Traditions
Traditions





Here you will find a listing of some of the many traditions of Paganism and Witchcraft from around the world. This is by no means a complete listing of traditions. There are some I have yet to find good info. on and there are secret traditions that only the practioners know of. If you find some of these interest you, make sure you study them indepthly before making a decsion to follow it. I have and will try to provide good links for information on each. If you know of a website that would be helpful, e-mail me!


Eclectic
An electic Wiccan doesn't follow any strict traditional guidelines, but instead, practices the beliefs that suit them best. They mix traditions to find their most fitting stance on their religion, using the magick that is most practical for their lifestyle and studying the parts of the religion they consider to be essential. 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.

Faerie Wicca
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.

Gardnerian
Gardnerian is the tradition founded by Gerald Gardner. He was one of the first to go public with information about the Craft. This is an extremely traditional path with a hierarchical grade structure. These individuals are very secretive and take oaths upon initiations. This is really the foundation of modern Wicca. Although there are a number of Gardnerian Covens active in the US, they are difficult to locate and once located are not easy to join. This tradition does not lend itself well to solitary practice, but some aspects of it do. It therefore deserves study by solitary practitioners.

Gardnerian Wicca

A retired British civil servant named Gerald B. Gardner is the 'Grandfather', at the very least, of almost all Neo-Wicca. He 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 a novel [*High Magic's Aid*] about medieval Witchcraft in which quite a bit of the Craft as practiced by that coven was used. In 1951 the last of the English laws against Witchcraft were repealed (primarily due to the pressure of Spiritualists) and Gardner published *Witchcraft Today*, which set forth a version of the rituals and traditions of that coven. There is an enormous amount of disagreement about virtually every statement I have made in this paragraph.

Gardnerism is both a tradition and a family, and lineage is a family tree. The High Priestess rules the coven, and the principles of love and trust preside. We follow our handed down book more carefully than many others, but we are free to add and improvise, as long as we preserve the original.

We work skyclad, practice binding and scourging, are hierarchal and secretive, therefore we are controversial. We're also controversial because we were first - the first craft tradition in the U. S. and descended from the man largely responsible for starting the craft revival. So, we're called 'the snobs of the Craft, but I think we're as much fun as anyone else; our parties as good, our jokes as bad'

A Gardnerian can trace his/her lineage matrilineally back to a High Priestess who worked with Gerald. For virtually all American Gardnerians, that means his last HPS, Monique Wilson. Monique initiated the Bucklands and Rosemary Buckland initiated Theas, so far as anyone knows, the only one of Rosemary's Thirds who passed the initiation on - which is why she has been called (but doesn't call herself) 'Witch Queen of America. '[the foregoing quotes provided by Deborah Lipp Bonewits, a Gardnerian Third Degree High Priestess as well as an ADF Druidess.]

*Each Gardnerian coven is autonomous and is headed by a High Priestess who can turn to her queen (the High Priestess who trained her) for counsel and advice. This maintains the lineage and creates a pool of experienced and knowledgeable leaders and teachers.

*Reincarnation and the Wiccan Rede [An it harm none do what you will] are basic tenants of the tradition. Covens are as much as possible composed of male/female pairs for balance. Most working is accomplished with the energy raised by the interaction of the Lord and Lady as represented by the couples in the coven by dancing, chanting, etc.

*Like many Wiccan traditions, Gardnerians have three degrees. An American Gardnerian must be of the 3rd degree before she can become a HPS. The HPS/HP are responsible for conducting services (circles), training their conveners, and preserving and passing on Gardnerian Craft. *[This material quoted from Converging Paths Newsletter, Kyril, Brita, & Hugh authors. ]

A lot of the controversy surrounding Gardnerianism questions the sources of the rituals and other materials, particularly those appearing in print. It is true that Gardner presented these materials as if they were directly from his New Forest tradition. It is clear, however, that whatever materials the coven may have had when he was initiated, Gerald made a lot of changes and added a great deal. Literary sources of the published Book of Shadows include Blake, Kipling, Yeats and Crowley. Much of the published material was written by Doreen Valiente, a member of the coven for a time and later founder of her own groups and author of many excellent books on the Craft.

Gardnerian Witches without doubt do have many materials which have not appeared in print, however, their emphasis on secrecy has made them a punch line in the Wiccan social world. How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb? That's a secret! Their High Priestess will usually be called 'Lady' So-and-so and High Priest, 'Lord Whats-his-name'. [This is far more true in the U. S. than it is in England.]

Dianic
Tradition from western Europe, tracked back to Margaret Murray in 1921. This tradition has been pegged as the "feminist" movement of the Craft. It is a mix of many traditions, but its focus is on the Goddess, and Diana. (Diana is a reference often crossed during study of Greek/Roman mythology.)

The Dianic Craft includes two distinct branches:

1. One branch, founded in Texas by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology, but honors the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort. Covens are mixed, including both women and men. This branch is sometimes called 'Old Dianic', and there are still covens of this tradition, especially in Texas. Other covens, similar in teleology but not directly descended from the McFarland/ Roberts line, are sprinkled around the country.

2. The other branch, sometimes called Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, focus exclusively on the Goddess and consists of women-only covens and groups. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchical, using consensus- decision- making and simple, creative, experimental ritual. They are politically feminist groups, usually very supportive, personal and emotionally intimate. There is a strong lesbian presence in the movement, though most covens are open to women of all orientations. The major network is Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, which publishes "Of a Like Mind" newspaper and sponsors conferences on Dianic Craft.

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.

Solitary
Individuals prefering to work in private rather than within the confines of a group setting. Wicca lends itself well to this sort of practice. Solitaries can pick any number of traditions that fit well into this sort of practice. The historical traditions often work well for this. Can be as fulfilling as working in a group setting.

Shamanism
Beliefs are connected to contact with the spirit world. Through communication with the spirits, the Shaman can work acts of healing, divination and magic - revealing by way of vision, poetry and myth that deeper reaches of the human spirit.

British Traditional Witch
This is a mix of Celtic and Gardenarian beliefs. These traditionals move mostly within the Farrar studies and are fairly structured in their beliefs. They train through a degree structured process. The International Red Garters is the most famous organization at this time. Often includes druids.

Ceremonial
Less religion, more emphasis on the art and science of magick. Rituals are generally complex and practices lean towards the esoteric side of Wicca. Not geared towards the solitary practitioner, but can easily be adapted for those who choose to work alone.

Hereditary
This is a person that can trace the Craft back on their family tree and was also taught the craft by a living relative. ("My mother's grandmother's sister's cousin" was a Wiccan doesn't count.)

Kitchen Witch
This type is one that practices by home and hearth concentrating on the practical side of religion, magick and the earth and elements. A more convenient form of practice for those who have limited space and resource, mainly suburbanite and city witches.

Pictish
Pictish is Scottish witchcraft with a strong connection to nature in all of its forms. The practice is actually mostly magickal with little emphasis on the religious aspect. This is practiced as a solitary tradition.

Pow-wow
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 into simple faith healing.

Seax-Wica: (Or Saxon-Wica)
Seax (or Saxon) Wicca: Started by Raymond Buckland, who was originally a leader in promoting the Gardnerian Tradition, as an alternative to the existing Covens. Unlike most traditions, which consider the Coven group to be the normal unit of division (ie. all ceremonies/Rituals = Group Rites), the Seax version has provision for lone witches (often referred to as Solitaires). Another thing which sets this particular brand apart is its non-reliance upon being properly initiated into the Wiccan community. Many of the other groups require that new members be brought to existing covens to be ceremonially initiated into that Tradition, and that only after years of study within the group is one ready to start a new coven. The Seax tradition, recognizing that there may not be a friendly, neighborhood Coven, allows for self-initiation, and Auto setup of a Coven.

Strega
Stregheria is the form of witchcraft native to Italy; there are several distinct traditions sharing common roots, in various parts of Italy. Also called, La Vecchia Religione, Stregheria is a nature-based religion, it's followers worship the forces of Nature, personified as gods and goddesses. The witches of La Vecchia Religione are called Streghe (plural), with the title Strega (for a female), Stregone (for a male). Stregheria is rooted in the folk religion of the Latins (the Romans being one Latin people) and the Etruscans. In the particular tradition, taught by Raven Grimassi in Ways of the Strega, the pantheon is different from the urban gods of the Romans, though some of those deities were shared with the Latins, and the Etruscans, most notably Diana, whose worship was focused at a temple at Lake Nemi in the Alban Hills. There are however other traditions of Stregheria in Italy, who may worship the urban gods of the Romans. The particular tradition taught by Raven Grimassi in Ways of the Strega, is derived from a renewal that occurred in the 14th century brought about by a wise woman from Tuscany called Aradia. This does not imply that witchcraft in Italy began in the 14th century. La Vecchia Religione is an evolution of pre-christian religions in Italy. The tradition taught by Aradia was a revival of the Old Ways during a time of extreme persecution of the peasants of Italy. The best Link I have found for information concerning this trad. is here. I spent about 30 minutes here and din't finish everything but felt I learned alot!!!

Teutonic/Nordic
This is from ancient time, the Teutons have been recognized as a group who speak the Germanic group of languages. The lanugages include the English, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples. Also known as the Nordic Tradition.

Celtic
The Celtic tradition is based on the practices of the pre-Christian Celtic world. This includes Ireland, Wales, Scotland and some overlap with the Teutonic traditions. There is also a significant amount of Druid practice used in this tradition. It shares a lot with the Teutonic tradition, including the use of runes. This traditional is extremely earth based and strong in the religious aspects of the Craft.

Alexandrian
Originated in England in the 1960's, by Alex Sanders. The rituals are said to be of modified Gardenarian. Alex Sanders refered to himself as the "King" of his Wiccans. Although similiar to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca tends to be more eclectic, and liberal. Some of Gardnerisms strict rules, such as the requirement of ritual nudity, have been made optional by Alexandrian Wicca.

Founded in England during the 1960's by Alexander Sanders, self-proclaimed "King of the Witches". An offshoot 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.

Asatru
The word Asatru means Faith in Aesir and the Vanir, who are best known to most people as the Gods and Goddesses of the Old Norse legends, although these same Deities were once worshipped by most of the peoples of pre-Christian Europe and other as far east as India (they are the Deities of the Rig Veda). However, because of the Old Norse legends provide the best knowledge of them, we usually refer to them by their Old Norse names Frigg and Odinn, Tyr and Zisa, Sif and Thorr, Freyja and Freyr, and so on. Traces remain in modern English: - Tuesday means Tyr's day, Wednesday means Odinn's day, Thursday means Thorr's day and Friday means either Frigg's or Freyja's day (scholars debate which).
Asatru is open to everyone and there are many different kinds of Asatruers (members of the Asatru religion). Anyone who wants to join Asatru can do so regardless of gender, race, colour, ethnicity, natural origin, language, sexual orientation or other divisive criteria. Asatru today is no more "European" than Christianity is "Jewish" or Islam is "Arabic", etc. Asatruers often form local groups for the same reasons that people of other religions band together. These Asatru groups are sometimes called Hearths or Kindreds or other names. However, many Asatru believers live too far away from any of their coreligionists to be able to join such a group.
The Asatru Way of Life esteems : - Courage, honour, hospitality, independence (and liberty), individuality (with self-reliance), industriousness (and perseverance), justice (including an innate sense of fairness and respect for others), loyalty (to family, friends and the society of which one is a part), truthfulness and a willingness to stand up for what is right.

Georgian Wicca
If one word could best describe the Georgean Tradition, it would be 'eclectic. Even though the material provided to students was nominally Alexandrian, there was never any imperative to follow that path blindly. George Patterson (the tradition's founder) always said 'If it works use it, if it doesn't, don't'. The newsletter was always full of contributions from people of many traditions. I've always felt Pat's intent was to provide jumping off points for students and members. So even though I can claim initiation into more than one tradition, I'll always consider myself 'Georgian first: George is greatly missed, may the God-dess watch over him. Bright Blessings, Lord Fafner.

Discordianism (Erisian)
*The Discordian or Erisian movement is described as a 'Non- Prophet Irreligious Disorganization and has claimed 'The Erisian revelation is not a complicated put-on disguised as a new religion, but a new religion disguised as a complicated put-on. " It all started with the *'Principia Discordia, or How I Found the Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her'*, a collection of articles and ideas compiled by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Young-er). The central theme is 'Chaos is every bit as important as Order' as illustrated in the story of The curse of Greyface:

*Humor is central to Discordianism, but Discordianism should not be dismissed as a joke. Profound experiences frequently accompany the practice or Erisinaism. It is a perceptual game, one which demonstrates that the absurd is just as valid as the mundane and chaos is just as valid as order. It frees the practitioner from the order games (that most have forgotten are games) to play games with order or games with chaos, or both. The effects of Discordianism upon an individual can be far reaching and amazingly liberating. [Although a great many immature individuals have played at Discordianism and thereby side stepped any chance of spiritual growth whatsoever -- Grey Cat *wryly*] Amythystian
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.

Aquarian Tabernacle Church
An American Tradition of Wicca based on English Traditional Wicca, and focused on service to the larger Wiccan and Pagan community through open worship gatherings. ATC was founded in 1979 by Pierre "Pete Pathfinder" Davis. The Church is based in Index, WA, where it owns a Retreat House and the central Church offices, as well as an outdoor sanctuary with a ring of standing menhirs set in an old growth cedar forest. The ATC is a fully tax exempt legal Wiccan church in the USA, Canada and Australian, with approximately 30 congregations in these countries as of 1997. ATC provides regular, open worship circles and also sponsors several annual festivals. ATC also functions as an umbrella organization, accepting affiliations by Wiccan groups wishing to become recognized, open and public Wiccan churches.

Blue Star
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.

British Traditional
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 stuies. 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, Slexandrian, Mohisian, and Central Valley Wicca-Kingstone, majestic Order and Silver Crescent). NWC is dedicated to preserving initiatorty Craft.

Celtic
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. It is primarily derived from the ancient pre Christian Celtic religion of Gaul and the British Isles. 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.

Ceremonial Uses a great deal of Ceremonial Magick in practices. Mostly derived from the works of Aleister Crowley. Detailed rituals with a flavor of Egyptian magick are popular, as Qabalistic ritual forms.

Minonian Brotherhood
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.

Seax-Wicca
Founded by Raymond Buckland in 1973, and based on Saxon traditions and mythology. Covens are led by a Priest and Priestess and may determine for themselves whether to work robed or skyclad. Rituals are open, and decisions are made democratically.

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(ess), diviner, magician, teacher and spirit guide, utilizing altered states of consciousness to produce and control psychic phenomena and travel to and from the spirit realm. Followers of this path believe that historical Witchcraft was the shamanic practice of European Pagans; and 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, healings, counseling, rites of passage, handfastings, Mystery initiations, etc. The distinguishing element of 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.

Wiccan Shamanism
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 change consciousness, such as drumming and ecstatic dancing.