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Scott Cunningham, Solitaries, and Self-Initiation

When Wicca initial emerged into a open eye in a 1950s, it was particularly a initiative poser religion. If we wanted to be a Witch, we indispensable to be instituted by Gerald Gardner himself, or by someone who had been given an arising by him. When other traditions emerged, Alexandrian, 1734, a ethos of arising by an already instituted High Priest or Priestess remained intact. In those early years many “traditional” Witches took a low perspective of “bootstrap” attempts to start new traditions, and a thought of self-initiation. Author and Gardnerian elder Raymond Buckland was essentially taunting of such groups, that he felt were harming the Craft, as documented in Chas Clifton’s “Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America.”

“It says many for a success of Gerald Gardner in receiving approval for a Craft as a religion, for a imitators are those who, incompetent to benefit entrance to a coven, have motionless to start their own. These do-it-yourself “witches” would, on a face of it, seem submissive though on closer inspection are not so. They are causing substantial difficulty to others who, seeking a true, get held adult in a false… These “covens” [in both Britain and a United States] swelling like chicken-pox have no organisation with “the Craft.” Why do people start such “covens”? Why not wait and search? For some it is usually that they have no patience. They feel so strongly for a Craft that they contingency attend in some way. By a time they eventually do come in hit with a loyal Craft it is too late. They are by afterwards so set in their possess rites and, unfortunately, have other whom they have led along, they they can't behind down. Some, however, are merely in hunt of celebrity and fortune.”

Buckland’s view, combined circa 1970 and common by many other Elders, would change dramatically by 1974 when he introduced his possess tradition of Seax-Wicca, one that enclosed a avowal that self-initiation could be current (a flourishing accord among many distinguished complicated Pagans and Wiccans). Between a introduction of feminist Goddess-traditions, a presentation of heterogeneous Wiccan traditions like a New Reformed Orthodox Order of a Golden Dawn, and a changeable attitudes of Traditional elders like Buckland and Doreen Valiente, a belligerent on a emanate of self-initiation and unique use had altered considerably. That said, Witchcraft traditions, and a coven structure, either aged or newly created, was still a primary car for flourishing Wicca notwithstanding a rising series of self-initiated unique Wiccans. Then, in a late 1980s, something, someone, happened.

That something was a 1989 announcement of Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for a Solitary Practitioner,” a book that literally introduced a new epoch to Wicca, and helped change a face of complicated Paganism.

Cover art by Robin Wood.

Cover art by Robin Wood.

To contend a response to this book was measureless is to do it a disservice. It has sole over 400,000 copies (by a year 2000), and is still in imitation currently (by contrast, Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance,” published 10 years earlier, sole around 350,000 copies by 2000). That scale is critical to note in a edition attention that customarily sees sales in a low thousands for many titles. Cunningham’s book tapped into a flourishing need within a Wiccan/Witchcraft community, one for a elementary beam for those who couldn’t find a coven, or couldn’t find a one that they felt gentle with. While a ethos of self-initiation had turn normalized by a 1980s, many books were still directed during groups, and many felt undone in training to square together a use that worked for them. Cunningham’s books happened during usually a right place and time, and helped fuel a entrance bang of Wicca (and complicated Paganism) in a 1990s.

Now, author and wizard Donald Michael Kraig has published a brief ebook on a life of Scott Cunningham, whom he lived with for 6 years, and counted as a tighten friend. Entitled “The Magical Life of Scott Cunningham,” it promises to give us a glance into a male who altered a face of eremite Witchcraft.

Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham

“Before Scott, Wicca was essentially upheld on within a coven structure. In sequence to turn a Wiccan we had to find a coven and investigate with them. If we couldn’t find a coven, or there was no coven nearby you, well, we were usually out of luck. Scott’s book, Wicca: A Guide for a Solitary Practitioner, gave instructions on how any particular could come to adore a Goddess and turn a Wiccan. In a years that followed, Solitary Wicca became a primary proceed many people entered a Craft. Scott didn’t darken a coven structure, he simply gave an swap proceed to Wicca and done it accessible to all. It’s singular that a actions of one chairman change a world, and even some-more singular that such changes can be seen. Scott Cunningham was such a person. [...] In a book we also share some of a practice together so we will learn not usually where he was innate and what he did, though what he was like. we wish we get an thought of who Scott Cunningham was. Many of a anecdotes and stories have never been published before. The stories and his enchanting methods peppers chapters on his theories and methods of behaving healthy magic, his proceed to The Goddess and Wicca, and his adore for a land, people and sorcery of Hawaii.”

Cunningham tragically died in 1993 from an AIDS-related illness, a small 4 years after his breakthrough success, though prolonged adequate to start to see how many his work impacted a village of that he was a part. Too small has been published about Cunningham, and Kraig’s brief work, available for usually $1.99 on Amazon, is a indispensable corrective. One that will no doubt be cited by authors and scholars for years to come. I’ve already purchased my copy, and demeanour brazen to reading it.

Cunningham’s work has altered us, and grown us, into what we are today. He not usually altered Wicca, though also altered a incomparable ethos of a Pagan village itself. Today a immeasurable infancy of Pagans are unique in their practice, and a slim infancy report themselves as eclectic. Books like “Wicca: A Guide for a Solitary Practitioner” supposing an confirmation that this was acceptable, healthy, and normal. In an epoch of amicable networking on a Internet, a application of Cunningham’s work is ever-more apparent. Many of us are connected with hundreds, even thousands, of a associate Pagans, though we are still unique practitioners when it comes time to light a candles and respect a gods.

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