I have been thinking a lot lately about the praxis of a Witch that is of a religious nature and how that informs one’s spirituality and acts as a conduit by which the Witch interacts with the rest of existence. In this statement the Witch in which I am referring to is the Contemporary Pagan Witch, meaning that they practice Religious Witchcraft within the parameters of that umbrella. Now I know that encompasses a whole host of folk that don’t necessarily have any agreement upon any practice, let alone the manner of that practice.
In a way it is similar to trying to make a list of practices and beliefs within Hinduism. For those that don’t know Hinduism is an umbrella term, just like Contemporary Paganism, and includes a very wide range of often contrary practice and/or belief. There are more forms of Hinduism than I think anyone could list, however, there are some things that are widespread enough to be taught as being a standard of sorts. Some of these include the adoption of family and personal Deities, the idea of karma and dharma, and the ritual puja; but even here there are some devotees that disagree.
Likewise, if I said all Religious Witches work in a circle for ritual a portion of those referred to will state otherwise. I think that a lot of our community’s problems with bickering, uniting, and progress stream back to this. Unlike Hinduism our religions are fairly modern and do not have a precedence set where many very different paths can and are considered within the same family because of resemblances. This is Western thought baggage that has rolled over from the various orthodox religions from which most of our membership converted. As a backlash to the stifling of prior association with these religions many in our ranks are quick to react adamantly to any perceived attempt, real or not, of anyone telling them how to practice or what to believe. Yes, I recognize that the issue gets much more complex than this and that I am only touching upon one small portion; in my defense, this is a short blog post and not a series of analytical books. I just want to get folks thinking about it.
As for a solution? I will admit to not having all the answers but I do have personal ideas that perhaps others can add to. After all, this is something that can only be solved by conversation whereby everyone is a participant. I think that working towards any solution must first begin in recognizing the above issue and realizing that coming to a solution is possible. After that the steps get harder but I think that by putting an emphasis upon tolerance of differing practices and acceptance that others may do things differently and yet are still validly within the ranks of Contemporary Paganism is a good next step.
Going in hand with this is also the recognition that when an individual talks about a practice or belief that even if they say someone should or shouldn’t do or believe such, their words are not authoritative and only impact an individual’s path if allowed to. As the power is in the individual’s hands, don’t react in adamant venom to the attempts of others to share the wonder they have found in their path. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about our differences because we should. Let’s just keep respect close when we do. There is a lot of strength and beauty to be found in the differences as well as the similarities; let’s embrace them and uphold one another.
So originally this post was going to be about the importance of keeping a personal altar unto our practice but I got a bit side tracked. Maybe I’ll post about that later.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."