Modern witchcraft and paganism as a whole is a complicated and at times convoluted series of paths shooting away from, intertwining with and even over riding each other. I have been reading a number of articles, blogs and postings in the greater community lately, largely arguing over the validity of the labels of witchcraft, paganism and paths such as Wicca. This is not an argument, I usually wade into, however, I do feel that there are something that’s should be understood in the discussion.
First taking on labels. P/paganism, neo paganism and et al, are just that labels. In essence they only matter to the person using them and only define you, if you wish it. I have long used the label pagan with those friends and family who were not versed in our spiritual traditions. Most come from some sort of judeo. chrisitian background and there is enough knowledge readily available today, to give them a better impression that we are a bit more of a nature based set of spiritualities, then the dark and frightening tales told by the church in days not that long ago. It is something easy for them to understand. In all honesty, you can call it the path of the great bran muffin, I care not.
Labels historically have a propensity to be used categorize a people for use of separation and yes even vilification. One need look know further than today’s examples in the United States. From “liberal snow flakes”, to the demonization of immigrants as nothing but rapists, drug lords and gang members. It is easy to use a label to strip the humanity away, so what you are fighting is a label not your friend and neighbor, who watches your dog when your away and lends a hand when you need it. Labels can be used to manipulate thought and mentality to others, creating the justification of acts through the fabrication of false victimization, and developing an appropriate scape goat for blame.
We have to make changes as a world to move forward, both to our environment and how we treat one another. In truth arguing about how we choose to label others feeds into that same system. The only person who can truly tell you how to refer to them or their path is “that person” and rather then make assumptions about their definitions it is best to listen to how they see it themselves. We see this in our very important “trans” movements. Their pronouns are their choices and we respect it. We should have a bit more respect for each other.
Label agreement; So you don’t agree with the label someone uses for themselves. Your feelings are that its cultural appropriation or ignorance, laziness , whatever. Before we fly off our “respective broom handles” sit down and talk to them. Why do they see themselves in this way, or choose this label. You might be surprised and find yourself in agreement after understanding their perspective. Perhaps you might have a perspective on it, that they would benefit from in a thoughtful shared discussion. It is literally not for you to judge. How we react to labels etc, is about us not them. In truth how we react to anything, is more about us then them. So lets start by getting out of our own way.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need labels, in fact we really don’t. We are all humans in a shared experience, each with their own unique set of perspectives, tools, education, training etc. We benefit by learning from one another. We have far larger issues at hand in our world today, then arguing about sets of words to give some remote significance for the spiritual paths we forge for ourselves. So lets stop arguing and start working together.