I’m Pagan, not Wiccan and like most of us in the US, Wicca is what I cut my milk teeth on in Paganism. Even though I’m not Wiccan, it still influences me and I stay abreast of the issues within the Wiccan community at large.
I am for keeping Wicca Traditional. But Wicca is sorely misunderstood even among those who practice it. Wicca has an equal duality; being a magical lodge and a religion at the same time. One nestled within the other. It is a beautiful dance, as one can not exist without the other. Both are needed and both serve a purpose.
When I hear that someone is Wiccan, I’m often guilty of assuming that they are the book raised, eclectic based, solitary variety. This is the general makeup of Outer Court Wiccans otherwise know as a insta-wicca, fluffy bunnies, “I read a book (or two) Wicca”, the derided Eclectic Wiccan, Solitary Wiccan and any number of other slurs and labels. Most are just beginners and are still learning and don’t deserve the accusation of “ruining Wicca” nor the labels that gets attached. This isn’t all that Wicca is nor all that Wicca can be. The Outer Court is just the starting point.
The Outer Court is a great stage to grown and learn. Those who are dedicated to learning are those who are desired for the Inner Court, a coven, the magical lodge, even if they never choose to do so. But learning is the goal and it shows they are truly dedicated to Wicca, the religion. It is in the Outer Court where a seeker can determine if Wicca if for them.
The Outer Court serves a unique purpose. It acts as a filter, sifting out the rough diamonds from among common stones. In a Coven, it is necessary to have individuals that are functional, dedicated, disciplined, mentally and emotional stable. It is necessary to maintain a functional Coven, to practice magic smoothly and to maintain social cohesion among it’s members. The Outer Court is a vast pool from which to pull the appropriate candidates for the Inner Court.
I have no problem with the Outer Court calling themselves Wiccan. It does not take away anything from the Inner Court. Do not the laws say to stay hidden? How else is best to hide but within a large Outer Court? But I do prefer to see covens stay traditional, with initiation, dedication and training. This is where tradition counts the most.
The Inner Court is coven based Wicca and it is a magical lodge. As such an apprenticeship (a year and a day), makes sense as it teaches a practice rather than a belief. This is where the mysteries are preserved and are passed down. This is where consistency is needed. It is for this reason, tradition trumps eclecticism. Tradition offers stability. Every religion eventually forms a stable base in a bid for longevity. In a religion that’s based on magic, stability is desirable even necessary to maintain perspective and to sustain magical growth. It is the Inner Court; the covens, that is the driving core to Wicca.
If I really wanted to I could claim to be Wiccan, but it would be nothing more than Outer Court, surface gloss only. I celebrate the eight Sabats and occasional Esbats in public ritual. And I celebrate the Sabats with ritual based on generic Wiccan format. I am also well aware of Wiccan mythology and magical practices.
But I don’t consider myself Wiccan because of several issues. I have no desire to be a part of a coven. I don’t see the Gods as a singular duality. I find that I prefer to keep magic and religion separate. I don’t have a desire to learn and collect magical “crafts.” I’ve been relying on UPG to long to abandon it now. So am I really Wiccan? No. What I am, is honest. I could not call myself a Wiccan as I was not called to pursue the Inner Court nor do I believe or mesh with the practices.
But for those seekers who grabbed the first label that came floating by, Wicca isn’t a bad one to grab. There is so much to be learned. And for me all the talk about keeping Wicca traditional isn’t about keeping lineages, having a initiation instead of a self dedication or weither one is a Gardnerian or an Alexandrian or even a Dianic. It’s about keeping the covens alive, maintaining the mysteries, caring for the greater community and honouring the elders who have walked the path before us. The covens are the heart of Wicca. Without them, Wicca is no more than a leaf blown around in the wind.