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Rutgers University Pagan Student Association

Every Wednesday
Rutgers Student Center
7pm Room 407

Wicca Types

Original text taken from "An Overview of Different Wiccan Traditions" written by Devyn Christopher Gillette

Like many other religions, Wicca (also simply called "the Craft") features a variety of denominations, called traditions. While most traditions share central themes in common, each vary in sometimes very subtle ways, such as over approaches toward ritual, preferred mythological motif, or prioritized focus of interest. There are scores, perhaps hundreds, of Wiccan traditions and subgroups. This list, while brief, provides a very general review of some of the more prevalent and established Wiccan sects.

Gardnerian


Developed by English civil servant, tea-planter, and folklorist Gerald Brosseau Gardner (aka Scire) (1884-1964) and Craft author Doreen Valiente. Gardner himself became involved in witchcraft circa 1934, but it is supposed that as a sect, Gardnerianism did not begin to develop until shortly after the 1951 repeal of the English anti-witchcraft laws. This development was largely influenced by the works of anthropologist Margaret Murray, folklorist Sir James George Frazer, folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland, poet Robert Graves, writer Rudyard Kipling, occultist Aleister Crowley, Ovid, and various mystical societies including Co-Masonry, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). Hallmarks of Gardnerianism include orthodox hierarchical structure, duotheism of the Goddess and God, magical practice, and various specific approaches to ritual, such as ritual nudity ("skyclad"). Gardnerian groups tend to laud the female over the male, with Priestesses possessing the majority of tutorial authority in the coven. The tradition tends to be very 'lineage conscious,' with certification of legitimacy granted to those covens which can claim genealogical connection to those covens first instituted by Gardner. Gardnerians also tend to work with "perfect couples," i.e., equal numbers of males and females paired. Gardnerianism is essentially the template from which most other traditions derive in one form or another, and was introduced to the United States by author Raymond Buckland. Gardnerian groups exist worldwide.

Alexandrian

An immediate derivative of Gardnerianism that began to emerge circa 1965, Alexandrianism developed through the teachings of English occultist Alexander Sanders (1916 - 1988), "King of Witches" and his wife, Maxine. Among their many initiates are Janet and Stewart Farrar, Irish authors of various respected Craft texts. Introduced to the United States by Monique Wilson. While the hallmarks of Alexandrianism once included stronger influence on ritual magic practices and male-oriented divinity, it is now virtually indistinguishable from much of Gardnerianism other than through its history, slightly less stringent orthodoxy, and occasional use of robes in ritual, as well as ritual nudity. Alexandrian groups exist worldwide.

Faerie (Feri)

A denomination founded by Victor Anderson, a blind American poet who had studied Craft with a pre-Gardnerian coven in the Seattle area prior to the Second World War. Many of its underlying perspectives found its way into the book The Spiral Dance, whose author Starhawk (aka Miriam Simos) is a former student of Anderson's.

Y Tylwyth Teg

A tradition founded in 1967 by American veteran William B. Wheeler III (aka Rhuddlwm Gawr) (b. 1940). Wheeler's writings feature a fusion of Welsh folklore, Hebrew Kabbalah, duotheism, NeoGardnerianism, and some unusual claims involving the Atlantis legend. Groups work robed or skyclad. The Church of Y Tylwyth Teg maintains a farm community in Athens, Georgia called Camelot of the Woods, and serves as headquarters for the Universal Federation of Pagans. The church was incorporated as a non-profit religious organization in 1977.

Georgian

Founded by George Patterson in 1970 and chartered as The Georgian Church in 1980. Georgian Wicca is aduotheistic tradition featuring an eclectic revivalist approach to Gardnerianism and Alexandrianism with emphasis on freedom. Groups tend to function skyclad, and are mutally religious and magical.

American Welsh

A denomination featuring extensive use of Welsh folklore and mythology and following a loose Neo-Gardnerian outline. Groups tend to be democratic, and work either robed or (rarely) skyclad. Largely developed by occultists Ed Buczynski (d. 1989) and Kate Smith, with influence by spokesman and occult shop proprietor Herman Slater (1935 - 1992).

Blue Star

Originally (and in some cases, still) called Great American Nontraditional Collectic Eclectic Wicca (GANCEW), Blue Star is a Craft denomination with emphasis on spiritual community service, family groups, and strong Pagan religious devotion. Founded in 1974 by American peace activist and Vietnam-era veteran Franque Dufner (b. 1949) and later developed by folk musicians and authors Tzipora Katz (formerly Klein)(b. 1955) and Kenny Klein (b. 1955). Originally designed as a semi-eclectic alternative to Gardnerian-style orthodoxy, Blue Star's roots in American Welsh and Alexandrianism, along with the influence of the Kleins, have allowed it to develop a unique orthodoxy of its own. Hallmarks include ritual music, re-establishment of social 'rites of passage,' inclusion of children, tattoing and pantheism/polytheism. Magical and psychic work tend to be downplayed in some Blue Star groups in favor of votive religious expression. Groups work either skyclad, in normal attire, or robed. Also influenced by the writings of English witch and author Sybil Leek (b. 1923).

New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn

A consensus-organized denomination founded by researcher Aiden Kelly, a founding member of the Covenant of the Goddess (COG), NROOOGD began in 1967 as a poetic theater arts project for San Francisco State College, and had developed into a fully acknowledged Craft tradition in its own right by 1976. Strong emphasis on poetry, individual intuition, and experiential ritual. (See also The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn).

Dianic

The Gardnerian origins of the contemporary Craft movement were largely devoted to a male-oriented concept of deity, but by mid-1970's a surge of focus toward the Goddess began. Dianic Wicca is an almost exclusively Goddess-centered approach originally founded as a seperate tradition (circa 1975) by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, with strong influence by the work of poet Robert Graves. Essentially a rudimentary, celebratory, egalitarian Goddess monotheism with animist undertones. Strong emphasis on ecological concerns and challenging patriarchial paradigms.

(A seperate Dianic-style sect, Feraferia, was founded during the same time period by Fred Adams. By the early 1980's, Hungarian feminist and author Zsuzsanna "Z" Budapest strongly influenced these ideals and introduced even more feminist political emphasis.

Exclusion of men in its practices became more common as more and more proponents of the women's movement found a place in Dianic Wiccan ideals, labeling it "wimmin's religion." As a result, various strains, subgroups, and interpretations of Dianic Craft have abounded, some with traditionalist inclinations, some more eclectic; some orthodox, some egalitarian; some strongly political, some not. Although the term has become so widespread to be virtually conceptual, Dianics generally emphasize individual creativity and politics and downplay structure and formal ritual. Largely influenced by the work of various authors, including Marija Gimbutas, Starhawk (aka Miriam Simos), Merlin Stone, Riane Eisler, Carol Christ, Mary Daly, Charlene Spretnak, and others.

Eclectic

Not a tradition or sect in itself, eclecticism is essentially an "anti-tradition" that gained momentum during the 1980's and not without some substatial critique. Features various roundabout, freeform approaches (including Dianic) that can incorporate any number of Pagan-oriented sources (not necessarilly Wicca alone). Largely influenced by the work of herbalist Scott Cunningham (1956 - 1993) and other books released by Llewellyn Publishing, a Minnesota-based "New Age"/Occult publishing company. Eclectics tend to feature the strongest crossover between the Pagan community and the present New Age phenomenon.