DEJA BROOM: The Space Between - my interp of the trad/eclectic divide
"DEJA BROOM" denotes a blog repost from my old site. Feel free to read anew, or refresh your memory to re-live the ranty goodness. Otherwise, feel free to skip ahead to more modern mayhem!
This is my understanding of the origination of eclecticism, which was indeed born of traditional ways. It is also my interpretation of how the schism between trad v. eclectic forms of witchcraft came about.
So here's a bit of the ugly truth about the growth of Wicca in the US....historical fact, if you care to look this up by reading something other than what is available on the internet.....there was a time in history (like before the mid-1980's) when the only known way to become a witch or wiccan was to be initiated by someone who already was one or by being born into a family who practiced amongst themselves. That was the original way the Craft was intended to be passed too, by being kept within families or by being carefully meted out by people who could vouch for one another.
More of the ugly truth is that some people who were initiates or fam trads started to see that "outsiders" (non-family or non-initiates) were clamouring for information and some began to spread things around to them. Not the whole kit-and-kabadoole mind you, just parcels of information and more generalized versions of rituals, just enough to whet their appetities. Those witches who were around back in the early days can corraborate my statements or you can go look it up in newspaper articles, interviews, occult magazines and books dating from this time period.
Once intrigued enough by the "samples" they'd been given, the outsider folks did one of two things, they either attempted to gain entrance in an existing coven in order to get the rest of the materials or they used the piecemeal and generic stuff they got thus far and began to build something of their own by attrition. Some went as far as publishing books of their own, making claims that what they'd put together without going through the whole coven schpiel was just as good and valuable. And hey, if it worked, who is to say they're wrong?
Yet more ugly truth....at this point, the trad folks and family folks with long-standing ways were getting pretty pissed off. Who were these newcomers with piecemeal info to say that what they had was equivolent to what the trads and family types had? How dare they co-opt parts of our stuff and the names of our stuff and say they're the same thing? Poseurs! Pretenders to the throne! blah-de-blah-de-blah blah!
Some of the trad folks looked at these wiley outsiders and thought, hey, they do have some great ideas and maybe they'll think I'm a hero if I share some more with them. These were the oathbreakers, the people who have been said to give too much away to the new upstarts. They were the ones who said, "oh heck why can't we all just get along and call it all the same stuff?" ---- some family and trad folks agreed, others were vehemently opposed.
But the ravenous desire for more info continued, and as long as there was a market (and $ to be had) there was someone on the new upstart side willing to publish, to print, to hold open public events to get more attention and spread the word that anybody could be a witch!
How dare they! *grin*
So flash forward to about a decade ago, the early 1990s and the advent of the internet. The traditionalists and the family trads have become outnumbered and overrun by the eclectic folks, who have in turn started bashing them for being elitist and close-minded and stagnant, sticking to their old, closed-door ways and keeping their secrets to this day.
A firm line had been drawn between the factions and some traditionalists had decided that it was better when they remained in hiding, kept to themselves and just tried to ignore what the eclectics were doing. The divide kept widening, both sides demanding that each one had the right to do whatever it was they did and the other one had to just deal.
The not-so-ugly truth today, in my opinion, is that most folks are willing to acknowledge that both forms of witchery are viable in their own right and also important. The diversity has helped each side evolve and hopefully most folks are willing to have a dialog about the commonalities we share without becoming hostile. We can agree to disagree on things, and I believe that this is good for the continuance of the Craft as a whole.
After all, like it or not, we do both come from the same roots.