Generally speaking, today’s paganism falls into four different elements, which in turn separate the different approaches and levels of magical practice. A considerable amount of magical writing can be incomprehensible to those who have not been schooled in that particular path or tradition – so we begin at the beginning and work ourselves up through the spheres of Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding. And we start by accepting that there is a divide between the various approaches to paganism and magical practice. Such as:
● Animistic: The belief that everything animate and inanimate has its own life-force, such as that which forms the basis of shamanism and Old Craft;
● Eclectic: Selecting or borrowing from a variety of styles, systems, theories, beliefs, etc., as commonly found in modern paganism and Wicca;
● Syncretic: The attempt to reconcile different systems of belief; the fusion or blending of religions, as by identification of gods, taking over of observances, or selection of whatever seems best in each; often producing a seemingly illogical compromise in belief. Found in many aspects of Western Ritual Magic, and the initiatory branches of traditional witchcraft;
● Synergetic: Combined or co-ordinated action; increased effect of two elements obtained by using them together. The combining of ancient wisdom with modern magical applications, as in the case of the contemporary approaches of Old Craft, Norse (Heathen) and Druidry.
As I observed in Coven of the Scales: The Collected Writings of A R Clay-Egerton, it should be understood that although Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton firmly held the philosophy and opinion that all faiths were one, and that all paths led to the same goal, they did not advocate what is now referred to as ‘eclectic’ paganism. What they did teach was the desire for knowledge and experience, regardless of source. Each new experience was studied within the confines of that particular religion, path or tradition. Each discipline was kept completely separate from another. Only when a student had a thorough understanding of the tenets of each discipline were they encouraged to formulate them into their own individual system.
These sentiments were echoed by Dion Fortune in The Mystical Qabalah: ‘No student will ever make any progress in spiritual development who flits from system to system; first using some New Thought affirmations, then some Yoga breathing-exercises and meditation-postures, and following these by an attempt at the mystical methods of prayer. Each of these systems has its value, but that value can only be realised if the system is carried out in its entirety … the student who sets out to be an eclectic before he has made himself an expert will never be anything more than a dabbler.
Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival invites the reader to take the opportunity to step back in time and discover – through the gateways of intuition and instinct – where their own individual roots can be found.
Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival: A Magical Anthropology by Melusine Draco is published by Moon Books in paperback and e-book format. ISBN: 978 1 78279 156 0 UK£11.99/US$19.95 : 180p www.moon-books.net