid any awkward questions.

It’s not something I want to hide, the fact that I started studying witchcraft, but I feel its necessary in my time and place, at least for now. I’m dominated by a school world ruled by the concept of Bully vs. Victim, a hub where even the slightly weird, unique, or unordinary are picked on and laughed at.

It can be like that even in the adult world, which leads to the main reason why so many prefer to study in secret rather than express themselves out in the open: It’s the fear of not being accepted, or being “disowned” by your extra faithful Christian family. It’s the the worry that maybe your friends will give you a funny look or your boyfriend will call you crazy. No one wants to feel ashamed or un-liked, so in many cases, it is easer to simply keep silent.

I congratulate those who are brave enough to proclaim their faith, and I remind those of you who have open-minded and accepting friends, family, or coven members that you are very fortunate. I end here by saying that though it may be a secret now, it is also one of the greatest gifts. Perhaps one day soon I will able to feel more comfortable and open about discussing my ambitious pursuit of magickal knowledge.

As I continue to learn and explore the Craft, I continue to grow as a person…

And I continue to hold the secret of the witch.

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

Practicing Wicca and Witchcraft Today

 

Starting something new can be frightening; this applies also to a new religion. You will be taught the basic tenants, but in the long run, it will be up to you to make of it what you want.

There are many different witches, each with their own set of rituals. Some witches prefer to work alone, other like working within a coven. Once again this is a person choice. Let no one force you into joining anything with which you are not comfortable.

Let me give you an idea of the various forms of the craft that are available to you.

Gardnerian Wicca: Started in 1950’s by Gerald Gardner. Groups tend to work skyclad. Covens use a degree system. Individuals are initiated by the coven.

Alaxandrian Wicca: Started in the 1960’s in England. In many aspects they are like the Gardnerian Wicca.

Georgian Wicca: Founded by George Patterson in the 1970’s. They are known as the Georgian Church and draw their rituals from the Alaxandrian and Gardnerian crafts. Members also write their own ritual.

Algard Wicca: Founded in 1972. Mary Nesnick combined Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca to form the Algard tradition. They are very close to the Gardnerian tradition.

Seax-Wica: Founded in 1962 by Raymond Buckland a protégé of Gardner. He moved to the U. S. A. and in 1973 started his own tradition based on Saxon traditions. Hence Seax-Wica.

Feri Tradition: Victor Anderson is credited to bringing this tradition to America in the late 1960’s. Feri teacher tend to add something of themselves to the religion as they teach. They can be solitary or work in small groups.

Dianic Tradition: This religion focus strongly on the Goddess with little or no interact on the God. This is a feminist movement of the craft. The covens are women only.

British Traditional: There are a number of different British Traditions that are based on the Pre Christian traditions of Old England.

Celtic Wicca: The tradition looks to the Celtic and druidic deities, with an emphasis on magickal and healing properties.

Northern Way or Asatru. This tradition is based on the Old Norse gods.

Pictish Witches: This is a solitary Scottish Tradition that is based on nature.

Strega Witches: This tradition is from Italy.

You will notice that this list is long, but not complete. Many witches are drawn to the “way” because of their background. This need not be so. Follow the one that calls to you.

Wicca

Wicca

 
Wicca is a Neopagan religion that can be found in many English-speaking countries. Originally founded by the British civil servant Gerald Gardner, probably in the 1940s, although it was first openly revealed in 1954. Since its founding, various related Wiccan traditions have evolved, the original being Gardnerian Wicca, which is the name of the tradition that follows the specific beliefs and practices established by Gerald Gardner.repeatedly in his published work of 1954. The spelling “Wicca” is now used almost exclusively, (Seax-Wica being the only major use of the four-letter spelling).

In Old English, wicca meant necromancer or male witch. Some contend that the term wicca is related to Old English witan, meaning wise man or counselor, but this is widely rejected by language scholars as false etymology. Nonetheless, Wicca is often called the “Craft of the wise” as a result of this misconception.It appears that the word may be untraceable beyond the Old English period. Derivation from the Indo-European roots ‘wic’ or ‘weik’ is seemingly incorrect by phonological understanding.Though sometimes used interchangeably, “Wicca” and “Witchcraft” are not the same thing. The confusion comes, understandably, because both practitioners of Wicca and practitioners of witchcraft are often called witches. In addition, not all practitioners of Wicca are witches, and not all witches are practitioners of Wicca.

Wicca refers to the religion. This can be a reference to both the initiatory tradition, where initiates are assigned a degree and generally work in covens, and to Solitary Wicca, where practitioners self-dedicate themselves to the tradition and generally practice on their own. Both Initiates and Solitary Wiccans worship the Goddess, with most also choosing to worship the God, and both celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.

Witchcraft, or as it is sometimes called “The Craft?, on the other hand, requires no belief in specific gods or goddesses and is not a specific spiritual path. Thus, there are Witches who practise a variety of religions besides Pagan ones, such as Judaism and Christianity. It is considered to be a learned skill, referring to the casting of spells and the practice of magic or magick (the use of the “k” is to ‘in order to distinguish the Science of the Magi from all its counterfeits’ (or perhaps just to make it sound better), and was coined as a spelling by Aleister Crowley). To add to the confusion the term witchcraft in popular older usage, or in a modern historical or anthropological context, means the use of black or evil magic, not something Wicca encourages at all.

BRANCHES OF THE WICCA

BRANCHES OF THE WICCA

There are many different traditions or branches of the Wicca. These depend upon
the original location of each coven’s ancestors within the area known as Western
and Insular Europe. Each is different in many ways — the way in which the
rituals are performed, the wear (or lack of wear) within the circle, the
language which is spoken within the circle, the system of training, the symbols
used, etc. All are the same in that they honor the Deities of Nature, live by
the philosophy of “Harm none and do what you will,” believe in reincarnation,
and have the knowledge of working a specific form of magick.

There are many so-called “courses” on “How to become a Witch” ranging in price
from a dollar to several hundred dollars, none of which are enlightening to the
well read, nor do they reveal any of the secrets of the Wicca. For the curious,
perhaps, they can be of benefit – for the serious, they are at most worthless,
and more often than not, dangerous and inaccurate.

The following are brief descriptions of the various traditions within Wicca:

GARDNERIAN – A branch of Wicca deriving its name from Gerald B.Gardner who was
initiated into a coven of Witches in the New Forest in Britain and who helped
greatly in the advancement of the truth about Wicca by his love for it and his
writings on the subject. It is inherently Celtic in origin encompassing rituals
as practiced in Southern England. Ritual nudity is required at all times.

TRADITIONAL – Many branches of the Craft which claim to be pre-Gardnerian.
This covers a lot of territory, again depending upon the area of origin (i.e.,
Wales, Scotland, Ireland, etc.). Ritual nudity is sometimes required. Some
groups are strictly robed.

ALEXANDRIAN – A branch in Wicca deriving its name from Alexander Sanders. This
is a form of Gardnerian Wicca (rather, a form which “borrowed” much of
Gardnerianism). It is very ceremonial, encompassing much of Quabalistic magick,
etc. Ritual nudity plays a part but it is not required, the choice being left to
the individual Witch.

CONTINENTAL – This can be put under the heading of “Traditional,” again
depending upon origin (France, Germany, Spain, Basque, etc.).

STREGERIA – This can be put under the heading of “Continental.” It is
Witchcraft as practiced in Italy and Sicily, each area of Italy and Sicily
practicing according to their own folk-tradition. These are extremely
secretive peoples, but much can be learned about them by reading Leland’s
ARADIA: THE GOSPEL OF WITCHES and Leo Martello’s WITCHCRAFT: THE OLD RELIGION.

HEREDITARY – Pockets of Hereditary Witches do exist in Europe and America,
carrying on their family traditions. They are usually the most secretive,
preferring to work alone or only within their families. Their form of
Witchcraft is almost entirely different than what we know as Wicca.

DIANIC – This branch of Wicca lays a great stress on the Goddess, sometimes
entirely ignoring Her Horned Consort. I do not know much about them, but they
seem to be similar to Gardnerian (or vice versa). Perhaps this was the
original tradition that Gerald Gardner was initiated into.

THE NEW REFORMED ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DAWN – A neo-Gardnerian or quasi-
Gardnerian group founded by a Californian named Aidan Kelly. They are a
beautiful and idealistic form of the Wicca, constantly researching into our
ancient heritage.

AMERICAN-CELTIC – Perhaps the largest and fastest growing form of Wicca in
America originating out of the Twin City area (Minneapolis-St.Paul). Their form
is akin to Gardnerian, though ritual nudity is not required by all of their
covens.

Two of the newest branches of the Craft are the SEAX-WICCA, formulated by Dr.
Raymond Buckland (formerly a Gardnerian), based upon the religion of the Saxons.
It is a unique system which has eliminated the Degrees and operates upon a
democratic level. Unlike other traditions, non-initiates are permitted at times
to witness the rituals. The other of the two is simply called WICCA and was
formulated by Edmund M. Buczynski from nine ….years of study and research into
pre-Celtic and Celtic religions. It also is operated upon a democratic level.
However, the three degrees have been kept as well as ritual nudity. Only
initiates are permitted to attend meetings.

There are many other groups, many are “underground” and shun any publicity. Most
are small and isolated (like the BOREADS, a lovely tradition who call themselves
the “children of the north wind”). The fact remains that all of these groups are
legitimate representatives of Wicca in the world today.

WELSH TRADITIONAL – This is a Celtic-derived tradition which incorporates the
teachings and mythology and traditions of Ancient Wales. There is a large group
at present in Georgia, California, and New York.

MINOAN BROTHERHOOD AND SISTERHOOD – These groups are worshippers of the Cretan
snake goddess whose holy priests and priestesses were historically homosexual.
The Brotherhood and Sisterhood meet separately at the Esbats, but meet together
at Sabbats.