Caroline Levander

Sisters are doing it for themselves: Creating tradition without gendered roles in the Swedish ‘Court of Aine’ Wicca tradition

 Within the Aine tradition, we believe that the ritual work done with named deities or with the Great Goddess and God goes way beyond the gender of the individual performing it. If you can make a specific deity take place in you and act through you, it doesn’t matter who you are or what genitals you have, as long as you’re able to do the actual required ritual work. Through this presentation I wish to show how this work has developed and are done regularly, including ritual acts and props, and the experiences we get through it within my Wicca tradition.

The polarity between the Wiccan God and Goddess has been used to create gender roles within traditional Wicca, where the High Priest (HP) represents the God and the High Priestess (HPS) represents the Goddess within ritual. Despite the fact that initiatory Wicca is fairly equally divided between male and female practitioners, there seem to be a lack of interest among men to take on the responsibility of running a coven as the HP, the result being lots of “single parent” covens run by just an HPS.

This has created ritual problems, particularly with regards to initiations which according to tradition should go from woman to man and vice versa. It has traditionally been solved by either having a man stepping up and doing things above his grade (or fast initiate him to have the correct grade), having a man from another coven “on loan” for crucial rituals or by having a “man in black”, a man that has the proper initiations to do the ritual roles required of him but who is not an active member of the coven.

When I started my Wicca coven Court of Aine in 1995, I decided that experience, activity and being a member of the coven was more important than gender when it came to who should do what within the coven rituals. This meant that I reworked the traditional ritual elements so that they could be done by one person, rather than two of opposite gender, and made away with the requirements that only men could represent the God. The latter also meant that not just women could represent the Goddess, since the dissolvement of gendered roles went both ways.

It eventually became a tradition of its own, the Aine tradition, which is currently the largest initiatory Wicca tradition in Sweden. In the Aine tradition everyone is expected to train for all sorts of ritual roles including “drawing down”-work (that is the spiritual possession by specific deities) of the opposite sex from one’s own, as well as the traditional rituals of drawing down the moon and drawing down the sun (letting the Goddess or God speak through you) without regard to the gender of the practitioner. This also means that the Great Rite is conducted between those of appropriate training regardless of gender or sexual orientation, making the lgbtq question regarding ritual polarity and sexuality a non issue.

Caroline Levander

Caroline has been a Wiccan since 1988 and started her coven Court of Aine in 1995 within the tradition of Swedish initiatory wicca. Since she reworked a lot of the ritual work, among other things, her coven eventually became a tradition of its own, the Aine tradition, which currently is the largest initiatory Wicca tradition in Sweden with regards to active and teaching covens. She has done several lectures and workshops on subjects related to wicca both in Sweden and abroad, such as “spiritual possession within wicca”, “wiccan mystery rituals”, “the voice as a ritual tool”, “the history of Wicca in Scandinavia”, etc.

She is also an academic researcher within the field of Western Esotericism. Her main subject is Art History and its connection to occult traditions in the 19th and 20th centuries, but she has also done research on the history of Wicca in Scandinavia (a lot of which she experienced herself), Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Female Sex Magicians, and Theosophical ideas of syncretism, among other subjects.