Traditional witchcraft

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Traditional witchcraft is a term used to refer to a variety of contemporary forms of witchcraft. Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White described it as "a broad movement of aligned magico-religious groups who reject any relation to Gardnerianism and the wider Wiccan movement, claiming older, more "traditional" roots. Although typically united by a shared aesthetic rooted in European folklore, the Traditional Craft contains within its ranks a rich and varied array of occult groups, from those who follow a contemporary Pagan path that is suspiciously similar to Wicca to those who adhere to Luciferianism".[1]

According to British Traditional Witch Michael Howard, the term refers to "any non-Gardnerian, non-Alexandrian, non-Wiccan or pre-modern form of the Craft, especially if it has been inspired by historical forms of witchcraft and folk magic".[2] Another definition was offered by Daniel A. Schulke, the current Magister of the Cultus Sabbati, when he proclaimed that traditional witchcraft "refers to a coterie of initiatory lineages of ritual magic, spellcraft and devotional mysticism".[3]

Some forms of traditional witchcraft are the Feri Tradition, Cochrane's Craft and the Sabbatic craft.[4]

In 1981, three pseudonymous authors published Wicca: The Ancient Way, in which they used traditional witchcraft to refer to Gardnerian Wicca.[5]

Cochrane’s Craft[edit]

Cochrane’s Craft, which is also known as Cochranianism, is a tradition of traditional witchcraft founded in 1951 by the English Witch Robert Cochrane, who himself claimed to have been taught it by some of his elderly family members, a claim that is disputed by some historians such as Ronald Hutton and Leo Ruickbie.

Cochranianism revolved around the veneration of the Horned God and the Mother Goddess, alongside seven polytheistic deities which are viewed as children of the God and Goddess. Cochranian Witchcraft has several features that separate it from other traditions such as Gardnerian Wicca, such as its emphasis on mysticism and philosophy, and Cochrane's attitude that it was not pagan, but only based upon paganism.[6]

Feri Tradition[edit]

The Feri Tradition (which is a different tradition than Faery, Fairy, Faerie, or Vicia) is an initiatory tradition of Witchcraft distinct from Wicca. It is an ecstatic (rather than fertility) tradition stemming from the experience of Cora and Victor Anderson. Strong emphasis is placed on sensual experience and awareness, including sexual mysticism, which is not limited to heterosexual expression.[7] The Feri Tradition has very diverse influences, such as Huna, Vodou, Faery lore, Kabbalah, Hoodoo, Tantra, and Gnosticism.

Among the distinguishing features of the Feri tradition is the use of a specific Feri power or energetic current.[7] Feri witches often see themselves as "fey": outside social definitions and intentionally living within paradox. They believe that much of reality is unseen, or at least has uncertain boundaries. Within the tradition there is a deep respect for the wisdom of nature, a love of beauty, and an appreciation of bardic and mantic creativity.

Core teachings acknowledged by most branches of the tradition include the concepts of the Three Souls and the Black Heart of Innocence, the tools of the Iron and Pearl Pentacle (now commonly also used by Reclaiming (Neopaganism)), as well as an awareness of "energy ecology", which admonishes practitioners to never give away or waste their personal power. Trance experiences and personal connection to the Divine are at the heart of this path, leading to a wide variety of practices throughout the larger body of the tradition.

In his study of Wicca, Pagan studies scholar Ethan Doyle White characterised Feri as a "Wiccan" tradition.[8] He noted however that some practitioners of modern Pagan Witchcraft restrict the term "Wicca" to British Traditional Wicca, in which case Feri would not be classified as "Wicca"; he deemed this exclusionary definition of the term to be "unsuitable for academic purposes".[9] Instead, he characterised Feri as one form of Wicca which is nevertheless distinct from others, such as British Traditional Wicca, Dianic Wicca, and Stregheria.[10]

Sabbatic craft[edit]

Sabbatic craft, a term coined by Andrew D. Chumbley, is described as "an initiatory line of spirit-power that can inform all who are receptive to its impetus, and which – when engaged with beyond names – may be understood as a Key unto the Hidden Design of Arte."[11] Chumbley sometimes referred to the Nameless Faith,[12] Crooked Path, and Via Tortuosa.[11][13] He reserved "Sabbatic Craft" as a unifying term to refer to the "convergent lineages"[11] of the "Cultus Sabbati," a body of traditional witchcraft initiates.[13]

Chumbley's works and those of Daniel Schulke on the Cultus Sabbati's "ongoing tradition of sorcerous wisdom"[12] continue to serve as the prototypical reference works. The craft is not an ancient, pre-Christian tradition surviving into the modern age. It is a tradition rooted in "cunning-craft," a patchwork of older magical practice and later Christian mythology.

‘Sabbatic Craft’ describes a corpus of magical practices which self-consciously utilize the imagery and mythos of the "Witches' Sabbath" as a cipher of ritual, teaching and gnosis. This is not the same as saying that one practises the self-same rituals in the self-same manner as the purported early modern "witches" or historically attested cunning folk, rather it points toward the fact that the very mythos which had been generated about both "witches" and their "ritual gatherings" has been appropriated and re-orientated by contemporary successors of cunning-craft observance, and then knowingly applied for their own purposes.

— Andrew Chumbley defining Sabbatic Craft [11]

In his grimoire Azoëtia, Chumbley incorporated diverse iconography from ancient Sumerian, ancient Egyptian, Yezidi, and Aztec cultures.[13] He spoke of a patchwork of ancestral and tutelary spirit folklore which he perceived amidst diverse "Old Craft" traditions in Britain as "a gnostic faith in the Divine Serpent of Light, in the Host of the Gregori, in the Children of Earth sired by the Watchers, in the lineage of descent via Lilith, Mahazael, Cain, Tubal-cain, Naamah, and the Clans of the Wanderers."[11] Schulke believed that folk and cunning-crafts of Britain absorbed multicultural elements from "Freemasonry, Bible divination, Romany charms, and other diverse streams,"[13] what Chumbley called "dual-faith observance," referring to a "co-mingling of ‘native’ forms of British magic and Christianity".[13]



  1. ^ Doyle White 2011, pp. 205–206.
  2. ^ Howard 2011. p. 15.
  3. ^ Schulke 2006.
  4. ^ Howard 2011. p. 17.
  5. ^ Doyle White 2010. p. 197.
  6. ^ Howard, Mike (2001). The Roebuck in the Thicket: An Anthology of the Robert Cochrane Witchcraft Tradition. Capall Bann.  Chapter One.
  7. ^ a b "The Faery Tradition" ©1988, 1995, 2000 Anna Korn
  8. ^ Doyle White 2016, p. 46.
  9. ^ Doyle White 2016, p. 161.
  10. ^ Doyle White 2016, p. 162.
  11. ^ a b c d e Chumbley, Andrew D.; Howard, Michael; Fitzgerald, Robert (February 2002). "An Interview with Andrew D. Chumbley" (PDF). The Cauldron (103). In essence, the Crooked Path Teachings intend a direct means of autonomous initiation into the Knowledge of the Magical Quintessence. 
  12. ^ a b Chumbley, Andrew D. (May 2002). "Cultus Sabbati: Provenance, Dream and Magistry". The Cauldron (104). 
  13. ^ a b c d e Schulke, Daniel A. (November 2006). "Way and Waymark—Considerations of Exilic Wisdom in the Old Craft". The Cauldron (122). 


Academic sources[edit]

  • Doyle White, Ethan (2010). "The Meaning of "Wicca": A Study in Etymology, History and Pagan Politics". The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. 12 (2): 185–207. doi:10.1558/pome.v12i2.185. 
  • Doyle White, Ethan (2011). "Robert Cochrane and the Gardnerian Craft: Feuds, Secrets, and Mysteries in Contemporary British Witchcraft". The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. 13 (2): –. doi:10.1558/pome.v13i2.205. 
  • Hutton, Ronald (1999). The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198207443. 

Non-academic sources[edit]

  • Howard, Michael (2011). Children of Cain: A Study of Modern Traditional Witches. Richmond Vista, California: Three Hands Press. 
  • Schulke, Daniel S. (November 2006). "Way and Waymark". The Cauldron. 122. 
  • Morgan, Lee (2013). A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional Witchcraft. Moon Books
  • De Mattos Frisvold, Nicholaj (2014). Craft of the Untamed: An Inspired Vision of Traditional Witchcraft. Mandrake
  • diGregorio, Sophia (2012). What's Next After Wicca? Non-Wiccan Occult Practices and Traditional Witchcraft. Winter Tempest Books
  • Gary, Gemma (2011). Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways. Troy Books
  • Huson, Paul (1970). Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens

Exterior links[edit]