Re: cults, magic, and spellers

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 09:24:03 +0900

>In response to a conversation with Rosemary Gianno...
>I can empathize with your dillemma in choosing terminology. I am sensitive to
>the term "cult" because I am doing ehtnography with Dianic Wiccans who object
>to the word. Further, I had a similar problem, regarding terminology, during
>the initial questionaire phase of my research. Stemming from my reluctance
>to label the participants, I had used the two terms, Wiccan, and Women's
>Spirituality, interchangeably. This prompted several disturbed reponses.
>By using the two interchangably, without reference to my motivations for
>doing so, I had sent out a message that implied that I thought the two were
>the same thing. Really, to be Wiccan is to also be Pagan, but not all
>self- identified Pagans are Wiccan.
>This leaves me with the crux of the postmodern dillemma in ethnography
>and language. Do I define every term, every utterance- or do I leave it all
>up to personal interpretation (or misinterpretation)?
>Is this where postmodernism has deserted us?
>Samantha Solimeo ""

Why not say, "The women I study call themselves Wiccans, which they see as
a variety of Pagan.From x,y and z (where x, y and z are descriptions of
specific behavior or statements), I infer some basic similarities with
members of a category called Women's Spirituality, which I define in the
following way. Some of the women I work with object to this
characterization, arguing that..." Some care should be taken to maintain
separation between what those whose lives we study do and say about what
they do and what we infer from what we see and hear. Failure to do so is at
the heart of many postmodern dilemmas.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo