I have often read arguments from traditional Wiccans that discount Eclectic Wicca as an ad hoc “do-it-yourself” sort of affair. Their major point in support of this seems to be that Eclectics pull together pieces of unrelated religions to create their personal practice. There are a few points I’d like to make with regards to this.
Although I am an Eclectic Wiccan, I do recognize the validity of this argument, to some extent. I have come across other Eclectic Wiccans who seemed to have put together their practice with no thought other than what seems “cool” and different. I have two issues with this.
First, even though it is a personal practice, I still feel that respect must be paid to the religions to which the original elements belong. I feel that practices from opposing religions should not be mixed, to honour both the deities and practitioners of these religions. And beyond that, it is terribly unwise to mix incompatible energies without a great deal of experience. Secondly, a neophyte Eclectic may be able to put together an ethical and respectful practice. However, without experience, it is easy to neglect the dark aspects that balance and deepen a religious practice.
I don’t think these points invalidate the Eclectic path. Instead, I feel that they prove the difficulty in putting together and following a deep and fulfilling Eclectic path. A great deal of study, respect, and self-knowledge is required.
My biggest beef with traditional Wiccans who discount the Eclectic path is their seeming ignorance of the fact that Wicca itself is eclectic. There are elements of Ceremonial Magick, Hinduism, Judaism/Qabbalah, Celtic faiths, Greek and Roman faiths, Gnosticism, etc. evident is most forms of Wicca, including Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. Ultimately, it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. If traditional Wiccans feel that the Eclectic path isn’t valid, then they are also invalidating their own path.
Overall, I feel that there needs to be more respect between different traditions, eclectic or not. The validity of the paths should not be based on superficial examination of outward practices, but instead it should be based on depth and spiritual fulfillment. To me, creating my own Eclectic path within a Wiccan framework has lead to a very fulfilling spiritual practice.