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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pagan Basics: Witchcraft Traditions

I get questions a good bit about "What do Witches believe" and this is a question which is always hard to answer. As I touched on in the "What is a Witch" post there are so many paths - Pagan and Non-Pagan - which a Witch may walk. So it's nearly impossible to answer that question and include everyone in my answer. There is a saying "Ask 12 witches and you'll get 13 answers." However, what you can do is look in to some of the more common paths and get a basic understanding of the beliefs of Witches which follow THOSE paths... However, remember, even these are generalizations or introductions - for more information on any one path, you would need to do some further exploration.

 There are three major categories of Witchcraft Traditions:
Classical Witchcraft
Early Nordic which included the Germanic languages, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples.
Gothic Witchcraft
Celtic, Anglo-Saxon which includes Druid, Irish, Scottish, and English, as well as, many of the French, and Italian cultures.
Neo-Pagan Witchcraft
Modern sects which have primarily been influenced by the melding of all previous traditions through evolution and expansion of those historical denominations.
 The following is a small sampling of many different traditions. This by no means is a complete list.
Classical Craft
    Ceremonial
Encompasses many traditional rituals with a basis of Egyptian magik and often follow the ceremonies outlined in the ancient Cabalistic writings.
    Strega
A tradition begun in Italy around 1353. Often associated with it's founder, a woman called Aradia.
    Teutonic
The Teutons have been recognized as one of the earliest and formal practioners of the craft. Their ways of practicing the Craft are also known as Nordic.
    Romani
Many people add Romani (which is a Germanic Gypsy practice) to this list. Others argue this gypsy traditions is based more in the tradition of Gypsy con artists than spirituality. It's an argument that is not easily discussed or resolved.
 
Gothic Craft
    Caledoni
Of Scottish traditions, this sect is also known as Hecatine. It continues to encompass many of the festivals and celebrations of the Scots.
    Celtic
A mix of Celtic/Druidic pantheon energy. This sect focuses heavily on the elements, nature and the Ancient Ones. With a great knowledge of healing and the magikal qualities of nature, including plants, animals and stones, this tradition is most commonly linked to in the Neo-Pagan sects. Aided by the little people, gnomes and fairies, Celtic magik is full of fun, mirth and mythology.
    Deborean
A combination of Celtic and Native American traditions, specifically Cherokee. Focused primarily on Celtic origins. Formed in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the Carolinas and southwestern Virginia, it's a tradition born from intercultural exchanges and marriages between these two cultures.
    Deborean Wicca
An American eclectic tradition which attempts to reconstruct Wicca as it was before 'The Burning Times' or the European witch craze.
    Farrar
A very famous husband and wife team from England, Janet and Stewart Farrar compiled and researched many of the ancient and modern sects to pull the best parts of all into one. Many of today's modern sects are in one way or another based on these studies and compiled materials.
    Hereditary
Based on family traditions passed on generation to generation, (does not included Channeling). Also called "Family Trades", it is up for debate how far back on the family tree one must go to meet the conditions of this sect. The traditions can be passed on to blood relatives or adopted offspring which have been raised within the family ceremonies and rituals. The beliefs are typically Celtic in nature, but include a smattering of many of the current and ancient structures, as well as, many home spun ones.
    Pictish
Also of Scottish tradition, this sect focuses heavily on all aspects of nature. It is a solitary form of Craft.
 
Neo-Pagan Craft
    Alexandrian
Founded in the 1960s by Alex Sanders in England, this sect is loosely based on the Gardenarian beliefs. Sanders built his sect in England and called himself "King" of the Coven.
    British Traditional
A mix of Celtic and Gardenarian rituals it is the most famous organization in the International Red Garters society. This sect is based on the Farrar studies of Wicca and is exceptionally structured in belief and ritual. A witch becomes part of the Coven through a training, education and degree process.
    Dianic
Also called "the Feminist" movement of the craft, this sect focuses on the Goddess aspect of Witchcraft. It was first brought to major attention in 1921 by Margaret Murray and includes aspects of many Classical and Gothic traditions.
    Eclectic
This is a label for the "everything else" in Witchcraft. It does not follow any particular tradition, ritual or ceremonial practices. Rather practioners focus on what "feels" best and most comfortable to them. Study and practice is than based on information gathered from books, or other practicing witches.
    Faeri/ Faery Wicca
This tradition places an emphasis on the Fae (gnomes, elves, faeries, sprites, etc.), their lore, and their relation to the natural world. Many associate this tradition with an ancient fairy race called the Tuatha De Danaan, the mythological precursors to the Celtic people. It is often, but not always, associated with the Faery tradition founded by author Kisma Stepanich.
    Feri Wicca
Not to be confused with Faeri Wicca. Feri Wicca is based on Victor Anderson's (1917-2001) was developed in the late 1950's and early 1960's. It is an ecstatic, rather than a fertility, tradition stemming from the teachings of Cora and Victor Anderson . Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression
    Gardnerian Wicca / Wicca
Named after it's founder Gerald Gardner in England during the 1950s. Gardner wanted to ensure that the Old Religion not become extinct by all the new found knowledge and inter-mixing of beliefs. He took his cause to the media at great personal risk to bring his cause and information to a new younger audience in order to bring growth and life to the ancient traditions.
    Seax-Wicca
Based on the Saxon beliefs, this sect is very closely related to the Gardnerian traditions. Without breaking his oath, founder Raymond Buckland wanted to pull the ancient rituals into modern language and acceptable ceremonies. In 1973 his dream became a reality with the organization of Seax-Wicca, bringing Witchcraft into the public as a very positive force.
 **This information comes from my personal BOS, nearly word for word. However, I added it years ago and do not know who originally wrote it or where it came from. If this is your work, please let me know so that I may provide proper credit!

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