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Eclecticism and the Dilution of Wiccan Tradition

Danielle Ní Dhighe writes:

Lynna Landstreet writes:

I agree with what Ian said -- by pushing the do-your-own-thing definition of Wicca, Cunningham contributed substantially to the dilution and degradation of Craft tradition. Right now, it seems like three quarters of the so-called Wiccans in America think that "Wicca" is simply a euphemism for "make up your own religion as you go along."

Hey, it worked for Uncle Gerald. ;)

Smiley acknowledged, but I do think there's a major difference. Gardner and the other early Wiccans (I don't buy the claim that it was a one-person project; for one thing, Doreen Valiente appears to have written a large proportion of the "Gardnerian" material) created a body of tradition out of many different sources, but their intent was still to create a specific religious system, with a specific body of belief and practice, not a catch-all term for anything anyone wanted to do.

I have no problem with people who want to devise their own spiritual/religious system; rather, I have a problem with people who want to do that but then insist on naming after something that already exists.

Seriously, though, Wicca has become a rather meaningless term which can be used to describe anything vaguely Pagan.

That's certainly how it looks, but I think I'd put it a bit differently: the term Wicca has as much meaning as it ever did; it's just that an ever-increasing number of people inist on misusing it to mean things that it doesn't! It's like people who, for example, confuse the verbs "to flout" and "to flaunt" -- they can screw them up all they want, but that doesn't change the actual meaning of the words in question.

As unpopular as it may be with the new agers, I will continue to exist that the word Wicca does still have a specific meaning, and that if they want a word for make-it-up-as-you-go-along paganism, they can damn well come up with their own instead of appropriating the name of a living religion. I know, kinda dogmatic of me -- but there you go. I'm becoming conservative in my old age.)

I think Llewellyn Books has to shoulder a lot of the blame -- most of their books on Wicca make it sound like something from Disney. Also, Wicca is an initiatory religion, and there are just too many books that push self-initiation as the way to go.

Definitely. The problem with self-initiation is that, while it's certainly quite possible for individual's to have transformative spiritual experiences or find spiritual insights on their own, they are not necessarily the same insights that form the basis of the religion they are claiming to practice. So there a ton of people out there who on the basis of whatever insights and ideas they have found through their own experimentation and self-initiation, are teaching and initiating others and calling what they do "Wicca", when in fact it may have little or nothing in common with what has traditionally been taught, practiced or believed within that faith. And you can't try to tell them that, because they always feel you're saying that their religion isn't valid.

They don't seem to realize that "Wiccan" is not a synonym for "legitimate", "valid", "personally meaningful" or "spiritual". Something can be all those things without being Wiccan in the slightest. If people would simply realize that and not feel that they need to call what they're doing something that it's not in order to legitimate it, we would all be better off.

Déithe duit,

Liath Cadhóit
(a.k.a Lynna Landstreet)


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