Eradicating Wicca

Although I have been in the Pagan community for the past ten years  (and more of a lurker prior to that) I’ve never seen such a huge level of hostility in regards to (edit) ‘Ecclectic’ Wiccans.
Wicca became a recognized religion in the states. There are some ‘legal’ Wiccan churches in Canada. Wicca as first brought forward by Gerald Gardner, has found its way to North America and taken on a new life. Albeit many strains that have sprung up are Wiccan by name only, resembling little the practice of the Traditional Wiccan groups that got this all started.
Understandably, those who have learned and been initiated from a verifiable lineage find it irritating that anyone can grab a book, read about Wicca and say ‘Hey, yeah, I’m Wiccan’.
However it is was only a matter of time before that happened. When something so beautiful and appealing and new catches the eye of one who has ever really had exposure to the Abrahamic faiths or a new non-dogmatic esoteric approach makes itself known to someone who has always pulled away from religion due to the hypocrisy –it is only natural that it will catch on and bloom. Taking on a life of it’s own.
When Christianity first came on the scene it wasn’t Christianity. It was mainly Jews following the teachings of Jesus. This changed and became a religion, once Rome got involved. ‘What makes a Christian’ was a point of contention in the early church also. Did it require circumcision? Was it based on Good Work? Or was it based on Faith Alone?
There was only one official Christian Church. The Church of Rome. The Universal (Catholic) Church.
Since that time things have changed. Many people broke away and began their own churches. The Catholic church only recognizes those churches (for the most part) with direct lineage to the Apostles. Apostolic Succession. However this has not stopped many backyard churches from popping up, many evangelical, proselytizing, billboard churches, online churches, —– many of them with not only a completely different doctorine, but different praxis as well. However, they are still Christian. If someone says to a Baptist – “What religion are you?” that baptist is most likely to say Christian. Likewise a Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. If asked ‘What KIND of Christian? What Tradition? THEN of course it gets broken down to it’s particular path.
Religion is like that. It spreads. Not always in the way originally intended by the originators. But the Gods don’t sit well in little neat, stagnant containers. Fluid, moving, ever present…. they find their way into and activate the hearts of humankind.
Wicca as a religion is subject to this same process.
“What religion are you?”- “Wiccan”
“ahhh… what kind?”
“Ecclectic/Gardnerian/Faery/Dianic/” etc….
It’s not that awful to share the denominator of Wicca with those who have broken away from the initial tradition.
It is frustrating if those people do not educate themselves on the history and original correct practices or ideas yes…. just as it is frustrating for someone to claim that they are Christian without having some basic History of the Bible, and History of Christianity by an academically accepted source (Yale Open University as an example) — sure the desire is there, the romanticised idea of what they think it is… but without solid founding, these people go on to further alter and change what is all means… but sadly this IS the way it goes. In any religion.
One can call themselves a variety of religions without needing lineage. All that is required is a form of dedication, and sometimes not even that.
So while I see that there is good reason to distinguish between the varieties of Wicca, I feel that going backwards and trying to strip self proclaimed Wiccans of their self identification is un-called for.
Life is full of natural consequences. If Susan declares to everyone she is Wiccan, but knows little- what harm does it really cause? Will she successfully lead a teaching coven and ‘pollute’ the minds of the non-initiated? Probably not. In this wide age of Information, anyone would soon find out she knows little. It is why each seeker needs to prepare themselves for the journey.
Instead of telling self identified Wiccans that they are NOT Wiccan, encourage them to learn more about their newfound professed religion. Suggest the books that initiates would be required to read. Let them know they will be considered Eclectic and/or Solitary unless they find a working coven. Let them know that although Self-Dedication is fine and right and good (Just like self dedication to Christianity) that self-Initiation is not acknowledged. Let them know the find points without steam rolling them, without crushing their new found love of the Gods. If Wicca is not for them they will learn that in good time and it does NOTHING to harm the relationship between anyone else and their own Gods.
This is an elitist attitude that does nothing but serve to show Wicca as an Elitist Religion for Snobs. And THAT is not what it is. It also is an attitude that seems to be more pronounced in North American, especially the US, than anywhere else.
A heated debate transpired that left a sour taste in the mouth of a few.(I had taken a snippet from it for my blog, assuming that because it was a public debate that involved me I could share it here. This was apparently seen as calling someone out and I was accused of trolling, so I’ve removed the snippet.)
We were advised to get back on topic with the thread so I opted to leave but wanted to share my final opinions in my blog. The last few pages of that thread are a bit of a train wreck, but one thing it shows for sure, emotions run high when it comes to this topic.
Wicca is an amazing path and thank the Gods that Gardner brought it out of the broomcloset and into the light.
The flavours and directions it is taking will not always be liked by many or accepted by any, but like any religion, the Seekers need to sift through the rubbish and find their way.
It is not always possible to find a teaching ‘Gard or Lexie’ tradition nearby. They aren’t often in the habit of advertising. So this makes Wicca, as a religion, VERY inaccessible if that is the ONLY way to be considered Wiccan. So yes, offshoots have shot off – some very valid and meaningful, holding some of the core praxis and ideals at heart, and some have quite missed the mark.
This is why guidance and support is mandated for these new Eclectics and Solitaries, rather than trying to eradicate the emerging forms.
Blessed Be.

(the above post was placed in my blog at wiccantogether.com  but due to the fact I will be leaving that site I wanted to repost on my personal blog.))

 

Lines that Define

Not too long ago I wrote a post ” One Path, Two Tools, or Confessions of an Anglipaganostic“. It seemed to make so much sense. Simplifying this inner battle. Things are never that simple it would seem.

I have so much faith and hope in the Progressive Christian Movement. I especially have great faith and hope in the Progressive Episcopalian Church and what it is they are doing to make this accessible and inclusive.  I really believe in it – so much that I have wanted nothing more to work on my little Sacred Path Fellowship and offer a new variety of Christianity to the locals. To put it out there, let people know it exists.

Then in a debate over my blog post at the WiccanTogether.com website I really got a good glimpse of how the majority seems to understand Christianity. Namely “Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour”, and accepting the bible mindlessly (something that isn’t that common to Christianity actually, though the general public seems to think so)

I was honestly a bit taken back by this a bit. It is not the way I have experienced Christianity among my peers, and upon further debating (arguing) it was pointed out that my ideas were so far from the ‘Mainstream’ – of which I’ve never cared much for anyhow – that how could it really be considered Christianity anymore? Why not name it something else?

Is what I (and many MANY other Progressive Christians) follow even Christianity? Those of us who love the 8 Points of:

1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:

Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Believers and agnostics,
Women and men,
Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
Those of all classes and abilities;
4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;

7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

- this seems more akin to what JESUS would have actually taught. But is it what Christianity has become today?  -following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life – to me THAT is what Christianity is about — but I realize now that what we know as Christianity, offers little that would impress Jesus were he to show up here one day and look around.  Unless he is impressed by big billboards, fancy cars, gold crosses with his battered body upon it….

As for two paths. There is the whole Exoteric part.
In Wicca, in Christianity, we dedicate ourselves to the religion.
Whether it be via confirmation or Initiation —
The fight to get Wicca seen as a recognized religion means that the same sort of ‘rules’ begin to apply. (societal rules – the ‘norm’ – which of course many people could care less about)
I ‘can’t ‘ be Jewish AND Christian.
Not claiming identification as Christian and Jew at the same time anyhow
The same gets carried over into the current of Wicca and Christianity.

Now on an Esoteric level, this can have a sense of validity -

Esoterically I believe that religions/spiritual practices have currents. Some currents flow well together and some do not.  (and this is referring to Wicca – not Witchcraft. Being a Witch is not a religious dedication, so there is much more leniency for syncretization)

When looking at my desire to ride both currents, I thought to myself. ‘am I a Christian, using the techniques within Wicca to find the Perfect Union with Deity as taught by Jesus? Or am I a Wiccan, who enjoys the teachings of Jesus?’

I enjoy the teachings of many. I enjoy many Christian practices of Mysticism, as I do Jewish Mysticism.

However, declaring myself as a Christian means I have put my toes into that current.

A current that carries many energies, thought forms, ideas, violent history. A current that will not always run alongside Wicca. If one is dedicating herself to Both those paths, I think it can be a problem.

To say ‘Oh I’m Christian, but not THAT kind of Christian.’ gets so tiresome. I always think – what would Jesus think about Christianity? As said above, at one point do those beliefs become so far removed from what Christianity is known as, that it ceases to become Christianity?

One pivotal discovery that prompted my decision to rededicate myself to Wicca was my new found interest in the Canaanite pantheon. This instigated the reading of many texts. Learning about the evolution of the religion of Israel. The Canaanite origins of El. The texts discovered at Ras Shamra/Ugarit.

From a young age , and increasingly so as I grew older, I felt a presence of God. A large, silent but pulsating, presence. Powerful but benevolent.

Time and time again I was drawn back to the Old Testament. There were many passages in there, especially in Psalms, in which I felt a connection to ‘this’ God more so than the God i had tried to acquaint myself with in Wicca or the angry war-like version of God found elsewhere in the bible.

When I learned about El/Ilu and the Ugaritic writings. Myths of Baal etc — it brought things into a new light. It was this El – Father of All Creation.  That I immediately identified with as the Mountain symbolism that crept into my understanding of God all my life. And whereas I had never identified well to a Goddess, except Hathor (whom I still adore) I connected with Athiratu, Ilu’s consort. (said to be the Asherah worshipped by early Israelites).

I still very much agree with this saying of Gerald Gardner:

the Gods are real, not as persons, but as vehicles of power. Much food for thought upon this point will be found in such books as The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune. And The Art of Creation, by Edward Carpenter, by those who care to seek.
Briefly, it may be explained that the personification of a particular type of cosmic power in the form of a God or Goddess, carried out by believers and worshippers over many centuries, builds that God-form or Magical Image into a potent reality on the Inner Planes, and makes it a means by which that type of cosmic power may be contacted. Nor is the worshippers’ belief in vain; for though they may themselves have built the Magical Image, the Power which ensouls it is real and objective, if the building has been done in the right way. – Gardner, Gerald. The Meaning of Witchcraft. Lakemont, GA US: Copple House Books, 1959; 1988 edition. (p 260-261)

But El/Ilu and Athiratu have become very real to me. The ‘Power’ fueling this love and dedication to me is the Divine. The One. The Unknowable.  It is the Canaanite God Form of Ilu that I connected with. The one that is found within the Old Testament. It is the Canaanite stories of Anat, and her bloodshed and Baal’s command to her to

Remove war from the earth,
set love in the ground,
pour peace into the heart of the earth,
tranquillity into the heart of the fields.

that connects me to the Goddess, and the depictions of Athiratu, near the water, with her cauldron, doing the ‘menial’ tasks, although being Queen of All Creation, that I connect with.

The Bible seems a bit different to me now.

I still find much comfort in Psalms, and in Jewish and Christian Mysticism, but I don’t feel that I can declare myself as a Christian.

I have rededicated myself to Wicca.

One Path, Two Tools (or, Confessions of an Anglipaganostic)

I think I’m probably too tired to write this post, however I’m going to do it anyhow.

First of all I want to thank the Universalist Fellowship of the Sacred Path – my fellow clergy and friends there who are supportive of me and my journey (as I am equally supportive of them). It’s amazing how we have all been on such spiritual pilgrimages. We exchange stories and thoughts and ideas – as varied as we are in our own religious convictions, we share in one thing – we don’t easily fit into a predetermined religious framework. My biggest thanks to Bishop Mansell Gilmore who does such an amazing job of supporting us all.

I go through cycles of varied beliefs and understandings. It looks on the outside like a complete 360, however each time I come round in that circle I have something new I’ve learned that I’ve brought with me.

I don’t know why it should surprise me that I go in circles. After all, our life is a spiral that circles inward, and circles outward. Ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning.

I realized that although I can walk only one path at a time on my journey homeward, that I require different tools. Sometimes the journey is rocky and steep and sometimes it is flat and open. The tools I use reflect the place I am traveling through during that time.

By trying to combine my Earth-Based understandings and relationships with my Episcopalian/Anglican nature, I was watering down both. Sometimes you simply can NOT use one tool for the other.

I need both in my life.

So I decided to create two tool sets for the journey.

Divinaturist Wicca – an Eclectic Wiccan path

Sacred Path Fellowship – a Progressive Christian path

As I have said in earlier posts, although I see a butting of heads amongst those two paths if we are talking to Fundies (both Christian and Pagan/Wiccan) , I do not see a contradiction in general at all.

There is much merit in visualizing and relating to the Lord and Lady in the way Wicca does things. There is also a large feel of ‘Malkut’ to it, as we operate in this realm and realize the divinity in the world that comes to us from within (and as) the elements. The wheel representing the Seasons, the Life Stages, and various other syncretic aspects.

Likewise there is much to be gained for many from within the Christian tradition, especially the Esoteric and Progressive variants.  Wisdom from the Christian Mystics, Gnostic myths about Sophia and the Logos, shared experiences of humanity found in Psalms. A feeling of ‘Tipheret’.

There is much richness in both the above paths and I will not chose between them.

Now, traveling back into time a bit. I had been accused by members of the Pagan community of being ‘too Christian’ , and I will admit that that was a reason I folded up my work with my Circle of the Eternal Sun , Divinaturist group. I allowed those accusations to affect me. I heard a story of a girl who had come to our local Coffee Cauldron  and the amazement (and displeasure) upon finding out that she was in fact Christian. So, the fact that I had such an interest in Esoteric Christianity and Mysticism (Judaic Mysticism as well) made me think  ‘maybe it was time to leave Wicca behind completely’ and I did. I went ahead with my Christian interests, being an ordained Minister within the UFSP , and took  classes from the Metropolitan Theological Seminary.

Still though, my love and understanding of Wicca was strong and found it’s way into my Christian liturgy that I was creating.  In that process the service lost some of the depth that drew me to it in the first place it didn’t express the meaning behind it well. Nor could the Wiccan aspects be fully appreciated. It became something that offered little to a Christian OR an Earth-Based sort.

The light went on.

I realized that both have their place and indeed I myself need both.

I am not just climbing mountains, nor am I just wandering through the plains. This journey takes me through both and I require the tools of Mysticism as found within Christianity, Judaism and Gnosticism as well as the tools of Celebration and Relationship found within Wicca.

Anyhow – if this made sense, awesome. If it didn’t , well in all fairness I did start writing this after midnight and I was already experiencing a decline of mental capacity due to a very late night (4am) the night before. Sometimes I am most inspired to write when I am too tired to think :).

In Lux et Veritas!

The Incarnation

Birch Wind:

As always, amazingly expressed. <3

Originally posted on Magic of the Ordinary:

jesus-smallI’ve been wanting to do this post for a while. But one hesitates when writing about overtly ‘Christian’ topics for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is the ever present concern that some folk may see this as proselytizing or positioning ‘Christianity’ as a better path than others. Such is the legacy – even within modern esoterica – of intrusive evangelism and the refusal of some anti-Christian folk to let go of their prejudice. More importantly is the awareness I have limited understanding and qualifications in these areas.

However, I do want to try and be clear here for the simple reason I find it hard discussing theIncarnation with many Pagans, magicians and other folk. They simply do not get it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I personally think most Christians don’t get the Incarnation either. And to be fair it is a mystery, which means…

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The air is quite dry right now.

Cold Northeastern  wind blowing down across the valley and out to the coast.

White snow like confectioners sugar blowing across the roads, pushing up in small fine heaps along the curb.

Not adhering to anything.

Just moving. With the wind.

Wind chimes are all singing.

The house creaks and the tall elderberry tree is scraping across the window.

Spring is very close, vibrating under the earth.

I can feel it.

Winter is doing, as winter does, hanging on desperately.

Soon to be chased away by the next click

In the gear of the Wheel of the Year.

late winter tree