There are many traditions of witchcraft that have been practiced throughout history. Some are old, some new, some more traditional and some hybrids. Each has its own principles, practices and beliefs. What's wonderful about witchcraft is there are many directions one can take and you can easily find tradition that works best for you. The following is a sampling of many different traditions. It is by no means a complete list! We will continue to add traditions as we learn more about them.
A note about culturally appropriating traditions. Cultural appropriation can be defined as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Many people around the world practice witchcraft and the practices can vary on the race, ethnicity, culture, history, and beliefs of those places. And unfortunately there have been instances where people or businesses will take elements of traditions and practice them without considering the history and implications of that particular tradition. This is disrespectful to those who have rooted ancestry in this tradition and to the history and origins of those traditions.
With that said, that means there are witchcraft traditions out there that are not culturally open to everyone and should not be disrespected. So be smart, be respectful, and be conscious of your actions to those around you. Learn from other witches and show interest in their practices but don’t take what is not yours.
Some examples (but not a complete list) of practices that are considered “closed’ are:
Native American, Hoodoo, Voodoo, Santería, Shinto, Shamanism, Tagati, Sangoma, Inyanga, Brujería, Makutu
A practice founded in the 1960s by Alex Sanders in England and is loosely based on Gardenarian beliefs.
Recommended Reading: The Temple of High Witchcraft, by Christopher Penczak
Founded by Lady Sheba, American Celtic traditions are based on Outer Court Gardnerian teachings. It focuses on rituals as a psycho-therapeutic device, rather than worship of the devein. They also focus on Ceremonial magic.
Recommended Reading: Celtic Wicca: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century by Jane Raeburn
Arcadian or Aradian*
Similar to the Dianic tradition, they place a large focus on the divine masculine and feminine. Unlike some Dianic groups, they allow both female and male members.
A tradition mostly based upon Alexandrian teachings. It is an initiatory tradition that derives practices from Greco-Roman and Celtic mythology. It is one of the largest and more well-known Witchcraft Traditions in the United States.
A mix of Celtic and Gardenarian practices and based on Farrar studies of Wicca. A witch of this tradition becomes part of a Coven through training, education, and degrees.
A tradition based on the teachings of Laurie Cabot. It practices the belief that witchcraft is a science, art and religion. It also emphasizes psychic development and magic.
Recommended Reading: Power of the Witch: the Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment by Laurie Cabot
A Scottish tradition that is also known as Hecatine. It encompasses many of the festivals and celebrations of the Scottish.
A mix of Celtic/Druidic practices that heavily focuses on the elements, nature and the Ancient Ones. It also has concentrations in healing and nature-related magic, pertaining to plants, animals and stones. This tradition is commonly linked to Neo-Pagan sects.
Recommended Reading: The Book of Celtic Magic: Transformative Teachings from the Cauldron of Awen by Kristoffer Hughes
An American tradition that attempts to reconstruct Wicca as it was before “The Burning Times”.
Also called “the Feminist” movement of witchcraft. This tradition focuses on the Goddess aspects of Witchcraft. It was brought to attention in 1921 by Margaret Murray and includes aspects of Classical and Gothic traditions.
Recommended Reading: The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries by Z. Budapest
This tradition does not follow any particular practices, rituals or ceremonies. This is a tradition that allows the witch to focus on what “feels” best and most comfortable for them. Study and practice is based on information gathered from books, other witches, and more.
Recommended Reading: City Magick, by Christopher Penczak
This tradition focuses on Fae (gnomes, elves, faeries, sprites, etc.) their lore and their role in the modern world. Many associates this tradition with an ancient fairy race called the Tuatha De Danna, mythological precursors to the Celtic people.
Recommended Reading: Tree of Enchantment by Orion Foxwood
A tradition created by Janet and Stewart Farrar. They researched many of the ancient and modern traditions and combined them into one.
Recommended Reading: A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook by Stewart Farrar
A tradition developed in the late 1950s that stems from the traditions of Cora and Victor Anderson. There is a strong emphasis on sensual experience and awareness and sexual mysticism.
Recommended Reading: Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle
Named after its founder Gerald Gardner in the 1950’s. It is heavily focused on the Old Religion and is well known due to Gardner discussing his tradition and practice of Witchcraft to the media.
Recommended Reading: The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald B. Gardner
A tradition founded by George Patterson that is influenced by Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca. It is an initiatory tradition that formats the tradition on the Outer Court information of Wicca. It is a common practice in the United States.
Recommended Reading: The Craft – A Witch’s Book of Shadows by Dorothy Morrison
A form of witchcraft that is centered around magic that involves natural items and places. It focuses more on achieving magic through connecting to the natural world and its energies.
Recommended Reading: Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft (Green Witchcraft Series) by Ann Moura
A tradition that draws from the traditional folk practices of country witches, focusing on the traditions of the “wise women” and the “cunning men”.
Recommended Reading: The Way of the Hedgewitch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
A tradition where members are witches who are born into a witch family and brought up learning about witchcraft.
Recommended Reading: Hereditary Witchcraft: Secrets of the Old Religion by Raven Grimassi
Irish Witta/ Temple of Danaan*
A tradition of Witchcraft and Paganism that focuses on old Irish religion.
A tradition that focuses on witches performing magic based on common household items, jobs and activities. Cooking, growing herbs and cleaning can all be magical rituals and spells. Most within this practice are solitary practitioners who are well-versed in herb lore and folk magic.
Recommended Reading: Kitchen Witchery, by Marilyn F. Daniel
A tradition expanded out of the Wiccan Church of Canada founded by Richard and Tamara James. It has pulled beliefs and practices from Outer Court Alexandrian, Gardnerian and BlueStar practices.
A Scottish tradition that focuses heavily on all aspects of nature. It is a solitary form of witchcraft.
Recommended Reading: Scottish Witchcraft & Magick: The Craft of the Picts by Raymond Buckland
A tradition that generally practices the worship of the Christian Devil, Satan. It can also refer to the occult/ritual magic and the “Left Hand Path” or modern Satanism belief system of Anton LaVey. It is often associated with demonology, black magic and Black Mass.
Recommended Reading: NATURAL SATANIC WITCHCRAFT – Traditional, Spiritual, Orthodox (Volume 1) by Kindra Ravenmoon
A tradition based on Saxon beliefs and closely related to Gardnerian traditions. Raymond Buckland founded the tradition and pulled ancient rituals into modern language and ceremonies.
Recommended Reading: Buckland’s Book of Saxon Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Technically referring to the medicine practices of tribes from Siberia, Shamanism has also been used to refer to medicine practitioners of Asia and the Americas. Practices include contacting non-physical spirits for the purpose of healing, working with animal sprits in physical and non-physical worlds, connecting with nature and practicing herbalism and more.
Recommended Reading: The Shamanic Witch: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Earth and Other Realms by Gail Wood
A religion comprised of two branches: Hatian Vodou and Lousiana Vodoun. It’s is based on the Yoruba and Fon traditions of West Africa. In the sixteenth century, the slave trade began taking people from this area to areas in the Caribbean which created Vodou and cousin religions such as Santería, Macumba, Umbanda and more. Movements of the slave trade brought these religions to New Orleans and the Carolina coast, creating Vodoun. Voodoo is primarily practiced in Haiti and West Africa, with additional large societies in the United States.
Recommended Reading: Vodou Visions by Sallie Ann Glassman
Wicca is a specific religion or spiritual tradition, not just a magical practice. It is also not a synonym for any kind of Witch like many assume. They subscribe to the Wiccan Rede, which states “do what you will but harm none”. Wiccan’s worship a male and female deity, the Lord and Lady (except for Dianic Wicca). They observe Sabbats and Esbats, honor the Wheel of the Year, and cyclical turning of nature’s seasons. Modern Wicca is based on the teachings of Gerald Gardner.
Recommended Reading: The Wicca Handbook, by Eileen Holland