I was an only child with little in the way of extended family and even less in the way of the kind of social acumen that might have netted me another type of familial structure. Growing up amidst the polyester excrescences of 1970s America, I came of age without a firm sense of identity, history, or ethnicity. Even religion, when it came in my early grade-school years, was the blandest non-denominational Christianity, completely lacking in the color and drama and pageantry that my encyclopedias had assured me were features of other cultures' faiths. My life was singularly lacking in color and drama and pageantry, and I yearned for something more. Having tolerant, if bewildered, parents, I came in time to conduct little ceremonies of my own, but that still wasn't enough; I might have been a loner by choice as well as design, but I still wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Unfortunately, it would appear that by choice and/or design, I am also
somewhat unsuited to being a part of anything too structured. When I at
last found myself an initiate of a Wiccan tradition with roots and
structure and customs...well, the results were mixed.
It turns out that, even in a loose confederation of decentralized small
groups, there are still self-appointed arbiters of the Right Way of
doing things, and you run afoul of them at your peril. Having never been
in in my life (beyond a brief foray with the French Club in high
school), I was staggered by how easy it was to find yourself on the outs
for what seemed the most trivial of reasons. I had run mostly unopposed
throughout my formative years, my parents rarely reining me in unless
grave bodily injury or death appeared imminent (and perhaps a
psychologist would read in that the seeds of my innate need for
structure and discipline), and suddenly finding myself surrounded by
what to me were interfering busybodies telling me I had to do things This Way and not That Way or I couldn't be in anymore was maddening.
So what if I do this but not that? It's not written down anywhere!
(It's oral tradition.)
But I've heard/read/inferred that other people in a different city/lineage/coven do that instead of this!
(They're either oathbreakers or liars.)
But this is all petty details. WHY is doing/saying or not doing/saying this or that so far beyond the pale?
(Because this is how it's always been done.)
As you can imagine, these answers did not sit well with me. I was not at
all, then or now, of two minds; on the contrary, I was and am entirely
single-minded in wanting it both ways. I wanted both the traditional and
the innovative, long-held customs with the freedom and flexibility to
modify and adapt where applicable. It just took me an inordinate amount
of time to figure out that there would always be resistance to that.