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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wiccan Views Of Divinity

Wiccan Views Of Divinity Image
In a recent post on my blog I explored the eclectic nature of the new age spirituality that is emerging in Western culture. The statistics that I referenced indicate that the West is becoming less religious and more spiritual and that the process is largely an occultural process, which is to say that the spirituality that is beginning to develop actually has its roots in the long history of Hermeticism. Some academics have indicated that the consumerist, eclectic nature of the new age spiritual movement may in fact be one of its hallmarks and a source of fundamental strength and adaptability.

This raises some interesting points for speculation from the point of view of the ceremonial magician as well as many traditional occult practitioners. On the surface it may seem as if the zeitgeist of the new age movement runs contrary to traditional schools and long established orders of practice; but is this really so? It also indicates that there is a lot to be gained by traditional lines of practice from accepting a more eclectic mix of influences into their general scheme of practice. The reason that eclecticism is seen as giving the spirituality of the new age such a strong base is because it is a process that is weeding out practices that have little relevance or popularity, and evolving a core group of beliefs and methods that are slowly coalescing into what seems to be a new set of holistic disciplines. But what does this mean in practice?

The most prevalent form of eclecticism is found among the late generation of witches, wiccans and neo-pagans who have made a long standing practice of acquiring new gods and goddesses as well as a large bag of magick practices from any and every non-Christian source possible. In fact Eclectic Witches don't so much borrow from other cultures; they follow them down a dark alley, club them over the head and go through their pockets for loose mantras. This practice is in direct contrast to the roots of Wicca over 60 years ago which defined a very anti-eclectic pantheon and paradigm of religious practice. The eclectic movement has grown in the past decade to become the dominant demographic in the wiccan world. If the trend continues at the current rate the traditional Alexandrian and Gardnerian Witches that began the movement may find themselves marginalized within their own religion. At worst they could come to be seen as cults and be relegated to the history books due to the new age anti-cult disposition which is almost universally present in new age spiritualist movements.

In fact with recent figures showing that almost eight in ten people that call themselves a witch practice in solitary and have little or no structure to their progress spiritually. On the other side of the fence, established traditional witches look on the strong eclectic surge in wicca with a great deal of suspicion as their long developed, carefully crafted discipline seems to be rejected by a new wave of sassy young witches that know more about karmic cleansing than they do about the wheel of the year. Even the strict degree system used by traditional witches has been subverted by the eclectic movement that tends to view them as empty certificates of accomplishment rather than as milestone markers on a dedicated path to enlightenment.

Recently I asked an online forum of witches, traditional and eclectic, what things that they had in common. The answer that I got was that they all call themselves witches and show some vague observance of the seasons and the waxing and waning moon. Most of them conflated this with the eco-spiritual propaganda that infests the new age and rounded it out with a vague assertion that they followed the Wiccan Rede, a code of righteous practice once adhered to by all traditional witches that admonishes us to:

Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,

In perfect love, in perfect trust,

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:

And ye harm none, do what ye will.

What ye sends forth comes back to thee,

And ever mind the Rule of Three

Follow this with mind and heart,

And merry ye meet and merry ye part.

This radical rearrangement of modern witchcraft takes it much closer to the roots that it has in the Hermetic schools of magick that dominated the occult during the first half of the last century. Almost ironically the Eclectic Witches are looking to such traditional sources as the Golden Dawn and Platonic Hermeticism to enhance the rustic symbolism of Wicca as it creates a genuinely 21st Century religion that is growing at an amazing pace. This move towards Hermeticism is in consonance with the entire new age spiritual movement and the occulture that is currently transforming Western culture. That would imply that while Wicca seems to be metamorphizing into a generic outward religion that is finding more acceptance with the mainstream middle classes, pure Hermeticism would represent the most fundamental of the new age spiritual practices, the truest expression of the current occultural shift in society.

The fact is that Hermetic Magick has always been eclectic. At the height of its developmental period the Golden Dawn was gathering deities and spiritual practices from a wide range of religions and cultures as well as making serious detailed studies of the legacy left to them by the medieval qaballists and magicians. The system of magick that they evolved was perhaps the most eclectic spiritual movement ever conceived of, let alone put into operation. The Golden Dawn mixed deities from Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and every other ancient pantheon, re-evaluated the occult literature of several centuries, plundered the oldest texts in existence while trolling the British Museum for any scrap of magick before building it all into an immense Qabalah that standardized it all into a structured, graded system of advancement that marked the development of its Adepts reasoned stages. This was the great strength of the Golden Dawn, that its eclecticism was turned to its best advantage by the innate discipline in the grade structure of the order.

While eclecticism may actually be at the core of the new age idiom the lesson of history is that without reference to a structure or a clearly defined goal it leads to diffusion and ultimately chaos. The greatest power of eclecticism may be being missed by the latest generation of witches simply because they have abandoned much of the traditional discipline that is inherent in any spiritual school of merit in the search for the unique and personally inspiring. In day to day life we get many of the things that we want and need by doing things that we may rather not have to be bothered with; who wouldn't give up going to work every day if they didn't have to pay the bills. Spiritual development is no different, there must certainly be a measure of those things about the Great Work that aren't to our personal tastes but that are necessary if we are to truly learn the lessons that the path has to teach us. One of these is that eclectic choices in magick, like in everything else, are a useful adjunct to discipline not instead of it.

New Age Spiritual Eclecticism- The Path to Wisdom or Self Indulgence

Also read these ebooks:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - In The Walls Of Eryx
Jaroslav Nemec - Witchcraft And Medicine
Anonymous - Witchcraft Dictionary

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