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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 20,025,132  

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Question of the Week: 17 - 12/4/2000

Does Older Equal Better?

Whether it is Traditional Wicca vs. Solitary Wicca or Coven Trained vs. Self-Initiation, there are folks on either side of the issue, "Is Older Really Better"? We have even heard of some folks 'padding' their experience (or years) so as not be called a "newbie" or a 'wannabe". Is there something 'wrong' with being a new seeker? Is there something inherently right about being what some call the "Old Guard"? Is there a point where revering the 'old way' of teaching/passing on the knowledge actually becomes 'resistant to change'? Should the new generations of Pagans follow closely in our footsteps or should they be free to break new ground? Can the old traditions survive if they do? Should they?

 Reponses:   There are 199 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

With All Due Respect, Older Is Not Always Better. The Idea Of... Dec 7th. at 10:57:12 am EST

WindSong (Los Alamos, New Mexico US) Age: 17 - Email

With all due respect, older is not always better. The idea of traditional paths must be taken with a grain of salt. The "Old Ways" are not necessarily the original. For too long Witchcraft has been supressed and destroyed, to be sure that it is "pure". It is good to remember that Wicca is actually a very new religion drawn from older sources.

While the older pratictioners and their practice are extremely valuable, the new is equally so. Spirituality is constantly evolving. That is why one must do what works best for her. The Goddess reveals herself in many ways. The different design of an alter or the different chant to summon the elements are different, but equally valid, methods to reach Her.

It is the insistance on a one true way that poisoned most other religions to me. It would be the greatest sorrow for the Craft to follow in this trend. "Old" is valuable, not more right or wrong.

I also resent being called a newbie. In some sense, we all are. I find the term wannabe even more demeaning. Just because I am new to the Craft, just because I am not from a Pagan family, just because I draw my teachings from books, none of this means I am truly seeking or truly practicing. I have a relationship with the Goddess and none of those things gave it to me but myself.

I know that the question of whether one should learn from books and solitary is much debated. I am solitary and I learned much of what I did from books. I have several reasons for this. Books were my first introduction to the Craft. I read one and was immediately enamored with the concept. I went to the bookstore and began to select books I thought would be valuable. Not much later I learned that an adult friend of mine was a practictioner. She was wonderful for me, but I still went my own way. She wasn't an authority, she was a resource, albeit a much loved and trusted one. Organized religion makes me nervous, but if one is completely alone, I feel that the opportunity to become stagnant is too great. Also, it can be very lonely. Therefore, it was wonderful that my friend and I found the Craft together and explore it together, though we are not any sort of coven, just two solitaries using each other for support and empathy. Finally, I didn't want to join a coven because there are some cults out there that pass themselves off as practitioners of the Craft. I am not yet an adult and am unsure whether I have the strength and experience to avoid such cults. Also, my mother supports my choice, however, she has no intention of practicing herself and to bring her with me just because I am unsure would not be right.

There is no one true way. The Goddess is within us all. There is truth and value in all methods. The most important is to find the one that gives one a better relationship with the Goddess. We are all different and so will need a different method to reach our inner spirituality. We are constantly changing and evolving and so our ways will change and evolve with us. To insist on one way is to lessen the spirituality's infiniteness.

Blessed be.

I Do Not Believe There Is Anything Wrong With Being A Newbie... Dec 7th. at 11:08:59 am EST

Teresa Lotz (SIBLEY, Louisiana US) Age: 47 - Email

I do not believe there is anything wrong with being a newbie. How else do we continue to grow. I believe it is very important to teach the old ways and the old traditions. I have a great amount of respect for the Old Ways and those who have learned them and now pass them down. The old traditions are very vital to us. New ones should also be welcomed as long as they follow Rede and Law. The thing that drew me to Wicca is the freedom and tradition of beliefs.
I believe the problem comes in and what I have personally experienced is when ego proceeds personalities. When the "teacher" becomes so "taken" with themselves and how great and wise and all knowing that "they" are, they lose touch with those of us who so desperately want to learn. When they become so self important that they can no longer hear the concerns or questions of the students or display such disdain and lack of respect for a students lack of knowledge, that the student feels less than, stupid, or totally discounted and unimportant in the group.
Once a person puts "themselves" on the Pedestal of How Great I Am, they are no longer effective as a teacher, a role model or even High Priest/ess. They become unapproachable, and untolerable.
In closing I say, when you teach always remember that we all stared at one point or another at the beginning. That each one of us is loved by our God/dess, that each individual is important and has a right to be heard, respected and treated fairly. All that truely seek have the right to learn when their hearts are right. When you start throwing people out of Groups because you don't like their openness, their questioning, their concerns, putting personalities first, then you are no better than the Inquistors and those others who persecute us because we believe differently and dare to question.

This Is Really A Rather Difficult Question, And The Answer Tends To... Dec 7th. at 11:40:03 am EST

BrightRaven (Williamsburg, Virginia US) Age: 22 - Email

This is really a rather difficult question, and the answer tends to change depending on the situation. I would say that the way I look at it is that it's not the length of time that matters, but the "quality", so to speak, of belief. A one-day-old Wiccan who has finally just managed to name her religion is a much better thing than someone who has claimed to be Wiccan for years, but really just involves herself for the trappings. Usually this is very easy to discern with a short conversation. The baby-Wics who have just found the path are just as important, especially if they have already waded in soul-deep. I must be honest- as a *very* solitary person, as well as one who has trouble using rituals written by other people- I really have a hard time feeling the emotion they must have invested in it- I tend to make up my own traditions, and I do not think this is the sort of thing we should be standing by merely for tradition's sake. Yes, the leaves sprout and grow and fall and die ever year without fail, but it it never the exact same leaves as the ones that sprouted and grew and fell and died during the previous year. Life is a cycle, but not a circle; it is a spiral that move around a common point but does not repeat itself exactly, for it is both cyclical and linear. Yule approaches again, but it is not the same as Yule of two years previous, when my Da was still alive, and it is not the same Yule as last year, when the pain of our loss of him was still horribly fresh, and every decoration we hung reminded us that he was not there to hang it with us. We Pagans, as an Earth-based and nature based path, must know how to keep *change* moving with us even as we follow the paths of those gone before. We should not scoff at the newbies who really mean it, and those who are merely blinded by the moonlight need to be taught what the real meaning of being a Witch is.

I Am A Dedicant To The Aridian System Of Stregheria As Outlined... Dec 7th. at 12:11:39 pm EST

simona elda marseglia (duluth, Minnesota US) Age: 30 - Email

i am a dedicant to the aridian system of stregheria as outlined by raven grimasssi's "italian witchcraft, " but i also incorporate my own gifts and talents into my work--both in spellwork and ritual.
however, i have opened my mind even further to realize that time is not linear--it is circular. everything that is now, in my belief, has been before. i don't believe that we've only progressed into the age of technology only once and only during the last fifty years or so. i believe that there was an ancient global civilization just as there is now global world trade.
i believe that past and future freely intermingle. i know, i know, i sound like a science fiction novel. but i truly see that time is circular and *not* the linear scope that our tiny human minds put on it. it will continue to be circular because that is the way of the goddess. look at the shape of the earth, the sun, the moon and the other planets. look at the shape of a woman's breast, of the female egg, of the parts of an atom. they are all circles to one degree or another. why should time be any different?
witches and pagans, we must learn from the past and from what will be. i believe it was winston churchill who said, "those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it."
i believe that antiquity has a special place, and i think authors of hereditary families for bringing the past to the present, but when you start to realize that time is circular, and not linear, you realize that we must not only follow something just because that's the way it used to be done. neither must we follow something because that's the way it is now. life must be a dance of combing the two, past and future, to orchestrate the present. otherwise, we don't grow, we don't progress, we don't evolve and we are bound to physical re-birth.
so, do i think mystery traditions are necessary? yes. do i think that these traditions are a requirement for everbody? no. this doesn't make me a "wanna be, " it makes me a solitary because that is in my nature in this incarnation--i've always been a loner. do i think we can learn from those who went before? absolutely! do i think that it takes a witch to make a witch? no. i know there are some who would disagree greatly with this statement, and their arguments are just as valid as mine from their viewpoint--they have studied hard to learn their traditions and deserve kudos for that, but the time has come to recognize that witches are born, not made (in my opinion.) that kind of ideal is more for the orthodox religions--those one converts to--the non-pagan religions. true, there are those who have and are and will initiate into group practices, but for myself and many others, well we received spontaneous shamanic inititations. i received two different types myself. but i digress. we are called to the craft by our mother and father. whether we choose to answer that calling or not is what makes one a witch.
this is not to say that i don't appreciate the old guard. we have the craft as it existed, swirling over time, because of them. but since i believe that time is circular, i believe that if (goddess and god forbid) the old guard were wiped out tomorrow, the gods would give us the same repeat information as they did to our ancestors. why? because all pagan religions from antiquity began as organic, as shamanism, as growing up with a people who added their own voices and visions to it as they went along. eventually these people became the wise and the sage. the old guard gave us a wonderful gift by going underground and keeping the occult alive for us during the age of persecution. let's honor their memories by discarding the fear that kept them hidden for 2000 years. let's treat the religion(s) as "normal" rather than "fringe." let's stop the inner feuding of labels such as "newbie" and "wannabe" and "old guard" and such. when people ask me if i am a witch, i say yes with confidence, knowing that the godess and god have called me.
i mean no disrespect to those who have gone before, but i think it's time to stop obsessing so much over length of time of consciously practitioning and degrees and all that stuff unless one is entering a formal group. we must break free of all limitations, new and old. blessings be!

We Are A Path Of Converts. For Many Of Us Pagan/wicca... Dec 7th. at 12:42:42 pm EST

Lady Gypsy Hawk (st. louis, Missouri US) Age: 21 - Email

We are a path of converts. For many of us Pagan/Wicca is not the religion we were born to. I think it is wonderful if you can find deep roots within your family. But for those of us just starting out, or solitaries who claim no linage what is needed is support an acceptance. As soon as we as a community start bickering about who is more valid than whom then we start to wander into the idea that only a particualr way is the correct way. This makes us no better than the mainstream religions so many of us converted from.

There is value in "old ways" they give us roots, but "new ways" give us wings and move us on the path toward the betterment of our world and ourselves.

Blessed be

Lady Gypsy Hawk

I'm Fairly New To My Path, And I Try To Be Honest... Dec 7th. at 12:54:18 pm EST

Britishblue (Shaw AFB, South Carolina US) Age: 33 - Email

I'm fairly new to my Path, and I try to be honest about that. There are times when, as a human, I feel the urge to try and "pad". But I find that it makes me uncomfortable to do so, and therefore go back to the "straight and narrow". Even at the still-young age of 33, I feel the peer pressure to be something that I am not, and that is where my life experience kicks in and straightens me out. I've only been studying my Path for 1.5 years now, and there is so much that I do not know. But one thing, as a solitary, that I HAVE learned is that I MUST make my own Path.

I absolutly fell in love with Scott Cunningham's books, and one of the things that I love is that he repeats over and over that it's up to us to make our way, and feel out what is right for us. I have discovered through trial and error that I cannot walk the same Path that someone else has made. For example, I tried to follow a solitary ritual once, and ended up making myself sick for 3 days. The next time, although scared to death to try, I did my way. It worked wonders and I felt completely at home! (What's amazing is that I learned that lesson with one try, not 40 like normal!)

Anyway, I have met a couple of folks that are of the "Old Ways", and one of them scared me, and the other one I've never been afraid of and love to death! Like some of the folks that were mentioned by one of the earlier posters, this person thinks they know all and can't possibly learn anything else. Not only that, but this person believes in teaching things that, in my opinion, should NOT be taught. Things that I have found, are quite frowned upon in the Wicca commmunity. The other one is a ray of sunshine in my life. She's the type of person that is so comfortable with who she is, that you can walk into a room having never met this person and know instantly who she is. (I know because this is how I met her!) She's not afraid of teaching others, but is also not afraid of telling them that they need to find their own Way.

I'm not sure that I will ever be experienced enough to be a teacher, and I'm finding that I'm ok with this. I'm finding that being a "newbie" is ok. It means you're learning. It means that you're not afraid to admit that you're learning. I believe that in order to admit that I am a "newbie" that I must have humility, modesty, and a willingness to learn from others. As for the issue whether the "Old Ways" are better or worse, I think we need ALL of it. The Old Ways, and the New Ways. We learn from experience, and where else do we get experience, but from History? We take from History, in order to make something better, or more powerful. I learn from each ritual or working that I do. Each time I remember what I did last time, I include that, and work to make this particular ritual better than the last. I read to see what other folks have done, why they did it, then take what I'm comfortable with and work with that. If we did not have the "Old Ways", what would we learn from?

In closing this long drawn-out post, I must add this one final point. We talk about how the world is changing. If the world is changing, why should we not change with it? We must change in order to retain our place in this world, and in the History that we are creating each and every day.
Blessings to one and all!

I Have Been Told That There Are Standards And There Are Traditions... Dec 7th. at 2:10:53 pm EST

Laura (Long Island, New York US) Age: 17 - Email

I have been told that there are standards and there are traditions to being a pagan. There are rules to follow and codes and languages and all matter of what-have-you to respect and abide by and that if you do something wrong you could end up in the disfavor of the gods and then what will you do?
But I never put much stock in all that. I think that there are traditions that I like and I do follow because they make me feel a connection with the diety(ies) that I acknowledge. However, people like, environment, are an evolving changing force and so there must be no limits to what we do. I believe we owe it to ourselves to let our sprits go to new lengths and break records and cut the red tape that is sometimes wrapped around them.

There is nothing wrong or shameful in being new to realizing a part of the grand truth, or the simple truth for that matter. (By truth I mean a spritiual path) I think that there is a great deal of hate brewing in our world and many of us let it pass us by without halting it. I see many times that people who recognize themselves to be witches or pagans will hassle someone new to a path or to discovering one. This is not right and is something that needs to be stopped! Where is our message of love in the world? My heart feels so cold when I see this hate, this opposition. We need to nurture those who are stepping into our world and our consciousness. We need to help them. It is frightening to be on a spiritual pilgrimage and always a great unburdening to our sould when someone is there to understand.

The old traditions are important. They have been the basis on which we form new traditions. Everything has a place, no matter how concrete or abstract. It is time to open up, to love, and to bridge the gap of loneliness. It is time that we all began to share more with our souls and hearts rather than with our doubts and fears.

Much love,

Where Would Any Of The Traditions Be Without The "old Ones"? Would... Dec 7th. at 2:17:45 pm EST

Blue Mystravyn (Harrisville, Wisconsin US) Age: 36 - Email

Where would any of the traditions be without the "Old Ones"? Would there be any at all? Personally, I think not, but that is of course one opinon of a "newbie". I began living my path only two very short years ago and could never proclaim to know anything more than most other newbies at this stage. One of the truth's that I follow is the Rede. To me, it is the foundation of my beliefs and my chosen path. I am what I consider to be just about as solitary as one can get. Often, unfortunately, I feel as though I must remain so, simply because there are so many uneducated and misinformed newbies out there, that communicating with them at all makes for even more confusion concerning my own path. Perhaps "Older" does not "Equal" "Better", however I do believe that for me at least, "Older" does Equal" Wiser" in most cases. Saying that, I do not mean that a 20 year old could not be as "wise" as a 40 year old. Quite the contrary actually. I have certainly met much younger and much wiser folks than I. What I mean is that, someone who has walked thier path in the Wiccan or Pagan religion for many turns, would absolutely be much wiser. That is of course, if they have been true to thier path. I feel it is incumbent upon each and every one of us, "Newbie" or an "Old Gaurd", to take the responsibility of being honest. The rede, if an individual is truly honest with themself, demands it! Otherwise, one is in fact harming others with their dishonesty. As we all know, there are many traditions and beliefs. What we each chose to believe is wonderfully individual and beautifully natural. As a newbie, I only desire peace and harmony in life and with those whom I share this existance with.
Blessed Be and Gentle Journeys,

I Am A Traditionally Trained Witch And High Priestess Of The 3rd... Dec 7th. at 3:23:57 pm EST

Rowan AmuletSong (Colorado Springs, Colorado US) Age: 27 - Email

I am a traditionally trained witch and High Priestess of the 3rd degree...

I have mundane, eclectic's, self initaties and students alike; all ask what is the the difference between traditional training and non traditional. Traditional training is based on a established traditional practice and usually requires a degree system and is mainly a coven style of teaching. I was trained in the traditional format of Alexandrian/Gardnerian with a strict structure of ritual design, and practice with a coven hierarchy. Advancement, rank and title were based on degree's requiring extensive lessons according to the coven and doctrine, and then initiation into the coven. Keep in mind a coven is a law unto itself and is normally autonomous. According to most traditional systems, I know of my own, there IS a difference between Dedication and Initiation:

Dedication is the process in which a person accepts the Craft and vows to study and learn. However, there is no ceremony only the person's ritual and decision to practice witchcraft as a religion and magickal system. Anyone can practice witchcraft ,

Initiation is the induction into an order or coven as well as an advancement from one degree of teaching to another and is usually a ceremony that truly altars your life and according to most traditions (mine included)makes a person a witch and a member of the priesthood.

The concept of this rule is "Only a witch can make a Witch" and it is a good rule to follow. When a mechanic decides to work on your car I am sure you would rather know that he had to under go apprenticeship instead of reading a book. I don't want a doctor to perform open heart surgery without going through the teaching or internship first... such is or at least was the thinking of the craft until recently.

Many traditional covens still rely on this rule, as mine does. If someone is naturally drawn to witchcraft and its concept, the best thing to do; is become initiated and train under an existing witch of the appropriate education and degree, But what if you have no way of joining a coven or have no way to learn from an experienced teacher, then the best road to take would be to teach yourself but, when most traditions were founded that was not possible, but now there are many text on the subject, Keep in mind traditional 2nd and 3rd degree coven teachings are not found in any book.

I myself resent the non-chaliant way most of the Pagan and wiccan communities disregard our teachings and our path... they say "Oh they like to be told what to do" it is not a matter of being told what to do, rather then learning an established way of worship, the growing thought of this stagnant feeling and the same ritual design, same diety worshipped is a matter of the tradition.

The requirments for me to reach second degree was to design an alternate way of conjuring the circle, writing my own rituals, and designing a new way to call the quarters for exsample. I feel the traditional format is lost now and no one wants to even talk to us if we tell them we are degreed. They refuse to worship with us when they see our symbols of rank (if they even know what it is) They tell us we do not think for ourselves, we have technic but no heart, our chosen paths are said to "be taken with a grain of salt" that we are "Stagnent" that "No one tells me what to do" and they forget if Alex Sanders had not initatied Janet and Stewart Farrar they would not have "the Witches Bible" IF Gerald Gardener had not initated Ray Buckland we would not have "The Complete Book of Witchcraft" it seems that rank and formal training is great only for a time being, it allows people to buy the books but, totally disregard the actual covens that still work and rely on these systems.

Many traditional covens do not recognize self initiates or "self taught". However, many do recognize the self dedication, my Mother coven does acknowledge a person dedicating themselves to the principles and the religion of the craft but, does not consider that person a witch or part of the priesthood, only as someone practicing witchcraft. The reason for this is the fact that many, not all, self taught "witches" use the term Eclectic or self initiated, as a refusal of a structured format or laziness.... many read one book and get to page 67 and decide it's time to self initiate. I have met many people who were or are self taught and the extensive of their knowledge is amazing. If a person practices Alexandrian witchcraft and subscribes to the doctrine that is fine, but they are not an initiated traditional Alexandrian Witch.

Also, there are many covens that recognize the self initiated and can provide more training in areas that may be of need. I myself have two students that are undergoing there training for 1st degree, they are not bound to the laws of the coven I was trained under, but they are bond to the traditional teachings of Alexandrian, to myself as their High Priestess and to my coven. And, both were self taught and decided to strip themselves of the eclectic gathering of information in order to learn a traditional witchcraft.

Let me say this Eclectic is not bad or invalid, I know a witchy couple who are traditionally trained 1st degrees but their training is also very extensive on other doctrines of the craft, however they are being trained under a knowledgeable and educated Witch and not gathering information and using what ever gives them that warm fluffy bunny feeling and High Priesting circles. Let me also say that many practitioners of the craft are eclectic and self- initiated have started their own groups or covens and are very knowledgeable and may enter any coven, that acknowledges their learning, but please remember a coven is a law unto itself.

I guess I am very tired of everyone telling us we are invalid but, don't anyone ever tell the eclectic, self initiated "witch" they are invalid there will be nasty rumors all over the place. Many traditional groups are hidden, gone undergrown, and are very secertive because of what our communities do to us... My coven was public and after getting kicked in the mouth for us wanting to preform public ritual for many who have never seen it, the established eclectic community rolled their eyes within our circle, they ridiculed us by saying we were closed minded, walking away from us when we offered our help in the community., And , people wonder why they can't be trained or enter many covens...once bitten twice shy folks.

It is a good thing we have our covens, and groups like "Covenant of the Goddess" they give us respect when our communities ridicule, and hate us.

Merry Meet~ "whether It Is Traditional Wicca Vs. Solitary Wicca Or Coven... Dec 7th. at 3:34:52 pm EST

Rhiannon Gwendolyn (Reno, Nevada US) Age: 29 - Email

Merry Meet~

"Whether it is Traditional Wicca vs. Solitary Wicca or Coven Trained vs. Self-Initiation either side of the issue, "Is Older Really Better"?

This is one of the questions at hand (now everbody clap for me)... anyways... If one takes a look at the history of "Traditional" Wicca as it has been presented we find a religion that isn't very olde' in itself. We also find a religion that has brought in many other religious aspects and ideals to create what we call "Wicca". And it was this very foundation of "indifference" or "originallity" or "creativity" that brought us the Wicca we know today. Someone stepped up to the plate and tried to bring the Olde' religion back to us with what knowledge that could be found. So... if that person wouldn't have brought in their "new" ideals, and focused them with some olde' ones, I don't think we would be where we are today.

I mean when you take the term "Self Initiation" vs. "Coven Trained"... I don't see too much of a difference. Who initiated the very first Coven member within a particular tradition? Such as Gardner? Crowley??? So does that mean we all focus on the Order of the Golden Dawn? Heck no!

The Americanized Paganism movement has always been about change and the new to very large degree when compared to European Trads. Especially the Strega... which is one of the very few who have come out of the Olde' time broom closet if you will... yet, will only share so much of their trad.

So I would have to say that "older" doesn't necessarily mean better. I would like to think that it is more of our history that is important, that can help us to become better "witches" in the future. And with every path being as individual as one's thumbprint, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for another. So no, again, "older" doesn't mean better. It is a reflection of what we are to become.

"We have even heard of some folk padding the experience (or years) so as not be called a "newbie" or a "wannabe". Is there something wrong with being a new "seeker"?

I can compare this to "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop"? Anyone know? Me niether. Anyways... The real wannabes are the ones that feel they have to "pad" who they are. Real Witches walk in pride and are not afraid of who they are or what they seek. Also, I have met many a witch who has been "studying" for longer than myself and met many who have been "studying" less... Each have their lessons to share. One never truly quits seeking IMO if they are a Real Witch and not a wannabe. Witches accept realities that most people will not. We know that there is a reason or even a need for every aspect of life and are WISE enough to know that the young and the olde' have lessons to teach... When you can sit there to yourself privately at the end of a day and or a situation, and try and see what you are suppose to be learning regardless of what is happening... (very hard indeed), or at least open yourself to the idea that there is not such thing as "one absolute truth". Wannabe's pad... Witches learn as they go and are proud of every accomplishment and embrace it with love and honor.

"Is there a point where revering the "olde' way" of teaching/passing on the knowledge actually becomes "resistant to change"?

Yes. I believe there is to a degree. Some laws can never change. For instance, if you believe in the law of 3 or not... Some don't veiw it as "3" or interpret it to be any numerical value of "karma" or "will", however, there is definitely the need to heed to this lesson. I can only assume that this is an "olde" way if you will. But there are other aspects that can change, will continue to change, and be passed on, and in turn become olde' ways.

"Should the new generations of Pagans follow closely in our footsteps or should they be free to break new ground? Can the olde' traditions survive if they do? Should they?

I believe that Witchcraft as a whole presents us with a religious freedom that I haven't found within any other religions while upholding to the highest of morals and ethics. We can't just do wrong and say, "Well geez, i am sorry could ya forgive me now"? The elders themselves have broken new ground anyway... why shouldn't we? That's what its all about, and the older traditions can still survive I believe until it is time for them to go. It is all part of the circle of life. We cannot have a Spring without a Winter... we cannot have new without an olde'. They compliment each other, and each will pass at some point and become one in themselves. The new will become olde' someday, and the olde' will be revived someday... I mean look at bell bottoms... they came back? Not to trivialize my meaning, but seriously... You can't have one without the other. And besides... we "newbies" need our elders to guide us... some of these elders out there never had an elder of their own to turn to so we "newbies" now days are quite blessed if you ask me.

I think the most important thing to remember is that their is knowledge in the young and the olde'. And it is very arrogant and perhaps unwise to discount anything from either source. We as humans constantly learn... and if we can keep the doors of communication open, the future for our Pagan communities will become a wonderous reflection of us all... and perhaps our knowledge will not die out as easily as before.

Blessed Be~
Rianna (Newbie for 4 years now *grin* )O(

I Don't Believe Older Equals Better, Nor Does New Equal Worse. Both... Dec 7th. at 3:48:49 pm EST

Lughaidh (Burleson, Texas US) Age: 42 - Email

I don't believe older equals better, nor does new equal worse. Both states have merit, and both have their place in any religion.

It is unfortunate that the conditions exist that anyone would feel pressured to 'pad' experience in order to avoid disparaging names such as 'newbie' or 'wannabe'. All of us have been new to something at one stage or another, and new things often bring vitality and freshness to many endeavours.

No one comes as an experienced seeker, since all can be termed a 'new seeker' at one point or another. Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a new seeker. Nor is there anything wrong with being what some call the "Old Guard"; the term would be irrelevant without new seekers -- the "New Guard". Concerning being inherently right about being what some call the "Old Guard", my question would be right about what? Right about not being a new seeker any longer? Right about having gained experience and knowledge?

Resistance to change can be (but is not always) a dangerous position to be in. For example, the Roman Catholic Church (used here because of the age and history of the institution) has a clear history of resistance to change. When one is accepted into what becomes a (basically) exclusionary order, others participate in the religion on an increasingly limited basis. Becoming comfortable and secure in a position may potentially lead to excluding those that may bring new vitality to something that is becoming, or may have become, stagnant and musty. At the same time, though, continuity can be maintained with little or measured change.

Seekers on a new path, especially one that is established, would do well and exhibit wisdom to follow closely those that would mentor and instruct them. At the same time, mentors and instructors may exhibit wisdom also by acknowledging that new seekers may have strengths that may have been forgotten or overlooked. To use the analogy of a human family: is it better to be a parent or a child? A parent was once a child that has matured and is charged with guiding the child, even though the child may at times act foolishly (as the parent may once have done). The child follows the parent's guidance (hopefully) but seeks for their own place and identity separate from the parent. The child and parent are still of the same family, but both change with time. Soon, the child becomes a parent charged with responsibility of guiding that child into maturity. The family continues and survives, and should continue to do so. The family whose members demonstrate antagonism because one is the 'parent' and one is the 'child' often develop tensions and dysfunction.

I suggest that unless the "old guard" and the "new guard" develop respectful levels of communication between themselves, the old traditions may become traditions of memory only, resulting in loss to all. But perhaps those memories will be revived in, say, another two thousand years by a new group of 'newbies' and 'wannabes' seeking old truths. The opportunity exists now, here, today, to avoid losing that which has already been found and to discover that which has not.

I Have Always Thought That Being Part Of Wicca And Nature, Meant... Dec 7th. at 4:20:06 pm EST

Chris Molder (Auburn, Washington US) Age: 16 - Email

I have always thought that being part of Wicca and nature, meant that you were in a state of perpetual learning and experiencing. Why do some people just refuse to say were together in this. Is a sapling any less precious or important than a towering redwood. I know that my point is not well desputed and my opinion is very long, but i think it is something people need to think about.

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