Witchcraft Traditions

When Gerald Gardner coined the term “the Wica” (originally spelt with one c), he seems to have intended it to refer to any and all witches. Subsequently, the term has come to be used by some people to mean only witches initiated into Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, and has been used by others to mean anybody who identifies as Wiccan, and a whole spectrum of meanings in between those two terms. This can make it confusing for people to understand what is meant by any individual using the term Wicca.

[Estimated reading time: 10 minutes. Contains 2020 words]

In an attempt to clear up the confusion, Gardnerians and Alexandrians in North America (by which they mean anyone who can trace their initiatory lineage back to Gardner or Sanders respectively) have started referring to themselves as “British Traditional Wicca”. This seems to have happened in part because there are so many other traditions which are called Wiccan, but who cannot necessarily trace their lineage back to Gardner or Sanders. The term “British Traditional Wicca” has not been widely adopted in Britain, where there are fewer variant traditions of Wicca. In Britain, people generally refer to Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca as “initiatory Wicca” but even this term is misleading, as there are other witches with a lineage and initiations who identify as Wiccan in the UK. So the terminology remains fluid and confusing.

There is a major distinction between folkloric witchcraft traditions and Wiccan traditions. Folkloric witchcraft does not identify as Wiccan, and tends to be happy to explore Luciferian and Christian mysteries alongside Pagan mysteries. Wiccans tend to focus on the Horned God and the Moon Goddess, and do not use the term “the Devil”. Wiccan covens are led by a high priestess and a high priest. Folkloric witchcraft covens generally have a Magister and a Maid. Therefore, I have indicated in this list whether a tradition is witchcraft or Wicca.

Roses, by Michael Gaida [Public Domain]

Roses, by Michael Gaida [Public Domain]

Please don’t be offended if I haven’t included your tradition in this list. There are so many traditions of witchcraft that it is difficult to list them all. I have listed the traditions in this appendix in alphabetical order, so as not to imply a hierarchy. Some of the traditions in this section are listed because they have similar names to each other, and this can cause confusion. There is a list of traditions on Witchvox.com which has more details about various witchcraft traditions.  Another list on the Beaufort House website (last updated in 2001) lists only traditions which can claim descent from Gardner and/or Sanders. There is a partial list on Wikipedia of some of the larger Wiccan traditions.

1734 witchcraft

The 1734 tradition was founded by Joe Wilson after a lengthy correspondence with Robert Cochrane, founder of the Clan of Tubal Cain. It is a folkloric craft tradition. It often uses riddles to convey its mysteries.

Alexandrian Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca was founded by Alex Sanders in the 1960s. Sanders was initiated into Gardnerian Wicca, though whether he got second degree or not is disputed. It tends to include more ideas from ceremonial magic than Gardnerian Craft. In the UK and Europe, Gardnerian and Alexandrian initiates may visit each other’s circles without the need for re-initiation.

Clan of Tubal Cain

A folkloric witchcraft tradition. The Clan are the lineage bearers of the Robert Cochrane tradition through Evan John Jones. The Clan is also known as the People of Goda. They are a closed Initiatory group aligned to the Shadow Mysteries within the Luciferian stream dedicated to experiential gnosis. The sacred tenets of the Clan of Tubal Cain are Truth, Love and Beauty.

Dianic Wicca

A feminist and women-centred form of Wicca, founded by Z Budapest in 1971. Men are not included in this form of witchcraft, and it generally excludes transgender women from its circles as well. Dianic Wiccans are generally Goddess monotheists, honouring the Goddess as the source of all life.

Feri Tradition

A form of American Traditional Witchcraft derived from the teachings of Victor and Cora Anderson and passed down through their various initiates. Feri seeks to transform the individual through practices of ritual magic, meditation, and energy work. The influences of the tradition include Huna, Conjure, Voodoo, Tantra, Celtic folklore, Christian mysticism, Yezidi mythology, and Greek gnosis. The Feri Tradition recently split into two strands: one believes that the mysteries can only be taught in small experiential and initiatory groups; the other believes that witchcraft can be taught through classes in larger groups. The main point of contention in the split was the issue of charging money for training.

Gardnerian Wicca

Gardnerian Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner in the early 1950s, and traces its roots back to the New Forest coven which included Dafo, Mother Sabine, and the Mason family. Much of its early liturgy was written by Doreen Valiente. There are numerous lineages within Gardnerian Wicca, with considerable variation in ethos between them. The emphasis of Gardnerian Wicca tends to be less ceremonial than Alexandrian Wicca.

http://british-wicca.com/

Georgian Wicca

The Georgian Tradition was founded in 1970 by George (Pat) Patterson, Zanoni Silverknife and Tanith. It began as a small coven in Pat’s home in Bakersfield, CA. Pat received early teachings from members of a Celtic coven in Boston. In 1970, Pat began a magickal calling that resulted in Zanoni and Tanith finding him and helping to found the Georgian tradition.  There are known Georgian covens in British Columbia, California, Florida, Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Washington and Oklahoma.

http://georgianwicca.com/

The inclusive Wicca tendency

The inclusive Wicca tendency (small i) is not a separate tradition but a tendency within existing traditions. Any Wiccan may identify as inclusive and work to make their practice more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people, disabled people, and of Black people, indigenous people, and people of colour. An inclusive approach to Wicca encompasses eco-spirituality, science, attitudes to truth, the sacred, sexuality, consent culture, group dynamics, coven leadership, ritual, ethics, and Wiccan theology and practice, tradition, and magic, and how these concepts can be explored as part of a liberal religious approach to Wicca.

http://inclusivewicca.org/

Inclusive Wicca Tradition (Australia)

Inclusive Wicca was founded by Amethyst Treleven after she had spent several years learning the Craft from a variety of different sources. Having been initiated into three different traditions, and having completed a doctorate degree on Wicca that allowed her to be involved with a great many different Pagan practitioners, she  saw both the good and the not so good of Wicca. She wanted more for herself and she wanted more for her fellow Wiccans.

http://www.oakandmistletoe.com/what-is-inclusive-wicca/

McFarland Dianic Wicca

An offshoot of Dianic Wicca that is usually open to transgender women and to men. McFarland Dianic is a Neopagan tradition of goddess worship founded by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts which, despite the shared name, has a different theology and in some cases accepts male participants. The McFarland tradition is largely based on the book The White Goddess by Robert Graves. While some McFarland covens will initiate men, the leadership is limited to female priestesses. Like other Dianic traditions, McFarland Dianic covens are feminist.

Minoan Brotherhood

The Minoan Brotherhood was founded as a response to the heterosexist culture of most forms of Traditional Witchcraft prevalent in the 1970s. Edmund M. Buczynski founded the Brotherhood in 1975 in New York City. Eddie was an Elder of the Gardnerian and New York Welsh Traditions, and a founding Elder of the Wica Tradition. The Minoan Brotherhood is a men’s initiatory tradition of the Craft celebrating life, men who love men, and magic. It mainly draws on Cretan, Aegean, and Ancient Near Eastern mythology.

http://minoan-brotherhood.org/

Minoan Fellowship

The Minoan Fellowship is an offshoot of the Minoan Sisterhood, and is open to women and men of any sexual orientation. (The Minoan Brotherhood does not recognise it as part of their tradition.) The Fellowship seeks to be inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations.

Minoan Sisterhood

The Minoan Sisterhood began in 1976. At that time, a small group of priestesses in the Wica Tradition began working with materials devised by Eddie Buczynski. Lady Rhea and Lady Miw-Sekhmet used this material as to build the Women’s mysteries which formed the basis of the Minoan Sisterhood. Their work resulted in the founding of the first Grove of the Minoan Sisterhood in New York City. The Sisterhood is open to any woman, and emphasizes Women’s Mysteries. The Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood are sibling paths in the Minoan Tradition, each with its own Mysteries and rites. A third path within the Minoan Tradition is the Cult of Rhea, also known as the Cult of the Double Axe, which represents a meeting ground between the two traditions.

http://www.minoaneleutheria.org/faq.php

Mohsian Wicca

The Mohsian Tradition of Wicca was founded in the early 1960s by Bill and Helen Mohs. Mohsian is comprised of many threads from British Traditional and other sources. Much of their ritual is derived from early Gardnerian and Alexandrian, including passages from a British Celtic (Pagan, not Wiccan) tradition called Y Plant Bran. Many of their spells and rituals were given to Bill and Helen by Joe Wilson, founder of the 1734 Tradition. Another source is the Boread Tradition as transmitted by Thomas Giles, and there’s even a snippet from NROOGD, used with the permission of one of its founders.

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=uswa&c=trads&id=13319

Progressive Wicca

Progressive Wicca was started in the early 1990s by Karin Rainbird, Tam Campbell, and David Rankine. It was a tendency within Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca, and emphasised valuing the contributions of all members of the coven, ensuring that all members received thorough training, and tended to have a stronger emphasis on environmentalism. Progressive Wiccans are happy to experiment and incorporate more eclectic material into their rituals.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bos/msg0015.htm

Progressive Witchcraft

Progressive Witchcraft emerged from Progressive Wicca, and was made famous by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone in their book of the same name. Its ethos is egalitarian, exploratory, and experimental. Janet and Gavin have started their own witchcraft tradition whose initiation rituals and tenets are distinct from Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca.

http://www.callaighe.com/

The Nameless Arte

Not so much a tradition as a collection of individuals exploring folkloric witchcraft in a similar manner. Many of them were inspired by the books of Nigel Pennick such as The Secrets of East Anglian Magic.  It has no singular book, but for the collective embodied wisdom of its adherents. It can never be fully pinned down, as it constantly evolves and adapts in accordance to the requirements of the time.  A flourishing group of small publishers is producing high quality books about local witchcraft traditions in Britain, including Troy Books.

http://www.theprismaticgarden.com/nameless-arte

Reclaiming

Reclaiming is a community of people working to unify spirit and politics. Their vision is rooted in the religion and magic of the Goddess, the Immanent Life Force. They see their work as teaching and making magic: the art of empowering themselves and each other. In their classes, workshops, and public rituals, they train their voices, bodies, energy, intuition, and minds. They use the skills that they learn to deepen their strength, both as individuals and as community, to voice their concerns about the world in which we live, and bring to birth a vision of a new culture. Founded around 1980 in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Reclaiming tradition now includes several dozen regional communities across North America and in Europe and Australia. The founder of Reclaiming, Starhawk, was trained in the Feri Tradition by Victor and Cora Anderson.

http://www.reclaiming.org/

Roses, Too!

A tradition of eclectic Feminist Witchcraft, founded in 1993 in the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia, PA area).

https://sites.google.com/site/stasasministry/roses-too-tradition

Swedish Faery Wicca

This is an eclectic and egalitarian initiatory tradition in Sweden, based on Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. It is LGBT-inclusive. It should not be confused with the Feri Tradition, which is a completely separate and unrelated tradition.

The Unnamed Path

A shamanic path for men who love men, the Unnamed Path is a four-fold spiritual tradition revealed to us from the Ancestors of Men-who-love-men. It is rooted in age-old techniques practiced around the world that foster relationships with the Divine, the ancestors, the spirits in the land, and each other. Eduardo “Eddy” Gutiérrez (1976-2014), whose magical name was Hyperion, founded The Unnamed Path and hosted the popular podcast The Unnamed Path. He discovered and named the important magical concept of resonance, where two people who are similar to each other make energy together by bringing their energies into phase with each other.

http://unnamedpath.com/

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4 thoughts on “Witchcraft Traditions

    • Of course they are related to folklore.

      I was trying to find a collective noun for other witchcraft traditions that are not Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca. In the USA, the generic term is folkloric witchcraft; in the UK, it is Traditional Craft. I prefer the term folkloric Craft, as I object to the notion that Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca are not also traditional, or that revived traditional witchcraft traditions are any older than Gardnerian Craft.

      I certainly did not mean to imply that Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca don’t also have a connection to folklore.

      I have found on previous similar posts that someone always objects to attempts to classify different witchcraft traditions.

      Like

  1. About Progressive Witchcraft: I know that for Janet and Gavin this is a way to approach the Craft, applicable in any Tradition, instead than their new Tradition

    Like

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