There are many subgroups within the Craft - here is a description of some of them. I definitely haven't got them all, but these are the major ones. The info here applies to the majority of followers of these trads (that's short for "traditions", for anyone wondering). If you're a follower of a trad I've listed here and you know I've gotten something wrong, please e-mail me and let me know so I can correct it. It can be difficult to find out some things about some trads, because many of their practices are oathbound.
Also, a word on initiation - many of these trads only recognise initiation of a Witch by another initiated Witch. Personally, I think you become a Witch through study and learning about the Craft, not when someone inducts you. Think about it - who initiated the first Witch?
Began: In the 1960s, by Alexander and Maxine Sanders.
The God and Goddess: The God and Goddess are seen as equals.
Practices: Based largely on Gardnerian Wicca. Skyclad practice is optional and ceremonial magick practices such as Qabbalah may be part of ritual.
Initiation: Alexandrians also believe that only a Witch can make another Witch. There are three degrees of initiation - only a second or third degree witch can initiate another, and only a third degree witch can initiate another to third degree. Some groups have a neophyte degree in addition to the usual three.
Notes: Alexandrians take the attitude "if it works, use it" â€“ they tend to combine aspects from many traditions. It is also a matrifocal organisation â€“ the High Priestess is considered first among equals.
Began: Probably before Christianity.
The God and Goddess: God and Goddess are seen as equals.
Practices: A mix of Celtic and Gardnerian practices, from what we can gather - their Book of Shadows is oathbound. Existed before Gardnerian and Alexandrian.
Initiation: Only a Witch can make another Witch. There are degrees of initiation, which non-initiates don't know much about. :)
Notes: Defined as having received (via initiatory lineage) and maintained an established body of lore and practice passed down from generation to generation. Originates in the New Forest area of England. Very secretive.
Began: The basics principles predate Christianity.
The God and Goddess: Balance between the God and Goddess.
Practices: There's no exact standard, but generally a Celtic/Druidic pantheon is used, mixed with Gardnerian practices. Heavy emphasis on the magickal and healing properties of plants and minerals.
Initiation: Varies from group to group.
Notes: More Druid than Wicca.
Began: First identified in 1921.
The God and Goddess: Heavy emphasis on the Goddess, with little (if any) focus the God.
Practices: A mix of many aspects of different traditions.
Initiation: Varies from group to group.
Notes: Sometimes described as the â€˜feminist movementâ€™ of the Craft. Many members are political activists.
Began: Founded in the early 20th century (probably around the 1940s) by Gerald G. Gardner.
The God and Goddess: Goddess and God are equal.
Practices: Gardnerian covens are autonomous. Ritual is important but a family atmosphere within the group is more so. Everything in Gardnerian is arranged male to female, female to male. Work skyclad.
Initiation: Gardnerian tradition dictates that only a Witch can make a Witch and furthermore only a Gardnerian can make a Gardnerian. There are three degrees of initiation, and part of the equality of the sexes in Gardnerian covens is that a woman is initiated by a man, and a man by a woman. They believe in the physical passing on of power through lineage.
Notes: Gardnerian Wicca is largely a mystery, with oaths of secrecy, so not much detail is known about their practices. The High Priestess and High Priest are first among equals.
Began: In 1970/1971 by George Patterson.
The God and Goddess: Balance between the God and Goddess, but the Goddess is considered more important.
Practices: A mix of many aspects of different traditions, mostly Alexandrian and Gardnerian. Practitioners may or may not work skyclad.
Initiation: Shares the belief that only a Witch can make a Witch.
Notes: It is a secretive tradition, with a heavy emphasis on students researching and better understanding the Craft.
Began: Started by Raymond Buckland in 1973.
The God and Goddess: Balance between the God and Goddess (given Norse-influenced names).
Practices: A mix of many aspects of different traditions, with roots in Saxon practices. Covens are autonomous and democratic. Practitioners may or may not work skyclad. Both God and Goddess celebrated on the Sabbats and on esbats.
Initiation: Recognises self-initiation.
Notes: Uses runic alphabet extensively.
Began: Dates to the 14th century C.E.
The God and Goddess: Balance between the God and Goddess, given different names.
Practices: An Italian nature-based religion, similar to Wicca â€“ male and female halves of deity, ritual, magick, seasonal celebrations, reincarnation, the law of action and reaction, etc â€“ but with some practical and philosophical differences. Some work skyclad and some do not.
Initiation: For the most part, it appears that it is a case of being initiated, not initiating yourself.
Notes: â€œStregheriaâ€ is an archaic Italian word meaning â€œwitchcraftâ€. Also sometimes called â€œLa Vecchia Religioneâ€ (â€œthe Old Religionâ€).
This is my favourite tradition, because I follow it myself. I suppose it isn't really a tradition, per se - it involves picking and mixing from all the other traditions out there to create your own, with which you are absolutely comfortable. By its very nature, eclectic Wicca is a self-initiation thing, and the structure is completely up to you: you can choose whether or not to worship the God and Goddess equally, to work magick or not, and whether you work skyclad or in robes and anything you like. Whether you're studying for 3rd degree Alexandrian initiation or collecting practices for your own eclectic trad, we're all walking the same path - pick the practices that feel right to you.