Labeling One’s Path


I have read through all of your answers and looked through the site and I thought I’d just go ahead and ask since you give wonderful advice and guidance. I am struggling with an identifiable name for my spirtual path because I feel like I am all over the place, reading everything and overwhelmed. I’ve had people tell me to just follow my intuition, which helps for a while but then I’m back to overwhelmed-ville! I basically follow the season, moon phases, and like to feel connected to nature. Maybe I should say ‘I’m on my own personal spiritual path’ and be done with it. On a side note, most recently, I’ve learned how to pick the good info from the bad, after much reading so that helps me to find better information. (Such as this place…so helpful!)

It’s difficult, because there is often this sense that we need to be able to label something in a couple of words or less, in order to define who we are. It’s one of the reasons why some people cling (with an almost death grip) to the term Wicca, when it’s perfectly clear to all involved that it truly doesn’t really fit what they are practicing in any way, shape or form. Labels can be nice, especially if one is trying to give a general idea of what they are doing, without having to go into a lengthy explanation, however in most cases – who we are, and what we do, doesn’t usually fit into neat, and tidy little packages (no matter how much we might wish that they would).

One of the pitfalls of being Eclectic is the lack of a ready made label or name for one’s path, and because of the above mentioned reasons, it’s seems to be something that we often find ourselves dwelling on. Because most of what we do is so hard to define, I generally stick with basic terms, Eclectic NeoPagan, or just NeoPagan. I hesitate to simply say Pagan, just because that truly doesn’t really say much, other than “hey I’m a member of a non-Abrahamic religion”. However it also depends on who I’m talking to as well, sometimes if a vague answer will do, then Pagan will suffice. If I’m talking to people within the Pagan community (who won’t freak out at the mention of witchcraft), I might even go a bit more specific and say Solitary Witch, or Eclectic Witch.

In the end though, it’s really up to you – if you are comfortable without a specific label, then don’t feel like you need to have one. Though it can help give others a better understanding (if they are knowledgeable on the terminology), labels can also serve to pigeonhole us as well. Too often feel that if we are XYZ… then we have to do whatever XYZ is defined as, rather than feeling like we can expand our practices into other areas as well.

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Taking the Next Step – Planning Rituals


Hi, I’ve been studying paganism for about 3 years now gathering as much information I can on the subject. I would say I identify as being very eclectic, interested in witchcraft and very nature based, but what next? I feel like I’m stuck in a beginners rut, most of the information I find is aimed at beginners and I’m not progressing. I’m also having trouble putting what I’ve learnt into practice, I want to try ritual but I don’t know where to start, plus moneys an issue for supplies (although I would try where possible to use materials I find out and about) any advice would be greatly appreciated, love and light.

It can be hard taking that next step, but everyone has to start somewhere. We’ve touched previously on some Beyond the 101 tips, which cover the basics. Other than that, and more specifically to your question, I would suggest the book “The Elements of Ritual” by Deborah Lipp. It is very detailed, not only on the “how to” in relation to ritual, but more importantly the “why do we do that” which so many other books leave out. It had several sample rituals as well, that you can try out, so really just start small and go for it.

Another great resource for planning your own ritual is the Ritual Planning Worksheet. Once you have decided on a particular goal/theme for your ritual, you can use the worksheet to plan out the details. You don’t have to include everything that is mentioned, but when you are just starting out, it’s a good way to make sure that you are prepared and have everything you need to make your ritual go smoothly. Keep in mind though that rituals can be as formal or informal as you like. So while the above worksheet is nice, your own ritual does not have to be some sort of lengthy ceremony, full of flowery speech, and particular actions – I mean it can be (and that’s fine), but simple can be just as effective. That’s the beauty of it – if you aren’t in a particular tradition, you can do what works best for you (though if you are working with a specific deity, it’s good to know what sort of things are appropriate for that deity).

I would also suggest the following, if at all possible – find out if there are any groups in your local area that have rituals that are open to the public, and attend at least one. Even if you don’t end up joining the group on a long-term basis, it can really help one’s practice to participate in a ritual with others. If nothing else you can get a general idea of how things flow, and what components you might want to add. Though again, just because they do something one way, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it that way.

As to tools and supplies – while the “bells and whistles” are really nice to have, they are primarily just ways of helping one focus, so in a pinch you can do without if necessary. For tools (such as a ritual blade, or other items for one’s altar), definitely look to what you might already have, or can get relatively inexpensively. You can always save up for something fancier later if you want, but in most cases it’s not about “how cool” something looks, but whether or not it serves the purpose it’s intended for.  For ritual or crafting supplies, while there may be some generally accepted correspondences, in many cases (if you are unable to obtain those particular items) you can substitute for what you might already have on hand, or are more easily able to obtain. If you examine the properties of the item that you are in need of, and consider the purpose for which it is being used – it’s a matter of finding another item that will serve a similar capacity.

On the surface being Eclectic seems easy, but in truth it is one of the hardest paths to do properly. Where someone who is working with a Coven or within a specific Tradition has direct one-on-one guidance, those who are solitary have to rely on their own interpretation of the materials they are given, and are basically left to “figure it out” on their own. But it can be done, and in most cases it’s a matter of just going ahead and jumping in. Start small, and take baby-steps, but as with anything… the more often you practice, the easier it will get. If there is a sample ritual in one of your books that you’ve been interested in trying – go for it. If it’s relative to your path the Fall Equinox is about a week away, you could try putting together a ritual for that, and the Full Moon on the 29th if that is something you are interested in holding a ritual for – or really whatever else you may feel called to. The key is to just go ahead and do it!

What Am I


It took me a while to figure out what the lines between Trad Wicca, Eclectic Wicca and Eclectic Paganism were. Knowing when you’re no longer a solitary eclectic Wiccan but a Gaelic Polytheist (or any other distinct form of paganism) would be helpful to newcomers, I’m sure.

Making it more widely known that Wicca is a religion that cannot be eclectic (simply because of the level of structure the religion has and the way it is taught and practised) and how wildly different forms of Eclectic Neo-Paganism can be (both from one another and from Wicca) are things we feel strongly about and will touch on.

That point where you realise you’re no longer an eclectic but following a specific Pagan religion is a pretty great one, and it would be a good subject to focus on. Thinking about it now, not sure how we’ll go about it, but it’s important so we’ll definitely put some thought into it and get a couple of things written on that topic. Thank you very much for your ideas! We appreciate them!