Sunday, September 4, 2011

Terms of engagement.

I've been around long enough to know that the minute you say you're a "witch" or "pagan" or what-have-you, that a million people will jump out of the woodwork to tell you how wrong you are, that what you do/believe isn't witchcraft/pagan/what-have-you.

On the other hand, I've seen what happens when we stop having some sort of standard for calling yourself things, leading to "But I Read A Book" 18-year-old High Priestesses and "Druids" who don't know that The Wicker Man is not a documentary.

So - The ocelot's Terms of Engagement, where I'll tell you what certain words mean to me, without the disclaimer that they may mean different things to different people, etc., because this is my little space where I'm not obligated to do such things. Don't agree? Can you explain why without sounding like an officious ass, in a spirit of an exchange of ideas, as opposed to trying to fact-bash me to death? Have at. If not, go slam me on your own blog or something.

DRUID: Priest/philosopher/healer/lawyer (at a minimum) of the ancient Celts. I'll accept you calling yourself this if you seem well-versed in the history of the Celts/one of the Celtic cultures and Celtic mythology, or if you're ADF or Henge of Keltria. If you don't know any of the myths, think Druids were the only ones who used magic, and seem to have no interest in/relationship with any Celtic deities, I will dismiss you as another Pseudo-Celtic Whackaloon (PCW).

WITCH: A person who casts spells, does divination, engages in magical herbalism, heals, hexes, and seems madly in love with Nature. If you don't do any of those things, sorry, but to me, you're not a witch.

WICCAN: A British Traditional Wiccan is a member of a lineaged, initiatory tradition traceable back to Gardner, Sanders, or the Horsa coven. Member of a lineaged, initiatory tradition so similar as to make no difference. Solitary practitioner who's following the available information from a lineaged, initiatory tradition so closely that there's little discernible difference.

I know the party line here - there's stuff you get from a Genuine BTW Trad Initiation that you don't get unless the (oathbound) ritual is followed precisely. However, having known people who got that, and still seemed like insincere asses on a power trip instead of someone who had received a Mystery, I tend to think that's too rigid a rule. So my hard-and-fast take on it is: I may not agree to call it BTW, but if you look like a Wiccan and quack like a Wiccan, I'll probably consider you Wiccan.

If you got all your stuff from Silver You-Know-Who, I'll probably try to tell you why I think she's an idiot, the places where I know she's wrong (fact, not opinion) and then simply walk away.

PAGAN: Non-Abrahamic, Non-Buddhist, Non-Hindu, etc. person who worships usually more than one God/Goddess, follows the eight-seasonal-holidays framework, and tends to be Nature-oriented. Also an umbrella term for Wiccans, witches, and everyone else who isn't Buddhist, Hindu, First Nations trad spiritual practices, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. An amazing term that tells you almost nothing about what a person does believe and do and more about what they don't.

SHAMAN: A word describing a Siberian priest/healer. Period. End of sentence. I grant an exception to Native Americans who call themselves this, because those people have been told what they are and are not quite enough already, thank you.

I will not call you a "Celtic" shaman. Did the Celts have people whose practices included elements similar to (possibly even identical to) those in lands where such people where properly called "shaman"? Yes indeed. But we had our own names for that kind of thing, and not using them is sheer laziness.

I will also refuse to call you a shaman if you are not recognized as such by others, which does not mean your four buddies who are also "shamans". Shamans did not exist in a vacuum, folks - this requires community recognition.

CEREMONIAL MAGICIAN: Someone who does ceremonial magic, i.e., OTO, Golden Dawn, Kabbala, etc. Also includes that guy/gal who owns a lot of books with titles like "Long-Lost Friend" who can always seem to find a parking space/new apartment when they really need one.

RECONSTRUCTIONIST: Someone attempting to re-create the pre-Christian religious practices of a culture.

THE OCELOT: BTW Wiccan, witch, and pagan who manages to be both a hard and soft polytheist at the same time - I believe the Gods are all distinct entities, like individual people (hard polytheism), but I also believe that all the Gods are eventually all the same thing (soft polytheism), because if you put them all together you get the sum total of Godhood. In other words, all the Gods are distinct individuals who, taken all together, make one big God.

The ocelot actually believes in the Sidhe, the Beansidhe, the Washer at the Ford, the Gods (all of them), omens, the Puka, portents, magic (with or without the "k"), spells, curses, Karma, wyrd, orlog, the Holiness of Nature, and a bunch of other stuff.

The ocelot is tired of the following: One-True-Way types, Do-Whatever-And-Call-It-Whatever-You-Want types, people who call themselves "pagan" who won't go camping/hiking/outdoors if they can help it or admit that meat is the flesh of a dead animal and not something that just manifests at the supermarket, people who think witchcraft is all blood and nightshade, people who think witchcraft is all white light and rainbow-pooping unicorns, "traditions" that mostly seem to consist of false claims and infighting, and the failure to realize that not all of us care if Joe Normal Neighbor takes our religion "seriously" just so long as he doesn't kill our pets/proselytize at us/burn our house down with us in it.

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