Far From Traditional but Still a Wiccan

Far From Traditional but Still a Wiccan May 10, 2015

Current altar
Current altar

I rarely do a traditional Wiccan ritual. Sometimes I don’t even cast a circle because I do not always find it necessary. Sometimes, I follow the usual Wiccan order of service and other times I opt for simplicity. I am not a British traditional initiate nor care to be. I don’t even belong to a coven nor do I currently care to be. But I still tell people proudly I am a Wiccan. I never call myself a neo-wiccan either. I do not relate to the term because my practices I call Wiccan are not new. Reinvented maybe but many Pagans are. Many Black traditions had to be reinvented. With so many people reinventing themselves and their practices neo seems so unnecessary to me. I’m just a Wiccan. My practices are informed by those of Gardner, Buckingham, Cunningham and more so Starhawk. However, they are also grounded in my heritage, my culture, history, and my ancestors play a big part in my practices.

I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate Black cultures into my Wiccan practice. It would be easier to give up the Wiccan mantle and commit to a African diasporic religion. I would not have sacrificed my culture identity for my spiritual one. I would not have to deal with the Eurocentric ideals of Wicca and Wiccans. I would probably be taken more seriously by other Black pagans and African Traditional Religions ( ATR) Black people. It would certainly be easier. But I still call myself a Wiccan even though you will never see the traditional Wicca pantheons on my altar. No Greek, Roman, Norse or Celtic deities hang out in my magickal spaces. It is all deities of color: Yemaya, Saraswati and Buddhas. The only white faces are those meant as a mask for Papa Legba. My practices and deities are heavily influenced by African American spirituality, Buddhism and yoga. But I choose the Wiccan title as being the most fitting. Yes, sometimes, I do a little hoodoo, sometimes I am a Sea Witch, Kitchen Witch, or a just very lazy witch.

I have thought about choosing more inclusive and simplistic title such as Witch or Pagan. But I stay with the title Wiccan because of two reasons. One, it is my foundation. Even though I tend to alter many of the traditional Wiccan practices, I am firm believer in the Wiccan philosophy. Beyond practicing the Harm None suggestion, I believe in an immanent Goddess, I feel nourished by earth-based practices,and
I respect the wisdom of the Threefold law.

Wicca also allows me to be fully myself. For instance, being a Vegetarian fits nicely with Wicca where in ATR traditions Vegetarianism is often seen an impossibility. Being eclectic is easy under the Wiccan title, I do not have to give up my need to have African symbols or Buddhist practices because I am Wiccan. It is also easier to get information about Wicca then the more secretive traditions. I also prefer the non-hierarchical Wicca to hierarchical pagan and ATR.

For now, being a Wiccan is the easy path because it does not force strict religious rules. Being a Wiccan allows me to be my own authority and find the right spiritual practices and lessons for myself. At the same time, it gives me the structure of having a way of viewing and relating to the world. Within Wicca, I found a philosophy that helps me see the magic and beauty in the world and all its creatures.

The other reason is perhaps more egoistic. Wicca needs people of color. Wicca needs Black people. There is so much racism, white privilege, Eurocentrism  and plain ignorance in Wicca and contemporary Paganism. Perhaps, this should make me want to leave the religion and not deal with all the trouble. However, it just makes me hold onto my Wiccan identity more strongly. By calling myself a Wiccan, and making Wicca work for me, I can hopefully create a more welcoming environment for other Wiccans of color. Besides, why allow a philosophy that has shaped so much of my life to be ruin by ignorance. Regardless of how challenging it is to be a Black eclectic Wiccan, the truth is Wicca needs people like me and I need Wicca too. It is who I am and how I see the world.

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