The other day I tried to articulate something about “advanced Wicca” that wasn’t terribly coherent. Some people challenged what I said and made me examine the issue more closely. Thank you Jay and Dave of PCP!
So while I’ll admit there are so-called “advanced” books out there that I really want to read (Kat MacMorgan, T. Thorn Coyle and Chris Penczak for instance), I don’t perceive these as being “advanced” as much as different perspectives. So many of the books that are being touted as “advanced” are really just proper books on Wicca or they draw on non-Wiccan practices and skills. Dianne Sylvan has pretty read my mind on the subject. I particularly like this bit:
How many books have you seen on how to live as a Wiccan when life sucks? How to face life’s worst moments and most difficult challenges? Where are the books on surviving grief, abuse, and loss and still maintaining your faith as a Wiccan? How to bring your entire life in alignment with your values, and how Wicca influences those values, or should? How, if everything is sacred, every choice we make from what to eat to what shoes to buy is an expression of our spiritual beliefs?
I hate the labels “advanced” and “101”. These grate on me like nails on a chalkboard. Imagine someone reading the Bible and then going to the priest and asking for “advanced Christianity” books. Or someone gaining a working comprehension of and beginning to practice meditation to insist that now they are ready for “advanced Zen” books. It’s absurd.
My first Wiccan books were The Witches Bible by the Farrars and All One Wicca by Kat MacMorgan. I’m not going to claim these are the awesomest books on the face of the earth but between them you get a comprehensive look at Wicca, and I’d venture to say as deep a look at Wicca as most “advanced” books. Beyond them there are books that can teach you more about astrology, about tarot, herbs, ceremonial magic, and some of them claim this is “advanced Wicca.” That’s like saying music is “advanced Christianity” just because it’s a tool Christians use. These are all tools Wiccans use, but in and of themselves are not Wiccan. So many people seem to be looking for Wicca outside of Wicca, like trying to find America by driving across Bulgaria.
Not to mention that Wicca 101 implies that “this is the least you can get away with” and that simply understanding the vocabulary and calendar means you understand Wicca. If I’ve learned anything from the Wicca Series last month, it’s that Wicca isn’t easy to understand, even for hardcore Wiccans.
If Wicca has survived and thrived it’s because it has intrinsic worth, not because it’s a vessel for other disciplines. Using labels like “101” or “advanced” implies a lack of depth, a philosophy easily boxed and labeled in easy-to-swallow chunks. It ignores the real beauty, depth and value of Wicca.