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Author Topic: Trad, path, religion or other - what's the difference?  (Read 10402 times)
Purplewitch
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« Topic Start: April 20, 2007, 09:14:02 pm »


There's nothing wrong with creating your own religion or path.  But be sure that it's cohesive and works together.

Shadow's post started a stray train of thought...

There's been a lot of conversation about starting your own religion (surprise with Shadow around :p )
But then I was wondering, what's the difference between a religion, a trad, a path.... is there any basic difference or are they variations on a theme?

Tradition usually refers to Wicca, I know, but then what do you refer to non-wicca religious witchcraft as? Not to mention non-religious, non-wicca witchcraft.

Is it a path if there's more than one person on it, or a religion if there is only one?

Although I'm not sure why I even had that stray thought, but there you go! And I swore I'd stay away from attempted definition conversations Roll Eyes
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« Reply #1: April 20, 2007, 09:20:19 pm »

Shadow's post started a stray train of thought...

There's been a lot of conversation about starting your own religion (surprise with Shadow around :p )
But then I was wondering, what's the difference between a religion, a trad, a path.... is there any basic difference or are they variations on a theme?

Tradition usually refers to Wicca, I know, but then what do you refer to non-wicca religious witchcraft as? Not to mention non-religious, non-wicca witchcraft.

Is it a path if there's more than one person on it, or a religion if there is only one?

Although I'm not sure why I even had that stray thought, but there you go! And I swore I'd stay away from attempted definition conversations Roll Eyes

My personal rule of thumb is that a tradition is a subset of a particular religion. I've used path interchangeably with religion at times, but I tend to think more that a "path" is more of a spiritual journey as opposed to a religious journey...course that's subject to change on a whim too. Smiley
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« Reply #2: April 20, 2007, 09:22:57 pm »

But then I was wondering, what's the difference between a religion, a trad, a path.... is there any basic difference or are they variations on a theme?

A "tradition" I've usually seen referred to as a...  denomination, maybe?...  of a larger religion.  Often Wicca, but it doesn't have to be, I suppose.  Generally this also involves some sort of cohesive and unique practice that's passed down through the tradition to new initiates as they come in.

I'm less clear on the difference between religion and path.  I think a path may be less organized than a religion, more fuzzy and malleable, if that makes sense.  Not 100% sure though.
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« Reply #3: April 20, 2007, 09:31:07 pm »

I'm less clear on the difference between religion and path.  I think a path may be less organized than a religion, more fuzzy and malleable, if that makes sense.  Not 100% sure though.
This is just me, YMMV, but in my mind, my "path" includes all the steps I've taken to get to this point, where I am right now, and the road laid out in front of me.  So a path would be unique to an individual. 

As I see it, one's current religion can be part of a personal spiritual path, or it can be the entire path. 

A tradition?  I'm not so sure.  I've mainly heard that term used to describe denominations of Wicca.
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« Reply #4: April 20, 2007, 11:05:16 pm »

Shadow's post started a stray train of thought...

There's been a lot of conversation about starting your own religion (surprise with Shadow around :p )
But then I was wondering, what's the difference between a religion, a trad, a path.... is there any basic difference or are they variations on a theme?

Tradition usually refers to Wicca, I know, but then what do you refer to non-wicca religious witchcraft as? Not to mention non-religious, non-wicca witchcraft.

Is it a path if there's more than one person on it, or a religion if there is only one?

Although I'm not sure why I even had that stray thought, but there you go! And I swore I'd stay away from attempted definition conversations Roll Eyes

I am in agreement with everyone who says "tradition" is more of a subset or denomination of a larger "umbrella" religion. For example: Religion: Wicca. Tradition: BTW.

To me "path" and "religion" are almost interchangeable, and I have used them interchangeably at times. However to me "path" is more simplistic, and...not as developed? More like a spiritual journey, as someone also said. A "path" has a solid basis of belief. I see "religion" as being more complex, with a developed system, such as holidays, rituals, and a "concrete" basis of belief as well as practice.
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« Reply #5: April 21, 2007, 12:09:22 am »

To me "path" and "religion" are almost interchangeable, and I have used them interchangeably at times. However to me "path" is more simplistic, and...not as developed? More like a spiritual journey, as someone also said. A "path" has a solid basis of belief. I see "religion" as being more complex, with a developed system, such as holidays, rituals, and a "concrete" basis of belief as well as practice.

There's also ... let me see if I can articulate this.

Let me simplify myself and just claim to be Kemetic as my religion.  That has a particular set of practices and beliefs attached to it.

But there's other stuff there.  Because Kemetic religion includes a lot of ancestor veneration, I go into a lot of other stuff, things that honor my ancestors, or derive from my ancestors.  An Egyptian household would not have a domovoi, but I seem to have inherited one; I have a Kemetic obligation to having a good relationship with the domovoi, because that is a relationship that I am maintaining and a part of my community, even though he likely never set foot there.  That's path stuff: I can talk about the care and feeding of domovoi as part of what I do as my devotional work, but it's clearly not a part of my religion.
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« Reply #6: April 21, 2007, 12:49:26 am »

I am in agreement with everyone who says "tradition" is more of a subset or denomination of a larger "umbrella" religion. For example: Religion: Wicca. Tradition: BTW.

To me "path" and "religion" are almost interchangeable, and I have used them interchangeably at times. However to me "path" is more simplistic, and...not as developed? More like a spiritual journey, as someone also said. A "path" has a solid basis of belief. I see "religion" as being more complex, with a developed system, such as holidays, rituals, and a "concrete" basis of belief as well as practice.

I'm jumping on this boat with Dania and sitting in the same row as Darkhawk.

I agree that "tradition" is essentially a subset of a larger religion.  The example Dania gave seemed apt.

Also, I agree about "path" and "religion" being *almost* interchangeable. 

Simplifying as Darkhawk did, I could say my religion is (some form of) moderate Celtic recon.  But my personal path is specifically all about Brighid.  I'm calling it Brighideach (with thanks to Juni for the suggestion Wink ). 

There are lots of people who are Celtic recons, and probably a fair number who could reasonably be described as moderate Celtic recons -- even though I stole that phrase from Dru.  And I know there are lots of people who follow Brighid.  But I'm sure I'm the only one who has gotten to exactly where I am in exactly the way I have, and is going exactly the same place I am, wherever that might be.  So that's why it's *my* path.  I have to walk it by myself.

In addition to "religion" and "path", I want to add "spirituality" to the mix.  Mostly because I like to use that word, often interchangeably with "religion" and "path" -- but I haven't really defined it adequately.  Maybe it is just a synonym.
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« Reply #7: April 21, 2007, 07:09:36 am »

There's been a lot of conversation about starting your own religion (surprise with Shadow around :p )
But then I was wondering, what's the difference between a religion, a trad, a path.... is there any basic difference or are they variations on a theme?

For me, I'd say that a "path" is an overall spirituality or spiritual journey.  Your "path" may or may not include "religion."  I've always thought of "religion" as something that specifically deals with god/desses, and worship.  Not all spiritual journeys are religious.
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« Reply #8: April 21, 2007, 08:23:30 am »

To me "path" and "religion" are almost interchangeable, and I have used them interchangeably at times. However to me "path" is more simplistic, and...not as developed? More like a spiritual journey, as someone also said. A "path" has a solid basis of belief. I see "religion" as being more complex, with a developed system, such as holidays, rituals, and a "concrete" basis of belief as well as practice.

That's very close to how I usually use the terms. I think a "religion" is more of a group thing: multiple people following a common set of religious beliefs and practices while I think of a "path" as a more personal thing (a religion of one), so to speak."
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« Reply #9: April 21, 2007, 08:33:25 am »

Is it a path if there's more than one person on it, or a religion if there is only one?

Although I'm not sure why I even had that stray thought, but there you go! And I swore I'd stay away from attempted definition conversations Roll Eyes

For me, a path, is something that you are following, although you aren't sure where it might lead.  You might up and come across a bridge or a river at any moment that could change everything.

A tradition and a religion seem closer in nature to me, although I don't think a tradition necessarily "is" a religion so much as a facet of a religion.  A set of traditions make up a religion.

A religion is more structured than the path, and has defining traits that make it different from other religions - different traditions.

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« Reply #10: April 21, 2007, 11:18:26 am »

I'd say there's a surprising amount of consensus (for TC :p ) - not exact agreement, but certainly a fair amount of common ground.
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« Reply #11: April 21, 2007, 11:27:14 am »

A tradition and a religion seem closer in nature to me, although I don't think a tradition necessarily "is" a religion so much as a facet of a religion.  A set of traditions make up a religion.

Which brings up a related question - Do religions create/collect traditions? Can wiccan Traditions be regarded as exclusive traditions that are similar in nature to traditions developed by other religions?

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« Reply #12: April 23, 2007, 08:01:17 am »

For example: Religion: Wicca. Tradition: BTW.
I'm nitpicking here, but some nits need to be picked.

BTW is not "a tradition".  It's an umbrella term (small umbrella, for a change) for a certain subset - I frequently say "branch" - within the Wiccan family of religions.  Those who really do hold initiatory lineage in one (or more) of the BTW trads will usually give the name of their trad (if they're talking about it at all), rather than just saying "BTW", since, for the most part, they don't give a flying fork whether you've heard of their trad or not.  Usually (though not always, so it's good to be polite when inquiring further) those who self-describe only as "BTW" mean only that they practice in the style of Traditionalists, or what they believe to be that style (huge mileage variations there); they don't give a trad name because they don't have one to give - which is why I felt the nit needed picking.

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« Reply #13: April 23, 2007, 08:14:25 am »

Those who really do hold initiatory lineage in one (or more) of the BTW trads will usually give the name of their trad (if they're talking about it at all), rather than just saying "BTW", since, for the most part, they don't give a flying fork whether you've heard of their trad or not. 

I've found that almost all BTWs who are used to interacting with the broader Pagan community will use the term "BTW" (especially if they are from a BTW tradition other than Gardnerian or Alexandrian) as well as their tradition as they know that otherwise they are likely to be assumed to be non-BTW. They ones who "don't give a flying fork whether you've heard of their trad or not" tend to be the ones that give BTW a bad name -- not because they don't use the term but because all their interactions with other Pagans tend to be on "don't give a flying fork about you" basis.
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« Reply #14: April 23, 2007, 10:09:32 am »

I'm nitpicking here, but some nits need to be picked.

BTW is not "a tradition".  It's an umbrella term (small umbrella, for a change) for a certain subset - I frequently say "branch" - within the Wiccan family of religions.  Those who really do hold initiatory lineage in one (or more) of the BTW trads will usually give the name of their trad (if they're talking about it at all), rather than just saying "BTW", since, for the most part, they don't give a flying fork whether you've heard of their trad or not.  Usually (though not always, so it's good to be polite when inquiring further) those who self-describe only as "BTW" mean only that they practice in the style of Traditionalists, or what they believe to be that style (huge mileage variations there); they don't give a trad name because they don't have one to give - which is why I felt the nit needed picking.

Sunflower

My mistake, I had thought that BTW was a trad separate from trads such as Gardernarian. However I think my point was still made Smiley
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