One of the side effects of being in a position like mine, that is to say having no Praxis but being in a state of spiritual exploration as a Pagan/Heathen, is that you end up paying quite a lot of attention to the many words that a person can pick up in our community and the various ways that they play against one another. It’s really quite interesting the sheer number of prefixes and suffixes that a person can acquire around or ‘underneath’ their identification (or in some cases lack thereof) as a Pagan and/or Heathen.
One of the most commonly seen examples of this is Witch and Wiccan. The difference between the two is fairly basic and one that I am already familiar with, so I wont go into too much detail about it. Really what is important is that Wicca is a religion first and practice second, while Witchcraft is a practice first and religion second. Both are, the majority agree, Pagan (as opposed to Heathen, which would be something like Galdr or Vitki).
The two however are not mutually exclusive. You can be a Witch who also practices Wicca, a Wiccan Witch, an eclectic of both of those and their base components. It doesn’t stop there however. Based on what exactly you believe, you can be an Atheist Witch or Wiccan (I… think…) or a Hard/Soft Polytheist or Monotheist/Monist. You can be a shamanic Witch/Wiccan or a Shaman who practices [insert X here]. Really, the combinations are endless and are really only restricted by what you yourself are capable of learning and putting into practice.
I find however that a lot of the meaning, the texture and substance behind those words tends to become lost when they aren’t partitioned to a certain degree. I personally prefer to partition everything, because I feel that I really need to know more and practice more before I can confidently bring all my little threads (and those threads still to come) together. It’s something that, if pressed, I would say is the providence of a very advanced Pagan or Heathen. This… sentiment of mine comes from something that I have been hearing on YouTube quite a lot of late: a need for a strong and clear foundation.
That foundation needs to be clear and defined and structured before experimentation and the blending of several different styles or practices into a single Praxis.
If you think of it like this it makes sense:
Imagine you want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer.
Think of the things that those exact people do: a doctor diagnoses patients and does tests etc; a lawyer advises people and performs various legal functions in and our of court; an engineer builds machines and fixes them, solves problems. Its only a very simple, cursory explanation, but stick with me.
Now think of all the little things that those people need KNOW in order to be able to do those tasks. Now think of all the things they need to be able to DO to be capable of doing those tasks. Now think of all the things they needed to study in order to know and learn how to do. Now think of all the skills they needed to be able to understand that level of learning. Now think about everything that they needed to do in order to be able to get to that level of study. Now think of all the fundamental skills and knowledges that we take for granted everyday. Now think about all the time in the first 20ish years of their lives those people spent working on those fundamental skills and knowledges.
That is no different to what Pagans and Heathens are doing.