The Pros and Cons of Autonomy in Witchcraft

Alright guys, the principle of the day is the sixth:

We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

Watching the news in my brand new RSS feed, I am informed that 25% of the Anglicans will not be attending their world conference because of an argument over a gay bishop.  This is one plus of being a witch – we’re smart enough to realize that we would never get a good showing for a world conference.

Unfortunately, this also means that we are not totally united, except by our historical documents.  And we know how well that has turned out for Christianity.  But at least we have a lot less historical documents, right?  we have the 13 Principles, The Rede, and any number of books published by Gardner, Leland, Valiente, Sanders, etc.  You can add all of those together and you still won’t get a 1200 page book.

Autonomy also means we are responsible – not only for ourselves, but for those we teach and lead.  Because the authority is not guaranteed or even encouraged, being in a group setting lends itself towards democracy.  The principle itself is almost admonishing us by using the words “honor” and “respect” and “acknowledge” in its wording – but it also gives us a way out.  You can honor and respect someone’s teachings without following them.   Indeed, “acknowledging” something guarantees no solid course of action.

There is one thing that I’ve found we’ll stick together for: religious discrimination.  We’re filled with the minority complex that makes every little thing a pin in our sides – not that this is a bad thing.  Although perhaps not filled with the spirit to the extent of picketing the White House (we do have rights!  It’s just a matter of seeing them through unabused) we will gladly jump to the defense of anyone suffering religious discrimination.

So is autonomy better than hierarchical leadership?  I am tending to lean that way.  Because large group unity is almost never achieved anyway.  I would rather run or be a part of a small group of people with common goals than signing myself up with the masses in something where I don’t really have a say in what is going on, where others dictate what I am supposed to believe.  The only thing a large group has going for it is political power.


3 responses to “The Pros and Cons of Autonomy in Witchcraft

  1. I think autumony is better than heirarchy too. And your point about religious discrimination could be taken further, to state that pagans as a whole are for inter-faith discussion and understanding, not just against discrimination. Whether that’s a function of a minority complex, or of a sincere wish to do it better and more ethically than the other guys – well, an argument for another day, perhaps!

    As for historical documents, I guess you could call them that… but they certainly don’t represent everyone in witchcraft, let alone paganism at large.

    I get uncomfortable around the point we start discussing leading and responsibility for others. Surely, one of the things that makes modern paganism cohesive (one of the few things, granted) is the principle that we’re all searching and learning our paths the the Deities on our own, without mediation. Perhaps that’s our unifier – ironically enough. That which separates us keeps us together?

  2. im with both of you, what we have as a religion led by all is much grater then the ones who are led by one. we decide on whats best for each other, not just for one of us. that is our advantage and the reason we have not become like the so many others that lead by one man who thinks for them insted of letting them think for them selves witch there for destroys the freedom they beleave in. That is why we are the way we are.

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