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Author Topic: Wicca - Religion vs Lifestyle  (Read 10624 times)
Darkhawk
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« Reply #15: March 11, 2010, 03:45:57 pm »

Well, I know skads of Christians who don't go to church regularly......I suppose that non "practicing" Wiccans as still Wiccan in the way that non-practicing Christians are still Christian.

Though there is a difference with at least traditional Wicca and Christianity, and that comes around to the orthopraxy/orthodoxy thing again.

Because Christianity is, at least as commonly understood, essentially about belief, the whole doing-ritual thing can fall by the wayside without losing much core stuff.  (Though I'm sure Koi would have a fit about that characterisation, I don't think it's deniable as a common lay perspective.)

Because trad Wicca is very much about shared praxis, if one stops practicing ... one's not sharing praxis anymore, no matter how much one believes in it.
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« Reply #16: March 11, 2010, 04:46:38 pm »



Because trad Wicca is very much about shared praxis, if one stops practicing ... one's not sharing praxis anymore, no matter how much one believes in it.

Ah, but here we are talking "trad" Wicca as opposed to ........what do I call the miriad other kinds of wicca?

As trad witches/Wiccans, it's ALL about the practice. For those who are book taught, eclectic, self-taught, or otherwise, this is most likely not the case. Tradition Wiccans will almost invariably call Wicca religion; others may not.

This reminds me a little of the old days when many of the traditional folk had their knickers in a twist over the co-opting of the term "Wicca". The first time I heard someone say "Wicca is whatever you want it to be....." I almost burst a blood vessel. And thus the first Fluff Bunnies hopped onto the scene, and Wicca was never the same again.

As with all words, this is the way of the evolution of the English language. Many words have evolved new meanings with the change of time.... Wicca is one of them.
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« Reply #17: March 11, 2010, 04:49:16 pm »

Well, I know skads of Christians who don't go to church regularly......I suppose that non "practicing" Wiccans as still Wiccan in the way that non-practicing Christians are still Christian.

They might not be. Christianity is more about what you believe religion-wise than what you do religion-wise, whereas many Pagan religions, including more traditional forms of Wicca, are more about what you do religion-wise than about what you believe.
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« Reply #18: March 11, 2010, 06:56:32 pm »

Ah, but here we are talking "trad" Wicca as opposed to ........what do I call the miriad other kinds of wicca?

For the most part, I don't call them Wicca, but some people get really annoyed when I don't call IRAB witches Wiccan; thus, I talk about trad Wicca.
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« Reply #19: March 11, 2010, 08:54:02 pm »

Another thing that dismays me is that some of these more surface-oriented Wiccans criticize my more serious approach. Some think that the Goddess and God are not meant to be taken literally as real entities, and that my studying and thinking distances me from real experiences. I'd like to think otherwise, that research helps me experience my religion more deeply because it helps me understand different aspects of my religion. I value study and practice equally. To me Wicca is all about balancing polarities and counterparts, including study and practice, knowledge and experience. Anyway, I found this really disheartening at some point and it actually caused me a crisis of faith. I felt very different from other Wiccans that I know, and thought that I was doing something wrong. Now I feel stronger and more confident about walking my path they way that suits me. Still, it feels good to be encouraged.

Lintu,

Well consider this. In every shared religion that is larger than a singular autonomous group, there tend to be those that will skim the surface. Religions for example such as Christianity that so permeate Western cultures have always had spiritual skimmers. “Sunday Christians” are a given in many communities. My late mother used to refer to her family and my dad’s as both being WASPs – White Apathetic Sunday Protestants. Amongst certain circles, Reformed Judaism has become a euphemism for such skimmers. I know some ethnic Muslims who just celebrate some of the bigger festivals and that’s all they are interested in. There are Buddhist skimmers and Hindu skimmers and so on in large and often disconnected cultural populations.

While Wicca has much smaller demographics and obviously a much shorter historical legacy, as a shared religion, it only makes sense that one will also get spiritual skimmers, wouldn’t it?  They are a bit like the flotsam and jetsam that gets picked up by the river’s current and whirled around and around but never ends up anywhere in particular. Those who work at their faith understand the current and how not to let it make them into the impermanence of  spiritual rocks.   

Many years ago, an older Witch passed on this bit of wisdom, ‘Be the best example of your faith by living it to the best of your ability every day.’  To which I would add, ‘regardless of whether anyone else knows what you are.’  That is where it starts, Lintu. With how you choose to live and to live your faith as a Wiccan. Not through proving otherwise through words or admonishments but just that ordinary, everyday enactment within your life of what it means to be an eclectic Wiccan.  For eclectic also is a maligned term in some places, held to mean someone who is superficial etc. Eclectic itself comes from an ancient Greek philosophical movement where each philosopher researched widely and as respectfully as possible all beliefs and faiths and brought the best of whatever he found to integrate back into his personal philosophy by which he lived. To be eclectic meant to constantly strive, to value research and be the best one could become. Think about that the next time someone maligns that honorific.

I agree, a Wiccan is a practitioner of the Religion of Wicca. A lot of self-defining authors tend to use the term as a catchall for what might better be described as Paganism, that broad modern spectrum where the Sabbats have been re-defined into generalised  ‘Pagan’ celebrations.

I am definitely not someone that Wiccan in her early twenties would want to cross paths with.  Roll Eyes I would have pointed out that one of the ways in which someone is recognised as being Wiccan is by his or her constant self-improvement through study. Or as a HP I know puts it, when a Wiccan stops learning, they are not lazy, they are dead.  I’d also point out to those thinking the Gods are not real, that this indicates they don’t yet have a real relationship with the Gods of Wicca Themselves. Those that do, that have properly prepared themselves and brought the best of his or herself into that relationship with his or her Gods - did so by studying and thinking combined with living one’s faith. That is simply spiritual common sense.

What makes Wicca a religion? (I know, not specifically addressed to me…) I consider a religion to have a non-negotiable unique core definition of the Divine. The Gods of Wicca (whether the original pantheon or just the two more important of the pantheon) provide that non-negotiable core definition that incorporates within it the core belief in deity as well as polytheism and may also contain elements of pantheism/animism. From that core evolves the structure of this religion. A celebratory ritual calendar - The Wheel of the Year – ritual recognition of the seasons plus as all Wiccans are also Witches, Esbats (Coven meetings). Spiritual principles - individual connection to deity; belief in Witchcraft and magic, whether practised or not; that Wicca is not taught, it is experienced; constant improvement-study-practice. Moral tenets - The Rede, Law of Balance/Return; taking responsibility for your actions. Life passage rites - Wiccaning, Handfasting, Passing over. Sacred rites - The Sacred Marriage, Drawing Down the Moon/Sun etc. Often a religion has a mythos that is unique but this tends to be tradition specific given Wicca’s 70+ years of history. Any shared religion must be able to be passed down intact and coherently from teacher-student. In the case of Wicca it is but not from parent to child as Wicca is meant to be an adult-practised religion. Finally a religion should be passed down through at least two generations and Wicca is now just entering its fourth generation.

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« Reply #20: March 11, 2010, 09:29:15 pm »

I've actually heard a Wiccan say: "The great thing about Wicca is that you don't have to learn anything, you can just be a Wiccan. You can just call yourself a Wiccan if you believe in it."

This really bewilders me. She isn't a teen Wicca, she's in her early twenties. I also know other Wiccans who don't even celebrate the Sabbats. They do take notice of the Sabbats, but don't celebrate in any way, ritual or other special activity. Do you think a person can call themselves a Wiccan if they don't practice it? Doesn't "Wiccan" mean a practitioner of Wicca? What if you only believe in it? Perhaps then it could more accurately be called a philosophy, lifestyle or ideology instead of a religion, but some of these people do insist that it's their religion, perhaps because they need the spiritual social identity. What do you think makes Wicca (or any other path) a religion? This question is not specifically addressed to AmberHeart.

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 From Well, I know skads of Christians who don't go to church regularly......I suppose that non "practicing" Wiccans as still Wiccan in the way that non-practicing Christians are still Christian.
This was going to be my reply, almost word for word
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« Reply #21: March 11, 2010, 10:47:12 pm »

Ah, but here we are talking "trad" Wicca as opposed to ........what do I call the miriad other kinds of wicca?
"NeoWicca" is becoming pretty common for that - myself, I don't care for it as an umbrella term because it implies a degree of similarity between non-BTWs that isn't really there; when I'm speaking of the whole kit'n'kaboodle but want to acknowledge that there's a wide range of praxis and doctrine, I usually refer to, "the Wiccan family of religions," or, more casually, just say, "Wicca/Wiccish".

(Also, it's not what "NeoWicca" was originally coined to refer to.  But, as you say, that's how living languages are - OTOH, nothing says I have to like any particular development.)

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« Reply #22: March 12, 2010, 08:01:49 am »

Though there is a difference with at least traditional Wicca and Christianity, and that comes around to the orthopraxy/orthodoxy thing again.

Because Christianity is, at least as commonly understood, essentially about belief, the whole doing-ritual thing can fall by the wayside without losing much core stuff.  (Though I'm sure Koi would have a fit about that characterisation, I don't think it's deniable as a common lay perspective.)

Because trad Wicca is very much about shared praxis, if one stops practicing ... one's not sharing praxis anymore, no matter how much one believes in it.

Excellent point, Darkhawk.

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« Reply #23: March 12, 2010, 08:32:58 am »

Ah, but here we are talking "trad" Wicca as opposed to ........what do I call the miriad other kinds of wicca?

As trad witches/Wiccans, it's ALL about the practice. For those who are book taught, eclectic, self-taught, or otherwise, this is most likely not the case. Tradition Wiccans will almost invariably call Wicca religion; others may not.

This reminds me a little of the old days when many of the traditional folk had their knickers in a twist over the co-opting of the term "Wicca". The first time I heard someone say "Wicca is whatever you want it to be....." I almost burst a blood vessel. And thus the first Fluff Bunnies hopped onto the scene, and Wicca was never the same again.

As with all words, this is the way of the evolution of the English language. Many words have evolved new meanings with the change of time.... Wicca is one of them.

Well Neo-Wicca is one of the terms I've heard used. Wiccanesque is another.

No one has a copyright on the word and by the very nature of publishing information on a mystery religion, authors often with the best of intentions went on to self--define what it meant and pass this on to others as being that religion. Not that anyone is obliged to recognise anything as being Wicca or acknowledge anyone as Wiccan. I think there is a responsiblity to not to do so if something clearly has been added or retrofitted ad hoc. 

Yet amid all of these folks that gravitate towards the trendy, author-defined or author-limited and those nifty accessible paint-by-numbers sources will be those few eclectic, solitary, self-taught Wiccans who have - despite all those challenges - a profound and life-changing relationship to the Gods of Wicca. Who despite being surrounded by the skimmers, remain commited seekers willing to do the hard work, the thinking and contemplation as well as practicing their religion. Wicca, as an HPS for whom I have great respect once put it, was never meant for the masses, it is meant for the few. She also pointed out that every Wiccan regardless of whether they are in a coven or not remains a solitary in his or her personal practice. So being a solitary practititioner doesn't in itself make anyone not Wiccan.

It seems to be a process that has been continually going on since the '60's. Many of those that skitter and skim over the accessible forms of Wicca or wicca eventually become distracted by something more appealling or find out that what they believe isn't sufficient or deep enough or strong enough to deal with the pain, trauma and challenges of life. Some blame Wicca itself or those who 'taught' them or even religion in general for being wrong or inadequate etc.

A few on the other hand will then realise that what they believe in as Wicca isn't enough, that they never got beyond the surface and then go on to discover within them the spiritual necessity to become seekers. Those few are the ones that will take the deeper paths into Wicca, as this religion was conceived to be and as it can be experienced. Even if they never have the opportunities to become part of a coven or tradition, there are still deeper paths that even the eclectic, self-taught solitary can walk.

In the meantime, the fluff bunnies and the wanna-bes and the witchie-in-the-nights' and so on will go on using the term wicca or Wicca like all purpose scrubbing bubbles. Sometimes i think the purpose of these folks is a bit like dealing with for example SRW's books. Hand one to a student and if he/she doesn't argue or get upset with what is written about Wicca, it is a good indication of how much that student has to un-learn. Neo-Wiccans remind us how much un-learning one might have to do to get any deeper into the Religion and how easy it is to get mired into the what-ever-makes-me-feel-good-is-right spiritual mindset.

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« Reply #24: March 12, 2010, 09:36:21 am »

If that is the way you choose to take your religion, then all power to you. It is your religion, not anyone elses! It is all about what you believe to be true.

Thank you midnightsharonb!
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« Reply #25: March 12, 2010, 09:44:28 am »

Many years ago, an older Witch passed on this bit of wisdom, ‘Be the best example of your faith by living it to the best of your ability every day.’  To which I would add, ‘regardless of whether anyone else knows what you are.’  That is where it starts, Lintu. With how you choose to live and to live your faith as a Wiccan. Not through proving otherwise through words or admonishments but just that ordinary, everyday enactment within your life of what it means to be an eclectic Wiccan.

Amber, that's something to consider, thank you. Smiley

I consider a religion to have a non-negotiable unique core definition of the Divine. The Gods of Wicca (whether the original pantheon or just the two more important of the pantheon) provide that non-negotiable core definition that incorporates within it the core belief in deity as well as polytheism and may also contain elements of pantheism/animism.

What do you mean by the original pantheon of Wicca or just the two more important of the Gods?

While I feel different among path-skimming people who call themselves Wiccan, on the other hand I'm going through an inner debate on whether I have the right to call myself a Wiccan. Certainly there are some who would say no because I haven't been initiated (though I wish to be when I'm up to it and accepted). I don't consider everything that others might call Wicca to be Wicca. Personally I feel that I have to earn the title by study and practice and a personal relationship with the Gods.

Where do you draw the line between not accepting everything as Wicca and elitism? Even if one tolerates all paths and all forms of wiccanesque, I don't think one has to agree to call all of it Wicca.

This is a very good thread. All of you have made some good points to consider.
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« Reply #26: March 12, 2010, 10:34:59 am »

They might not be. Christianity is more about what you believe religion-wise than what you do religion-wise, whereas many Pagan religions, including more traditional forms of Wicca, are more about what you do religion-wise than about what you believe.

Well, it certainly wouldn't occur to me to tell a non practicing wiccan that they were not wiccan......or even to tell the non religious wiccans that they are not wiccan. To me, the word has just become too homogenized to define any single group of beliefs or practices.
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« Reply #27: March 13, 2010, 06:56:50 pm »

Amber, that's something to consider, thank you. Smiley

What do you mean by the original pantheon of Wicca or just the two more important of the Gods?

While I feel different among path-skimming people who call themselves Wiccan, on the other hand I'm going through an inner debate on whether I have the right to call myself a Wiccan. Certainly there are some who would say no because I haven't been initiated (though I wish to be when I'm up to it and accepted). I don't consider everything that others might call Wicca to be Wicca. Personally I feel that I have to earn the title by study and practice and a personal relationship with the Gods.

Where do you draw the line between not accepting everything as Wicca and elitism? Even if one tolerates all paths and all forms of wiccanesque, I don't think one has to agree to call all of it Wicca.

This is a very good thread. All of you have made some good points to consider.

Lintu,

According to the BTW that I know, Gerald Gardner when he originally conceived this religion in the circa 1930’s in Britain identified an unique pantheon known as the Gods of Wicca. Who this pantheon was/is was considered to be oathbound information passed down orally within Traditions that can trace a lineage of transmission back to Gardner. After publications began to occur in the 60’s on the basics (non-oath-bound) of Wicca, he was asked to provide a written comment about the two of this pantheon that he considered the most important. Gardner couldn’t Name Them (oathbound) so he just wrote The Lord and The Lady. That comment became the basis for the non-negotiable definition of the Divine for non-lineaged Traditions of Wicca, usually referred to as the God and the Goddess. Still part of the original pantheon so still the Gods of Wicca but not all of Them. I do remember a HPS I knew mentioning that anyone else who wanted to figure out the Names of the pantheon might want to delve deeply into The Witches Bible by the Farrers.

Some Wiccans do reject anyone not initiated but being initiated is meant to signify that you are part of a Wiccan Tradition or that specific Tradition or his/her Tradition (the one rejecting that is). Initiation is that which is done to you by a coven or group to honor your inclusion in that Tradition and/or achievement of a certain level of skills and knowledge. For many Wiccans that don’t have the opportunity to be initiated by others, Self-Dedication to the Gods can be enacted through study, practice and a personal relationship with the Gods. Wicca (according to the BTW I know) is a gods-centric faith so that is what counts, wouldn’t you think?

As human beings, acceptance is one of our primary motivations, literally hardwired from our evolution as it were. So not being accepted on the basis of what one might sincerely believe is Wicca can be taken very personally and be both painful and discouraging.  Huh Doing so can certainly get you called elitist. So can telling someone that their sources are all fluff and crap.  Angry Doing so for well thought out and common sense reasons that you can explain and that provide open not close doors for that someone to go further….sometimes gets beyond that initial stage of rejection.

My (non-Wiccan) Tradition of Witchcraft follows what is called the Threefold Law of Interaction. In simplest terms,  it goes like this.
One – I am not obliged to acknowledge you as ‘X’ if I don’t recognise what you call ‘X” and visa versa. If you want my acknowledgement, then change. If not, my lack of acknowledge shouldn’t matter to you.
Two -  If you and I choose to work together as ‘X”, then what each of us brings as ‘X’ into that working and its duration is each other’s business. Everything else isn’t.
Three – if you choose to petition to join my Tradition, what you bring into the Tradition (group/coven/circle) is everyone’s business in that Trad and visa versa. Everything else isn’t. If you ask to be taught and are accepted, then what you bring as student is my business as teacher and visa versa. Everything else isn’t.

Folks are bringing up good stuff, a thought provoking discussion indeed.  Smiley

Amber
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