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Post-Christian Wiccans and Neuvoreligious Authority

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.traditional.witchcraft,alt.pagan,alt.satanism,alt.witchcraft,alt.religion.wicca
From: lorax666 
Subject: Post-Christian Wiccans and Neuvoreligious Authority
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2003 23:39:51 GMT

50031226 vii om

Ze alluring ailurophile:
#>#>#>#> Whatever you are calling your "religion" of the week,
#>#>#>#> unless you have been taught the oathbound material,
#>#>#>#> and initiated by a HP/S that has lineage to Gardner or Alex,
#>#>#>#> it *is not* Wicca. It's neo-Paganism, New Age, whatever,
#>#>#>#> but it is not Wicca.

Wicca is a subset of Neopaganism. Gardner created its rudiments
as 'witchcraft' and begat a religion under the name 'Wicca' over
time, bequeathing home-constructed Shadowbooks for lineage use.
'witches' prior to that time weren't part of any organized cult.
more intriguing yet, the *fantasies* of Christians were in part
the inspiration for these Wiccan termonological sets and practices.
authors like Pennethorne Hughes set the stage inspiring Gardner
with oldtime tales of Sabbats and Satan-worshipping revels.

#>#>#># It is not "British Traditional Wicca" or "Classical Wicca", granted,
#>#>#># because *those* are defined as lineaged to Gardner or Alex.

more clearly called 'Gardnerian', 'Alexandrian' or their offshoots.
scholars of religion are easily able to identify these main trads,
and the religious themselves identify 'lines' within these trads
as adheres to their customs and criteria of initiation.

#>#>#> It is _not_ Wicca at all. period. It is Neo-Paganism.

displacement of the other-guy's upstart trad is commonplace,
especially within cultures that reveres the old over the new,
something that pertains to most religions apparently, except
for the Discordian.

#>#># Ah.  Just as my family's silverware pattern is the One True 
#>#># Silverware. and what other families have is really _not_ 
#>#># Silverware at all. Period.

#> That's one aspect and it fits with your attempt to redefine ZeKat's
#> statement, ("It is _not_ Wicca at all. period. It is Neo-Paganism"),
#> as an argument of 'one true wayism' by false analogy.

'one true wayism' tends to ascribe value *to all*, whereas describing
Wicca as 'not something created yesterday and called this' doesn't
give any discerning characteristics other than origins for the
evaluative criteria. better assessment-schemes include liturgy,
cosmological presuppositions, magical restraints, ethics, etc. (Raven):
# Defining all of Wicca (as generally defined)

by whom?

#    as "not Wicca at all" except for a smaller subset,
#       *is* one-true-wayism;

not quite. one-true-wayism asserts something additional: that there
is some compelling or escalating value to *all people* rather than
merely standards of description for which 'Wicca' best applies.

# - in the same way that -
# defining all of Christianity (as generally defined)

very complex to try this. 

#    as "not Christianity at all" except for, say, Catholicism,
#       would be one-true-wayism;

only where Catholicism is said to be the correct socioreligious
system. you've lost a bit of the OTW there.

# Your attempt to subtitute plasticware in that analogy fails because
# plasticware is *not* generally called silverware, and does not meet
# the general definition of silverware.

your attempt to describe this as comparable or equal to 'one true
wayism' fails because usually OTW lies behind *conversion-attempts*.
your discussion with t_naismith about this isn't an attempt at
conversion so much as a disputation on sociology.

#> Silverware pattern variances are not analogous to 
#> make-it-up-as-you-go derivations of wicca.

why does lineage and agedness of one's material matter to Wicca?
some of my teachers (CA line Gardnerian) told me that they did
not think that traditional lineages were necessary to relations
with the God and Goddess. some considered initiation within
their cult to be the only way to become Wiccan, others were
convinced that solitary Wicca was possible and recommneded it
to those who did not feel interested in learning society ropes. 

# In both cases, a set is idiosyncratically redefined as one 
# of its subsets, in order to deny that other subsets belong 
# to that set.

I've noticed that this is commonplace in religions, not just in
Neopagan religions. definitions of 'correct X' and 'poseur X'
are often used in Christian, Neopagan, and Satanist religions
in order to displace and put down others. usually the implication
is that what is older is better, what is made-up-as-one-goes-along
is NOT as good, and some unspecified societal lineage is what 
serves to DEFINE AND RESTRICT what constitutes 'the Real Thing'
(in some jurisdictions, "TM"!).

#>#> D. Valiente can claim to be wiccan because she practiced wicca

undefined what "Wicca" here means. there is relevance to identifying
sources of practical activity or locations of Wicca as such.
#>#  Yes, exactly.  As anyone else who practices Wicca is a Wiccan.

once agreed as to what this thing includes.
#> D. Valiente participated in a practice which Gardner cobbled 
#> together from prior practices and termed, "wicca".

what prior practices? Aidan Kelly analyzed the Shadowbooks. did
anyone else dissect the practical aspects of Wicca to see where
it overlaps with the Rosicrucians and Golden Dawn traditions?

#> Not all others who came along later follow those tenants which
#> define that "initial" wicca.

one of the relations to Judeochristian traditions which many
Wiccans who are post-Christian share is their fondness for
belief in 'tenets' (beliefs). the belief-basis of Wicca is
usually not completely understood (thus 'tenANTS') and, 
within MY experience, was *downplayed* by most intelligent
Wiccans (esp. Elders) with whom I've ever studied or spoken.

in part this describes a diversity within the Wiccan community
as a whole, but also it appears to describe its relation to
its pre-Wiccan (i.e. Christian) roots (because of the emphasis
on doctrine, fidelity, believers, etc.).

# A practice -- or, as Fritz Muntean refers to it, an orthopraxis --
# is not defined by tenets (beliefs), let alone by tenants (residents);
# it is defined by actions.  

very well said.

# E.g., as Muntean lists them:
#$ form a circle, cast a circle, invoke the elemental energies 
#$ and deities of both genders. Raise energy through body 
#$ movement, chant, sing, dance, heal, share cakes and wine, 
#$ devoke, hug and smooch and go home. That's our practice. 
#$ If you're doing that, you're practicing the Wiccan way."

VERY nice focus on liturgy and rite-form here! clear and
succinct, conforming to my experiences of many Wiccans.
note: I've known exceptions.

# If your concern is tenets (beliefs), then you are discussing 
# a doctrine or orthodoxy, not a practice or orthopraxis.

I've known Neopagans who not only disputed the 'ancientness'
of Wicca (as well as its 'Burning Times Mythology' supported
by unreliable text like that by Margaret Murray), but also
alleged that those who focussed on adherence to doctrine as
an indicator of *FAKENESS* where Wicca was concerned. they
said to me that it doesn't matter what I believed, that the
focus on doctrines was a left-over from Christian religion.

# If your concern is tenants (residents), then you are 
# discussing rental property management, such as maintaining 
# *wicker* furniture, not *Wicca*.

um, but what about "The Wicker Man"! yah! so there!

#> They may be spin-offs which hold some of those practices 
#> in common with what they spun-off from but, that makes 
#> them superficially "wiccan" in name only.
# That would still be "participating in a practice", to the 
# extent that the actions match those on whatever list of 
# actions defines the practice.

where action is thought to define the practice (reliable).

# If, as you've now indicated twice, it is participating 
# in the practice that makes one a member of the religion, 
# then one's lineage is not a limiting factor. *Whoever* 
# conducts ritual by, say, the Gardnerian BoS would be 
# 100% in compliance with the *practice*, and thus be Wiccan --
# by both versions of the criterion you gave to call Valiente 
# a Wiccan.

what POSSIBLE criteria are there to determine a Wiccan? 
how many different possible Wiccans are there?
can one combine Wicca with other spiritual/religious paths? 

these kinds of questions divide up some of the Neopagan
community rather badly. control over who does what in
the name of what are the focal issues involved in many
of these methods to discern the Wiccan. losing control
over who is and is not "one of us" drives many of these
contentions about 'the real X'. 

usually post-Christians entering into neuvoreligions take
with them the criteria they've used to discern 'real
Christians' from 'those who merely identify as such'. 
there is a level of prestige and term-control that is
inherently a part of some cults within religions that
prop up their proclamation of authority. trying to keep
attention and aspirants focussed upon one's own activities
seems to be the greater motivation for these propositions,
rather than some kind of overarching philosophic or
taxonomic issues of interests to sociologists of religion.
#># might be a Wiccan, and practice Wicca, yet never 
#># convey it to another -- conveying to others is not a 
#># requirement of the religion, so let's not fall into 
#># the error of making that part of the definition.

'ability to convey' is another centerpoint of "authority".
authority-control is important to orthopraxies/orthodoxies.

#> ...being able to convey things such as "self-initiation" 
#> ritual misnomers to others.

strange language. some Wiccans disclaim any conveyance, 
claiming instead that only THE GODS can be relied upon
to complete proper initiations, and that the traditions
are only meant to attempt some kind of leverage in accord
with tried and true methods, NOT meant as something to be
considered 'definitive and limiting'.

#># But one of the practices she (among others) has conveyed is
#># self-initiation.
#> She, (or anyone else), can characterize a 'self-dedication' 
#> rite as a rite-of-passage, "self-initiation" or, membership 
#> application to a country club if wished.
# I don't see where she characterized a 'self-dedication' rite 
# as anything.
# Her book, WITCHCRAFT FOR TOMORROW, does include a 
# 'self-initiation' rite, but it doesn't seem to have 
# anything to do with joining country clubs.
# She gives it as a valid way to join a religion, for which she 
# helped write the founding documents.  

where and when did the 'founding' occur? I'd got some idea that
she was a reviser to greater tastefulness for those who didn't
so much like Crowley's cribs or Solomonic details Gardner stole.

# That religion is generally known as "Wicca".

the issue is once more whether one might be 'a solitary X'. in
many religions certain minimum requirements are defined by the
religious themselves. the limited mentality and desire for 
renown and control drives many to set into stone some kind of 
attempted limitation to the societal self-identity. immediately
we are thrust into the whole post-Christian revolution in which
some aspect of the foundation is ignored in favour of making a
novelty and contending with those who want *complete freedom
for all to practice their religion (Neopaganism) as they please*.

# Meanwhile, I suspect she is somewhat more an authority on 
# what can be done within the religion she helped establish 
# than anyone writing here.

there's another thorny issue! do the humans involved set these
standards? or do the deities involved? who will be the ones to
say "no, the gods weren't involved in that creation"? 

I contend that these are immature human proscriptions, and that
we should only dispute what we *must oppose because we think it
is directly harmful*, rather than to bother trying to restrain
and condemn or criticize the bubbling maelstrom which what may
be called 'heterodox religion' allows, supporting individuals.

describing religious is much like describing terminological use
(and sometimes these are combined!). dictionaries are NOT, by my
standards, restrictive, but descriptive. they reflect what has
been, not what *can be done*. this is consternating to those
elite who wish to make of the English language some kind of
refined set of rules they find palatable and logical. this is
the way of "ain't" and "fuck" and all the other terms those who
sought to exercise control could never dominate into submission.

in the same way, those who, whether in Satanism, Wicca, or in
some other neuvoreligion, seek to displace their counterparts
and successors by arguments that 'that is not the true X' but
have in mind some RESTRAINING rather than descriptive measure,
competing for attention and authority by intellectual argument
and hoping that *tenets* will carry the day, are doomed as the
Protestant motivation pursues less and less Christian courses.

# Maybe Tolkien got his own lead Hobbits' names wrong, 
# and the family name was *actually* Barkins, not Baggins....

LOL well he did seriously consider other *first* names for
that character ('Bingo' if you can believe his letters!).

# Maybe Gardner and Valiente *both* got it wrong, and the 
# central ritual is *actually* Drawing Downy from the Moon 
# (i.e. pouring fabric softener over the High Priestess's head).

LOL! these essentialist, elite-elect-making cadres can often
lead to *precisely* these types of outrageous proclamations.
reductio ad absurdum is a valuable reposte. thanks.

#> Neither one of us is responsible for Doreen's choice of words and
#> are merely arguing variant meanings of the same ill-chosen term.
# And isn't it interesting that other well-known, widely respected, 
# fully lineaged, and published Wiccans, like Janet & Stewart Farrar, 
# chose to use the very *same* term, 'self-initiation', that 
# Valiente chose to use?

hey, look at Scott Cunningham. he talked about Solitaries all the
time, even writing a book for 'em. this is no conformist plot.

#># So that occurs in Wicca -- which was (if you recall) the issue at hand.
#>  No, "self-dedications" may occur in wicca; "self-initiations" do not.

tradition-bound vs. self-responsible.

# You seem to be stepping away from zekatlady's claim that "there is no
# self initiation within the Wiccan religion" (which denies the existence
# of the ritual, and thus the possibility of such a ritual being performed),
# to a slightly different claim that "self-initiations" (plural, suggesting
# actual *performances* of the ritual) do not *occur* in Wicca.

it all depends on where people seek to circumscribe the religion itself.
the first question I would ask is *why* should someone wish to make
this kind of restriction and whom it truly serves. what level of type
of authority do such individuals seek to draw to themselves? often
those who purport them have some social status thing going.

# If asked whether the option of self-initiation exists within Wicca, 
# it is sufficient to cite the noted and lineaged Wiccans who not only 
# say that it does but also provide actual rituals for it....

only once those individuals are agreed as being able to speak for
and correctly identify the content of these religious cults. there
will always be these types of arguments because of diffraction on
these points: the importance of history, the authority of Elders.

# for now your emphasis is not on verifiability (i.e. nobody can 
# *prove* that they actually performed the rite), but on asserting 
# that performing that rite (titled "self-initiation") is not a 
# "self-initiation" but something else.

usurping proper authority from hierchically-dominated cults. look
at what kind of hierarchy reigns and decide if that's for you. ;>

#>  One could conceivably carry out roughly the same rubrics involved
#>  in joining a college fraternity without joining that frat.  Does that
#>  make the emulator of the rite-of-passage a member of that fraternity?
# That would depend on the fraternity, wouldn't it?  If they decided to
# have such an option, what right would anyone else (even other frats)
# have to tell them they couldn't?

who decides on that option will be the next issue of contention. 
do the Elite decide on it? did they? does their decision matter? etc.

# Such a ritual exists for Islam, and it's even simpler than Valiente's.
# Recite the Arabic words "La Illahu il'Allah; Muhamed Rasulu Allah"
# (There is no god but God; Mohammed is the Prophet of God), and you will
# have "initiated yourself" into Islam....  

a very good example. sometimes this need be done in the presence of
a sheikh (as within Sufi orders) to be 'official' -- witnessed.

# It's a little harder to do the various Wiccan self-initiation rituals;
# on the other hand, there's no death penalty for quitting.

some do claim that 'once a witch, always a witch' and mean by this
some life-inscribing alteration upon some presumed soul of the
religious initiate. the astral bonds are forever tied, etc.

# Yes, we're discussing those who do it, not those who falsely claim to.

'falsely' is here being contested because the category 'do it'
(practice Wicca) is also contested as to content. this is usually
how the religious discern their in-group from their outgroup when
tenets and virtues are ascribed to the Elect who wield authority.

# The claim I addressed was "there is no self initiation with the Wiccan
# religion".  One of the arguments supporting that claim -- a classic ad
# hominem -- was that those who say there *is* self-initiation are "people...
# that deliberately try to make misinformation acceptable because they
# themself are resentful that they were not able to obtain formal training."

tautology (presuming the outcome of the argument in order to support it)?

# (An argument repeated in various wordings.)  But Doreen Valiente, among
# other recognized and lineaged Wiccans, says there *is* self-initiation.
# So does she meet that description?  No.  Thus the ad hominem was not only
# a fallacy (and thereby poor reasoning), but factually false as well.

well-reasoned. thanks much for your patience with Wiccan fundies.


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