Witchcraft is a way of life for individuals, not the masses,
and there's no point in you coming toward the Craft
if you are a wimp,a follower, a coward, or a fool,
as sorcery is both a practice and a priesthood,
and it is not a garment that can be discarded when the going gets tough.
~ Ly de Angeles ~
Types of Traditional Witches
Augury Witch: Similar to a shaman in practice, the augury witch will help to direct those on a spiritual quest by interpreting the signs and symbols the traveler encounters. The term derives from the official Roman augurs, whose function was not to foretell the future but to discover whether or not the gods approved of a proposed course of action by interpreting signs or omen such as the appearance of animals sacred to the gods. It is important to note that augury witches are not "fortune tellers", as their gifts are of prophecy and not divination. In the context of prophecy, in his Scottish play Shakespeare's witches appear as augury witches.
Ceremonial Witch: Witches who combines both the practices of witchcraft and ceremonial magic, though they are more spiritually centered than most ceremonial magicians. Ceremonial witches are very exacting in the performance of ritual and their rituals are usually followed by the book, to the letter and with much ceremony. They may use a combination of various mystical disciplines drawn from the Old Ways, but will often incorporate scientific approaches such as sacred mathematics and quantum mysticism as well. They will call upon a ecclectic band of spiritual entities, leaning towards archetypal figures representative of the energies they wish to manifest.
Eclectic Witch: An individual approach in which the witch picks and chooses from many different traditions and creates a personalized form of witchcraft that meets their individual needs and abilities. They do not follow a particular religion or tradition, but study and learn from many different systems and use what works best for them.
Elemental Witch: A witch who practices by honoring/acknowledging the 4 or all 5 elements: Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Spirit. Commonly an Elementalist will dedicate different areas of their altars to each element, call upon them during spells and rituals, and use symbols to represent each.
Faery (Fairy) Witch: An eclectic witch who seeks to commune with faery folk and nature spirits in their magick workings. They have no organization or tradition and it has developed of its own accord through common practice. (Not to be confused with the 'Feri Movement' [see below] )
Green (Garden) Witch: A practitioner of of witchcraft whose focus is on the use of natural items and places. The goal of the Green Witch is upon achieving magic through communion with Mother Nature and using Her energies. A Green witch is very similar to a Kitchen/Cottage witch (see below) with the exception that the Green witch practices in the fields and forest in order to be closer to the Divine spirit. The Green witch makes his or her own tools from accessible materials from outdoors. A Green or Garden Witch, that works primarily with floral materials and flowers in their practice is often called a Flora Witch and one who works with herbs and other plants a Herbal Witch.
Hedge Witch: Hedgecraft is a path that is somewhat shamanic in nature, as they are practitioners of an Earth-based spirituality. These are the ones who engage in spirit flight and journey into the Otherworld. They can, in this capacity, be very powerful midwives and healers. A bird of one kind or another is usually associated with the Hedge Witch, most commonly the raven and the goose. The term “hedge” signified the boundary of the village and represents the boundary that exists between this world and the spiritual realm.
Hereditary Witch: Also known as a Family Tradition Witch, it is someone who has been taught "The Old Ways " as a tradition passed down through the generations of their family. Though you may be born into a family with the tradition, you can not be born a witch, a conscious decision and acceptance of “The Craft” is necessary to become a witch. Many witches claim to be hereditary witches when in fact, they are not. You must be brought up in a family of witches to be a hereditary witch.
Kitchen (Cottage) Witch: A practitioner of witchcraft who uses the tools at hand to work their spells and create their rituals and who deals with the practical sides of religion, magick and the Elements of the Earth. Some who hear the term “Kitchen Witch” may think it is a magickal art confined only to the kitchen or cooking, but it is much more. It is about the finding of the sacred in everyday tasks, no matter how mundane they may appear to be. An increasingly popular type of witchcraft, it is about working with the energies of nature to make the hearth and home a secure and sacred place.
Secular Witch: One who practices a secular or non-theist approach to the Craft, not connecting with deities in their rituals and magick. Secular witches believe the energy used in their magick comes from the Earth and natural world and they will use tools like plants and herbs, crystals and stones, or other things that they do not worship as deities.
Solitary Witch (Solitaire): One who practices alone, without a family or group and without following any particular tradition. Sometimes they are among that class of natural witches whose skills have been developed in previous lifetimes. There is a legend among witches that when an individual soul has practiced "the Craft" over a period of several lifetimes, the knowledge is reawakened upon reaching puberty.
Satanic Witch: A used by those who wish to demonize those practicing witchcraft. Satanic worshippers are not witches. Traditional Witches do not worship Satan as this is a Christian concept not recognized in traditional pagan beliefs. Accordingly, the labels of “white witch” and “black witch , (popularly meaning a “good witch” as one who practices “white magic” and a “wicked witch” as one who practices “black magic”), are also misnomers as Traditional Witches practice a “natural magic” drawing on the forces of Nature and they refrain from attempting to manifest any form of black magic and the drawing down of negative or demonic energies.
"The major misconception about Witchcraft today is that Witches worship Satan, which is just not so. We do not believe in Satan. That is a Christian creation. We don’t worship evil. Indeed, to give evil a name is not a real intelligent thing to do, because then you give it power."
~ Silver Ravenwolf ~
Warlock:: In common, but incorrect usage, the definition of a warlock is said to be “a male version of a witch”. However there is much debate about the usage of the word among witches and male practitioners of the Traditional Craft, many of whom find the term offensive and prefer to be known simply as witches, never referring to themselves as warlocks. The most common etymology of the word can possibly be traced back to the old English or Scottish word "waerloka" which many centuries ago had the meaning "oath breaker" or even "traitor". In which case, the term oath breaker may have been applied to witches as they had 'broken their oaths' with the Christian church, by becoming witches. Conversely though, the word "waerlak" meant "honor bound" and exactly which word became associated with witchcraft is a matter of speculation. Today some wiccans will use the term "warlocking" to refer to the excommunication of someone from their group or "coven".
Witches are the kind of more traditional, home and family, craft people,
so they're the ones who are making things; crocheting shawls and things like that.
But then they also have that slightly confident, dangerous, edge.
Traditions of Witchcraft
African Tradition(s): Different African tribes refer to witchcraft differently. Generally in African traditions, there are generally three classifications of practitioners who use magic. The “Thakathi” (often improperly translated into English as "witch" and almost exclusively female) are practitioners who operates in secret to curse others. The “Sangoma” (usually female) who is a diviner, akin to a fortune-teller, often predicting or advising on a person's future, or identifying the guilty party in a crime. And the “Inyanga”, (usually translated as "witch doctor" and almost exclusively male), whose job is to heal illness and injury through herbalism and naturopathy and to provide believers with magical items for everyday use.
Appalachian 'Granny' Tradition: The tradition of Appalachain Folk Magic dates back to the first settlers of the Appalachian Mountains who came to the United States from Scotland and Ireland in the 1700's and who brought with them their "Old World" magical traditions. Those traditions were then blended with the local tradition of the Cherokee Tribes into a combination of local herbal folk remedies and charms, faith healing, storytelling and magick. The 'Granny' Witches will often call themselves 'Doctor Witches' or 'Water Witches' depending upon whether they are more gifted in healing and midwifery, or if they are more in tune with dowsing for water, lay lines and energy vortexes. This tradition is termed 'Granny' from the prominent role played by older women in the mountain communities.
Asian Tradition(s): In Japan, the Shinto religion is itself a shamanistic religion and thus the Japanese do not attach negative connotations to witchcraft. The word "witch" is actually used with positive connotation in the Japanese language as a female with high skills or fame. Asian witchcraft generally centers on the relationship between the witch and the animal spirits or familiars and in Japanese witchcraft, witches are commonly separated into two categories: those who employ snakes as familiars and those who employ foxes; the Fox Witch being the most commonly seen witch in Japan. In China, witches employs books, staffs, and other implements, similar to the western traditions of witchcraft and the witches are often accompanied by familiars in the form of rabbits, which are universally associated with the Moon, with fertility and with the Goddess. The witches of China are notable for their extensive knowledge of the occult properties of plants and herbs, as well as for clairvoyance and the study of astrology.
Australian Aboriginal Tradition: Aboriginal female elders were labeled by Christian missionaries as "witches" or, if men, as "witchdoctors"and these missionaries saw the traditional female practice of "love magic" or yilpinji as "witchcraft". Yilpinji is achieved through a creative integration of myth, song, gesture and art against a background of country. Yilpinji, love magic, is invariably based in the empowering link with the homeland shared by everyone in Aboriginal culture.
British Tradition: (Not to be confused with 'British Traditional Wicca') Traditional British Crafters generally practice a solitary form of witchcraft and each traditional witch draws on an eclectic mix of beliefs and rituals from the myths and religions of the various pre-Roman and pre-Christian tribes and cultures of the British Isles. The culture of the ancient British determines the cultural context of the tradition. British Traditional Witchcraft is drawn from the "energy" of "The Homeland” and its people. So, there are often differences between the practices of those witches from Welsh or Scottish regions for example, but also many similarities such as the common belief in the "magic" of the British forests and woodlands. Over time though it has begun to evolve into a much more regimented system and some in the traditional craft have become less solitary and started coming together in groups with the Wiccan covens structured initiation and degree process. Though continuing to insist on being "Traditional" and not "Wicca" by adopting its structure they are in realty becoming Wiccan in practice if not in name.
Celtic (Irish) Tradition: The Irish Tradition is really many traditions under the general heading of "Celtic" and Celtic paths are some of the more popular traditional witchcraft traditions. Most are very eclectic and hold to the ancient Celtic myths, divinities, magic and rituals. They are practitioners of the Elements, the Ancient Ones and of Nature. They are usually physical and spiritual healers who work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the fauns and the faires.
Cornish Tradition: The traditional magic of Cornish Witches commonly includes the work of the making and provision of magical charms, simple rituals and magical gestures with muttered incantations, the healing of disease and injury and divination. (see below: Cunning Folk)
Cunning Folk Tradition: The term "cunning man" or "cunning woman" was most widely used in southern England, the Midlands and in Wales. Such people were also frequently known as "wizards", "wise men" or "wise women" or "conjurers". In Cornwall they were sometimes referred to as "pellars", which originated from the term "expellers", referring to the practice of expelling evil spirits. Folklorists often used the term "white witch", though this was not used amongst the ordinary folk as the term "witch" had an evil connotation. The relationship between cunning-craft and witchcraft is controversial. The original cunning folk were often times witch hunters; seeking out and condemning an individual as a witch responsible for some evil or affliction and then performing curses against the supposed offender. Today “Cornish Tradition Witches” are often mistakenly referred to as cunning folk.
Hecatine (Scottish) Tradition: A tradition in The Craft that comes from a Scottish origin which preserves the unique rituals of the Scots. Drawing on the same cultural influences of Pictish Witchcraft they differ in that Pictish is a more solitary practice. A fairly secretive tradition, not much is known of their rituals by outsiders. In Wicca the Caledonii Movement mirrors much of the same practices and the two are often confused.
Nordic Tradition (Seiðr): A type of traditional witchcraft practiced in Norse and Germanic tribal societies which flourished during the Northern European Iron Age. In Norse mythology it is associated with both the god Oðinn and the goddess Freyja. Seiðr practitioners are of both genders, although females are more common. Many of the Nordic female witches are Augury Witches (see above) and are referred to as a Völva ("wand carrier" or "carrier of a magic staff"), who practice meditation or introspection for the purpose of clairvoyance and divination.
Pictish (Scottish) Tradition: Originally from Scotland, it is a "solitary witch" form of "The Craft". Pictish Witchcraft attunes itself to all aspects of nature; animal, vegetable, and mineral and it is more magickal in nature and practice than it is religious. Pictish witches are solitary and rarely, if ever, do they work in groups or covens
Pow-Wow Tradition: (Pennsylvania Dutch Tradition) Taken from the Alonquin word “pauwau", which means literally "vision seeker", its principles encompass shamanic like rituals of healing through visions and the application of traditional medicines, which are often accompanied by prayers, incantations, songs, and dances. The word pauwau (pow-wow) was came to be used for Native American ceremonies and councils because of the important role played by the pauwau in both. The Pow Wow Tradition places great significance on the vision seeker as the nexus of group (coven) activites and rituals. Though some claim that the Pow-Wow Tradition is German in origin, but seems to be more of an amalgamation of local Native American traditions with those traditions of the Dutch immigrants of pagan heritage who settled in the Pennsylvania region of the United States.
Slavic (Russian) Tradition: In traditional Slavic witchcraft, the power of magic is considered a realistic part of life without any link to the devil or demonology. It is believed anybody can learn witchcraft with the proper teaching and that teaching often comes in the form of riddles that the initiate must solve. The Slavic witch often possesses the ability to astral travel and can quite easily fall in and out of trance states. Slavic witches observe three canons during their rituals; nudity, silence and not looking back after the working’s conclusion.
Stregheria (Italian) Tradition: Stregheria (an archaic Italian word for "witchcraft") is sometimes referred to as "La Vecchia Religione" (the old religion). These witches are called Streghe (plural), with the title Strega (for a female) and Stregone (for a male). They follow a tradition that is based on the appreciation of wisdom and beauty. Stregheria is not a singular tradition, but instead a collection of practices that have descended from the native traditions of the Italian/Sicilian regions. It is said by some to be based on the teachings of a 14th century woman named Aradia, but, this does not mean that witchcraft in Italy began in the 14th century. The tradition taught by Aradia was a revival of the Old Ways of the folk religions of the ancient Etruscans and Romans during a time of persecution of the peasants of Italy by the Catholic nobility. To many modern Stregherian Witches most Catholic saints are simply ancient pagan gods dressed in Christian garb and the majority of Stregherians have removed these saints Catholic veneer and restored them to their pagan deity heritage.
Teutonic (Germanic) Tradition:: From ancient times the Teutons have been recognized as a group of people who speak the Germanic group of languages. Culturally, this includes the English, Dutch, Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish peoples. A Teutonic Witch finds inspiration in the differing traditional myths and legends and in the Gods and Goddesses of "The Homeland” where each individual dialect originated. A German Teutonic Witch might differ from the Nordic Tradition, for example, in that they may not focus on manifesting prophetic power like the witches of Scandinavia.
Welsh Tradition: Originating in Wales, Welsh witches believe themselves to be one of the oldest traditions. It is sometimes said to be confined to certain families and members of the family become "awakened" to their calling and pass through 9 levels of attainment. It is theorhetically hereditary, but you can "be adopted" into the tradition.
One of the primary differences between Traditional Witchcraft and the "new age" or "neo-pagan" witchcraft movements is that these modern movements are all "hegemonic entities "of one sort of another, while traditional witches are more solitary in the nature of their practice.
Odinism: The modern revival of an ancient Germanic folk religion widely practiced by various people throughout northern Europe, primarily dedicated to the gods of the Norse pantheon. (Some modern day Odinists often mistakenly refer to themselves as followers of Asatru). Ancient Odinism had the shamanic attributes of Odin and the “trickster god” Loki, as well as the ancient Germanic ‘honor and shame” nature of its warrior centered belief system. Organized Germanic groups such as the Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft began a revival in Germany in the early 20th century, which was first overshadowed and then suppressed by the Nazis Aryan movement. A second revival came in the late 1960s and early 1970s. An extremist element of Odinism (Wotanism) has emerged primarily in the United States over the past few decades, attracting white supremacists who see it as a racially "pure white” religion.
Druidry: In the Celtic religion, the modern words Druid or Druidry denote the practices of the ancient Druids, the priestly class in ancient Britain and Gaul. The historical knowledge of the Druids is very limited, as no Druidic documents have survived. Julius Caesar's ‘The Gallic Wars’ gives the fullest account of the ancient Druids and he describes them as the learned priestly class, who were guardians of the unwritten ancient law and who had the power of executing judgment. To most people today, the Druids conjure up images of a mysterious, religious sect wearing strange robes and conducting archaic ceremonies out in the open air at Stonehenge. However, archeologists have shown that Stonehenge was built, over a during the stone age,long before the emergence of thebronze age Druids and there is no evidence that they ever used Stonehenge as a religious site. Modern Druidism (Neo-druidism) came out of the Romanticism Movement of the 18th Century and is thought to have some, though not many, connections to the Old Religion, instead being based largely on writings produced during and after the 18th Century from second hand sources and comjected theories.
Feri Movement: A modern movement that was begun in the 1940’s by Victor Anderson and originally called the 'Vicia Tradition'. It has its own theology with its own Gods, known as the Star Goddess, the Divine Twins and the Blue God. It utilizes ecstatic sexual practices which seek to raise and use “Feri energy” which is seen as a specific power that is passed between members of the movement. This movement is often confused as being Wiccan and while Feri members make no claims to a Wiccan lineage, a case could be made that Wicca is a child of the Feri Movement.
Humanistic Movement: Adhering to an ideal of “Religious Humanism”, Humanistic practitioners follow a Nature-centered path, as contrasted with a deity-centered path. Humanistic practitioners tend to be atheistic or non-theistic and they define their approach to their interpretation of the Craft through the direct existential experience of the Natural world and not through the intervention of any Gods or Goddesses as they seek direct attunement with the power of Nature.
New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn: An American denomination founded by researcher Aiden Kelly of the Covenant of the Goddess, drawing its foundation on the Victorian era Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It was established 1967 as a poetic theater arts project for San Francisco State College, and has developed into a fully acknowledged religion by 1976. It has an emphasis on poetry, individual intuition, and experiential ritual.
Quantum Mysticism: A term that has been used to describe the attempt to interconnect mystical views to quantum mechanics and its scientific interpretations. Quantum physicists attempt to explain how all dimensions of life and reality consists of "quanta", of "energy" as the vibratory nature of atomic particles in. Mystics attempt to explain how everything in the Universe, in all dimensions of life and reality consists of "prana", of "Qi (or Chi) energy" as the vibratory nature of reality. Quantun Mysticism, viewing the two concepts as harmonious and not contradictory, seeks to establish that both paths lead to the same destination.
Wiccan Movement: Wicca is not"Witchcraft". Witchcraft and Wicca are two separate and distinct paths. Though many Wiccans often incorrectly refer to themselves as whereas, traditional practitioners will never call themselves Wiccan, but will refer to themselves as being a witch, a heathen or they will use another label altogether.
Wicca as a modern organized religion (or some say cult) was developed around 1954 by Gerald Gardner. Wicca, as created by Gardner, is a concoction of ancient Western European folk traditions, mixed with ancient Egyptian and Kabbalistic mysticism. The general public, (and many Wiccans themselves), are under the mistaken belief that Wicca has been brewing up over the millennia in some witch's cauldron rather than it being a mid-20th Century “concoction”. However, historically speaking, there is no evidence of the usage of the word "wicca"prior to 1920 when it first appeared in ‘An Encyclopedia of Occultism’ compiled by Lewis Spence. The word was later usurped by Gardner as a label for his Wiccan Movement and he erroneously claimed “wicca” to be a synonym for the word witchcraft.
Although initially Wicca was based more in magickal pursuits, it has since evolved into more of a New Age religious movement centered around a hegemony of priests and priestesses who administer rites and practices based on a doctrinal system of beliefs (a Wiccan Rede), and with a shifting ethics base within each seperate group or “coven". To be of Wicca you must swear an oath of allegiance and secrecy to the coven in a structured ritual initiation. In short, if no Wiccan priest or priestess with proper initiation themselves puts you through the process, you are not Wiccan. This stands in complete contrast to Witchcraft's tradition of self-awakening and self-empowering in the craft. A Traditional Witch does not swear an oath to another human and is bound only by personal allegiance to their own moral codes and ethics.