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Difference between Traditional and Eclectic Witchcraft?


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#81 Michele

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:08 PM

Sorry for waking up an old thread.....  This was an interesting read....

 

For me, I am mostly focused on learning Amazonian curanderismo - especially Shipibo practices.  This tradition is thousands of years old (at least 4000 years, which is the oldest known artifact depicting Ayahuasca ceremony).  In this practice, no one teaches you what to do.  There are no books, and my current maestra (teacher) doesnt even speak a language I can speak (she only speaks Shipibo, and a tiny tiny bit of Spanish - my Spanish is better then hers, but I dont speak Shipibo at all!).  In this tradition, it is all about learning from the spirits.  The teacher is there to introduce you to some of the spirits, and to keep you safe while you are learning.

 

Every shaman/witch in the tradition I am learning has a unique and eclectic practice.  My practice is incredibly eclectic - but hardly any of it comes from books.  Books just dont exist that teach what I am learning - this is an oral tradition, and most of it isnt even oral, but telepathic/spiritual maybe.....  

 

It is confusing to me to hear that eclectic witches are not traditional, because to me, the eclectic ones are the most traditional.  It is hard for me to picture a village witch saying "I dont care what your spirit guides tell you, or what new inspirations you have - this way is the only right way for every person on this path"......  If every witch just did what their teacher told them, then how did the tradition get started in the first place?  How will it grow?

 

Some of the best regarded healers in my tradition never even had a teacher - they just go into the jungle for 2-3 years by themselves, and when they return they are healers.  Some experience a traumatic experience and afterwards they are healers.  These are considered the most powerful and traditional medicine people of all in this tradition - the ones who had no teacher besides the spirits.  The eclectic ones who use what works, and dont care about the source, but only care about what helps them and their community the most.  

 

Evolution never happens without change.  Dont lock yourself in the past - it is extremely limiting!  Stay true to your tradition and your guides, but be open minded enough to recognize good changes and evolution when you see it!

 

I think it may be important, perhaps, to realize the difference between maintaining the integrity of a tradition and stagnation...  a tradition, if it is to survive, must be able to move (whether seen or unseen) within the society it exists; however, to change completely with the whims of modern culture would be to lose the tradition itself.

 

M


Edited by Michele, 26 March 2014 - 12:09 PM.

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#82 Roanna

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:34 PM

I agree Travsah.  I would think  that all practices are eclectic in one way or another.

 

I agree as well. I think the problem with the term eclectic is that its a hard one to pin down to an exact definition. I suspect a lot of the frustration in debating it is caused more by semantics than widely differing opinions on craft. If we take eclectic to mean a hotch pot of pick and mix beliefs thrown together randomly without regard for tradition or culture then it's likely no traditional witch would stand up and identify with that (and if anyone secretly does they might be best advised not to claim that too loudly..). However if eclectic is taken to mean more of an individual interpretation of tradition, adapted with knowledge and respect for the established structure but shaped to fit the needs of the individual witch then some (not all mind, but some) witches including myself would be happier to define in such a manner.

 

I'd be as sceptical of someone who followed tradition with no personal interpretation or adaptation as I would somebody who said Witchcraft is merely something they make up as they go along. To be a viable craft path, it has to be a blend of the two in my eyes.


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#83 Raineylane

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:45 PM

I agree as well. I think the problem with the term eclectic is that its a hard one to pin down to an exact definition. I suspect a lot of the frustration in debating it is caused more by semantics than widely differing opinions on craft. If we take eclectic to mean a hotch pot of pick and mix beliefs thrown together randomly without regard for tradition or culture then it's likely no traditional witch would stand up and identify with that (and if anyone secretly does they might be best advised not to claim that too loudly..). However if eclectic is taken to mean more of an individual interpretation of tradition, adapted with knowledge and respect for the established structure but shaped to fit the needs of the individual witch then some (not all mind, but some) witches including myself would be happier to define in such a manner.

 

I'd be as sceptical of someone who followed tradition with no personal interpretation or adaptation as I would somebody who said Witchcraft is merely something they make up as they go along. To be a viable craft path, it has to be a blend of the two in my eyes.

 

 

 

 

Took the words right out of my mouth!


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#84 Michele

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 05:05 PM

I'd say there's not a much difference "traditional" wise. Many traditional witches are eclectic in their approach. A traditional witch who follows a specific path is path-oriented. A traditional witch who does not follow a specific path is eclectic. I do not think that trdaitionalism is defined by path, but by certain hallmarks of the way the witch works. And to date, most of the traditional paths I have run across (other than specific DNA-family paths, and then not all of them) are divinity-based and have a specific way of working their rituals. Almost all (if not all) the traditional path-based paths (as opposed to eclectic paths) that I have come across do work with ritual in some form, usually a compass. But there are also a lot of eclectic trads who will work a compass. Geez... it is hard to define, lol... I suppose a path-based trad follows a specific "core" set of ways that have been developed prior to the witch developing them and often with a specific core spirit or diety and/or entity.

M

 

Boy, has my answer to that one changed, lol

 

M


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#85 Ravenshaw

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Posted 29 June 2014 - 07:22 PM

I find the definitions of each adjective help greatly for this. "Eclectic" means pulling from a broad range of resources. "Traditional" means done in accordance to tradition, or long-established. To me, they are quite different, though they can very happily coincide beside one another. If the tradition is eclectic, then it is both. However, a practice can be either just eclectic or just traditional.


Edited by Ravenshaw, 29 June 2014 - 07:22 PM.

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#86 Ravenmocker

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 01:14 PM

I come from many traditions  European folk magic and Appalachian witchcraft and Cherokee medicine on my dads and Curanderismo on my moms. does this make me both eclectic and traditional ?


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#87 ArcticWitch

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 07:22 PM

Ravenmocker, you bring up an interesting philosophical question.  It's my perspective that everything in this world has been eclectic at some point in order to develop: everything borrows (or even steals) from other sources in order to become what it is.  I don't believe there is- or can be- a tradition that is absolute in its assumed integrity, one that is independent and beyond all influences despite its being handed down from generation to generation.  My ancestry (which I have reason to believe is speckled with the occasional witch) is, like yours, a blend of Appalachia, Cherokee, and Europe.  In addition to that, I moved to Alaska as a teenager and have become attuned to the energies of this area.  At what point can we define "tradition" as adhering to the varied tapestry that comprises ourselves and our respective backgrounds?  If I were to develop an affinity for working with ancient Egyptian deities, or start studying the lore behind the true Magi of India, then I would be going completely beyond the inherent influences and attributes of myself.  That, to me, is the definition of "eclectic".  But adding my experiences with spirits, elements, and deities of the Arctic to the hodgepodge of my Euro-American blood's history doesn't seem illegitimate, because this land is my "forever home" and has claimed me.

 

Overall, I agree with Ravenshaw's post.  For a while, I struggled with if I could be considered "Traditional" or "Eclectic" because I lean towards different types of witchcraft, specifically kitchen witchery, sea magic, and herbalism.  But then I realized that, for me, the various flavors of witchcraft I employ are like playing different instruments, while still playing from the same sheet of music.


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#88 Wexler

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 06:12 PM

I love your metaphor AW.
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Posted 04 July 2014 - 01:31 AM

Personally I see the difference based upon how one does their craft.  Consider the archaic stories where tradition was not a school of though but a type of practice, Medea was all potions and brews in her workings.  The Stygian Witches were more second site to see and manipulate things.  Circe was similar to Medea but also very different in what the focus and usage of her magic was.  So you had traditional notions of "Skills" that a witch had and how they worked.  The necromancer was a type of witch who worked with the dead but could also be seen as a ceremonial or high magician.  So the collective we see witches in a traditional sense by what they practice and how.

 

Yet eclectic influences simply say they have a practice that falls outside of the established norms for skills.  There is no clear historical "Witch" we can draw upon and say they match this persons practices.  Even in modern typing we keep "Witches" pegged by how they work whether it be Ursla from the Little Mermaid to the Charmed Ones not by ethics or beliefs but what they use.

 

Though I admit I think people are also stuck in how they define"Witch".  Medea was originally a sorceress by Hellenic descriptions, Circe was originally an Enchantress by those same definitions.  The Stygian Witches were witches in definition.  Morgana was both a sorceress and enchantress by definition and practice.  Near as I recall many of the associated skills and practices of modern witchcraft seem derived from the witch hunts of the church for heresy and its just sort of stuck to it since.  None of that even truly touching upon the current notion of whether Witchcraft is a practice, a spiritual belief, a skill or a combination of many things.  The least of which is the counter culture notion of using the word Witch in its anti-establishment and counter religious sense as a means of protest and revolt towards accepted social norms.


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