Branches on the Wiccan Tree



After reading the history, you’ve probably noticed some terminology that you haven’t seen before, specifically the names of the different branches of Wicca.

The three branches are:

1. Orthodox Traditional Wicca
2. Reformed Traditional Wicca
3. Eclectic Wicca

1. Orthodox Traditional Wicca

The term orthodox as used here means ‘accepted and conventional, rooted in established practices’. The term traditional as applied means ‘organized around a tradition’. In Wicca, the term tradition refers to a denomination; hence Alexandrian Tradition’s relationship to Wicca is the same as Presbyterian’s is to Christianity.

As applied in this book, Orthodox Traditional Wicca means “a branch of Wicca where things are done the old way and a tradition (denomination) is followed”.

Orthodox Traditional Wiccan traditions are fairly easy to identify by the following patterns:

Coven practice for 3 to 13 members
High Priestess leads ritual
Solitary practice is rare
Formal initiation is required
Self-initiation is NOT considered valid
Three degrees of initiation
Coven training required
Hand copied book of shadows
Oath of secrecy (at least some topics)
Oath to not divulge another member
Oath to not divulge the coven or coven stead

Orthodox Traditional Wicca dates back to 1948. It existed before New Age, before self-initiation and before the ‘Learn Wicca’ books. One interesting aspect is that Orthodox Traditional clearly pre-existed use of the term Wicca to identify the religion. The original Wiccans did not call their practice Wicca. The religion was termed as either “Witchcraft” or “The Old Religion” with the two terms considered synonymous. The term Wiccan was also not in use yet. Practitioners called themselves “Witches”.

The only hint of the term was the use of the word Wica [sic] which was used as a religious title. The term Wica implied wisdom of the ability to do Magick and indicated initiation into ‘The Craft’.

Orthodox Traditional Wiccan ritual is for the most part quite formal. While freedom is somewhat accepted, in general one is taught to practice according to the ways and beliefs of the tradition.

The tradition’s Book of Shadows was gradually revealed to a dedicant who hand copied it over a period of one year and one day during training. A partial list of traditions includes Gardnerian (1948), Alexandrian (1963) and Georgian USA (1971). Others which may fit in this category are Frost (1968) and 1734 (1964) although their practices and lineage appear to be somewhat different from the others.

tree gold

2. Reformed Traditional Wicca

Reformed Traditional Wicca, means “a branch of Wicca where new practices have replaced some of the orthodox ways and a tradition (denomination) is followed”.

Reformed Traditional Wiccan traditions are identified by:

Solitary practice is most common
Coven practice is rare
Self-dedication is welcomed
Formal initiation is not required
No degrees of initiation
Self training is the norm
Coven training is seldom even available

The tradition’s defining document is a Wicca 101 style book, or a series of books by one or more authors. Reformed Traditional Wicca dates back to the mid-1970s. The first Reformed tradition was Seax-Wica originated by Raymond Buckland.

With solitary practice being the most common, ritual tends to be fairly freedom oriented. Ritual in coven environment varies significantly between the individual traditions.

A partial list of traditions includes Faery, Celtic, Dianic, Shamanic, and Dragon.


3. Eclectic Wicca

Eclectic Wicca means “a branch of Wicca where individuals are free to pick and chose what they believe from any Wiccan tradition or any other spirituality”.

Eclectic Wicca is not a tradition unto itself. It is the void of tradition filled with aspects based on an individual’s preference. In essence, an eclectic creates and practices his or her own tradition.

On the conservative side, many practicing Eclectic Wicca are truly Wiccan, the Goddess and usually the God are regarded, nature is sacred, magick embraced, and they strive to abide by the Rede.

On the extreme side, Eclectic practice can be so diluted that it is unrecognizable as a form of Wicca.


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