A short report on the most common types of Witchcraft, from secular to ceremonial.
Types of Witchcraft
Just like with Wiccans and Neopagans, Witches draw from many diverse traditions and influences. There are secular and religious witches; those who honour a Goddess and a God, those who honour many gods and those who are agnostic or even atheistic. Not all Witches are Neopagan or Wiccan. There are Satanic Witches, and you will read a little more about the types of Witches below.
Also note that you do NOT need to identify with any of the types written below. You can also choose to identify with one or even SEVERAL types. Your path is yours alone.
- Ceremonial Witchcraft
These are Witches who combine Witchcraft with ceremonial magick – a bit more spiritual perhaps than most ceremonial magicians. They often use elaborate and intricate rituals that they follow to the letter.
- Eclectic Witch
Eclectic Witches mix and match their own path from the myriad of available traditions. Instead of following one specific tradition, they use parts from many different systems that work for them.
- Elemental Witch
An Elemental Witch doesn’t focus her energy in ritual on the theistic matters, rather she focuses on the four (or five) elements – Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Spirit – and uses them, symbolically and practically, in her rituals and magick.
- Green/Garden Witch
A Green Witch focuses on natural items; often utilizing flowers, herbs and stones in their craft. They often practice their arts outdoors to get closer to the Divinity, which is – as they see it – natural.
- Hedge Witch
The term “hedge” has to do with the boundary that exists between this world and the spiritual realm. A Hedge Witch is therefore often naturally shamanic and can possess healing tendencies. These are the Witches involved in spirit travels and journeys into the Otherworld.
- Kitchen/Cottage Witch
This is a Witch who uses whatever tools are at hand in her own home. For instance, regular kitchen knives and spices, and a common vacuum cleaner to sweep away negative energy. It also has to do with working more mundane tasks and not particularly about high magick as, let’s say, the Ceremonial Witch.
- Atheistic Satanic (LaVeyan) Witchcraft
Witchcraft worked around Satan as a concept, rather than a real entity. They fit the description of the Secular Witch.
- Theistic Satanic Witchcraft
This is witchcraft worked around Satan as real entity and he is honoured in spells and rituals.
- Secular Witch
This is someone who practices Witchcraft without using any theistic tendencies or using deities in their magick. They connect with the natural world and often believe in magick from a natural perspective as opposed to a more spiritual approach. They work with plants and stones and perhaps the elements but not worship those as godforms.
- Urban Witch
The Urban Witch is often engaged in Metromancy – harnessing the power of the big city, often working with energy currents from power lines and using modern archetypes such as finding Aphrodite on the dance floor of a club. They often attune themselves to the busyness of the crowds rather than shy away from them and engage with the spirit of the city.
Traditions in Witchcraft
Just like there are different types of Witchcraft, there are also different traditions of witchcraft, depending on physical origins. This list is by no means conclusive; there are many other traditions out there – I simply can’t list them all.
- African Tradition
In Africa, different tribes refer to Witchcraft in different ways. But generally, most traditions use three classes of practitioners: the “witch” who curses, the “diviner” who gives advice and the “witch doctor” who cures and helps the ill and the injured.
- Karelian/Finnish Tradition
This is the tradition of the folk magic of Karelia (nowadays a part of modern Russia) and the eastern Finns of Finland. The Karelians had “tietäjät” professional magicians, who took care of the ill and cured diseases. They share the same societal function as the shaman, with the exception that a tietäjä didn’t leave their bodies but instead used intricate spells and incantations to dispel evil.
- Nordic Tradition/Sejd/Seiðr
This is a reconstruction of the Craft associated with the Norse and Germanic pre-Christian socities. Sejd practitioners are any gender and many practice clairvoyance and other means of divination. It’s closely linked to the Norse mythology and therefore the god Odin and the goddess Frigg or the goddess Freya.
- Russian/Slavic Tradition
The Slavic tradition is associated with trance states and astral travel but not associated with Siberian Shamanism. It is part of the Russian as well as the former Yugoslavian heritage.
Neopagan Movements that utilise magick
Asatrú is a polytheistic and reconstructionist form of Old Norse paganism, today falling under the Neopagan movement. The mythology revolves around the Eddas and around gods like Thor, Odin and Loke and goddesses such as Frigg and Freya. Many Asatrúar are also Witches, but far from all.
- Druidry or Neo-Druidism
It is a form of modern religion that venerates the nature. It shares many similarities with Celtic Wicca and Celtic Reconstructionst Paganism. The Neo-Druids respect their ancestors and believe in reincarnation. Neo-druidic rituals are held at stone circles and megaliths, the most notable being the Summer Solstice celebration at Stonehenge.
The Feri Tradition is an ecstatic movement (rather than a fertility movement such as Wicca) and includes sexual mysticism. It revolves around the deities the Star Goddess, the Divine Twins, the Peacock God and the Feri Guardians. It started in the 1940s.
Wicca is Neopagan movement which honours a triple-form Goddess and the Horned God. I have written an introduction to the Wiccan religious principles. Wicca itself has a lot of different denominations, or traditions as they are called.