Our Tradition is not a church or a business or a school. Our Tradition is, at its, core a powerful Mystery. Forging a transformative connection with this Mystery, the Spirit of the Tradition, is what makes a witch a member of the tradition. We witches of the Forest’s Edge do many things together and separately and our members have so much to offer each other. But, we avoid all unnecessary bureaucracy and try to stay focused on the living, powerful magic at our core. All functions of the tradition exist to empower its members and the connections that unite us.
The only hierarchy exists to nurture the shared Spirit of the Tradition. There are two formal leadership structures that serve as a rudder on the Tradition-ship. You might consider the two like branches of a government, offering different ways to approach things and a bit of a checks-and-balances effect.
The Voices are a group of tradition initiates who are mature, patient, competent witches charged with guiding and protecting the Spirit of the Tradition by providing mediation and good counsel to all Tradition members who seek it. Any Initiate can eventually become a Voice if the existing Voices approve them and Voices may retire as they choose. The spirits of the Voices are a centered, strong, ever-present part of the Spirit of the Tradition.
The Mothers are two witches who, along with some of the original Voices, co-founded the Tradition. They wrote the original classes and have been key to many of the spiritual, educational and administrative activities since the currents that form the Tradition began to coalesce. They work together to balance eachother and to be better together as co-leaders than either could be separately. They are called to empower, equip, encourage and advise others. The Tradition strives to be extremely inclusive and open in our intra-Tradition processes, and when a decision is ultimately required, the final decision-making power and responsibility for all general Tradition matters lies betwixt & between the Mothers and the Voices.
Initiates are witches who have completed Tradition apprenticeship, and who have forged strong, demonstrable skills in hedgeriding and ritual possession. To succeed at initiation is to become fully a part of the Spirit of the Tradition. Initiates are the strength, the engine, the body and the balance of the tradition. Initiates are free and empowered to teach autonomously, found new groups within the tradition, etc. They may take on a variety of social, administrative, spiritual or teaching roles in accordance with their unique skills and interests as part of maintaining a reciprocal communion with the Spirit of the Tradition. Prior to becoming Initiates, witches define for themselves what form this reciprocity will take. Initiates embrace the fullness of their power as witches and their gifts as individuals. Whether or not they also practice with a local group, each fulfills themselves through solitary practice.
Dedicants are witches who have completed at least half of the Tradition apprenticeship, have mastered the skill of hedgecrossing and have taken an important step toward forging a connection with the Spirit of the Tradition. Dedicants may choose to take on administrative roles and work alongside initiates on projects that interest them. Once a Dedicant has completed the apprenticeship they are charged with defining a meaningful place for themselves within the Tradition prior to attempting Initiation.
Some witches are able to form local groups, while some form interest-based distance-groups, and still others keep their focus on being solitary within the broader Tradition community. In cases where local groups exist their administration and policy-making is separate from that of the tradition, although the Mothers and Voices remain available for advice, support and mediation as desired. None of these ways of being in community are considered better or worse. All maintain some form of reciprocal relationship with the Tradition and all are responsible for their own personal practice. A term we sometimes use for this idea is solitaries-in-community. Whether the “community” piece is a coven, a circle, an online study group or the overarching tradition, we all exist in the dynamic interplay between strong solitary practice and magical connection with others.