An Overview of Traditions
Please note that these are only a few of the many Wiccan, Witchcraft and other Traditions out there... these are just a few that you may see mentioned in print or on the Web...
BTW or British Traditional Wicca/Witchcraft - This refers specifically to the lineaged, initiatory mystery religion with roots in the New Forest region of Great Britain, manifested today through various "traditions" all linked with a common ancestry back to the New Forest area.
Gardnerian - This is the tradition founded by Gerald Gardner, brought public in 1951, and is considered one of the main "root" traditions for BTW. The coven is the basis of all Gardnerian organization with each coven having it's own personality. Gender polarity is an essential hallmark, with almost everything arranged male to female, female to male. The original work of Gerald and his High Priestesses is preserved unchanged as the required core material, with expansion and creativity encouraged as long each legacy is identified appropriately. Other identifying hallmarks are that strict initiatory procedures are followed, ritual nudity is required, and there is no laity recognized.
Alexandrian - Founded in England by Alex Sanders in the 1960's, this is one of the oldest offshoots of Gardnerian Craft. There is usually a strong focus on training, with an emphasis on areas more generally associated with Ceremonial Magic such as Cabbala. Alexandrian Craft uses essentially the same tools and rituals as Gardnerian Craft, though in some cases the tools are used differently, and there can be a fundamental difference in underlying philosophy. The name Alexandrian is said to refer not to Alex Sanders, but to ancient Alexandria.
Georgian - Founded by George Patterson via the Persephone Coven in 1970, there is a great variation between different lines in this tradition. Most lines are lineaged and oathbound, and much of the core material is Alexandrian-based.
Blue Star - Founded in 1975 by Frank Dufner, there are several "flavors" depending on the origin of the various lines. Early work based in Frank's work with his then-wife Tzipora Katz is heavily Alexandrian. After the couple's divorce, Tzipora's work with her next husband, Kenny Klein, is less Ceremonial, with more folkloric influences. Blue Star groups are very individualistic, although certain fundamental characteristics will always be present, including core points of the Tenets of Faith, points of liturgy, an emphasis of Deity relationships over magic, and an appreciation for research and knowledge. There are three degrees of initiation, with two degrees - Dedicant and Neophyte - prior to initiation.
Proteus - Founded in 1985 by Judy Harrow, this is an offshoot of Gardnerian Craft. Some Proteans are also Gardnerian, although most lines do not pass dual initiations. (Proteus was formally announced as a separate tradition in 1991, and there is still some controversy about exactly which lines are dual and which are not.) Protean Craft has a particular training system, an emphasis on enviro-centricity, a strong commitment to personal psycho-spiritual development and a particular focus on clerical training for advanced practitioners.
Central Valley Wicca (CVW) - There are several theories about the origins of Central Valley Wicca: Some believe that they are an offshoot of the early Gardnerian Tradition, and others that there is a common ancestor with what later became Gardnerian Craft. Regardless of the original source, CVW is an independent BTW line brought to the US from Britain in the early 1960s, and it shares the basic beliefs, structure and practices with older Gardnerian Craft, although there are some differences of interpretation, and much of the oral lore is similar but not identical. Early lineages were not recorded, although most lines now keep initiatory records. (It is, however, still against tradition to divulge lineage to those outside CVW.) The various Traditions that have descended from CVW include Silver Crescent, Kingstone, Daoine Coire, Assembly of Wicca and Majestic.
Mohsian - (Formerly referred to as the "American Eclectic Tradition") This tradition was founded in the early 1960s by Bill and Helen Mohs, and has ties to Plant Bran, 1734, and the Boread Tradition, as well as to both Gardnerian and Alexandrian Craft. Each coven is autonomous, and differing focuses sometimes create the appearance of several distinct branches.
1734 - The 1734 tradition was founded by Joseph Wilson from his earlier training, with significant elements based on the teachings, writings (published and personal) and inspiration of Robert Cochrane, as well as the work of Evan John Jones. Most of the written material is a series of correspondences between Cochrane and Joe Wilson that began in 1965 and which were widely circulated in the 1960s and 1970s. There is no official or "authorized" 1734 lineage root. There are no initiatory requirements, although some individual groups have developed initiatory systems. There is a "family resemblance" among groups that usually includes a particular set of teaching riddles, certain ritual practices, certain teachings on deity Aspecting, as well as certain philosophical tendencies.
Clan of Tubal Cain - The Clan of Tubal Cain is a British mystery tradition made public in Britain during the 1960's by Robert Cochrane and introduced into the US in 1964. There are several lines descended from members of Cochrane's original group; the most public is The Roebuck, a group that began as a 1734 coven and was later adopted into the Tubal Cain family after an apprenticeship by it's founders.
NECTW - Lady Gwen Thompson (1928-1986), a hereditary Witch from New Haven, Connecticut, founded The New England Covens of Traditionalist Witches (NECTW). Gwen's family tradition was blended with BTW and popular occultism over a number a years to settle in it's present form in 1972. Gwen is most widely known as the source of the most commonly quoted poetic long version of the "Wiccan Rede".
Seax-Wica (or Saxon Wicca) - Raymond Buckland authored this tradition in 1973 without breaking his Gardnerian oaths. There are no oathbound materials - the complete core of the tradition was published in "The Tree: the Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft" in 1974 - and self-initiation is recognized. There is no degree structure, and no formal requirements for the creation of covens. In the early 1980s Buckland founded the Seax-Wica Seminary, which offered a correspondence course for "ordination" in Seax-Wica. The correspondence program was phased out in 1984-85, although re-introduced in 1993 by Michael B. Smith (an ex-student) with Buckland's blessing. In 1999/2000 Michael Smith resigned his duties as Steward for health reasons, and the position was briefly held by Mark Ventimiglia. Due to his very outspoken and highly controversial positions and opinions, Ventimiglia was forced to resign in 2003 and Buckland has stated that no more Stewards will be named.
Victor Anderson's Faery/Feri/Faerie - This non-Wiccan Witchcraft tradition was adapted and brought public by Victor Anderson in 1959. It is an ecstatic rather than a fertility tradition, emphasizing polytheism, practical magic, self-development and theurgy. Various lines each have different emphasis, and the root material shows strong Huna and African diasporic influences as well as much material from Welsh, Teutonic and folk magic systems. Although some lines do have written lore, the core material is passed on orally from teacher to student. Some of the more well known lines are Bloodrose, Night Hare, Vanthi, Vicia, and Black Heart.
Reclaiming - Originally an outgrowth of classes in feminist
witchcraft taught by Starhawk and Diane Baker between 1978-80, the Reclaiming
Collective was a working consensus - based group which published a quarterly
newsletter; organized and led public rituals, and taught classes on magic
and witchcraft from their unique perspective, including week-long programs
which came to be known as Witch Camps.
In 1994 Reclaiming became an incorporated religious organization under state and federal law. Several years later, in 1997, the Reclaiming Collective dissolved itself, creating instead basic suggestions and guidelines for the structure of Reclaiming. Reclaiming Witches in other places organize themselves (or not) as they will. There is no central authority, and all Witch Camps are autonomous. There is no way to become an official "member" - people become involved in the organization by becoming involved in the work and activities of the various Cells (local groups). The Reclaiming community includes those who attend rituals or other events, as well as those who practice the Reclaiming tradition in groups or as solitaries. Community members often participate in political actions directed toward social justice and ecological causes.
Covenant of the Goddess - The Covenant of the Goddess
is one of the largest and oldest Wiccan religious organizations in the
US. It was founded in 1975 by representatives from several Wiccan and
Witchcraft traditions, and was incorporated as a nonprofit religious corporation
with the ability to credential nationally recognized clergy.
CoG is an umbrella organization of cooperating autonomous Witchcraft congregations and individual practitioners who all agree to a particular creed. It is non-hierarchical and governed by consensus.
Dianic - Can be broken into two distinct varieties:
McFarland/Roberts Dianic Craft - Formed in the late 1960s by Margan McFarland and Mark Roberts, this path gives primacy to the Goddess in its theology, but honors the Horned God as her beloved Consort. Covens include both women and men.
Feminist Dianic Witchcraft - This tradition, founded by Z Budapest, focuses exclusively on the goddess and consists of women-only covens and groups. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchical, using consensus process extensively and a simple, creative ritual style.
Strega/Stregheria - Strega is the name given to non-Wiccan traditions of Italian Witchcraft. Stregheria is the Italian word for religious witchcraft. The most influential writer on Italian Witchcraft was Charles G. Leland with his book "Aradia: Gospel of the Witches". Generally Strega has a strong folk magic component, an emphasis on a Goddess (most commonly Diana) and strong family or clan ties.
Church of All Worlds (CAW) - This is one of the oldest incorporated Pagan churches in the United States, evolving from a group of friends inspired to spiritual exploration by Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" in 1962, to being recognized as a church by the IRS in 1970. CAW incorporates a shared value system whose core values are accepted by its members regardless of religious belief. (CAW does not ask or require members to give up their religious affiliation as long as they share the central common values.) The organizing social and spiritual values include a belief in immanent divinity, a pluralistic perspective toward religion, self-actualization, ecological harmony, and positive sexuality. Individual congregations, called Nests, may be of religious or social focus, and there is a 9-level (ring) system that may lead to ordained priesthood, scionship, or to the development of various subsidiary organizations.
Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) - Titled "Our Own Druidism" in Irish Gaelic, ADF is a completely independent tradition of Neo-Pagan Druidism. Founded in 1983 by Isaac Bonewits, there is a strong focus on academics with modern scientific research on the Indo-European peoples playing an important role. ADF is polytheistic, and recognizes achievement in physical, intellectual, artistic and ritual skills. Local groups are Groves, and public service in ecology, the healing arts, and ritual theater is encouraged.
Henge of Keltria - An offshoot of ADF founded in 1987, they consider themselves a Celtic-Druidic mystery path that incorporates ritual and natural magic. Keltrian rituals are invitational, and there is a core body of initiation material.
OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids) - This is currently the largest Druid organization, and is a modern offshoot of the Druid Order (the British Circle of the Universal Bond) which traces its origins to 1717. It sponsors a distance-learning program, summer camps in Britain and the US, a monthly magazine, and various educational materials. The current Chosen Chief is Philip Carr-Gomm, psychologist and author of several well-respected books on Druidism, and there are members in over 20 countries.
Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) - Founded in 1979 by Pierre "Pete Pathfinder" Davis, the church is based in Index, Washington, where it owns a significant amount of property and sponsors open circles and several annual festivals. The ATC is recognized in the USA, Canada and Australia, and has a number of "associate" congregation groups in these countries. The ATC has it's own unique belief structure and ritual style very loosely based on public Wicca.
Gwyddonic Order - This group is frequently referred to as a druidic group, although they are not - by their own definition they "are not Wiccan, and we do not call ourselves Witches or Druids." They were founded in 1996 as an offshoot from Trefn Gwyddoniad, a Welsh-Celtic spiritual, philosophical and metaphysical Tradition with Masonic roots. There is a focus on Gaelic and Teutonic deities, and self-development and deity work is strongly emphasized over magic. There is an initiatory degree system, and most lore is oathbound. The Gwyddonic Order is not in any way affiliated with or associated with Y Tylwyth Teg, or the Trefn y Awenechen.
Pictish-Elven Witchcraft - This is an offshoot of Victor Anderson's Faery Tradition founded by Tony Spurlock (aka Brian Dragon) in 1984. The tradition incorporates some Faery material with an exclusive focus on a particular mythological cycle and a strong emphasis on a subset of doctrines. There is a strong preference to use the term "Elven" instead of "Faery", and there is no relationship between this tradition and Traditional Pictish Witchcraft. (Or between this tradition and Victor Anderson's Faery, although they are acknowledged as a derivative line.)
Traditional Pictish Witchcraft - This is an oathbound, initiatory Witchcraft tradition first documented in the early 1980s, with some material in common with Victor Anderson's Faery Tradition. Some points of similarity include the doctrine of the three selves, the foundation pentacles, specific ritual elements, a particular mythology, and a concept frequently referred to as the Black Heart of Innocence.
Third Road - This tradition founded by Francesca De Grandis (formerly Francesca Dubie) in the mid-1980s blends elements of Victor Anderson's Faery teachings with elements from Wicca and Celtic shamanism. Third Road is acknowledged as a derivative line from Victor Anderson's Faery Tradition.
Discordian (Erisian) - This is a philosophy which 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. The central theme is that Chaos is as important as Order. Humor is central to Discordianism, and their self-description is "a Non-Prophet Irreligious Disorganization".
British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) - This is a relatively modern group that claims the name "British Traditional Witchcraft" as it's tradition name, and also claims Gardnerian as well as Irish and Celtic sources. The "International Red Garter" is one of their Orders. They also call their practices "Druidic Witchcraft", although their practices and beliefs have little in common with those of more reputable Druidic groups.
Y Tylwyth Teg (Association of Cymry; Y Dynion Mwyn) -
This is a Georgia-based group founded in 1977 by Bill Wheeler (Rhuddlwm
Gawr) and his wife Victoria (Cerridwen). They claim to belong to a "pre-Gardnerian"
Welsh tradition, and to be the only "true" Welsh Faery tradition in America.
Much of the material in their classes, as well as much of their online material, is the subject of many claims of plagiarism from members of Victor Anderson's Faery tradition, from Francesca De Grandis' books and materials, from Gwyddonic colleges, from the original founders of the "Gathering of the Tribes" festivals, as well as from a number of other authors. They have also been associated with coercive sexual misconduct and with the slave-based sex trade in Thailand via Asian tours led by Bill Wheeler.
From Home Circle student materials.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.