New York WICA Tradition

The WICA Tradition, or New York WICA Tradition, was established by Edmund M. Buczynski (Gwydion) in the early 1970s. Following his elevation to the 3º by a High Priestess named Sira, within the Kentucky Line of the Gardnerian Tradition, Gwydion went on to establish a successful Gardnerian coven with his working partner, Hela.

While maintaining his oaths, and a large portion of the Gardnerian core, Gwydion later adapted the Gardnerian system to create a distinct new tradition. From this he established the Brooklyn Heights Coven as the first WICA Tradition coven. Gwydion initiated his first High Priestess, Rhea, along with her then husband, Ammon, who subsequently initiated Miw-Sekhmet. Although Gwydion initiated other High Priestesses, Rhea, being the first, is considered the Mother of the WICA Tradition.

Left: Eddie Buczynski, New York, 1978.  Right: Rhea Rivera, New York, 2016.

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 New York Coven of Witches. This is the mother coven of all Initiates of the WICA Tradition. The New York Coven of Witches remains an active coven in New York City with Rhea serving as the High Priestess.

The WICA Tradition thrived in the New York area with a great number of Initiates and covens. Though the tradition had previously been concentrated in New York City and the New England States, a wonderful growth has seen it spread further beyond and even find a home in Europe. Before the arrival of the internet, most people outside of North America had been unaware of the existence of this tradition and many still know very little about it. The New York WICA tradition was established and recognised as an independent expression of Traditional Initiatory Wicca in the United States in the same way the Alexandrian tradition in England had become a distinct path independent of the Gardnerian tradition.

In the spirit of inclusivity, and with a different interpretation of polarity, our Elders opted a short time later to incorporate same-sex initiation and working partnership into the praxis of the New York WICA tradition. It is logical that the New York WICA Tradition is still recognised by many as Traditional Initiatory Wicca when one considers that, despite the party line asserting Traditional Initiatory Wicca to be defined by opposite-sex initiation and working partnership, it is well known that same-sex initiation and working partnership in some Gardnerian lines has been quietly accepted amongst some European Gardnerian and Alexandrians. Furthermore, the New York WICA Tradition follows the Core of Gardnerian praxis more closely than some European Gardnerians today. Others who do not regard the New York WICA Tradition as Traditional Initiatory Wicca do regard it as a Gardnerian kindred tradition with a distinct and powerful current in its own right.

Core beliefs

The WICA Tradition is a branch of Traditional Witchcraft which holds to an orthopraxic view and maintains a key 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 individual beliefs.

A central part of our Core is the concept that polarity exists within each of us. Though we emphasise 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 partnership and same-sex initiation became a valid expression of the WICA Tradition. A coven may be led by working partners of the opposite sex or the same sex. In the case of a coven being led by two people of the same biological sex, the positions of polarity are assumed between the two of them. A coven led by two individuals of the same sex is considered equally valid as one led by two people of opposite sex. Transgender and intersex individuals are welcomed in the tradition based on how they identify and the guidance of how each individual coven operates.

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 live to serve our Gods, our spirits, and our coven brothers and sisters of the Craft. 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 Priestesses 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 Initiates are involved in advocacy on issues concerning the LGBTQ community.

Organisation of groups

The WICA Tradition is an initiatory, lineaged, oathbound, Craft system. One can only 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.

Above all else we are Witches. The training in and practice of magick and all techniques of Witchcraft can certainly find a means of expression within a WICA Tradition coven. Traditionally, WICA Tradition covens work skyclad (ritual nudity). 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 eight 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.

For further information please read Bull of Heaven by Michael Lloyd.

A Seeker can expect a lengthy meet and greet process prior to a decision on acceptance for training. During this period a Seeker should be able to convey a good knowledge of contemporary Paganism and Witchcraft. For a suggested reading list please click here. A candidate will be of adult age and able to demonstrate self-care, personal integrity and commitment. A candidate can expect to spend around five years completing training. Seekers may submit a considered expression of interest via First, please see advice for Seekers here. All enquiries shall be treated with confidentiality. Those using pseudonyms shall receive no response.

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