I chanced upon this great article by one Miles Batty, which apparently graced the Witches’ Voice a few years ago. It addresses the wild eclecticism so evident in Wicca nowadays, which regards deities as something that can be bought a la carte and put back on the shelf when not in use.
America has been described as the ‘melting pot’ of the world. And contemporary Wicca has become a melting pot of ancient cultures, in more ways that one. It used to be that Coven-dedicated witches would devote years to their study. Modern eclectic Wiccans have the freedom of Google and Wikipedia to do their research for them; all they have to do is spend three or four minutes in a search engine, find an article or picture vaguely appropriate, and with a drag and a right-click, their ritual is written and ready to go, their research paper is written, their Goddess icon is downloaded – and they don’t even have to really read or review what they just found!
What was, years ago, a thriving polytheistic culture, has become whitewashed and homogenized, streamlined for our convenience. No silly details to get in the way. Wicca has become a ‘plug-and-play’ religion. The problem is, the deeper mysteries of religion are being ignored, omitted, if all we do is plug in a name and a few choice details. How can we truly call upon Fortuna to help us win the lottery, if we don’t offer her the worship and devotion she deserves? To ‘know’ a deity requires faith and devotion, a lifetime of commitment. Otherwise it’s just lip service, devoid of honesty and faith. If there is no faith, there is no religion. And if there were no religion, then where would we be?
My personal observation is probably not going to be too overly popular, but I honestly think this has a lot to do with the soft polytheistic duotheology that is the basis of contemporary Wicca (and is exaggerated in eclectic manifestations). It goes something like this: all gods are expressions of the Great God, and all goddesses expression of the Great Goddess. Therefore, since they’re all the same, you can use them interchangeably.
I tend to regard this as fairly weak theology, and I suspect that the devotional sloppiness the author mentions is a symptom of that.
I also question just how much Aphrodite would appreciate being conflated with Pele of Kali-Ma (or vice versa), but I suppose that is another issue …