What is a Solitary Wiccan?
A solitary wiccan is traditionally an individual who chooses to practice their spiritual faith privately and not within a group or coven environment. Most solitary pagans follow an eclectic path (though this term can be used for a variety of other reasons within a coven as well).
How Many Practicing Wiccans Are There?
It is a difficult task to approximate the number of Wiccans in the world today. Preferably, whether a Coven has a temple dedicated to worship or not, they are officially registered with their respective nation's government. However, even if all members of Wiccan Covens were accounted for, this number would not be nearly indicative of the total number of practicing Wiccans. This is because many Wiccans choose to practice and worship individually in the comfort of their unique sacred space. This group is referred to as solitary Wiccans.
Public or Private?
Being a Wiccan in itself all too often separates an individual from the mainstream. Therefore, many Wiccans choose to find others who share their views, interests, and practices, and either start or join a Coven. Others, however, choose to take the path to spirituality by themselves. They learn to become practitioners by trial-and-error, relate to nature in the most personal manner, and develop their thoughts without the external influence of others. Renowned Wiccans Raymond Buckland and Scott Cunningham are two of the proponents for solitary practice. Buckland states that some of the most infamous witches throughout human history had been solitaries, with the Witch of Endor of being one of the first. Evidence of the Witch, or Medium of Endor's work can be found in the Book of Samuel within the Old Testament.
Pros & Cons of Solitary Wiccans
While there are advantages to joining a Coven, there are advantages to being a solitary as well. The majority of solitary Wiccans fall under a subcategory called eclectic Wicca. Eclectic Wicca reinforces the idea of individuality within an organized religion. The solitary may select which traditions, beliefs, symbols, and the like are most relevant to who they are, rather than having these decisions already be made for them. Additionally, the solitary does not need to reject any other philosophy in order to accept the Wiccan faith. It is only within eclectic Wicca that you may find a solitary who holds Apollo or Seth as the supreme deity and creator of all.
Solitary practitioners have also historically been called hedge witches, which has been modernized to kitchen witches. These solitaries are primarily concerned with the Magickal and other healing properties of plants and stones. They have learned through practice how to pick out the correct herbs from the wild hedges (or grocery store). Often times, the traditions or connection to a deity might not be as important to the hedge witch. However, because of the emphasis placed on reverence of nature, and the freedom to choose in the path to spirituality, the solitary will still consider him or herself a Wiccan. If for no other reason that they don't fit into any other "category" prescribed by society, they may always revert to Wicca.
I encourage you to visit our 7witches Facebook Page and join the discussion where our subscribers are answering questions like: Are you a Solitary Wiccan? What do you think the advantages are to being a solitary?
I look forward to reading your responses.
Librarian and Senior Witch