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Further Thoughts on Lineage

By Phil Hine

Another way to conceptualise lineage is in terms of two complementary axes – the vertical and the horizontal. The vertical axis is the “weight” of tradition and the invocation/deference given to authorities – the persons (often teachers, both living and dead) who are seen as embodiments of a particular lineage – those who are seen to have made a significant contribution to moving a tradition forwards – disseminating it, changing it in significant ways. One can often find, when tempers flare and arguments become heated, that authority is invoked by proxy – by those who claim a close relationship to a particular teacher, be it through having been a “student” of theirs, or claiming authority via their percieved closeness to the teacher through their relationship with other members who were themselves, close to the teacher. I’m thinking here, of a row amongst a group of Wiccans I was hanging out with in the mid-1980s, when one person present threatened to bring down the wrath of “Maxine” (Sanders) down on the offenders (claiming a first-name relationship with a revered person is always a good tactic). She wasn’t actually (as far as I knew) one of Maxine’s own initiates, but she’d been trained by someone who was – and given that no one else present had even a remote connection to Maxine, was clearly bolstering her own authority by invoking the presence of a revered figure. This is where the other axis comes into the play – the horizontal – which is the sense of kinship or family between members of a lineage. The way in which lineage operates horizontally is less obvious than the vertical, and for me, brings to mind the way tradition is performed (in the Butlerian sense).

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