Different Paths

The roots of Wicca can be found all over the UK and Europe, in the spiritual focus of our ancestors and in strands of paganism that have withstood the buffeting of time by disguising themselves as folklore and country wisdom.

The story of modern Wicca's awakening, however is far more recentand began in England in 1951 with the repeal of the 1736 Witchcraft Act, subsequently replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act.
The impetus for it's repeal was it's employment in the prosecution in 1944 of a Medium called Helen Duncan, who attracted the attention of the naval authorities by revealing to the public the sinking of ships whose details had not yet been released.

A number of public figures were concerned that the act and the fact it was still on the statute books, was a slur on the reputation of British law, consequently it was repealed.
The acts repeal effectivly legalised witchcraft in England and enabled the publication of works describing the practices of covens.

Here are a few examples of the key expressions of the many different styles and flavours of wicca, (but remember that a paragraph cann't encapsulate the meaning of a tradition which has its own influences, history and customs.)

Named after Gerald B Gardner, this tradition enfolds elements of ancient traditions and, because of it's local origins, the folklore and customs of English paganism. It uses the basic pattern of a ritual circle, and the elemental quarters for earth, air, fire and water, though the colour symbolism differs from most other traditions in that the colour for air is blue and earth is brown or black and water is green. Gardenrians tend not to emphasize the element of spirit.
Gardnerian Wicca venerates the horned god of the green wood and the goddess of nature.

Named after
Alex Sanders. This tradition was developed from the Gardnerian system in the 1960's and it incorporates elements or Judaeo-christain sources, as well as aspects of the Greek and Egyptian mysteries and Celtic traditions.
Alexandrians honour the tripple goddess in all her aspects, maiden, mother and crone and the dual god, though some practitioners are also eclectic in their approach to deities.
It uses the basic layout of the gardnerian system but hopnours the five sacred elements and uses the more widley known colour symbolism.

Saex Wicc
a was formulated by Raymond Buckland in the early 1970's. He is also accredited with introducing Wicca to the USA. Seax-wicca is based on the Gardnerian framework, but draws in aspects of English Saxon and Pictish Traditions.

The traditions outlined above are generally practised in groups but in wicca there are mant witches who practise on their own. The accurate title of this group is "Solitaries", and they may practise any tradition of wicca; what sets them apart is that they work alone. Solo workers are sometimes called hedgewitches, though strictly speaking Hedgewitchery is the work of a wise woman or cunning man serving a community, knowlegeable in the ways of nature and herbal magic and traditional healing. The nicetiys of distinction are not always observed however, and some city witches are keen to use the term to emphasize the origins of their spiritual path.

In Wicca an hereditary is a witch who has inherited craft knowledge through their own family, or initiation into an hereditary group. Since the practices of such groups will differ according to what has been passed on to them, it is almost impossible to pinpoint what any particular hereditary practises.

All witches are, to some extent eclectic, but eclectics are those who do not align themselves with any particular tradition and instead select, borrow, appropriate and redefine to suit their purpose, elements of other traditions. All done respectfully, of course