If you've been a part of the OPC (online Pagan community) for any span of time, you will have seen discussions about who and who isn't Wiccan. It's quite a heated debate, to be honest. Traditionalists (very rightly in my opinion) wish to keep Wicca traditional and refuse to accept solitary practitioners of a path similar to Wicca as Wiccan (a title they claimed years ago at the founding, even if it had different meaning before). Solitaries have read in almost every book ever written on the subject that they have every right to lay claim to the title that Traditionalists so vigorously defend. Then, they come online or meet someone in their local communities that challenges that definition with the original (Wicca is an initiatory mystery religion that can prove lineage back to Gardner or the New Forest). Without knowledge, they say, of the oathbound material of Traditional Wicca, one cannot use the title "Wiccan" since it is impossible to know what they believe and practice and, therefore, impossible to *be* Wiccan.
Two solitaries (myself and YarrowSage) sat down with a few others on a message board in May 2010 and decided that if they didn't have a right to use the term "Wiccan" and didn't feel suited to that title anyway, they needed a new one. We felt it was imperative, since our paths as solitaries had come so far from what is “Wicca” to define ourselves appropriately. Both of us found a new depth in our personal practices and a new liberation through this process (the correct naming our what we do). We sought a new name mainly because we were forced under the header of “Neo-Wicca”, a title we disliked due to the implications it came with. In addition to seeming odd to have a “Neo” movement of a religion that has only been around for less than a century, we disliked that it was Traditionalists that had coined the term in an effort to mock solitaries who they found to all be “fluffy”. As solitaries who both took our paths very seriously, we knew this wasn't the case. What was decided upon after vigorous discussion was Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft. Much of the information here will be excerpted from that original thread (which can be found here: http://www.wiccantogether.com/group/thesolitarywitch/forum/topics/if-solitary-wiccans-arent).
So, let's talk about what DRW is by definition:
"Dedication is the act of binding oneself intellectually and emotionally to one's spiritual path through complete and wholehearted fidelity to aforementioned path as marked through a ceremony in which the dedicant moves fully into their role as a practitioner of said path or by the verbal or nonverbal pledge of commitment to said path fulfilled by study, practice, and spiritual growth. After this pledge is made, the practitioner continues on their path of practice, growth, and study until the point at which they determine that DRW is no longer the path that suits their spiritual needs and makes a pledge to another path, accepting the any consequences that may occur from breaking their oath...
Religious Witchcraft is a system of belief which incorporates the practice of witchcraft centrally into it. It comes with specific teachings and tenets that separate it not only from the generic practice of witchcraft but from other RW traditions. For example, BTW, Dianic, and Wicca as a whole (a form of Religious Witchcraft) are quite different from Stregheria (another form of RW)...
"I do like DRW (wow, I'm already giving it an acronym!). I don't think anyone can argue we are religious Witches. I also don't think anyone can argue that we're a dedicatory Tradition. Given that many CIW/TIW traditions have roots in Wicca, I can see people being able to make the connection for our origins (without the "offense" of us using "Wicca" in our title). I also think it sums us up nicely in that way; it connects us to who we need to be connected to, shows us as a unique path, etc."
Now that we know what is, let's move onto what we believe and practice. We try to keep our practice as close to the outer court material (non-oathbound material) that we have access to. Some items were excluded (i.e. the emphasis on working skyclad and the practice of scourging for reasons that were linked to DRW being orthodoxic rather than orthopraxic like Traditional Wicca).
1. A belief in a balanced Divinity. That could be seen through hard polytheism, soft polytheism, monotheism (with the one deity having masculine and feminine aspects that are equally balanced), duotheism, and pretty much any "ism" other than atheism and agnosticism (a case can be made for agnosticism, but it will be rare, I feel).
2. Adherence to The Wiccan Rede as it is written. This does not imply that it is "law" or infallible. We cannot possibly ever "harm none". We must strive to, however. We must strive to not harm others emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc. just as we must strive not to harm ourselves in the same manner. These probably include harm by inaction and harming nature and the natural order of the universe. Elsewhere, it can be interpreted differently than it has been historically, depending on the practitioner.
3. As above, one must also follow any tenets laid out in The Charge of the Goddess (i.e. "All acts of love are my rituals") and The Charge of the God. (These are dissected in a DRW frame of mind in the thread linked above)
4. The Threefold Law may be interpreted by the individual practitioner in a way that suits their personal practice or thrown out as an outdated teaching device. This is not as central to our faith.
5. Adhere to the 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief.
6. Adhere to the 13 Goals of a Witch
7. Practice witchcraft – this should be obvious from the title, but the definition of “witchcraft” varies widely. One must determine their definition and stick to it. For example, some define witchcraft as the casting of spells while others define it more along the lines of “any act of energy manipulation (i.e. casting the circle, casting a spell, etc.) or any act of invoking/evoking (i.e. calling the quarters, calling deity to be present in a circle, aspecting, etc.)”
DRW is not meant to be an interim path. It is not only for those who are only solitary by force but wish to join a Traditional coven when the chance arises. Once you pledge yourself to this path, you are DRW until you pledge yourself to another or for life. It is also important to note that any newer covens (who haven't yet reached the three initiatory generation requirement to be considered Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft) who meet the above criteria would be DRW as well. It is not solely a solitary practice.
From what you see here, you might understand that this path is very similar to what you've read in several “Wicca 101” books. There are a few stipulations, but everything else you've read (i.e. emphasis on the elements, ritual structure, the Wheel of the Year, etc. all obviously has a place in DRW).
In conclusion, I'd like to add that you might dislike some things you've read in this post. You might hate the term DRW. However, I'd like to emphasize that the title of your path is far from the most important thing. If it changes (as Yarrow and I have shown), nothing about you or your practice changes. There is no need to stick with an outdated or inaccurate title just because you think no one will understand what you're talking about, it's been written about by “reputable” authors, or for any other reason. The search for a title can be overwhelming, but it can be empowering and beautiful too. Don't take DRW if you don't like it. Take Neo-Wicca or any other that comes to you. This is merely the story of two witches who set out on a journey and wished to share their findings. If they resonate with you, we're happy to share them. If not, we won't force them.
Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft is a wonderful name for all of us solitaries. I haven't performed any kind of ceremony dedicating myself to my path, so at the moment I don't think I can use the term properly, but I would like to do a self dedication ritual someday after I have explored my path more and given myself time to mature spiritually (and lose any residual fluff). I hope you and YarrowSage start a DRW group because I will definitely join it!
see, i like the way you think :D
i grew up in a basic "pagan" household that let us chose our own paths, i don't care where or who taught u what u know, as long as you see it as a personal growth and learning experience. i find mine almost extremely religious because i like to chose the beauty of ritual as something that i will work with every time the wheel turns, to attune with the cycles of nature and life...sux that even if i say that, even with my upbringing, and experiences, people will still call me fluffy.
thank goddess for you guys! I was exhausted with being told I am not wiccan and then wondering what the heck to call myself to explain what I am...I kept saying I am a witch but that didn't really explain it completely. Now I have a way to explain exactly what I believe and practice :)