Eclectic Witches create their own personal practices and belief or religious systems by re-creating or borrowing knowledge, practices and other various parts of wide spread belief systems from other pagan, neo-pagan and non-pagan religions that could be considered outside the normal scope of Witchcraft or Wicca, such as Buddhism and Christianity. Many Eclectic Witches refer to themselves as Solitary Practioners, Sorcerors, Hedge Witches, Green, White, and Grey Witches. Some even consider themselves Wicca, as long as the Rede is adhered to, the Earth and the Universe revered, A Goddess and/or God is acknowledged and worshiped and the practioner stays true to themselves, they believe themselves to be real Wicca.
In the circles of Wicca that i have traveled, there seems to be a great bone of contention between many BTW practioners, and those of the so called Eclectic Wiccan belief systems. One main accusation or complaint made against the eclectic practioners by the BTW practioners is that the Eclectic Wiccans aren’t true Wiccans because they build a taylor-made religion or tradition for themselves from the ground up rather than following an established or correct form of Wicca and that they practice without having been initiated by a High Priest, High Priestess, or an exsisting Coven of Wiccans.
While i agree that Eclectics aren’t following the original form of Wicca introduced to the public ( Gardnerian ), I argue that the BTW traditions are no more correct ( and no more wrong ) than any one Eclectics own tradition. BTW belief systems and practices themselves have significant differences within traditions, so what exactly is it that makes BTW practioners feel that they are correctly practicing the religion while eclectics are not? Is it that they believe the mysteries can not be experienced without the atmosphere and knowledge of the coven or masters of the tradition? Is it Ego? Simple pride in being able to claim lineage all the way back to Gardner himself, or to the founders of another BTW tradition? Or is it the usage of the word Wicca?
Another issue that seperates many Eclectic and Traditional practioners is Coven vs. Solo practice. Traditional Witches such as BTW practioners tend to practice in coven form, while many, but not all, eclectics tend to practice solo. While a large number of Eclectics practice solo, or with one or two close friends or family members such as their spouse, siblings, or parents, many Eclectics do form full covens, just as many BTW practioners also practice solo in their spare time or because of various other reasons such as moving away from a coven, or a coven becoming disbanned. One difference in Eclectic Covens vs. BTW and other Traditional Covens is the actual number of group members. Traditional Covens typically allow no more than 12 to 13 members per group, anything larger calls for a coven to hive out or split into multiple sister or affiliate covens.
I feel that as Eclectic Witches, our minds are able to remain open and receptive to knowledge, ideas, beliefs and methods of practice, that are not as much of an option for members of various traditions, as most traditions are based heavily in rules and exact definitions of rituals, practices, beliefs, dress codes, diet, ceremony, rites, worship and etc. I believe that as Eclectic practioners we are able to expose ourselves to a much broader picture of Witchcraft or Wicca vs. the over all picture that the heavily traditional practioners see, and in doing so we draw to us only what feels natural and right, instead of having a one sided picture painted for us, that might not match our spirituality. As the number of pagans in the world today climbs each year, Eclectic Witches are becoming one of the top players on the field, as its followers now number well into the millions in the United States of America alone, and most probably makes up the largest percentage of practicing Wicca.
What are your thoughts on Eclectic Witchcraft? Eclectic Wicca? Eclectic Paganism?