I am far from a traditionalist. In fact, I am the first person to walk away from “traditions.”
Besides my eclectic personality which makes it almost impossible to fit into any traditions, one thing that makes me avoid traditions is the toxicity of many.
When I was 19, after 6 years of studying Wicca and Paganism alone, I decided I wanted to find a coven or group to study with or at the very least, celebrate holidays with. It was my first experience with toxic traditionalists. I met with a woman in a local pub in Brookline, MA. At first she seemed very open-minded–then came the point where she asked me what “tradition” I follow. I am eclectic. No tradition. That was when she went on a 15 minute “rant” about how her tradition which was Alexandrian based with “Celtic” roots (traditional Alexanderian??? I think not!), and that any other Wiccan tradition was wrong and/or copying the foundations of her traditional practice. Needless to say, I didn’t join her group.
Then came Belly Dance–where tradition police are everywhere! Again, I defined myself as fusion dancer–incorporating “traditional” belly dance movements with different types of music. I will never forget my first forray, when I was told that what I was doing was not belly dance–and the only “true” belly dance is “Egyptian.” It took a lot of personal work and years to not care what the tradition police thought nor what defined my style in the world of belly dance.
And now…..Reiki. I am Reiki 1 and 2 certified. Naturally, because I am a teacher by nature, I wanted to elevate to the next level and get my Reiki Master. When we moved to Flagstaff, I was no longer able to study with my Reiki Master in Boston, so I began looking into Reiki masters here. And it didnt take long to start running into the tradition police.
“XYZ’s reiki is not the traditional reiki,” or “I studied and got certified by someone who actually studied in Japan,” or my favorite, “incorporating Shamanic practices into your reiki is not traditional.”
It bugged the shit out of me! How could something as pure and special as Reiki, which is 1. non religious 2. non dogmatic and 3. pure energy—-be assaulted the same way????
I am not against traditions–so long as those following remain open-minded to the fact that there are others out there–that may or may not incorporate their beliefs. Or, that in order for things to survive in the modern world–sometimes traditions need to be woven into new ones. It’s not a bad thing.
And there is nothing wrong with going against the grain either! I learned that no matter how bad I may want to learn something, or be a part of something, if someone has to toss around that their tradition is the only true one–then, well, I would rather look elsewhere.