You know, I haven’t thanked Heather Greene sufficiently for linking to my follow-up post about Wiccanate Privilege in the post she made on The Wild Hunt about the Wiccanate Privilege discussion. See, follow-ups are important, even though most people don’t seem to think so. Follow-ups are how we know that the whole “razor blades in / poisoned Hallowe’en candy” thing were largely hoaxes and pranks, and thus taking your children’s candy in to be x-rayed is a bigger waste of tax money than shit that actually does good for people, like Medicare and Food Stamps. Follow-ups are how we know that the “Satanic panic” was a hoax created more by parents’ paranoia and wild imaginations after reading a book now denounced as “fiction”. Most importantly, follow-ups are how we learn that bloggers have refined their ideas, or even changed their minds.
Now, I suspect that some people may be getting the idea that “Wiccanate is pejorative” from a misunderstanding of some line or another from my initial post on “Wiccanate Privilege” back in November. This is not in any way how I intended it.
True, I have a “Keep Wicca Traditional” badge on this blog. True, while I was never a Wiccan myself, nor even a “Pop/Eclectic Wiccan”, I agree with Trad Wiccans who believe that theirs and other forms of Traditional Wicca have more of a right to the word “Wicca” than other people who read some books and call what they do “Wicca”. That said, I think I was pretty clear, especially in my follow-up, that “Wiccanate Neopaganism” included “anything that looks like Wicca, functions like Wicca, but maintains that it is not Wicca”. The concept of “Wiccanate Privilege” reaches beyond that and includes not only that fairly broad group, but also people who are afforded the same privileges –you know, people who call what they do “Wicca”. It would also be fair to suggest that “Wiccanate Neopaganism” includes any manner of Wicca itself, but where I sit, it’s like the distinction between “cisgender”, being one who identifies with the gender they were assigned since birth, which may include some Intersex people, versus “cissexual”, being those who may not necessarily identify with the gender associated with their natal sex, but who are in all ways non-transitioning, versus “cis-” which, in discussions on gender, tends to include both to varying degrees; these distinctions can be useful, even if at times it’s useful to have a broader term that puts them all together.
“Wiccanate Neopaganism” simply means “[neo-]pagan paths that are like Wicca, but not [or possibly not]”; what exactly is and is not “Wicca” is ultimately for Wiccans themselves to decide. Wiccanate paths include, but may not necessarily be limited to: Reclaiming, certain branches of Feri1, certain branches of Neodruidry, just about anyone who claims to be “not a Wiccan” but largely practises rituals and/or believes in things common to “Pop / Eclectic Wicca” –things that may include, but may not necessarily be limited to, The Wheel of the Year, casting circles, calling quarters/cardinal directions, a distinctly modern understanding of the classical elements, “the Maiden-Mother-Crone Triple Goddess”, “The Horned God”, Goddess spirituality, certain pop-Dharmic elements like “chakras” without actually engaging in Hindu religious culture, and beliefs about spirituality that share considerable overlap with the definition of New Age….
One has “Wiccanate Privilege” if one’s religion or “spiritual path” is one of Wicca or something that fits the broader category of “Wiccanate Neopaganism” and this puts that person at a certain advantage in the greater pagan community that gives one a greater opportunity to:
* Find information pertaining to one’s religion / path
* Find people to practise one’s religion with, should one choose to do so
* Understand a majority of ritual presented at any major pagan event, even if one has never taken part in that particular ritual before
* Have one’s religion understood by a majority of people at any major pagan event
* Be considered a “voice for all pagans” by those outside the pagan community
* Have those outside the pagan community have at least a passing familiarity with one’s religion due to television, popular films, and books
This is not now, nor has it ever been about putting one down for not being BTW or whatever —I’d rather put people down for being stupid, thanks. It’s been about putting to use a concise term that encompasses a wide range of pagans whose paths share more in common than they don’t because it’s these traits that put them at a distinctly privileged position in the pagan community. It’s about identifying that privileged position in the same way words like “cisgender” identify a privilege that some women have over others, because the other option would be to call that population “default” or “normal” (or similar terms that amount to the same meaning), when that’s not really the experience of all pagan practises.
1: Yes, i know Feri has a wacky-ass history with some lineages having more in common with Wicca than not and other lineages having almost nothing in common with Wicca; I’m told it’s similar to being bisexual in the GBLT community –if you’re dating someone of a gender clearly dissimilar to your own, people say you’re enjoying “het privilege”, if you’re dating someone of a gender similar to your own, people try to make you out as uncomplicatedly gay or lesbian.