The WICA Tradition (a.k.a. The New York WICA Tradition)
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Article ID: 15873
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Posted: April 2nd. 2017
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The WICA Tradition (or New York WICA Tradition) was established by Edmund Buczynski (Lord Gwydion) in the early 70s. Gwydion was elevated to 3* by a high priestess named Sira into the Gardnerian Tradition-Kentucky Line. He went on with his working partner, Hela, to establish a Gardnerian coven. The coven thrived. However, due to internal politics of the Gardnerian Tradition at the time, Rosemary Buckland and Judy Kneitel invalidated the Kentucky Line after the divorce of Rosemary and her husband at the time, Raymond Buckland. Both Sira and Hela were accepted and “re-done” as Long Island Line Gardnerians. Gwydion, however, was not due to much politics of the time as well.
Gwydion then “re-worked” the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, maintaining his oaths but also maintaining a large portion of the Gardnerian core. He established the Brooklyn Heights Coven as the first WICA Tradition coven. He initiated his first high priestess Lady Rhea, along with her then husband, Ammon. Although Gwydion initiated other high priestesses, Lady Rhea, being the first, is considered the Mother of the WICA Tradition. Ammon then initiated Lady Miw-Sekhmet. Most of those active in the WICA Tradition trace their lineage through one of these two priestesses. Soon, the Brooklyn Heights Coven was renamed the Coven of New York Witches. This is the coven that is the mother coven of all WICA Tradition initiates. The New York Coven of Witches remains an active coven in New York City with Lady Rhea as the High Priestess.
The WICA Tradition thrived in the New York area with a great many number of initiates and covens. However, the Tradition did not spread out very far beyond New York City and the New England States. In the 1980s, a WICA Tradition priestess initiated and elevated the first priestess outside that geographical region, Emerald Zar. Emerald Zar has initiated three priests, two of whom are 3* as of this writing. One of these priests carried the Tradition to Europe in January 2015. As a result of this, the WICA Tradition found a home in Ireland, France, and Italy. Today, the WICA Tradition is experiencing a wonderful new life through its movement beyond the New York City region.
The WICA Tradition is a branch of Traditional Craft. Gwydion first described the Tradition as neo-Gardnerian. We, however, identify ourselves as a separate Tradition from the Gardnerian Tradition with its origins in the Kentucky Line of the Gardnerian Tradition.
As such, we hold to an Orthopraxic view of our Tradition. Orthopraxis mean “Right Practice.” The WICA Tradition has a core set of rituals (Circle, Initiation and Elevation) and practices that are the Core of the Tradition. Initiates and covens are strongly encouraged to develop their own expressions of that Core as in the manner that the initiates and covens interpret their own experiences. Therefore, apart from the Core, tremendous variety exists within the WICA Tradition as to how we believe.
A central part of our Core is the concept that polarity exists within each of us. Though we emphasize polarity in all working, that polarity need not be based on biology alone. Therefore, very early in the history of the WICA Tradition, same sex working partners and same sex initiation became a valid expression of the WICA Tradition. A coven may be led may a man and a woman, which is the ideal. However, a coven may also be led in some cases by two people of the same biological sex assuming the positions of polarity between the two of them. A coven led by two individuals of the same gender is considered equally valid as one led by two people of opposite genders. Transgender individuals are welcomed in the Tradition based on their stated gender and the guidance of how each individual coven operates.
Gwydion was highly opposed to two primary things. First, he vehemently opposed the politics of the early years of the Craft. Witchwars and politics have no interest to members of the WICA Tradition, which has led the Tradition to be largely non-visible in many discussions regarding the Craft. We focus on our own Craft and dedicate ourselves with service, dignity, and love to what we do with little concern about what others think or do. We will not engage in discussions regarding what lineage or tradition is “valid, ” “better, ” “older, ” more “authentic.” We live to serve our gods, our spirits, and our coven brothers and sisters of the Craft. The rest is inconsequential.
Second, Gwydion strongly opposed discrimination of any sort, having experienced the pain of discrimination in a Craft that was/is largely heteronormative. Our elders will not exclude someone because of labels that many so often use. We believe that we are all children of the Great Mother, some are called to live among the Hidden Children of the Goddess, and a few are called to celebrate the Mysteries within our Tradition. Each one of us is a thread. It is only in the unity of Love do we form the tapestry that reveals the Great Mother whose presence is within each of us.
Role of clergy
The role of the priests and priestess of the WICA Tradition is to first serve our deities and spirits and second to guide, lead, and train the coven. Outside involvement in the community is solely the decision of each individual and coven. Because of the historical involvement of the LGBTQ community in the WICA Tradition specifically, many individuals are involved in LGBTQ community issues.
Organization of groups
The WICA Tradition is an initiatory, degreed system. One can only the enter the WICA Tradition through initiation. The path toward initiation depends solely on the coven and the elders leading that coven; however, it does usually require some preparatory lessons and attending an outer court in which rituals will be of a non-oathbound nature. Once initiated, each coven has its own means to determine readiness for elevation. We are also above all witches. The training in and the practice of magic and all techniques of witchcraft can certainly find a means of expression within a WICA Tradition coven.
The role of the elders in the coven is that of guides. Gwydion instituted a highly democratic system into the covens in which decisions, including the decision to initiate someone into the coven, are democratic based. We look for consensus among the coven members in the governing and dynamics of the coven. The coven is typically led by a high priestess from May to October and a high priest from October to May.
Traditionally, WICA Tradition covens are skyclad. Though we do follow the Core of the Tradition, each elder/coven leader may guide the coven in an autonomous manner. We are, however, very celebratory and ecstatic in Nature and revel in the artistry of our Craft.
The commonly known holidays are the turning of the Wheel through the celebration of the 8 sabbats and the moons.
Standards of Conduct
We in the WICA Tradition regard LOVE as the Law. That is the standard of our conduct. We strive to live our love toward all human beings and Nature. Ethics are a highly individual and personal process. From the Law of Love, we believe that we should be humble. WICA Tradition priests and priestesses strive to maintain an attitude of humbleness. As individuals, we are points of the Mystery. That Mystery is within each human being and cannot be dictated from outside the self.
Ways of Worship
Each coven follows a general core practice of the Sabbats and Moons. However, each coven also has its unique form of expression, so tremendous variety exists within our ways of worship. There is only the Core, not a rule about how we celebrate our Mysteries.
This article was written by Lucian C. Zar, HP of the Coven of the Emerald Serpent, a coven of the WICA Tradition and reviewed and edited by Lady Rhea, the mother of the WICA Tradition and the HPS of the New York Coven of Witches.
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lucian - Click HERE
Bio: Luian C. Zar was initiated into the WICA Tradition by Emerald Zar. Her priestess was Pax Athena. Her priestess was Lady Rhea, who was elevated by Gwydion.
He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been active in various forms of Traditional Craft for 32 years.
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