This is the text script from my PaganPerspective video this week. The video has an introduction as well as some more lines tossed in, so it's more than what you read here, if you want to watch it instead.
--There's recent movement aiming to clear up labeling misconceptions for a lot of Pagans who practice religious witchcraft. British Traditionalists obviously are not keen on solitaries calling themselves Wiccan, and some solitaries don't feel neo-Wicca identifies their practice or that title feels wrong in some way. More information on this can be found here: http://rootsofritual.wordpress.com/category/through-the-leaves/
(Not really a question, but a topic to discuss. I guess, think of the question as ‘how do we feel about labels, what is correct and what isn’t, who or what should determine what labels people use, etc.?’)
THE VIDEO RESPONSE:
Labels are useful for letting people know a starting point of something about us. The exact individual differs from every other individual, even in the group, so we always have to ask about specifics, but labels help us begin to understand a basic idea. Beyond that, I don't think labels should cause problems. The individual should be asked what they like to be called, and why. It's up to each person to decide, not anyone else to tell them.
Now I will address the elephant in the circle. Hi, Frank.
Now I will address the thing you're all itching to hear about.
I call myself a solitary eclectic Wiccan witch. And I'm not initiated into a traditional coven. The blog post given argues that if I were truly dedicated, I would seek out a coven even if it meant moving. * You know what? Someday I want to, but as a recent post-grad with very little money, I'm not about to do that. I personally see no issue with me calling myself what I do, because I think there is a difference between a traditional Wiccan and a solitary eclectic. I am always quick to point out that I am not a traditional member and therefore do not speak with that experience behind me. But I have spoken to initiates about what I DO practice, and at least those I've spoken to haven't seen a problem with my chosen label based on my beliefs. Others WILL disagree with me, I have no doubts about that. But since I never claim to be part of that group, I don't stress so much about it. As long as we all know what we mean and can explain it to someone who asks, someone who may have another definition of our label, I think we can say whatever we personally choose. Now, if I chose that title willy-nilly because it sounded cool, yeah, I would be ticked off at me, too. ** The article seems to suggest that what I practice is not Wicca but neo-Wicca or some other name altogether. If it makes YOU feel better to call me a neo-Wiccan, go ahead.
The weird thing is, a lot of the people urging me to stop calling myself a Wiccan are other non-initiates who believe similarly to me, but who agree that only traditional initiates can use the label. The difference is that I don't let that stop me from calling myself whatever I want and just explaining it. Like I said, YOU can call me whatever you need to call me in order to feel comfortable. I also just say I'm "Pagan" a lot of the time because it's quicker to say!
If a label seems wrong to you, don't use it, even if someone else may use it to define you, or even if it means essentially the same thing. Say what you like. If a label speaks to you, and you feel a strong reasoning for using it, you should be able to do so. Likewise, if no label seems right, you shouldn't feel pressured to have to use one at all. A lot of people these days are going more towards the non-label idea and just talk about who they are, what they like, and so on instead of saying "I am a _____" fill in the blank.
I think it's helpful if we all have a basic definition for things, because like I said, knowing someone's preferred label is a starting off point for knowing something about them. But I think we all need to remember that not everyone uses labels in the same way, so we should always take them as JUST a basic starting point idea, and beyond that we have to ask the person about their individual characteristics. Or, you don't have to, but if you want to really know about them then you should ask. Because labels are for soup cans.
I believe two rather contradictory statements to each hold truth: 1) It's just a word, yet 2) Words hold power. That's why we go back and forth about things like this. On one hand, it doesn't really matter in the long run what word we use. On the other hand, it does mean something to us. That's why I think our first responsibility is to ourselves and what we feel comfortable with, if anything.
That's all I have for you this week on paganperspective, so thank you very much for watching and I will see you next time! Blessed Be & Goodbye!
P.S. Yeah, I did write this out before seeing that the title of Rich's video is "Labels are for soup cans." Hah!
* In the video I added on the idea that even if you move to find a coven, it may not be the right coven for you. So should we keep moving around until we find the right one? At this point in my life that's not possible, but someday I would like to experience group practice more so than I have in small groups already.
** Here, in the video, I put some text over the video mentioning that I once came across someone online who said that they call themselves a Wiccan but do not share any Wiccan beliefs and especially that they work against the Rede. Stuff like that is odd to me.