I’ve had a lot of changes in how I’ve identified myself over the years.
When I first started out, as a 12-13 year old, I swore I was “Wiccan”. The books all said I could self-initiate as one, so I figured, cool, I was now Wiccan. Of course, some years later, and I was learning from online forums that there was no such thing as a self-initiation, and you couldn’t be a Wiccan without joining a coven and earning the title. So then, about 15-16 I began calling myself “Neo-Wiccan”.
A year-ish later, I was an eclectic. That was my senior year of high school. But for purposes at school, I just would still call myself “Wiccan”, because it freaked out classmates, and that was funny to me (I did have a bit of a nasty streak to me). But to people on forums, or to my family, I was an eclectic pagan at that time. It was about that same time I also began to identify as a witch. So I was an eclectic pagan and witch, when my family asked me.
From 20-22 I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to call myself. It isn’t easy. After all…there are a million names in paganism (or so it seems to me). And I don’t follow any of the large or well-known pantheons that have names. I’m not a reconstructionist, nor do I follow a pantheon such as being a Kemetic, or a Hellenic pagan…among others. I’ve also had a long time in figuring out exactly what it is that I really am.
I’ve finally come to realize that I don’t really identify as “pagan” anymore. There are just elements within the overarching pagan community that I don’t agree with. I realized that above all, I’m a hard polytheist who believes in and follows the Slavic pantheon. So the name “polytheist” suits me. And “witch” is just as apt as it was back in my senior year of high school. So I have a dual-barrel label of sorts that I can use to identify what I am, when pressed to identify myself.
Labels do not mean a whole lot to me. I’m not nearly as concerned with labeling myself as I used to be. As long as I understand what I am, and what I do, I’m pleased. A name for what I am…so I can fit in with others, while nice to interact, is not nearly as important to me as it used to be. I’m more interested in studying what I need to know and learn.
Identity is important. It has its place. But I’ve also realized that for me identification of what I am is not nearly as important as being secure in who I know I am.∗