Grace Cavanaugh ~ Editor in Chief
Continuing the conversation of decolonizing your paganism and witchcraft this week, I wanted to discuss closed practices.
Closed practices are those that you can only be a part of if you were born into the community, or if you have been initiated into it.
Jewish witchcraft is closed, for example. If you are not Jewish, you cannot be or use parts of Kabbalah, which is the word for Jewish mysticism.
This is the reason for doing your research, especially concerning eclectic witchcraft and Wicca, because both pull from multiple practices. Well, most neopagan practices pull from many different places since they have become very convoluted over the years.
Wicca is basically a collection of whatever caught Gerald Gardner’s eye. In fact, many of the Wiccan books, and some authors of non-Wiccan books, use things from other practices as well, not all of them open.
For instance, Gardner and other authors have poached practices belonging to Indigenous peoples. Burning white sage, and calling it ‘smudging,’ is closed to anyone who is not a part of the Indigenous community. The same goes for palo santo, and a few other herbs.
Instead, find one of the hundreds of other kinds of sage, if you must, for smoke cleansing. I personally have some blue sage that I bought from Grounded Earth. Or you could make your own bundles. There are plenty of witches online that make their own herb bundles for smoke cleansing that have rosemary, mugwort, or cedar in them instead of sage.
Alternatively, incense is always an option too. I prefer to use patchouli sticks and dragon’s blood incense cones when I am cleansing things, not only for the smell but for the properties they have as well.
Besides Kabbalah and Indigenous practices, Vodou and many other African-based spiritualities are plundered to add to Wicca or eclectic witchcraft. Most of these practices are closed as well. To join Vodou, one must find a priest and commit to the practice. Like Kabbalah, it is not something that can just be plucked up and added to your own.
The best way to figure out if something you are doing is a part of a closed practice is to research. Where did something come from? Why does this term exist? How did someone get the information?
Plenty of people exist on the internet and elsewhere to spread information about what is closed and what is open. Last week, I mentioned the TikToker Z, or @jewitches, who runs a blog full of information about the Kabbalah and Jewish witchcraft.
To diversify your following, Quiiroi, or @quiibunnie, is an Indigenous practitioner I have recently followed. CD, or @cdntheplayers, is not a practitioner himself, but he knows a lot about astrology and Vodou. Honey, or @thathoneywitch, practices Hoodoo. Tin, or @imbigsowhat, has several videos talking about Vodou.
The information is out there, you just have to look for it.