I think a large part of the resentment, and most of the confusion for new Seekers, comes from all that secrecy, Ashe. I understand, and appreciate, that there are aspects of the Wiccan religion that are, and must remain, secret. But when you get so many new Seekers from Christian backgrounds (since a large majority of the people I've read about on this forum are), there is a tendency to see the secrecy as just another obstruction, a way to keep Deity from being experienced by everyone, unless you do it just their way. What you said just then, about the actual aspects of Deity that you worship being specific to the Tradition, is the first clarifying statement I've seen about why people would join an established Trad coven. Thank you for that. Because, until that statement, I had wondered what made the secrecy so important, and why someone would join a coven other than for teaching and guidance.The difference is in our praxis and in the nature of the gods that preside over our Traditions (and covens). We do ritual and worship them in a very specific way that does honor to these particular deities. This is what defines us. Something I'd add here is that the different BTW Traditions (Gardnerians, Alexandrians, Mohsians, Central Valley Wicca,some lines of Blue Star ) have slightly different practices, some have different deities, and we don't reveal this oathbound info to each other. See, I THINK we have different gods, but I don't know since it isn't discussed outside our own Trads. And I would never ask, nor does this bother me in the least.
I understand that the secrecy the Traditions keep is a way of preserving the integrity of the belief systems, and to a degree I applaud this. Eclectisism has its place, because it gives those with freer spirits the chance to discover what works best for them, without the hassle of finding a guide and adhering to a strict set of teachings; it also allows for those who are unable to find a teacher the chance to discover themselves and their spirituality, to gain a true sense of who they are before they do find a teacher and go on to those stricter teachings. However, I think the secrecy also harms the Traditions, because it gives people the sense that there are private "clubs" into which only a select few "special" people are allowed, without a clear definition of what makes one "special" enough to be allowed to join. If there was some way to better define what a Traditional path is, instead of just "it is a mystery path that one must be initiated into", then I think more people would be intrigued by the thought of joining a Trad coven instead of feeling like there are groups out there who look down on those who either choose to remain solitary or those who have to due to circumstances.
So, to clarify, is there a better definition of what the difference is between Traditional Wicca and the wicca that Cunningham and Buckland introduced people to (which, unintentionally, tends to come off as a watered down version of Traditional Wicca)?
All I'm trying to say is that secrecy doesn't necessarily equal elite.
Twixt, your posts have been great. I'd like to ask something, if I may. Does the secrecy of other non BTW Pagan traditions that I mentioned, such as Isian Witchcraft, NROOGD, Old Dianic, et al, bother you as well?