Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft

tw-1This post is a brief overview of the presentation I gave to the Pagan Society at Simon Fraser University on March 10, 2015. The talk was not recorded, but I am able to provide the power point slides as well as links to articles and resources for those who missed the presentation and wish to learn more about Traditional Witchcraft. All links in bold will take you to my more in-depth writings on each subject.

DefinitionsFor a more detailed over-view of the definitions please read: Traditional Witchcraft Definitions

For an in-depth discussion on what Traditional Witchcraft is please read: Traditional Witchcraft




Cochrane-Based Witchcraft Traditions

Cunning Folk

Fairy Traditions or The Fairy Faith

Grimoire Tradition

Hedge Witchery

Hereditary Witchcraft

Kitchen and Green Witchery

Luciferian Witchcraft

Sabbatic Witchcraft



Horned God Reading List

The Man in Black

Medea’s Ritual of the Mandrake

Tales from the Gathering: The Witches’ Sabbat



Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath by Carlo Ginzburg

Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the 16th & 17th Centuries by Carlo Ginzburg

The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz

The Eldritch World by Nigel Pennick

Operative Witchcraft by Nigel Pennick

The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies by Robert Kirk

Witchcraft and the Shamanic Journey by Kenneth Johnson

Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead by Claude Lecouteux

Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages by Claude Lecouteux



Ancestor Altars & Rituals

Ancestor Worship in Modern Witchcraft

Cursing: The Ethics of Malevolence

Disclaimer of a Traditional Witch

Drinking the Divine with Sabbat Wine

Hedgecrossing Ritual

How to Use a Stang

Introduction to Animal Familiars

Introduction to Flying Ointments

Is Witchcraft Shamanism?

On Circle Casting and the World Tree

On Shape-shifting: A History & Guide for Shifters

Seer’s Reading List

Spellwork or The Road to Hel is Paved with Good Intentions


My list of forbearers will not be the same as other people’s. I think each witch has their own handful of heroes and influences who they believe fall under the category of Traditional Witchcraft.

I adore Leland and strongly believe he should be required reading, especially Aradia. Many of Charles G. Leland’s works are available for free on the internet. I highly recommend The Sacred Text Archive which hosts many of his books including: Aradia or the Gospel of Witches of ItalyEtruscan Roman Remains, and Gypsy Sorcery & Fortune Telling. If you wish to purchase a physical copy of Aradia, the best version is the new translation by Mario Pazzaglini.

Here is an example of one of the folk magic spells he collected for Gypsy Sorcery & Fortune Telling being put into practice today: Evil Eyes Who Look on Me

tw-8For more information and resources on Robert Cochrane and the traditions that stem from his teachings, please see the article: Cochrane-Based Witchcraft Traditions

tw-9Commonly written off by Traditional Witches for being a Wiccan, Doreen Valiente actually left Wicca behind when she quit Gardner’s coven. She was a member of Robert Cochrane’s Clan of Tubal Cain for a time and was a non-Wiccan witch for much of her occult life. As her passion was research, she did all the work for us, and we have only to read her books to catch up with her decades of research and experience. She is a great no-nonsense starting point for beginners. If you dig around Youtube you may just find some video interviews.

I love her and consider many of her books must-reads. Though many of her books are out of print, they have been reprinted so many times that it is easy to find inexpensive copies on the second-hand market (with the exception of Where Witchcraft Lives).

tw-10Feri is likely the first and only tradition under the Traditional Witchcraft umbrella that originates from North America and incorporates localized magic. This makes it accessible to those in Western North America who wish to join a physical group or have a physical teacher. Please see the Fairy Traditions or The Fairy Faith article for more information and resources on the Feri Tradition.

tw-11Another famous witch who, like Doreen Valiente, is often ignored because many assume she was Wiccan. She rode the Wicca wave to gain her popularity, but her own beliefs came from Traditional Witchcraft which she practiced mainly in secret as a member of the Horsa coven in New Forest, England. Some of her occult books are sketchy (Diary of  Witch is mostly fiction), but she was a good astrologer and her one work The Complete Art of Witchcraft is where she stashed most of her actual beliefs, practices, and secrets.

tw-12Paul Huson, now a US resident, is most well known for his classic work Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens. It is a tested and nostalgic favourite of many traditional witches and perhaps one of the first openly Luciferian works which is revealed in the introduction. Read more about it here: A Discourse on the Introduction of Mastering Witchcraft.


Andrew Chumbley and Daniel Schulke of the Cultus Sabbati

Michael Howard – Author & Magazine Editor

Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold of The Starry Cave

Gemma Gary – Cornish village witch, author, and illustrator

Cassandra LathamCornish village witch and author

Peter Grey and Alkistis of Scarlet Imprint

Nigel Jackson – Traditional Witchcraft author

Shani Oats of The Clan of Tubal Cain

Nigel Pennick – Traditional Witchcraft & folk magic author


The Horned God Reading List

The Poison Path Reading List

The Scots Reading List

The Seer’s Reading List

The Witch’s Recommended Reading List

Text, slide images, and artwork © 2015 Sarah Anne Lawless. Do not copy or use without the express permission of the author, but sharing the link is very welcome. 

Author Sarah

Illustrator and weaver of words. Witch. Forest siren with talons, succubic tendencies, a love of otherworldly beauty, poisonous plants, wild places and dead things.

More posts by Sarah

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Maxine says:

    Thank you Sarah for this wonderful compilation of knowledge, a truly succinct treasure of Traditional Witchcraft.

    • Tina Miller-Bettridge says:

      Thank you so much for this information. Do you have more you could share with me. Again many thanks.
      Blessed Be

      • Sarah says:

        You’re very welcome. There’s enough links to articles and resources there to keep you busy for months or years, but I did include my reading lists at the bottom if you want even more on your plate. Links that are bold go to my own more in depth writings on the subjects. Cheers!

  • Sky says:

    Sarah – I’ve been following your work for a couple of years – just wanted to say what a resource your website is! It’s truly inspiring. I’ve gone on many learning paths through your writing and the links you provide. Many thanks for your service.

  • Leonard says:

    Hi Sarah ~

    Thanks for your generosity in sharing these slides full of excellent information. An observation: I think the word you want to use is “forebears”, not “forbearers”. The former is an ancestor; the latter is someone who is avoiding doing something.

    Cheers ~


  • Will A says:

    This knowledge is so appreciated.
    Thank you

  • Black says:

    I have only one thing to say to you Sarah, I hope you’ll start writing books soon.

    Blessing from Rome

  • Khul says:

    Lovely post as always, Sarah! Thanks for sharing <3

  • Sarah this is the Most Comprehensive compilation on the wide varieties of Witchcraft i have ever seen published, especially with all the links both written by you and referenced by you. I am going to blog post a link to this post of yours so thank you for all the hard work and wisdom put in it. Blessings. Lee/Shawnus

  • Riezen says:

    Thanks so much for this Sarah! It was a happy day when I found in perfect condition a copy of Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente at my local used book store. Her split from wicca made her even more dear to me. Paul Huson is also on my shelf, Mastering Herbalism as well as A Witch Alone by Marian Green. Most people consider Marian Green to be wicca 101 but I have to say to those people, you really did not read the book did you?

    As always, appreciate your work! This is a Gem!

  • toad wurzel says:

    Sarah, this is a bit off topic, but I’m throwing a reading suggestion out there for you. It is ,”Shamanism and the Drug Propaganda, Patriarchy and the Drug war.” by Dan Russell. There is a ton of pertinent information in this book, more than I ever would have guessed from the title. Thank you for all of your research and leg work you put in.

  • Lexi says:

    This would be my dream talk to attend. Ever planning a visit to Scotland? The next Scottish Pagan Federation Conference is in April 2016…. 😉