IANA scholar of religion, but it seems to me that one large difference between Wicca and many other religions is that modern (at least) Wicca doesn’t look to separate people out into groups. You know: the saved vs. the damned, the elect vs. everyone else, those who are able to reach a state of disattachment vs. those who aren’t, followers of Mohamed vs. infidels, those who are the chosen people and everyone else.
I think that early Wicca — still attempting to imagine a religion different from monotheism, different from the Christianity which was all that most early Wiccans really knew — fell a bit into the trap. Thus, the insistence that one had been initiated into a coven with a lineage all the way back to the Bronze Age. That made you a REAL Witch, while someone who read some books, developed a daily practice, and went into the woods at night to dedicate her life to the Goddess and declare three times, “I am a Witch. I am a Witch. I am a Witch” could never measure up. Thus, people adopting titles such as Lady Moongrove Ravenwing or Mistress Starshadow. It led to some abuses; icky people insisting that you had to have had sex with their high priest in order to be allowed to call yourself a Witch. But it didn’t last long. Lucky for us, Wicca has (in general) moved well beyond that stage.
Modern Wiccan theology simply isn’t concerned about separating the chosen from the rest of the world. Sure, we have different traditions, but you can search far and wide for any discussion of why Witches are going, for example, to the Summerlands while everyone else is going to have to suffer in a bad place or live as a “once-born.” No serious discussions about how you have to believe X or do Y or the Goddesses/Gods will reject you, your landbase won’t know you, the Elements will ignore your call.
I think that’s a step forward for religion. I think that it’s freeing; it allows us to concentrate on developing our own personal relationship with the divine, with our landbases and watersheds, with our covens, and circles, and traditions. I think it emphasizes the deep truth that we see when we wash away from our eyes the enchantment of forgetfullness (who said that? L.M. Duquette?), the enchantment that causes us to imagine that any of us are separate from anyone/anything else. How simple and how easy to be responsible only for our own spiritual development and to allow others to find the path best for them.
Do you agree about modern Wicca? Is this true for other forms of modern Paganism?
Picture found here.