Apr. 30th, 2007

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Over the last several months, I've become less and less inclined to describe myself as "Eclectic Wiccan".  This isn't from exposure to initiates of British Traditional Wicca who object to "Wicca(n)" in anything but a BTW context - I respect the case they present, but can't comply with their preference based solely on those arguments, for several reasons.

One, it's not a unified case.  There are BTWs who don't object to sharing the label with their exoteric cousins, who recognize the commonalities as meaningful, who consider Eclectic Wicca to be, if not the same religion, at least a related one.  Since the heart of the "BTW only" argument rests on esoteric material available only to BTW initiates, we who are not initiates of any of the relevant traditions must rely on what those who are initiates are willing to say about similarities and differences - and that goes both ways.

Two, it's about twenty-five years too late.  "Wicca" has taken on a broader meaning, already established through years of usage.  One can reject it, and state why; one can't ignore it.

Three, intellectual honesty.  If my practice is built largely on exoteric Traditional Wicca material, I have an intellectual debt, payable by acknowledging that source.

When it comes down to it, though, that intellectual debt is not to BTWicca alone, but to the whole fabric of neoPagan religious witchcraft.  Up until fairly recently, the differentiation wasn't clear; everybody and hir familiar hitched hir wagon to the "Old Religion" star, and any European-derived witchcraft variant was considered related to all the others (providing its "grandmother story" was sufficiently plausible).

My practices are as influenced by The Spiral Dance as much as by the Farrars or Vivianne Crowley.  There's a bit of Cochranist influence in there, too, mainly but not solely via Valiente.  And so on.  Not all of it's Wiccan, but the vast majority is witchcraft-as-religion as the neoPagan movement generally understands it.

Years before I ever encountered the word "Wicca", I identified as a witch - it's been my preferred term all along.  I became habituated to spelling it with a lower-case "w" back when "W/witch" was the contentious word; it was somewhat less contentious when uncapitalized.  I'm trying to break that habit now, because it seems to me that "Witch" is the identifier that best acknowledges my intellectual debt.

Not that I intend to stop using the term "Eclectic Wicca" to describe witches of a certain sort (or range of sorts); "exoteric-Wicca-derived neoPagan religious witchcraft" is long and awkward, folks who don't know a lot about the history of the neoPagan movement are confused by it, and it has become an established usage.  By and large, what I do is "Eclectic Wicca-compliant", and saying so conveys quite a bit of info to folks in just three words.

But that's an answer to "What kind of Witch?"


November 2009


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