Lesson 2: Wiccan Traditions and How to Choose One
Here I will explain the more known traditions of Wicca in minor detail. There are many more than what I will list here and much more information on the ones I will list that can be found through simple research of books and internet searches.
Most traditions focus around the same core beliefs but worship different pantheons or are based off ancient religions from varies areas. Each tradition has its own set beliefs and rules.
Alexandrian: The Alexandrian tradition comes out of the coven started by Alex Sanders in England. Alex claims he was initiated by his grandmother in 1933, but many Alexandrian rituals are almost identical to Gardnerian ones, with a little more emphasis on ceremonial magic. The tradition's rituals, while basically Gardnerian, are modified with many Judeo-christian and Ceremonial Magick elements. Covens work skyclad. The eight Sabbats are observed and the Goddess and God are observed. Sanders did much to popularize the Craft but perhaps one of his best acts was to initiate Stewart Farrar. Farrar later formed his own coven and went his own way. Mary Nesnick, an American who was initiated into both Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, combined them in 1972 and created a new tradition called Algard. (From "Celtic Myth and Magick" by Edain McCoy)
British traditional: "British Traditional Wicca" is defined as the family of Wiccan Traditions who can trace their lineage to Gerald Gardner, and/or to Alex and Maxine Sanders; or whose Wiccan practice is based upon, or derives from, the above but without having initiatory lineage back to Gardner or Sanders."
Celtic Wicca: The use of a Celtic/Druidic pantheon mixed with a little ritual Gardnerian, and heavily stressing the elements, nature and the Ancient Ones. They had a vast knowledge of and respect for the healing and magickal qualities of plants and stones, flowers, trees, elemental spirits, the little people, gnomes and fairies.
Church and School of Wicca: This is one of the many Welsh-based traditions. It was originally founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in the early 1970's. 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
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, the Circle Guide to Pagan Resources as well as a quarterly magazine Circle Network News. Both of which I highly recommend to everyone!
Circle sponsors a variety of seminars, concerts and workshops at the 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 Amerindian ways than with the Wicca of Western Europe found in the majority of Craft traditions. Futher information may be obtained from:
P.O. Box 219
Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
Web Site: http://www.circlesanctuary.org
Covenant of the Goddess: A cross-traditional federation of over one hundred covens, plus solitary elders and associates, who have joined together to win recognition for the Craft as a legitimate and legally recognized religion.
The Covenant of the Goddess was organized in 1975 at Coeden Brith. It is incorporated as a non-profit religious organization in California, though it has grown to be a nationwide organization with members throughout the United States, as well as a few in Canada and Overseas. Decisions are made at an annual Grand Council or in local councils which may cover a city, state or an even larger area. The Covenant publishes The Covenant of the Goddess Newsletter and sponsors the COG Merrymeet Festival and Grand Council each year. The festival is open to non-members too. The Covenant makes ministerial credentials available to qualified members. It also publishes materials on the Craft and does a great deal of public education work with the media, law enforcement agencies, government officials, and interfaith groups. A coven can apply for membership if it a cohesive, self-perpetuating group which has been meeting for six months or more; the group follows the code of ethics defined by COG; the coven has three or more members studying for the priesthood, one of whom is an Elder; and the focus of the group's ritual and theology is the worship of the Goddess and the Old Gods (or the Goddess alone).
P.O. Box 1226
Berkeley, CA 94701
Web site: http://www.cog.org