Big Things Brewing

Piedmont Pagan Pride Day is fast approaching and I’m in the midst of workshop preparations. I’ll be leading a discussion concerning the role of nature/Nature in contemporary Paganism and, essentially, arguing that “nature” is as man-made a concept as any of our local skyscrapers. As both a happy urbanite (who desperately misses the roar of DC traffic—not even kidding) and an avid outdoorswoman, I’ve come to see phrases like “earth-based religion” and “connecting to nature” as misleading at best and outright nonsensical at worst. I’m hoping to push some buttons, inspire some conversation, and leave people with a better appreciation for the actual place they live instead of fostering a (mostly useless) fantasy reminiscent of Walden Pond. We’ll also be talking about practical strategies for actually connecting to physical spaces.

Also that day, I’ll be representing Gardnerian Wicca on an interfaith panel. Interfaith usually strikes me as somewhat dubious, given that I’ve never been an advocate of the belief that we’re all just “different paths up the same mountain,” and don’t see how anyone could be after any kind of training in the academic study of religion. Gardnerian Wicca is also consciously exclusive. So what am I doing there? Well, largely, it’s an opportunity to interact with other group leaders whom I wouldn’t see otherwise. Last year I enjoyed a rousing conversation with one of the founders of the local Church of Wicca, and I think it was good for everyone to see that we can disagree, be thoughtful adults about it, and leave friends. And, though we’re different, we might have more in common than we think we do. It’s also important to me that Traditional Wicca (by which, as always, I mean BTW and its closest kin) has some kind of presence in my city and isn’t just lost amidst the cacophony of “harm none” and “witchcraft is whatever you want it to be.”

Last year’s moderator allowed for no audience interaction (thereby, I think, misinterpreting his title), which was so unfortunate I could have cried. This year I encourage attendees to show up with eager hands. I’ll call on you myself if no one else does, though I have faith in this year’s choice for moderator.

Then of course there’s the usual rush of fall. Fall means visiting Craft family, making new contacts with people inspired or re-inspired by Halloween, and lots of really intense ritual. For me, it’s also the start of deer season. Much more on that as things approach, but suffice it to say that I’m having All The Feels and am beyond ready for our first hunt. There will also be hiking, writing, tarot, mead, and hot chocolate by fires.

The Boy and I will also be taking a special trip north to see Omnia—a special post-Halloween treat. There will be costumes.

It should be a big year.

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6 thoughts on “Big Things Brewing

  1. rosemary1987

    If you don’t mind me asking, why do you advocate for BTW over a more eclectic approach?

    Thanks in advance,
    Rosemary

    Reply
    1. thornthewitch Post author

      Hi Rosemary,

      Not at all! I wouldn’t say that I advocate one over the other (thought obviously I’ve decided that one is a better fit for me), but rather that I want to emphasize the distinction between the two. Eclectic practitioners (on tumblr, the favorite term seems to be “Neo-Wiccans” though I hardly hear it anywhere else) outnumber us pretty substantially, and there’s a tendency to assume that the most vocal of these represent all of us. What most people take to be characteristic of Wicca, for example, (the Rede, the Law of Three, the emphasis on loving nature, an all-loving Mother Goddess) are actually not a part of many BTW lines, or at least not so central. We also serve specific gods, the names of whom are known only to initiates (so we’re not even talking to the same entities in circle). It’s been my experience that many eclectic Wiccans find themselves quite unprepared for (and often really put off by) BTW work, given that it can be different in some critical ways. A lot of unlearning often has to take place (as in most any kind of conversion process).

      I’m not in the camp that believes that eclectic Wiccans aren’t “real Wiccans” (though I’ll make a joke to that effect every now and then), and I certainly don’t think that what eclectics do is automatically less spiritual, less important, or less effective magically. I just think it’s distinctly different, and I think it’s unfair that we get lumped together. The effect is that seekers of BTW have an even harder time finding lineaged groups, I have a harder time evaluating seekers, the community appears totally homogenous, and everyone misses out on potentially good resources. I introduce myself at Pagan Pride Day (or anywhere else) as a Wiccan, and no one actually knows what that means—they just assume they do. I’m even periodically accused of not really being Wiccan because I don’t do the things or believe the things that most eclectics do. It’s a truly bizarre experience.

      To be clear, I spent more than a decade as an eclectic Wiccan and I have a lot of love for those communities. I just feel that we’re up to something different, that it’s important, and that all of our communities miss out when one set of voices is silenced by another. But, then again, one of our values is silence, so maybe it’s for the best. I just want to be sure that there are still some lighthouses burning out there for BTW seekers, because it’s a pretty rough process as is.

      Thorn

      PS
      Sorry for the melodramatic lighthouse metaphor.

      Reply
      1. rosemary1987

        Thanks for taking the time to reply! I find any tradition different from my own eclecticism fascinating, but I usually end up deciding “that tradition isn’t for me.” I bet that’s a common thing.

        Anyway, thanks again!

        Blessings,
        Rosemary

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