What Is Eclectic Witchcraft? Why It May Be the Best Path for You
What Does It Look Like to Practice Eclectic Witchcraft?
Ellie is waiting for the bus that takes her to work. It’s important she gets into the animal center on time—she has arranged to meet a couple looking to adopt a dog, and Ellie has the perfect boy for them. For a moment, she pictures their disappointment when she is not there to meet them. There’s no sign of the bus, so she puts her hand in her pocket, clutches her silver talisman and ‘knows’ the bus is on its way. And there it is, a minute early.
When she meets the couple, she introduces them to Barney. She keeps a hand on his shoulders, allowing calming energy to flow into the little dog. He is reassured and shows the couple that he would be the best choice for them. They are smitten and the adoption papers are completed.
Later at home, she remembers it is full moon tonight and quickly prepares a short ritual that will include a spell to help her grandmother heal her twisted ankle. She gathers some helpful herbs from her garden, arranges a small collection of crystals, composes a short chant and digs out a new blue votive candle from the kitchen drawer. The ritual takes no longer than fifteen minutes and Ellie is happy that her grandmother’s ankle has had a little help from the magickal realm.
Ellie is a witch but doesn’t follow any particular witchcraft tradition. Sometimes she takes ideas from Wicca or Faery, sometimes she just makes it up as she goes along. Ellie is an ‘eclectic witch’. You may have heard of the term before, but are not quite sure what that means in real life.
Eclecticism is the selection of what is best (for you) from various styles, doctrines, ideas, methods, etc. It’s a lifestyle or philosophy which is composed of several sources, styles and elements. It’s often applied to art, architecture, interior design… and people. It all sounds a bit overwhelming, but to put it simply, it’s about doing your own thing without adhering to dogma and rules.
Eclectic Witchcraft in More Detail
Eclectic witchcraft is flexible, ever-changing in the same way that you are. You can shed practices that no longer engage you. It morphs and grows alongside you, your beliefs and interests. Sometimes, you’ll find you will come back to aspects you gave up on previously.
An eclectic witch reads a ton. Ellie is conversant with many traditions. She squirrels away fascinating facts, copies out promising spells, experiences a plethora of ‘a-ha’ moments. Every path she investigates has the ability to reveal nuggets of wisdom and new ideas to be hoarded like jewels. She has learned that there is value in understanding history. She also knows that life has moved on, that the world is a different place and that magick can be put to good use in the 21st century.
Acceptance and knowledge of yourself is key in witchcraft. You recognize when you find an idea that fits into your personality. You know when it’s time to let a certain belief or practice go. For example, I hate being told what to do without knowing the ‘why’. When I was part of a small Wiccan training coven, there seemed to be many arbitrary ‘rules’ that didn’t make sense to me. We were instructed to spin our own yarn from sheep wool to make a cingulum (tie belt for a robe). I wasn’t very good at hand spinning and got frustrated and stressed. Why couldn’t make my cingulum out of ready spun yarn? It would still have my effort and energy embedded in it. Whenever I questioned the ‘whys’ I was told by the High Priestess that I was ‘being negative’. Later I found out she outsourced all her own Wiccan handicraft projects to her relatives.
At that point, I knew that her brand of dictatorial Wicca was not for me. So I went back to my comfortable, sensible, solitary, eclectic practice.
Create Your Witchy Life Garden
Think of your witch-ness, indeed your whole life, as a beautiful private garden. You get to plant the seeds you want to nurture. You throw away dead plants which have lost your interest. Dabble your fingers in a sparkly fountain of new knowledge. Sit underneath the tree of wisdom. Gaze through the hedge at vast vistas of possibility. You can plow a plot of potentiality. Grow your herbs, pick your flowers, harvest your fruit. It’s all personal to you.
Continuing the garden metaphor, you can have areas in your life where you try out varied activities. You might like to do a spot of tarot reading to see if it’s something you’d like to include in your magickal practice. Or perhaps, your focus might be on meditation, crystals, herbs, or anything at all. And in the same way, you can drop anything when you become bored with it, or if it doesn’t work for you. Eclectic witchcraft is all about picking and choosing what works.
Religion… or Not?
Wicca is most definitely a religion. It’s registered as such in several countries. As is Paganism, Druid, etc. However, witchcraft can be the basis of a religious faith or not. It’s the eclectic practitioner’s choice. If you want to work with, or worship certain deities, it’s your decision. You might even start out by favoring a certain pantheon and then change it in a year’s time. Or you might just decide to keep the craft and lose the religious aspects all together. It’s your business, and yours only.
But Tradition Matters, Right?
Yes, it does. It’s good to know why you perform a certain ritual in a particular way. Or why you call on the Norse pantheon to help you with your magick. It’s respectful. Your knowledge of traditional witchcraft helps to keep those traditions alive. Also, while it’s all too easy to cobble together an eclectic path, it’s important to honor the sacrifices of those gone before. Those mainly European witches who fought for their lives and their right to live as they saw fit. Their sacrifice enabled you to openly (if that’s your wish) practice your eclecticism, tradition, magickal methods, etc. And there is little point in adopting any aspect from another tradition unless you understand it. And also understand the consequences (if any) of taking that part in isolation.
Another thing you must take into consideration is cultural appropriation. It really isn’t a good thing to help yourself from the Native American or African traditions if you are of European descent. Not without immersing yourself in the study of such traditions under the guidance of someone who knows what they are doing. There are reasons why practices are carried out in certain ways… and you won’t find out that kind of thing in a book. Instead research your own family history and pick and mix your eclectic path from your ancestors’ country or countries of origin.
Witches listen to the secrets of the Earth, work in harmony with the powers of the moon and understand the longings of the human soul.— Dacha Avelin
Beginner Witches Should Be Eclectic
When you are starting out on your witchcraft path, it’s all very confusing. So much to choose from. People are always contacting me, describing their character and what attracts them and expecting me to tell them which tradition to follow or what kind of witch they are. It’s not my job to tell you who or what you are. It’s part of the whole adventure for you to do that by yourself. So be an eclectic. Read up on Wicca, read about the Greek and Roman deities, check out the Celts and their influence over French, Italian, Scottish, Welsh and English witchcraft. Read folk stories. Research the faery paths. And of course, the traditions wherever you live in the world.
Then start small. Like the idea of casting a circle in the Wiccan way? Then try it. Want to connect with Ceridwen or Aphrodite? Go ahead. Maybe you want an altar that reflects your love of walking in the woods or along the seashore - do it. And read like a crazy reading thing.
Got a comment or question? Ask in the comments section below.
Are you an eclectic witch?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Bev G