Eclectism In Wicca
All Wicca is Eclectic, a word which Webster’s New World Dictionary defines as meaning, "Selected or selecting from various sources." Some "Trads" claim not to be eclectic at all, citing unbroken lineages and untainted family traditions ("Fam-Trads") dating back to the Stone Age, but I doubt anyone (except the members of said Trads, themselves, of course) takes such claims very seriously anymore. That is not to say one should not take the individuals involved in such Trads seriously, or that the Wicca they practice is somehow lessor than the Wicca outlined in these pages. As author Kaatryn MacMorgan , Priestess of the Church of Universal Eclectic Wicca, phrased it in the title of her top-notch book on the subject, we are, indeed, All One Wicca.
The real question of eclecticism in Wicca is less one of if, than it is of when. "Non-eclectic" Trad practitioners surely hold as fast as they can to the exact structure, rules, rituals and beliefs handed down to them by their nearest known ancestors – but what about their ancestors? And theirs, and theirs…? Somewhere down the line, somebody, somewhere, gathered a disparate body of knowledge together, worked it into a coherent system of belief, and began the "Tradition" of initiating new members into that system. That person, the one who initially "rediscovered and reconstructed" (or flat-out “constructed") the Tradition, who decided what information from family, village, cultural, mythological or other source materials available would be accepted and passed on (or reject for being too "out there," or for contradicting the compiling individual’s personal beliefs or morals), and who filled in the gaps in that material with bits and pieces of the "unproven but reasonable" beliefs or writings of others was doing exactly what the average Wiccan Solitary practitioner does every day right here and now in the 21st Century – building a living tradition out of the best fragmentary source materials available, and beginning the arduous task of refining it all into a workable system through trial and error experience. Now that’s eclectic! It doesn’t matter whether the act of "selecting from various sources" occurred in 1660, 1960 or 2660, it’s still eclectic, there’s just no escape from that reality.
All Wicca must be eclectic because it is a religion that is by nature both Gnostic and scientific – it is never enough for a Wiccan to accept statements about the nature of reality "on faith," and stop there, as is the rule in many non-Wiccan religions. The Wiccan practitioner, before accepting any belief, practice, code of conduct etc., must personally experience those concepts to hold true or be of value in reality. What does not work, what does not prove to be true in experience, must rightly be jettisoned, and a new theory taken on to replace the one disproved, itself to be put to the same rigorous test. This style of eclecticism – which bears a striking resemblence to the scientific method, and is, in fact, western physical science’s true spiritual counterpart – and the constant personal change and growth it engenders, is indicative of Wicca and any other truly living religious tradition. By this definition, I would go so far as to say that any religion which is not eclectic, whose beliefs are "set in stone" by encasement in unchangeable/unchallengeable books of revelation (the "Holy Books" that define and confine so many of our present world religions), are dead things, mere caricatures of the living religions they might have been had their followers been more experimentally courageous.
True eclectisism is neither a belief system in its own right nor a sign of failure or refusal to commit to any one socially-sanctioned version of "religious truth." Conscious eclecticism, when securely coupled with intentionally-developed intelligence, intuition and will, transcends belief altogether, becoming a reliable hands-on method for sampling, testing and verifying reality, in both its visible and its unseen dimensions.
The task of every Wiccan is to evolve past the limitations imposed by mere "belief," toward real, personal union with the Great Cosmic Goddess. A playful attitude of conscious eclectisim in relation to all beliefs is a primary tool by which we are enabled to accomplish this great work.
Authors Details: – Esra Free Web Site
From ‘WICCA 404: Advanced Goddess Thealogy’