Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eclectic, multi-path, or who cares?

Terri of Lilypily Daze asked me some very good questions off of my most recent post. During the process, the question of whether I'm an eclectic pagan came up. I wanted to give that a better amount of consideration than the comments section would provide.

I describe myself as a Celtic reconstructionist pagan. I also do work within the AsatrĂº and Umbanda traditions. I consider the latter two to be supplemental practices that enhance my home tradition. It is an extremely rare day when I will call upon orixa and gods in the same ritual. I think I've done it once outside of an Umbanda house gathering, and that was because I'm a huge believer in asking as many possible sources for help that I can find when keeping a roof over my head is the goal. Umbanda can't help but be eclectic; that tradition raises the concept to an art form.

The pivot point, I suppose, is where one draws the line and declares a person's practices to be eclectic. If that word means "works with more than one set of gods, regardless of how clearly the lines are drawn amongst them," then I'd be eclectic. The fact I don't merge deities from different traditions into one and claim it to be all the same path to the same divine may cause others to not see me as eclectic.

What I consider myself to be is a student. My home "university" is the realm of the Tuatha de Dannan and other gods and spirits of the Celts. I am doing "semesters abroad" with the other traditions to learn what I can from them. Those teachings enhance what I do for the Celtic gods. The supplemental teachers do not change my principal affiliation. Therefore, I don't see myself as a full-scale eclectic. But I'll freely admit to not being single-minded about my sources. When you're dealing with a tradition like Celtic paganism, where we have lots of supposition and a relative paucity of hard facts, it's almost mandatory to do that. So long as I footnote my sources, I'm at least avoiding being a fluffy bunny.

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