Witch or Druid?

You may remember my points from a recent post about what’s working me now.  I’m working with a seminary that is unabashedly (and even beautifully) Wiccan. Whole-heartedly Wiccan, from the ritual style to theology to areas of interest (forms of healing humans, herbs, chakras, etc). I love them for being so Wiccan because nowadays it can be hard.

Because Wicca has been one of the more visible traditions (even accused of having privilege!), it’s also been one that’s often denigrated, sometimes rightfully and sometimes from a place of something kind of ugly. It can be difficult, for example, to go into traditions that value scholarship – sharp, supported scholarship – and claim my Wiccan past. If I do claim it, I am expected almost immediately to discount it. If I don’t, then my own scholarship and ability to be discerning is sometimes called into question.

What I’m concerned about lately is whether I have any business representing myself as Wiccan clergy, particularly with the ATC. Why? Because I diverge pretty strongly on my theology of divinity. I moved away from the All, from the Lord and Lady as facets, or interchangeable parts, quite awhile back. And stepping back in has been both familiar and uncomfortable. Familiar because it’s a form I know, language that was part of my early spiritual growth. For me, it was the first step away from a monotheistic model of the divine. Uncomfortable because it no longer fits how I experience the divine, and yet it is truly central to Wicca, and particularly to Wicca that is strongly influenced by British Traditional Wicca. How do I honestly teach a class without owning that my own definition of the gods has changed, and the Lord and Lady and the attendant term Consort no longer really work for me.

I also have a problem with the concept of polarity as it is currently discussed. It’s not enough to say “Oh, we don’t actually mean gender identity” when we use the words masculine and feminine. Those terms are inherently laden with gender assumption. If we truly wanted to explain polarity and take it away from male/female and into a place of gender-neutral discussion, we could. But there’s a lot of traditional gender roles woven into the fabric of Wicca. That’s not a value statement, it just seems to be something that is and it’s not really working for me. In fact, it’s always been something that doesn’t make sense to me. If we all embody both aspects of polarity (which is a very dualistic perspective, by the by), then why does gender (either identity or cis) enter into the equation? Because it’s a fertility ritual? Even in nature gender can be fluid. So the male-to-female or female-to-male components of so many rituals feels a bit contrived and illogical.

And I’m missing the stronger tie to the Earth, to the Mother. While healing people is a fine and weighty thing, I find myself wanting to focus on the Earth, to tie my practice to that. And this is where the Druids come in.

I have always loved the elements of scholarship in ADF. The training is pretty great, and even more so, I imagine, if a person is lucky enough to have a grove nearby. Given my draw to the Irish pantheon, and ADF’s room for a broader expression of the divine, it’s a great home for me in the very same theological sense that can make me feel out of place with my traditional Wiccan peers. But the balance here shifts towards the dogmatic, and this is the place where it can be a challenge to speak about having a Wiccan background without a lot of assumptions being made.

Druidry and BTW (British Traditional Wicca) share a lot of ritual traits in terms of liturgy. It’s more about ritual theater than it is about experiential ritual. While I reserve space for ritual theater, I prefer it to be balanced with ritual that invites me to participate, and moreover, with ritual that allows me to have my own experience through careful use of language and ritual components. So both leave me a little cold in this area, but it feels as though this could be more about needing to spend more time with groups in the flesh, rather than online.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking it’s something I should share with the folks I’m working with at the seminary. And I’m thinking I am probably missing some blinding thing here. I spent a fair amount of time eschewing labels, and I still get that, but ultimately found that what happened is that I just fell away from everyone, away from communities. That’s not what I want.

And a third thing to throw in – I am really enjoying my UU interactions. I’m sure the fact that it’s in person has a great deal to do with that. I keep hearing there are Pagans there. I’m waiting to meet them. I’m thinking maybe I need to do something to make it so. Certainly in a prior “life” I did a lot of that kind of work and I loved it. Maybe just a discussion group. Gods know I could certainly come up with topics… and facilitate the hell out of them. Because I got THAT out of college if nothing else.

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