Traditions of Wicca

Alexandrian Wicca

A tradition founded by Alex Sanders, in England. The rituals are basically Gardnerian but have been modified with many Judeo-Christian and Ceremonial Magick elements. Covens work skyclad. The eight Sabbats are observed and both God and Goddess are honored.

Sanders himself is unique in the Craft world in that he claims the title of a "King" of his Witches (details may be found in June Johns' book King Of the Witches).

An attempt was made, a few years back, to create a denomination known as "Algard" — a blending of Alexandrian and Gardnerian. Since Alexandrian is already blended with Gardnerian, there didn't seem much point to it and I don't believe it caught on to any great extent. Alexandrian Wicca is now found in many countries around the world.

American Celtic Wicca

"The American Order of the Brotherhood of the Wicca" covens stem from Jessica Bell ("Lady Sheba"), a self-styled Witch Queen. The tradition's rites are virtually the same as the Gardnerian, though covens work robed. They follow the same practice of Gardnerians in preferring couples; preferably husband and wife. "Ceremonial magick is the primary work of the American Celtic tradition and it is conceived as being the most powerful and ancient means of psychological and occult therapy by which normal, healthy people can undertake a program of initiation and development."

Australian Wicca

The Craft is alive and well "down under" (as it is in virtually every country around the globe), with Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Seax-Wica and other groups there. There is a branch of The Church of the Old Religion in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, promised details of this denomination did not arrive in time for this edition of the Workbook. Hopefully in future editions I can add pertinent information. For now, interested persons can contact Catherine-Clair, P.O. Box 80, Lane Cove, NSW 2066, Australia.

Church of Y Tylwyth Teg

Their stated purpose is "to seek that which is of the most worth in the world — to exalt the dignity of every person, the human side of our daily activities and the maximum service to humanity — to aid humanities' (sic) search in the Great Spirit's Universe for identity, for development and for happiness — to re-link humanity with itself and Nature."

It is, as its name suggests, a Celtic/Welsh tradition and was originally organized by Bill Wheeler, in Washington D.C. in 1967, as "The Gentle People." It teaches the balance of nature, folklore, mythology and the mysteries and was incorporated as a non-profit (religious) organization, in the state of Georgia, in 1977.

The Church has an "Outer Circle" of students, who may learn through correspondence, together with its inner core. It is found in many areas of the United States. For further information, contact Y Tylwyth Teg, P.O. Box 674884, Marietta, GA 30067.

Church of the Crescent Moon

"The Church of the Crescent Moon is a cohesive, small group of highly dedicated individuals. Each Priestess and Priest maintains services to the Goddess or God she or he serves, and the Goddesses and Gods in general. Therefore, the Church offers many paths to the ultimate 'oneness' with the absolute." The purposes of the Church of the Crescent Moon include perpetuating "the uncorrupted religion of ancient Ireland" and providing "information and instruction about the Goddesses and Gods in general, Irish culture and many occult subjects."

Although the Church, which was originally organized in 1976, states that "We do not call ourselves Wiccans —" I have included them in this present work. Many of their rituals are open to guests and prospective members. Further information may be obtained from The Director, Church of the Crescent Moon, P.O. Box 652, Camarillo, CA 93011-0652.

Circle Wicca

Circle was begun in 1974 by Selena Fox and Jim Alan. Its headquarters are at Circle Sanctuary, a 200 acre Nature preserve and organic herb farm in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin. Circle coordinates Circle Network, "an international exchange and contact service for Wiccans, Neo-Pagans, Pantheists, Goddess Folk, Shamans, Druids, Eco-Feminists, Native American Medicine People, Seers, Ceremonial Magicians, Mystics and others on related paths." They publish an annual source, which I recommend to the seeker, the Circle Guide to Pagan Resources. I also recommend their quarterly newspaper, Circle Network News.

Circle sponsors a variety of seminars, concerts and workshops at their home base and around the country. At least once a year they also sponsor a special program for Wiccan and other Pagan ministers, and at Summer Solstice hold the National Pagan Spirit Gathering.

Circle is incorporated as a non-profit spiritual center and is recognized as a legal Wiccan Church by state and federal governments. Circle differs from many traditions of Wicca in that it is more aligned with Shamanism and, it seems to me, Amerindian ways than with the Wicca of Western Europe found in the majority of Craft traditions.

This is not to denigrate it in any way, for it is an excellent, dedicated and well organized center. Further information may be obtained from Circle, P.O. Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572.

Coven of the Forest, Far and Forever

This is a newer denomination and therefore not found as widely spread as some of the others listed. It was formed by a Priest and Priestess with collective experiences in Dianic, hereditary Spanish, Egyptian and Gardnerian Wicca plus Qabbalism. There is good balance between the male and female aspects. The group "sees the Goddess and God figures as living representatives of even more fundamental, living forces which manifest on a variety of levels." Their stated purpose is "to make ourselves more fit as vehicles for these forces, by invoking them to, in turn, balance and develop our own natures and grow closer to the Universe."

The worship is skyclad and without the use of drugs. Esbats are held at each moon and there is emphasis on the Book of Shadows being personally handwritten. Further information is available from Elivri and Giselda, P.O. Box 13804, University Station, Gainesville, FL 32604

Deboran Witchdom

"The Deboran branch is eclectic. We make little ritual use of nudity. We work with balanced polarities (Goddess-God; positive-negative). What we are aiming for is a reconstruction of the Craft as it would be if the Burning Times had never happened — as if Wiccedom had continued without interference to this day. We use research, logical deduction and divination in this quest."

Sabbats are open to guests but Esbats are closed. Coven leaders are called Robin and Marion, with their seconds-in-command called the Maiden and the Green Man. They do not have First, Second and Third Degrees as such, but "Apprentices, 'sealed and sworn' Witches and Elders."

"We view the Craft as a priesthood with a ministry and our principle job, as Witches, is to help others find pathways to religious experience and to their own power." The Deboran tradition has been in existence for at least seven years, as of this writing, and was founded by Claudia Haldane. Further information may be obtained from Erinna Northwind, Eregion Grove, P.O. Box 114, Naphant, MA 01908.

Dianic Feminist Wicce

A tradition started by Ann Forfreedom that is both religious and practices magick. It includes both female and male practitioners (“It is not lesbian oriented and not separatist" states Ann), solo practitioners, mixed covens and all female covens.

"Dianic Feminist Wicce encourages female leadership, insists that a Priestess must be present for a Circle ritual to be held and involves its practitioners in feminist and humanist issues." Groups work either skyclad or robed. Further information may be obtained from Goddess Rising, 2441 Cordova street, Oakland, CA 94602

Frosts’ Wicca

This is one of the many Welsh-based traditions. It was originally founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in the early 1970s. As "The Church and School of Wicca" the material is presented to students by correspondence, though the course is virtually the same as the material presented in their book The Witches' Bible. Originally (in the book) there was no mention of the Goddess at all and there were various sexual aspects which dismayed many who were otherwise drawn to the tradition. The latter situation has recently been modified and there is now mention of the Goddess. It is a widely spread tradition, found throughout this country and abroad. For further information contact The School Of Wicca, P.O. Box 1502, New Bern, NC 28560.

Gardnerian Wicca

This was the first denomination of the Craft to make itself known publicly (in the 1950s, in England). Because of that, many people mistakenly think that it is the only "true" Wicca. It is named for its founder, Gerald Gardner, who actually launched the tradition a few years after the end of the second World War. For many years Gardner was accused of inventing the whole concept of Wicca and of getting Aleister Crowley to write its rituals. Today he has been pretty well cleared of both these charges. The Gardnerian Book of Shadows can now be seen as a compilation from various sources, much of it actually contributed by Doreen Valiente. For a detailed examination of the birth of Gardnerian, see Janet and Stewart Farrar's excellent books Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches' Way.

The Gardnerian tradition places emphasis on the Goddess over the God, with the female generally lauded over the male. It has a degree system of advancement and does not allow for self-initiation. Covens work skyclad and aim to have "perfect couples" — equal numbers of male and female, paired. Covens are, theoretically at least, autonomous. Gardnerian Wicca is found in most countries around the world.

Today there are many traditions which base their rites on the Gardnerian ones. There are also a large number of groups who call themselves "Gardnerian" even though their Books of Shadows bear little resemblance to Gardner's original. For more information on this tradition contact Joyce Rasmussen, 383 Harrison Street, Council Bluffs, IA 51501. (I can personally vouch for the fact that this lady's Book is the same as Gardner's own).

Georgian Wicca

The Georgians, founded by George E. Patterson in 1970, were chartered by the Universal Life Church in 1972, as The Church of Wicca of Bakersfield. In 1980 they were chartered as The Georgian Church.

"The Georgians are eclectic, much based on Gardnerian-Alexandrian plus some English traditionalist and some original — God-Goddess oriented but lean more towards the Goddess." They generally work skyclad but individual groups or individuals may do as they wish. They are both religious and magickal and celebrate the eight Sabbats. Members are encouraged to write rituals and to learn from all available sources. More information may be had from The Georgian Church, 1908 Verde Street, Bakersfield, CA 93304.

Maidenhill Wicca

A "traditional" Wiccan group established in 1979 and having strong ties with The Coven of Rhiannon in Manchester, England.

"Our main focus is the worship of the great Goddess and her Consort, the Horned God. Our coven does not limit worship to one particular cultural-ethnic 'tradition'. Rather, a thorough training in basic Gardnerian Wica is taught and members are urged, after mastering these basics, to find that particular myth cycle or path consistent with their beliefs."

Further information is obtainable from Deidre, Maidenhill, P.O. Box 29166, Philadelphia, PA 19127.

Northern Way

A non-initiatory tradition that works robed. "We try to emulate as authentic and traditional re-creation as possible of old Norse garb. Our God-names are all Old Norse, not Teutonic. We do cast a Circle; we do not 'call Quarters'. Our tradition is Norse — the group, however, is not hereditary in that members need not be of any particular family or ethnic group."

The Northern Way was founded in 1980 and incorporated in 1982, in Chicago. Its religion is sometimes called Asatru. They observe the four Solar Fire Festivals as well as those indigenous to the Norse religion. Further details may be obtained from Northern Way, Inc., Nova Coven, 45 S. LaVergne Ave, Northlake, II 60164, (312) 562-0802.

Nova Wicca

An eclectic group founded by two Gardnerians. They work robed at Esbats and Sabbats and skyclad at initiations. The Gardnerian deity names are used, though "working pairs may use others if they wish." Nova has a degree system, which is very finely tuned, and an in-depth training, some classes being open to newcomers. Grand Sabbats are also open to interested persons, at the coven's discretion.

Nova classifies itself as "a Mixed Traditional, Teaching/Training Coven." Further information may be obtained from Nimue and Duncan, 6030 W. Roosevelt Road, Oak Park, IL 60304.

Pecti-Wita

A Scottish Solitary tradition passed on by Aidan Breac, who personally teaches students in his home at Castle Carnonacae, in Scotland. The tradition is attuned to the solar and lunar changes, with a balance between the God and the Goddess. Meditation and divination play a large part in the tradition and it also teaches several variations on solitary working of magick. Information is not generally available and Mr. Breac (who, as of this writing, is about ninety years old) is not seeking further students.

Seax-Wica

This tradition was founded by myself in 1973. It has a Saxon basis but is, in fact, a new denomination of the Craft. It does not pretend to be either a continuation or a re-creation of the original Saxon religion. Main features of the tradition are the fact that it has open rituals (all of them are published and available), it has a democratic organization that precludes ego trips and power plays by coven leaders, there can be Coven or Solitary practice and there is the reality of Self-Initiation in lieu of Coven Initiation, if desired. Covens are led by Priest and/or Priestess and decide for themselves whether to work skyclad or robed. The Seax-Wica is found throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. My book The Tree: Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft (Weiser, NY 1978) gives the basics of the tradition.

In Margo Adler's book, Drawing Down the Moon, she makes a couple of incorrect statements that I feel need to be addressed. She claims that the Seax-Wica was originally started as a joke and further states that it is an eclectic collection of bits and pieces from various sources. She is wrong on both counts (it is unfortunate when an author does not bother to verify statements before publishing them).

Since I left the Gardnerian tradition after more than a decade of great activity in it, in order to found and promote the Saxon tradition, and since the Seax-Wica has been my life for well over another decade, it should be obvious to anyone of any intelligence that it was not a joke! Far from it; it was very carefully constructed as an answer to the corruption (a harsh word but, I feel, the appropriate one) that seemed prevalent in some sectors of the Craft, and in much of Gardnerian specifically, at that time (I have no reason to believe that this is still the case). Far from drawing on other sources, with the exception of using Saxon deity names all of the tradition as I presented it was new and of my own authorship. I was particularly careful to still honor my original Gardnerian oath and not to include any of that tradition's secrets.

Happily, many people felt the same way that I did at the time of the Seax-Wica's inception and many have welcomed it since. Today the Saxon tradition flourishes and grows at a steady rate. Details may be found in my book, The Tree, mentioned above.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License