Pathways: A Guide to Traditions

Which way do I go?

I will start my story in this post when I discovered how wonderful it was to work with the Goddess. I had been a victim of assault by men as well as being disenchanted with the Christian God, so I truly had a lack of enthusiasm for for working with the God for a long time. Hint: I could have chosen to practice with the Dianic tradition. This was back in the 1980’s when I started on my path as a Wiccan. There are a number of directions I could have gone, and decisions about a path were not made overnight. Wicca was all brand new to me, so I made no snap decisions. Many years later I chose Celtic Wicca based on some of my heritage (which all-told is Irish, English and German) and on what felt right. As the pictures indicate, there are no simple answers about taking a path. Some people say that they are drawn to a certain tradition. But if they were to choose another tradition based on their heredity that tradition would not feel right, and they do not know what to do. Another consideration is how one feels about a sense of structure: Does one like a structure developed by other people or does one feel the need to create her/his own structure? Does one want to practice the relatively new religion Wicca? Does one want to practice a much older religion based on ancient lore and customs? Or does one want to practice Neo-Paganism? There are a range of different paths available to walk, and these are just a few. These are called traditions, and most importantly the tradition should feel right to the practitioner.

Alexandrian – Alexandrian Wicca is very similar to Gardnerian Wicca (see below) and was developed by Alexander Sanders. There are a few Alexandrian covens around but not many in the US. Sanders was a flamboyant character and a ceremonial magician. Alexanrians celebrate the eight sabbats and practice either robed or sky clad. Alexander’s former wife, Maxine Sanders wrote the book Fire Child: The Life & Magic of Maxine Sanders ‘Witch Queen’, within which she wrote about him. I hear the book is a good read. I also understand that it is outrageously expensive and hard to find but may be available through Goodreads.

Cabot – Laurie Cabot is known as “The Official Witch of Salem” and taught witchcraft as a science as well as an art and religion. Cabot contends that the Wiccan Rede, “An’ it harm none, do what ye will” includes psychic defense, and practitioners are taught instead of sending energies back to the sender to create shields that dissolve the energies or to change them and use them as positive energies. Her tradition is Celtic, and she teaches psychism, healing and past life regression among many other things.

Celtic – This tradition basically lore and practices from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We research Celtic lore, gods and goddesses and traditional practices and put as much as we can into our practice. The sources are scant, but we do what we can. Note that there are a few differences from most Wiccan practices. We tend to be an Eclectic group and observe Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassad, and Samhain in particular. We call the three elements of sky, land and sea which the triskelion and triquetra represent. Note that practicing Wicca means following the Wiccan Rede which conflicts with the heroic tales of battles and choices need to be made in how we use this lore.

Triskelion and triquetra

Circle Craft – According to its founder Selena Fox, Circle Craft is a tradition borrowing from Wicca, Druidism, heathenism and shamanism. Practitioners follow the eight sabbats, use a pentacle, follow cycles and get together in circles as in Wicca. As is Druidism there is Celtic lore honoring trees, stone circles and other places. From heathenism they worship ancestors. As in shamanism they work with journeying, multiple worlds and states of consciousness. Samhain is at the top of the wheel of the year and starts the year. Selena places great emphasis in working in nature.

Dianic – This is an all women feminist tradition honoring Diana/Artemis. This tradition started with the book titled The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries by Zsuzsanna Budapest. This tradition is a great fit for those who just do not feel comfortable working with the male deity or with men in the coven.

Feri – Feri is a tradition mostly of the West Coast started by Cora and Victor Anderson. This is a sensual and energy based form of worship which also gives emphasis to living in harmony with nature and with those around the world. If one feels that energy surge then s/he knows it is Feri. It is comprised of practical magic and poetry. Thorns of the Blood Rose is an award winning book of poetry by Victor Anderson.

Eclectic – Eclectic Wicca is not no holds barred when it comes to standards. Certain rules such as the Wiccan Rede apply. An understanding of ethics, energy work, deity, ritual etc. is important. It does take research, experience and work to become accomplished at Wicca as eclectic. In a way it takes more because one is not following a prescribed set of writings of procedure and practice. Eclectic Wicca is for someone who needs the freedom of his/her own sense of structure and not someone else’s. Practicing eclectic helps put Wicca in the hands of the solitary practitioner. It also allows for the freedom to be spontaneous. This is a good fit for those who are willing to research and do the work it entails.

A spiral path

Gardnerian – Developed by Gerald Gardner, this tradition crossed the pond from England in the 1960’s. In this tradition one is made a witch by a priestess or a priest, and self initiation is not recognized. It is hierarchical, structured, initiatory, its members practice sky clad and it is oath bound (meaning that Gardnerian texts and practices are kept secret by oath). Practitioners observe the eight sabbats. A book Gardner is most famous for is Witchcraft Today.

Greco-Roman – In this tradition practitioners research Greek and Roman lore, gods and goddesses. Both Wiccans and Pagans put as much of this research as reasonable into practice. Again, to follow the Wiccan Rede some decisions must be made when it comes to doing what is learned from research.

Green Witchcraft – The green witch is a practitioner who works in the kitchen with various elements of nature such as herbs, rocks and rain water.

Hereditary – Hereditary Wicca is basically what it says to be. It is Wicca passed down to family members and it is generally kept secret.

Seax-Wicca – Buckland started out as Gardnerian but he developed this new brand of Wicca. He brought a much more approachable type of Wicca to the population. He created the idea of an “outer court”, which gave more people the opportunity to experience ritual work in person. He also acknowledged self initiation, which was a big step for solitary practitioners. His books inform a great deal about the practice of Wicca, and they bring Wicca within arm’s reach of the solitary practitioner. Bringing Wicca to others with greater access than before is one of his major contributions.

Stregheria – Many who practice Stregheria use the text by Charles Leland, “Aradia: Or the Gospel of the Witches.” Accoding to this book, the Goddess Diana had a child named Aradia, who descended to Earth and taught magic to the people. Raven Grimassi author of Italian Witchcraft is credited with helping Stregheria grow recently.

Enjoy learning about the Wiccan traditions and choosing what fits you! Take your time and when the time is right, you’ll know it!

I will continue to post on Wednesdays.

Auburn Greene

The winding path

Suggested Investigation:

Anderson, Victor, Thorns of the Blood Rose.

Buckland, Raymond, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, Llewellyn, 1986 & 2002

Budapest, ZsuZsanna The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries.

Fox, Selena, “Circle Craft as a Pagan Craft,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, November 7, 2021, Encore from April 28, 2012.

Gardner, Gerald B., Witchcraft Today.

Grimassi, Raven, Italian Witchcraft, Llewellyn, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen, The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft & Wicca, Third Edition, Checkmark Books, 2008.

Leland, Charles, Aradia: Or the Gospel of the Witches, Pantianos Classics, 1899.

Mankey, Jason, Patheos, “Raymond Buckland: A Remembrance,” September 28, 2017.

Penczak, Christopher, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation, and Psychic Deveopment, Llewellyn, 2021.

Thea Sabin, Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy and Practice, Llewellyn, 2006. Great beginner’s book.

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