The majority of us who consider ourselves Pagans left Christianity to strike out and define a faith of our own. We left the Christian flock to form a wolf pack of sorts, and many of us coalesced into the pack known as Wicca. There are various pack branches, and some branches feel that other branches don't really belong to the pack, but small quibbles aside, the differences are academic.
And then there are those of us who have gone a little further -- the lone wolves who don't consider ourselves Wiccan due to deeper differences in philosophy. Some, like the Asatruar, have formed their own pack and hunt other territory. Others may minimize their differences to remain with the Wiccan pack, albeit on the fringes. And then there are the rest of us.
We are the lost ones. Maybe not exactly lost, but definitely not traveling with the pack. Wicca 101 books may have gotten us started in the forest, but we've grown to the point where the Wicca books help us less and less. Maybe we don't identify with the strongly Celtic influence so prevalent in many Wiccan traditions. Maybe we can't identify with Gerald Gardner any more than we can with Jerry Falwell. Or maybe our personal codes and the way we live our lives just doesn't fit in within accepted parameters of Wicca.
I was re-reading "To Light a Sacred Flame" by Silver Ravenwolf the other day and noticed that one of the reasons I have such mixed feelings on the book is because its usefulness to me is quite a bit less than some of her other stuff. Her tradition is Wiccan. I'm not Wiccan. This means that much of the information she gives from a Wiccan perspective is pretty much useless.
In some of the recent Cauldron message threads, there has also been some discussion on Magick. I've been guilty of the same thing that a lot of people have done -- lumped magick in with Wicca. Even though I should know better, I still mentally lumped magick in with Wicca until an acquaintance of mine shared her experience of overcoming a guilt complex for her love of those Catholic candles found in the Mexican food aisles of grocery stores all around the US.
My own knee-jerk, former Catholic self's reaction was, "they can't do that, they're Catholic and it won't work!"
Then I asked myself why not. An embarrassed sputter was all I could come up with. For shame! Magick isn't limited to Wicca, or even the larger umbrella of Paganism. I spent a good day and a half cleaning wolf-doo off my boots for that one. Big oops.
The point of this short essay is this -- don't be guilty of the same things our ancestors were guilty of. Just as turn-of-the-century archaeologists put a decidedly Christian slant on their studies of pre-Christian cultures, the Pagan community is in danger of putting a Wiccan slant on something that is larger than Wicca. Tread carefully in the forest, and mind the lone wolves that are hunting alongside the pack.
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