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© Storm Genevieve Black 2015. All Rights Reserved

First published in Townsville Soul Newsletter July 2015

There are many levels and branches to the craft. Not of ability but of decision. It is your choice how involved you get, how deeply you believe and participate. That is not to say that doing a spell for yourself, or attending an open festival style ritual event, automatically makes you a witch. There is far more to practising the craft than just magic. Indeed there are many people of other faiths who attend open rituals and who have also been known to use the odd spell every now and again. If you wish to explore the craft there are open groups, who require only a little commitment. If you do choose to follow this path fully you may feel that only a coven will answer your needs. Be warned however, as with all relationships it can take a long time to find a coven that suits you, and even then they may not feel you are right for them. You may in the end decide that the solitary practice of hedgewitchcraft is best for you. This will allow you to work your way up to whichever level you feel most comfortable with. Although this can take a long time as you will mainly be your own teacher, learning only from your own practices and mistakes.

There are also many branches to consider. You may research all of them as much as you can, pick the one you think is right for you at the time and then still find you have made the wrong choice (because who hasn't made a mistake in their youth). In this situation you will generally find that you  grow away from your original choice to find something more suited to you anyway. Some covens and groups have a long training process. During which it will become clear to everyone whether you can or cannot work together. If you work alone it may take more time for the realisation to set in. With that in mind there follows a brief guide to what sort of thing you can expect from various branches. If you are still unsure I suggest you continue researching until you find something you feel connects with you. Then try it before you make a lifetime commitment. Whatever you choose, enjoy the discovery.

Paganism- A belief rooted in nature and the seasonal changes to the land. Most Pagans worship many Gods, and like Christians they pray for any help they need rather than. Thus avoiding any responsibility for anything that may happen as a result of their actions. Paganism is usually the first religion folk feel a connection with before they explore other branches as there is more information readily available about Paganism than many other, more clandestine branches.

Druidry- Dates back to pre-Christianity. Druids were the priesthood of the Celts. They worshipped and communicated with the Elder Gods. Druids were the most important members of any community because they were the doctors, judges, and teachers as well as the priests. During the persecution Druidry and those who practised it retreated underground. Modern Druids now follow a type of witchcraft, celebrating the Sabbats with rituals.

Sorcery- The Sorcerer has always been a mix of Druid and Witch. Like the Druids they were the most important person in the clan, though they often moved between communities rather than remaining a member of any single one. A single Sorcerer would have been the doctor, judge and teacher of the clan they were living with at the time. They were so revered because they had the ability and knowledge of the craft behind them.

Wicca- (Gardinarian) Probably taught to Gerald Brosseau Gardner by Dorothy Cluterbuck, High Priestess of the New Forest Coven. Gardner wrote “High Magic's Aid” the first book on Witchcraft disguised as a story under the name Scryer before the Witchcraft Act was repealed in England in 1951. Gardinarian Wicca can be dated back to 1954

Wicca- (Alexandrian) Opinions differ, Either taught to Orrell Alexander (Alex) Sanders  by his grandmother or adapted from “The Gardinarian Book of Shadows”. There is more Cabala taught in Alexandrian Wicca

In both cases the term Wicca in England is used solely to describe followers initiated into a Gardinarian or Alexandrian line. In America however, all Witchcraft is considered Wicca. Wicca is primarily concerned with the gaining of power.

Traditional Witchcraft- In the Dark ages, long before the persecution, Traditional Witchcraft formed the religion of ordinary people. During the persecution covens split into groups insuring that if one was captured it would not lead to others. This caused small groups to go in separate ways and the Craft evolved over time, taking in new influences from each invading peoples. Now that so many branches have emerged we can see how these differences appear.