Another misconception worth exploding --- the idea that if you want to make the leap from practicing witchcraft as an eclectic practitioner and want to explore the rigors of undergoing traditional style practice, your prior experiences are worthless. That is wholly inaccurate.
It would be incorrect to say that you deserve "automatically get credit for time served"....as in, the idea that you should be instantly promoted to third degree in the trad's framework just because you were the leader of an eclectic coven or have had X number of years of solitary or online self-study.
It would also be incorrect to say that everything you've learned to date gets tossed out completely because you aren't considered up to snuff to traditionalists' eyes. It isn't a judgment being passed here.
When switching over from the eclectic witchcraft camp to undergo traditionalist Wicca training, you do not have to discount or discredit or otherwise give up any of your previous study endeavors. Your previous study is not without merit.
I'm here to tell you that I was a fine eclectic practitioner and competent witch for 20+ years before I decided to study with and eventually become elevated within a Gardnerian group. At no time during or since my "graduation" to autonomous high priestesshood as a Gard, was I ever told that I needed to relinquish my previous experiences outside the world of my Gard pathworking.
What is correct and I was told ---and there is much wisdom if not really painful humility in this--- was that I needed to let go of whatever I assumed I knew about what Gard-style witchery was and to put aside my ego built up by my prior eclectic work in order to be open to starting from square one while unlearning and relearning a few things as a Gard path student. The only way I could really let those lessons reach me was to put aside my personal affectations and unfounded expectations associated with my prior eclectic work and come at this Trad version as a newbie.
What I found most surprising about doing this was that only when I let go of my preconceptions about what I'd believed things aught to be and stopped interrupting my teachers to decry "how in my old group we did things like so-and-so"...that's when the epiphanies started to breakthrough for me. When I instead experienced the new trad stuff with the fresh perspective of someone who set aside, temporarily, my prior impressions of the rites and exercises....only then was I really able to get to the core of them in the way that my trad was trying to teach me.
I had to let go and stop trying to steer and justify everything in accordance to my eclectic mindset and trust that by looking at things from the basics all over again, I would be open to seeing things I'd missed or at least being open to different trad-style perspectives because I wasn't already so full of ideas that didn't apply to this new trad pathwork I was trying to grok.
Like the Karate Kid movie.....I had to start my (re-)training by learning to "paint the fence" and "wax the car" before I could reach the right headspace to fully integrate the Mysteries as a Gard as opposed to an eclectic. I had to come empty in order to get filled. And that is why after my initiation and each subsequent elevation within my trad work has been so meaningful. Whereas before I had gone through the motions, had recited portions of the same scripts.....it didn't hold as much meaning nor expose me to the depths of understanding and relating to the Mysteries until I learned to do it the 'proper' way, the way this stuff was originally designed and intended to be passed.
The really amazing thing was that my prior eclectic study wasn't discounted or worthless in my coming to understandings in the trad system either.
Some of it did "translate" and was of great help to me when latching onto ideas faster....even if the building blocks were arranged differently in the trad world views. Ideas and concepts that I knew one way in eclectic-speak, meant something different or slightly off-what-I'd-previously-believed-was-center in the trad-speak.
It was like becoming someone who was multi-lingual....some words were the same in both languages, some had similar root etymology but now had different prefixes and suffixes that altered them a bit and some words were completely new identities for the same objects.
I just had to shift my brain around amongst different company to be sure that I was communicating properly and to the fullest extend of the meanings I was now trying to convey to folks.
So, yeah, I hate it when folks say "Trads do the FORMAL training and the Eclectics do the INFORMAL slap-dash." That's not accurately describing either one, in my opinion. And frankly, it sounds demeaning to both path styles. They are really two different systems entirely, even if they did somewhat come from a common root source.