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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?"

sunflowerp: (Default)
Many Pagans began their spiritual quests in their teens - yet the standard community attitude about teen seekers has for years been, "Too risky, let's not go there at all - besides, they're probably too young to be serious about it." Some of those who voice this attitude are those who came to Paganism later, and as teens were uninterested in spiritual matters; they measure teens by the standard of themselves as teens. Some figure, "I had to fumble through it with no guidance, so why shouldn't they?" Many envision hostility and lawsuits as the inevitable result of any interaction with teens. The supposition is that the kids can wait until they're old enough.

Trouble is, that's not how it works. The process of establishing individual identity, keynote of adolescent development, cannot be put on hold - and that includes the establishing of individual spiritual identity in youngens that are so inclined. The kids will keep seeking, they'll keep reading whatever material they have access to that relates to their path, and if they can't find good resources they'll settle for bad ones - they can't be stopped, any more than they can be stopped from growing up (which in fact is exactly what they are doing with their seeking).

So the bottom line is that we MUST "go there". If those of us who are ethical and reliable won't stick our necks out, the unreliable and unethical certainly will. Instead of envisioning worst-case scenarios of conflict with hostile parents and backing off altogether, we need to consider all the scenarios, not just the worst case; we need to consider what the actual risks are, in what situations, and what can be done to minimize them. Those of us who have already been acting as resources for younger seekers will have much to share about what works and what doesn't.

The common ground of this discussion is that we all believe that the whole Pagan community must serve as a resource for the young Pagans and seekers. We may disagree about many other things. Those other things may influence what we think should be done, and how. Debate, including heated debate, is encouraged - but keep in mind that we ultimately have a common goal; if we're preoccupied with "winning" an argument, it's not our debate opponent who ultimately loses, but Paganism's next generation.

Seems to me that's all the "ground rules" needed (very similar ones worked just fine when I was moderating discussion bases on the old dial-up BBSes - I like things loose). Feel free to ask questions if you have 'em.

Oh, and the name of my LiveJournal space? Pure coincidence, I assure you; when I was setting up a few weeks back, I picked it without much thought (beyond, "I can always change it later") from one of my favorite buttons.

Let the discussion begin!


November 2009



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