Due to the response of several of you guys and on several message boards, It has been asked of me to elaborate why I am not a fan of Cunningham.
My Disclaimer: I like things in its truest form.. like pizza. I am only a fan of pizza made in pizza places in NYC or mom and pop places.. I can't stand pizza hut or papa johns.. If I am going to eat tacos, I would rather have it at real Mexican restaurant instead of Taco Bell. I am this way with many things in my life, including Wicca. I am a traditionalist and I will always be that way. This is part of the reason I sought out traditional training with a lineaged coven over ten years ago. I wanted to learn what Wicca was and I felt that so many of the 101 books out there left many things unanswered.
When I was at the beginning of my spiritual path, I too read Cunningham. It was a good 15 years back, and I found his work to be decent at the time. But after reading more and learning more I found that this was not the case. Cunningham said I didn't need to go through training and that I could learn on my own.. and I did learn allot on my own. When I started getting more into the Wiccan way of life, I found over time that what Cunningham writes about is nothing like the Wicca that has been in our country for decades. Some of the only ways to fully experience the full spectrum of the Wiccan path is still to this day through training in a coven setting. Now Cunningham did start a movement in the pagan world that is a wonderful thing. He provided an easy form of practice for a solitary eclectic witch. However, the movement that he started is nothing at all like the Wicca that was brought to this country by Gerald Gardener. And at one point it has to be admitted that how this new form of witch craft and practice is presented, is no longer Wicca.
Say you are making apple sauce. You have your basic ingredients of water, sugar, apples and cinnamon. You start to make it and say to yourself that you want lots of cinnamon, so you add a little extra. You then add allot of water and it becomes soupy and has lots of chunks. You strain it.. and then you realize that you aren't left with applesauce at all. In fact you have made a wonderful glass of hot apple cider, the apple cider tastes wonderful. However, this drink is still not the same as applesauce. They may share similar origins, and ingredients, but they are not the same. This is allot like Cunninghams take on Wicca. He changes many things about traditional Wiccan practice and molds into something different. And the problem I have with it is that I don't want to buy a jar of apple sauce and get juice, and vice versa. I can go on and on about the changes he made and what is different and the whys and hows.. but really that is for each seeker to find on their own journey. Wicca in itself is a long journey that will take decades, if not the rest of your life, in study. If you really feel that reading a single book sets you out on a path and makes you an official Wiccan, than you have a longer journey than you think. And honestly, I feel sorry for those that are stuck in that mindset.
Back to the apple. It represents, in this analogy, paganism. Only you can decide how you want to eat the apple. There are so many ways to cook it from pies, butters, jellys, sauce, fritters.. I can go on and on. You as a pagan have to decide if you want to try just the juice and stick with that, or if you want to enjoy the many different ways you can eat an apple. Only you can make that choice. But remember, apple pie is not the same as apple chips.
Oy, I'm Hungry.