All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
I came across this article that I enjoyed reading, even if I do not agree with everything the author wrote, I especially do like her conclusion in regards to the conflict concerning the use of "Wicca" or "Wica" and how it relates to Gardner:
"Is it not slightly ironic that Gardner’s legacy should now be called ‘Wicca’, a term that was never used by him? Especially when one also considers that ‘Gardnerian’ was a term originally coined as a derogatory reference to Gardner’s initiates. These examples show us the ease with which words and their meanings can be skewed and also reclaimed. On the one hand, it doesn't really matter that 'Wica' has been transformed by many into 'Wicca'. We all know what we are talking about and surely that's what counts right? Words do have power and 'by names and images are all Powers awakened and reawakened.' The word 'Wica', tells us a story about a period in Craft history which helped to shape what we are today. 'Wicca' can never do that."
I think "Wicca," especially in America, has its own religion that is separate from Gerald Gardner's influence of the BTWs. I cannot speak for what it is like outside of the United States, although, I have not had any issues with relating to Witches/Wiccans from the British Isles. I do think that there is a type of "universality" to Wicca or Witchcraft that does not require any formal training. I have been working on a blog post concerning that.
I may simply just be "a Witch." I have all my life it seems being told what I am "allowed" or "not allowed" to call myself. I am told what I am "allowed" to believe or not to believe. I am told what I am "allowed" to say or not say.
I am over forty years old now; I have been Wiccan since I was sixteen. I am college educated, a scholar, and a historian. I have been formally Initiated by more than one form of magical tradition and/or religion. I have served in the Military. I have served my community. I have been in public relations, giving lectures at universities, having been on television interviews, and the radio concerning Wicca and Paganism. I have led both my own private Coven and was elected as the Director to lead our local Neo-Pagan church, serving on Interfaith Councils representing the Pagans in our community. I have read every single book I have been told I "should" read with my own application of research and critical thinking to determine what is "factual" and what is not. I think for myself, yet I also will represent democratically the viewpoints of those I represent, even if those views are not personally my own. I feel protective of those younger than myself in both age and experience who are growing up in a more hostile environment from other Wiccans and Pagans than I did.
If I use the term "Witch" then the Satanic Witches take offense.
If I use the term "Wiccan," then the BTW take offense.
If I am equated with New Agers, I take offense.
If I say my training is Hereditary (which it is), then there is the whole debate of "Witch Blood" versus "Initiation."
I actually love this debate behind the scenes. In my family, you are either born this way or not. If you have to be Initiated to become a Witch, that means that you aren't a real Witch because the Power had to be given to you from an outside source, after you are an adult. That is a lot of years of training to lose compared to someone trained from birth. I was Initiated into two family Traditions...my own family when I was very young, before going to school; and then when I joined my ex-husband's Coven when I was 19. So why would have chosen to Initiate with the BTW and take "Oaths of Secrecy" when I already belonged to a Tradition that my family had records of tracing back hundreds of years? I understand how my family already has a "magical" tradition in that they were able to read and write in times when this was a rare skill. It was considered "magical" to read and write, or to act as a Healer/physician. Gardner's lineage only traces back to what? The 1940s? 1950s? My grandmother was born in 1900 and lived to be over 100 years old. My great-aunt was born in the 1800s, and she was still alive when I was a child.
I have always done what I do. It was coming across the printed books that stated this or that about magic and Wicca. I was already doing it and discovered the term "Wicca" before I read books about it, or learned about the BTW. My first book I read, given to me by my mother when I decided to call myself Wiccan or a Witch were Sybli Leek's books. Not Llewellyn, though that came later. My second book was about Dianic Wicca before feminists adopted the term for their Tradition, when "Dianic" meant that the Goddess Diana was at the center of the worship as the Triple-Goddess. I didn't need to learn the Names of Deity from the BTW. I already knew them. (How did Latin Deities become incorporated into British Traditional Wicca? Does the BTW know now? They didn't when I was 19.) Me, my family, and my friends...who have karmic connections that draw us back to one another...did this, calling ourselves Witches and Wiccans before meeting BTWs who told us how we weren't "allowed" to...and this "being not allowed to" didn't happen until after the year 2000.
It is somewhat amusing as it is offensive to be called by the BTW "ignorant" when such really have no idea what they are talking about simply because in "not being one of them" means I lack knowledge or experience. I would say that is hubris to do so.