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What Is British Traditional Wicca (BTW)?

Learn about British Traditional Wicca (BTW) from Wiccan High Priestess Phyllis Curott in this Howcast video.


My name is Phyllis Curott, and I'm a Wiccan priestess. And I'm happy to talk to you a little bit about British traditional Wicca, which basically began with Gerald Gardner who was a British civil servant and who discovered the old religion of the British Isles, which is Wicca. What he referred to in the early 1950s, he called it Wicca. And that's sort of where the name comes from. Actually Wicca refers to a practitioner, a person who's practicing Wicca. He was initiated by the New Forest Coven, and mixed in with what he learned from them some ceremonial magic from the Golden Dawn, which was Lady Gregory and Yeats, a little Alistair Crowley, and some masonry, some of the mysteries of the east, the tantric mysteries of India, because he served in India for a while.

A little Buddhism from the Theosophical Society, which was increasingly popular in Britain. And you also have Alexandrian Wicca, which came along a little bit later. That's essentially the origin of what's called British, traditional British Wicca. It's an initiatory tradition. It's also frequently referred to either as the Gardnerian tradition or the Alexandrian tradition. It's quite formal. There is usually a priest and a priestess. You practice for a minimum of three years. You're usually initiated after a year and a day. And it takes at least three years to become a high priest or a high priestess. And in a certain sense, it's kind of like our historical north star, because people who practice Gardnerian or Alexandrian Wicca tend not to be too innovative. They practice it as it was taught to them, as it was handed down by Alexander in the Alexandrian tradition or by Gardner in the Gardnerian tradition, or with Seax-Wicca which is the Anglo-Saxon version from Ray Buckland, who was initiated through Gardner's lineage.

The Gardnerian tradition is part of my lineage, but I also came in through the Minoan Sisterhood which was the first women's group to break off from the Gardnerian tradition, which is traditionally both men and women. That's one of the characteristics of the Gardnerian tradition. What's like it being the north star, the constant point, which is very useful in a profound spiritual movement that is rooted in growth and transformation. It's important to remember that Gardner was very eclectic in his creation of Wiccan. He added to what he had been taught by the New Forest Coven in which he was initiated. He added a lot of additional wisdom from other traditions, which has been absolutely the trend as Wicca and the broader subject of paganism has gone increasingly public and absolutely exploded in size and popularity. So it's useful to have that constant point, and that's, I think that's one of its gifts to us.

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