The Crossroads Tradition of Wicca
Wicca has long been a secretive religion and even after it was first revealed to the public by Gardner and other visionaries, it remained hard to find practitioners. Fear of persecution and a desire to remain exclusive drove most groups into the shadows. People who heard the call of the Old Gods and wished to answer it had to first find a group, then convince them to accept a new member. Until then, it was difficult to learn more about the path.
That is no longer the case, as many books have been published containing what were once considered Craft secrets. Hard work by many Elders has increased the public acceptance of Wicca and forced the government to extend its protections to our faith as well. These two things have helped to create an explosion of solitary practitioners - those people who study and worship alone or in small groups—sometimes by choice, sometimes out of necessity.
The Crossroads Tradition is based on serving these solitary believers as well as organized groups. We focus our attention on providing group worship and celebration and providing a place where seekers may come and learn and grow in their Paganism as a way of life. While our object is to serve the larger Pagan community, we remain a distinct Tradition following our own customs and laws, drawing upon the Tabernacle Ordains as our moral and ethical guide, rather than a composite community group of many Traditions.
We recognize that the traditionally small circle or group structure is not always appropriate nor useful for all who wish to follow our Tradition. We hold that the Wiccan Inner Circle should be equated to a seminary where clergy are trained to serve the larger community. There are many Pagans who wish to celebrate the high holy days and the cycle of the moon, but do not wish to make the teaching and practice of Wicca the central point of their lives. These scattered believers often suffer from the lack of contact with others of like mind who do not have the opportunity to celebrate the Wheel of the Year or the lunar cycle with others. It is to these people that our Tradition dedicates its energies. There will always be those who believe that our path must remain dark and secret, revealed only to a "chosen few", and they are entitled to their privacy. History shows us that the ancients did not intend that anyone who honestly seeks the knowledge and love of the Goddess and the God should be deprived of it.
Pagans and Wiccans who participate generally in open worship, gatherings and other events put on by the church are considered either Associate Members or Supporting Members. These categories can be further subdivided into Seekers, Students, and Clergy. This constitutes the Church body or congregation. Membership into the Inner Circle must be requested, but is only extended at the discretion of the Council of Elders, and ministerial candidates most often come from within the broader membership of the church.
Within the Inner Circle membership, which requires initiation and a substantial period of ministerial training, we recognize five degrees based on the dedicant’s increasing understanding of Wicca, public church administration, and of our Tradition of service to the community. Training is conducted by those of Third degree or above.
Although First and Second degree are still in training, they are given expanded responsibilities and are allowed an increasing voice in guiding their own training. Attainment of Third degree requires re-Dedication to some aspect of ongoing community service, a Great Work that is selected and proposed by the candidate and accepted by the teachers and Council of Elders. Failure to continually pursue a Great Work returns the candidate to Second degree status. Our Tradition is one of continuing service and requires an active commitment to that service to maintain Third degree clergy status. All dedicants of Second degree or higher are recognized as accredited clergy and may minister to others within the guidelines of our Tradition. Upon attaining recognition as Third degree within our Tradition, a dedicant becomes eligible to join the Council of Elders.
Every practitioner of Wicca and Paganism is a contributor to religious tradition. Times change, and our faith must evolve and grow to meet the changing needs and demands of our Gods. The followers of the old ways are everywhere and we will be beside them, serving them and our Goddess and God.
In order to bring the ways of Light, Love and Life to all the peoples of the Earth, our secrets, once so closely guarded out of dire necessity, are slowly becoming secrets no more. This is inevitable, and at the same time it is good, for it is a clear message from our Gods that the age of secrecy and shadow is passing. "Guard the Mysteries; constantly reveal them," said the Pagan poet, Lew Welsh. Doreen Valiente, Gerald Gardner’s High Priestess and author of so many seminal Wiccan writings has said "... Little sympathy [can be given to]... secrecy that only serves to keep occult knowledge as the privilege of a chosen few." It must not be used as a tool for the manipulation of others. The late Alex Sanders, founder of the Alexandrian Tradition, has said, "You could tell it all, and give nothing away."
Yet the sharing of our ways must always be guided by wisdom and love. Let always our rites and our mysteries be kept sacred. Let no one defile our heritage or our worship, for defiling our ways is a loss of honor to the self and all the Wicca, and above all else, to our Gods and our fellow humans who would know the truth and judge us fairly. "An’ ye harm none, ..."
-- Excerpted from the Tabernacle Ordains. The full text of the Tabernacle Public Ordains can be read here.