When I first began reading on paganism there were only the standard “Wicca 101” books around. There was a time and place where this made sense and was all I could handle in terms of taking on more information and assimilating it all into my life. It wasn’t until I first stepped out onto forum-land with its variety of posters, some more genuine and sincere and well-adjusted than others that I realised, shock-and-horror, that not everyone held the same interpretations of the published books as I had read and others had gone on to discover more information elsewhere that at the time completely rocked the foundations of what I understood my path to be.
I feel somewhat bad for new generational seekers now because we’re moving further away from what was “authentic” to what is dynamic and usable for the next generation. This isn’t a bad thing but right now I’m personally caught between how to describe my Path. Once upon a time I could introduce myself online as “I’m Abhainn and I’m so many years old and I’m Wiccan” and most would be quite content to assume that I mean eclectic Wiccan or as tends to be rather fashionable now to be a Progressive Witch. I think personally the latter comes from Traditional Wicca slowly coming to claim back terms that have escaped out into the mainstream and taken on a life of their own. Well if the “gays” can do it I say why not.
The other thing about the multitude of Paths developing new labels is that new seekers can learn to spot the signs of someone who’s BSing about their lineages (where they obtain their titles and gradings from) whether they be hereditary or traditional. I’d like to clarify some of the labels have already used before introducing more. Paganism is generally accepted to refer to all polytheistic faiths including British Traditional Wicca which itself is generally comprised of Alexandrian (Alex Sander’s downline) and Gardnerian (Gerald B. Gardner’s downline). Paganism to be fair to that label also refers to such traditions or paths as; Celtic Re-constructionism, Asthru or Druidism which grew in the wake of BTW’s popularity.
As Aaron Leitch describes in better detail than I can on a personal blog in his article: The Thelemic Origins of Wicca
British Traditional Wicca’s origins stem from a well rounded mix of ideologies all developing pre- the mid-nineteenth century. I particularly enjoy Aaron’s rendering of the misunderstandings surrounding the Wiccan Rede. This has been one of the major blockages to me using this label full time on fora because people, as in fellow pagans, tend to interpret the Rede very differently than I do. I was aware that there was a ceremonial connection to the Rede in the final 2 lines: “An It Harm None- /Do What Ye Wilt”. It seemed to refer innately to a higher sense of self. I hadn’t read anything of Thelema at the time (nor have I really since to be perfectly honest) but even the rendition of Will in the perfect tense ‘Wilt’ seemed to hint at true magick in motion. Not some idle or passive nature.
Unlike many of the older references I have never stated that I belong to “The Old Religion” because to be honest everything I do is new to me. Also I’m not looking for something lost in the past I wish to find myself through the use of ritual and magick . Perhaps then this is the “Great Work of magick” as referred to in the Witches’ Creed?