Traditions of Wicca

I do not personally hold that one can only practice Witchcraft within the confines of Wicca. I also do not hold with using the two terms interchangeably, although I do believe that any initiated Wiccan is a witch, as Witchcraft *is* a prominent practice within Wicca. The Traditions listed below are specifically Wiccan Traditions, heavily influenced by the work of Gerald B. Gardner and his contemporaries. This is by no means a complete list of traditions, merely a handful of those I am most familiar with.

Alex Sanders began the Alexandrian Tradition after studying (and possibly being initiated) as a Gardnerian. While the two traditions share much of their core and structure, there are a number of functional differences between the two traditions, including the increased use of ceremonial magic in Alexandrian, and the ability for Alexandrian students to attend ritual before initiation. The major difference seems to be that Alexandrians are more liberal in ritual form and spell craft, and do more hermetic, ritual, and cord magic. All Alexandrians can trace their linage to Alex and Maxine Sanders.
Black Forest Clan
The Black Forest Clan is a diverse Wiccan system, designed for the training of Clergy. It finds its roots in British Traditional Wicca, but the founder felt compelled to include Germanic Pagan practices, as the area in which the tradition was born has a heavy German-American influence. Unlike most other BTW derived traditions, Black Forest Family covens do not hive; the Black Forest Clan is a continuous family which meets as a whole, on an regular basis to discuss important Clan topics.
Blue Star
Blue Star Tradition finds its roots in both Alexandrian and Gardnerian lineage. There are a number of Traditions active in the United States today which began from a reuniting of Gardnerian and Alexandrian practices, but Blue Star is probably one of the most wide-spread. An early High Priestess of the Tradition, Tziapora Katz, spread the Tradition nationwide while traveling as a folk singer. She provided distance training through audio tapes and met with the new students and covens as she toured. A wonderful description of Blue Star is available by Devyn Christopher Gillette.

Blue Moon Wicca, a daughter Tradition of Blue Star, maintains a thorough and highly recommended website at Blue Moon Wicca.

Eclectic Wicca
In recent years there has been a surge of public information available about Wiccan and Witchcraft. Many people new to the craft learn techniques and practices through self study with these books, and practice “what works” for them as individuals. This form of wicca is known as Eclectic Wicca. Most Eclectic Wiccans practice as solitaries, but some band together and form covens, and may even develop a “tradition” based on their collective eclectic practices.

While this is a perfectly acceptable situation for many people, someone seeking Traditional Wicca should check the lineage of the group before committing.

The Gardnerian Tradition is one that you hear about often. Gerald Gardner was one of the first people to “popularize” modern witchcraft. It is from his work that modern witchcraft became popularly known as Wicca, and many of the elements of ritual magic got involved. He also instituted a system of several levels of initiation. Those who were initiated by Gardner or by one of his third degree initiates (or through a line of initiations) and practices with a Gardnerian coven is a Gardnerian.

Witchcraft Traditions

The following are traditions or lines of Witchcraft practice that descended from non-Wiccan roots; that is to say, they by-passed Gardner and his ilk entirely. Today, we find that due to the popularity of Wicca, many of these practices are integrating much of the publicly available Wiccan material.

Feri Tradition
When Victor Andersen and his wife, Cora, began teaching the ways of Feri Witchcraft, they incorporated some of Gardner’s published ideas into their already powerfully developed magical system. Feri Witchcraft includes a strong base created from several magical traditions, including Voudon, Huna, and Southern American Folk Magic. Gwydion Pendderwen later added many Celtic Elements.

Feri is a ecstatic practice involving heavy use of altered states. While it doesn’t have British Traditional roots or lineage, it is an initiatory mystery tradition requiring years of study before the initiation, of which there is only one level. (note: I had previously listed this as “Feri Wicca” but have since learned from a student of the path that it is not, in fact, Wicca.)

There are a couple of “lines” of Strega out there. The best known in English speaking countries is the American Stregharia, which is largely based on the work of the late Dr. Leo Martello and that of Raven Grimmasi. Italian Strega is, according to the Italians who have something to say about it, vastly different in many ways from what is being published by Llewellyn. Italian Strega also comes in a number of different traditions, simply because there was never one over-arching Italian tradition of Witchcraft, so each region has it’s own way of doing things.
Ophidian Traditional Witchcraft
A serpent venerating tradition recalling very ancient ways. The website of a currently active and teaching group, Ordo Anno Mundi, claims that the tradition is based on the writings in the Oera Linda Book, which is said to date, in part, to 2194 BC. Ophidian lineage is passed through initiations, and there are six to seven degrees of initiation, depending on the order. Priesthood is attainable only by females, although males may worship as well, but cannot act as priests. Men can, however, act as teachers or organizers.