Lately I have been reading a lot of Christopher Penzcak’s books. As a writer he attracts me more for the interesting position he writes from; gay man, witch, pagan, lightworker (New-Ager), ceremonialist, I’m sure the list of descriptions go on from here but alas only knowing from his works these seem to be the primary labels he uses.
Its gotten me onto thinking the labels I have come to associate myself with over the years of spiritual and esoteric discovery. I’m a Witch (capitalised to signify a perfect noun) and I have used the label Pagan in order to find others that are witches too. During the earlier days I have relied on Wiccan (as a derivative of Wicca, the Earth-based spirituality as birthed by Gerald Gardner, revised by Doreen Valiente, Alex Sanders, Stewart and Janet Farrar and since has been revised many more times even birthing new traditions) as a label of choice. I have come to realise that a large part of using the label Wicca was due to the fact the books told me so.
Many authors of Wicca have commented on the erroneous etymology of the word Wicca (wica, wiccae, wicce, et al) even commenting that Gardner himself only used this in the later years preferring The Craft or the Craft of the Wise. I can’t say for sure myself.
The title of this entry is Emerging Subcultures as labels seem to play the most pivotal role. After all to name something makes it less fearful. As demonstrated at least in part Wicca reduced the level of fear while explaining to people my spiritual path as a Witch. I suppose one could counter with well to be fair witches don’t always follow a spiritual paradigm many simply work on a cause and effect basis. But even of those in that ascribe or even subscribe to this label they often, in my humble experience have used the label pagan in order to discover others of like mind.
For myself personally the next label I have often used to describe myself is pagan, this often causes its own problems because there is an implicied state in the use of this word that one is referring to Neo-Paganism which is an umbrella term. After Pagan is a term brought about by happenstance really. I’ve often used the term Cuardóir which is off my own creation really. It’s root word is ‘cuardaigh’ meaning to visit/seek so while in the form -dóir it mean Seeker (noun) in Irish (modern). Using this term has felt right at certain times with discoveries being made all the time. It is at this point I would be inclined to argue the power of labels as while using this label I was open to experimentation more. I certainly found that synchronicity featured more and more with material seeming to just manifest from a variety of sources.
I also started looking into ceremonialism a lot more, I would say that this is due to a widening awareness of Traditional Wicca’s involvement with ceremonial orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (HOGD).It is at this point in my own journey the circle becomes full again, for in the realisation (personal of course) that if I can align myself with ceremonialism and still feel comfortable then much of what is Traditional Wicca might yield new insights under fresh eyes. The term Cuardóir also opened up avenues of discovery on the more metaphysical or New Age paradigms such as healing and divination work.
Just as the Golden Dawn emerged in the wake of Theosophical Society, Wicca emerged from the Western Mystery Tradition that was at the time the Golden Dawn. Since Wicca the Neo-pagan movement has developed more and more aspects such as Celtic Reconstructionist, Asthrú, Khemetic, Eclectic and each with it’s own identity and modes of expression. I understand the quest for identity, having clearly undertaken the same quest myself personally.
The emerging nature of subcultures can be unnerving for the aspiring seeker of a pagan spiritual path, especially when many of them adopt the same methods of achieving legitimacy as indeed the Golden Dawn and Gardner did. The Golden Dawn was born in majority from the Cipher Manuscript which it seemed was originally Roisicrucionist in origin. Gerard Gardner was associated with ceremonialism but also claimed to be an Initiate of the New Forest Coven as led by “Old Dorothy”. The shoddy quest for legitimacy aside the founders of these traditions did set down the ground work for a structured Path for a seeker. Were they something more than human? Who knows, what is known is that Gardner had his vices, many people remember him focusing on youthful women in the Coven and often accuse him of ageism and sexism in his Coven.
To be honest I don’t much care. The Craft as a whole has come on in leaps and bounds with many people adding to the dissemination of information for people. Indeed the fact that people were clearly people helps to drive home the fact that no matter how far we progress in the Craft there is more to learn and achieve. As always blog buddies looking forward to hearing your thoughts. x