Almost a year ago I said this discussion needed to happen.
A few months ago I said I'd post this thread.
A few days ago I promised myself I'd post it.
And now here it is! The thread you've all been waiting for!
It's time to discuss some issues with DRW.
Over the course of DRW's conception and evolution, there are those who have pointed out problems with it that need to be addressed. I'm basically going to list them all in this main post (and if you have others I've neglected, please let me know so I can include them), and this thread can be all about addressing and, potentially, solving said problems. I won't include my own takes on these issues yet (though I'm sure my own opinions will color my explanations of the issues) so I don't distract everyone in this first post, but rest assured my input will be forthcoming (as I'm sure you all know).
1. The term "Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft" is too broad and can be applied to too many paths; instead, some believe that DRW should be like an umbrella term similar to TIW which we attempted to parallel in our original choosing of a title meaning that our current statements of belief would be for *one* branch of the DRW tree and we'd, thus, need a new name for that branch and be back at the beginning. Also, those to go with this thought seem to believe that by continuing to use DRW as a clearly defined (though still fairly broad) path, we are effectively telling other religious witches who have gone through a dedication process that they aren't *real* witches or that those religious witches will be forced to explain their path like so: "I'm a religious witch who practices dedication, but I'm not a DRW" or something similar.
2. Our inclusion of the 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief is a problem for some people because they are often considered a piece of fluff (as I've even discussed recently on Youtube).
3. DRWs haven't done their research. To quote the thread I'll link at the bottom of this post, "Frankly, the DRW folks' focus on 'Outer Court' is a dead giveaway of how poorly they've actually researched the relevant history. It suggests the common misapprehension that having an Outer Court is normative, if not universal, in BTW, and also conflates 'outer court' with the broader term 'exoteric', giving the false impression that the exoteric source materials on which Eclectic Wicca is built are all, or primarily, Outer Court material. (Also the impression, which I have no way to identify as true or false at this point, that they think 'outer court' is simply, 'the witchy word for 'exoteric',' rather than referring to a specific exoteric structure.)"
4. DRW is just a title to avoid people on "less civilized boards" (another quote from the thread I'll link below) becoming angry that one is laying claim to the title of "Wicca" and/or the embarrassment of having to use the term "Neo-Wicca" because DRW is exactly the same as Neo-Wicca.
Here's the link to the thread where DRW is...analyzed: http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?1667-Dedicatory-Relig...(DRW)
So, what are some takes on these issues?
Ok, here we go with my thoughts on these "issues".
1. I will concede that when we originally coined the term DRW, we were looking to go along the lines of TIW because it was a descriptive term that included several paths, which DRW (with our definition and statement of beliefs still does, though these factors do, admittedly and for good reason, narrow the paths that fit under it). However, I disagree that we should make it a true umbrella term. If we did, DRW would include Neo-Wicca, some soon-to-be BTWs, some New Agers, Christian witches, Dianic witches, and a plethora of other paths that aren't really related at all. DRW, as a term, would cease to have real meaning since it includes such a wide array of people (especially since the definitions of Dedication and Witchcraft we use are so broad). DRW was created with a specific intent by myself, Braeden, and Yarrowsage. We used terms with meaning previously ascribed because they suited our path and described our practice. Sure, there might be other religious witches who have undergone dedication ceremonies out there, but they would also fall under a different heading.
I also have no real ideas that DRW will become massively widespread (as much as I'd originally hoped it would) so that a RW who has undergone dedication would need to use the disclaimer "Yes, I'm a religious witch who has undergone dedication, but I'm not DRW". Even if it did, I doubt that would really come up naturally in conversation.
There is no proof that we are reclaiming DRW from anyone who used it previously, so any hypothetical people (because, for now at least, that's all this is) claiming they've been unable to use a term they feel described their path because we claimed it first is kind of odd when they can find another term just as creative, just as "cool," and just as descriptive of their path to use. I used the example of a Brit creating a form of TIW and wishing to call it British Traditional Witchcraft in the thread posted above. I was shot down because BTW is older than DRW and has an established definition. In my mind, it doesn't matter how long a term is in use, when it has an established definition (as DRW does now), it cannot be changed to suit one's desires unless a major reclaiming movement has been started (as in the reclaiming of the term "witch" which is still in the works, IMO).
I also think that creating the term DRW does entitle us to define it. After going through the process of finding words to describe our path, defining it, and doing all that soul-searching and questioning, I do find it kind of rude (frankly) that someone outside of said path with no real vested interest in DRW to come in and say that we need to start over and find a new term because we might offend someone by implying they're not a "real" witch. DRW never claimed to be the end-all-be-all of witchcraft, so if someone does get that message (because, again, these are hypothetical people here), they've clearly read it wrong and/or are looking to be offended. Either way, I don't think it's a real concern.
2. Ah, the 13 Principles. I vote we just chuck 'em out. We can re-examine our statements of belief that we originally made and include anything that's been overlooked by taking out the Principles, but, overall, I just disagree with too many of them (or too many halves of them...or too many subtextual messages in them) to leave them connected to DRW.
I do think, however, that the 13 Goals of a Witch should be left in our statements because they aren't Wicca-specific (for the most part), and they're great goals to stress in our statements.
3. I'm actually going to let some Tradfolk help us out here, but I must say this is the first time I've ever heard someone say that "outer court" is not a correct term to use for information that is only available to non-initiates. I, personally, think that this was another comment intended to chip away any sort of credibility that we had, just like several others about us "not knowing enough" without any real indicator of what we didn't know.
4. I cannot stress enough that DRW is not the same as Neo-Wicca. NW accepts all, be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or what have you because they believe that "Wicca is whatever you want it to be." I don't say this to be mean or to demean their path. I say it to clarify something they hold dear--that they can call themselves anything they want to. They are empowered by their use of the word "Wicca". DRW rejects this central belief in NW, believing that only BTWs can rightfully lay claim to the title of Wicca. We also have clearly defined beliefs and practices laid out at the beginning of the DRW road that further define us as a distinct path separate from NW.
Yes, the creation of the term DRW did solve the issue of the dislike of the term NW, and I won't deny that was a large motivator for us all the sit down and come up with a suitable name. However, DRW is more than a safe title to hide from the "mean BTWs" behind. It's sort of a badge of honor. It's a serious path that has been examined and has spread to others who share a similar path. It was a journey to find it that has much more meaning than a shield on "less civilized boards".
So, there you have it. What do you guys think? Though these are my opinions, now that DRW has other people involved, I do think a serious discussion needs to happen before anything major is changed.
While I do not consider myself DRW, being as I think I have gone beyond the definition of it as my practice progresses, I still want to contribute something. I watched this path grow and form, even if I didn't contribute before, and I want to help now, if I can.
1. As I mentioned, to me DRW has a definition in itself already. I do not think you should change it to mean something broader, when it encompasses only certain beliefs and practices (even though they can still be broad within the term). I don't think you are telling other witches who also use dedication in their path that they aren't *real* witches either. I consider myself a Religious Witch, and I use dedication in my practice, but I don't associate with DRW. I am not going to use a disclaimer that I "am this but not DRW" just because of my practices being religious and dedicatory. While the title broken down can mean very broad things, it isn't just the title's definition that defines what the path is about, it is the beliefs as well. That is what the statements of belief are for, as I see it.
2. I remember being one of the people who brought up the 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief, and I am not a big fan of them at all. I agree about chucking them. They hold way too many controversies, and even include "non-beliefs" in the statements, and, overall, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The 13 Goals of a Witch is something even I still find useful, so I think that should remain.
3. I don't really have anything to say here, being as a Trad Witch would probably be the best to give advice or an answer to this problem. I always assumed that most BTW traditions had Outer Court classes, as most I have read do.
4. When I took on the title of DRW last year for my practice, I wore it with pride. I felt I finally had a name that differentiated me from the Neo-Wiccan and Wiccan groups. While I used it out of respect for the title of others, I was always confused about whether it was Neo-Wiccan or something totally separate from it. Regardless, I used it as something meaningful. Not a shield. I do think, however, that there needs to be more clarification as to what constitutes DRW and what constitutes NW. In the topic you mentioned, a member mentioned that the term NW was coined on that forum, and doesn't mean what it is meaning in the current reference. The forum describes the following:
TC describes NeoWicca as “the revised form of Wicca that first became popular in the 1990s. Unlike traditional Wicca, it generally stresses the Wiccan Rede as law and downplays traditional Wicca's focus on sex and death. Some people now use the term "Neo-Wicca" is a negative manner, but we simply use the term to label the newer forum of Wicca”.
So, maybe there should be more clarification on what NW is and what DRW isn't.
I would add more if it wasn't so late, and I had to be up at 6am (my brain isn't functioning, so I apologize if the thoughts seem scattered). I will try to stay tuned with the topic as much as I can over the next few days.
I've deliberately avoided watching the progression of DRW for the past year or so, because I recognized it was in the early growing pains stages, and wanted it to develop organically before I weighed in. As it is currently defined on the RoR web site, I do think some of the concerns outlined above are legit. Part of the challenge is that the implication, which I don't believe is intentional but is there nonetheless, that Wiccan-influenced material is the only valid form of witchcraft-type practice for determining whether or not someone is DRW (based on items 2-6). The second challenge is that, although there is a desire to make DRW something that isn't "anything you want to make it", the bookend principles (the first and last one) are sufficiently vague that it can be almost anything you want to make it. For this latter concern, a majority of that comes from the idea of wanting to make DRW socially acceptable so that it will catch on. If you eliminate that desire and then revise the bookends to say what you actually want it to say instead of trying to be more inclusive than you desire, you might be able to eliminate the "anything you want to make it" vibe that surrounds the list of beliefs.
So you've got this challenging dynamic where on the bookends of belief, DRW is almost anything you want to make it, but on the inside, it has to be some sort of Wiccan-influenced practice. For someone like me, when I look at that, what I still see is a Neo-Wiccan-style path where a person has done a dedication. I'd like to note that I'm one of those people who ascribe positive qualities to Neo-Wicca. I have no problem calling posers and dabblers out as posers and dabblers. A Neo-Wiccan is neither of those, because first and foremost Neo-Wicca is a spiritual path. For me, to demote Neo-Wicca to less than spiritual would insult the same deity that I call to circle...which would be a bad idea. ;)
Now onto the list that you've given here:
For point 1, I do think it is more of an umbrella term at this point because there has not been much time taken to coming up with a statement of belief that isn't a cut-and-paste. I think that DRW could be served well to come up with a statement of belief and practice that is able to be elevator pitch in length and is original to the creators of DRW instead of "yeah, we do bits of pieces of other people's stuff, even if the way we're using it is totally different from its original intent". An example of the statement of belief and practice for my slice of TIW is on my profile. Here's one Oakthorne wrote for BTW:
Traditional Wicca is an initiatory, oathbound, lineaged, orthopraxic Mystery religion that traces both its initiatory lineage and its witchcraft praxis to origins with covens based out of the New Forest region of the United Kingdom. Traditional Wicca is a priesthood, without a congregation of any kind, whose initiates refer to themselves as the Wica. We consider our gods to be personal, tribal gods, who we work closely with through personal esoteric experiences, rather than coming to know through revealed scripture.
What's the elevator pitch for DRW, and can it be defined without using someone else's stuff (and especially stuff that needs explanation from the get-go.... i.e., unless someone's a Cunningham fan, they probably have no clue what the "13 Goals of a Witch" are)? This is part of the reason why I feel that just using words that are already loaded for the name of one's tradition is a huge challenge. People already have ideas of what is meant by "Dedicatory" and "Religious" and "Witchcraft"--and because those ideas are not universal, that feeds into the "anything you want to make it" vibe. It isn't insurmountable, but it is a challenge to address.
For #2, I'm glad to hear that you're looking to nix it, because I do think they're horrifically dated and probably not all that accurate to what you do. It sounds great on a press release for the 1970s. It doesn't describe a good way to live for a modern witch of any stripe, IMO.
For #3, there are a few things that I read over about DRW that have me cringe, but it is more a practice-based concern than a history-based one (reducing the Charge of the Goddess to glorified checklist, for instance, although I again think that's a lack of understanding about how/why the Charge of the Goddess is used than any intention to be insulting).
But I do think that #4 sums up my view on how I view DRW at present. This could be rectified by coming up with something original. Don't tell me that you're following Cunningham's stuff for 1/6 of your belief and Valiente for another 1/6 (or slightly more) of your system (even if you don't actually credit them). Tell me what you believe in your own words. I think that when you come up with what you believe in your own words, not only do you step beyond spiritual plagiarism, you empower who you are and what you do. Stop worrying that you're going to exclude people and just write down what you do. What you may find is that if you've got 10 people who started out with wholly different forms of practice that got lumped into DRW, you may have 3 or 4 different practices that each need their unique identifiers somehow, or just accept that DRW does have on some level a veneer of "almost anything you want to make it" because it does allow in almost any practice that gets close enough on the vague parts of the definition to make it in.
Hope that helps! Very curious to see how this continues onward!