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Friday, September 12, 2008

Wiccan Traditions: NeoPagan Nature-based Religion Is also Called Craft of the Wise

The major branches of Wicca are Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, Celtic (Church of Wicca), Georgian, Discordianism or Erisian and Wiccan Shamanism.

General statements about Wiccan traditions don’t always apply to all because covens or solitaries might practice differently within their chosen ones. All follow the Wiccan Rede, cause none harm.

Gardnerian

Gerald B. Gardner is the founder of this branch of Wicca in which the High Priestess rules the coven and the principles of love and trust are most important. Gardnerians follow its original Grimoire, a book describing rituals and laws, but are free to improvise as long as the original is adhered to. Every coven is autonomous.

Reincarnation and the rede are basic tenants of the tradition. Ideally, covens are composed of female and male pairs for balance.

Controversy surrounds Gardnerianism, questioning sources of rituals and the published writings available to the public. Gardner presented these writings as if they were his own from the New Forest tradition. It’s evident that resources the coven may have had when he was initiated, Gardner made many additions.

Alexandrian

Although similar to the Gardnerian tradition, Alexandrian, founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders, is more liberal and eclectic. Some of the former’s strict rules have been made optional.

Both traditions have initiations, 3 degrees and the primary authority being the High Priestess. The two are considered British Traditional Wicca (BTW) One of the major differences is that Alexandrians attribute the athame, black handled knife, to air and wand to fire; Gardnerians, athame to fire and wand to air.

Most of the rituals are based on ceremonial magick. It’s a polarized tradition with the female/male polarity being emphasized. The ritual cycle deals primarily with the divisions of the year between the Holly King and the Oak King, a Druid tradition. Some rituals have the dying and resurrected God theme.

Dianic

This has two branches. One, founded by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, gives predominance to the Goddess, but honors the Horned God as her Consort. Covens are mixed, including both women and men. The other branch, sometimes referred to as Feminist Witchcraft, focuses totally on the Goddess and consists of female only covens. These are loosely structured and use creative experimental rituals. For the most part, these covens are feminist ones.

Celtic (Church of Wicca)

The Church of Wicca or Baptist Wicca was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. This Celtic branch recently began to include a Goddess in their structure of deities. It had been very patriarchal as Wiccan traditions go.

Celtic appears to be a mixture of high magic, eclectic Wicca and a little Druidism. The Frosts have a fee-based course on the Internet for people to take which advertised in tabloids.

Georgian

This eclectic branch of Wicca was founded by George Patterson. The primary tenet is that what works should be used; what doesn’t, discard.

Discordianism or Erisian

This is a “Non- Prophet Irreligious Disorganization” founded by Greg Hill. It claims that the Erisian revelation isn’t a complicated put-on disguised as a new religion. It’s a new religion disguised as such. The primary theme is that chaos is as important as order.

Wiccan Shamanism

This branch, founded by Selena Fox, is a blend of cross-cultural Shamanism, Wicca and transpersonal psychology, drawing on established practices and new ones. The focus is on inter-faith and multi-cultures.

-Jill Stefko

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