The Jackal, Stag, and Crescent

From the necropolis to the moonlit grove

Tag: gardnerian wicca

A Gardnerian Statement on Consent & Abuse




I am a Gardnerian initiate with traceable lineage back to Gerald Gardner. I do not speak for all Gardnerians or for the tradition as a whole. That would be impossible as there is no governing body nor hierarchy outside of individual autonomous covens. Nonetheless:

  • I recognize that abuses have been perpetrated in the name of religions the world over and ours is no exception.
  • I further know that the personal, spiritual, and human value of religion is immeasurable, making harm done in its name even more important to speak out against.
  • I also recognize that, as a community, more vocal statements on our beliefs regarding sex, sexuality, and consent are needed.
  • I additionally recognize that a lack of openness and transparency on these important matters has allowed abuses to be perpetrated against those earnestly seeking the tradition.


  • I affirm that proper teachers of our Craft will never pressure students into sex, sexual activity, or other non-consensual physical contact for any reason.
  • I affirm that consent is an inviolable expression of trust and love.
  • I affirm that consent is required for the teaching of our Craft.
  • I affirm that I believe that seekers under the tutelage of proper Gardnerian teachers have the following rights:
    • the right to bodily autonomy,
    • the right to an experience free of sexual coercion,
    • the right to an experience free of abuse, and
    • the right to leave a coven or teacher at any time, especially if their rights have been violated.
  • I further affirm that seekers who feel that they have had their consent and rights violated should be heard and be taken seriously.
  • I affirm that maintaining an open dialogue on consent and abuses within our community, and with the greater Pagan community, is necessary to dispel misinformation about our tradition.
  • I affirm that I will support the voices of victims and that they will be able to report abuse without fear of retaliation.
  • I affirm that abusers should be held accountable for their actions and I will do so to the extent possible, whenever possible. Individuals and/or groups who violate the consent and/or rights of those under their care will be persona non-grata within my Circles and events and refused referral to seekers.

I invite other Gardnerian initiates, elders, and coven leaders who agree with the affirmations above to add their names.

We do so affirm:

  • Benny Bargas, Philadelphia, PA USA
  • Erebus, Highlands Coven, Louisville, KY USA
  • Mortellus, High Priestess of The Coven of Leaves, Rutherfordton, NC USA
  • ZS, Philadelphia, PA USA
  • Hjordis, High Priestess, Awen Forge Coven, PA USA
  • Mario Pabón-McAllister, High Priest, Queens’ Coven, New York City, NY USA
  • John Stiteler, High Priest of the Stillwater Coven, MN USA
  • Claudiney Prieto, High Priest of the Moon Temple Coven, Brazil
  • Yarilo, Jersey City Coven, NJ USA
  • Carol Stiteler, High Priestess of the Stillwater Coven, MN USA
  • Aima, High Priestess of Dragon Tryst Coven, Oxford, PA USA
  • Dylan, High Priest of the Beacon Hill Coven, Boston MA USA
  • Bren, Starfire Coven, NY USA
  • Samara, High Priestess , the Highlands Coven, Louisville, KY USA
  • Sophia Boann, High Priestess of the Cup of Wisdom coven, Ireland
  • Serapis, Cauldron of the Midnight Moon, Pace, FL USA
  • Raewen, High Priestess of the Awakened Forest, Wake Forest, NC USA
  • Sirana, Beacon Hill Coven, Boston, MA USA
  • Zelena, HeartSong, MD USA
  • Carnelian, HeartSong, MD USA
  • Kore, Dragon Tryst, PA USA
  • Nicanthiel, Dragon Tryst, PA USA
  • Heather, High Priestess,  LindenWood Coven, Waterloo ON Canada
  • John, High Priest, LindenWood Coven, Waterloo ON Canada
  • Emlyn Price, Reading, UK
  • Medb, High Priestess of Serpent Tree Coven, Warwick, RI USA
  • Morgaine, High Priestess Path of the Phoenix Coven, NH USA
  • Anna Stockinger High Priestess, Our Lady of the Stars Coven, Southport, England
  • Guinivere, Dragon Tryst, PA USA
  • Sherri Molloy, LindenWood Coven, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
  • Ishara, High Priestess of Whispering Forest Coven, FL USA
  • Turner, High Priest of Whispering Forest Coven, FL USA
  • Hermes, NJ USA
  • Acacia, High Priestess of the Glenwood Coven, North West Florida, USA
  • Puma, High Priest of Thorn Moon, Portland, OR USA
  • Misha Magdalene, Seattle, WA USA
  • AuraLea, High Priestess, HeartSong, MD USA
  • Europa, Minneapolis, MN USA
  • Epona, High Priestess of Autumn Moon Coven, NC USA
  • Adariana, High Priestess, Circle of the Silver Oak, MN USA
  • Rayn, High Priestess Of Hexen Moon Coven, TN USA
  • Wesley Leão, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Lilith, High Priestess of HearthStone Coven, MA USA
  • Kailani, HeartSong, MD USA
  • Rich Wandel, High Priest, Polyhymnia Coven
  • Proteus, Coven of Leaves, NC USA
  • Ian, High Priest, Circle of the Four Winds, UK
  • Aria, High Priestess of the Beacon Hill Coven, Boston MA USA
  • Yvonne Aburrow, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
  • Jenny Chalek, High Priestess, Lions of Rhea, Louisville, KY USA
  • Patrick, StarFire Coven, NY USA
  • DelaLuna, Detroit, MI USA
  • Loki, Serpent Tree Coven, RI USA
  • Kim Gardner, High Priestess, Sacred Grove Coven
  • Zemyna, High Priestess, Moonstone Coven, Southern NJ USA
  • John King, High Priest, SwansCove Coven, New York USA
  • Paula King, High Priestess, SwansCove Coven, New York USA
  • Chris Frey, High Priest, Erntemond Coven, Bochum, Germany

To read this statement in Portuguese, click here.


Have you been affected by sexual assault? You are not alone. You can contact RAINN at 800.656.HOPE or online at

For a printable PDF version of this statement to give to your potential students or take to a potential teacher, click here.

10 Misconceptions about Traditional Wicca(ns)

10. Traditional Wicca and eclectic Wicca are basically the same because all the rites have been published and/or Traditional Wiccan authors published a book about Wicca that has rituals!


“Did you see Beltheseda? She walked into the Sabbat like she was the Pope. Hashtag-awkward.”

It’s certainly true that many a number of Traditional Wiccans have published volumes on Witchcraft and Wicca and I certainly would never suggest that these Elders of our Craft are not experts or pioneers deserving of the name. However, there are at least two problems with this argument.

In the first, one must remember that Traditional Wicca is a living tradition and an experiential praxis. It cannot be replicated with rubrics and texts. It would be not unlike suggesting that one could know what it is like to experience one’s first orgasm simply by reading about others’ experiences, impressions, and analyses of the experience. It simply cannot do it any sort of justice, let alone approach any meaningful understanding. What’s more, the experience of the cult can vary greatly from coven to coven in many regards and any attempt to reduce and replicate those varied experiences into a book would be doomed to failure.

Secondly, Traditional Wicca has neither a centralized authority nor a single spokesperson who can encapsulate all that Traditional Wicca is and package it for the masses. There is not nor has there ever been a Wiccan Pope who could “authorize” a version of Wicca fit for public consumption.

9. Traditional Wiccans think everyone should do what they do!

Absolutely not! There’s a common belief amongst Traditional Wiccans that those who are meant to be among us will find their way and those who were not meant to be will either never find the path or will not last very long. Many Traditional Wiccans recognize and appreciate that this particular path is not for everyone and, conversely, not everyone is a fit for this particular path! Traditional Wicca is not messianic; there is no desire amongst Traditional Wiccans to convert the unsaved masses to our cult.

8. Traditional Wiccans want to stop non-traditional/self-taught/bootstrap Wiccans from using the word Wicca!

Granted, in recent years, there has been a lot of discussion and debate about the use of the term “Wicca”. There are certainly people, initiated Traditional Wiccans and not, who believe that the term Wicca only applies to Traditional Wiccans. But likewise, there are Traditional Wiccans who believe that the term can apply to any number of related Witchcraft traditions. But the idea that those in the former group want to actively prevent people who are not Traditional Wiccans from using the term is hyperbolic. Discussions and debates on the matter tend to incite passions and spirited arguments but I have yet to witness any concerted effort or campaigns to stop others from using the term.

7. Traditional Wiccans don’t recognize the validity of other traditions or persons calling themselves Wiccan.

You will find that many of the aforementioned discussions and debates on the proper use and matter of who is entitled to use the term Wicca is based on semantics. It is a matter of terminology, not validity. No one can determine the validity of another’s spiritual practice and Traditional Wiccans are not in the business of arbitrating on the matter any more than Druids or Unitarian Universalists. Questioning the authenticity of someone’s choice in label is not the same as questioning the validity of someone’s spiritual path; the label is not the thing.

6. You can be a Traditional Wiccan and not a Witch.

Quite frankly, no. While great pains are made in modern Pagan circles and communities to make it clear that not all Witches are Wiccan, the inverse is not true. Traditional Wicca was the first Witch cult of the modern era and before Traditional Wiccans no one identified as a Witch. To practice the rites of the Wicca is to practice Witchcraft; a Traditional Wiccan who is not a Witch is an oxymoron. But, a more detailed and far more humorous analysis of this can be found at our favorite Gardnerians blog

5. Being a part of Traditional Wicca means that every ritual is exactly the same; there’s no room for innovation, experimentation, or novelty.

Nonsense. While you may have seen it said many times by Traditional Wiccans of all stripes that we share a common praxis as an orthopraxy, that does not mean that every ritual is exactly the same in every respect nor does it mean that Traditional Wiccans do not innovate, experiment, or try new things. In fact, the coven setting is the perfect place to do all of those wonderfully enriching things!

4. You can’t be LGBT+ and a Traditional Wiccan.

Again, more nonsense. In all fairness, many of our early leaders did make statements to such effect and claimed that the “Curse of the Goddess” would be laid upon them. But as clearly stated above, there ain’t no Pope in Wicca and what any Elder, even the Father of the Movement, said in the past is neither binding nor a timeless truth. In reality, I have yet to meet a living Traditional Wiccan who shares this sentiment and find myself in a community not only accepting and welcoming of LGBT+ persons but one populated by many, many proud LGBT+ persons! And for that, I am thankful.

3. Traditional Wicca forbids harm to anyone or anything.

This has been addressed many times in various different outlets but I repeat it here because it is one of the biggest and most common misconceptions. Traditional Wicca is largely regarded as an orthopraxy that offers little in the way of hard rules and proscriptions. Perhaps my favorite piece to address this misconception is by Deborah Lipp here

2. There are no more secrets.

Untrue, though there is no good way to write exposition for why this is untrue, so I must—if you’ll forgive me—rely on anecdote. Prior to initiation, I was very well read on all things Wicca, both eclectic and Traditional and I steeled myself against the possibility that I would be very disappointed with what I would learn upon and after initiation. Suffice it to say that despite how voraciously I read (and I’ve read just about all of it), I was amazed at how much I did not know and well-kept the Mysteries are!

1. Traditional Wicca requires sexual initiation.

Traditional Wicca requires a lot of things of its adherents. It challenges us, it makes us uncomfortable at times, especially at first, it forces us to deal with things we would rather ignore, and it makes demands on us. But you should never be asked to have sex with someone as a requirement to join a coven or for initiation. If someone tells you that you must have sex with them, run away–run far away–and alert as many friends and Elders as possible.

Unbroken Traditions, Or, How the Death of Traditional Wicca Is A Myth


The kids these days just don’t want to learn!

A popular blogger, Sarah Anne Lawless, re-posted a version of her article “Breaking Tradition…” she initially wrote two years ago with additional comments. It’s an interesting read and she is undoubtedly a talented writer, so I invite you to read her post before reading mine. However, with all due respect to Sarah Anne Lawless, while it provides an interesting insight into the perspective of another Witch (and thereby to some parts of the Witch/Pagan community as well) her post demonstrates some problematic and inaccurate perceptions of traditional paths and those who follow them. In fact, I found her post expressed a very myopic view of the matter and suffered greatly from an issue with numbers.

The Many “Many”
The first problem with her post is her frequent use of the word “many” when describing the needs, wants, and experiences of “the younger generation” of which she focuses much of her post. I, as a member of this younger generation she discusses, take issue with how she speaks to our experience as if hers defines it, even if she tries to couch it with broad adjectives like “many”, no matter how many good friends and Elders she’s spoken about this with in-depth. I found her use of the term to be intentionally nonspecific while simultaneously and obviously implying a real and appreciable quantity of the Witches of my generation agreed with her opinion when, in fact, a more accurate quantification (without actual statistical data) would be more appropriately phrased as “many of the Witches SHE knows/has spoken to.” This is the sort of generalization that gets circled in red-ink on a college paper with the notes “HOW MANY? WHO? SOURCE?”

Now while this might, at first glance, seem like minutiae, when part of her premise is founded upon the idea that traditional spiritual paths have become unappealing to an entire generation en masse, it becomes a rather important detail. Without actual research (something she bemoans later on in her paragraph about “fakelore”), we only have anecdotes and can only speak to our own experiences and those with whom we’ve shared discourse, which is what I do herein; not an entire generation or even a trend.

Results Not Typical
Case in point, my experience and “many” of those of my peers (with whom I’ve discussed this topic) has been the exact opposite of what she describes: we have found this “evolution” of witchcraft to be lacking and unfulfilling and have instead sought out these so-called “outdated” traditional paths. In stark contrast to hers, it has been my experience that a lot of young people are coming to traditional paths having found insurmountable limitations to what is freely available and published on witchcraft. And as a member of one of these traditions, I would characterize the current growth of these traditions as driven by the renewed interests of my generation. As a matter of fact, every serious seeker and almost every new addition to our numbers that I am personally aware of (and there are quite a few each year) has been a member of my generation–this “younger generation” Sarah claims is “not interested.”


I invoke your citations!

YMMV But Are We Even on the Same Road?
The most problematic parts of her post, though, are her completely alien (and inaccurate) descriptions of these traditions. I do not know Sarah’s background beyond what she has published here, which does not indicate any sort of initiation into a traditional Wiccan coven, but the way she writes of these traditions leads me to the conclusion that she isn’t personally familiar with their practices.

There is nothing to prevent one from being a participant in a traditional path and also experiencing “personal gnosis, mysticism, direct ecstatic experience, and spirit initiation.” She frames these things as if they are mutually exclusive; they are absolutely not.

She talks about “ecstatic ritual … full of nudity, body paint, drumming, trance, possession, and ecstatic dance” as if this doesn’t or couldn’t happen in traditional groups; it does. Hell, in my experience it happens to a greater degree of frequency and intensity than it does in a “non-traditional” group, or, to borrow her phrase “informal group”.

She refers to an elder of a “well-known and well-lineaged witchcraft tradition” who only taught and practiced “… controlled external rituals, not wanting anything to do with internal process or personal gnosis.” I do not know this elder or what tradition (s)he practices but it sounds unlike any traditional Wiccan praxis I’ve ever experienced or heard of. Nor does a praxis that requires “the same ritual format for every type of ceremony performed in the group…. the same ritual at every esbat and sabbat rite, every spell-working for the coven, and every handfasting and baby blessing…” or one that only ever does a circle-casting.

The only thing Sarah seems to hit on the nailhead is that traditional covens require that its members devote the time needed to do the Work. But while she clearly sees this as a drawback, I would frame it as a boon. The Work is serious, it’s deep, it’s life-altering (sometimes shattering, by reports), and it requires its pound of flesh. Not everyone is in a place in their lives to make such a deep and intense commitment and our traditions not only survive but thrive because only those who can actually do.


A beloved Elder keeping up with the latest research.

All about That Fakelore
It only makes me wonder more how familiar Sarah is with the inner-workings of traditional covens that this should even come up as a point of contention. Certainly, there are many people in these younger generations “who know that the burning times, ancient Wiccans, ancient matriarchal goddess-worshipping cultures, and the maiden-mother-crone are modern myths….” but there are just as many, if not more, I’d dare to say, in the older generations. (For evidence, go jump into any pagan or witch forum on the internet and talk about “NVR AGAIN TEH BURNING TYMES” and see the composition of the age make-up.) And what’s more, this “fakelore” that concerns her so much is not really native, let alone integral, to the practice of traditional Wicca.

And, as an aside, I’m not sure what Elders Sarah is using as reference for her comments but they are surely unlike any of the Elders I know. None of the Elders I know “simply stopped reading and researching new material after a certain point along their spiritual paths.” Paired with her earlier comment that many of the Elders she knows are “horrified” at the goings-on at a pagan festival make me ask what these particular Elders she’s familiar with have been doing all these years while the Elders I know not only continue to research, learn, and innovate but can recount lascivious stories of a bygone era that would make even the most sex-positive, leather-clad, freak-flag-waving queen blush.

All in All
The only thing Sarah and I seem to agree upon is that many in my generation have sought or are seeking “a spiritual path that would challenge them on a psychological as well as spiritual level, heal them, and help them face their fears and demons.” But despite her arguments to the contrary, “many” of us have found that in traditional paths.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Gardnerian Wicca

Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches'_Sabbath_-_WGA10007Originally, I had planned to write about the intersection of gender and paganism, particularly from the perspective of my two traditions: Gardnerian Wicca and Kemetic Orthodoxy. But that’s a really heavy and heady discussion and it’s finals week, so instead I figured I would write about Gardnerian Wicca. Recently, I participated in a book club that surveyed Wicca from a traditional perspective using authors who were themselves, traditional Wiccans, and much of the discussion generated focused on the differences between Traditional Wicca and eclectic or neo-Wicca, so I figured I would continue that discussion here.

Gardnerian Wicca is an orthopraxy; not an orthodoxy.

Gardnerian Wiccans are bound together by a shared praxis. Gardnerian Wiccans share the same ritual system that has been handed down through the generations. Gardnerian Wiccans share in a constellation of common rites and practices that are recognizable by all of their initiates.

However, as an orthopraxy (and not an orthodoxy), there is very little that Gardnerian Wiccans all share in belief. No two Gardnerian Witches will believe the same thing and the system, itself, that is, the religion of Wicca, does not prescribe a particular set of beliefs which all members must share. Indeed, Gardnerian Wiccans who worship in the same rites may have entirely different beliefs on what is occurring, why, and how.

Unlike neo-Wicca for which in any book you can find chapters detailing what Wiccans believe about the Gods, the Universe, morality and ethics, magick, or the Afterlife, Gardnerian Wicca is an experiential religion. Gardnerian Wicca does not teach what to believe but how to experience.

Gardnerian Wicca has two traditional deities.

Gardnerian Wiccans work with two specific deities whose names are oath-bound. These Gods have specific attributes, titles, and lore. They are not interchangeable with other Gods and Goddesses; They are, as Gardner describes Them, “tribal gods.”

This is in stark contrast to neo-Wicca wherein one can mix-and-match Gods and Goddesses from various cultures as one might fancy. The pervasive idea throughout neo-Wiccan paradigms is that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddess and as such it does not matter which God or Goddess you invoke in any rite.  Also, the common duality of Goddess as Mother and the God as Son and Consort is not Gardnerian.

Gardnerian Wicca does not teach “harm none.”

Those first learning about Wicca, especially from published self-study books (i.e., neo-Wicca), will be very familiar with the concept of the Rede and it is often presented to the reader as a fundamental belief. In fact, it’s not uncommon for it to be written of as law a of the religion to which all Wiccans must or should adhere. However, this is far from the case. While Gardnerian Wicca does feature the Rede, it is not treated as a law.

The Rede (“An it harm none do what ye will”) is an adage, a piece of advice or counsel, which any Witch would be wise to heed. It is not a prohibition that tells the Witch (s)he cannot harm. In fact, the Rede only offers the advice that if an action does not harm, one should go for it. It does not say that you cannot harm. Indeed, the Rede is mute on harmful actions. (But more on that for letter M or R, perhaps!)

Gardnerian Wicca’s “Threefold Law” isn’t about punishment.

The idea of the Threefold Law as a moral belief in which “what energy one puts out into the Universe comes back threefold”, that is, if one puts out bad, then the Universe/the Gods/karma bad will return to individual magnified by three times, is not something commonly found among many Gardnerian Wiccans. In fact, I have yet to meet a single Gardnerian Wiccan who actually believes in this interpretation of the Threefold Law. And, indeed, I, personally find the Threefold Law a bit of ridiculous amorality (read more about how the Threefold Law is not moral here.)

Gardnerian Wiccans don’t celebrate Mabon.

Admittedly, this one is not entirely true. You will find that “Mabon” is not a name that is commonly used for the Autumnal Equinox amongst Gardnerian Wiccans and many, in fact, have a bit of disdain for it. Instead, this holiday is often referred to by its traditional names: Harvest Home or (*drum roll*) the Autumn Equinox.

There are a great number of differences between Gardnerian Wicca and other varieties and the above only represents a small sample of those differences.