Wicca, Wicca, Who's Got the Wicca?

                 Wicca, Wicca, Who's Got the Wicca? 


                       My Tradition, or Yours? 

 [An article which attempts to make sense of all the various Traditions, 
Brands, Denominations, ect., which may confuse the unwary new-comer to Neo-
Paganism (Wicca in particular).] 

                            By: Hurn 

   Greetings, and Bright Blessings... 

  Welcome to this, the next in a series of introductory pieces on Alternate 
Religions.  Today, we shall take a look at the many varied Traditions in the 
Wicca Family of Faiths.  Whilst there is, indeed, a large number of groups who 
profess one set of tenants, or ideas; one soon begins to see why they may all 
be lumped together as one Religion. 

  Obviously, to start, one must define Religion as it applies to these groups 
of people.  Next, a listing of some of the more Popular Traditions, giving a 
basic description of each.  Lastly, some comments on the "cords which bind 
these groups together", ie. a discussion on the Underlying Philosophies of the 
New Age Movement, Neo-Paganisms in particular. 

  I. What is a Religion? 

  A dictionary definition of religion looks something like: 

    Religion, n.; An organized system of Beliefs and/or Rituals, 
    centering on a Supernatural Being or Beings. 

  Everyone with me so far? Good. I think we can all agree on definitions for 
"Beliefs" and "Supernatural", so the only sub-definition will be 

     "Ritual": any ordered sequence of events or actions, including   
    directed thoughts, especially one that is repeated in the 'same'  
    manner each time, and that is designed to produce a predictable   
    altered state of consciousness, within which certain magical or   
    religious results may be obtained. 

  Now, by using these definitions, the astute reader may realize that one need 
not "believe" in anything in order to belong to a Religion, although most 
'established' churches Do require that one has conforming beliefs in order to 
become 'accepted into' that Religion.   One of the beauties of the 
Pagan/NeoPagan/Wiccan Religion is that the majority of the sects do not 
require one to have 'conforming' beliefs.  One need not Believe in the 
God/dess in order to worship them, and this is the key to being a New Age type 
  New Age Religions acknowledge that there are many paths to Godhood, and that 
each person should find his/her own way.  Thus,  while there is communication 
and discussion between the diverse ways of Wicca, there is generally no cause 
for religious persecution or Holy Wars.  Also, there are very little 
'missionary' type efforts, since there is no Prime Directive stating that 
everyone who does not believe a certain piece of Dogma is Wrong, and will burn 
in Hell forever, unless saved, or made to see the light. 
  Contrary to most religions, it is Not the shared set of Beliefs, or similar 
Dogma which holds the Wiccan Religions together.  Rather, it is the Attitudes 
of the people involved, and their common Heritage which provide the bonds of 
cooperation among the Pagan Peoples. These points of agreement shall be 
further addressed following a brief list of some of the more popular 
Traditions, with a description of each. 

  II. Traditions/Branches/Gatherings/Sub-Groups/Interpretations/ect. 
           [nb. This is not, by any means, an all inclusive list] 

     A. Gardnerian: 
  Started by G. Gardner, in England, in the mid 1950's, this Tradition claims 
to have existed, in secret, since the Witch-Burnings began during the Middle 
Ages.  While there is some doubt as to whether or not it is as old as it 
claims, there is no denying that the Gardnerian Sect has been one of the most 
Influential of the Traditions.  In fact, many of the groups which follow were 
started by people who had been introduced to Paganism and the Worship of the 
Lord and Lady as members of a  Gardnerian group. 
  A structured religion with definite hierarchy within each group (known, as a 
Coven), but little to no Authority of one coven over another.  Within the 
coven, a Matriarchy exists, with the High Priestess generally being considered 
the leader (there are, of course, exceptions to this, but these descriptions 
are, for the most part, only generalizations based upon information gathered 
from many sources). 
  The typical Gardnerian view of the God/dess is that of a Dominant Three-
Faced Goddess (Maid, Mother, and Crone) with a Male Consort (Who has 2 sides.. 
the Young Summer King, and the Old Winter King). 
  Ceremonies include a series of initiations into higher levels of the Craft, 
various Holiday Celebrations (based, of course, upon the "Wheel of the Year" 
calendar of Feast days. 

     B. Alexandrian: 
   Started about the same time as Gardner's, this tradition is fairly similar, 
with a little more emphasis upon Ceremonial Magick.  There are numerous Covens 
in both US and Europe. 

     C. Dianic: 
  This is more of a Sub-class, rather than a particular Tradition.  There are 
several Feminist Traditions which are considered Dianic.  This sub-class tends 
to emphasize the Female aspect of the Goddess, sometimes to the exclusion of 
the Male God.  Some feel that these groups are rather reactionary and self 
limiting.  Be that as it may, the Dianic Covens tend to be more politically 

     D. School of Wicca: 
  Headed by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, this School is the largest correspondence 
school of Witchcraft in the US.  Numerous Covens have resulted from this 
School, although it is somewhat unconventional (if, that is, anything dealing 
with Wicca could be called conventional).  The Frosts' views on Wicca as a 
religion do differ with the majority.. in that they do not consider Wicca as 
"Pagan", but rather as Monotheistic. 

     E. Seax (or Saxon) Wicca: 
  Started by Raymond Buckland, who was originally a leader in promoting the 
Gardnerian Tradition, as an alternative to the existing Covens.  Unlike most 
traditions, which consider the Coven group to be the normal unit of division 
(ie. all ceremonies/Rituals = Group Rites), the Seax version has provision for 
lone witches (often referred to as Solitares). Another thing which sets this 
particular brand apart is its non-reliance upon being properly initiated into 
the Wiccan community.  Many of the other groups require that new members be 
brought to existing covens to be ceremonially initiated into that Tradition, 
and that only after years of study within the group is one ready to start a 
new coven.  The Seax tradition, recognizing that there may not be a friendly, 
neighborhood Coven, allows for self-initiation, and Auto setup of a Coven. 

    F. Traditionalist (Welsh, Scots, Greek, Irish, ect...) 
  Like Dianic, this is a sub-class.  Each Traditionalist group is based upon 
the traditions, literature, myth, and folktales of that particular 
geographic/demographic area.  This is evident in the Names of the God/dess 
used by individual groups. 

   III. Common ties/beliefs/Ideals/ect... 

 As stated earlier, it's not doctrine/dogma similarities which tend to hold 
these diverse groups together, rather, it is the common Ideals and feelings 
expressed by the Pagan Peoples themselves.  Here are some examples: 
  The Wiccan Rede:  "An it harms none, do what thou will." is almost 
universally accepted amongst the groups. 
  Most groups tend to be polytheistic, animists, pantheists, ect. 
  One is not "converted" to Wicca, rather, the new comer feels a sense of 
"Coming Home", or, more poetically, "The Goddess calls to Her own". 
  Nature plays a big part in most Traditions, either as direct personification 
of the God/dess, or as aspects of them. 
  There is no counterpart to the Devil, as such, in the Pagan religions... no 
personification of All Evil, rather, the choice is there for all to make. 
However, there is the Law of Three Fold Return, which states "That which thou 
dost send out shall return three fold", so good begets good, and evil befalls 
those who are evil (a horrendous understatement / simplification, but true). 

Author's note: 
 Whew!  That was a long haul of writing in one sitting... if there are any big 
errors noticeable, mail me, and I'll make a second draft of this.. or perhaps 
even expand it some.. (my time is limited in as far as when I have 
opportunities to just sit down and write something like this, but I can 
usually squeeze in some time, here or there.) 
   I hope that this is somewhat enlightening... there are some other files, 
here, which give more basic explanations of the terms used.. (Witch, Coven, 
Magick, ect..) ... I did assume a small amount of familiarity present within 
the reader... if anyone wishes, I can append a Preface covering that which was 
presupposed knowledge. 

                                         Blessed Be...