by Esra Free
Eclecticism in Wicca
by Esra Free©
All Wicca is Eclectic, a word which Webster’s New World
Dictionary defines as meaning, "Selected or selecting from various sources." Some "Trads" claim not to be
eclectic at all, citing unbroken lineages and untainted family traditions
("Fam-Trads") dating back to the Stone Age, but I doubt anyone
(except the members of said Trads, themselves, of course) takes such claims very
seriously anymore. That is not to
say one should not take the individuals involved in such Trads seriously, or
that the Wicca they practice is somehow lessor than the Wicca outlined in these
pages. As author Kaatryn MacMorgan ,
Priestess of theChurch
ofUniversal Eclectic Wicca,
phrased it in the title of her top-notch book on the subject, we are, indeed,
All One Wicca.
The real question of eclecticism in Wicca is less one of if,
than it is of when.
"Non-eclectic" Trad practitioners surely hold as fast as they can to
the exact structure, rules, rituals and beliefs handed down to them by their
nearest known ancestors – but what about their ancestors? And theirs, and
theirs...? Somewhere down the line, somebody, somewhere,
gathered a disparate body of knowledge together, worked it into a coherent
system of belief, and began the "Tradition" of initiating new members
into that system. That person, the
one who initially "rediscovered and reconstructed" (or flat-out
“constructed") the Tradition, who decided what information from family,
village, cultural, mythological or other source materials available would be
accepted and passed on (or reject for being too "out there," or for
contradicting the compiling individual’s personal beliefs or morals), and who
filled in the gaps in that material with bits and pieces of the "unproven
but reasonable" beliefs or writings of others was doing exactly what the
average Wiccan Solitary practitioner does every day right here and now in the
21st Century – building a living tradition out of the best fragmentary source
materials available, and beginning the arduous task of refining it all into a
workable system through trial and error experience.
Now that's eclectic! It doesn't matter whether the act of "selecting from
various sources" occurred in 1660, 1960 or 2660, it's still eclectic,
there's just no escape from that reality.
All Wicca must be eclectic because it is a religion that is
by nature both Gnostic and scientific – it is never enough for a Wiccan to
accept statements about the nature of reality "on faith," and stop
there, as is the rule in many non-Wiccan religions.
The Wiccan practitioner, before accepting any belief, practice, code of conduct
etc., must personally experience
those concepts to hold true or be of value in reality.
What does not work, what does not prove to be true in experience, must rightly
be jettisoned, and a new theory taken on to replace the one disproved, itself
to be put to the same rigorous test.
This style of eclecticism – which bears a striking resemblence to the
scientific method, and is, in fact, western physical science's true spiritual
counterpart – and the constant personal change and growth it engenders, is
indicative of Wicca and any other truly living religious tradition. By this definition, I would go so far as to say
that any religion which is not eclectic, whose beliefs are "set in
stone" by encasement in unchangeable/unchallengeable books of revelation
(the "Holy Books" that define and confine so many of our present
world religions), are dead things, mere caricatures of the living religions
they might have been had their followers been more experimentally courageous.
True eclectisism is neither a belief system in its own right
nor a sign of failure or refusal to commit to any one socially-sanctioned
version of "religious truth."
Conscious eclecticism, when securely coupled with intentionally-developed
intelligence, intuition and will, transcends belief altogether, becoming a
reliable hands-on method for sampling, testing and verifying reality, in both
its visible and its unseen dimensions.
The task of every Wiccan is to evolve past the limitations
imposed by mere "belief," toward real, personal union with the Great
Cosmic Goddess. A playful attitude
of conscious eclectisim in relation to all beliefs is a primary tool by which
we are enabled to accomplish this great work.
From WICCA 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy
by Esra Free, HPS
Cosmic Goddess Coven
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