British Traditional Wicca (abbreviated BTW) is a term used to describe some Wiccan traditions which have their origins in the New Forest region of England. The most prominent such traditions are Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca, but other traditions either derived from them or claiming a shared New Forest history (notably Central Valley Wicca), are also considered to be British Traditional Wicca.<ref>New Wiccan Church International. British Traditional Wicca FAQ.</ref> In the case of some traditions (such as Blue Star Wicca), some lines are considered to be British Traditional Wicca and some are not.
==History of the term==
The term "wicca" is well-attested as the Anglo-Saxon word for "[male] witch".<ref>Wiktionary:Witch</ref> In modern usage, however, it came into the public lexicon with the works of Gerald Gardner, with the spelling "wica".<ref>Gerard Gardner, Witchcraft Today, ISBN 0806525932</ref><ref>Gerard Gardner, The Meaning of Witchcraft, ISBN 1578633095</ref> That the term (in either spelling) was used solely for a particular group of witches was generally accepted both by Gardner's initiates and unrelated witches who did not use the word to describe themselves, and in some cases would speak scornfully of the "Wiccans".
Initially, "the Wica" was used as the term for the group in question. Members of the group were described as "of the Wica", and their religion was merely labelled "The Old Religion". The usage changed to the current trend of referring the religion and priesthood as "Wicca" and its practitioners as "Wiccan" (used both as a noun and an adjective).
Due to the impact of Gardner, Alex Sanders, and their initiatory descendants, upon Pagan witchcraft, and possibly due to the term being originally relatively unknown and hence not sharing nuances and preconceptions that "witch" and "witchcraft" have, the term "Wicca" became the term used for almost all Neopagan witchcraft.
This led to three groups using the term in different ways:
# The New Forest-descended covens were using the term "Wicca" solely to describe themselves.
# Neopagan Witches were using the term "Wicca" to describe all or nearly all Pagan witches, certainly including themselves as well as the New Forest-descended covens, and often including those witches that disassociated themselves from the term. In many cases arguing that "Wiccan" and "Witch" were synonymous.
# Some who would label themselves "witches" (some of these also labelling themselves "Pagan", some not) would be aware of the term "Wicca" but, however they understood it, not consider themselves Wiccan.
This difference in definition led to some hostility between the first and second groups. The New Forest-derived covens saw the Neopagan Witches as claiming a name that did not belong to them, but only to "family". The Neopagan Witches saw the New Forest-derived covens' claim to the term as elitist and disparaging of their own paths. As historical hostility between Gardnerians and Alexandrians waned, the differences between them and others using the term "Wicca" became all the more apparent.
The term "British Traditional Witchcraft" was suggested, mainly in the United States, as an uncontroversial label for the New Forest-descended covens, but that term is used in Britain to refer to those traditions, such as Cochrane's, that claim a heritage predating Gardner's publications, but not related to Gardner's groups or recent predecessors of it.
Hence the term "British Traditional Wicca" became the term used to uncontroversially label the New Forest traditions, though they will generally use "Wicca" amongst themselves to refer only to British Traditional Wicca.
==Recognition as British Traditional Wicca==
For someone to be recognised as practising British Traditional Wicca by another practitioner the most basic requirement is that they were initiated into the tradition by someone who was themselves a BTW initiate of sufficient degree - and hence having an initiatory heritage traceable back to someone indisputably of the Tradition, generally being traced as far as Gardner, Sanders, etc.
However, it is also a requirement that the training they received, and the tradition they continue to work, remain consistent with BTW practice. The exact requirements of this are not well defined, and apparently contain at least a few oath-bound matters not discussed with non-initiates.
British Traditional Wicca has been highly influential upon other Wiccan traditions, with several non-BTW traditions modeling themselves after the BTW. Even the importance of initiatory lineage is found in some - whether because they are traditions descended from BTW, but having departed from it, or because they have a similar, but unlinked, place for initiatory lineage.
Notably, Isaac Bonewits defines BTW not as Neopagan (which he categorises other Wiccan paths as) but as Mesopagan.<ref>Bonewits, Isaac. Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo-
==Geographic distribution of usage==
The term is most commonly used in the United States, where the British origins of these traditions is more noticeable. The term is becoming more common in Britain and Ireland, though there is some resistance to its adoption due to the word "Wicca" being more commonly identified amongst Pagans there as referring solely to the New Forest traditions (or at least, of that narrower definition as being one, if not the only, definition of the word) and the fact that "British" is unremarkable in Britain (where being "British" is after all the norm) and has negative connotations in Ireland for historical reasons.
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