The word "eclectic" is one we hear quite often in relation to Paganism: Eclectic Pagan/Witch/Witchcraft/Wicca/Path/Tradition, and more.
So, what does it mean, exactly? I guess that really depends on who you ask. Generally, it means that a person draws on multiple sources to create the whole. In Wicca, it means that a practicioner does not subscribe to one of the more established traditions, instead choosing elements from several to create their own path. In the wider sense, an Eclectic Pagan/Witch might draw on multiple traditions across several cultures to formulate a cohesive system.
The next question could be what are some reasons a practicioner might choose an eclectic path? I can think of several. Perhaps s/he has not had the opportunity to work with someone from an established tradition. Or, they might have left an established tradition after finding it was not a good fit. Another possibility might be s/he simply prefers eclecticism.
Does being eclectic mean you have to be a Solitary? Not at all. While there are Eclectics who are Solitary, there are also Eclectics who work with a group. The coven I belong to, for example, is eclectic in nature. Our "tradition" borrows from many sources - retaining what works well, modifying or discarding what doesn't.
I consider myself a witch practicing Eclectic Witchcraft. Some aspects of what I do/believe come from Wicca; some from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians; bits gleaned from what we know about pre-historic peoples; Green Witchcraft and Kitchen Witchery. There are even a few Druidic tendencies and Native American traits thrown in to spice it up. You really can't get much more "eclectic" than that.
While some may say Eclectics lack structure, I can't agree. Sure, some Eclectics do, but certainly not all. I won't sit here and try to say I follow a very structured eclectic path. I don't. But, I do practice within the structure I have created, and that which my Coven Sisters and I are creating. My system allows for flexibility (not saying traditional paths don't). I can keep what works. And, if something worked before, but quits, I can get rid of it or change it.
I'm not just an Eclectic Witch. I am also an eclectic mom and eclectic homeschooler.
I use the term eclectic referring to my role as mom because it is applicable. I am constantly learning and growing, and as I do my parenting techniques evolve. I use what works until it stops working. Then I try something new. My kids are so different from each other, but my son is just like my brother (to the point the whole family mixes up their names!) and my little girl is a carbon-copy of my sister. This gives me an advantage: I know what my parents did with my siblings, therefore I can borrow what was successful and discard what failed. Then try out new ideas based on what my friends and other parents have tried.
When it come to homeschool, again, eclectic is the way to go. My son is such a unique learner, for all subjects, that no one program or curriculum completely fits. So, I take what works, and find other methods and materials when necessary.
Being eclectic is very much a personal choice. It's not right for everyone. But it is right for me, for now, because it works. I might someday get to know someone within an established, *gasp* structured tradition and have an opportunity to learn from that group. If that happens, I might find it suits me. Or, I might not. Who knows? Only time will tell.