Defaulting to Wicca: Issues with Intra-Pagan Dialogue

Find other posts related to this topic on the link round-up post!

Over on PAGAN+politics Cara Schulz wrote a great recap of PantheaCon. I will concur that not only is she very nice in person but very funny as well. I was happy to room with her and after meeting her in person have even more respect and love for her, even if she is a conservative! In her post she mentioned something that she and I had discussed while at the convention: Wicca-centric language.

At pan-Pagan events there is a tendency to default to Wiccan language in order to be inclusive. The problem is that it isn’t inclusive of other Pagan religions. Speaking in terms of high priestesses, high priests, “The Goddess” and coven structure actively excludes other Pagan traditions. This tendency to use Wicca as a default is because for decades the majority of Pagans practiced some form of religious Witchcraft. That’s no longer the case. Heathenry is growing by leaps and bounds, and Mediterranean religions are growing steadily.

It’s pretty clear to see why this is an issue for Reconstructionists and other Pagan religions. However, as a Wiccan, I also find this offensive. Right now large numbers of Pagans are using Wiccan language, concepts, practices, structure and cosmology while looking down their nose at Wicca itself.

I had written awhile back about the idea of of cultural appropriation of Wicca but I never really delved into it. While perhaps not comparable to the cultural appropriation faced by Native American peoples, it’s still a factor in the relationship between Wicca and the greater Pagan community. Not only due to it’s pseudo-history, but also it’s popularity, a great number of Pagans harbor an active disdain or contempt for Wicca. Part of this dates from the theories Hutton posited in Triumph of the Moon, part from the abundance of redundant, and even worthless, books on the religion, and partly due to Wicca having once acted as a gateway or buffer for other Pagan religions.

Courtesy cronewynd via Flickr CC license

Yet, as a Wiccan knowing this doesn’t stop it from grating on my nerves when someone expounds Wiccan theology, participates in a coven, engages in Wiccan rituals and yet rejects the label of Wicca. We all know people who identify as some form of Pagan other than Wicca, and yet their worldview, practices and worship structure are practically identical to Wicca. This has led to the promulgation of watered-down Wicca, which has fed the contempt and disdain for the religion.

While I have heard Wiccans speak of this in private, there isn’t very much public discussion about it. Either Wiccans react by separating themselves from the greater Pagan community or they shrug it off as inevitable in a movement where it is anathema to correct someone else’s religious misconceptions.

When Wicca is used as a generic catch-all language for the greater Pagan community not only does it exclude the abundant diversity of the modern Pagan religious movement, but it feeds the idea that Wicca is bland, generic, insubstantial and shallow. We need a more inclusive language when speaking about Paganism. I am making an effort towards that in my own writing, often using “all that which is Divine” instead of speaking of the Goddess or the Gods. If we cannot find a way to develop an intra-Pagan language and dialogue, how can we hope to develop a robust and accurate interfaith dialogue?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    We need a more inclusive language when speaking about Paganism.

    YES. This has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late. When people find out I’m a Pagan and go “Oh so you’re a Wiccan?” I almost vehemently disagree with it. It’s only been really in the past 2 years or so where I’ve realized that while I may not call myself a Wiccan, almost all of my religious beliefs were in tune with Wicca. So I’m in the process now of stripping down to the nitty gritty, not so much the Pokemon version of the Craft I practiced in my younger years. I think to use Wicca catch-all phrases does a disservice to both Wiccans and other Pagans.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I get this too, Vermillion, and I also vehemently disagree (and my core beliefs are nowhere near Wiccan). I think it speaks to the need for graeter awareness that Paganism is an umbrella term for many, many different and otherwise unrelated religions of which Wicca might be one.

    • Confused

      I have found, myself, that when I mention Paganism and someone asks me if I’m a Wiccan, I disagree and draw contrast to the Greek and Egyptian Gods.

      However, I recently had an interesting incident where I clarified that I was not Wiccan preemptively because for some strange reason, most everyone who learned of my religion that day assumed I was Wiccan because I was a Pagan. All I said to the woman I was talking to was, “My religion? I’m a Pagan. No, I’m not a Wiccan.”

      Big mistake.

      A young man nearby turned out to be a Wiccan. He screamed at me for a good twenty minutes about how hard Wiccans have it, that other Pagans would never understand, that I was given Pagans a bad name by clarifying that I wasn’t Wiccan, that I was racist against Wiccans.

      When his rant finished, I found myself a bit confused, and do to this day; I still have no idea what I did wrong.

      • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

        Sounds like he had issues.

        Maybe he thought you were implying being Wiccan was bad by your disclaimer. “I’m Asatru, and no, I’m not a neo-Nazi.”

        I don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong, but I always think it’s helpful to affirm the positive “I am” rather than the negative “I’m not”.

      • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

        While I’m in no place to deny or even question what discriminations may be faced by Wiccans, surely the fact that, to many people (including other self-defined pagans), “Pagan = Wiccan” should show him that Wiccans clearly have a very slight privilege.

        Sure, it’s very slight, probably doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but many people automatically have at least some idea what Wicca kind-of-sort-of is, but naught a clue what many other religions commonly defined as “pagan” are.  That’s kind of what it means to have social privilege:  On some level, your demographic is the assumed default.  Compared to Abrahamic privilege, Wiccan privilege is like a pea-pebble next to a bowling ball, but it’s still not the grains of sand.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    We need a more inclusive language when speaking about Paganism.

    YES. This has been weighing heavily on my mind as of late. When people find out I’m a Pagan and go “Oh so you’re a Wiccan?” I almost vehemently disagree with it. It’s only been really in the past 2 years or so where I’ve realized that while I may not call myself a Wiccan, almost all of my religious beliefs were in tune with Wicca. So I’m in the process now of stripping down to the nitty gritty, not so much the Pokemon version of the Craft I practiced in my younger years. I think to use Wicca catch-all phrases does a disservice to both Wiccans and other Pagans.

    • Galina Krasskova

      I get this too, Vermillion, and I also vehemently disagree (and my core beliefs are nowhere near Wiccan). I think it speaks to the need for graeter awareness that Paganism is an umbrella term for many, many different and otherwise unrelated religions of which Wicca might be one.

    • Confused

      I have found, myself, that when I mention Paganism and someone asks me if I’m a Wiccan, I disagree and draw contrast to the Greek and Egyptian Gods.

      However, I recently had an interesting incident where I clarified that I was not Wiccan preemptively because for some strange reason, most everyone who learned of my religion that day assumed I was Wiccan because I was a Pagan. All I said to the woman I was talking to was, “My religion? I’m a Pagan. No, I’m not a Wiccan.”

      Big mistake.

      A young man nearby turned out to be a Wiccan. He screamed at me for a good twenty minutes about how hard Wiccans have it, that other Pagans would never understand, that I was given Pagans a bad name by clarifying that I wasn’t Wiccan, that I was racist against Wiccans.

      When his rant finished, I found myself a bit confused, and do to this day; I still have no idea what I did wrong.

      • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

        Sounds like he had issues.

        Maybe he thought you were implying being Wiccan was bad by your disclaimer. “I’m Asatru, and no, I’m not a neo-Nazi.”

        I don’t think you necessarily did anything wrong, but I always think it’s helpful to affirm the positive “I am” rather than the negative “I’m not”.

      • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        While I’m in no place to deny or even question what discriminations may be faced by Wiccans, surely the fact that, to many people (including other self-defined pagans), “Pagan = Wiccan” should show him that Wiccans clearly have a very slight privilege.

        Sure, it’s very slight, probably doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but many people automatically have at least some idea what Wicca kind-of-sort-of is, but naught a clue what many other religions commonly defined as “pagan” are.  That’s kind of what it means to have social privilege:  On some level, your demographic is the assumed default.  Compared to Abrahamic privilege, Wiccan privilege is like a pea-pebble next to a bowling ball, but it’s still not the grains of sand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Reimers/659542888 Scott Reimers

    Back in the 70s Kleenix Ad Campaign was too successful. They literally got people calling all tissues kleenix… which limited their ability to protect their brand.

    Unfortunately, Wicca has one major factor which is doing the same. MOST Americans don’t know the difference between Wicca and any other “pagan” faith. If I go to my boss and tell him I want days off for my Heathen Faith she’ll look at me and laugh. If I tell her I’m “Wiccan” which is a recognized religion both federally and in many states, she might ask why I want different days than my co-worker fox-shadow-hawk-star-wolf (sorry… couldn’t help myself… It’s just too easy) and I’ll be able to tell her that it’s kind of like how catholics and protestants are both Christian but have differences in their faiths.

    I personally don’t have to do that, but I know MANY pagans who have done exactly so. No matter their faith Wicca has become a Catch All Umbrella that adds legitimacy to our faith to the outside world… even if we don’t practice that particular flavor of pagan.

    Scott

    P.S. – If your name does include fox, shadow, hawk, star or wolf please do not take my joke personally… I hear in the red path that joke would have only been two words… Bear and Wolf. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Reimers/659542888 Scott Reimers

    Back in the 70s Kleenix Ad Campaign was too successful. They literally got people calling all tissues kleenix… which limited their ability to protect their brand.

    Unfortunately, Wicca has one major factor which is doing the same. MOST Americans don’t know the difference between Wicca and any other “pagan” faith. If I go to my boss and tell him I want days off for my Heathen Faith she’ll look at me and laugh. If I tell her I’m “Wiccan” which is a recognized religion both federally and in many states, she might ask why I want different days than my co-worker fox-shadow-hawk-star-wolf (sorry… couldn’t help myself… It’s just too easy) and I’ll be able to tell her that it’s kind of like how catholics and protestants are both Christian but have differences in their faiths.

    I personally don’t have to do that, but I know MANY pagans who have done exactly so. No matter their faith Wicca has become a Catch All Umbrella that adds legitimacy to our faith to the outside world… even if we don’t practice that particular flavor of pagan.

    Scott

    P.S. – If your name does include fox, shadow, hawk, star or wolf please do not take my joke personally… I hear in the red path that joke would have only been two words… Bear and Wolf. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Reimers/659542888 Scott Reimers

    Additionally… humans rarely use the BEST starting connection point. Usually they use the most common. Linguists have literally designed entire languages from scratch designed to be powerful and easy to learn in order to provide a good solution to clear communication between persons of different cultures. They are essentially ignored.

    Like it or not Wicca IS the current point that everyone has enough understanding of to come together and use as a comparative with their own faith.

    If I say that our gods act similar to the three Tibetian gods (purely made up BS on my part)… people will scratch their heads because it doesn’t mean anything to them.

    However if I say that our practice is similar to Wicca in that we have a God and a Goddess, but that in my faith they are mutually in love with a hermaphrodite and they all share power equally it will make sense because there is a shared baseline. (also purely made up BS on my part)

    Ironically… the most effective thing Wiccans can do to clarify their flavor of Wicca from commonly perceived Wicca is to understand what people ASSUME so that they can educate on the differences.

    Two years ago I had an impression of Wicca based on the watered down teenage girl practices I’d encountered. When I met a Hard Core Dianic Wicca Practitioner and had a good conversation with her my opinion and regard of Wicca changed drastically. Without being insulted (outwardly) she spent the time to point out my misconceptions and I am now one of the many people who pass that forward. I still share the “Obey An Ye harm None and Don’t sneeze, you’ll kill millions of bacteria” jokes, but I’m well aware that there can be a powerful faith behind the culturally watered down versions most recognize.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Reimers/659542888 Scott Reimers

    Additionally… humans rarely use the BEST starting connection point. Usually they use the most common. Linguists have literally designed entire languages from scratch designed to be powerful and easy to learn in order to provide a good solution to clear communication between persons of different cultures. They are essentially ignored.

    Like it or not Wicca IS the current point that everyone has enough understanding of to come together and use as a comparative with their own faith.

    If I say that our gods act similar to the three Tibetian gods (purely made up BS on my part)… people will scratch their heads because it doesn’t mean anything to them.

    However if I say that our practice is similar to Wicca in that we have a God and a Goddess, but that in my faith they are mutually in love with a hermaphrodite and they all share power equally it will make sense because there is a shared baseline. (also purely made up BS on my part)

    Ironically… the most effective thing Wiccans can do to clarify their flavor of Wicca from commonly perceived Wicca is to understand what people ASSUME so that they can educate on the differences.

    Two years ago I had an impression of Wicca based on the watered down teenage girl practices I’d encountered. When I met a Hard Core Dianic Wicca Practitioner and had a good conversation with her my opinion and regard of Wicca changed drastically. Without being insulted (outwardly) she spent the time to point out my misconceptions and I am now one of the many people who pass that forward. I still share the “Obey An Ye harm None and Don’t sneeze, you’ll kill millions of bacteria” jokes, but I’m well aware that there can be a powerful faith behind the culturally watered down versions most recognize.

  • Cora

    I’ve encountered this for many years.

    While at Uni one of the classes Anthro majors took was a Religion class that had them researching a religion they didn’t know too much about. One friend of mine (LDS) asked me to go with her to a local Circle who was holding a public Esbat. When we got there, they starting asking questions about our backgrounds. When I told them that I had a background in Wicca I got the eye rolling and little snide comments.

    What I found funny is that while they were being snarky to me, they were calling the Quaters, Drawing Down the Moon, and had enough incense to “cleanse” to make a person sick (my friend and I actually got sick from all of the smoke). I told my friend later “these people are morons. They look down on Wicca but their entire ritual was Wiccan!”

    It goes to show that most will learn their flavour of Paganism from Wiccan books from the local bookstore making the mistake that “all Pagans” do rituals that way.

    It would be great to have better words for Pagans to use. I don’t identify with the Wiccan Goddess any more than I identify with the Christian Jesus, however, I understand the terms and can “translate” them into my own terms easier than if they came from an entirely different religion.

  • Cora

    I’ve encountered this for many years.

    While at Uni one of the classes Anthro majors took was a Religion class that had them researching a religion they didn’t know too much about. One friend of mine (LDS) asked me to go with her to a local Circle who was holding a public Esbat. When we got there, they starting asking questions about our backgrounds. When I told them that I had a background in Wicca I got the eye rolling and little snide comments.

    What I found funny is that while they were being snarky to me, they were calling the Quaters, Drawing Down the Moon, and had enough incense to “cleanse” to make a person sick (my friend and I actually got sick from all of the smoke). I told my friend later “these people are morons. They look down on Wicca but their entire ritual was Wiccan!”

    It goes to show that most will learn their flavour of Paganism from Wiccan books from the local bookstore making the mistake that “all Pagans” do rituals that way.

    It would be great to have better words for Pagans to use. I don’t identify with the Wiccan Goddess any more than I identify with the Christian Jesus, however, I understand the terms and can “translate” them into my own terms easier than if they came from an entirely different religion.

  • lynn

    Cultural appropriation is a term used when a dominant culture borrows elements from a different, usually minority culture, usually in a way that doesn’t honor the culture being borrowed from. So that term really can’t be applied to Wiccans vs. other Pagans since they basically belong to the same culture — mostly white people in developed countries seeking to get back to their pre-Christian roots. Examples of cultural appropriation: white people playing blues music, white people taking elements of Native American spirituality, etc.

    That said, I personally think that all kinds of cultural mixing, appropriation or no, is natural and unavoidable. Culture wants to evolve and be free. And no one gets to police who can use any aspect of culture and under what conditions.

    • http://witchplease.blogspot.com Kate

      Except, of course, the culture of origin, right? Otherwise, culture just becomes a grab bag, negating any form of culture at all.

      I agree with your first paragraph, but the close of the second sounds pretty privileged to me. Is some degree of cultural mixing unavoidable when cultures mix? Probably. Does that mean we should declare open season on all cultures? IMO, no.

      • lynn

        Hi Kate, what do you mean by “privileged?”

  • lynn

    Cultural appropriation is a term used when a dominant culture borrows elements from a different, usually minority culture, usually in a way that doesn’t honor the culture being borrowed from. So that term really can’t be applied to Wiccans vs. other Pagans since they basically belong to the same culture — mostly white people in developed countries seeking to get back to their pre-Christian roots. Examples of cultural appropriation: white people playing blues music, white people taking elements of Native American spirituality, etc.

    That said, I personally think that all kinds of cultural mixing, appropriation or no, is natural and unavoidable. Culture wants to evolve and be free. And no one gets to police who can use any aspect of culture and under what conditions.

    • http://witchplease.blogspot.com Kate

      Except, of course, the culture of origin, right? Otherwise, culture just becomes a grab bag, negating any form of culture at all.

      I agree with your first paragraph, but the close of the second sounds pretty privileged to me. Is some degree of cultural mixing unavoidable when cultures mix? Probably. Does that mean we should declare open season on all cultures? IMO, no.

      • lynn

        Hi Kate, what do you mean by “privileged?”

  • Pat Taylor

    C’mon, this is the cauldron calling the hearth black. Wicca has borrowed much of it’s practices from older traditions (Greek, Babylonian, Celtic, Jewish (Kabbalah), Roman, etc.), and those folks probably wouldn’t recognize modern Wicca. Then there’s Alexandrian borrowing from Gardnerian, on and on. Humans naturally adopt things, then adapt them to their own purposes. Any indignation over other Pagan trads borrowing from Wicca is caused by a sense of ‘ownership’. And ‘if I stole it from someone else, I now OWN it’. The Buddha was right. “Attachment leads to suffering.”

    • http://twitter.com/museasylum Cat C.

      Pat Taylor, I agree. It is why I do not call myself reconstructionist. Because the Gauls didn’t know about the tarot, doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective tool for me. I try to embrace all knowledge, regardless of where it came from, and use what suits me best. But in the same vein, I do not like when one pagan religion appropriates a title. I define myself as an eclectic polytheist witch. But I am often told that calling myself a witch means I must be wiccan. I don’t understand that

  • Pat Taylor

    C’mon, this is the cauldron calling the hearth black. Wicca has borrowed much of it’s practices from older traditions (Greek, Babylonian, Celtic, Jewish (Kabbalah), Roman, etc.), and those folks probably wouldn’t recognize modern Wicca. Then there’s Alexandrian borrowing from Gardnerian, on and on. Humans naturally adopt things, then adapt them to their own purposes. Any indignation over other Pagan trads borrowing from Wicca is caused by a sense of ‘ownership’. And ‘if I stole it from someone else, I now OWN it’. The Buddha was right. “Attachment leads to suffering.”

    • http://twitter.com/museasylum Cat C.

      Pat Taylor, I agree. It is why I do not call myself reconstructionist. Because the Gauls didn’t know about the tarot, doesn’t mean it isn’t an effective tool for me. I try to embrace all knowledge, regardless of where it came from, and use what suits me best. But in the same vein, I do not like when one pagan religion appropriates a title. I define myself as an eclectic polytheist witch. But I am often told that calling myself a witch means I must be wiccan. I don’t understand that

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ruby-Sara/100000260552542 Ruby Sara

    I think this is a great example of what Johnny Rapture calls “Wiccanate Paganism,” a term I think is quite useful.

    The problem, in my mind, then becomes – what “intra-Pagan” language would we develop that is both uniquely “Pagan” and yet inclusive? The term Paganism covers such an enormous range of diverse religions. Not all of us are polytheist. Not all of us are earth-centered. Not all of us are goddess-worshipers. Not all of us are magic practitioners. Not all of us are worshiping pre-Christian deities or practicing pre-Christian faiths. Not all of us are practicing religions from Europe. Some of us are highly syncretic, some are hugely eclectic, and some are staunchly traditional. Our mythologies, cosmologies, sacred texts, values and ethical systems vary, and some of us are even more likely to share values with “non-Pagan” religions before some of our supposed fellow Pagans. Etc., etc.

    In order to develop any kind of truly inclusive language, then, we end up with terms that are frankly so inclusive that I wonder if they end up being more limiting than freeing – they become words that aren’t unique/descriptive to us, or to any Wiccan, Reconstructionist, etc., at all. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just that it calls into question why and how we identify ourselves as any single thing. Yes, there exists a common Pagan culture – a kind of language that we all share, though as posts like this point out, it’s very often a Wiccanate language. But I wonder, often, and especially in light of our increasing conversations with non-Pagan religious groups that share our frustrations with the media and with those in power that would limit our rights, that we don’t simply start identifying ourselves not as “Pagans,” but by names that may break us up into smaller but more well-defined groups, and then pursue religious freedom and civil rights as those groups in league with *all* other religions seeking the same freedoms and the same rights.

    I think it’s a really interesting and relevant conversation, this issue, and I wonder if it wouldn’t benefit us more to be more precise in our language, rather than seeking even broader terms.

    • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman Presson

      If there was another word that could replace “Pagan,” I am sure it already would have. Enough people have thought about it, that’s for sure. Interfaith efforts, where feasible, are certainly worthy, and provide good leverage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ruby-Sara/100000260552542 Ruby Sara

    I think this is a great example of what Johnny Rapture calls “Wiccanate Paganism,” a term I think is quite useful.

    The problem, in my mind, then becomes – what “intra-Pagan” language would we develop that is both uniquely “Pagan” and yet inclusive? The term Paganism covers such an enormous range of diverse religions. Not all of us are polytheist. Not all of us are earth-centered. Not all of us are goddess-worshipers. Not all of us are magic practitioners. Not all of us are worshiping pre-Christian deities or practicing pre-Christian faiths. Not all of us are practicing religions from Europe. Some of us are highly syncretic, some are hugely eclectic, and some are staunchly traditional. Our mythologies, cosmologies, sacred texts, values and ethical systems vary, and some of us are even more likely to share values with “non-Pagan” religions before some of our supposed fellow Pagans. Etc., etc.

    In order to develop any kind of truly inclusive language, then, we end up with terms that are frankly so inclusive that I wonder if they end up being more limiting than freeing – they become words that aren’t unique/descriptive to us, or to any Wiccan, Reconstructionist, etc., at all. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just that it calls into question why and how we identify ourselves as any single thing. Yes, there exists a common Pagan culture – a kind of language that we all share, though as posts like this point out, it’s very often a Wiccanate language. But I wonder, often, and especially in light of our increasing conversations with non-Pagan religious groups that share our frustrations with the media and with those in power that would limit our rights, that we don’t simply start identifying ourselves not as “Pagans,” but by names that may break us up into smaller but more well-defined groups, and then pursue religious freedom and civil rights as those groups in league with *all* other religions seeking the same freedoms and the same rights.

    I think it’s a really interesting and relevant conversation, this issue, and I wonder if it wouldn’t benefit us more to be more precise in our language, rather than seeking even broader terms.

    • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

      If there was another word that could replace “Pagan,” I am sure it already would have. Enough people have thought about it, that’s for sure. Interfaith efforts, where feasible, are certainly worthy, and provide good leverage.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ARUV3L4VTRX7U2OY7V3REAVMNE Sinwist

    I find it fascinating that people who engage in interfaith, and intra-pagan dialogue are complaining about what tantamounts to a “lingua Franca”? Seriously, for these sorts of discussions to occur, their needs to be a common lexicon, and considering the general lack of “religious education” amongst most pagans, I don’t think bantying terms like “Numinosum tremendum et fascinosum” is going to work out that well.

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      This isn’t a lingua franca, it’s Wiccans assuming that their spiritual patterns hold true for everyone else in the Pagan community. I don’t cast circles. I don’t call four quarters or use four elements. I don’t deal with The Goddess and The God. Etcetera ad nauseum. It’s this very assumption that it *is* a lingua franca that grates on those of us not doing rituals the way the Wiccans do.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ARUV3L4VTRX7U2OY7V3REAVMNE Sinwist

    I find it fascinating that people who engage in interfaith, and intra-pagan dialogue are complaining about what tantamounts to a “lingua Franca”? Seriously, for these sorts of discussions to occur, their needs to be a common lexicon, and considering the general lack of “religious education” amongst most pagans, I don’t think bantying terms like “Numinosum tremendum et fascinosum” is going to work out that well.

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      This isn’t a lingua franca, it’s Wiccans assuming that their spiritual patterns hold true for everyone else in the Pagan community. I don’t cast circles. I don’t call four quarters or use four elements. I don’t deal with The Goddess and The God. Etcetera ad nauseum. It’s this very assumption that it *is* a lingua franca that grates on those of us not doing rituals the way the Wiccans do.

  • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman Presson

    I like the general idea, Star, and if I knew where to begin, I would. This is a nicer form of dialog than a lot I used to hear.

    I do think we non-Wiccans should think about how to present our own ways and how they differ from Wicca. I have seen reasonably intelligent Wiccans, when asked how general Paganism differs from what they do, pretty totally fail to say anything meaningful.

    I took a shot at describing the extent of the “problem” on my blog: http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/defining-pagan-witch-etc/ which I will reference because I was about to start repeating some of it.

  • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

    I like the general idea, Star, and if I knew where to begin, I would. This is a nicer form of dialog than a lot I used to hear.

    I do think we non-Wiccans should think about how to present our own ways and how they differ from Wicca. I have seen reasonably intelligent Wiccans, when asked how general Paganism differs from what they do, pretty totally fail to say anything meaningful.

    I took a shot at describing the extent of the “problem” on my blog: http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/defining-pagan-witch-etc/ which I will reference because I was about to start repeating some of it.

  • Galina Krasskova

    I’ve written about the need for more inclusive language in several articles on interfaith work here. I have to say with intra-Pagan dialogue, as soon as I hear “The Goddess” i tune out. I mean, as a polytheist i have to ask: which One? You lose me right from the beginning.

    • Siegfried Goodfellow

      Adam Kadmon is all men and yet all men do not cease being their individual selves. So we might think of “The Goddess” as all Goddesses without any of them losing their uniqueness.

      • Galina Krasskova

        Sadly though, it doesn’t work that way, not in actual practice. Using “The Goddess” speaks to an uninformed pantheism and i just can’t get behind that. it comes too close to disrespect and impiety of practice for me. This may not be so for someone else, but for me, it violates my religious taboos.

        • Galina Krasskova

          language is far too important a thing with which to be sloppy. I believe that as we’re struggling to reclaim our ancestral traditions, it’s important to strive for precision in our speech. Language is important. the words we use are important. the way they impact our thoughts and perceptions is fundamental. So …”The Goddess” just isn’t something i can say. it comes to close to presupposing a singularity or at best a dualism of Divinity.

      • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

        It doesn’t work that way for those of us who are actual polytheists. Maybe you’re able to think of “The Goddess” as everyone, but I’m certainly not. This is precisely the sort of thing Star is objecting to above. We are not part of the Borg collective here.

  • Galina Krasskova

    I’ve written about the need for more inclusive language in several articles on interfaith work here. I have to say with intra-Pagan dialogue, as soon as I hear “The Goddess” i tune out. I mean, as a polytheist i have to ask: which One? You lose me right from the beginning.

    • Siegfried Goodfellow

      Adam Kadmon is all men and yet all men do not cease being their individual selves. So we might think of “The Goddess” as all Goddesses without any of them losing their uniqueness.

      • Galina Krasskova

        Sadly though, it doesn’t work that way, not in actual practice. Using “The Goddess” speaks to an uninformed pantheism and i just can’t get behind that. it comes too close to disrespect and impiety of practice for me. This may not be so for someone else, but for me, it violates my religious taboos.

        • Galina Krasskova

          language is far too important a thing with which to be sloppy. I believe that as we’re struggling to reclaim our ancestral traditions, it’s important to strive for precision in our speech. Language is important. the words we use are important. the way they impact our thoughts and perceptions is fundamental. So …”The Goddess” just isn’t something i can say. it comes to close to presupposing a singularity or at best a dualism of Divinity.

      • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

        It doesn’t work that way for those of us who are actual polytheists. Maybe you’re able to think of “The Goddess” as everyone, but I’m certainly not. This is precisely the sort of thing Star is objecting to above. We are not part of the Borg collective here.

  • KoraKaosOnline

    I agree with Pat Taylor. If you will accept a criticism of a “misconception”, I would say to your post here that it does not matter which labels I use or which rituals I use- who is anyone to tell me I shouldn’t use them? I can maybe see how it’s annoying if someone uses the word “Wiccan” to describe themselves if they have not been initiated into Wicca, or that it is annoying if someone believes their label is somehow better than yours- in such cases, feel free to correct them. But being that labels are ultimately meaningless, are you really worried about people “stealing” traditions and using labels that don’t exactly fit your own personal Godhead? God/Reality/Nature is for everyone, and He/She does not care what He/She is called (although I care that it’s annoying to type both of those pronouns out). I worship YHWH, so, supreme genderless reality, all genders and none, and I really don’t care if someone calls “Him” Goddess. Also I participate in whatever rituals I please. Why should that bother anyone? Why allow yourself to be offended? :)

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      But labels aren’t meaningless. If you pick up a bottle labeled “water” and drink without looking, you’re definitely hoping it contains water, not hydrogen peroxide, just as a for instance. Labels are useful. All words are labels. You use them constantly.

      • KoraKaosOnline

        That’s not what I mean. I mean it doesn’t matter if you call water “water” or if you call it H20. Or if you call it Hapsbragiber. It’s still got the same chemical composition; but the label itself is a meaningless throat vibration. A rose would still smell as sweet. Labels are, however, very useful tools; we have evolved alongside them and use them in excellent communication.

        I also understand that miscommunication can be annoying. That doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t matter if you call the universe God or Goddess, and it shouldn’t offend you if you hear someone using one or the other. I mean, it’s not like God actually has a human penis or vagina- only humans do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amber-Roth/1597618062 Amber Roth

      I agree with Erynn that labels are useful. They can also be harmful. With many pagan religions being a minority still, and struggling for acceptance, it can only take a tiny group claiming to be Wiccan when they are not to spread harmful misconceptions. Think for a minute on the West Borough Baptists…it’s easy enough to say that the real Baptists aren’t like that. But what if they were a smaller group? What if Christians in general were a small group? Misconceptions brought on like that are hard to fight against if you’re small. And while our community has grown, we’re not nearly together enough to fight all of that yet and be heard.

      The rest depends on your world view. If you see god as being everything and everywhere, it’s easy to understand your perspective of labels not really mattering. However, for someone else’s world view where that is not the case, where there are separate deities that are not to be mixed and confused with one another. To them, calling all gods the same is like saying Native Americans are exactly the same as the Chinese. They’re both humans yes, but with completely different culture, society, and physical differences.

      • KoraKaosOnline

        I agree that it is at least annoying when people call themselves one thing and they turn out to be something totally different. I myself find it difficult not to be offended when Christ-ians act un-Christ-like, just as those Baptists you mentioned. Those are the situations that really test my resolve with not being offended by labels. They claim to worship Aslan, but only worship Tash… I don’t need to worry myself over it, though. I don’t need to be offended. How insecure would that be?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amber-Roth/1597618062 Amber Roth

          But I think the feeling of insecurity is an important thing to look at. Not because we need to coddle those that have a large problem with it, or we have to completely change our world view to incorporate theirs. But to understand that insecurity can be a natural part of the pagan movement, as with any change that puts you under the spotlight.

          There’s a lot of pagans out there that are just struggling with the fact that they are sensitive to energy, let alone expecting them to be confidant. But rather than pointing to them and saying “how insecure you are”, I think most people in that kind of situation would be a bit insecure. Humans are pack animals, whether we want to admit it or not. Going what is perceived to be against the grain, can be difficult for even the most confident individual, and even if they know what they’re doing is right. It gets easier when that one person has many people to lean on, even if they don’t always agree. But if you don’t have that support community, you automatically put yourself on the defensive when certain triggers come up, even if you’re careful.

          Coming out as different, whether actual or perceived, needs a lot of courage; many need to psyche themselves up for it just as one preparing for a physical battle. This is accentuated if the individual does encounter vicious attacks or opposition. The more threatened they feel, the more that the defensive mechanisms will continue to prevail. Pointing at them and reminding them that they are struggling, will not help the situation, nor give them any reason to think differently about their world view. It merely reminds them that there are still people out there that don’t want to hear their thoughts and opinions…they just want to tell them that they’re wrong. Is that the case? It doesn’t matter when you get down to it. What matters is understanding how they feel, and why they are reacting the way they are before we point a finger and make accusations.

          It can also be said that we find the flaws in others that are most personal to ourselves. Whether those that point the fingers at insecurity at one time felt horribly insecure and are trying not to remember that struggle, or whether they are secretly insecure and trying to be confident. Confidence is one thing to be proud one has accomplished, but another is compassion and empathy to the struggles of another. It’s similar to adopting an abused animal from a shelter; if a horse has been abused you can’t just pretend it’s a normal horse and think it will get better, nor can you be extra super careful around it all the time and expect it to get better. You have to understand the problem and how get the horse to act in a more balanced way.

          • KoraKaosOnline

            I think I get what you’re saying. A lot of my personal religious practice involves paying attention to oneself in the present moment and accepting- including when I feel insecure. I have to admit it and accept it. The thing is, I shouldn’t feed it. I accept its existence, and hopefully, pain will be transmuted into pure loving presence, rather than aggravating the feeling. I don’t mean to tell people, “Don’t be insecure”. I don’t mean to tell people, “Don’t be offended”- only because these are commands. People are still going to be insecure and offended, and they are free to do so, but I advise recognizing it to heal it.

            I’m still butting my head against pseudo-Christians. I’m still wondering how to deal with them and they still bother me. But oh well. I will just deal with them however the present moment requires.

            But if a nice person calls God Goddess that’s totally different… they’re just being themselves. That doesn’t rankle me at all. And I don’t want to inhibit their religious expression. Like that one nice Calormene who turned out to be worshiping Aslan under the name of Tash, to continue the analogy. Both names are irrelevant in the end.

        • http://www.peacockfairy.com Ruadhán J McElroy

          It’s less about insecurity than it is about knowing the wealth of misconceptions about your religion, which is a very small minority, greatly outweigh whatever misconceptions may exist about another religion, which is in a majority.  When you’re part of a majority, you kind of have the privilege to be unbothered by a wealth of misconceptions because you know, even if it’s just way in the back of your head, that no matter how bad it gets with all the ill-informed ideas about your religious beliefs and practises, the chances of you losing your home, job, custody of children, or even just being told repeatedly that you’re somehow in the wrong about an integral part of who you are is a very low probability.

          I myself find it difficult not to be offended when Christ-ians act
          un-Christ-like, just as those Baptists you mentioned. Those are the
          situations that really test my resolve with not being offended by
          labels. They claim to worship Aslan, but only worship Tash…I don’t need to worry myself over it, though. I don’t need to be offended. How insecure would that be?

          Well, good for you!  Still, your argument is a tad fallacious.  I’m also not fond of the implications that only those in minority religions who will just sit there are live with the misconceptions are truly secure.  Simply because anger in one way in which insecurity may manifest does not mean that either it’s the only way insecurity manifests, nor that all those who are angry are insecure.

          You’re incredibly dismissive of completely valid concerns, and it’s really letting your privilege in this situation show.

  • KoraKaosOnline

    I agree with Pat Taylor. If you will accept a criticism of a “misconception”, I would say to your post here that it does not matter which labels I use or which rituals I use- who is anyone to tell me I shouldn’t use them? I can maybe see how it’s annoying if someone uses the word “Wiccan” to describe themselves if they have not been initiated into Wicca, or that it is annoying if someone believes their label is somehow better than yours- in such cases, feel free to correct them. But being that labels are ultimately meaningless, are you really worried about people “stealing” traditions and using labels that don’t exactly fit your own personal Godhead? God/Reality/Nature is for everyone, and He/She does not care what He/She is called (although I care that it’s annoying to type both of those pronouns out). I worship YHWH, so, supreme genderless reality, all genders and none, and I really don’t care if someone calls “Him” Goddess. Also I participate in whatever rituals I please. Why should that bother anyone? Why allow yourself to be offended? :)

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      But labels aren’t meaningless. If you pick up a bottle labeled “water” and drink without looking, you’re definitely hoping it contains water, not hydrogen peroxide, just as a for instance. Labels are useful. All words are labels. You use them constantly.

      • KoraKaosOnline

        That’s not what I mean. I mean it doesn’t matter if you call water “water” or if you call it H20. Or if you call it Hapsbragiber. It’s still got the same chemical composition; but the label itself is a meaningless throat vibration. A rose would still smell as sweet. Labels are, however, very useful tools; we have evolved alongside them and use them in excellent communication.

        I also understand that miscommunication can be annoying. That doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t matter if you call the universe God or Goddess, and it shouldn’t offend you if you hear someone using one or the other. I mean, it’s not like God actually has a human penis or vagina- only humans do.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amber-Roth/1597618062 Amber Roth

      I agree with Erynn that labels are useful. They can also be harmful. With many pagan religions being a minority still, and struggling for acceptance, it can only take a tiny group claiming to be Wiccan when they are not to spread harmful misconceptions. Think for a minute on the West Borough Baptists…it’s easy enough to say that the real Baptists aren’t like that. But what if they were a smaller group? What if Christians in general were a small group? Misconceptions brought on like that are hard to fight against if you’re small. And while our community has grown, we’re not nearly together enough to fight all of that yet and be heard.

      The rest depends on your world view. If you see god as being everything and everywhere, it’s easy to understand your perspective of labels not really mattering. However, for someone else’s world view where that is not the case, where there are separate deities that are not to be mixed and confused with one another. To them, calling all gods the same is like saying Native Americans are exactly the same as the Chinese. They’re both humans yes, but with completely different culture, society, and physical differences.

      • KoraKaosOnline

        I agree that it is at least annoying when people call themselves one thing and they turn out to be something totally different. I myself find it difficult not to be offended when Christ-ians act un-Christ-like, just as those Baptists you mentioned. Those are the situations that really test my resolve with not being offended by labels. They claim to worship Aslan, but only worship Tash… I don’t need to worry myself over it, though. I don’t need to be offended. How insecure would that be?

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amber-Roth/1597618062 Amber Roth

          But I think the feeling of insecurity is an important thing to look at. Not because we need to coddle those that have a large problem with it, or we have to completely change our world view to incorporate theirs. But to understand that insecurity can be a natural part of the pagan movement, as with any change that puts you under the spotlight.

          There’s a lot of pagans out there that are just struggling with the fact that they are sensitive to energy, let alone expecting them to be confidant. But rather than pointing to them and saying “how insecure you are”, I think most people in that kind of situation would be a bit insecure. Humans are pack animals, whether we want to admit it or not. Going what is perceived to be against the grain, can be difficult for even the most confident individual, and even if they know what they’re doing is right. It gets easier when that one person has many people to lean on, even if they don’t always agree. But if you don’t have that support community, you automatically put yourself on the defensive when certain triggers come up, even if you’re careful.

          Coming out as different, whether actual or perceived, needs a lot of courage; many need to psyche themselves up for it just as one preparing for a physical battle. This is accentuated if the individual does encounter vicious attacks or opposition. The more threatened they feel, the more that the defensive mechanisms will continue to prevail. Pointing at them and reminding them that they are struggling, will not help the situation, nor give them any reason to think differently about their world view. It merely reminds them that there are still people out there that don’t want to hear their thoughts and opinions…they just want to tell them that they’re wrong. Is that the case? It doesn’t matter when you get down to it. What matters is understanding how they feel, and why they are reacting the way they are before we point a finger and make accusations.

          It can also be said that we find the flaws in others that are most personal to ourselves. Whether those that point the fingers at insecurity at one time felt horribly insecure and are trying not to remember that struggle, or whether they are secretly insecure and trying to be confident. Confidence is one thing to be proud one has accomplished, but another is compassion and empathy to the struggles of another. It’s similar to adopting an abused animal from a shelter; if a horse has been abused you can’t just pretend it’s a normal horse and think it will get better, nor can you be extra super careful around it all the time and expect it to get better. You have to understand the problem and how get the horse to act in a more balanced way.

          • KoraKaosOnline

            I think I get what you’re saying. A lot of my personal religious practice involves paying attention to oneself in the present moment and accepting- including when I feel insecure. I have to admit it and accept it. The thing is, I shouldn’t feed it. I accept its existence, and hopefully, pain will be transmuted into pure loving presence, rather than aggravating the feeling. I don’t mean to tell people, “Don’t be insecure”. I don’t mean to tell people, “Don’t be offended”- only because these are commands. People are still going to be insecure and offended, and they are free to do so, but I advise recognizing it to heal it.

            I’m still butting my head against pseudo-Christians. I’m still wondering how to deal with them and they still bother me. But oh well. I will just deal with them however the present moment requires.

            But if a nice person calls God Goddess that’s totally different… they’re just being themselves. That doesn’t rankle me at all. And I don’t want to inhibit their religious expression. Like that one nice Calormene who turned out to be worshiping Aslan under the name of Tash, to continue the analogy. Both names are irrelevant in the end.

        • http://omo.peacockfairy.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

          It’s less about insecurity than it is about knowing the wealth of misconceptions about your religion, which is a very small minority, greatly outweigh whatever misconceptions may exist about another religion, which is in a majority.  When you’re part of a majority, you kind of have the privilege to be unbothered by a wealth of misconceptions because you know, even if it’s just way in the back of your head, that no matter how bad it gets with all the ill-informed ideas about your religious beliefs and practises, the chances of you losing your home, job, custody of children, or even just being told repeatedly that you’re somehow in the wrong about an integral part of who you are is a very low probability.

          I myself find it difficult not to be offended when Christ-ians act
          un-Christ-like, just as those Baptists you mentioned. Those are the
          situations that really test my resolve with not being offended by
          labels. They claim to worship Aslan, but only worship Tash…I don’t need to worry myself over it, though. I don’t need to be offended. How insecure would that be?

          Well, good for you!  Still, your argument is a tad fallacious.  I’m also not fond of the implications that only those in minority religions who will just sit there are live with the misconceptions are truly secure.  Simply because anger in one way in which insecurity may manifest does not mean that either it’s the only way insecurity manifests, nor that all those who are angry are insecure.

          You’re incredibly dismissive of completely valid concerns, and it’s really letting your privilege in this situation show.

  • Sunweaver

    As a Hellenic Polytheist with a Wiccan background, I can say with certainty that there is reason for using Wicca as the default language of Paganism. Given that the NeoPagan movement originated with the rapid spread of Wicca and that the movement is still quite young, it’s going to take some time for the pan-pagan community to learn all the languages of heathenry, reconstructionist practice, and so on. The language many or most of us are familiar with is Wicca, even when we speak it with an accent. I think that attempting to develop a generic language of Paganism would have the opposite effect of what you seem to be going for. Robust interfaith dialogue hinges on speaking your own language with authority while working to understand others. It does us no good to have a sort of religious Esperanto because that waters down the meaning of our words and actions. It would be like trying to have one set of vocabulary that covers Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

    When I speak about my own religious experience, I use the names of my gods and the language of my own practice. When I speak about Paganism in general, I often use Wicca as a jumping point because it is both the most common and the most familiar, but I try to discern Wiccan practice from other practices. I believe that the impetus in the non-Wiccan Pagan community is to recognize and understand that Wicca is the root of many NeoPagan practices and a rich and meaningful path in and of itself. We must speak about Wicca with the same respect we would like to have for our own paths. The impetus in the Wiccan community, and I say this with the utmost respect, is to meet misconception with the gentle heart of a teacher rather than that of a crusader.

    Though I respect and admire the work that Professor Hutton has done in understanding the history of the formation of Wicca, it does not leave me with disdain for the path and for the followers of the path. My only disdain is for those who are willfully ignorant, and that extends to both those who know nothing of Wiccan practice or theology and yet use that set of symbols and to Wiccans who choose to believe the pseudo-history.

    My rituals and practices have a decidedly Wiccan accent because that’s how I was trained as a Priestess and that’s the background from which I come. I honor that as a Buddhist bows to all the teachers that have come before her. My biggest hope for effective interfaith dialogue lies in the simple statement that all paths to love and truth are sacred and I’m not ashamed to say that this has been derived from the teachings of my own Wiccan elders.

  • Sunweaver

    As a Hellenic Polytheist with a Wiccan background, I can say with certainty that there is reason for using Wicca as the default language of Paganism. Given that the NeoPagan movement originated with the rapid spread of Wicca and that the movement is still quite young, it’s going to take some time for the pan-pagan community to learn all the languages of heathenry, reconstructionist practice, and so on. The language many or most of us are familiar with is Wicca, even when we speak it with an accent. I think that attempting to develop a generic language of Paganism would have the opposite effect of what you seem to be going for. Robust interfaith dialogue hinges on speaking your own language with authority while working to understand others. It does us no good to have a sort of religious Esperanto because that waters down the meaning of our words and actions. It would be like trying to have one set of vocabulary that covers Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

    When I speak about my own religious experience, I use the names of my gods and the language of my own practice. When I speak about Paganism in general, I often use Wicca as a jumping point because it is both the most common and the most familiar, but I try to discern Wiccan practice from other practices. I believe that the impetus in the non-Wiccan Pagan community is to recognize and understand that Wicca is the root of many NeoPagan practices and a rich and meaningful path in and of itself. We must speak about Wicca with the same respect we would like to have for our own paths. The impetus in the Wiccan community, and I say this with the utmost respect, is to meet misconception with the gentle heart of a teacher rather than that of a crusader.

    Though I respect and admire the work that Professor Hutton has done in understanding the history of the formation of Wicca, it does not leave me with disdain for the path and for the followers of the path. My only disdain is for those who are willfully ignorant, and that extends to both those who know nothing of Wiccan practice or theology and yet use that set of symbols and to Wiccans who choose to believe the pseudo-history.

    My rituals and practices have a decidedly Wiccan accent because that’s how I was trained as a Priestess and that’s the background from which I come. I honor that as a Buddhist bows to all the teachers that have come before her. My biggest hope for effective interfaith dialogue lies in the simple statement that all paths to love and truth are sacred and I’m not ashamed to say that this has been derived from the teachings of my own Wiccan elders.

  • jdhortwort

    This type of conversation sounds a lot like a request for political correctness. “How dare you! Don’t call me Wiccan, I’m yadda, yadda, yadda from the southern corner of East Wales! It’s your responsibility to be completely aware and respectful of my tradtion.”

    I may be too old but, in my opinion, it ain’t gonna happen.

    Many of us received our initial exposure to the Old Religions from Wiccan sources — in some cases, very watered down sources. Those who are curious have explored in depth and, perhaps, moved on to refine that original exposure. As I have watched the community evolve over the past 30 or so years, I’ve been very interested to see the focus (in my geographic area) move from forms of Wicca to Santeria/Voodoo/Hoodoo to Heathen traditions and on and on.

    I imagine this is what Christians have gone through. I live in a county that seems to have at least one church for every two square miles. They are all some version of Christianity. Personally, I think anytime more than 100 Christians get together in my area, someone gets offended and “hives off” to set up their own version of the true church.

    The point is, each of these religious entities “knows” they have the right interpretation of Christianity. Yet, they seem to come together for community events, business dealings, etc. without wringing hands over what words are used to define God, Jesus, righteousness, et.al. And trust me, it ain’t because they agree on such things.

    Is it too much to ask for a little enlightened tolerance in the Pagan community? If we come up with another word for Pagans, are the people refered to any less Pagan? Or are we supposed to be saddled with those God(dess) awful hypenated labels used when we try to demonstrate how compassionate and thoughtful and inclusive we are?

    I’m a Pagan. If you ask me and I feel inclined, I’ll explain my understanding of that to you. You’re Pagan. If you don’t want to be called Pagan, tell me (without the attitude, thank you). If I’m interested, I’ll engage you to tell me more. If not, let’s all just go our own ways and blessings to all!

  • jdhortwort

    This type of conversation sounds a lot like a request for political correctness. “How dare you! Don’t call me Wiccan, I’m yadda, yadda, yadda from the southern corner of East Wales! It’s your responsibility to be completely aware and respectful of my tradtion.”

    I may be too old but, in my opinion, it ain’t gonna happen.

    Many of us received our initial exposure to the Old Religions from Wiccan sources — in some cases, very watered down sources. Those who are curious have explored in depth and, perhaps, moved on to refine that original exposure. As I have watched the community evolve over the past 30 or so years, I’ve been very interested to see the focus (in my geographic area) move from forms of Wicca to Santeria/Voodoo/Hoodoo to Heathen traditions and on and on.

    I imagine this is what Christians have gone through. I live in a county that seems to have at least one church for every two square miles. They are all some version of Christianity. Personally, I think anytime more than 100 Christians get together in my area, someone gets offended and “hives off” to set up their own version of the true church.

    The point is, each of these religious entities “knows” they have the right interpretation of Christianity. Yet, they seem to come together for community events, business dealings, etc. without wringing hands over what words are used to define God, Jesus, righteousness, et.al. And trust me, it ain’t because they agree on such things.

    Is it too much to ask for a little enlightened tolerance in the Pagan community? If we come up with another word for Pagans, are the people refered to any less Pagan? Or are we supposed to be saddled with those God(dess) awful hypenated labels used when we try to demonstrate how compassionate and thoughtful and inclusive we are?

    I’m a Pagan. If you ask me and I feel inclined, I’ll explain my understanding of that to you. You’re Pagan. If you don’t want to be called Pagan, tell me (without the attitude, thank you). If I’m interested, I’ll engage you to tell me more. If not, let’s all just go our own ways and blessings to all!

  • Wyndeweavyr

    The biggest factor here is the simple fact of perception… When you mention Pagan, most people’s minds run directly to Wicca. That’s probably because for every book on the shelf at Borders, or Barnes and Noble about Druidry, Assatru, or any of the other non Wiccan faiths, there are ten books about Wicca. The media at the various Pagan holidays almost always focuses on Wicca when covering Paganism. This places Wicca in the forefront of people’s minds when the word Pagan is mentioned.

    It is far easier to speak to the layman using terms that they understand on a subject. I live in the bible belt, so if I told my boss that I’m Pagan, I’d just get a big question mark appearing above his head. If I mention Wicca, he’ll probably get a basic idea {though it’d probably make him very nervous} of what I meant. This does tend to create problems because of the fact that most people never hear about the Pagan religions that aren’t Wicca. The media doesn’t tend to try to cover the Heathen rituals on the holidays, and would probably just as soon not know what Santeria is about. It’s far easier for them to just cover Wicca and let people think that this is the central base of Paganism.

    Only by educating people who really don’t care to know about it, can we teach those outside the difference.

    As for those other Pagans, just learn the difference. if you go to any of the large Pagan events, whether it’s Pantheacon, Starwood, Craftwise, or Pagan Spirit Gathering there are people there that can explain the differences, and will be happy to do so.

    Windweaver

  • Wyndeweavyr

    The biggest factor here is the simple fact of perception… When you mention Pagan, most people’s minds run directly to Wicca. That’s probably because for every book on the shelf at Borders, or Barnes and Noble about Druidry, Assatru, or any of the other non Wiccan faiths, there are ten books about Wicca. The media at the various Pagan holidays almost always focuses on Wicca when covering Paganism. This places Wicca in the forefront of people’s minds when the word Pagan is mentioned.

    It is far easier to speak to the layman using terms that they understand on a subject. I live in the bible belt, so if I told my boss that I’m Pagan, I’d just get a big question mark appearing above his head. If I mention Wicca, he’ll probably get a basic idea {though it’d probably make him very nervous} of what I meant. This does tend to create problems because of the fact that most people never hear about the Pagan religions that aren’t Wicca. The media doesn’t tend to try to cover the Heathen rituals on the holidays, and would probably just as soon not know what Santeria is about. It’s far easier for them to just cover Wicca and let people think that this is the central base of Paganism.

    Only by educating people who really don’t care to know about it, can we teach those outside the difference.

    As for those other Pagans, just learn the difference. if you go to any of the large Pagan events, whether it’s Pantheacon, Starwood, Craftwise, or Pagan Spirit Gathering there are people there that can explain the differences, and will be happy to do so.

    Windweaver

  • http://greattininess.wordpress.com/ Johnny Rapture

    The problem is expecting many totally disparate theologies and practices to neatly fall under one “umbrella term” (or “umbrella culture”) in the first place. The reason finding a common language for pagans is proving so difficult is because pagans don’t have anything in common to start with!

    Well, the one thing folks do have in common is a basic knowledge of Wiccan theology and liturgy, and so that’s what people turn to as the ecumenical language. We don’t need broader more “in common” language, that will make all of our discussions hopelessly superficial. I agree with Ruby Sara that we need more specificity, not less.

    In fact, the reason I use the word “Wiccanate Paganism” is because I think modern paganism can only be meaningfully discussed in its relationship to Wicca, wherein Wicca is the gravitational force holding everything together. If we don’t like this, we need to develop practices that are in keeping with our disparate theologies and then to go. about. doing. these. apart from Wicca.

    • Cara

      This is why many non-Wiccan Pagans no longer even identify or associate with the greater Pagan community.

      Many of us in Revived religions, Wicca was not the gateway drug, and this seems to be increasing (via talking with leaders in revived religions) We have a basic knowledge of Wicca IF we associate with the greater Pagan community (Which really means the Wiccan community) – but again…many choose not to do so as they feel they have nothing in common with Wiccans. I can easily discuss my religion an when I do, I do not discuss it in relation to Wicca because it has nothing in common with Wicca. I describe Hellenismos (to non-Pagans) as a kind of cross between the Catholic (form of worship and rituals) and Hindu (polytheism) faiths.

      I am involved in the greater Pagan community. I make an effort to do so and I think we need to band together for civil rights projects. But you’re right…we don’t have much in common.

  • http://greattininess.wordpress.com/ Johnny Rapture

    The problem is expecting many totally disparate theologies and practices to neatly fall under one “umbrella term” (or “umbrella culture”) in the first place. The reason finding a common language for pagans is proving so difficult is because pagans don’t have anything in common to start with!

    Well, the one thing folks do have in common is a basic knowledge of Wiccan theology and liturgy, and so that’s what people turn to as the ecumenical language. We don’t need broader more “in common” language, that will make all of our discussions hopelessly superficial. I agree with Ruby Sara that we need more specificity, not less.

    In fact, the reason I use the word “Wiccanate Paganism” is because I think modern paganism can only be meaningfully discussed in its relationship to Wicca, wherein Wicca is the gravitational force holding everything together. If we don’t like this, we need to develop practices that are in keeping with our disparate theologies and then to go. about. doing. these. apart from Wicca.

  • http://greattininess.wordpress.com/ Johnny Rapture

    The problem is expecting many totally disparate theologies and practices to neatly fall under one “umbrella term” (or “umbrella culture”) in the first place. The reason finding a common language for pagans is proving so difficult is because pagans don’t have anything in common to start with!

    Well, the one thing folks do have in common is a basic knowledge of Wiccan theology and liturgy, and so that’s what people turn to as the ecumenical language. We don’t need broader more “in common” language, that will make all of our discussions hopelessly superficial. I agree with Ruby Sara that we need more specificity, not less.

    In fact, the reason I use the word “Wiccanate Paganism” is because I think modern paganism can only be meaningfully discussed in its relationship to Wicca, wherein Wicca is the gravitational force holding everything together. If we don’t like this, we need to develop practices that are in keeping with our disparate theologies and then to go. about. doing. these. apart from Wicca.

    • Cara

      This is why many non-Wiccan Pagans no longer even identify or associate with the greater Pagan community.

      Many of us in Revived religions, Wicca was not the gateway drug, and this seems to be increasing (via talking with leaders in revived religions) We have a basic knowledge of Wicca IF we associate with the greater Pagan community (Which really means the Wiccan community) – but again…many choose not to do so as they feel they have nothing in common with Wiccans. I can easily discuss my religion an when I do, I do not discuss it in relation to Wicca because it has nothing in common with Wicca. I describe Hellenismos (to non-Pagans) as a kind of cross between the Catholic (form of worship and rituals) and Hindu (polytheism) faiths.

      I am involved in the greater Pagan community. I make an effort to do so and I think we need to band together for civil rights projects. But you’re right…we don’t have much in common.

  • Ina Cüsters-van Bergen

    To my opinion it is great that more people start to use these words. It has the effect that these types of religions become more popular. And let’s not forget that the Wicca Tradition was greatly influenced by the Golden Dawn.

    I can imagine the problem of watered down religious concepts, and the shallow images that this generates. The answer could be to come forward more openly and correct misconceptions. And also educate more teachers, so that the large group who want to be involved also gets a proper education
    just my 2cents
    Ina Cüsters-van Bergen (author of The Temple of High Magic)
    http://www.templeofstarlight.eu

  • Ina Cüsters-van Bergen

    To my opinion it is great that more people start to use these words. It has the effect that these types of religions become more popular. And let’s not forget that the Wicca Tradition was greatly influenced by the Golden Dawn.

    I can imagine the problem of watered down religious concepts, and the shallow images that this generates. The answer could be to come forward more openly and correct misconceptions. And also educate more teachers, so that the large group who want to be involved also gets a proper education
    just my 2cents
    Ina Cüsters-van Bergen (author of The Temple of High Magic)
    http://www.templeofstarlight.eu

  • http://www.facebook.com/apollodoros.phlamandos Apollodōros Phlamandos

    You are so right about this. More *real* Wiccans should stand up against those eclectics who are practically Wiccans but look at the actual religion with disdain.They should taught that they either start calling themselves what they are, or to do something else. WOrds have meaning. Wiccan words means Wiccan context, means WICCA.

    I myself am a Hellenist, and I have encountered eclectic neopagans that called themselves Hellenist unjustly so as to gain more authenticity and authority or something, yet looked upon us who are actual reconstrucionistic Hellenists with disdain.

    One even had made a YouTube-video about Wicca being a specific religion, with specific values and all that, which one must adhere to in order to be Wiccan. By this time she already became “Neo-Hellenist”, an “ordained High Priestess”, … First of all Hellenism implies, regardless of it’s neo-ness, that you follow Nomos Arkhaios, yet she was as eclectic as hell and did all things that violated Nomos Arkhaios, so she is not Hellenic in any sense. Second of all Hellenic priests never had and never are “ordained”. They are elected by the people they serve. So when some of us pointed all this out an entire discussion followed of her repeating the same arguments and us time and time again disproving them. She’s a troll, and so are most eclectic neopagans like this (not all though).

  • http://www.facebook.com/apollodoros.phlamandos Apollodōros Phlamandos

    You are so right about this. More *real* Wiccans should stand up against those eclectics who are practically Wiccans but look at the actual religion with disdain.They should taught that they either start calling themselves what they are, or to do something else. WOrds have meaning. Wiccan words means Wiccan context, means WICCA.

    I myself am a Hellenist, and I have encountered eclectic neopagans that called themselves Hellenist unjustly so as to gain more authenticity and authority or something, yet looked upon us who are actual reconstrucionistic Hellenists with disdain.

    One even had made a YouTube-video about Wicca being a specific religion, with specific values and all that, which one must adhere to in order to be Wiccan. By this time she already became “Neo-Hellenist”, an “ordained High Priestess”, … First of all Hellenism implies, regardless of it’s neo-ness, that you follow Nomos Arkhaios, yet she was as eclectic as hell and did all things that violated Nomos Arkhaios, so she is not Hellenic in any sense. Second of all Hellenic priests never had and never are “ordained”. They are elected by the people they serve. So when some of us pointed all this out an entire discussion followed of her repeating the same arguments and us time and time again disproving them. She’s a troll, and so are most eclectic neopagans like this (not all though).

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for addressing this, Star, as someone who is a Wiccan and who sees how universalizing Wicca is not doing a service to fuller pagan inclusiveness.

    I think this is something that we should always be aware of, in everything we’re doing: namely, the assumption that everyone else is “just like me” and thinks along the same lines and agrees with the same ideas that oneself does. It’s not true in general, and often in specifics as well, and such assumptions are nearly as awful in certain situations as exclusivity and “us vs. them” attitudes can be.

    I have been particularly upset when some major pagan interfaith activists think there is no real work to be done in pagan intrafaith discussions. The “Wiccan majority” can afford to ignore other types of pagans at this stage, but that time is rapidly coming to an end, and if they really want to be as inclusive and as wonderfully accepting of diversity as they often say they are, they need to actually take those of us doing things differently seriously and on our own terms.

    You’re doing a beautiful job of that yourself, Star, both in your role here at Patheos.com, and in the actual in-person interactions I’ve had with you, as well as in private correspondence. I’m thankful to all the gods for you and your work! :)

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for addressing this, Star, as someone who is a Wiccan and who sees how universalizing Wicca is not doing a service to fuller pagan inclusiveness.

    I think this is something that we should always be aware of, in everything we’re doing: namely, the assumption that everyone else is “just like me” and thinks along the same lines and agrees with the same ideas that oneself does. It’s not true in general, and often in specifics as well, and such assumptions are nearly as awful in certain situations as exclusivity and “us vs. them” attitudes can be.

    I have been particularly upset when some major pagan interfaith activists think there is no real work to be done in pagan intrafaith discussions. The “Wiccan majority” can afford to ignore other types of pagans at this stage, but that time is rapidly coming to an end, and if they really want to be as inclusive and as wonderfully accepting of diversity as they often say they are, they need to actually take those of us doing things differently seriously and on our own terms.

    You’re doing a beautiful job of that yourself, Star, both in your role here at Patheos.com, and in the actual in-person interactions I’ve had with you, as well as in private correspondence. I’m thankful to all the gods for you and your work! :)

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    I don’t have the time to respond to each comment, but I do believe it’s possible to have an inclusive language that represents the greater Pagan community. It’s a conscious pluralism that can speak broadly without excluding or being so bland as to be useless. “All that is Divine” is just one example, but speaking of “Pagan religions” rather than Paganism is another. It’s something I feel i need to pay attention to, especially if I’m not writing from the viewpoint of a specific Pagan religion.

    My work with Patheos has led me to speak for a far greater number of Pagans than my own particular path. To be able to do my job effectively I have to be able to speak plurally and be able to delve into the specifics of different Pagan religions.

    As far as the Wiccan issue, regardless of it’s origins Wicca is something distinct and identifiable today. To embrace Wicca’s practices while denying their origins is like sleeping with someone of your own sex while denying you’re LGBTQI. Or as Practical Magic expresses it: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    I don’t have the time to respond to each comment, but I do believe it’s possible to have an inclusive language that represents the greater Pagan community. It’s a conscious pluralism that can speak broadly without excluding or being so bland as to be useless. “All that is Divine” is just one example, but speaking of “Pagan religions” rather than Paganism is another. It’s something I feel i need to pay attention to, especially if I’m not writing from the viewpoint of a specific Pagan religion.

    My work with Patheos has led me to speak for a far greater number of Pagans than my own particular path. To be able to do my job effectively I have to be able to speak plurally and be able to delve into the specifics of different Pagan religions.

    As far as the Wiccan issue, regardless of it’s origins Wicca is something distinct and identifiable today. To embrace Wicca’s practices while denying their origins is like sleeping with someone of your own sex while denying you’re LGBTQI. Or as Practical Magic expresses it: “You can’t practice Witchcraft while looking down your nose at it.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.moody Joseph A Moody

    people are lazy….not alwase a bad thing. But much is lost in shortcuts

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.a.moody Joseph A Moody

    people are lazy….not always a bad thing. But much is lost in shortcuts

  • http://witchplease.blogspot.com Kate

    Maybe I’m just hangin’ out in the wrong crowd, but is there an intra-Pagan dialogue? There have been intra-Pagan/Pan-Pagan events, but those seem pretty site-specific. Those who weren’t in attendance might get write-ups, recaps or YouTube clips, all of which are awesome and helpful, but I’d imagine there’s a lot missing. We get discussion going on some of the bigger boards and blogs, and I’m grateful every time that happens, but do we have any sort of forum specifically designed to address just this? I agree that it needs to be addressed, especially if we want a seat at the interfaith table (and I think we should have one). Your closing sentence rings true for me.

  • http://witchplease.blogspot.com Kate

    Maybe I’m just hangin’ out in the wrong crowd, but is there an intra-Pagan dialogue? There have been intra-Pagan/Pan-Pagan events, but those seem pretty site-specific. Those who weren’t in attendance might get write-ups, recaps or YouTube clips, all of which are awesome and helpful, but I’d imagine there’s a lot missing. We get discussion going on some of the bigger boards and blogs, and I’m grateful every time that happens, but do we have any sort of forum specifically designed to address just this? I agree that it needs to be addressed, especially if we want a seat at the interfaith table (and I think we should have one). Your closing sentence rings true for me.

  • Wade

    I find it extremely arrogant and offensive that you presume to disparage others for daring to use “Wiccan” language, when Wicca itself has been cobbled together from dozens of other traditions it doesn’t even acknowledge!

    How DARE you be so pompous as to demand I pay credit to your patchwork religion, when Wicca itself is so vague and undefined that its adherents can follow virtually any set of practices and still call it “Wicca”? There isn’t any sort of monolithic belief structure in Wicca, no specific deities, tenets or even cosmology! Why are you suddenly claiming that All Things Magical must now bow down before Wicca and acknowledge the pangeneration of a tradition that’s not even as old as my grandfather?

    You demand answers as to why people express contempt for Wicca? This is it right here, ably demonstrated in your very own hand. You expect to lay exclusive claim to every aspect of every magic using tradition in America and Europe, yet you also want to shut out all those traditions from daring to use “your” language! How *dare* they speak about performing “Sabbats” with their “Coven” or their “High Priest” drawing down the “Goddess”, when all those words and concepts are now unilaterally the exclusive and copyrighted property of Wicca Inc?! What next? You’re going to forbid people from breathing “Air” because it’s an exclusively Wiccan element? I’m amazed you made it through Pantheacon without realizing that there are actually other traditions in the world besides Wicca.

    In all seriousness though, why are you suddenly trying to lay claim to all aspects of ritual and magic, presumptively claiming them to be exclusively Wicca? You expressed your rage at people daring to use terms like “High Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” without bowing down before Wicca, but you have it all backwards.

    We don’t use generic terms like that because we think Wicca is the “default” language of the pagan community. WICCA uses terms like that because its a generic tradition.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I’m not asking you to respect my religion, although if you can’t speak with common respect in this forum you will be moderated. Be civil.

      My main purpose in writing this post was to add my voice to those of other Pagan religions who are excluded by such language. Which you would have realized had you read the post above.

      • Wade

        No, I read the post, but when you make statements demanding people acknowledge terms like “Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” as being exclusively Wiccan, you’ve *got* to expect people to call you on it. Then you make further statements like:

        “To embrace Wicca’s practices while denying their origins is like sleeping with someone of your own sex while denying you’re LGBTQI.”

        There isn’t a single practice IN Wicca that doesn’t come from somewhere else. You’re talking about co-opting every tradition from which Wicca has borrowed, and trying to “reverse copyright” everything Wicca borrowed as being Wiccan in origin. Basically, acting as if the language Esperanto comes from the rich cultural heritage of the Nation of Esperant, and whenever anyone else uses even a single word of Esperanto, they’re spitting in the face of the noble indigenous Esperantian people.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” when someone expounds upon Wiccan philosophy, even though every single shred of “Wiccan” philosophy was cobbled together from other traditions.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” when people talk about covens, as if no other tradition uses a coven structure for organization. The word “coven” has been around since the 1500′s, but yet you want to claim it’s the exclusive property of Wicca.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” that non-Wiccans practice beliefs that are “practically identical to Wicca”, but what you fail to acknowledge is that there IS no single form of Wicca, so you could claim pretty much anyone is practicing something “practically identical to Wicca”. The practices you’re talking about were around LONG before Wicca was invented, and it’s extremely disrespectful to just dismiss their origins and claim them for your own.

        Now, I’m not sure exactly why you’re trying to establish territory over non-Wiccan traditions, or why you claim I simply misunderstood you when I’ve used your own exact statements. The point is that I also don’t *care* why you’re doing it.

        I’m simply pointing out that while you can include pretty much any practice you like into Wicca, you don’t get to claim ownership.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          You are sadly misinformed about Wicca, and about syncretic religions. You seem to have a lot of anger in regards to Wicca and I hope you find a way to resolve and heal that.

          • Wade

            I find it somewhat disappointing that you’re falling back on the old standard debate tactic of saying that YOUR words are somehow MY fault. You sound like a Christian saying you’ll pray for me when I dare to disagree with your dogma.

            It’s also extremely dishonest to claim I’m misinformed about Wicca, but not mention any specifics or attempt to correct them. It’s the coward’s way out of an argument you know you’ve already lost.

            And no, I don’t have any anger toward Wicca. I resent being told that everyone who practices the traditions from which Wicca has stolen material should suddenly bow down and credit Wicca for all of it. These were *your* words and *your* intentions, and while I can understand your attempt to somehow make it my fault, I accept no responsibility for your actions. Maybe you should.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            I never said any of those things. You are misconstruing my entire post and straining the limits of hospitality on this forum. This is your last warning. If you can’t be constructive then find a forum better suited to your style of discourse.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

      Wade,

      Get a grip, this is a place for respectful dialogue,

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      I don’t think you actually bothered to read her post. If you did, you vastly misinterpreted it.

      • Wade

        No, I read every word. I’m also allowed to disagree.

        • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

          Of course you’re allowed to disagree. But you’re also doing an awful lot of spewing bile rather than attempting to engage in anything resembling dialogue.

          • Wade

            Um, excuse me but this whole post was an attack directed at all non-Wiccans who have the temerity to use words like “Priestess” and “Coven” without bowing down to Wicca. Right away, this puts all non-Wiccans in the position of having to defend and justify their use of practices that were around long before Wicca was invented.

            On top of that, having every valid argument dismissed with a “Pfft, you’re just mad because wicca won” kind of comment, without context or clarification, isn’t “dialogue” either.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            That’s it. You are no longer welcome in this hall.

          • Galina Krasskova

            No it wasn’t, Wade. It was nothing of the sort. To echo Peter: get a grip on yourself.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Just in case anyone besides Wade has this misconception:
      In all seriousness though, why are you suddenly trying to lay claim to all aspects of ritual and magic, presumptively claiming them to be exclusively Wicca? You expressed your rage at people daring to use terms like “High Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” without bowing down before Wicca, but you have it all backwards.

      At no point did she argue that those words are limited to Wicca. In fact, a large part of the problem is that those words have been used by so many different pagan traditions that some individuals believe that they apply to all pagans. But they don’t.

      Let me invent a concrete example:
      Imagine, at a public gathering such as PantheaCon, a toast is being offered to honor those who had given service in their local communities. Imagine, then, that the individual offering the toast asks that everyone who had served as High Priest or High Priestess of a coven for at least 10 years please stand to be honored. Imagine, instead, that the individual offering the toast asks that everyone who has served as a ritual leader of a local group for at least 10 years please stand to be honored.

      The first invitation uses language which entered modern paganism through Wicca and is now used by a large number of traditions–Wiccan and non-Wiccan. The second invitation, on the other hand, also includes the gothi who founded and has led an Asatru hearth for the last two decades, and the ADF druid who has been offering public rituals on the high days for the last 15 years, and a bunch of other folk.

      Star is merely pointing out that it’s polite to strive for language that includes as broad a range of pagans as possible.

  • Wade

    I find it extremely arrogant and offensive that you presume to disparage others for daring to use “Wiccan” language, when Wicca itself has been cobbled together from dozens of other traditions it doesn’t even acknowledge!

    How DARE you be so pompous as to demand I pay credit to your patchwork religion, when Wicca itself is so vague and undefined that its adherents can follow virtually any set of practices and still call it “Wicca”? There isn’t any sort of monolithic belief structure in Wicca, no specific deities, tenets or even cosmology! Why are you suddenly claiming that All Things Magical must now bow down before Wicca and acknowledge the pangeneration of a tradition that’s not even as old as my grandfather?

    You demand answers as to why people express contempt for Wicca? This is it right here, ably demonstrated in your very own hand. You expect to lay exclusive claim to every aspect of every magic using tradition in America and Europe, yet you also want to shut out all those traditions from daring to use “your” language! How *dare* they speak about performing “Sabbats” with their “Coven” or their “High Priest” drawing down the “Goddess”, when all those words and concepts are now unilaterally the exclusive and copyrighted property of Wicca Inc?! What next? You’re going to forbid people from breathing “Air” because it’s an exclusively Wiccan element? I’m amazed you made it through Pantheacon without realizing that there are actually other traditions in the world besides Wicca.

    In all seriousness though, why are you suddenly trying to lay claim to all aspects of ritual and magic, presumptively claiming them to be exclusively Wicca? You expressed your rage at people daring to use terms like “High Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” without bowing down before Wicca, but you have it all backwards.

    We don’t use generic terms like that because we think Wicca is the “default” language of the pagan community. WICCA uses terms like that because its a generic tradition.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I’m not asking you to respect my religion, although if you can’t speak with common respect in this forum you will be moderated. Be civil.

      My main purpose in writing this post was to add my voice to those of other Pagan religions who are excluded by such language. Which you would have realized had you read the post above.

      • Wade

        No, I read the post, but when you make statements demanding people acknowledge terms like “Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” as being exclusively Wiccan, you’ve *got* to expect people to call you on it. Then you make further statements like:

        “To embrace Wicca’s practices while denying their origins is like sleeping with someone of your own sex while denying you’re LGBTQI.”

        There isn’t a single practice IN Wicca that doesn’t come from somewhere else. You’re talking about co-opting every tradition from which Wicca has borrowed, and trying to “reverse copyright” everything Wicca borrowed as being Wiccan in origin. Basically, acting as if the language Esperanto comes from the rich cultural heritage of the Nation of Esperant, and whenever anyone else uses even a single word of Esperanto, they’re spitting in the face of the noble indigenous Esperantian people.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” when someone expounds upon Wiccan philosophy, even though every single shred of “Wiccan” philosophy was cobbled together from other traditions.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” when people talk about covens, as if no other tradition uses a coven structure for organization. The word “coven” has been around since the 1500′s, but yet you want to claim it’s the exclusive property of Wicca.

        You say it “grates on your nerves” that non-Wiccans practice beliefs that are “practically identical to Wicca”, but what you fail to acknowledge is that there IS no single form of Wicca, so you could claim pretty much anyone is practicing something “practically identical to Wicca”. The practices you’re talking about were around LONG before Wicca was invented, and it’s extremely disrespectful to just dismiss their origins and claim them for your own.

        Now, I’m not sure exactly why you’re trying to establish territory over non-Wiccan traditions, or why you claim I simply misunderstood you when I’ve used your own exact statements. The point is that I also don’t *care* why you’re doing it.

        I’m simply pointing out that while you can include pretty much any practice you like into Wicca, you don’t get to claim ownership.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          You are sadly misinformed about Wicca, and about syncretic religions. You seem to have a lot of anger in regards to Wicca and I hope you find a way to resolve and heal that.

          • Wade

            I find it somewhat disappointing that you’re falling back on the old standard debate tactic of saying that YOUR words are somehow MY fault. You sound like a Christian saying you’ll pray for me when I dare to disagree with your dogma.

            It’s also extremely dishonest to claim I’m misinformed about Wicca, but not mention any specifics or attempt to correct them. It’s the coward’s way out of an argument you know you’ve already lost.

            And no, I don’t have any anger toward Wicca. I resent being told that everyone who practices the traditions from which Wicca has stolen material should suddenly bow down and credit Wicca for all of it. These were *your* words and *your* intentions, and while I can understand your attempt to somehow make it my fault, I accept no responsibility for your actions. Maybe you should.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            I never said any of those things. You are misconstruing my entire post and straining the limits of hospitality on this forum. This is your last warning. If you can’t be constructive then find a forum better suited to your style of discourse.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542692508 Peter Dybing

      Wade,

      Get a grip, this is a place for respectful dialogue,

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      I don’t think you actually bothered to read her post. If you did, you vastly misinterpreted it.

      • Wade

        No, I read every word. I’m also allowed to disagree.

        • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

          Of course you’re allowed to disagree. But you’re also doing an awful lot of spewing bile rather than attempting to engage in anything resembling dialogue.

          • Wade

            Um, excuse me but this whole post was an attack directed at all non-Wiccans who have the temerity to use words like “Priestess” and “Coven” without bowing down to Wicca. Right away, this puts all non-Wiccans in the position of having to defend and justify their use of practices that were around long before Wicca was invented.

            On top of that, having every valid argument dismissed with a “Pfft, you’re just mad because wicca won” kind of comment, without context or clarification, isn’t “dialogue” either.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            That’s it. You are no longer welcome in this hall.

          • Galina Krasskova

            No it wasn’t, Wade. It was nothing of the sort. To echo Peter: get a grip on yourself.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Just in case anyone besides Wade has this misconception:
      In all seriousness though, why are you suddenly trying to lay claim to all aspects of ritual and magic, presumptively claiming them to be exclusively Wicca? You expressed your rage at people daring to use terms like “High Priestess” and “Goddess” and “Ritual” without bowing down before Wicca, but you have it all backwards.

      At no point did she argue that those words are limited to Wicca. In fact, a large part of the problem is that those words have been used by so many different pagan traditions that some individuals believe that they apply to all pagans. But they don’t.

      Let me invent a concrete example:
      Imagine, at a public gathering such as PantheaCon, a toast is being offered to honor those who had given service in their local communities. Imagine, then, that the individual offering the toast asks that everyone who had served as High Priest or High Priestess of a coven for at least 10 years please stand to be honored. Imagine, instead, that the individual offering the toast asks that everyone who has served as a ritual leader of a local group for at least 10 years please stand to be honored.

      The first invitation uses language which entered modern paganism through Wicca and is now used by a large number of traditions–Wiccan and non-Wiccan. The second invitation, on the other hand, also includes the gothi who founded and has led an Asatru hearth for the last two decades, and the ADF druid who has been offering public rituals on the high days for the last 15 years, and a bunch of other folk.

      Star is merely pointing out that it’s polite to strive for language that includes as broad a range of pagans as possible.

  • Ridetbred

    i’m not wiccan so much any more, although like many it was the gateway that took me where i am today. but i don’t bridle if i’m referred to as wiccan. i’m actually kinda pleased that wicca, (which like it or not is at the vanguard of public paganism in america today) is familiar enough that most folks have a vague idea about it. and frankly most people aren’t interested in the nitty gritty. if they are, i tell ‘em. if not, i just smile and say ‘something along those lines!’ and let it go.
    i don’t feel a need to distance myself from wicca. in situations that call for precision i will give it, but i don’t need to eschew it.
    remember not so many years ago when the stock answer to ‘what is wicca?’ was to insist ‘it’s NOT satanism!’
    it’s kind of funny to see the weird twist of modern pagans rushing to proclaim how un-wiccan they are! :D
    khairete
    suz

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      When a Pagan isn’t casting circles, calling quarters, using an eightfold “wheel of the year,” or referring to The Goddess and The God, I really think they’re entirely justified in saying they’re un-Wiccan (or just plain not Wiccan). I had to spend over ten years trying to demonstrate that Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism wasn’t Wicca or even like Wicca, and that Wicca was not in any substantial way a Celtic religion in a cultural or historical sense.

      I still deal with some of those basic misconceptions on a regular basis today. Of course I’m going to proclaim how un-Wiccan a CR path is — our practices have very little in common with Wicca either theologically or ritually. To say otherwise seems disingenuous. I try not to engage in false advertising.

      • Ridetbred

        many recon religions are very unwiccan. but most of us, even us recons, aren’t that hard-edged about it. if indeed one’s religion and practices aren’t remotely like wicca and can’t relate to wicca in any way, i think it’s fine to say so.
        my hellenion rituals aren’t recognizably wiccan at all. if wiccans attend (which is rare, to my sorrow), i feel it courteous to do a preamble so they’ll be ready for the distinct differences.
        but i’m perfectly comfortable attending wiccan circles and don’t feel the need to keep telling them how different, how more authentic, how non-syncretic my stuff is compared to theirs.
        i don’t think we need to downplay the real and interesting distinctions in the various pagan paths. but the nose-holding that it is so fashionable these days among non-wiccans is no more attractive than the militant homogeneity of the lumpers.
        khairete
        suz

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Having just had a chance to participate in Druidic, Asatru and Mediterranean rituals, I agree that they aren’t remotely Wiccan. You could nitpick on one or two elements that might be vaguely familiar, but mostly I was a fish out of water. Which was amazing! I loved it!

          Especially at one point during the Bakkhoi Antinoou ritual where I thought something was going to be Wiccan-esque and wasn’t. That was perhaps the coolest thing ever. I think we need to learn more about each other’s religions. As a trad Wiccan I can’t actively study with another Pagan tradition, but I enjoy visiting every once in awhile.

          • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

            If you’re willing to discuss it further, I’d be interested in hearing what parts you thought would be Wiccan-esque and weren’t in our ritual. I do think some recons might find parts of our rituals a bit too Wicca-like (or a bit too Catholic!), while some more generalized pagans find them that much more accessible for the same reasons…

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            When you began to hallow the space I thought “oh here we go! calling the quarters!” but instead what you did felt very authentic and different from Wicca. It was interesting to see something involving the cardinal directions that felt very foreign to Wicca. It was cool.

  • Ridetbred

    i’m not wiccan so much any more, although like many it was the gateway that took me where i am today. but i don’t bridle if i’m referred to as wiccan. i’m actually kinda pleased that wicca, (which like it or not is at the vanguard of public paganism in america today) is familiar enough that most folks have a vague idea about it. and frankly most people aren’t interested in the nitty gritty. if they are, i tell ‘em. if not, i just smile and say ‘something along those lines!’ and let it go.
    i don’t feel a need to distance myself from wicca. in situations that call for precision i will give it, but i don’t need to eschew it.
    remember not so many years ago when the stock answer to ‘what is wicca?’ was to insist ‘it’s NOT satanism!’
    it’s kind of funny to see the weird twist of modern pagans rushing to proclaim how un-wiccan they are! :D
    khairete
    suz

    • http://erynn999.livejournal.com/ Erynn

      When a Pagan isn’t casting circles, calling quarters, using an eightfold “wheel of the year,” or referring to The Goddess and The God, I really think they’re entirely justified in saying they’re un-Wiccan (or just plain not Wiccan). I had to spend over ten years trying to demonstrate that Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism wasn’t Wicca or even like Wicca, and that Wicca was not in any substantial way a Celtic religion in a cultural or historical sense.

      I still deal with some of those basic misconceptions on a regular basis today. Of course I’m going to proclaim how un-Wiccan a CR path is — our practices have very little in common with Wicca either theologically or ritually. To say otherwise seems disingenuous. I try not to engage in false advertising.

      • Ridetbred

        many recon religions are very unwiccan. but most of us, even us recons, aren’t that hard-edged about it. if indeed one’s religion and practices aren’t remotely like wicca and can’t relate to wicca in any way, i think it’s fine to say so.
        my hellenion rituals aren’t recognizably wiccan at all. if wiccans attend (which is rare, to my sorrow), i feel it courteous to do a preamble so they’ll be ready for the distinct differences.
        but i’m perfectly comfortable attending wiccan circles and don’t feel the need to keep telling them how different, how more authentic, how non-syncretic my stuff is compared to theirs.
        i don’t think we need to downplay the real and interesting distinctions in the various pagan paths. but the nose-holding that it is so fashionable these days among non-wiccans is no more attractive than the militant homogeneity of the lumpers.
        khairete
        suz

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Having just had a chance to participate in Druidic, Asatru and Mediterranean rituals, I agree that they aren’t remotely Wiccan. You could nitpick on one or two elements that might be vaguely familiar, but mostly I was a fish out of water. Which was amazing! I loved it!

          Especially at one point during the Bakkhoi Antinoou ritual where I thought something was going to be Wiccan-esque and wasn’t. That was perhaps the coolest thing ever. I think we need to learn more about each other’s religions. As a trad Wiccan I can’t actively study with another Pagan tradition, but I enjoy visiting every once in awhile.

          • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

            If you’re willing to discuss it further, I’d be interested in hearing what parts you thought would be Wiccan-esque and weren’t in our ritual. I do think some recons might find parts of our rituals a bit too Wicca-like (or a bit too Catholic!), while some more generalized pagans find them that much more accessible for the same reasons…

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            When you began to hallow the space I thought “oh here we go! calling the quarters!” but instead what you did felt very authentic and different from Wicca. It was interesting to see something involving the cardinal directions that felt very foreign to Wicca. It was cool.

  • Moonpeeker

    Interesting article and responses. If I had to try to put myself into a box (and I never seem to fit…ouch!), I am a eclectic solitary pagan with shamanistic leanings. Many times when people discover I’m a pagan they identify me as “Wiccan” because that is often more recognized by people or they don’t know the difference. I am not drawn to Wicca and always inform/remind people that there are as many valid paths as there are people.

    I would hesitate to call anything “watered-down” or vague regardless…everything is equally valid to me and I have no issue with anyone “borrowing” anything from any path. Also no path should be denounced or thought of as less established or “valid” just because it may be “vague” or lack specificity of some sort. I think you are right that we need to be careful of our language in this regard. Good dialogue :)

  • Moonpeeker

    Interesting article and responses. If I had to try to put myself into a box (and I never seem to fit…ouch!), I am a eclectic solitary pagan with shamanistic leanings. Many times when people discover I’m a pagan they identify me as “Wiccan” because that is often more recognized by people or they don’t know the difference. I am not drawn to Wicca and always inform/remind people that there are as many valid paths as there are people.

    I would hesitate to call anything “watered-down” or vague regardless…everything is equally valid to me and I have no issue with anyone “borrowing” anything from any path. Also no path should be denounced or thought of as less established or “valid” just because it may be “vague” or lack specificity of some sort. I think you are right that we need to be careful of our language in this regard. Good dialogue :)

  • http://www.thorncoyle.com Thorn

    When a non-Pagan asks if I’m Wiccan, I say, “Close enough.” I don’t however, use terms like “The Goddess” unless I’m trying to do so in a list of other options to be inclusive. I don’t use The Lord and Lady unless I’m talking about Freyr and Freyja, because that is what their names mean. I don’t worry about gender parity because we have every gender within us. Do some of my practices resemble Wiccan practices? Of course:

    Like it or not, all but a select few of contemporary Pagans are mutts. Even many Heathens call the Four Dwarves that hold up the sky as a way of making sacred space. Many Druids cast circle and call elements in such a way as to be unrecognizable from Craft or Ceremonial-based Trads. And yes, if you call yourself a Witch, and aren’t a solely hedge or hearthwitch, you have some Ceremonial influence in how you perform ritual.

    I’m not Wiccan, but I’m not offended if someone mistakes me as one.

    Pagan isn’t a great umbrella term, but it is the best I’ve found so far, so I’m using it.

  • http://www.thorncoyle.com Thorn

    When a non-Pagan asks if I’m Wiccan, I say, “Close enough.” I don’t however, use terms like “The Goddess” unless I’m trying to do so in a list of other options to be inclusive. I don’t use The Lord and Lady unless I’m talking about Freyr and Freyja, because that is what their names mean. I don’t worry about gender parity because we have every gender within us. Do some of my practices resemble Wiccan practices? Of course:

    Like it or not, all but a select few of contemporary Pagans are mutts. Even many Heathens call the Four Dwarves that hold up the sky as a way of making sacred space. Many Druids cast circle and call elements in such a way as to be unrecognizable from Craft or Ceremonial-based Trads. And yes, if you call yourself a Witch, and aren’t a solely hedge or hearthwitch, you have some Ceremonial influence in how you perform ritual.

    I’m not Wiccan, but I’m not offended if someone mistakes me as one.

    Pagan isn’t a great umbrella term, but it is the best I’ve found so far, so I’m using it.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    For the record, since there seems to be general confusion, I am neither anti-Pagan or a hard-line Wiccan.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    For the record, since there seems to be general confusion, I am neither anti-Pagan or a hard-line Wiccan.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    I come to bury Wade, not to praise him. That said…..

    Yes, my reconstructionist soul finds it grating when Wicca is seen as ‘pagan standard. And as a Crabby Old Lady (I don’t suppose I can use my Judgmental Druid “Female Dog” title here, can I, Star?), it grates when people set up groups that are Wiccan in form and format, but reject the term ‘Wiccan’ and it grates when said groups refuse to attribute Wicca as their proximate source of what they do … but that grates on me less than Wiccan groups that reject the initiatory/mystery religion/lineage aspects of Wicca. After all, it could be argued that sans lineage such groups are ‘wiccan style’ but not ‘wiccan’. Thus, groups that practice in the style of Wicca, but don’t have lineage, might be seen as MORE respectful of Wicca!

    Your mileage may vary.

    But Wade has a point: most of the language used in Wicca is from other sources. Its liturgical structure and much of the language to describe the parts/events of ritual are from Ceremonial Magick, which I expect is grating to Wade. Mesopagans worked with priests, priestesses, High Priests – and many paleopagans did as well. Sabbats were attributed to witches well before they were attributed to Wiccans.

    I’ll grant Wicca sole ownership of the term polarity, and maybe of ‘drawing down’, not that anyone has made me the Pagan Pope.

    Again, Your Mileage May Vary.

    • Ridetbred

      nicely done, fernbaby!
      khairete
      suz

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      You are absolutely right. I should have been more specific in my language. Yet, I find it interesting that so many modern Pagans have adopted a different language so as not to be confused with Wicca. I can’t think of a non-Wiccan tradition led by a High Priestess, but there are Arch-druids, gythias, and other terms used.

      Every religion is made up of unoriginal elements. It’s their synergy as a cohesive whole that renders them recognizable. Out of context, Odin, Jesus and Attis all “died” on a tree and resurrected in an unoriginal fashion, but their place in their respective traditions make them unique.

      Lots of people use circles to denote sacred space, but I’m willing to bet money that most Pagans can tell the difference between a Wiccan-esque circle and other types of circle “casting”. In the same way, I think most Pagans know Wicca when they see it, regardless of where the individual components of the religion came from.

      It might be interesting to say Wicca is like porn. Hard to describe but you know it when you see it. Which isn’t necessarily true or accurate but I have a bad sense of humor when sick.

      Thanks for engaging in constructive dialogue, Fern. Always a pleasure.

    • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman Presson

      Yep, all of the above … and as far as I know, Sannion is still the Pagan Pope.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    I come to bury Wade, not to praise him. That said…..

    Yes, my reconstructionist soul finds it grating when Wicca is seen as ‘pagan standard. And as a Crabby Old Lady (I don’t suppose I can use my Judgmental Druid “Female Dog” title here, can I, Star?), it grates when people set up groups that are Wiccan in form and format, but reject the term ‘Wiccan’ and it grates when said groups refuse to attribute Wicca as their proximate source of what they do … but that grates on me less than Wiccan groups that reject the initiatory/mystery religion/lineage aspects of Wicca. After all, it could be argued that sans lineage such groups are ‘wiccan style’ but not ‘wiccan’. Thus, groups that practice in the style of Wicca, but don’t have lineage, might be seen as MORE respectful of Wicca!

    Your mileage may vary.

    But Wade has a point: most of the language used in Wicca is from other sources. Its liturgical structure and much of the language to describe the parts/events of ritual are from Ceremonial Magick, which I expect is grating to Wade. Mesopagans worked with priests, priestesses, High Priests – and many paleopagans did as well. Sabbats were attributed to witches well before they were attributed to Wiccans.

    I’ll grant Wicca sole ownership of the term polarity, and maybe of ‘drawing down’, not that anyone has made me the Pagan Pope.

    Again, Your Mileage May Vary.

    • Ridetbred

      nicely done, fernbaby!
      khairete
      suz

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      You are absolutely right. I should have been more specific in my language. Yet, I find it interesting that so many modern Pagans have adopted a different language so as not to be confused with Wicca. I can’t think of a non-Wiccan tradition led by a High Priestess, but there are Arch-druids, gythias, and other terms used.

      Every religion is made up of unoriginal elements. It’s their synergy as a cohesive whole that renders them recognizable. Out of context, Odin, Jesus and Attis all “died” on a tree and resurrected in an unoriginal fashion, but their place in their respective traditions make them unique.

      Lots of people use circles to denote sacred space, but I’m willing to bet money that most Pagans can tell the difference between a Wiccan-esque circle and other types of circle “casting”. In the same way, I think most Pagans know Wicca when they see it, regardless of where the individual components of the religion came from.

      It might be interesting to say Wicca is like porn. Hard to describe but you know it when you see it. Which isn’t necessarily true or accurate but I have a bad sense of humor when sick.

      Thanks for engaging in constructive dialogue, Fern. Always a pleasure.

    • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

      Yep, all of the above … and as far as I know, Sannion is still the Pagan Pope.

  • Chic0411

    Me too, I don’t agree when those assume Wiccan because your Pagan, Pagans are not Wiccan they are verity of different Beliefs, Umbrella of traditions, spiritual, I don’t believe in Religion and don’t want to be pushed into another one, Paganism is a way of life not Religion, we spend more time trying to break away from the control of churches we don’t need another issue of control within another religion!

    I know off base but how I feel!

  • Chic0411

    Me too, I don’t agree when those assume Wiccan because your Pagan, Pagans are not Wiccan they are verity of different Beliefs, Umbrella of traditions, spiritual, I don’t believe in Religion and don’t want to be pushed into another one, Paganism is a way of life not Religion, we spend more time trying to break away from the control of churches we don’t need another issue of control within another religion!

    I know off base but how I feel!

  • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman Presson

    I still think the idea of discussing inclusive language for describing the Paganistani people has a lot of merit. Too bad it got mixed in with some other issues here. I still don’t quite know how to start, though. Either someone needs to write a specific article with examples, or there needs to be a forum for a conspiracy to produce such an article.

  • http://freemanpresson.wordpress.com/ Freeman

    I still think the idea of discussing inclusive language for describing the Paganistani people has a lot of merit. Too bad it got mixed in with some other issues here. I still don’t quite know how to start, though. Either someone needs to write a specific article with examples, or there needs to be a forum for a conspiracy to produce such an article.

  • http://twitter.com/DiscordianKitty Laura

    Very good article. This point honestly never occured to me.

  • http://twitter.com/DiscordianKitty Kitty

    Very good article. This point honestly never occured to me.

  • Ikindewitch

    I have found that translating terminology at the time of conversation based on “who” I am currently speaking with, helps.

    For instance, if I’m talking to a Wiccan about Recon stuff, I use Wiccan terms; if I’m talking to a Xtian about Asatruar stuff, I use Xtian terms… it is a concept that I am trying to convey by speaking sounds aloud, anyways. I try not to instigate lectures or symposiums on the plethora of polytheistic jargon in use by pagans/heathens today. I don’t think everybody “needs” to be force-fed a new lingo just to communicate with me.

    Perhaps, there will be people rigidly against “speaking in a language familiar to whom I’m addressing” because of the subtle differences in applied practices and/or spiritual nuances.

    However, I am more of an opinion that we should attempt to clearly communicate with others, rather than inundate a conversation with terms that continually require clarification. In my personal opinion, people who cannot make conversation easy on those they address are simply looking for a way to justify being a “pushy polytheist” or trying to overcompensate for an underlying lack of education… [If you cannot bedazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull-shti, right?]

    • Ikindewitch

      Remember:
      All Wiccans are Pagan, just like all Catholics are Christian.

      Perhaps, someone should write a paper calling on submission for a “Universal Polytheistic Language” that is not specifically “wiccan”?

      LOL … I’d buy it!

  • Ikindewitch

    I have found that translating terminology at the time of conversation based on “who” I am currently speaking with, helps.

    For instance, if I’m talking to a Wiccan about Recon stuff, I use Wiccan terms; if I’m talking to a Xtian about Asatruar stuff, I use Xtian terms… it is a concept that I am trying to convey by speaking sounds aloud, anyways. I try not to instigate lectures or symposiums on the plethora of polytheistic jargon in use by pagans/heathens today. I don’t think everybody “needs” to be force-fed a new lingo just to communicate with me.

    Perhaps, there will be people rigidly against “speaking in a language familiar to whom I’m addressing” because of the subtle differences in applied practices and/or spiritual nuances.

    However, I am more of an opinion that we should attempt to clearly communicate with others, rather than inundate a conversation with terms that continually require clarification. In my personal opinion, people who cannot make conversation easy on those they address are simply looking for a way to justify being a “pushy polytheist” or trying to overcompensate for an underlying lack of education… [If you cannot bedazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull-shti, right?]

    • Ikindewitch

      Remember:
      All Wiccans are Pagan, just like all Catholics are Christian.

      Perhaps, someone should write a paper calling on submission for a “Universal Polytheistic Language” that is not specifically “wiccan”?

      LOL … I’d buy it!

  • Fotheow

    I have read so many of the comments to this subject, I was beginning to get sleepy. Pagan, Witch, all of it. We are so caught up in this issue of what is either politically correct or what defines a particular path etc. We and I do mean many different folks of all faiths, love to play the judgement game. It is what fractures the whole of something. “Pagan” a general term that is inclusive. “Witch” yep, still the same, inclusive. I liken it to the “Tree of Life”. The trunk holds the essence of all the different beliefs throughout the planet. The many different branches hold all aspects of it and we are all one. The roots that holds us together are deep into the very core of the earth. No one aspect is better or greater yet each is quite unique. How a group or single individual believes or practices is not up for judgement. I am is a powerful statement. Now this does not mean I am a pacifist. It simply means I do not stand in judgement of another’s choice of beliefs.

  • Fotheow

    I have read so many of the comments to this subject, I was beginning to get sleepy. Pagan, Witch, all of it. We are so caught up in this issue of what is either politically correct or what defines a particular path etc. We and I do mean many different folks of all faiths, love to play the judgement game. It is what fractures the whole of something. “Pagan” a general term that is inclusive. “Witch” yep, still the same, inclusive. I liken it to the “Tree of Life”. The trunk holds the essence of all the different beliefs throughout the planet. The many different branches hold all aspects of it and we are all one. The roots that holds us together are deep into the very core of the earth. No one aspect is better or greater yet each is quite unique. How a group or single individual believes or practices is not up for judgement. I am is a powerful statement. Now this does not mean I am a pacifist. It simply means I do not stand in judgement of another’s choice of beliefs.


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