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BTW vs NeoWicca

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Forums -> Wicca -> BTW vs NeoWicca

BTW vs NeoWicca
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Perhaps the biggest source of misunderstanding between those who are British Traditional Wicca (BTW) and those who are not comes when a BTW practitioner tells someone who is not that they aren't Wiccan. It is certain to result in hurt feelings. And it often leads others to think that the BTW are elitist snobs. So let me see if I can explain it so that non-BTW can see what the issue is and why what they are saying has a certain truth to it.

As we all know, Gerald Gardner introduced Wicca to the world in 1954. As it was originally conceived, Wicca was a oath-bound, initiatory Tradition. That means that no one who is not an Initiate of Gardnerian Wicca would have been taught any of the true teachings of Gardnerian Wicca until after they were initiated and had taken a solemn vow not to reveal those teachings to anyone who was not also an Initiate. All of the other BTW Traditions also follow this custom. So unless one has undergone initiation into a BTW Tradition you really have no idea how Wicca (as it was originally conceived) is practiced.

So to many BTW having someone who has no idea what Wicca (as Gardner gave us) really is calling what they do Wicca feels to them as if it detracts from the hard work and effort that many of them have put in over the years to maintain Wicca as an oath-bound, mystery Tradition.

Now some of you will say that you have found Gardnerian or Alexandrian BOS on the internet, or you've read Lady Sheba's book, or you've read Aidan Kelly's book, or the Farrars and therefore you know how BTW practice. But do you really? These people took solemn oaths not to reveal their teachings to anyone not an Initiate. Do you believe that they really violated those oaths? And if they violated oaths given to those they were closest to in their covens, why would you think they are being truthful to you? Anything can claim to be a "real" BTW BOS, but you have no way of knowing whether that is true. Would you consider yourself a neurosurgeon and operate on patients just because you had read a book about a neurosurgeon?

At this point what generally happens is that the non-BTW becomes angry and feels that the BTW individual is saying that their path is not valid. But that isn't what is being said at all. Actually they aren't making any claims about the validity of your path. They are simply saying that it isn't Wicca because your practices are not the same as what BTW do. And according to Wiccan teachings, Wicca is orthopraxic rather than orthodoxic. In other words Wicca is a set of specific practices rather than a set of specific beliefs. They simply would rather that people would pick a different name for what they do, such as Witchcraft, rather than Wicca because using the title of Wiccan isn't accurate.

Now, not all BTW feel this way. Many of us, myself included, believe that this horse is well and truly out of the barn and we can't put it back again, even though we'd like to be able to do just that.

So not all of us will say anything if a non-BTW Initiate wants to call themselves Wiccan. But some will. And that's why I'm trying to explain where they are coming from so that perhaps hurt feelings can be avoided. Remember if someone says this to you they are not saying that you are a bad person or that your spiritual path isn't valid and important to you. All they are saying is that the word you are using to describe your path is inaccurate and another term would be better.

So when a BTW challenges someone on their use of the words Wicca or Wiccan they're not trying to be an elitist, they're not trying to belittle you, and they're not trying to say your path is invalid. They are simply saying you're applying a name to what you do that isn't accurate. Hopefully understanding that will help prevent hurt feelings and start building some better bridges of understanding between the BTW and those who are not.

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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By:
Post # 2
I personaly found that very informative larl. Thank you very much. Can i ask you in your opinion though, is it wrong then, for someone who calls themselves a witch to use practices that are wiccan, but not mystery? I am also wondering how a tradition stops someone who isnt an innitiate in a tradition who is inherintly psychic or maybe just abnormaly perceptive, like, lets say, monk. Fictional i know, from using an idea they think is their own, when in actuality it came from a tradition as mystery after innitiation? Please help me understand.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 3

Those who are Witches can use any practices they wish at least as far as I'm concerned. Is it wrong of them to use Wiccan practices? As I said in my post, if they have not undergone initiation into a Tradition of British Traditional Wicca, then they have no idea as to whether those practices are Wiccan or not.

Nothing about being in a Tradition would stop anyone else from being psychic. That has nothing to do with Traditional practices or non-Traditional practices. It is simply something that one can do that has no relationship to a religion or any sort.

One can certainly experience Mysteries in solitary practice or in non-Trad practice. But those will not be the same Mysteries as one experiences at the moment of initiation. The latter come from the particular group egregore and the initiation makes one open to receive them.

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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 4
Lark is telling the truth. I have always been "interested" in Wicca. I have met, and talked with, some of the very early Wiccans, from Maxine Sanders to Pat Crowther, and others. They have told me much about Wicca, but just as Lark says, they have revealed nothing very much.
I was initiated in witchcraft, long before Wicca. So I do know about the Oak King and the Holly King. But my form of witchcraft also has its secrets, and just like true Wiccans, I reveal nothing! All Wiccans will try to make others understand their beliefs; because with years of study, they too might become Wiccan believers, and eventually be initiated. But, until they are initiated, they are not really Wiccan!
I am not, nor have I have ever been, a Wiccan. But I do understand what Lark is saying.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 5

Lark I support you in standing up and actually trying to inform every non BTW that calling themselves a Wiccan or better yet a "Christian Wiccan" in inaccurate. This problem has been going on for years. Long before you came to SoM many of us tried to inform the masses about the term Wicca or Wiccan. I personally feel that between the internet and the publishers insisting that the term Wicca will sell more books rather than the word witchcraft is why we ended up with Cunningham's Living Wicca a guide to solitary practice instead of Living Witchcraft which is a better name for it. Wiccan's are not solitary practitioners. They may practice some magical workings on their own at times, however they still gather with coven members to practice the rites and rituals of their coven. They will work as a team casting together. I practiced solitary witchcraft for years before I began my training as a Gardinerian Wiccan. The coven I studied with had lineage that even traced back through Salem Massachusetts before heading over the sea to England. I could claim I am a Wiccan however I don't because I prefer a solitary practice and no longer practice in a coven settling except to celebrate holidays or sit in on an open lecture I am invited to. I wish more beginners would take the time to do the research and understand that;

  1. Wicca was a new religion created by one man in the mid 20th century and not and ancient religion.
  2. It is based on many different aspects of older pagan religions however some influence of Masonic practice is obvious. This is where a lot of the secret, undisclosed, elitist, etc.practices stem from.
  3. That calling yourself one without actually joining a Wiccan coven makes you look silly to those who have earned their Wiccan degrees.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By:
Post # 6
This makes sense to me and i appreciate you guys taking the time to explain it, however silly it may look i wouldnt have as much info about it as i do now if people hadnt done it.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 7
As always, excellent post Lark. I love learning about Wicca through you. It's like the ultimate Cliff Notes to the religion! I would normally never research it, but if I did, I'm sure it would take me books upon books to compile all that you bring to the SoM forums. I do hope everyone interested in Wiccan practice take to heart your many wonderfully informative threads. I put them above all other sources on the internet on the subject.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By:
Post # 8
this is why I revised my bio. In order for me to be BTW, I would have to move, just so that my belief system could then (possibly be limited) be changes. Knowing that Wicca is not the only path, certainly many paths work, I've decided to use the time I have left in Nebraska (a state with little to no covens), to try and find the truths common to all paths.
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Re: BTW vs NeoWicca
By:
Post # 9
This is a great post. As I have previously misunderstood this concept. I used to call myself Wiccan but maybe over a month ago I realized that I'm not, more so have agreed with most of the knowledge I have acquired about Wicca in general. I knew for a while that I was leaning more to the term Pagan than Wiccan and have taken to calling myself an Eclectic Pagan though I still very much respect the Wiccans, and have a lot of similarities to what I know of the path.
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