There are many traditions or paths within witchcraft and pagan worship. This begs the two-part question of: What is a tradition, and does it support any important purpose? Although I will expand upon this analysis further, I must preface it by saying one does not need to find an established tradition to take up, or seek one to be initiated into. Building your own, the process of seeking the little kernels of truth you will use as mortar to hold in place the building stones of the religious cathedral of your own tradition… this holds much more satisfaction than being handed the truth of others on a silver platter. Invariably, if you find a tradition that resonates with you, there will be aspects that bother you or that you do not agree with. You’ll either be stuck with it, or end up leaving to begin your search anew.
A tradition is a framework of practices, rituals, beliefs, and myths. Some have argued the purpose of a tradition is to enable these important components of religion to be passed from one generation to the next, thereby ensuring a continuity. I think this over simplifies it, but it is an important truism that has validity. I think the more important part they play though is to create structure, order, and form whereby the mysteries can be supported and built upon. Without this support they will fall into a jumbled mess of confusion. This is the larger purpose of a tradition in my un-humble opinion… order and structure. This also reminds me of a famous quote, which can be aptly applied here:
“There are parts of a ship which taken by themselves would sink. The engine would sink. The propeller would sink. But when the parts of a ship are built together, they float. So with the events of my life. Some have been tragic. Some have been happy. But when they are built together, they form a craft that floats and is going places. And I am comforted. ”
-Ralph W. Sockman
Our glorious religion of witchcraft has many parts, many components, many concepts and geographical sources that are not compatible with each other, and without the structure of a tradition to bring the compatible parts together into a coherent whole and hold them in place, they will sink individually to the bottom of the abyss and do nobody any good… Just remember, you have the ability to create that structure yourself.