Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spiritual Commitment

Over on The Deepest Well, bloggers are talking about spiritual commitment. The question is if you've converted to Paganism from another religion, have you done a commitment ceremony, and renounced your previous faith? Or do you do a mix/mash of both faiths?

Aine says, "The "way" we find is not always our own creation.  
We are not always allowed to customize it. "

I disagree. I "label" myself as Eclectic Wiccan. The definition of Eclectic Wicca is
  • A group or solitary may use a blend of beliefs and practices from several different pantheons 
  • and traditions.
  • A group could be an offshoot of an established tradition of Wicca, such as Gardnerian 
  • orAlexandrian, but with modifications to their practice that make them no longer that
    • original tradition.
  • An individual may be creating his or her own tradition of beliefs and practices, and because
  •  this system can't be defined as something else, it can be defined as eclectic.
  • A solitary may be practicing what he or she has learned from publicly available sources on 
  • Wicca, but not be using oathbound, initiatory material, and so recognizes that his or her practice is eclectic.

Now I never claimed another religion. I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where religion wasn't a "Birthright". Though I think my mother just assumed I'd be Christian, she never shoved it down my throat. Her version of teaching religion was throw a bible at me (literally) and say, "read this". I did read some of it, and most of it didn't sit well with me. However before I made the choice to label myself Eclectic Wiccan, I studied many different religions. My husband and other spiritual leaders in my life were instrumental in my education. In college I also took a theology class. 

Most religions have at least a few things I agree with. I find it easy to incorporate portions of many religions into my own practice. One of my biggest disagreements with organized religion is that I felt boxed in. There seemed to be so many rigid practices. IMO, our perception influences our reality. For example, one person might believe sage should be used to cleanse a home. If you don't have sage some might rush out to buy some before they can do a cleansing ceremony. For me, If I don't have sage, I'll use tobacco or some other herb. As long as my perception of that herb is a cleansing scent/smoke then it will do the job I'm performing. 

Aine says, 
"They want a certificate, a title.  They have barely performed a 
successful spell or seen on full turn of the wheel and suddenly 
they are teaching others. "
Well that is true. Everyone, especially but not limited to Americans, want instant gratification. However I don't believe that a "newbie" to the craft is unable to teach others. Yes their experience is limited so they will not be able to teach as much as someone who has been dedicated to the craft most of their life. But what is teaching if not the practice of exchanging ideas? They can certainly share their experience and knowledge thus far. If they are setting themselves up as a "Know it all, been there and done that, Pagan, then they are misrepresenting themselves and should be avoided. I'm certainly not saying that someone who has just completed a year and a day of commitment to Wicca should go write a book or start their own coven. 

I am saying that they can talk with family and friends about what they believe. If something they say influences or teaches the people they are in contact with something new, then all to the good. When I was first starting out one of my outlets was Yahoo Religion's chat. I certainly learned something new every day. I also taught a lot about my beliefs. The exchange of ideas is never wrong unless your misrepresenting the information as "The one truth" or more than you really know. 

Aine says, 
In my opinion, it's too easy to dedicate to something without 
having to forfeit something else.  There is no risk, nothing to lose and because of this, it's too easy to commit.
For me, there was nothing to renounce before committing to Eclectic Wicca. But what a person has been in their past will always be with them. If they truly believe a portion of that path, then no amount of saying, "I renounce thee" is going to change it. My husband use to be a Sunday school teacher. He left Christianity when his church refused to marry his mother and step-father. (Mixed race marriage) Though he claims no religion, he'll tell you that what he believes closely resembles Native American Shamanism. That doesn't mean portions of the bible he once believed is totally unimportant now. Personally, I find most of the 10 commandments to be pretty good rules to live by. 

In closing, I'd like to leave you with this quote. 

"Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach." ~ Tom Robbins


  1. You bring up a lot of good points. I certainly believe that adjusting your practice is ok, and is to be expected as we are all different people, but at what point do we draw the line? For instance, I do not think a witch can be Christian, but that is my personal belief - there are those who call themselves "Christian witches."

    On the other hand, mixing traditions within paganism is done all the time.

    I guess I just wanted to say that sometimes there are limits to what you can customize and still be true to the tradition.

    I totally agree with you regarding sharing ideas. I think that's a little different than teaching without enough experience - as in those who offer a service (usually for a fee) when not sufficiently qualified. Spiritual groups/covens share experiences all the time and this is a good thing.

    Renouncing a former faith does not have to be a formal ritual - my example was just to point out that there is much talk about dedication ceremonies, but nothing is said about releasing the past path before entering the new one.

    Thank you so much for posting your beliefs and really great arguments!

  2. I was never a Christian, despite that I grew up in a Christian family. Nor was it really forced on me. When I dedicated myself at 11 to Wicca, I shared it with those around me, be them my age or older. Sharing is teaching. Did I claim to be all knowing? Never. That's laughable. Did I reach out to those my age who felt lost in their own religion? A few times I did. Letting them know that there are alternatives to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and so on. A few friends and I had study groups.

    Even after I left Wicca to the path I'm on now, there are some elements from Wicca that are still a part of my religion; just as there are leftover's from Christianity. I don't feel like I ever had to forfeit anything in terms of spirituality. As I learn, I grow. Beliefs may change or grow stronger.

    My faith is a mixture and I've yet to find anyone with my same beliefs. I guess I'd be an Eclectic Shamanic Witch--my form of Shamanism is more Native American.

    Great post. Lots of food for growth. ~)O(~



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Blessed Be,