Go Back   EarthSong Forums > Spiritual and Religious Pathways > Creative Spirituality

Creative Spirituality A forum to discuss emergent and eclectic spiritual practices, traditions and personal paths

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-18-18   #1
feranaja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Edge of the forest
Posts: 25,687

Default What's in a Name?

Just something I think about from time to time... moreso lately, as I go deeper into Druidry studies and find myself questioning the term. As those outside the Druid world might not know (but could probably guess) within Druidry there is a fair bit of discussion, more civil than some I've seen, about who gets to use the term "druid" and who doesn't. The usual extremes polarize everyone - the individual who says that all you have to do is love nature (ok, so my 80 year old stepmother is a Druid) and the other, who insists on multiple years of training, rigorous dedication and membership in some formal organization or other.

As usual I find myself in the middle - I'm as irritated as anyone by the individual who hangs an Awen pendant around their neck and likes trees, ergo is a Druid - but, I think that making it a fulltime job or you don't qualify is a bit elitist and unreasonable, too. I think there are aspects of Druidry you have to get with (learning the lore, regular practise, dedication to nature etc) but you don't need to make it your sole focus in life...just as within Wicca, there are dedicants and first degrees, not everyone does the Third and starts their own coven, within Druidry - provided you are dedicated to the core principles, and don't "just love trees" and that you are gaining knowledge and working on your own development, you can be a Druid.

So - this is sounding like it's all about Druidry, and that wasn't my point, I'm just using it as an example. I've been through this as many of you have, with the term Witch - who gets to say they're a Witch? Do you need years of training, or can you "look at yourself in the mirror and say three times "I am a Witch!" and boom! You can claim the title? Again, I say neither - you need some core knowledge and training - the old year and a day - and equally important, you need to practise. I think the individual who claims they are a Witch based on a few crystals in their house and a pentagram around the neck, is a poseur, if they don't follow lunar and solar cycles, study the Art, actually practise. But that doesn't mean you have to be Tamarra James, either. How far anyone wants to go with a path is entirely personal. I just don't think saying you are a Christian because you love Jesus (but reject all the other stuff) makes sense, nor is it especially honest. So - what's in a name? For starters, I think it's a reflection of one's authenticity, as well as Path. I use Pagan and Witch because there's no doubt at all I am both, but I balk at Druid, even though that's been my focus for close to a decade. I feel like I need more training (I was with BDO for a bit but have gone back to OBOD). Once I start arguing with myself about what to identify as, I go a little crazy. ..and usually end up as "Woman of Magic" (thank you, Mara Freeman, for that one).

At the end of the day, and after decades of various traditions and approaches, I ask myself, does it really matter, what one identifies with/as? And as a typical Gemini response, I think, yes and no. No, because the most important thing really (IMO) is doing the Work - self development, loving the earth and bringing peace and healing; the authentic spiritual path can be one thing or many things, or no particular thing at all. And yes, because in life we DO use these terms, we are Witches (of all varieties) and Pagan and Druid and Heathen and so on, and for those terms to actually mean something, we need to carefully consider why we would use them - and that we actually are what we say we are.

What do you think?
"if you don't know how to think, you'll always be a one legged man in an ass kicking contest".

Shane Parrish
feranaja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-18   #2
Brigidrose's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 10,816

Reputation: 638
Default Re: What's in a Name?

I have always tried not to pin a label on my practice.. I wanted to at times, still do, but I think like you, when it feels right. It for me usually morphs into something different or mixed when all is said and done.

I also think that because of my work with the public, and we have all sorts of different religious views and practices from our patients, I am very careful not to divulge too much of my own practices, unless I am very comfortable and the person is like minded.

So for me, the name or what a person calls themselves is as important as the person needs it to be, if only for a time.
~ One by one, we will step into the center of the circle. We will hear our names chanted, feel the cone rise around us. We will receive the gift, and remember: I am Goddess..
You are God, Goddess. All that lives, breathes, loves, sings in the unending harmony of being is divine.

~ The reason nothing can truly ever make sense is that it is all fluid. ~
~ To manifest abundance, follow your hearts desire ~

Brigidrose is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-18-18   #3
feranaja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Edge of the forest
Posts: 25,687

Default Re: What's in a Name?

You raise an interesting point here too, Rosie, about what we do and don't let the public at large see.

I tried very hard to keep my public life (dog work) and my spiritual life (everything else) separate, for years. It didn't work. Nowadays I don't flaunt my spiritual orientation, but I won't conceal it either. That's just what's right for me. Over the years I have found that more people who also love dogs, are cool about my Paganism or - surprise surprise - are Pagan themselves. So, maybe in part because I have a little stature in my work, I don't hide it.

And that said, I can totally see the need for discretion. xx
"if you don't know how to think, you'll always be a one legged man in an ass kicking contest".

Shane Parrish
feranaja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-18   #4
Shamanic Practitioner
MonSno_LeeDra's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 6,636

Reputation: 597
Default Re: What's in a Name?

Been thinking about this one for a few days. In many ways that name debate gets carried and discussed a lot in the shamanic fold as well. Who gets to claim it, who wants to claim it and to be honest who really doesn't want to be recognized by it but gets labeled with it. I suppose the other part of the debate are what other terms or titles tend to be recognized or seen as legitimate terms or titles and how they are recognized or conferred.

Yet personally what I always find lacking is who or what is the authority that is recognized as this "Authority". Doesn't really matter what the particular "Current" one is moving in either. Recognizing the idea that many are now calling various pathways as currents. So you have a Wiccan current, a Druid current, etc.

Some currents you can sort of say "Well these are the base criteria" and these are the founders of said current. Meet these criteria and you can say you are this. Yet even that is wrong today with all the shake n bake varieties out there now and the self initiates and self dedicates and 1001 flavors. How many of the so called closed orders now have open order versions due to their book versions? Can't even count how many ceremonial or high magical book forms there are now. I think New Avatar Power (NAP) seems to be a big one now.

Brigidrose is right in how much do we reveal about our practices to others. That truly is not even touching upon the idea of does ones practice cross that magical barrier where it's both a practice and a religious belief. That point where society and those you work with could accept one aspect yet rebel at the other.

It's like using the shamanic aspect many can accept the fact that most shamanic practices are in fact practices. There being no true religious aspect or component to them, even in the aboriginal or first nation component to them. It's why so many aspects have been incorporated into business models that define the self and personal growth and identity. Why ignoring the more mystical or world walking aspects of things that might suggest spirit or otherworldly aspects. Those aspects that might suggest a religious component, without actually being religious.

Titles get tricky I think for each is a trap in many ways. A trap both for the person using the title to identify and a trap for the person using it to recognize. When we hear a title applied to something we start to judge that thing or person against our perception and definition of that title. Against whatever authority we believe defined the parameters of the titles job description to be. If you don't meet that job description then your not qualified to hold that title.

We may try to change and re-order our perspective about the person and their qualifications but our initial judgement still stands in the way. In moments of pride or anger that first judgement will spitefully undermine the position. Buried yes, but not forgotten for it didn't pass that initial judgement of proof of awarding.
I'm Only Responsible For What I Say Not For What or How You Understand!
MonSno_LeeDra is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-18   #5
Windsmith bat Gaia
Reclaiming Tradition
Windsmith bat Gaia's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province
Posts: 575

Reputation: 61
Default Re: What's in a Name?

Wow, what a time for me to come across this post!

I've always enthusiastically identified myself as a Reclaiming witch. Reclaiming is a tradition that, at least within Paganism, is pretty easily recognizable, and most folks who hear the phrase "Reclaiming tradition" will get a pretty clear idea pretty quickly about the kinds of things I stand for and do--like you say, fera, the work is the most important thing, and Reclaiming is alllll about the work.

But, as some of you may know, the Reclaiming Tradition is in the midst of a brouhaha around trans/nonbinary inclusion and the emergence of some previously hidden TERF behavior. And it's definitely something that I could foresee causing schisms in the tradition.

Reclaiming has always been on the waaaay easygoing end of this scale. To be a Reclaiming witch, you need only 1) be willing to call yourself a Reclaiming witch; and 2) agree to abide by the Principles of Unity (PoU). Ah, but now we're asking ourselves the awkward question: which PoU?

The original document was written and consensed on in 1997 and was updated through consensus process in 2012. The 2012 changes made the language more explicitly trans-inclusive and allowed for a much wider range of experience of Mystery, including the naturalistic. In Reclaiming, community consensus is supposed to be law, so the changes went into effect, and most of us assumed that bit was done. The current blowup leaves us facing the distinct and unpleasant possibility that there are small pockets of trans-exclusionary folks practicing Reclaiming under the old, pre-2012 version of the PoU. It seems to me antithetical to the spirit of the tradition, which has always been about being radical and progressive and activist. And yet, here we are.

This has led us to a lot of questions about who "gets to be" Reclaiming. Can you still call yourself Reclaiming if you refuse to acknowledge changes approved by the tradition in the tradition-approved manner in order to be exclusionary and discriminatory? On the other side of the coin, do those of us who are trans/nonbinary or in exuberant support of trans/nb inclusion want to continue to be part of the tradition if the tradition as a whole doesn't make some kind of strong statement for inclusion and against transphobia? Each person will have to answer that for themselves, of course, ours being an anarchist tradition. But eventually we're going to have to build a consensus around something here.

I know several people who refer to themselves as "post-Reclaiming" - that is, still practicing and believing in a Reclaiming manner, but no longer associated with the tradition proper. I suppose I, too, might one day be post-Reclaiming. Or maybe a group of us will hive off and be something else. For today, I'm a Fightin'-Mad Reclaiming witch and damned proud of it.
Windsmith bat Gaia is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Current time: 07:10 AM (GMT -4)

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2008 - 2019, EarthSong Forums. Most rights reserved.