I call myself a solitary eclectic neo-pagan witch. Which makes some people say
What the heck does that mean?
Pagans follow many different traditions and belief systems. This is true of all the worlds' religions, but maybe even more so of Pagans since most of us are reclaiming an ancient religion that has been through many changes and kept secret as well in order to evade widespread purposeful destruction. Destruction that has been entirely too successful in some cases.
Often, when I tell someone I am Pagan they respond with "Oh, Wiccan." In fact, I am not Wiccan and although I share some of their beliefs there are others I don't share. The easiest way to explain this is not all Pagans are Wiccan, but all Wiccans are Pagan. It's the same as all Baptists are Christians, but not all Christians are Baptists.
Solitary eclectic neo-pagan sounds awfully long as labels go, but I feel it is the most descriptive label for me – if you simply must have a label. (I don't much like labels for people, to tell you the truth.)
Solitary – means that I practice alone. I choose not to be a member of an organized coven. For some people this is a result of not having thirteen (or more) Pagans within a 100-mile radius of their home. In my case, I am simply more comfortable with being a solitary. From time to time I may get together with a few Pagans for a ritual or celebration, and I do participate in some Pagan groups online but I'm not part of an organized coven with a hierarchy by choice.
Eclectic - means that I take from more than one tradition rituals, celebrations, spells and beliefs that suit me. Some Pagans look down on eclectics as people who 'can't commit' or who only want the good things from a tradition without also taking the rules or restrictions. I have to admit, I am a free spirit who does not like rules or restrictions. I believe that if you truly believe in karma and that things you do come back to you, you will be self-regulating and unlikely to cause harm to any with your actions. Eclectic works for me and that is why I choose it, however if you must have reasons there are several. None of us can be pure "whatever" based on the Old Religions, because we simply do not have the information to be so. And since I am French, Native American, and the last man over the fence and my family thrives on lies I don't have any unarguable blood ties to any one form of Paganism. Last, but hardly least, I don't think the Lady cares what name you call her, and I know the fey don't - they read what it is in your heart. All that other stuff is simply to make it easier for the human brain to handle.
Neo-Pagan. To me, all Pagans now are neo-pagans. Very few of us can truly say we are part of an unbroken tradition of teachings. At best we are recreating to the best of our ability the Pagan religions that were nearly destroyed and certainly driven into hiding by Christianity, the rise of patriarchy, and politics. Since the Christian missionaries were taught specifically to destroy any Pagan sites of worship, including sacred groves, altars, and so on, and to burn the witches, we have very little to go on other than the traditions passed down by those who had the courage and the ability to keep a secret to their children or trusted confidantes and the history - written by the victors! Some traditions may be more "pure" than others, but I personally think all of us really should call ourselves Neo-Pagans – the new Pagans.*
Witch – because I do spell work. Not all Pagans do spell work, many of them practice Paganism as a religion only; rituals, holidays, and so on, but do not work spells. When you tell people you are a witch, they want to know what color you are. I'm always tempted to look at my hand and say "pinkish-brown" but generally I go for "green" or hedge witch as that is the tradition nearest to what I practice. Protection, blessings, cleansings, healing, and living, growing things – that's basically my area.
But I find the black/white dichotomy judgemental and very un-Pagan. This black/white thing is a Christian or modern sort of version of witchcraft – that you must be 'good' or 'bad'. To me, the essense of Paganism is to understand that the world isn't black or white, that the night and the moon and the feminine is not 'bad' and day and sun and male is not by definition, 'good'. What defines good or bad is your intention, and your intention should always be to harm none.
I admit, there are people who call themselves Satanists, or black witches or sorcerers. Nothing personal, but I think they may have watched too many horror and fantasy movies, read too many fantasy and horror books, or played a few too many RPGs,. I suspect their intentions are more to shock and cause fear than to truly practice any real religion. No doubt some of them try pretty hard to cast curses and negative spells, and because it is a Universal Law what they do will return to them, the rest of us don't have to worry too much about them.
*The exception would be Native American and Indigenous religions, many of which have been passed down intact and generously shared with the rest of us as well.
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I Am Pagan - Notes From A Solitary Eclectic Neo-Pagan WitchNon-Fiction
I am a solitary, ecletic neopagan witch. The information I share with you here is gathered and distilled from books, articles, other webpages, other Pagans, other witches, meditations, visionary journeys, and listening to my inner voice. I am not a...