Covens, Churches and Organizations)
Wicca is a wonderfully diverse and contemporary spiritual religion. Many of its traditions are based on and reviving the ancient pagan, pre-Christian religions of Europe. There are many differing paths and traditions contained within Wicca, each with it’s own brand of ritual and magic. But perhaps the single most common theme among all these traditions is an overriding reverence for life, nature and the environment as seen through the Goddess and God. Below I have listed some of the main Paths, Covens, Churches and Organizations that come under the banner of Wicca:
Witches here, witches there,
White witch, Black witch,
Good witch, Wicked witch,
Who can tell the difference?
Contemporary witch, Coven witch,
Traditional witch, Kitchen witch,
Hereditary witch, Heath witch,
Who and what are they?
Gardnerian witch, Eclectic witch,
Alexandrian witch, Solitary witch,
Nordic witch, Celtic witch,
Feri witch, Wicca witch.
But which 'Witch' is which?
Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / The Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
the repeal of England’s last antiquated witchcraft laws in 1951, there began a
resurgence of interest in the old religion, and witchcraft in particular.
Gerald Brosseau Gardner,
who later that year became director of the newly opened “Museum of Magic and
Witchcraft” in Castletown, Isle of Man, spearheaded this resurgence.
Gardner started to establish covens, using the basic ideas and rituals he
had written about in his fictional book “High
Magic’s Aid”, published in 1949.
Gardner initiated into his coven Doreen Valiente.
It was Doreen who helped Gardner reshape the structure of his covens, by
re-writing and embellishing his “Book of Shadows”, thus establishing a new
tradition and calling it Gardnerian Wicca.
Both Gardner and Doreen were greatly influenced by the teachings of Charles
Godfrey Leland, and in time the tradition took on elements of Italian
Witchcraft. The famous “Charge of
the Goddess” written by Doreen, was clearly inspired by his work.
aspects of the tradition influenced by Leland’s view of Italian Witchcraft
are, The full moon gatherings, The worship of the goddess and god consort, The
cakes and wine rituals and celebrations, and Ritual nudity.
the tradition is mainly coven based, and follows an extremely traditional path
with a hierarchical grade structure unsuitable for solitary practice.
The Gardnerian covens of today still adhere to the old time values of
secrecy, and new initiates are pledged to take oaths upon initiation.
The Georgian Tradition of Wicca was founded in California
in 1971 by George “Pat” Patterson and two women called Zanoni Silverknife
and Lady Tanith. In 1972 the
Universal Life Church chartered the Georgians as The Church of Wicca of
Bakersfield, then later in 1980 it was reorganised and re-chartered as The
The Georgian tradition is an eclectic mix of Gardnerian,
Alexandrian and British Traditional practices in that it is an initiatory
line and oath-bound. Many of the
rituals are similar to those published in various books such as the Farrar's Eight
Sabbats for Witches and The Witches' Way, as well as the privately
distributed version of what was later published as Ed Fitch's Grimoire of the
Shadows. The Georgians are God
- Goddess oriented and both religious and magical, they also celebrate the eight
Sabbats and encouraged members to learn from all available sources.
Founded in 1987 by early members of the Ar
nDraiocht Fein (ADF), an American Druid Order founded
in 1983 by Philip
Isaac Bonewits, a number of members grewwith the direction and leadership of the Order.
Wanting a more clearly defined “Celtic” inspired path to follow, a
break-a-way faction led by Tony Taylor and others formed the “Henge of
Keltria” as an Order dedicated to Celtic Druidism.
Eight years later in 1995, the “Henge of Keltria”
incorporated as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and has since expanded year on year.
It now has members all across the United States, and internationally in
Canada, Europe, South America and Africa.
Working within a framework of Celtic Druidism as defined by
a Council of Elders and administered by a Board of Trustees, members of the
Henge are dedicated to protecting and preserving Mother Earth, honouring the
Ancestors, revering the Spirits of Nature and worshipping the Celtic Gods and
The structural framework of the Henge is based on thirteen Core
Beliefs and Ethics formulated by the Council of Elders, which
1. We believe in divinity as it is manifest in the Celtic pantheons and that Polytheism (the belief and worship of more than one deity), Pantheism (the belief that God is everything and the material world is one and the same thing in which God is present) and Animism (the belief that nature has a soul, and that all things in nature, i.e. trees, mountains and streams, all have souls or consciousness), are all valid theistic perceptions of the pantheon.
2. We believe that nature is the embodiment of the Gods.
3. We believe that natural Law reflects the will of the Gods.
4. We believe that all life is Sacred, and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.
5. We believe in the immortality of the Spirit.
6. We believe that our purpose is to gain wisdom through experience, and that we may undergo several incarnations to facilitate the variety of experience necessary to gain that wisdom.
7. We believe that learning is an ongoing process, and should be encouraged at all ages.
8. We believe that morality is a matter of personal conviction based upon self-respect and equally respect for others.
9. We believe that evil is not a matter of inheritance but of intent, therefore, actions are not in themselves evil. Rather, it is through the intent behind actions that evil manifests.
10. We believe that nothing is absolute, and all things, even the Gods, have their dark sides.
11. We believe that every individual has the right to pursue knowledge and wisdom through his or her chosen path.
12. We believe in honouring the Gods through the cyclical celebrations of our Celtic Ancestors.
13. We believe in a living religion able to adapt to a changing environment; therefore, we recognize that our beliefs may undergo change as our tradition grows.
The main aim of the Henge is to provide a religious and
spiritual framework through which people can reach their full potential.
In this, special emphasis is placed on spiritual development through
ritual participation, mentored training and their own resource materials.
Members of the Henge progress through three grades of
initiation called rings, a symbolic name derived from the rings of a tree as a
measure of its growth, and thus is used as a measure of an initiates attainments
and progress within the Henge. The
three rings are named after three of the sacred trees:
the Ring of the Birch, the Ring of the Yew and the Ring of the Oak.
The highest ring, that of Oak, also has three grades—Hawthorn, Rowan,
and Mistletoe. Advancements are
based on time, knowledge and service to either an affiliated grove or the Henge
itself. Special provisions are made
for those transferring from other Neo-pagan paths, so that those with several
years of prior training and experience need not begin at the bottom.
Affiliated groves of the Henge are granted Charters to
freely compose and perform their own rituals to suit their own particular needs,
criteria and focus, provided that such remain compatible with the above Core
Beliefs and Ethics.
Druids celebrate the 8 main Feasts (Sabbats) throughout the year, namely the
“Solstices and Equinoxes” marking the cycle of the sun, and the
“Cross-Quarter days” marking the agricultural seasons.
The Feast of Death (Samhain - 1st Nov)
The Feast of Rebirth (Yule - the Winter Solstice - 21st Dec)
The Feast of Stirring (Imbolc – 2nd Feb)
The Feast of Flowing (Ostara - the Spring Equinox – 21st Mar)
The Feast of Greening (Beltaine – 1st May)
The Feast of Ripening (Litha - the Summer Solstice – 21st Jun)
The Feast of First Harvest (Lughnasadh – 1st Aug)
The Feast of Second Harvest (Mabon - the Autumn Equinox – 21st Sept)
They also celebrate two lunar rites called “The Mistletoe
Rite” and “The Vervain Rite”.
The Mistletoe Rite – In ancient times Druids
collected Mistletoe on the 6th night of the moon (roughly just before the first
quarter). Since mistletoe was known
as “all heal” one of the themes of this rite is healing.
This theme extends to healing of the community through a sharing of food
and drink. The Sun and Moon are in a position of equilibrium at this
time, so they also see this as a time of balance, and a time to seek balance in
their own lives.
The Vervain Rite – This rite is also based on
ancient Druidic practices, when of old Vervain was gathered at a time when
neither sun nor moon was in the sky. This
usually occurs during each evening, except when the moon is full.
This rite is generally celebrated around the 3rd quarter, which allows
time for the performance during the evening hours. It also places the rite opposite to the Mistletoe Rite in the
lunar cycle. Vervain is said to be
of aid in working magic, as such, the Vervain Rite is their time for working
magic. The purpose of magic in a
Druidic sense is more like prayer, in which it is used to help effect change in
their lives and others. In this the
rite may involve contemplation, meditation, ritual or ecstatic dance.
The Henge of Keltria have published a book:
The Henge of Keltria Book of Ritual (see http://www.keltria.org/),
and also publish a quarterly periodical called Henge Happenings.
The Henge of Keltria
Email contact: Keltria-Office@keltria.org
This refers to those people that can trace Craft practice back on their family tree in an unbroken family tradition passed down through the generations by their ancestors from the ancient Pagan Mysteries, and were taught the secrets of the Craft by a living relative (my mother’s grandmother’s sister’s cousin was a Witch, doesn't count). Many Hereditary Witches do not consider their traditions Wiccan, and some admit that they only use the term Wicca because of what they had read about Gardnerian beliefs and practices, which seemed to fit more or less closely with their own beliefs and practices. Hereditary traditions are also often referred to as FamTrad, or Family Traditionalists i.e. a Tradition that has passed down within the family and hence by hereditary descent.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was originally
founded in England in 1888 by Dr. William Wynn Westcott, Dr. W.R. Woodman and S.
L. MacGregor Mathers. The Order
was based on a cipher manuscript said to have belonged to an old German occult
Crowley was perhaps the most well known member of the order, but membership
also included such notables as W.B. Yeats
and A.E. Waite.
During the height of the Orders success in the late 1890’s, it is
thought to have possessed the greatest known repository of Western magical
The Golden Dawn was very much a Ceremonial Magic Order,
providing training instruction on three magical systems:
the Key of Solomon; Abra-Melin and Enochian magic.
Material was also incorporated from the Egyptian Book of the Dead,
William Blake’s Prophetic Books and the Chaldean Oracles.
Some of the texts included Christian elements and members circulated
various Catholic and Anglican writings and sermons.
Instruction was also given in Astral travel, Scrying, Alchemy, Geomancy,
the Tarot and Astrology. By 1903
the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn began to break up due to irreparable
schisms among its members, and was followed for a number of years by two
offshoot Orders, the Stella Matutina and the Alpha et Omega.
Israel Regardie, a one-time secretary of Aleister Crowley, joined the Stella
Matutina and became an Adept in 1934. Regardie quickly realized the Order
was dying a slow death and felt that the
leaders were more interested in self-glorification than in understanding and
learning from the basic materials. After much soul searching in
regard to his Oath of Secrecy, in 1937 Regardie made the decision to publish the Order’s lectures and rituals in his
book, The Golden Dawn. By doing so he kept the teachings of the
Golden Dawn from being lost forever. While vilified at the time,
today Regardie is often credited with keeping the traditional teachings of the
Golden Dawn alive, by insuring that anyone who is interested has access to it.
Regardie’s primary objectives had been to preserve the teachings of the Golden
Dawn, but he also set himself another task.
As an Adept of the
Golden Dawn, he felt it was down to him to bring a valid branch of the initiatory
lineage of the Order to America. He
waited patiently for four decades before he was able to achieve his goal.
A couple in Georgia were inspired to build a Rosicrucian Vault, the
powerful ritual chamber required to pass-on the Adept Initiation.
At the same time two magicians (one on the east coast of the United
States and one on the west coast), unknown to each other or to the Georgia
couple, came to be ready to receive that Initiation.
Regardie was the connecting link between them, and using his title and
order motto A. M. A. G., he had the right to confer the Initiation in such a
Vault. In one remarkable weekend,
Regardie presided over two Initiations into the Inner Order, the first and the
last that he ever performed, and with the following oath repeated by the
initiates, the Lamp of the Keryx passed into American hands:
“I further promise and swear that with the Divine Permission, I will from this day forward, apply myself to the Great Work, which is: to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite to my Higher and Divine Genius, and that in this event I will not abuse the great power entrusted to me”.
The American Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.)
in its present form was founded in Columbus, Georgia in 1977.
Since then the H.O.G.D. has continued to grow and in 1988 was
incorporated as a non-profit organization by Charles "Chic" Cicero in
Florida. The function of the
H.O.G.D. today is the advancement of philosophical and spiritual education,
while continuing to preserve that body of knowledge known as Hermetism or the
Western Esoteric Tradition.
The modern H.O.G.D. follows the traditional hierarchical
structure of the original Golden Dawn of England, with a ruling triad of
Officers known as the “G.H. Chiefs” who govern both the First or Outer Order
as well as the Second or Inner Order (known as the Ordo Rosae Rubeae et Aureae
Crucis or the RR et AC). The
H.O.G.D. also follows the traditional teachings, grade structure and ethos as
the original Order. Although it
currently has a worldwide membership with temples in several countries, it
remains rather private and membership is by invitation only.
The H.O.G.D. system of magic is designed to teach its
students both abstract esoteric concepts as well as the more practical
applications of Ceremonial Magic. Egyptian,
Judeo-Christian, Greek, Gnostic, Rosicrucian and Masonic elements can all be
found within the teachings of the H.O.G.D.
The curriculum includes the study of Kabalah, Astrology, Divination,
Alchemy, Egyptian magic, Scrying and Enochian magic.
traditional British Witch, a Kitchen Witch is a person that practices from home
by hearth and concentrates on the practical side of religion, magick, earth
mysteries and the elements. Normally
he or she is a solitary practitioner and does not belong to a coven or
particular tradition, relying instead on self-study, personal discernment, and
intuition. In many ways the Kitchen
Witch is akin to the old village Witch who lived a solitary life but was called
upon for spells and healing potions by the local folk.
Kitchen Witch commonly works with a familiar spirit, and incorporates the use of
herbs, trance, and shamanic techniques such as drumming to induce altered states
of consciousness. It’s a more
convenient form of practice for those who have limited space and resources like
today’s suburban and busy professional city witches.
Their focus is on practicality, the use of magick in the home and in the
workplace with convenient rituals that include readily available ingredients
available at short notice, and on a tight budget.
The Kitchen Witch is usually very involved with working for the ecology of the planet, and tries to use only natural objects and materials for ritual and magical purposes.
The Minoan Brotherhood, a Gay Men’s tradition of
Witchcraft was established in New York by the late Lord Gwydion (Eddie Buczynski),
a classical scholar, a Gardnerian Elder and a founder of the New York Welsh
tradition in the mid 1970's. At
about the same time, Carol Bulzone (Lady Miw) of the Enchantments Occult shop in
New York and Lady Rhea of the Magickal Realms Occult shop in the Bronx
established the Minoan Sisterhood, a similar but Gay Woman’s tradition of
Witchcraft. The Minoan tradition
consists of three branches, the Minoan Brotherhood (gay men) the Minoan
Sisterhood (gay women) and the Cult of the Double Axe/Cult of Rhea (gay men and
The initial mother coven of the tradition, of the Minoan
Brotherhood was called Knossos Grove, and was founded by Eddie Buczynski in New
York in 1975, from where it quickly spread across North America.
The Minoan Sisterhood branch founded later by Lady Miw for women was
based on the same initial research and teaching of Eddie Buczynski and his work
with Cretan god forms and mythology. While
the sisterhood branch grew quickly from its beginnings, it remained largely
confined to the New York area of North America.
The Cult of the Double Axe/Cult of Rhea brings the other two branches
together on mutual ground, but to be a member of the Cult of the Double Axe/Cult
of Rhea, one needs to be a properly initiated member of either of the other two
branches, the Cult having no initiations or elevations of its own.
The Minoan Brotherhood and Sisterhood branches remain
exclusively for Gay men and women to explore traditional ritual Witchcraft,
rituals that foster a similar, though Gay, sexual mysticism and sense of
personal empowerment, as do other traditional traditions of Wicca and
Witchcraft. As the founder Eddie
Buczynski was a Gardnerian initiate, the Minoan 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, but their
working tools and uses are virtually identical to those of British traditional
Nordic Paganism includes those traditions that worship the
Norse pantheon of deities and stress conservative values of honour, honesty,
courage and duty to one’s family, kith and kin. In the 1970’s a number of Norse Pagan groups sprang into
existence almost simultaneously and independently of one another in America,
England and Iceland. Many adherents
to Norse Paganism are attracted by the emphasis on blood ties and genetics, the
warrior ethic and Norse symbology. Norse
Pagans recognize both branches of the Norse pantheon, the Aesir (e.g. Odin,
Thor, Tiu and Balder) and the Vanir (e.g. Njord, Frey, and Freya).
Norse festivals centre on the seasonal equinoxes and
solstices, and holidays such as Ragnar’s Day.
Heavier emphasis is placed on skill mastery and shamanism than on magick
and meditation. There are a few
extreme right-wing Norse Pagan groups who believe they have founded a religion
upon the Aryan race; and while some do include neo-Nazis, most Norse Pagans
consider these people a fringe element not connected to their religion.
Norse traditions are also known as Teutonic traditions.
Pagan Federation (UK) is the leading organization supporting Paganism in the
U.K., and founded in 1971 to provide information on Paganism by countering
the many misconceptions about the religion.
The Federation works for the rights of Pagans to worship freely without
censure as decreed in “Article 18” of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, which states:
has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right
includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or
in community with others and in public and in private, to manifest his religion
or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.
Pagan Federation publishes a quarterly magazine called the “Pagan Dawn”,
formerly known as “The Wiccan”, an influential periodical founded in 1968 by
one of the Federations founding members, the late “John
Score”. Under his guidance in the late 60’s, the Wiccan rose to
prominence in both Britain and the United States as one of the worlds leading
journals on Paganism. In
collaboration with groups from Britain and the US, Score then played a key role
in the formation of the “Pagan Way” in America, and in 1971 its counter part
in Britain the “Pagan Front”. The
Pagan Front however, evolved separately from the Pagan Way, and eventually
changed its name to the Pagan Federation. The
Wiccan remained the means of dissemination for the Pagan Front/Federation,
before changing its name to the Pagan Dawn.
the year, the Pagan Federation sponsors and arranges private (members-only)
meetings, as well as public orientated events up and down the country.
The highlight of these events is the Annual Conference held normally in
November, which attracts an international gathering.
The aim of the Federation is to provide information and contact between
Pagan groups and genuine seekers of the Old Religion. To promote contact
and dialogue between the various branches of Paganism in Britain and Europe, as
well as other Pagan organizations world-wide, and to provide practical support
and effective information to members of the public, the media, public bodies and
Three Principles of the Pagan Federation are:
Love for and Kinship with Nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.
The Pagan Ethic: “If it harms none, do what thou wilt”. This is a positive morality expressing the belief in individual responsibility for discovering one's own true nature and developing it fully, in harmony with the outer world and community.
of the Divine, which transcends gender by acknowledging both the female and male
aspect of Deity.
Membership to the Federation is restricted to persons over the age of 18 years, who agree with the above Three Principles.
is presumed an old hereditary Scottish tradition that first came to the
attention of the general public when mentioned by Raymond
Buckland in his book: “Buckland’s
Complete Book of Witchcraft” (Llewellyn Publications – 1986).
In his book, Buckland detailed many different varieties of Wicca and such
was the response he received for more information, he later published full
details in another book: “Scottish
Witchcraft: The History and Magick of the Picks” (Llewellyn Publications
– 1991). The information in his
book was supposedly provided by a Wiccan teacher Aidan Breac (1897 – 1989).
was a Scottish Highlander, born and raised into a hereditary Craft family on an
island off the northwest coast of Scotland.
He was a descendant of the Carnonacae tribe of the Picts who lived in the
northwest of what is now Ross and Cromarty Counties.
Breac, a family man but without children for the last thirty years of his
life, devoted himself to teaching the Pecti Wita tradition to others.
Wita is different from many other forms of Wicca, in that it is a solitary
tradition. It doesn’t practice
circle consecration, or the formalized rituals of most other Wiccan traditions.
The basic tools of the Pecti Witan is the dirk and staff, and rather than
casting a circle, he or she simply “centers” themselves.
Magick is very much a part of the tradition and there are some
celebrations of the seasons namely at Samhuinn, Feill-Fionnain, Bealltainn, and
Feill-Sheathain. Healing is also an
important part of this tradition as is herbal lore and divination.
Wita is perhaps closer to the traditional “Kitchen Witch” of the British
Isles than to the more formalized traditions of Wicca.
Until it was made public by Buckland, Pecti Wita was found mainly in
Scotland and parts of Canada, but in recent years has expanded and is now
practiced in many other parts of the world.
much debate about Pecti Wita on several British e-mail lists. I have found
that the vast majority of Scottish Witches I have spoken too rubbish and reject
all claims made by Raymond Buckland about Pecti Witta as a made up figment of
his imagination similar to his Seax-Wica. They point out that nobody
to-date has been able to confirm the existence of an "Aidan Breac" and
no records of a birth certificate has ever been found or materialized?
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was the inspiration of Raymond Buckland.
In 1973 fed-up with the egotism and power trips exhibited by others
within the craft, he decided to leave the Gardnerian tradition feeling it no
longer met his religious needs. He
developed and founded Seax-Wica as a new tradition at Samhain that same year.
While he claimed no direct descent from Saxon times, he chose a Saxon
background as a foundation for the new tradition with "Woden and
Freya" as its main deities.
his experiences in other traditions, Buckland determined to make Seax-Wicca more
open and democratic. There are no
degree structure and no oath of secrecy, and to alleviate any possibility of the
abuse of power, the priesthood is chosen democratically by the coven members.
Priests and priestesses are elected annually to serve for a year and a
day only, after which new leaders may be elected.
It is possible however for leaders to continue for more than one term, if
acknowledged by the coven as being good leaders.
The coven can be lead by either a priest or priestess, or by both acting
together, in which case neither is regarded superior to the other.
Saxon tradition, non-initiates, or cowans, are referred to as Theows (pronounced
thoe) and are permitted to attend ritual meetings by invitation.
A neophyte training to enter a coven is known as a Ceorl (pronounced cawl),
and once initiated becomes a Gesith. As
there is no degree structure for further advancement all Saxon Wiccans are known
as Gesiths. Once Gesith has been
attained, he or she may break away and form a new coven, or start their own
coven by doing a simple self-dedication rite before initiating others to join
them. The Book of Shadows is called
The Tree, and is usually bound in a green cover.
was known as the Faeder, or Founder/Father of Seax-Wica and for many years ran a
correspondence course for the tradition, believing that individuals unable to
join or contact a coven should not be excluded. As a result, Seax-Wica is now a worldwide tradition with
covens operating in such places as Japan, Russia, South Africa, Australia, New
Zealand, and all across England, Europe and the United States.
In 1993 at Lughnasadh, Buckland decided to retire from active
participation in the Craft, and handed the leadership of the tradition on to an
ex-student, Michael B. Smith. As the new leader, Smith has re-started the tradition’s
correspondence course, which is available from Crowhaven House, P.O. Box 4202,
New York, NY 10163.
is a religion that blends Witchcraft with the magical beliefs of African and
Native American tribal societies. Rituals
and practices are designed to connect individuals to the divine through 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 the deeper reaches of
the human spirit.
to archaeological and ethnological evidence, shamanism has been practiced for
some 20,000 to 30,000 years. It has
been found all over the world including remote parts of the Americas, Siberia,
Asia, Australia, Northern Europe and Africa.
Selena Fox founded the modern Wiccan style of shamanism under the banner
of Circle Sanctuary, which is an interfaith blend of Wicca made up from
cross-cultural shamanic practices and transpersonal psychology.
achieve or induce the required mental state of consciousness to perform his or
her work, drumming, chanting, and the use of rattles are normally employed. However
shamanism is also one of the few Wicca traditions to accept and permit the use
of hallucinogens to achieve this altered state.
Once achieved the primary focus of the shaman is to heal mentally,
emotionally, and physically. To do
this the shaman must first have acquired a guardian spirit, the source of his
spiritual power. Guardian spirits
may appear to the shaman in differing guises such as power animals, tutelary
spirits, totemic animals, or familiars.
common method of discovering and connecting with the guardian spirit is a
solitary all night vigil outside, preferably in some quiet remote place.
The guardian spirit will usually manifest itself as an animal, bird,
fish, or reptile, but can also appear in human form.
It is both beneficent and beneficial and will bring to the shaman the
power of an entire species. Once it
has appeared the shaman invites the spirit into his own body where it protects
him from illness and unfriendly forces while he or she is in an altered state.
Healing, divination and other works of magic can now be performed.
and Wiccan shamanism fosters a close connection with earth issues, and plays a
leading role in the environmental and ecological interests of many individuals.
It also plays a significant role in the creation of alternative healing
therapies especially tailored to Pagan and Wiccan spirituality.
Solitary practitioners are individuals preferring to work in private rather than within the confines of a group or coven. Some practice and study a particular single tradition, while others, like the Eclectic Wiccan pick, choose and blend different traditions. Wicca with its diverse number of traditions works well with this sort of practice, and Solitary working can be as fulfilling as working in a group setting. Because of its solitary nature and without clear guidance, it does involve a deal of self-study and determination to achieve results. Solitary Wiccans often undertake a ritual of self-initiation to dedicate themselves to the Goddess and God.
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is the Italian word for a witch, a practitioner of the Italian-American
traditions of witchcraft called Stregheria.
Stregheria is the Italian word for the religion of Witches, and
Sregoneria the magickal practice of Witches.
Italian Witchcraft is one of the oldest forms of European Witchcraft that
can be documented through historical and literary references, and is perhaps
second only to Greek Witchcraft, which was first mentioned by Homer and Hesiod
(circa - eighth century B.C.). Some
of the earliest historical references to Italian Witches date from around 30
B.C., in the writings of the Roman poet Horace.
his depiction of Witches is less than kind, Horace ascribes to them the power to
draw down the moon from the sky. He
also notes that they worshiped Diana and Proserpina in secret ceremonies at
night, and speaks of a Witches book of incantations called the “Libros
Carminum”, the Book of Charms. Other
writers of this era such as Ovid and Lucan also note the worship of Hecate,
Proserpina, and Diana by Italian Witches.
Witchcraft differs from region to region. Those
traditions originating in the north tend to be rooted in the ancient Erruscan
religion. Those in central Italy
often contain a mixture of medieval magick with Italic Paganism, while those in
southern Italy retain the more rural forms of Witchcraft.
Sicilian Witchcraft is probably one of the least altered forms of
original Witchcraft due to its relatively insular nature as an island.
the most influential writers on Italian Witchcraft was Charles
G. Leland, his book “Aradia: Gospel of the Witches” is one of the
most influential works to affect and influence modern day Wicca and Witchcraft.
Both Gerald Gardner and Doreen
Valiente were greatly influenced by his teachings and in time the Gardnerian
tradition took on many elements of Italian Witchcraft.
The famous “Charge of the Goddess” written by Doreen was clearly
inspired by his work. Other aspects
include: The full moon gatherings,
worship of the goddess and god consort, cakes and wine after rituals and
celebrations, and Ritual nudity.
One of the early proponents of Italian witchcraft in America was Dr. Leo Louis Martello, who on the 26th of September 1951 was initiated into his cousin’s secret Sicilian coven. His initiation involved a blood-letting oath never to reveal the secrets of the coven, its members or any of their secret teachings. Later together with Lori Bruno another hereditary witch, they founded the Trinacrian Rose one of the first Italian-American covens in the United States.
Sylvan tradition began in the 1970’s in Northern California and incorporates
some of the working practices of the Feri Wicca tradition formed by Victor and
Cora Anderson. This tradition is a
magic working earth-based tradition that considers Witchcraft not as a religion
with rules and doctrines, but as a Craft tradition and way of life.
It celebrates diverse viewpoints and believes in no set dogma, but has a
working approach that meets its member’s needs.
tradition teaches that the earth is sacred in itself, and as such its members
generally do not exorcise or banish negative energy from an area before raising
a Circle, nor do they feel a need to guard it.
Most of the traditions members believe that no dark or negative energy
can coexist in the circle with the elements, Goddess, God and fey, whom they
invite into the circle as the ritual begins.
Similarly because the elements can be found in all directions, they do
not link the elements to directions. Likewise,
as they believe the elements are already present, they do not invoke them during
ritual but rather call them to join the circle and aid its members.
During ritual they work with the fey, including the elementals and devas,
in part because everything is asked to aid the magick.
tradition is named Sylvan meaning “of the forest”, to honour the connection
to all seen and unseen forest things including trees, which the tradition
considers the most balanced beings in nature.
The forest is also the home of the fey (the middle agents between members
and Nature) who help all stay in harmony with Nature. Part of the tradition is consideration for the earth.
some Sylvan rites are repeated, most are created by members in honor of a
particular sabbat or esbat, or to achieve a particular magical goal.
During ritual, and in contrast with many traditional Wiccan rituals, the
High Priestess or Priest cuts the circle widdershins to acknowledge existing
chaos and to take the circle out of mundane time and space transporting it and
its participants into magical space.
Vodoun or Voodoo is a blending of worship to the
traditional Catholic saints and the Gods (loas) of Africa, for example a Vodoun
practitioner could be preying for the intercession of St. Patrick and really be
calling on their serpent God, Danbhalah-Wedo.
Vodoun worshippers believe that the work of the loas appears in every
facet of daily life and that pleasing the loas will gain the faithful health,
wealth and spiritual contentment. The
loas speak to their devotees through spirit possession, but only during
ceremonies when they are called upon to protect, punish or confer skills such as
prophesy, curing illness, exorcising spirits, giving counsel, assisting in
rituals and take sacrificial offerings. The
priest (a houngan) or priestess (a mambo) acts as an intermediary to summon the
loa, and helps the loa to depart when his or her business is finished.
Magic for both good and bad purposes is an integral part of Vodoun, bad
is considered merely the mirror image of good, and the magic of the loas is
therefore used to affect both.
WLPA is an international educational organization founded
in 1986 by Laurie Cabot and Christine Dumas to protest the filming of John
Updike’s novel, The Witches of Eastwick. The novel is a story about three witches and their
involvement with the devil, which Cabot and Dumas considered a gross
misrepresentation of the Craft. WLPA
networks with other major groups of witches from all around the world, and with
the American Civil Liberties Union in regard to religious freedom in efforts to
end prejudice and bigotry against Witches and Witchcraft.
WLPA does not handle individual discrimination cases.
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Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft - By Raven Grimassi
An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present - By
Understanding Chaos Magic - By Jaq D. Hawkins
Witta, An Irish Pagan Tradition - By Edain McCoy
To many to mention :-)
First published 02 September 2007 © George Knowles
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
My Personal Page / My Place in England, UK / My Family Tree (Ancestry)
Wicca/Witchcraft / What is Wicca / What is Magick
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Incense / Candles / Colours / Magickal Days / Stones and Gems / Elements and Elementals
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone: Samhain / Yule / Imbolc / Ostara / Beltane / Litha / Lammas / Mabon
Tools of a Witch / The Besom (Broom) / Poppets and Dolls / Pendulums / Cauldron Magick / Mirror Gazing
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Mystical Sacred Sites - Stonehenge / Glastonbury Tor / Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni / Avebury / Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant / Ireland - Newgrange /
Rocks and Stones:
Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill / I Talk to the Trees / Awakening / The Witch in You / A Tale of the Woods
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
Pliny the Elder / Hesiod / Pythagoras
Remembered at Samhain
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
While I have taken due care and dilligence to credit all sources where possible, this website may contain copyrighted material which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. My use of making such material available here is done so in my efforts to advance our understanding of religious discrimination, the environmental and social justice issues etc. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this wedsite for purposes of your own then you must obtain permission from the relevant copyright owner yourself.
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