When trying to define Wicca, it can be easier to look at the different traditions and their beliefs. This can help to show the wide scope of practices and approaches, while also giving some sense of how society and its needs informed Wicca, as much as magic informed its practitioners. While this is not a complete listing of all the Wiccan traditions, it is a starting point for learning and finding one’s place in this wide group of witches.
Often seen as the founding group of Wicca, Gerald Gardner started this group after being initiated into a group of witches in England in 1939 and after writing a book on witchcraft. While there are many concerns about whether he was trained or he made up the information, his influence on modern Wicca is undeniable. In this tradition, covens have a high priestess and priest, as well as a lineage that passes down a book of ritual workings. The rituals are done in the nude (skyclad) and they believe in reincarnation and the Wiccan Rede (An it harm none, do what you will). The group members can be initiated into the group and have different degrees, which allow them to take on different roles and know different secrets of the group.
While similar to Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca uses the wand as a symbol for air and the athame/ritual knife for fire. This tradition uses the story of the Holly and Oak Kings to show what happens during the year and celebrates the way they fight, die, and are reborn in ritual. The rules are looser in this tradition, and many consider themselves to be eclectic in their practices.
This is a Wicca group that only includes females in the covens and rituals. Over time, newer Dianic groups are now inviting males to join the groups, but the focus is on woman power and matriarchal structures.
Celtic Wicca (Church of Wicca)
Founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost, Celtic Wicca uses the idea of three circles for rituals and they use different tools as part of their magical workings.
Founded by George Patterson, this eclectic Wicca group focuses on using what works from the Alexandrian tradition and then dismissing what does not.
In this tradition, the participants use humor and chaos to enter magical space and deep work.
Established by Mary Nesnick, this is a Wicca that combines Alexandrian and Gardnerian practices.
Founded in the 1980s in San Francisco by Starhawk and the Collective, Reclaiming Wicca is a group that is non-hierarchical, focused on activism, and engaged in community building through classes, rituals, and week-long camps across the globe.
Blue Star Wicca
Based in Pennsylvania, this Wicca is a group of covens who primarily use the Alexandrian system for ritual workings.
This group of Wicca takes pieces from all the traditions and puts them together as the individual likes. While there are often groups of Wiccans who are eclectic, there are also many solitary practitioners who use what works best for them, while still following the basic Wicca ritual structure.
With so many groups of Wicca practitioners, it’s clear there is something for everyone in this spiritual tradition. If one of these groups calls to you more than others, it might be a good idea to study them further, see what they practice, try it out, and then see if it resonates with you.
In the end, only you can choose the tradition that works best for you and only you can know the magic that can fill your heart.