Solitaires Are Pagan Too!
Guess what, folks? Solitaires are pagans too!
Over the years I have personally visited many a different gathering, have been a participant in many divergent conversations and have been a member of numerous chat groups. And there seems to a divisive undercurrent in certain parts of the pagan community that solitaires are less pagan than anyone else. Good grief, do we really need this kind of elitist nonsense?
Neo paganism as it is today has to vie for acceptance in the general community at large because of misguided stereotypes. Because of the modern mind-set where everything has to fall under instant gratification or risk losing ones attention, there is a serious lack of will and discipline when it comes to learning the ages old principles of the Craft.
Add to that the proliferation of Christian concepts into paganism due to the influx of former members of that particular religion; and at the end of the day, neo paganism has more then its share of internal problems. Do we really want to ostracize folks simply because they want to pursue their spiritual path as individuals without a membership in a coven or similar gathering?
Does this attitude really make a particular gathering and/or person more pagan, then others? I personally have spent half of my pagan related journey involved with a family clan and covens and half as a solitaire. Does this make me only half as good a witch as I could be?
There seems to be one group in particular that has a problem with solitaires, which is something that I don’t understand at all. Please understand that this is not about singling out and pummeling any particular group, just a pragmatic view at issues which affect us all as pagans.
As such, the Wicca seems to be the one group that solitaires consistently cite as having divisive issues with. How the Wicca set up and run their gathering is no ones business but their own, but there are a few questions in general that begs an answer.
The Wicca has a well-known tenet that “all Wicca are witches but not all witches are Wicca”. It has been explained to me by various Wicca that one is not a true witch unless they have been initiated as a Wicca. For without such initiation one cannot be validated through lineage. This particular mindset would certainly leave out solitaires for such folks are usually self-initiated.
And any witch who came before 1954 and/or since who is not a Wicca would also be excluded under such narrow tenets.
Yet, unless I am missing the mark, paganism in general and witchcraft in particular did not begin in 1954 CE. And so such views leave the taint of elitism in the air.
So lets look at this viewpoint from that of a solitaire.
First of all, one could question what in the world does lineage have to do with the Craft?
Regardless of who from the mid 1950’s till now is in ones learning tree, it is the individual who is responsible for ones own spiritual growth and the way that one engages in acts of energy and other aspects of the Craft. If I may use an analogy, one can pay an instructor to teach them to be a black belt in karate; however the belt is only as good as the person that is wearing it at the time.
I realize that folks like to have a family tree or “lineage” as is the case here, to present to their peers, for bragging rights. But for all intents and purposes, it has little if any practical value in the Craft. When it comes to working with energy, even covens are made up of individuals who come together to weave their energy into a tapestry made up of their individual wills. So why solitaires should be disparaged for doing what is natural to them is a mystery unto itself.
Perhaps such thoughts present themselves within Wicca because in part, Wicca is fashioned off of the ideals of the Masonic Order. And those folks place a heavy emphasis on lineage. And yet another point to this concept that is confusing is that Cunningham was a self declared solitaire even though he was associated with the Wicca movement. Does the Wicca think less of an author who played a huge part in bringing them to the public eye even though he saw himself as a solitaire?
When Cunningham wrote and published his book Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, was there any attempt by the Wicca to block such a hugely popular book? And were the proceeds from this book turned away because they were predicated upon unacceptable concepts as endorsed by the Wicca?
One cannot have it both ways. A group cannot accept the vehicle that brings them their greatest source of recognition and then denounce the folks who follow the precepts that such a vehicle was created from. That is commonly referred to as hypocrisy.
And this brings me to my next thought.
If such a well-known advocate of Wicca is given the nod to write a book for solitaires based upon Wicca tenets, even if it was a tacit nod. And then there is a ground surge of interest in Wicca because of said author, couldn’t one assume that there will be folks who will want to identify with Wicca without becoming a formal member of a Wicca coven?
Should such an interest and desire be used as a platform to snub folks in order for those doing the snubbing to feel more important about themselves? Is that what paganism is about?
Another tenet held forth by the Wicca is acceptance of others beliefs and the idea of diversity. Where do solitaires fit into these grand ideals or are such ideals, simply superficial window dressing for something else all together?
If it was okay to lure such folks into the fold when a profit was being made, should they be shunted aside now that they no longer serve such a purpose?
Paganism in general is considered a minority belief system because of the very successful propaganda put forth by the three main organized religions. Do we as a perceived religious/spiritual minority really want to turn away solitaires who are just as devoted to their spiritual journeys as are any other kind of pagan?
At the end of the day, there is no pagan group or gathering that is loftier then any other. For every gathering is the sum of its members. And even if that gathering happens to number only one member, they still count.
It would be a real act of maturity and growth if the pagan community as a whole would spend less energy on the “my pop is bigger then your pop mentality” and concentrate instead on the issues that “really” matter in a magickal and nature based belief system.
I’m sure that Mother Earth would appreciate a bit more attention.
Neo paganism in general seems to be wrapped up in convincing others of our ilk, of a perceived self-importance and level of ability, which in all reality so few have actually taken the time to cultivate. The rest of the time is taken up in trying to convince society in general which consists of the conquerors that we are a valid belief system, though paganism has been just that, for eons.
What causes such insecurities one may ask? And what causes one pagan associated group to feel that it is necessary to diminish those such as the solitaires, in order to elevate themselves to a dubious standing?
In my personal life I have served for a number of years as a HP of a very active witchcraft coven and yet as a student of shamanism, I practice as a solitaire. Does that make my glass half full or half empty? Or does it really matter?
At the end of the day, all of us, whether we practice as a solitaire or not, still have to answer to our chosen Deity in regards to our spiritual growth as individuals. And so in essence we are all solitaires at heart. Let’s put to rest the hypocrisy and antipathy over solitaires for they are our brothers and sisters walking a common ground.
Besides, elitism is nothing more then a façade that is devoid of any real substance.
And so in closing, yes, solitaires can be witches too!