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By Boudica
(Used with permission)


As a religion and as a community in general, we tend to be very tolerant of much of what goes on around us spiritually. Yes, as in all communities, there are the fundamentalists and there are the hard core purists, but for the most part, you go your spiritual path, we go ours. Probably because of our diversity as a religious community, we seem to be more accepting of another’s chosen path. While it may not be what we follow, we are not all that concerned about the path someone else chooses.

We have the "fantasy pagan" and the incorporation of so much fiction into spiritual paths. It was noted in a recent census in England (where the religion box is still on the census forms) that many people answered "Jedi" as their religion. While it may seem to be a joke to many, there are those out there who seriously consider Jedi to be a chosen spiritual path. Just as there are those who seriously consider themselves Klingon.

But that is fantasy. What I want to deal with here is the recent trend to accept a hyphenated breed of Pagan or Witch or Wiccan. You know them, they get very upset when you ask them about their self description. They are the ones who can't seem to make up their minds what they are.

While there are many new members of our community who are being brought up pagan, there are still many, like myself, who have abandoned the religion of their childhood, and found the Pagan Path. I have spent many years on my path, and managed to leave behind the dressings and vocabulary and dogma associated with my former religion. I have embraced what it is to be a witch.

But what about those who can not leave behind the safety and security of their religion yet want to be included in our community?

What about those who explore new religious paths and find that they are more comfortable with, say, an Eastern philosophy, yet want to be included in our community?

While many pagans consider themselves not spiritually inclined, paganism implies many things to pagans. Many are polytheistic. Many dedicate themselves to being caretakers of the land. Others are classic "party pagans".

To be a hyphenated pagan may not be as bad as it sounds. We can adopt philosophies or ethics that are of importance to us. These ideals know no spiritual boundaries. We can be eclectic in our beliefs. There is good in each philosophy, and we can adopt these and incorporate them into our everyday lives.

But why can't we call ourselves "pagan" and embrace all that it means to be pagan, without having to include an attachment or a label on ourselves to anything else. What is the need to be classified as different while looking to be accepted as the same?

What if you are not on the pagan side? What about those who travel the truth of their own paths? Try going to a Buddhist and describing yourself as a Buddhist-Pagan. See what kind of reaction you get. The Buddhist will tell you: you are either Buddhist, or you are not. This also disrespects their religion and gives us a bad reflection in their eyes.

Same applies as a hyphenated witch. WitchCraft is, again, not necessarily a spiritual path, it is more a way of life. In tune with the cycles of earth, nature and the moon and living in harmony with nature and the earth. We tend not to notice the spiritual angle as much as say, Wiccans.

But what about those Christian-Witches. Yes, we tend to be very tolerant of other peoples chosen paths, but the problem arises when you try to explain yourself. This is not an acceptable title with "True Christians". Check your dictionary for the Christian meaning of witch. Ask a Christian about your title. And most witches will blow you out of the water with this one.

We spend all this time discussing "The Burning Times" and now we should just accept Christian migration as another entry into our path, as just another addition to our family? We spend so much time disassociating from Christian dogma and Christian definitions of our Gods/Goddesses that we just forget all we have done and accept it now? Many of us left Christianity and its stuffy church edifices, plastic clergy and impersonal ritual for personal interaction with our Gods/Goddesses in open, sweet smelling forests on a level each of us can relate to. We now want to return to it?

The Christian-Wiccan is the hardest to justify. Wicca acknowledges a God, or a Goddess or both. While Christianity could possibly be stretched to being "God" in Wicca, how does the Rede mesh with the 10 Commandments. Or how do you explain "Goddess" in a monotheistic religion that acknowledges the masculine deity only? Trinity could be stretched to be "Triple Aspects" of the God, but applying much of the Wiccan Dogma to Christianity, or visa versa, is a stretch of the imagination that borders on heresy in the Christian way of things. Not to mention... what Christian church accepts you as "Christian Wiccans" or for that matter "Christian Witches".

There is a growing section of people who can not let their former lives go. These hyphenated practitioners are trying to bring their vocabulary, their dogma, their established practices and beliefs into the collective paths of "Pagan/Witch/Wicca". Some have set up churches or temples, clergy, and even gone so far as to establish our passages in life as "sacraments". It looks like a Christian invasion in some instances. It could almost be interpreted as a conspiracy by the Christian Churches to absorb us back into the fold.

Following a Christian pantheon might work in Wicca. Being an Earth Based Christian may work in Christianity. But we have a serious problem with the hyphenated practitioner.

Being tolerant of others religion is a good thing and should always be encouraged. But when including a particular path in our community we should examine what that path is and how it may or may not fit into our community, our belief systems and our life styles. We need to learn to be digressionary in who or what we choose to associate with as a community.

As a community, we should be aware of how we are perceived outside our own community as well as within. While we embrace all that is pagan or witch or Wiccan, do we also embrace all that is Christian or (insert religion here) into our belief systems? Do we embrace all established religious dogma into our religion? Do we embrace all religion as an establishment in our community? Then what is it that made us pagan or witch or Wiccan to begin with if we can not clearly define ourselves as different from others.

Or do we draw a line and say: paganism stops here... witchcraft stops here... and Wicca stops here. As a community, up to now we have allowed the inclusion of these three major paths because of the closeness of their philosophies and the attachments of one for the other. But does this mean that everyone who adds our path as a hyphenation is also part of our community?

We need to clearly define who we are, so we are not mistaken for someone else. We do not want to lose our individuality... that special touch that makes us different from everyone else.

There is a need to stand proudly in our community as who we are and not try to sneak in the back door as a hyphenated someone else. We need to be clear that if you choose to follow one of the pagan/witch/wiccan paths, then follow it. Do not try to cover yourself with the cloak of something else.

And do not disrespect another's religion. They are who they are, do not try to redefine them based on your own self illusion. You are either this or you are not. There is no middle of the road.



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This page last updated April 25, 2005