I am joining in late on the Pagan Blog Project 2012. Since this is a new blog, I thought that would be a fun thing to do. I actually like blog prompts on occasion. They give me something to ruminate on for a while and sometimes I end up seeing a point I missed previously. In any case, they’re on the letter “E” this week. If I start feeling chatty, I may go back and blog “A” through “D”, but I’m not making any promises!
I decided to write about the term ‘eclectic’ this week. I consider myself an ‘eclectic’ pagan – not ‘witch’; Pagan. I don’t practice Wicca, but my practice is somewhat influenced by Wiccan traditions. Dictionary.com defines eclectic as ‘deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources’. That’s a pretty accurate description of my personal style.
I have heard the term ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ applied to eclectics, and while I can agree that there may be some value in learning about and practicing only one specific style of practice, in practical terms, that just doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve come across the impression that people think that eclectics just pick and choose the ‘best’ or ‘fluffy’ parts of the various paths and traditions and make up their own ‘pagan-lite’ version. While I suppose that may be true in some instances, that’s a pretty blanket statement to make across the board, and not at all accurate for those I know who consider themselves to be eclectic.
While it may not be true for everyone who professes to follow an eclectic path, I think that in general, eclectics are potentially more widely read and researched than those who only follow one path. In order to ‘pick and choose’, one must be familiar with and open to learning about new things with the intent of putting aspects of what you learn into your personal style. This is certainly true to some degree in my case; I see my personal practice as a fluid thing – ever changing as I grown and learn. Were I on a more static path, I might miss out on practices that really resonate for me. Being eclectic, I feel more able to experiment and branch out, trying new things, not only to see what does and does not work, but just to experience different paths for the wondrous ways that they are. Without a strict set of rules to go by, I am not as tempted to judge others’ practices as I might be otherwise.
One factor that lets me feel quite comfortable with the term eclectic is that much of the actual practice and procedure of what we consider to be ‘the Old Ways’ has been lost through the ages. At best, what we have now of even the most ‘oldest’ traditions is pieced together from what is known and supported through archaeological remains. Even going back and reconstructing them, what we have now is a close approximation, at best.
I also feel like there are many paths to get ‘there’ (where ever that may be). Considering the vastly differing belief systems out there, and the many Gods and Goddesses who are worshiped for a time and then fade into antiquity once their popularity peaks (or their people are conquered or destroyed), I think that most of them would be happy with any recognition at all – and if they’re really miffed about how you’re honoring them, I’m sure they’ll let you know. That said, any true dedicant would want to do some reading and research before making overtures towards an unknown entity. There are plenty of texts – both in paper and in digital format – that can guide those seeking to make connections to avoid blunders that might inhibit a solid connection.
As for myself, I have always – ever since I was a little girl – been drawn to ancient Egypt. I haven’t decided for sure what my beliefs about reincarnation are, but if it’s such a thing, then I surely lived there. I don’t follow a Tameran path, or practice Kemetic Orthodoxy, but I am interested in and continue learning about both of those paths. I don’t feel drawn to practice along those lines, simply because it feels like trying to bring back the past. I tend to feel like times have changed, and so had (and should) worship. My practice, above and beyond everything else, needs to be accessible to me. It must work within the context of my life.
Some may feel that this is a far too casual an approach, but I disagree. When I say accessible, I don’t mean ‘casual’. I do mean ‘personal’. I can’t have a daily connection if that requires an hour of ritual preparation, a half hour spent in reflection and another half hour to ground and center. That doesn’t fit into the daily hustle and bustle of my busy life. If the only way I am ‘allowed’ to connect is through those trappings… well, that’s a bit too much like other religions – religions that I already know don’t work for me. That’s not to say that I don’t take time each day to connect or that I don’t hold formal rituals, just that my connections are made not only at my altar, but in numerous ways throughout the day. Being freed from always following the restraints of formal ritual allows me to tailor my practice to meet my needs.
So… now that I have shared my thoughts on eclectic paganism, care to share yours?