Ed Fitch & the Pagan Way

Ed Fitch

Ed Fitch

Ed Fitch was a Gardnerian Wiccan. In 1969, together with Joseph Wilson, Thomas Giles, Tony Kelly, and others, Fitch began circulat­ing the Pagan Way materials, which came to be used as an exoteric alternative to British Traditional Wicca. The Pagan Way system was open (i.e., required no initiation). It was also nature-oriented, emphasizing the celebration of nature over occult­ism and magic. Unlike most Wiccan texts at the time, which were kept secret, the Pagan Way materials were placed in the public domain to gain the widest possible distribution. Fitch’s use of the term, “Pagan,” instead of Wiccan, contributed to the later conflation of Neo-Paganism with Wicca.

In some cases, the Pagan Way acted as an entry point into Gardnerian Wicca. However, the Pagan Way became a tradition in itself, with autonomous Pagan Way groves spreading across the country. Ed Fitch, Joe Wilson, and Gwydion Pendderwen organized three sister organizations: the Pagan Way on the East Coast of the U.S., Nemeton on the West Coast, and the Pagan Movement in England (which later became The Pagan Federa­tion). Nemeton later became part of the Church of All Worlds. The Church of All Worlds adopted the Pagan Way liturgy, which further facilitated the spread of the Pagan Way rituals. It was in this way that Wiccan ritual forms were adopted by many Neo-Pagans who were not initiated Wiccans.

The Pagan Way groves began to dwindle and disappear around 1980. According to Aidan Kelly, with the formation of the Covenant of the Goddess in 1975 and with the spread of the Pagan festival movement, there came to be less need for the Pa­gan Way. However, by that time, the materials had been so widely circulated, they had become part of an amorphous body of Neo-Pagan rituals with which many Neo-Pagans today are familiar, but few know the source of.

Updated 2019

 

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