A retired British civil servant named Gerald B. Gardner is the 'Grandfather', at the very least, of almost all
Neo-Wicca. He was initiated into a coven of Witches in the New Forest region of England in 1939 by a High Priestess named
'Old Dorothy' Clutterbuck. In 1949 he wrote a novel [*High Magic's Aid*] about medieval Witchcraft in which quite a bit of
the Craft as practiced by that coven was used. In 1951 the last of the English laws against Witchcraft were repealed (primarily
due to the pressure of Spiritualists) and Gardner published *Witchcraft Today*, which set forth a version of the rituals and
traditions of that coven. There is an enormous amount of disagreement about virtually every statement I have made in this
Gardnerism is both a tradition and a family, and lineage is a family tree. The High Priestess rules the coven, and the
principles of love and trust preside. We follow our handed down book more carefully than many others, but we are free to add
and improvise, as long as we preserve the original.
We work skyclad, practice binding and scourging, are hierarchal and secretive, therefore we are controversial. We're also
controversial because we were first - the first craft tradition in the U. S. and descended from the man largely responsible
for starting the craft revival. So, we're called 'the snobs of the craft', but I think we're as much fun as anyone else; our
parties as good, our jokes as bad'
A Gardnerian can trace his/her lineage matrilineally back to a High Priestess who worked with Gerald. For virtually all
American Gardnerians, that means his last HPS, Monique Wilson. Monique initiated the Bucklands and Rosemary Buckland initiated
Theas, so far as anyone knows, the only one of Rosemary's Thirds who passed the initiation on - which is why she has been
called (but doesn't call herself) 'Witch Queen of America. '[the foregoing quotes provided by Deborah Lipp Bonewits, a Gardnerian
Third Degree High Priestess as well as an ADF Druidess.]
*Each Gardnerian coven is autonomous and is headed by a High Priestess who can turn to her queen (the High Priestess who
trained her) for counsel and advice. This maintains the lineage and creates a pool of experienced and knowledgeable leaders
*Reincarnation and the Wiccan Rede [An it harm none do what you will] are basic tenants of the tradition. Covens are as
much as possible composed of male/female pairs for balance. Most working is accomplished with the energy raised by the interaction
of the Lord and Lady as represented by the couples in the coven by dancing, chanting, etc.
*Like many Wiccan traditions, Gardnerians have three degrees. An American Gardnerian must be of the 3rd degree before she
can become a HPS. The HPS/HP are responsible for conducting services (circles), training their conveners, and preserving and
passing on Gardnerian Craft. *[This material quoted from Converging Paths Newsletter, Kyril, Brita, & Hugh authors. ]
A lot of the controversy surrounding Gardnerianism questions the sources of the rituals and other materials, particularly
those appearing in print. It is true that Gardner presented these materials as if they were directly from his New Forest tradition.
It is clear, however, that whatever materials the coven may have had when he was initiated, Gerald made a lot of changes and
added a great deal. Literary sources of the published Book of Shadows include Blake, Kipling, Yeats and Crowley. Much of the
published material was written by Doreen Valiente, a member of the coven for a time and later founder of her own groups and
author of many excellent books on the Craft.
Gardnerian Witches without doubt do have many materials which have not appeared in print, however, their emphasis on secrecy
has made them a punchline in the Wiccan social world. How many Gardnerians does it take to change a light bulb? That's a secret!
Their High Priestess will usually be called 'Lady' Soandso and High Priest, 'Lord Whatisname'. [This is far more true in the
U. S. than it is in England.]
*As most everyone by now is aware, the Alexandrian Tradition is very close to Gardnerian with a few minor changes.
(One of the most obvious ones being that the Alexandrians use the athame as a symbol for the element of fire and the wand
as a symbol for air. Most of the rituals are very formal and heavily indebted to ceremonial magick. It is also a polarized
tradition and the sexuality of that female/male polarity is emphasized. The ritual cycle deals mostly with the division of
the year between the Holly King and the Oak King and several ritual dramas deal with the dying/resurrected God theme. As with
Gardnerians, the High Priestess is supposedly the highest authority. However, it is odd that the primary spokespersons for
both traditions have been men. [*This material provided by Gillan]
Alexandrian Wicca is the creation of Alex Sanders (with his then wife Maxine) who claimed to have been initiated by his
grandmother in 1933. It's principal proponents are Janet and Stewart Fararr whose books set forth most, if not all, of the
Alexandrian tradition. Contrary to popular belief, the name Alexandrian refers not to Alex Sanders, but to Ancient Alexandria.
Although similiar to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca tends to be more eclectic, and liberal. Some of Gardnerisms strict
rules, such as the requirement of ritual nudity, have been made optional by Alexandrian Wicca.
Mary Nesnick, an American initiate in Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions founded a 'new' tradition called Algard. This
tradition brings together both Gardnerian and Alexandrian teachings under a single banner. This was possible due to the great
similiarities between the two traditions.
*The Dianic Craft includes two distinct branches:
*1. One branch, founded in Texas by Morgan McFarland and Mark Roberts, gives primacy to the Goddess in its thealogy, but
honors the Horned God as Her Beloved Consort. Covens are mixed, including both womyn and men. This branch is sometimes called
'Old Dianic', and there are still covens of this tradition, especially in Texas. Other covens, similar in thealogy but not
directly descended from the McFarland/ Roberts line, are sprinkled around the country.
*2. The other branch, sometimes called Feminist Dianic Witchcraft, focus exclusively on the Goddess and consists of womyn-only
covens and groups. These tend to be loosely structured and non-hierarchical, using consensus- decision- making and simple,
creative, experimental ritual. They are politically feminist groups, usually very supportive, personal and emotionally intimate.
There is a strong lesbian presence in the movement, though most covens are open to womyn of all orientations. The major network
is Re-Formed Congregation of the Goddess, which publishes "Of a Like Mind" newspaper and sponsors conferences on Dianic Craft.
[* Amber K]
Celtic Wicca (Church of Wicca)
The Church of Wicca was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost. They offer correspondence courses in their brand of
Wicca, which is sometimes called Celtic Wicca. The Church of Wicca has just recently begun including a Goddess in their diety
structure, and has been very patrofocal as Wiccan traditions go. The Chuch of Wicca terms itself "Baptist Wicca"
*The Frosts call their tradition of Wicca Celtic. To me it seems more of a mixture of high magic and eclectic Wicca, with
a smattering of Celtic thrown in. For instance, they use three circles, one within the others, made of salt, sulphur and herbs
with runes and symbols between them instead of just one circle. They also insist on a white- handled athame and will not have
a black handled one, whereas all the other traditions I have heard or read about use a black handled one. It seems to me the
Wicca they practice and teach should not be called Celtic at all; but since a lot of it is made up or put together by them
from other traditions they should also give it a made-up name; say Frostism. If you DON'T have to pay for the course, and
have some extra time, it would probably be worth reading just for comparison. [*From Circe, who took their correspondence
The Frosts have always been rather more public than most traditions (advertising their course in the Enquirer and similar
publications) which has earned them heavy criticism in less public Craft groups.
If one word could best describe the Georgean Tradition, it would be 'eclectic'. Even though the material provided
to students was nominally Alexandrian, there was never any imperative to follow that path blindly. George Patterson (the tradition's
founder) always said 'If it works use it, if it doesn't, don't'. The newsletter was always full of contributions from people
of many traditions. I've always felt Pat's intent was to provide jumping off points for students and members. So even though
I can claim initiation into more than one tradition, I'll always consider myself 'Georgian' first: George is greatly missed,
may the God-dess watch over him. Bright Blessings, Lord Fafner.
*The Discordian or Erisian movement is described as a 'Non- Prophet Irreligious Disorganization' and has claimed
'The Erisian revelation is not a complicated put-on disguised as a new religion, but a new religion disguised as a complicated
put-on. " It all started with the *'Principia Discordia, or How I Found the Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her'*,
a collection of articles and ideas compiled by Greg Hill (Malaclypse the Young-er). The central theme is 'Chaos is every bit
as important as Order' as illustrated in the story of The curse of Greyface:
*Humor is central to Discordianism, but Discordianism should not be dismissed as a joke. Profound experiences frequently
accompany the practice or Erisinaism. It is a perceptual game, one which demonstrates that the absurd is just as valid as
the mundane and chaos is just as valid as order. It frees the practitioner from the order games (that most have forgotten
are games) to play games with order or games with chaos, or both. The effects of Discordianism upon an individual can be far-
reaching and amazingly liberating. [Although a great many immature individuals have played at Discordianism and thereby sidestepped
any chance of spiritual growth whatsoever -- Grey Cat wryly
Stregheria is the Craft of the Italian Witches. It's an ancient system, steeped with history that dates back to
the 14th century. We are the descendants of an ancient people who used moonlore, nature, symbolisms, and Spirits (Faery) to
work their magick. Stregheria resembles Wicca in that both systems are Goddess based. Both Stregheria and many Wiccan traditions
accept the duality of both a female and male God. In Stregheria the Goddess is known as Tana and the God a s Tanus. Diane
and Dianus represent the Moon goddess and god respectively. Many of the Goddesses and Gods are known by different names in
different traditions. Stregheria and Wicca celebrate many of the same rites or Festivals even though the names are not the
same and sometimes they occur on a slightly diffferent date.
The Tools of the Stregheria are likened to the armor and weapons of a Knight: any true witch must be to some degree a spiritual
warrior.The Watchers called Grigori, are called to guard the ritual circle and to witness the ritual. Strega also recognizes
a third person, Aradia. She came to be known as the Holy Strega, a spiritual teacher and wise woman. The message of Aradia,
called the Covenant, offer ed her followers the path to freedom and personal empowerment. Aradia also taught that the traditional
powers of a witch would belong to any who adhered to the way of the Old Religion. Aradia called these Gifts and Beliefs. The
Charge of Aradia is the mes sage she left her followers.
The magickal focus is largely upon spells, omens and natural objects. These are used in amulets, talismans and charm bags.
Ritual circles are seldom used for spell casting or other works of magick. Nature is viewed as the manifestation of spiritual
forces . Magick is the art of understanding the interplay between these forces and the ways in which they can be influenced.
Blue Star Wicca is a centuries old Pagan tradition founded in the mid-1970s. Originally established as a single
coven in Pennsylvania, Blue Star evolved over the next decade or two into a collection of more than a dozen covens all across
the U.S., all working in what is essentially the same framework and therefore recognizable as a tradition.
ancestral coven of Blue Star was founded by a fellow named Frank Duffner in 1975 and many of the folks who entered the tradition
in those early days are still practicing. It would be Frank's future wife and Priestess, Tzipora Katz, and her second husband,
Kenny Klein, who would have the most influence on spreading the tradition to students across the country.
In the course
of their career as traveling folk musicians, Kenny and Tzipora established small Blue Star study groups all over the country,
teaching students during their brief visits once or twice during the year and later continuing to train via audiocassette,
phone and mail. These days, the number of trained Blue Star initiates who live scattered across the country makes such long-distance
learning largely unnecessary.
While Kenny and Tzipora subsequently left the tradition, the Blue Star students and covens
they left behind continue to dot the US landscape from coast to coast, though certain areas of the country may have higher
populations than others. Examples of heavily populated Blue Star strongholds include Minneapolis, New Jersey and the Boston
Organization of Groups
Blue Star practices mostly as a hierarchical, mystery-based tradition with its roots in
Alexandrian Craft. Most covens operate on a Grove system, in which uninitiated members and students comprise an Outer Court,
and Initiates make up an Inner Court. Traditionally, a Coven (or circle) would include both Inner and Outer court members
and would be presided over by a Third Degree High Priest and High Priestess. Obviously while this may be the traditional ideal,
the actual operation of Blue Star covens varies greatly from group to group. Smaller covens may have only one (or occasionally
no) Initiates, while large, extended covens may have three or more Third Degree Initiates.
There are three degrees
of Initiation in Blue Star, as is common to many Wicca traditions. Prior to Initiation, Blue Star offers two other degrees,
Dedication and Neophyte. Dedicants may remain Dedicants forever if they choose, while Neophyte is given specifically to prepare
a student for Initiation and is not meant to be an end-point on anyone's path.
You may have
detected a theme so far in this description: no two Blue Star groups are exactly the same. We are almost as much a collection
of rabid individualists as we are a Wiccan tradition. We do, however, tend to share certain fundamental characteristics:
- A round altar stands in the center of the circle with tools placed in specific locations
- Liturgical songs are used for many actions of the circle
- Children are welcome at most Blue Star Circles
- they celebrate the 8 Wiccan Sabbats, as well as 26 Esbats of the year
- they acknowledge a number of Paths of Power corresponding to the Wheel of the Year
- they tend to emphasize worship of the Gods over the working of magick, and often refer to ourselves as a "teaching
- they acknowledge and respect the entirety of the Wiccan Rede
- they acknowledge and respect Tenets of Faith as cornerstones of our living philosophy
- they acknowledge some gender specificity, in that our Priests are male and our Priestesses are female. We consider
neither the Goddess nor the God to be pre-eminent, and likewise, we see neither men nor women as being superior. Rather, we
seek to balance ourselves with regards to gender and deity.
- Most groups operate in a hierarchical structure
- Each group is autonomous, though most of us seek to maintain a connection among various members of the tradition
There may be other interesting similarities or differences between Blue Star groups, but this list encompasses most of
Blue Star recognizes and celebrates the 8 common Wiccan Sabbats (Samhain, Yule,
Imbolc, Ostara, Bealtaine, Litha, Lammas, and Mabon), and most groups meet on each of the 26 New and Full Moons (or Esbats)
of the year.
Standards of Conduct
Blue Star asks its members to live their lives according to the precepts
laid down in the Wiccan Rede and in the Tenets of Faith. We tend to respect the law of Three-Fold Return and attempt to live
our lives in a manner respectful of the Gods, the Earth and other people. Many people believe a Blue Star education is significantly
more strenuous than an education in some other traditions, and Blue Star has historically admitted to demanding a fairly high
level of dedication and commitment from its students.
Role of Clergy
Blue Star often defines itself as a
"teaching tradition, " and part of this teaching involves instructing students on their path to initiation and Clergy status.
According to Blue Star tradition, Priests and Priestesses of Second Degree are considered clergy and may minister and teach
to students, while Third Degree Initiates may receive ordination and may actually perform Initiations themselves. Naturally,
there are exceptions to this rule, and students at Neophyte level have occasionally run groves, while First and Second Degree
Initiates have performed Initiations. Blue Star is nothing if not pragmatic, and the elastic role of our clergy tends to demonstrate
this characteristic rather well.
Ways of Worship
Most Blue Star groups observe the Esbats with a Circle ritual,
for which there is a common liturgical format. The exact execution of the circle may vary depending on the group, but most
follow along a similar line. As stated before, Blue Star emphasizes worship heavily over the working of magick, though groups
may perform magick in circle if they feel a need or desire to do so. Many Blue Star groups also teach the idea of living a
magical life, and in so doing, encourage their members to worship the Gods throughout the course of their everyday lives.
and Other References
Blue Star has no formal written record of its tradition. Instead, most of the tradition is passed
on orally from teacher to student. We do, however, have a deep appreciation for research and knowledge, and we encourage our
students and Initiates to read a variety of materials encompassing areas as diverse as mythology and folklore, history and
anthropology, divination and psychology. The best way to find out more about Blue Star is to seek out and talk to a Blue Star
person in your area.
Who the Heck Are These People?
Cat Castells is a Third Degree Initiate and Priestess
in Blue Star who runs an occasionally overwhelming teaching coven. Amy Douglass is a Third Degree Initiate and Priestess in
Blue Star. Both live on the East Coast, where they worship, teach and live Blue Star.
The photo was shot by Scott. Pictured are, (left to right, standing in the back), Padraig macLynne, Maggie, Turok,
Mario, Liam, Paul, Skyefyr, Sheev, George, Kim, Renee. In front are Michael, Trent, John, Cailin, Cat, Stacey, J.
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