Thoughts on Secrecy and Standards
One of the biggest complaints I've always seen about Traditions and Traditionals is that they are not as public as many folks want. But why should they be? There is no need to argue with those who prefer to read the latest newage pseudo-Wiccan masterpieces. (Most of those folks wouldn't really listen, anyways.)
Traditional Wicca will never be as popular as NeoWicca. It's not easy, and it's not all light and happy. The central basis of our duty is to serve our Gods, not to deal with new-age self-improvement, not to "correct misconceptions" or "promote our faith", and not to push any particular political or ecological agenda. There is no room for people who want to be laity - it's not for the masses. Comparatively few people *really* want to invest the years and the work required to study and learn and do what it takes to change themselves, their worldview and the worlds around them to the extent necessary to walk our Path with honor.
Traditionals are not obligated to be open or to serve the masses. There is no political or public agenda in Traditional Wicca. Traditions are not obligated to train every Seeker who finds them and asks for training. Traditional Wicca is not a mass-consumption practice. The only "should" Traditionals are obligated to is to maintain the integrity of their Tradition and to ensure that the knowledge is perpetuated. But it has to be on the Tradition's terms, not what the masses "demand."
The idea that one has the "right" to any spirituality (IMO) stems (significantly) from living within a society steeped in Christian doctrine and modern Evangelical churches. Modern Christianity (in the US) is an all accepting, open religion... and folks who grow up in a society steeped in this mindset will automatically assume that all religions/beliefs are "open" and "accepting" in the same way that the giant mega-Church down the street is. Guess what? Wicca isn't 'Jehovah in skirts'. Our Gods welcome Proper Persons who meet certain - rather strict and particular - criteria and who are brought to them through certain very specific practices. It's not open to debate.
Wicca is at it's heart a tribal religion - similar in many ways to authentic Native American religions. Tribal religions do not seek converts. Either you are of the tribe, or you are not. No matter what the various McWiccans and Plastic Shamen say, each Tribe owns its own spirituality. It is theirs alone. It was given to them alone. And, to quote one Elder "...If you want something that is ours, you must go about your quest in the way WE want you to go about it, not in the way YOU think it should go. Those are the rules, set in cement! Get mad and cry elitist, or racist, or other less pleasant things if you want. No one will really care - you will only be further shunned for this obnoxious behavior as it will prove to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have no respect and no honor for our traditions or for us as individuals. And whining around and saying that no one will teach you or that you do not have access to teachers where you live, will do you no good either. It's not OUR fault that you are in that particular situation, and it doesn't automatically mean that we MUST teach you or give you what you want just because you haven't been able to get it any other way. If this seems harsh, perhaps it is. The bottom line is that we don't owe you our religion or our ceremonies or even our company, WHATEVER your reasons are for wanting them, and we aren't going to apologize for that. You must EARN the right to them."*
Many Traditionals who are inclined to be more public often end up withdrawing due to the attitudes they encounter, such as people expecting to be handed any and everything and demanding to have easy access to private matters. Or such as providing the kind of basic information people claim to want and certainly need, but then have almost every aspect of it argued because it's not what Coppertail Moonbeam wrote in his book on page 47. And what Coppertail writes has to be right 'cause it's published.
So, the Traditionals overall do what they've always done - continue to assist the qualified, earnest Seekers who can perpetuate the teachings. Which means Traditional Wicca itself hasn't actually changed, regardless of what all is going on among the public. And when some of us do make public forays, we stick to our wands and we maintain our standards and our Oaths.
What do we tell the newcomers and the seekers? To be careful. To go slowly. To listen to and trust their instincts. To watch people and really think about what they see and hear. To double and triple-check everything they read, as well as the source that wrote it. To expect to work hard, to hit walls, to trip up, and to make mistakes. And to expect to grow, and to change in ways they never would think possible. To prepare for a long, wonderful journey. Because once you put your feet on a path to any of the Old Gods, you never know just where they'll take you... but you can be certain that the trip will be eventful - and marvelous.
So what is to be done? We will teach our ways to those who are willing to learn and who meet our criteria. And honor our Gods, and walk our Path with all the respect we can. And ensure that the Traditional ways get passed on. In our way.
* - Wickipi, from "Ceremony Season", written for Indian Territory, Warm Springs.
By Sana Karine (Zanetta Wilson), copyright 2004. (Quoted material copyright Warm Springs Productions.)
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