Witchery: Why Eclectic Witchcraft?

As previously discussed, there are many different paths to travel for spirituality.  When it comes to the world religions, spiritual paths, and even practices such as secular based witchcraft, there are branched paths leading from some of the oldest and most established belief systems in the world, from all over Africa, Asia, and Europe in numerous directions. Being the cradle of civilization, many of the best known belief systems started in Africa and spread as humanity and written history did to other continents and countries as time progressed and people looked for a place to call their own.

Some of the so-called new, or neo, pagan practices have been based on rediscovered information, some of it extremely well documented as having roots which come from ancient times that have been brought forward, to our modern era, through renewed interest in the ancient ways that our ancestors practiced their beliefs. From African Diasporic Traditions handed down person to person, which held focus on relationships with nature, ancestors and spirits, etc. to Norse beliefs with their own traditions, Gods, and Goddesses, to ancient Celtic beliefs passed down orally for centuries, and finally preserved in written form during the Middle Ages, and on to discovered Egyptian practices found on papyrus centuries after they were written. People are returning to the faiths that call to their individual spirits in record numbers.

From old and new traditional paths to the varying forms of Witchcraft, to Wicca, and to other new age belief systems that have sprung up during the last one hundred years, people are actively seeking a way to make sense of their personal beliefs, whether they are related to a specific faith or stand-alone practices. Many different varieties: Asatru, Candomblé, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Kemetic Reconstructionism, Luciferianism, Neopaganism, Satanism, Vodou, Witchcraft , Yoruba, Zoroastrianism, and so many more systems, or paths, are practiced around the globe, not just centralized to where they once began. People of all ethnicities are discovering practices they never knew existed before, but which seem to be made for their souls.

http://www.humanium.org/en/children-and-religions/

However, just as the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism have become fractured religions, consisting of many, and in the case of Christianity sometimes thousands, of variations that continue to divide as time and beliefs progress, so have many other belief systems, including the African Diasporic faiths, Buddhist faith, Hindu faith, etc. They have splintered into varied belief forms that change and adapt to the people who follow them. All these various paths are valid for the people who believe in them and each of these paths have their own inherent beliefs and basic truths, and as truth is truth, and truth is universal, all these basic truths may be shared from one path to another. This explains the prevalence of so many paths having the same truths as their core values.

This is my reason for practicing eclectic witchcraft. Eclectic witchcraft tends to blend portions of many paths together as one. It takes the common truths as seen from all the different paths and acknowledges them as equally valid and blends them together into a single craft, or path. Each eclectic witch must make a choice of which portions of belief systems they will use in their practice of witchcraft. Some choose to use a blend of Nordic and Celtic paths; others may choose a blend of Christianity and Vodou; while still others may practice an eclectic blend of witchcraft that is completely devoid of any religious overtones and entirely secular in nature.

The thing about eclectic witchcraft is that it does not have to be a “one-size-fits-all” belief system. With eclectic witchcraft, as you study different paths and belief systems, if something specific calls to you, a particular practice, a specific deity, an accepted way of performing a ritual or casting a spell, etc, you learn all you can about it, try it out, and see if it blends well with your current beliefs and practices. Mixing and mingling various beliefs and practices in a way that specifically suits your soul. For a layman’s way of describing the way it works, imagine that all the spiritual paths are lined up in little bowls on a table, in a fashion similar to a salad bar. Just as you might choose a variety of lettuces, and vegetables whose flavors blend well, so may you find a group of ritual or spell casting techniques that blend into a nice whole for you. Add in some varieties of additional flavors like croutons or cheeses, just as you might add in working with a powerful entity or a deity, or a specific additional layer, like metals, runes, glyphs, or sigils, or themes or colored candles. Top it all off by adding in some herbs, and/or spells oils, just as you would top the salad with a dressing and voilà, it is perfect for you!

By Tudokin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Some say this is cultural appropriation, others say it is a misappropriation, of the cultural beliefs of a group to whom a person was not born. However, in this day and age of mixed ethnicities, multiple lineages, and even belief in past lives and reincarnated souls, which I believe bear direct importance on our current lives, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation of a spiritual path. I am aware that some consider this a very unpopular stance. I understand that some people object to others practicing a faith or path they feel the person is not entitled to, born to, or raised in. Again, I cannot believe in this strict interpretation. I cannot force myself to believe that merely because I was born to a specific set of parent’s with a set variety of ethnic lineages that I am beholden to the one way that my parents chose to raise me, n a narrow subset of a spiritual path shared by the one or two accepted lineages that my parents chose to acknowledge.

If this irritates or inflames others sensibilities; I will apologize for being the source of this irritation, but I will not limit the path that calls to my soul, base on someone’s irritations or even their cultural outrage. Cultural diversity, especially in the United States and other regions that were heavily influenced by centuries of immigration and inter-marriage are known for the multicultural “melting” pots they are. I do not believe, nor have I experienced, being judged by various and assorted deities, merely because my chosen list of deities with whom I have taken the time to build relationships, is not purely based a single pantheon, path, or faith. If this were so, then why would they work together so well when called upon? I find it interesting that the “man-made” rules call for one specific thing, yet the deities do not seem to follow these rules that some men claim they prefer.

As an eclectic, my job is to honor and respect any deities with whom I work. Personally, I speak to them, give gifts, and address them on issues that share important with work for which they are well known. I would not ask a war deity to bless a spell relating to marital health for a couple, any more than I would ask a deity of harvest, drink and song to join their energy with mine to fight against atrocities committed in the name of ISIL or Boko Haram. Common sense is still a requirement for any spiritual path, just as it is for every day life, even for eclectic witches. Follow in the ways your soul leads you, not in arbitrary rules established by some group of people who do not know you. If you are called to a strict interpretation of one specific path, then follow your path with joy, but remember, all witches are different and as such each witch’s path may differ greatly from your own, it is a good point to practice tolerance until you are given a reason not to.

By Przykuta (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Smell of Incense Curing

The room is currently scented by the wonderful aroma of a couple of batches of curing incense. It lightly scents the air so that the smell lingers in the nostrils, barely there, almost hiding from my senses, as if it is too shy to simply make itself known in a bold and blatant way. Yet, every time I stand up, every time I move past the bookcase where the batches hang, the strong aromas reach out to me. They sweep over me and fill my mind with memories, memories of some of the good old days.

I am transported to the days when Azrael was alive and well. My days were spent calling home to check on my two boys every chance I got. Azrael stayed home, went to his rehab appointments for his recent back injury, and studied on magick, computers and anything else that crossed his path, all while taking care of our beloved Roo, who was an only child at this point.

Those were the days when the shop was open six days a week. I spent my days creating new incense blends, rolling them up with our older tried and true blends in the times between waiting on customers. The days of flipping through the whole-seller’s magazines deciding what I should order for the shop. Should I place another order for tarot decks? They were selling well, after all. We were almost out of Magic: The Gathering starter and booster decks… definitely had to add them to a shipment. What books and magazines should go on the list this week and what could wait until end of month? Were any of our consignment people due to come in and drop off new items? Was the knife guy going to bring any more deer horn athames and bolines? Was Tony going to drop in with any new hand thrown pottery? His chalices, perfume and philter bottles were selling like hotcakes.

Every few hours, some friend or family member would stop by on their way to the grocery or while running other errands, to see if I needed anything. Azrael’s closest sister, barely his junior by about a year or so, was always in need of something, with her extremely active boys and a pre-teen daughter; she was constantly on the run to grab something for them, run them somewhere, or do something for their mom. Spiritwolf was always making store runs for the family members, too, since so many lived within walking distance of each other in this period. My parents-in-law, Spiritwolf, Az and I, all but one of Az’s four siblings, and their families, lived in the same park.

These were days when the shop kids would come by at lunch or after high school let out to check on new additions to the inventory, hang out, chat about spell work, ask questions, share info, help test out the new blends of incense to help decide which blends were good and suggest ideas for names since I was good with the scents, but sucked at the names for new blends. Everyone knew that they had been by the shop because the clinging scent of the shop would seep into their clothes I they stayed more than half an hour. I think I smelled of the shop from the day we opened it, until a week or more after it closed.

Lotus Butterfly was exceptionally good with names for blends. She was also the person who officially creeped everyone out with the finished product of her idea for a blended creation she called Sugar Coma. The incense that not only “smelled” purple, whose scent “tasted” sweet, but also the smoke for the incense also burned a light shade of lavender, which was, of course, impossible since all incense smoke is alike… but her blend managed just the same. She had a good head on her shoulders, but was far too old for her age. A hard life will do it to you. She would sit and talk and help with customers when needed. She was also a draw for teenage boys as they showed up to flirt with her, but she never noticed them other than a couple she considered as friends.

Where Lotus Butterfly went, The Crow soon followed. They were not exactly joined at the hip, but they may as well have been. They talked the same, gestured the same, could finish each other’s sentences as often as not, were best of friends in high school and still are today. Crow was well-known throughout the Southlake-Grapevine area and its surrounds, due to his unique good looks, his devil may care attitude and hand-painted “The Crow” leather jacket, from whence the name came. Though Crow has relocated to Japan for ages now, it seems, he is still the same sweet kid he always was.

Then there was Lysander, who didn’t make it to the shop as often as he made it to our house to spend time with Az. They were best buds, exploring ideas, talking over concepts, experimenting with computer stuff, reading and discussing texts, etc. When he did make it to the shop, he was always a lively addition, witty conversationalist, fun to have around, life of the shop type, and there was always a girl or three who dropped in shortly thereafter, I believe for the express purpose of flirting with him, but I could be wrong… though I seriously doubt it.

The two Chris(es) came by often and sometimes even together. They were both there the day I caught the water on fire, which is a story in itself. C.S. brought me the snow cones from the little video store in town, because the last few months of the pregnancy with Roo, I craved them more than air. C.W. was always coming by to bring me Dr. Peppers and would sit with me to keep me company until I closed up, then follow me home. His death at such a young age was a tragedy; he was such a sweet young man.

Nynda often dropped in to the shop often in those days, too. It was easiest for her since she worked across the street. She was a great bringer of treats, too. She would call across on her breaks to ask if I needed anything. Such a sweet girl, who looked even sweeter, had the boys chasing her around the shop. I thought the B-boy was going to faint every time she walked in, he was so fascinated and purportedly “in love” with her. Seemed there was always someone in love with her and fawning over her.

G and J would drop by every so often, usually whenever J would bug G to death about making the trip out as they lived a couple of cities away. Always high times when they would visit, G being so polite and well mannered, trying to blend into the wall as I he was too shy to be seen, while J was always trying to be center of attention, and usually succeeding by either volume or outrageous statements. G is still a sweet young man, to this day; J hasn’t changed a bit, not a single bit, in the past 18 years, either.

Most evenings I went home, I was trailed by a car with a shop kid or two. If I wanted to stop by and get pizzas, on the way home, I would go to the store where C. S. worked as it was closest, just up the road. Invariably I would be standing and paying for the pizza I had pre-ordered and hear a voice call out from the back “T must be here for pizza, because I smell incense!” which was so true. Everywhere I went in town, people either knew me by scent from having stopped into the store at one point or another, or they asked me about the “perfume” I was wearing.

Finally, I would make it home to my beloved hubby and my new miracle son, and to which ever shop kids had beaten me to the house that night. I do not remember there being more that a handful of nights each month, when someone was not camped out at home with us. We were always watching movies, playing Atmosfear, Balderdash, Scruples, or that movie trivia game from the 1990s that came out before Scene It, what was it called?

Often, our shop kids would bring other kids along for their visits; we met Richard, Jason, Aaron, Jim and McKenzie, who ended up becoming shop kids, too, David and Nicola, Jamie, Bonnie, April, and about 20 others whose faces I can see, but whose names escape me. Various kids just seemed to tag along after one or the other of our shop kids. Even years after we closed the shop; some of these new kids came a time or two, some became familiar features in the household after a while. Life was never boring, there were always several good conversations to be had every night, new ideas being floated around, lots of join around, tons of love and, after our twins came along when Roo was 17 months old, there were plenty of people to hug and snuggle babies who wanted it, lots of extra hands to grab bottles, stick spoons full of baby food in mouths, fetch and change diapers, kiss away boo-boos, and comfortable laps for our three sons to choose fall asleep in.

All of this rushes through as I walk past the bookcase. The happy times, the sad times, the times when we laughed uproariously, the times when someone we loved was hurt, the times when we could help with the pain and the times when we could not. Walking past the bookcase does not smell of incense to me, it smells of the past, it smells of sweet, sad memories, it smells of a previous life, long gone by.