Different Types of 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: One who combines both the practices of witchcraft and ceremonial magic. They may use a combination of disciplines drawn from the Old Ways, but will often employ more scientific precisions such as sacred mathematics and quantum mysticism as well. They will also call upon an eclectic blend of spiritual entities, leaning towards archetypal figures representative of the energies they wish to manifest. They are more spiritually centered than most ceremonial magicians, using an Earth-centered path with focus on the Divine within.
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.
Faery 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 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.
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.
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.
Solitary Witch (Solitaire): This is one who practices alone, without a coven 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 after practicing for several lifetimes, the knowledge of "The Craft" is awakened upon passing puberty.
Satanic Witch: "They are not witches" Witches do not worship Satan.
Warlock: In common, but incorrect usage, the definition of a warlock is “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 prefer to be known simply as witches and never refer to themselves as warlocks, many of whom find the term offensive. The commonest 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". Conversely though, the word "waerlak" meant "honor bound" and exactly which word became associated with witchcraft remains one of speculation. The term "oath breaker" may have been applied to witches as they "broke their oaths" with the Christian church. Though not a common term, some wiccans apply the term "warlocking" to the ejection of a member from their group or coven.
Different Traditions of Witchcraft
Appalachian 'Granny' Tradition: A tradition dating 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 Traditions: 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.
British Tradition: Primarily a mixture of traditional Celtic and pagan beliefs from the pre-Christian era. They often train through a structured degree process and their covens are usually compromised of practitioners of both sexes. (Not to be confused with "British Traditional Wicca". [see below])
Caledonii (Hecatine) Tradition: A denomination of The Craft that comes from a Scottish origin which preserves the unique rituals of the Scots. A fairly secretive tradition, not much is known of their rituals by outsiders.
Celtic Tradition: Practitioners of the Elements, the Ancient Ones and of Nature. They are usually healers who work with plants, stones, flowers, trees, the Elements, the gnomes, the fauns and the fairies.
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)
Dianic Tradition: A mixture of different traditions. Its primary focus is the Goddess who is worshiped in her three aspects of Maiden, Mother and Crone. A "divine feminine tradition", its covens are mostly for women only. (see: Arcadian Tradition) To an outside observer, Dianic Witchcraft may appear as a single tradition, but actually it is an intertwined group of traditions that have influenced each other over the centuries and millenia.
Pictish 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.
Pow-Wow Tradition: (from the Algonquin 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, it is more of an amalgamation of local Native American traditions with those traditions of the German/Dutch immigrants of pagan heritage who settled in the Pennsylvania region of the United States.
Strega Tradition: Originally coming from Italy and Sicily, it is said by some to be based on the teachings of a 14th century woman named Aradia. 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.
Teutonic (Nordic) Tradition: From ancient times the Teutons have been recognized as a group of people who speak the Germanic group of languages. A Teutonic Witch finds inspiration in the traditional myths and legends and in the Gods and Goddesses of the areas where these dialects originated.
Welsh Tradition: Originating in Wales, Welsh witches believe themselves to be one of the oldest traditions. Members are "awakened" to their calling and pass through 9 levels of attainment. It is hereditary, but you can "convert"..
One of the primary differences between Traditional Witchcraft and neo-pagan 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.
British Traditional Wicca (BTW): A term used to describe the Wiccan Movement, the most prominent of which are Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. Not to be confused with those who practice traditional witchcraft in the British traditions of ancient Celtic origins, Wiccans practice a modern pagan religion, more in line with the new age, humanist movement.
Cunning Folk: 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.
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 the Druids as the learned priestly class, who were guardians of the unwritten ancient customary 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 period of centuries, from 2800 BC to 1550 BC, long before the arrival of the ancient Celts and there is no evidence that the ancient Druids ever used Stonehenge. 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 theories.
Theosophy: Theosophy, or divine wisdom, refers either to the mysticism of philosophers who believe that they can understand the nature of some god by direct apprehension, without revelation, or it refers to the esotericism of mystical and occult philosophies that claim to be handing down the lost secrets of some ancient wisdom to a group of chosen initiates. The Theosophy Movement began with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, (usually referred to as Madame Blavatsky), one of the co-founders, in 1875 of the Theosophical Society in New York, and who is considered to be either a divinely inspired saint or a shameless impostor depending on who you ask. Certain other mystical occult groups of the period, such as the Rosicrucian Order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and splinter groups coming out of Freemasonry, also became part of this movement, drawing on elements of the practices of the Egyptian and/or Kabalistic mystical orders and are not related to the Goddess centered practices of Traditional Witchcraft.