There are many different types of witches, occultists, Wiccans and pagan practitioners. In fact a big draw for people into the world of the occult is how freeing it is. While religions like Christianity, Islam and Buddhism have sects of their own, there is usually a strict rigidity to their practices that feels limiting. Witchcraft, paganism and Wicca offer liberation from a lot of things – the rigidity and shame that often stem from growing up steeped in conventional or Abrahamic religions, as well as the sexism that is inherently limiting women in most of the world’s conventional religions. Religion and belief systems have always been powerful, either believed to be means of salvation and peace, or simply influential to the culture and politics around them. Witchcraft (which does not have to be religious to begin with) is liberating because it allows us to discover tools already present all around us – the Earth, plants, herbs, flowers, water, fire, air, and all other living things including ourselves. With witchcraft, one does not need a Bible, a preacher, a priest, all the tools are right there – just waiting to be discovered and utilized by the practitioner. All the power, then, exists in the practitioner and not the external sources around her.
But that said, because of the openness of witchcraft and the practitioners, there are many divisions or sects of witchcraft as well. Kitchen witch, green witch, sea witch, dark witch, faery witch, goth witch – I am certain you have heard of at least some of these. And it is truly great that such diverse traditions and magickal practices exist because they are beneficial to a wide array of people. But a common concern for a new witch or practitioner is simply, what type of witch am I? Where do I fit in? How do I know?
Well, the best way to know is to get your hands dirty and dive right in. Look into the traditions that you are fascinated by and study them, study their lore and mythology, reflect on what they are offering you and what you can offer them, and see if it feels right. And I know that almost sounds vague, but by right I mean something akin to how snug a perfectly fitting sweater might feel on a cold winter night – it feels downright pleasurable to fit so perfectly. Even if it feels intimidating or frightening, it is best to get in there and immerse yourself as much as you can – you won’t know if the practice is right for you if you just read theories about picking the right tradition. Tip #1 then is to GET IN THERE. Don’t be afraid to question and grow. Don’t force a fit if it doesn’t work. Move on.
But, all right, you have experimented with various traditions and find yourself drawn to practices from all across the board – what now? Well, perhaps the path for you is to be an eclectic witch, or an eclectic Wiccan.
What is an Eclectic Witch?
An eclectic witch combines various other traditions and designs her own path. Based on what we discussed earlier, it is safe to say that being an eclectic witch is perhaps the most liberating type of witchcraft or Wiccan practice. It is because of this reason that it oftens seems quite intimidating. Fear not, eclectic witchcraft is more common than you think. To be an eclectic witch is to do witchcraft or Wicca in truly do-it-yourself or make it your own fashion, and that is a beautiful thing.
Popular witchy Youtubers like Harmony Nice have revitalized an interest in the term, and again, I think it is a great thing that women and men are able to liberate themselves and find practices that are right for them. We have discussed here before about the power of imbuing things with your own magickal power and intent, and to do the same for your own practice is incredible – you will get out of it what you put in it. Besides, taking effective and positive elements from other thriving practices (with the right amount of research and cultural knowledge, of course) can strengthen your own tradition and make it more powerful and customized for you.
Is Eclectic Witchcraft Cultural Appropriation?
The answer is a clear, resounding: NO. The blending of practices, when done right, can be a wonderful way to integrate useful practices that cover the blind spots of yours. There is a difference between blindly stealing symbols and ideas, and masterfully studying them and incorporating them. When borrowing from other practices, research, research, research! Read all the available material, folklore, relevant mythology, and when borrowing do not remove the cultural context present. For example, if you wish to infuse Durga Pooja into your practice, don’t treat her like she is the Morrigan, and don’t remove the themes and symbols that are significant to her (power over evil, her lion/tiger, her weapons). Using Scribd, Amazon Kindle or other resources, read the relevant sacred texts, stories and information.
Solitary Pagan Practice vs. Coven Work
There does not need to be an “or” here. If you are part of a coven and a majority of your practice comes from being part of an initiatory circle, great. But that does not exclude you from solitary work or practice. It is not a matter of “or” here – you can do both. Do coven work with your coven, and spend the remainder of your time conducting solitary rites at home (or wherever you feel comfortable).
If you are someone who does not feel comfortable with being part of a coven – that is okay too. You don’t need to be part of a coven to be a witch. You are just as valid for being a solitary eclectic witch as you would be for being a coven witch. Doubts and imposter syndrome are common. It is okay to have days where you find yourself desperate for validation and googling, “am I a real witch?” We have been there. But know that we all have the tools to access witchcraft, to connect to the Earth and the world around us, and that questioning and seeking are signs that you are indeed on the right path.
How Do I Know if Eclectic Witchcraft is Right For Me?
No one path seems right for you:
Whether you want to blend Voodou with Norse paganism, blend Christianity with Slavic paganism, juju witchcraft with pre-Islamic Arabic paganism, you see infinite possibilities to take your practice to the next level. You realize that humans are all joined together by a powerful divine or other magickal energy, and as such the different systems that they practice around the world have much in common, and much that can be combined to gain better results and increased efficiency.
You are a travelling witch/nomadic witch:
While yes, there is no reason why traditional Wicca cannot be your thing if you are nomadic, many find that their lifestyles cannot line up effectively with the stability required for traditional coven work. Does that mean witchcraft is not for you? Nope! It means perhaps your means of practice, of communing with your gods, of finding and charging your spiritual power and energy are simply different from what is conventional. Even tiny tweaks like that can put you in the shoes of an eclectic witch.
One-size-fits-all does not work for you:
You are innovative, creative and not satisfied with one source of information. You are curious, thirsty for knowledge and new ways of thinking. Blending your practices and incorporating new elements can bring joy to many areas of your life – psychological, philosophical, mental, social, etc. Witchcraft becomes more than a way of life, it becomes a living, breathing, evolving creative process. You are fully in control of what elements you wish to work with and choose to nourish your soul with: maybe you like tarot cards but no crystals, that’s fine; maybe runes are your thing, but tea leaf divination isn’t, maybe you are a satanic witch but are drawn to polytheism – make it your own. Experiment; if it works, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, you can either tweak until it does or change it out for something else. Life isn’t stagnant and your practice shouldn’t be either.
Maybe runes are your thing, but tea leaf divination isn’t…
To be an eclectic witch is to make your own rules, play by your own rules, and live your best life. If any of the above resonated with you – go ahead and try it out. Experiment. Create. Be merry. Blessed be.
NOTE: This article makes references to witches and Wiccans, but a special reminder here that the two are not the same. You do not have to be a Wiccan to be a witch.