This is an observation of many varied traditions when it comes to Wicca Family of Faiths. While there are many groups who profess one set of ideas or tenets, one can quickly notice why they may be lumped as a single Religion.
Of course, to begin, one must define Religion in a way these groups of people are taking it. After, a listing of a few more popular traditions, with a short description for each. In the end, a couple of comments on the “strings which bind these groups together”, such as a description non the philosophies of the New Age Movement, Neo-Paganisms to be specific.
What is a Religion?
According to the dictionary, one may find a definition that looks something like “Religion, n.; An organized system of beliefs and/or rituals, centering on a supernatural being or beings.” We can all agree when it comes to the definitions for “Supernatural” and “Beliefs”, so “Ritual” will be the sub-definition: any ordered sequence of actions or events, directed thoughts included, especially ones which are repeated in the “same manner” every time, which are designed to produce a predictable state of awareness, where certain religious or magical results can be obtained.
By using the definitions mentioned above, the sharp reader may realize that in order to belong to a religion, one does not really have to “believe” into anything, however, most “established” churches will require one to say so in order to be accepted into that Religion. When it comes to Pagan/Wiccan/NeoPagan Religion, one of many beauties they share is that the one who wants to belong to those religions, does not necessarily have to conform on their beliefs. There is no need for the one to believe in the God or Goddess in order to worship them, which is exactly the key of a religion which belongs to the New Age type.
Opposite to what is expected to most religions, it is not the shared beliefs or similar principles which hold the Wiccan religions together, but the attitudes of the people which are involved, as well as their common heritage that provides co-operative bonds among the Pagans. Below, you will be able to find a quick list of some more popular Traditions along with some descriptions, where the points of agreement are addressed.
It was started around the same time as Gardner’s, and it is a tradition that is quite similar, but with slightly more emphasis upon ceremonial magic. This path was founded by Alex Sanders in England during the 1960s, and there have numerous covens in both Europe and US.
Similar to Dianic, this is a mix and a sub-class of Gardnerian and Celtic beliefs. Every traditionalist group is based upon literature, myth, traditions, and folktales which are a part of that particular geographic and demographic area. This can be noticed in the names which are used for the God and Goddess by the individual groups. They are structured in their beliefs and they train through the degree processes.
When it comes to Celtic and Druidic pantheon, its use heavy stresses the nature, the elements, and the Ancient Ones. Celts and druids have a vast knowledge of healing and magical qualities when it comes to plants and stones, trees, flowers, elemental spirits, gnomes, fairies, and the little people.
Is also known as Hecatine, and is of Scottish origin which still preserves the unique festivals of Scots.
Is more of a sub-class instead of being a particular tradition as pinpointed by Margaret Murray’s “The With-Cult in Western Europe” in 1921. There are a couple of feminist traditions that are considered dianic. This sub-class often emphasizes the female aspect of the Goddess, and quite often excluding the male God completely. Many say that these groups are self-limiting and reactionary, but be that as it may, when it comes to Dianic covens, they tend to be more politically active.
When it comes to Eclectic, its indication is that the individual does not follow any specific tradition, sect, denomination, or magical practice, but instead, the followers learn and study from various magical systems and they apply those who appear to work best to themselves.
It was founded by G. Gardner in the mid 1950s in Englang, and its tradition claims to have existed in secret since the Middle Ages when the Witch-Burnings began. While there are doubts if that is true or not, there is no denying that the sect with most influential traditions has been the Gardnerian sect. In fact, a lot of other groups were influenced to follow the Lord and Lady were started by members of a Gardnerian group.
It is a structured religion which has a definite hierarchy within each group that is known as a coven, however, each coven barely has any, mostly no authority over each other at all. There is a matriarchy within the cove, with the High Priestess considered the leader(most of the time, as there are exceptions according to multiple sources, but it is very rare). When it comes to the Gardnerian view of the God or Goddess, it is one of a Dominant three-faced Goddess, a maiden, mother, and a crone who has a male consort that goes by many different names like Young Summer King, Old Winter King etc. When it comes to ceremonies of Gardnerian traditions, they include a series of initiation on higher levels of the craft, and various holiday celebrations which are based on the “Wheel of the Year” calendar from Feast days.
It is a very interesting tradition of Scottish Witchcraft which revolves around various aspects of nature such as animals, vegetables and minerals. It is a solitary form of The Craft, and it is mostly magical in nature with just a small amount of religion.
Seax-Wica (or Saxon) Wicca
It was started by Raymond Buckland in the position of the original leader who was promotion the Gardnerian tradition, as an alternative to existing covens. Most traditions consider the coven group to be the normal unit of division, however, the Seax version has provision for lone witches which are often referred to as Solitaires. Something else that sets this specific brand apart is the non-reliance upon being properly initiated into the Wiccan community. A lot of other groups usually require the new members to be brought to an existing coven for the ceremonial initiation after years of study within the group before one even gets the privilege for the ceremony. However, the Seax tradition recognizes that there may not be a neighborhood coven that is friendly, so it allows self-initiation, and automatic setup of the coven.
It is a religion which follows the tradition that is seated in Itali. It began around 1353 with a woman who goes by the name Aradia. Among all the traditional Witches, this group seems to be the smallest when it comes to numbers in The United States, but the teachings that this religion does should not be missed, as they are quite beautiful.
Teutons have been recognizes as a group of people who speak various Germanic languages, from the ancient times. This included Dutch, Icelandic, English, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish people culturally, which is why it is also called the Nordic tradition.
Common ties, beliefs, ideals etc.
As it was mentioned earlier, it is not the similarities in principles that hold these diverse groups together, but instead, the common ideals and feelings which are expressed by the Pagan people themselves. A couple of examples:
The Wiccan Rede: “An it harms none, do what thou will.” is accepted amongst the groups almost universally, as most groups tend to be animists, polytheistic, pantheists etc. A person is not “converted” to Wicca, but instead, the new comer has the sensation of “coming home”, or more poetically, “The Goddess calls to her own”. In most traditions, nature plays quite a big part, either as the aspect of the God or Goddess, or as a direct personification of them. However, when it comes to the counterpart, the Devil, there is no such thing in Pagan religions. No personification of “all evil” but rather that everyone has a choice to make. But, there is the Law of Three Fold Return, which says “That which thou dost send out shall return three fold”, which emphasizes that good begets good, and that evil will find those who are evil( while simplified, it is true).