Lately I have been following a thread on the Witches of Melbourne website ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WitchesOfMelbourne/ ) that has dealt with the subject of using the name Paganism or Wicca to signify the new age religion of witches and witchcraft. The debate has centered, on the one hand, around the need for an identifiable label that can be attached to an amorphous group of beliefs, citing the benefits that would come with official/government recognition of Wicca and, on the other hand they argue that no one label could possibly be sufficient to be inclusive of all of the modern Pagan groups, nor do 21st Century witches necessarily need such labels- “indeed”, they ask, “is that not where all of the trouble started with the mainstream religions? the attachment of relatively meaningless labels to spiritual ideals?”
The most interesting aspect of all of this, to me anyway, is the progress that it shows that these new-age religions have made towards mainstream acceptance. Twenty-something years ago when I first became interested in the occult, Paganism was almost an underground religion and its adherents fretted over whether their friends and colleagues would find out about their occult activities. Mistrust of mainstream religion was probably the most significant factor in most of the old-school Pagans turning to Wicca in the first place. Now Wicca is mainstream and beginning to clamor for some of the same consideration that society shows to more traditional religions. Does this mean that Wicca has sold out? Have the Pagans evolved into some sort of parallel existence with the Christianity that they thought to escape?
Serendipitously, I have recently made the acquaintance of a fellow who is promoting a scientific method of spiritual attainment based on sound psychological principals. Called ‘Spiritual Intelligence’ ( http://sqi.co/ ), his method seeks to achieve the same enlightened perception, the identical presence that many of the new age practices seek as an improvement upon their traditional religious experiences. In contrast to the almost informal teachings of Paganism, Spiritual Intelligence creates a technical language for its practices and defines labels for its basic tenets in order to make it accessible to the maximum number of people possible. In this way the SQ movement has been able to develop a stable discipline with clearly defined objectives.
From this it would seem that labels may do more than define a group but also they might delineate that group’s methods or disciplines and thereby imply their goals. For this reason perhaps, the question of semantics is central to the main issue facing all new age practices at the moment- the lack of disciplined methods and clearly defined goals. In the infancy of the Pagan/Wiccan movement these aspects were powerfully present but as witchcraft has entered the common vernacular the strict discipline of the craft, inherited from its Hermetic forebears, has diminished greatly as the definition of a witch has become broader and more inclusive of a wider variety of practitioners. Ironically it may only be when we transcend the need for any labels that we begin to truly touch on any sort of enlightenment at all.
Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt. But whoso availeth in this, let him be the chief of all! –The Book of the Law, Aleister Crowley
Sexy Vintage Witch: http://www.girlontheright.com
SQ : http://sqi.co/