Pagan Traditions are the "Churches" of Paganism

Pagan Traditions cover a wide spectrum. From the catch-all of Eclectic Pagans to strict Reconstructionism, Paganism is as varied as any other group of religions throughout the world. The Traditions listed below are only a few of the hundreds of Traditions followed; I have included only the most well documented and those that I have personal knowledge of. As such, this in not a comprehensive list.

Wiccan Traditions

Although Wicca is far from the only pagan tradition, it is one that gets the most attention. This is partly due to its position as the "first" Pagan Religion after the repeal of the British anti-witchcraft laws, and partly due the the vocal nature of certain of it's followers. There have been many legal challenges associated with Wicca in the past two decades, but it is generally accepted as an established religion in both the USA and the UK. Some of the more established types of Wicca are listed below.

Gardnerian Wicca is a named after Gerald Gardner, who is said to have learned the faith from the (now defunct) New Forest Coven in England. It is generally believed to be the earliest Wiccan tradition still in existence. Most other Wiccan Pagan Traditions are derived, in whole or in part, from Gardnerian Wicca. In the British Commonwealth, Wiccan is usually understood to be either Gardnerian Wiccan, or branch which derived from it. In North America, these "lineaged" traditions are termed "British Traditional Wicca".

Alexandrian Wicca was founded by Alex Sanders (the self-proclaimed "King of the Witches") in the 1960s. It is largely based on Gardnerian Wicca, in which Sanders was trained to the first degree of initiation. It also contains elements of ceremonial magic and Qabalah.

The Church and School of Wicca was founded in 1968 by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, with the mission statement To purchase and provide green spaces in cities where people can worship as they please.It was the first federally recognized Wiccan Church in the United States. Their beliefs vary somewhat from other formalized churches. More details can be found on their website at

Seax-Wicca is one of the Wiccan Pagan Traditions which is largely based on historical Anglo-Saxon paganism. The tradition was founded in 1973 by Raymond Buckland. Born in England and a Gardnerian High Priest, Buckland moved to the US in the 1970s. The tradition primarily honors Germanic deities, which are seen as aspects of the Horned God and the Mother Goddess. Seax-Wicca was the first of the Wiccan Pagan Traditions that did not require an oath of secrecy. Buckland'sComplete Book of Witchcraft (sometimes called 'The Big Blue Book' or 'Big Blue') is a must on any well-read Pagan's bookshelf.

Dianic Feminist WitchcraftDianic Wicca, or Dianic Witchcraft was founded by Zsuzsanna Budapest in the United States in the 1970s. It focuses almost exclusively on the worship of the Goddess. It is most often practiced in female-only covens, but there are a rare few mixed-gender Dianic traditions. Originally homosexual women formed the majority of the movement. Today, Dianic Wicca is followed by all sexual orientations. Many Dianic witches (most notably Zsuzsanna Budapest) do not consider hexing or binding of those who attack women to be wrong.

Pecti-Wicca (also Pecti-Wita, Pecti-Witta, or Pictish Witchcraft) is a modified Wiccan Tradition based on Historical Scottish Religion.

Non-Wicca Pagan Traditions

These Pagan Traditions are well established, but do not follow the same belief system as Wicca

Asatru, in the United States, is a form Paganism inspired by the Norse Paganism as described in the Eddas and as practiced prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia. The meaning in Europe is much broader. It is not a branch of Wicca, but is more of a Reconstructionist faith. There are three national organizations of Nordic Paganism in the United States: Asatru AllianceAsatru Folk Assembly and The Troth. Although there have been serious problems with racial discrimination among some small offshoots of Asatru, all three major groups have specifically denounced any and all racist groups.

Stregheria refers to a Neopagan religion originating from Italy. It is sometimes called La Vecchia Religione (the Old Religion) or the Strega tradition. The word stregheria is an archaic Italian word meaning "witchcraft". Stregheria resembles both Wicca and Reconstructionist religions. Stregheria has varying traditions, and individual practices may vary considerably.

Ceremonial magic is a broad term used to encompass a wide variety of long, elaborate, and complex magical rituals. It is characterized by complex ceremony and a wide variety of ritual tools. Popularized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it draws on Qabalah, Enochian magic, Thelema, and the various grimoires of questionable origin. It is not a tradition in and of itself, but it is formal enough to warrant its own entry.

Hereditary Witch refers to someone who is one who is born into a tradition. These traditions are often not recorded, except in a family's Book of Shadows. These are also passed down, but Hereditary Witches rely primarily on oral and physical tradition. The only way to become a hereditary witch is to be born or adopted into a Hereditary Witch's family.

Shamanism refers to both the practice of tribal religion by its native practitioners, and to the New Age practice of "borrowing" and reinterpreting these practices. As such, Shamanism is an extraordinarily broad and controversial term.

Roads Less Taken

These Pagan Traditions are more like philosophical systems. Rather than defining rituals and practices, these traditions guide the practitioner on the road to finding their own beliefs and rituals. In many cases, the tradition is less of a system of faith and more of a system of finding your faith.

Erisian Path is a combination of Pagan, Wiccan and Discordian practices. Erisianism is a small and confusing path. The main principles are seeking an understanding of the balance between order and chaos, making your own decisions, and taking responsibility for them.

Eclectic Paganism is a term used to describe someone who borrows from several different traditions. Most Eclectic Pagans are also Solitary.

Solitary Practitioner refers to someone who practices Paganism outside of a coven. At one time a rarity (because you couldn't learn the religion unless you were in a coven), Solitaries are becoming more common, thanks at least in part to Scott Cunningham. Like Buckland's Complete Books of Witchcraft, Cunningham's Guide for the Solitary Practitioner is virtually required reading for serious students of the pagan religion.

An Ordeal Path is the practice of pushing the body and mind to its absolute limit with spiritual intent. The experience of challenge, courage, ecstasy and fulfillment are the focus of an ordeal. The form of the ordeal is irrelevant. That the experience is truly a challenge for the seeker is the only important factor. Ordeals may include fasting, pain, extreme hedonism, long term stillness, or anything that deeply challenges the mind and/or body. Ordeal paths are often coupled with Shamanistic rites.

The Wolf and Raven Path is the Eclectic Pagan path. Its followers include myself, my wife, and a few of our close friends. It incorporates ideas from Wicca, Pantheism, Erisianism, Native American and Gypsy Pagan Traditions. 

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