What is Wicca?
Wicca is an Earth-based, nature centered religion
drawing on the ideas of pantheism, gnosticism, ceremonial magic, and
the remnents of pagan religions. Wicca is a religion which involves
communion with the Earth, living in peace with yourself and others,
and giving to those that gave to you. Wicca is a religion based on
communion with a fertility Goddess and her consort, a horned God, or
the incorporation of other deities. The Wiccan Rede contains the basics of what Wiccans define as ethical and moral behavior.
Many interchange the word Wicca with the word Witch,
and this is entirely incorrect usage. Though some Wiccans may
practice Witchcraft, not all Witches are Wiccan. Information
regarding witches and witchcraft are available on this site's Witch/Wizard
History of Wicca
In 1954, Gerald Gardner published the first book on
Wicca, as we know it today, called "Witchcraft Today". Since England
had repealed its witchcraft laws, this book was able to spread the
concept of Wicca to the masses.
Gardner claimed to have been initiated into the New
Forest Coven in 1939, by Old Dorothy Clutterbuck. However, there is
very little evidence that Dorothy ever existed, so what other
sources could Gardner have gained his knowledge from?
Gardner's interests and knowledge of the occult
would have given him plenty of raw material to work with. It's
generally accepted that regardless of whether or not Gardner really
found an existing witchcraft coven, he adulterated much of his work
with Ceremonial magick concepts that appealed to him.
So even though there may be ideas, concepts,
practices, or beliefs in Wicca that are based on older religions,
the collected whole as presented by Gardner really only came into
existance in the 1950s. This makes it a modern religion, and not one
of the ancient religions that pre-date Christianity.
The Wicca, given to the world by Gardner, has acted
as a template for the formation of other paths which use a mixture
of Gardner's concepts, with additions from other ancient
In the 1950's, after England repealed its witchcraft laws, Gerald
Gardner went public about his practice of Witchcraft. He rewrote the
rituals of the coven he belonged to so that they would be more
accurate, and re-titled the tradition, giving it the name Wicca.
Gardnerian covens have a degree system in which one learns about the
craft. Individuals must be initiated by the coven and cannot
intitiate themselves through self-study. Gardnerian covens work
skyclad. In addition, some try to have equal numbers of men and
women in the group.
Alex Sanders founded this tradition in the 1960's. Originally based
in England, practitioners work skyclad and much of their ritual is
similar to Gardnerian practices, although the Alexandrians place
more emphasis on ceremonial magic. Sanders called himself the "King"
of his witches.
George Patterson founded the Georgian tradition in Bakersfield,
California, in 1970. They also are known as The Georgian Church.
Their rituals are drawn from Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions
with other elements added as the coven members see fit. In fact, in
some covens members write their own rituals. Some Georgian covens
work skyclad, and some do not.
In 1972, Mary Nesnick combined the Gardnerian tradition with the
Alexandrian to form the Algard tradition. Some people think that in
practice this combination ends up being very close to the Gardnerian
tradition because much of Alexandrian ritual is similar to
Gardnerian to begin with.
In 1962, Raymond Buckland, a protege of Gerald Gardner, moved to the
United States where he founded this tradition. Buckland taught the
Gardnerian tradition for a number of years. Because of problems that
he saw in the practice of the craft, he started his own tradition in
1973. Seax-Wica is based on Saxon traditions, but as Buckland
admits, he made it up alone. Covens decide for themselves if they
will work skyclad or robed. Witches of this tradition can be
initiated by the coven or through self-study.
There are a number of ways to spell the name of this tradition.
You'll also see Fairy, Faery, and Faerie. Victor Anderson is
credited with bringing the Feri tradition to the United States,
where he has taught in the San Francisco area since the late 1960's.
Feri teachers tend to add something of their own when they teach, so
there is a strain of eclecticism in this tradition. Feris are
usually solitary, or they work in small groups.
The Dianic Tradition focuses on the Goddess with little talk about a
God. The Goddess is worshipped in her three aspects - Maiden,
Mother, and Crone. There are different varieties of Dianic witch.
Since the 1970's, the Dianic Tradition has been seen as the feminist
movement of the craft. Some, but not all, Dianic covens are
There are a number of different British Traditions, all of which are
based on what people believe to tbe the pre-Christian practices of
England. Many British Traditional groups follow Janet and Stewart
Farrar, who have written a number of influential books about
witchcraft. The groups tend to be structured, with training for
neophytes (beginners) following a degree program. Their practices
are said to be a mix of Celtic and Gardnerian traditions.
This tradition looks to ancient Celtic and Druidic deities and
beliefs with an emphasis on the magical and healing powers of
plants, minerals, gnomes, fairies, and elemental spirits. Some of
the rituals are derived from Gardnerian practice.
This tradition is based on Asatru, the Old Norse deities.
Practitioners generally work in re-creations of Old Norse dress.
They celebrate four Solar Fire festivals and Old Norse holidays.
This group follows traditions from Italy. Some people trace Strega
teachings back to a woman named Aradia in the 14th century. The
Strega tradition is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States
A Scottish Solitary tradition passed on by Aiden 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 magic. Information is not
generally available and Mr. Breac (Now in his 90's) is not seeking
Founded by Claudia Haldane around 1990, the Deboran branch is
eclectic. They make little ritual use of nudity, and work with
balanced polarities (Goddess-God; positive-negative). What they are
aiming for is reconstruction of the Craft as if Wiccedom had
continued without interference to this day. They 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.