Friday, February 17, 2012

Pagan Blog Project - D is for Defining Myself

     Over the past week I've been struggling a bit with what to call myself, how to describe the religious path I'm following and wether or not I am doing it "correctly".

     I've been having doubts like this for a while, but this sudden confusing crisis came about after reading an online article about the difference between Wicca and Celtic paganism and why Wicca isn't Celtic. (There are SO many of these by the way...) This particular article brought up the subject of magic and how it's NOT a part of Celtic Paganism.


     I immediately went into panic mode. Am I doing this all wrong? Maybe I'm not truly a Celtic Pagan? But I ENJOY the idea of using magic... I keep a Book of Shadows and was worried that made me too Wiccan. (No offense to those who are, just not my cup of tea) I like to perform magic which made me think I should label myself as a Celtic Witch, rather than Pagan. (I'm a list-maker and label-lover...see why this is such a problem?)

     I brought my concerns to a Facebook group that I am a part of, mainly asking if me performing magic made me less of a Celtic Pagan, or even not one at all. I received two very intelligent, and well-put responses:

No one gets to make rules about who does what...Celts are from a Culture where personal Liberty is the Ideal, and anybody who tries to force their views on you, can talk to me. "Pagan" is a Latin term, and does not exactly fit into Celtic Lifestyle, but magic is a personal choice, and is not up to anyone but you...


In depends on how you define what you are and what you do. A Book of Shadows is a Wiccan concept, but it's something that's found in a lot of Wiccan-derived or influenced paths, including different kinds of 'Celtic' Paganisms.

Having a Book of Shadows doesn't automatically make you Wiccan; it's something that's become popular simply because Wiccan and Wiccanesque books are the most popular and available. Saying that anyone who has a Book of Shadows isn't a Celtic Pagan but a Celtic Wiccan kind of misses the point that there's a whole host of things that can be found under the Celtic Pagan label isn't Celtic in origin whether you have a BoS or not, and there are a whole host of things beyond a BoS that makes you Wiccan.

Since it's a modern concept, and not Celtic, the Book of Shadows is certainly not relevant to anyone focusing on more historically-based paths, up to and including Celtic Reconstructionists, but since it is something that more eclectic pagans might adopt, it can be something that some Celtic Pagans might use. It really depends on the kind of pagan you're talking to, and really a 'Celtic Pagan' can be any kind of pagan who falls under a 'Celtic' label, whether a CR or a Celtic Wiccan. Technically, speaking, at least. 'Celtic Pagan' can be as much of an umbrella term as CR can, so you have to bear in mind what the label means according to the person making such claims.

I'm CR so I don't keep a Book of Shadows, but that doesn't mean I don't practice magic. Not everyone practices magic in CR, but some do, although it doesn't tend to look like modern neopagan forms of magic - there's no circle casting, invoking elements or gods, no correspondences used; we look to traditional kinds of magic, like the cunning folk or older forms of magic.

     I took what they said and mulled it over a bit, and have come to the conclusion that I have to do what's best for me. I will follow a Celtic Pagan path as well as practice magic. I will keep a Book of Shadows (though maybe I'll change the name...)  I will follow the path that is right for me and all else be damned.


Linda said...

We live in the 21st century. You follow whatever path is right fir you and whatever you want to call it. And it will chang. I am born and bred in Ireland so thoroughly "Celtic". When in Ireland I hear the Celtic gods and spirits and follow the gods and goddesses of the Celtic tradition. I now live in the north of England and it is the Norse gods who speak louder to me from the land, so I'm now a heathen. There are some heathens who practise magic and some who don't and criticise those who do. I practise magic and sometimes incorporate 'non-heathen' things into my practice like crystals. Don't listen to anyone else. Follow your heart! Linda

Nichole said...

We once read a book, in a Celtic literature class, that talked about defining things as this: how do you know what country you're in? When you look outside, there are no defining lines in nature to say where you are. (The character then made up a place and said he was from there, basically.) From that, we can look at all the religions in the world and see everyone within each religion acting and believing differently. You'll find a 100 different answers and reasons within one religion for one question, even the very basic of questions.

Our definitions of defining ourselves into little boxes really doesn't make sense, since there are no defining lines between what makes you one thing and not another. You are you, you believe what you believe; names are inconsequential.

Witchfire said...

don't get discouraged, you'll find those hardcore/fundies in every faith. People can be so picky and so focused on how others are practicing instead of just focusing on their own paths and their own connections with Deity(ies). Be steadfast in your decisions with what you feel comfortable with. ~)O(~

Harzgeist said...

I identify as Celtic Recon, and I do keep a BoS where I note down correspondences etc. So obviously having such a book doesn't make you Wiccan ;-)

@ Linda: With me, it's similar - I feel the Norse gods more strongly in my hometown (where we actually have a Woden's Oak), and I feel more connected to my matron in England and Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dear what lets your soul sing! Remember we are spirits having a human experience...forget the shoulds, ought to's and do what makes you joyful, fulfilled and allows your spirit to be what it wants to be. You are whoever you want to be...make labels a thing of the past...Wiccan, Celtic...Witch...blah blah blah...they're all 'ego' constructed labels and have nothing to do with spirit/soul!


Ivory Raven said...

Good for you. I am a new member to the Pagan community and still very much a noob, but one thing that stands firmly in my beliefs is that I do what feels right to me as I learn to walk my path. Like walking through unfamiliar trails in the woods, if one way doesn't "feel" right to you then don't go that way. Do what you feel is right for you! Brightest Blessings!

Land, Sky & Sea said...

Thank you all for the kind words and comments! I never expected such a response!

Patricia Langley said...

I found your post illuminating to say the least. I have always danced to the tune of my own making, so to speak, and I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Now I realize that I am. :)

Polly said...

Nichole said it very well! I'm sending you Love and Light to help illuminate your path, and at the same time, remember that it isn't really "necessary" to divide ourselves from the crowd with labels and such...the goal is UNITY, not more "divisions". ;)

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