Its hard to change religions, or at least I am having much struggle. Even with 2+ years of worshiping nature, practicing Witchcraft, and learning about Wicca, I still struggle sometimes.
Particularly it is with the topic of being a true Wiccan. Some say you must be initiated, others say you don’t…
You are what you believe in and what you feel yourself to be. If you’ve been practicing for years, I’m pretty sure the Divine gets it. By all means, initiate yourself if you like, but don’t just discount the last two years of study, dedication, and faith.
So if I believe myself to be a qualified doctor, despite having no actual qualifications in healthcare, biology, etc, then I can still call myself a doctor? And if, rather than study at the accredited education institutions, I chose to study at home and read whatever material I felt like… I could still call myself a doctor?
How is that different to Wicca? In both scenarios, a title is being appropriated. Without the correct qualifications I am not a doctor, and thus should not call myself a doctor. Without being initiated into the Wiccan religion (which is by nature an orthopraxic, initiatory, oath-bound mystery tradition) how can I call myself a Wiccan? If I know some of the outer-court knowledge, and follow some of the general Wiccan-esque teachings, then I could call myself a pagan with Wiccan influences or an eclectic pagan or NeoWiccan or suchlike. But I can’t call myself a Wiccan, because I am still not one.
I appreciate what you’re saying in the second half of your response (i.e. don’t discount the last two years). But I do take issue with the first part, where you say you are “what you feel yourself to be”.
I see where you’re coming from. Allow me to clarify.
A fundamental tenant of my moral system is, “The only person who I can label is myself.” I mean this for personal labels, not things like doctor or professor or diamond broker. Leading people on in a way that could be detrimental to them is absolutely not okay, and I don’t condone taking any label that would do such a thing.
But is calling yourself a doctor without having gone to medical school the same as calling yourself a Wiccan without having been initiated into the religion? I don’t believe so. Wicca is a religion, an extremely personal thing. Being a doctor is about dealing with other people. It might be a fulfilling passion, but it is not a connection to the Divine. Religion is. And no, I don’t believe that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what religion they are or are not. Perhaps it can be said that someone doesn’t practice your version of a religion (hypothetical “you” here), but I don’t think it’s right to say they aren’t the religion they call themselves at all.
I understand this belief opens me up to ridicule. Does this mean I’ll call every “fluffy bunny” with a pentacle a Wiccan? Well… yes, if that’s how they identify themselves to me. I certainly hope that they (and everybody) explore their beliefs, research and study and find what makes them feel most whole. But am I going to criticize a person for feeling strongly that they belong in a particular religion? Heck no! I don’t get upset with Christians who haven’t read the Bible; I certainly won’t get upset with Wiccans who haven’t initiated, or don’t know which way to draw each elemental pentagram or whatever.
Perhaps my viewpoint is naive. I do like to imagine that people are generally honest in how they present themselves, and try to become more learned, thoughtful people as they grow. I can certainly see where you take issue with what I said. But I’m gonna keep on believing it.