Personal Path

Naming your path can be a complicated thing, and a thing which is not always necessary. I believe that labels and names should be used to help us, to give people an idea of where we're coming from, or to aid in categorization and finding out who is "like us." Unfortunately this can also lead to more harm than good, and when labels begin to hinder us, or detract from our ability to grow and expand, then I believe it is time to let go of them. Use labels and names insofar as they continue to help, but don't feel stuck with them if they no longer fit. That is my opinion on the matter.

I write this in the autumn of 2014, already having posted on this blog a poem about the evolution in the labeling of my path, my own hesitance, and others' resistance to it. I have also just changed my blog template from being purple (my favorite color) to a more earth-toned palette. I still love purple, but it felt a little too celestial to be dominating in my color scheme, and I wanted a more earthy feel for now. Things change, things grow and evolve, and we move with them. Everything remains part of the path, however, and that is why I share the full evolution here.



When I started this blog in 2012, I defined myself spiritually/religiously as a Pagan in general, Neopagan more specifically, and Solitary Eclectic Wiccan Witch most specifically of all (and a Unitarian Universalist besides, but more on that later). These are the reasons I chose my specific path labels:
Solitary: Originally I was solitary by necessity--I didn't know any other pagans, and then when I did meet a few, they weren't similar enough in belief to want to work together, or they just had no interest in working together anyway. I have never felt that finding a coven just to be in a group would be wise. Even if you find a group, it may not be right for you. I have done small group work in the past, but mostly worked alone for several years. Starting mostly in 2012, I am getting to experience more group work, which I enjoy. But I don't do all of my workings within a group setting, so I always have that solitary element. 
Eclectic: I incorporate ideas from many people, places, and paths. I think this part is as simple as that! I was exposed to different paths and cultures growing up, and I am always open to new ideas and trying things out. I do what is right for me. I always want to learn more about other beliefs. 
Wiccan: Though I am a non-initiate, my beliefs are Wiccan. They are tempered by the solitary and eclectic factors, of course, but still at the core fit the neo-pagan religion that has come to be known as Wicca. I wrote a longer post about this here
Witch: I know that to some people, witchcraft is their religion in itself. To me, Wicca/Paganism is my religion and witchcraft is a craft, part of my religion*. Adding the word "witch" to my path description, to me, denotes the fact that I practice witchcraft beyond that of Wiccan ritual. I employ folk magick and do other spellcraft. (And yes, I do spell it with a 'k'. Many of the first sources I read use the 'k' for differentiation from stage tricks, and I personally resonate with that, so I use that spelling.)
*Not something I believed even two years later, in 2014. After hearing from some Witches for whom the Craft is absolutely their religion, and then learning more about the history of Witchcraft-turned-Wicca, I began to see the detriment in making this narrow distinction. Plus, growing further away from identifying just with Wicca, and further toward my Witch-ness, probably helped. =P See 2016 note below with a link. ;)

Cleveland Area Pagan Pride 2013, post-closing ritual
Recently, in 2014, I posted that poem I mentioned earlier and linked to, recounting some of the struggle I've been going through of wanting to be seen as more than just a Wiccan. Wicca is absolutely a part of my path, and likely always will be, but as in the story told by the poem, I feel that my views and practices expand beyond Wicca, while still including it. I think they always have. It is important to me that Wicca continues to be represented in my path because of the negativity surrounding it from other sides, and it is equally important to me that I not be boxed in by other people's views that I am "only" a Wiccan. Wicca is more than what some people are willing to give it credit for, and I am more than that yet. Thus, yes, the above mentioned things are still a part of my path, though I typically prefer to be referred to as Pagan, or a Witch. Only when we get into specifics do words like Eclectic, Wicca, Witchcraft, Goddess worship, and so on need to come into the discussion.

(And in 2016, having gone through some major shifts in 2015 and focusing more on my identity as a Witch, I've also been participating more within the tradition of Reclaiming Witchcraft, and you'll hear me identify as a Witch and a Pagan about equal amounts.)

The beliefs I hold have been with me since birth, or before that for all I know. I wasn't born to a Pagan family, but my beliefs never quite matched up with theirs. When I learned about Wicca, about nature-revering neopagan paths, it felt like finally there was a name for my own beliefs. I began studying Wicca around age 12 ('02-'03). The first sabbat I celebrated with a group of people was Ostara 2004. So if the time matters to you, I've been consciously on a Pagan path for over a decade now.

In addition to my identity as a Pagan/Witch, I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist. For a few years (2012-14 or so), I regularly attended a UU church. I do not always refer to myself as a "UU Pagan" like some people I know do, but it is part of my worldview. Usually I just say "Pagan" before anything else, and only get into specifics if necessary.

Here are some posts from my tumblr that I have grouped as being important things to go back and refer to, if you'd like to check them out. Much more can of course be found on my YouTube channel, or a playlist of all the videos I've done for The Pagan Perspective.