Originally I described myself as multi-trad, as it easily summed up the fact that I work in multiple (usually reconstructionist) traditions. A few months ago, some discussion involving terminology came to the front with other people who also work within multiple traditions. My friend Erynn posted some interesting thoughts on the subject of eclecticism vs, syncretism, and I found myself agreeing with how she was approaching the two words.
What usually happens with me is I will get “tapped” by a God or spirit. As I start to learn about T/them, inevitably I find myself looking at their culture. In order to understand a God fully, you have to understand the culture from whence they originate. To do anything less is disrespectful in my book.
I don’t seek to make some grand meta-tradition with my various Gods. When I honor Them, I honor them within cultural context as I can, as well as with my own personal rites when I feel so moved (or I don’t know enough of Their rites yet). I won’t be blotting to Wepwawet or talking to Bragi or Odin during Senut. They’d look at me funny, for one thing. As Erynn points out:
“Eclecticism and syncretism aren’t about cooking everything together in the same pot. They’re more like creating a satisfying, multicultural meal that includes favorites and harmonious dishes from many lands, with many ingredients. It takes great skill and a strong knowledge of ingredients to have it all come out right and be satisfying for everyone joining you.”
I know I am far from the only Pagan of any sort who’s involved in multiple traditions. I’m also sure there are a lot more of us than we know*. Hopefully the dialog will continue as more of us crawl out of the woodwork.
I am also still considering the use of the term syncretic and wondering how well it fits in my psyche. The jury may still be out, but I find part of me likes the idea of possibly reclaiming a term and potentially reshaping it.
*And I am not counting in ye generic neopagans who do perform the “one pot cooking” method and ignore much historical and mythological record. Sometimes it’s also a recipe for total disaster.