I’ve been mulling around the idea of “reclaiming seiðr” and trying to think about some ways to broach the subject that I don’t see a lot of Heathens doing “Magic(k)” anymore. And, in trying to write a post about reclaiming seiðr, I ended up with a different can of worms.

I apologize a post ahead of time if there are pockets of practitioners across the country who engage in galstar (galsterei). Please feel free to bring yourselves to my attention; I’ve been looking for you.

In my neck-of-the-woods, we have little more than moothorn-heralds who blót for the sake of mead consumption, neo-nazis, and “wannabeathens.”

It pisses me off.

And this is where the can of pissed-off worms opened up.

Wannabeathen is how I think of Witches/Heathens (not just Ásatrúar) who want to claim a non-Wiccan practice and yet temper all of their practices with the commodified tenets of Wicca. It’s rude and judgmental of me, I know. I admit this. But when The Bad Witch is pissed off, I tend not to care if I offend those whose rationale I find unambiguously offensive.

If you are a Heathen (or Native or Voodooisant or Solomonic), bother to find out what Heathen (Native, Voodoo, Magickal) practices and values are. Don’t be oblivious and think that you can just “substitute” Wicca for Heathenism (Nativisms, Voodoo, Sorcery).

If you are Wiccan, practicing Wiccan practices and valuing Wiccan values, call yourself Wiccan, for pete’s sake. There’s no problem with those who choose that path. Owning it is certainly more respectable than hiding behind Heathenry (Native Practice, Voodoo, Sorcery) while deriding and yet perpetuating neo-Trads like Wicca.[1]

It’s the deriding that gets me. Don’t say, “I can’t stand that Wicca-shite,” and then pull out your triple goddess circlet and cast a circle using an athame.

The problem is – hang on, I’m having a hard time putting this into words. The problems are multiple and complex. (Let me put on my lawyer-hat for a minute.)

  • I consider the designation “Wicca” to refer to the stuff that stems from Gardner.
  • Wicca is lovely. [2]
  • However, most folks don’t have a clue about Gardnerian/Alexandrian/Whateverian Wicca but pick and choose an “eclectic” path. This too is totally lovely. Find your god where your god is. All paths lead to the divine. Eventually.

My problem is with those who want to say that they are not Wiccan, yet still manage to co-opt all of their practices from Wicca. I know too many “witches” who purport to be practicing “ancient ways” or “ways of the elders” and yet look up their rituals and correspondences in Bucklands’ or Cunninghams’.[3] Or, eek, non-reviewed online sources. To me, this smacks of ignorance. It says to me, “I don’t want to be called Wiccan and therefore will call myself *this.*” And yet the *this* they end up practicing is a mangled sort of watered-down Wicca.

Why not just go through proper training?  (Whether with a coven or in solitary.) Wicca is a fine tradition, why evade it? If it’s your thing, embrace it. If it’s not your thing, quit co-opting it, deriding it, and calling it something else. Condemnant quod non intellegunt, no?

Why not just train and do right?

Oh, wait, now I remember: Discipline. Ego. Entitlement. Competition. Title-whoring.

As I see it, the reason many people (and I don’t mean this to apply to my readership, I mean some in my local circle with whom I’ve had many a sit-down) resist being called Wiccan is that they resent the system of elevations and designations. Many times, they resent the system because they don’t want to go through (or don’t know how to begin) the arduous series of initiations and formalized training involved with formal-traditions.

Lots of Witches would prefer to simply *start out* as High Priestess, without going through the training. (I laugh at them. This too is rude and judgmental. Nonetheless, “Bahahahaha.”)

Again with the lawyer hat:

I’m not valuing formal-traditions over informal ones. I’m just saying – if you have an instinctive practice (this would, by definition, *not* be a tradition), quit annexing Wicca. I write about Wicca colonizing the rest of Witchcraft, but the door swings both ways. Those who don’t know where else to go for their information on . . . say . . . celebrating the Summer Solstice in a Diné or Tsalagi tradition, end up turning to neo-Celtic and Wiccan “Litha” rituals.

And this is totally fine – as long as you own it.

Again, I’m not saying that a Homa or Osage cannot practice Wicca. Neither am I saying that White Bread from Illinois cannot practice the ways of the elders. (Hot damn, I’m defensive today.) I’m just saying – call it what it is. Own it!

I’ve a house to clean and another to go look at (I may be buying the farm sooner rather than later – both literally and figuratively). I’ll come back to my diatribe on wannabeathans soon. I’ll bet you can’t wait.

Til then, be true to yourself.

B, Q, 93,


[1] Go ahead, argue that Heathenism is a neo-Trad. Ásatrú, sure. In my book, Ásatrú and Odinism are about as neo as Gardner, if not more. I’m talking about esoteric Heathenry as is found in texts from pockets of The Black Forest where the tribes executed the bishops and cardinals who tried to clear their groves. Anyone notice The Black Forest is still standing? Just saying. Sure, it’s littered with cathedrals too. But “Indians” were taught to “Pray” and yet were able to maintain their spirituality. And if you want to argue that actual handed-down-Native-American practices is neo, – let’s fight.

[2] Though I was trained in it from the ages of nineteen to twenty-eight (through six of seven elevations), I am not (now) Wiccan. Having spent the last few months going over my initiation “folders” (Giant-ass binders that weigh a freaking ton and have many of my notes written in pink glitter-gel pen. Wow.) I find that I am being slapped silly with the things I had forgotten in the trauma that was “moving to Alabama” and being totally solitary for ten years.

[3] Perfectly fine resources – for Wiccans.

9 comments on “Wannabeathans

  1. Cin says:

    Right now I do believe I love you. As a Wiccan it drives me batty at all the people who look down their noses at me, call me fluffy, and then turn around and do all sorts of Wiccan things but say its not Wicca, its Heathen and therefore better and more older and not fluffy. And I’m like “dude.. what you just did there? Yea, its Wicca.”

    And don’t even get me started on the people who bitch about degrees and make fun of them and have no clue what goes into them. Bitches, I earned my rank through hard work and dedication. I don’t need them to validate my faith, but I like to have them to remind myself of how far I have come.

  2. […] last post seemed to strike a chord. No sooner did I get back from looking at that house I told you about,[1] […]

  3. […] mentioned a few in these posts: (“It Must Be. . .Wikipedia,” “ Dead Horses . . .,” and “Wannabethans” – likely others as […]

  4. […] at all. As I pointed out in “Part I,” not all Witches are Wiccans. And as I pointed out in “Wannabethans,” there are plenty of Witches who unknowingly use Wiccan practices. However, there are plenty of […]

  5. […] “the old ways” and “the old religion” given that folks often use these phrases to refer to imagined reconstructions of pre-Christian religions using post-Christian texts. For this reason, we typically call what we do in our tribe “inn nýi siðr,” the new custom. […]

  6. […] a look at my post “Wannabeathens“–and don’t skip the comments; Cin makes a great statement from the Wiccan inside […]

  7. […] rules and everything is catch-as-catch-can” perspective that so many interpret as “Wicca.” (See my post concerning “Wannabethans” for my imagination of the difference). Some of the things my students said—and the questions asked by their classmates—reflected the […]

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