Witchcraft is as old as man and predates Wicca which is many times mentioned in the same breath. Witchcraft has become an umbrella term that many different traditions fall under including Wicca. These traditions are usually described by the folklore and cultural practices of each tradition. Many of these traditions come from all parts of Europe and the surrounding regions. Witchcraft encompasses a belief in communicating with spirits, connecting with nature and animals, and performing rituals to bring about a desired result through magical means or ritual.
Shamans, medicine men, witchdoctors would all be classified as performing witchcraft. These are the first practitioners of witchcraft and have been around as long as man! If you think about it, it is ironic that the first shamans who existed on different parts of the world, and knew nothing of each other, could have similar beliefs.
In today’s world, traditional witchcraft is usually referring to a particular sect or tradition of witchcraft of European origin. There are many different traditions of witchcraft that are not Wicca and there are even many different traditions of Wicca. They all have similar core beliefs, but can be very different. Please know that there are many more traditions than what is written below, but here are some different traditions:
Alexandrian Wicca – Founded by Alex Sanders and his wife Maxine, Alexandrian Wicca became a popular tradition during the resurgence of modern Paganism. Heavily influenced by Gardner and his tradition, Alexandrian Wicca uses a degree system and has ties to ceremonial magic systems.
Celtic Wicca – Based upon old Celtic and Druidic practices, and ritual Gardnerian design. The emphasis is placed heavily upon Celtic deities, the elements, nature and the magic of trees.
Dianic Tradition- Feminist based craft movement that itself has different variations and traditions. Named after Diana, virgin goddess of the hunt; a stem of the Old Religion which has all-female members.
Eclectic Wicca- Basically a loosely based tradition which uses any practices of other paths and incorporates them into their own.
Gardnerian Wica– Named after Dr. Gerald Gardner its founder and is one of the first traditions to make itself known to the public in the mid 1950’s in England. Gardner was an initiate of a Celtic coven. Raymond Buckland and his wife started it in the United States.
Norse Tradition-Has roots to northern Europe and Germany. Deities are from the Norse Pantheon the Vanir and Aesir which include Odin, Freya, Thor, Tyr and many more.
PectiWita – Developed in Scotland and is attuned to nature and solar and lunar changes
Seax – Wica Founded in 1973 by Raymond Buckland, this tradition incorporates Saxon lore.
Strega Tradition– Stregheria is the old Italian word for Witchcraft and has roots in ancient Etruscan religion