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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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.
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| I Think We Can All Agree That While There Is Something To... ||Dec 4th. at 11:59:23 am EST|
|Green Sprite (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 18 |
I think we can all agree that while there is something to be said for antiquity, like a fine wine, the most important thing is you, what you like and want and need and feel comfortable with. A person who feels more comfortable choosing their own wayalong their path should, while a person who feels more comfortable with the old ways should follow that. Call your Gods and Goddess by whatever name, reverence them by whatever methods you most feel comfortable with, call yourself Druid, Gypse, Essene, Buddhist, Wicca, Toaist, it's all up to you, the world was made a wonderful tableau, grand and infinitely varied, so that the choices presented us are endless. Follow whatever path is best for you as long as it be loving and respectful.
| Is Older Better? Ummmmmm No..........but..... Certainly Noone Can Deny The Benefit... ||Dec 4th. at 11:59:26 am EST|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Is older better? Ummmmmm no..........but.....
Certainly noone can deny the benefit of a well disciplined and lovingly guided education in Craft - and what I believe is "better" is just this kind of path. The traditionalists can feel somewhat more secure than the rest of the newbies, because to some extent this discipline and course are clearly laid out and therefore provide clear goals to pursue. Newer traditions and practices also have their benefit however, because there is no acceptance of the status quo - one must build one's traditions from the ground up and is given the marvelous opportunity to take nothing for granted, question everything, find one's own answers, and become the freer for it.
I think there's a middle meeting point to be acheived though, and this is it: Solid, loving, responsible leadership in our teachers/clergy/priests and priestesses (whatever definition of leadership role you use)
I gotta say that I'm frequently scared at the number amd unquestioning acceptance I observe in many newbies who seem intent on plunging into Craft for shock value, or power through magic, or because it's fashionable - without due respect for the spiritual foundation which lies at the core. This is after all, a religion! While many would say that those who are not meant to pursue the spiritual path and pay it's price will naturally grow bored and drop off, I am finding that this is not necessarily the case. Rather, we are seeing many more Wiccans who pursue only the light "fluffy bunny" side of Craft which makes so many traditionalists cringe. I believe this stems from a lack of teachership in the community - and by this I mean teachers who are willing to demand more, push deeper, force the student to question the who what where when how and why, and do it in a loving and responsible way.
Is older better? Not necessarily. But I'd rather live in a house with dark closets as well as picture windows, and it'd better have a bloody good foundation!
| I Am A "newbie" And I Don't Feel The Need To Pad... ||Dec 4th. at 12:09:05 pm EST|
|Green Sprite (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 18 |
I am a "newbie" and I don't feel the need to pad my experiences, I feel wonderful about being less than a year down my spiritual path, because I know I've got so long to go and so much to see and do and it's all brand new to me. This, my first year in the craft, has been one of the most memorable times of my life. I'm discovering the real meanings of holidays, Yule and Samhain and Beltane, which to me just used to be Christmas, Halloween, and May Day, and none of those wer ever as important to me as the holidays are to me now. They were just times for fun and food and gifts before, now they're spiritual occassions, and I find I almost live holiday to holiday and esbat to esbat. In the next few years I will have amazing experiences because of my new spiritual life, and yet what's more I know that those few years will be but the groundwork for the years and decades to follow. I have so much time to learn and experience and rise above my limitations and non-spiritual impulses. For me, being a "newbie" is the most wonderful thing there is, so I don't feel a slight bit of shame in admitting that I'm not an elder of the craft. No one else should, either.
| Being A "newbie" Myself, I Find The Attitude That A Number Of... ||Dec 4th. at 12:25:56 pm EST|
|Torin Rainwolf (Cape Carteret, North Carolina US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
Being a "newbie" myself, I find the attitude that a number of the "old guard" take against ecelectic beliefs to be rather hypocritical. Let's face it. When it comes to the "Old Religion", "Old" is only about sixty years. As one writer put it: "Gerry invented it, Alex modified it, and Doreen wrote it down". Wicca, even in it's "Old Guard" segments, is firmly a part of the 20th century. Our roots may stretch back into antiquity, but the tree called Wicca sprang up in the 1950s. That is fact, I'm sorry. I can't speak for anyone else, but I was never attracted to paganism because of claims to be ancient or "the old ways". I was attracted to paganism because it espoused the beliefs I held and gave me new ways to view things I couldn't put words to. A religion of poetry as opposed to dogma. Show me anything on the Goddess' green earth that stays the same. Nature Herself is in constant evolution. The universe changes by the microsecond. How can a faith that embraces Nature as manifested Divinity resist evolution?
| I Don't Know, I'm Making This Up As I Go Along! Neopagans... ||Dec 4th. at 12:37:49 pm EST|
|arielle (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I don't know, I'm making this up as I go along! Neopagans ( and we are neo because we don't have any guaranteed evidence of how our ancestors worshiped) are on the cuttung edge of religious evolution. While we are harking back to beliefs that are thousands of years old, they have been suppressed enough that we have no "bible" that suppposedly tells us everthing we need to know. This frees us from other's interpretations of our beliefs - we can decide what they mean to us. There is no one right way - tolerance is definately necessary in any mixed group of pagans. But this acceptance of others beliefs is part of what sets pagans of any kind apart from the judeo-christian-islamic faction. They are all one right way sorts. It doesn't matter if you are new or old in your beliefs. Acceptance is the name of the game, and new energy should always be appreciated. I appreciate energy of any sort! And I will keep making life, the univers, and everthing up as I go along!
| Age, Gender, Sexual Preference, Race, Color...none Of This Matters One Bit... ||Dec 4th. at 1:05:46 pm EST|
|Lasairchroidhe (The Flaming Heart) (Cedar Rapids, Iowa US) ||Age: 36 |
Age, gender, sexual preference, race, color...none of this matters one bit. YES we should honor our elders for their experience and the wisdom accumulated over many years of practice - but there are many young folks out there with enormous talents, great minds, with much to contribute to the growth and evolution of our spiritual path(s).
I think part of the problem is that people don't take you as seriously when you say "I've been a Witch/Druid/Pagan/etc. for 7 months" and think it's probably just a creepy phase you're going through. I've been a Druid for 20-some odd years, but only been practicing for 2 years, which is the same as being raised in some church and going back to it as an adult. My Dad was an agnostic Druid (if there can be such a thing) so I have had to introduce myself to my Gods and Ancestors - which has been fine - and I only felt moved to do so a couple years ago, but that doesn't negate the first 18-odd years of my Druidism.
It's becoming fashionable to be a Pagan now - just like Lesbianism was fashionable a few years back and faded into the closet again - just like other things come into fashion and out. I think we all have a great desire to say "NO! My feelings about this are true and real, and I'm NOT going to forsake my Gods and my Groves for the Methodists (or the Catholics, or Baptists, etc.) when the going gets tough."
A very wise musician told me that he always believed that there was something he could learn from any musician, no matter their skill level, and I think that's a very wise way of living your life. He was in his 50's and I was a teenager, but I taught him how to play Irish fiddle tunes and that music has become a great love for him.
| I Have The Utmost Respect For Those Who Dared To Call Themselves... ||Dec 4th. at 1:40:44 pm EST|
|Amethyst (Lynnwood, Washington US) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I have the utmost respect for those who dared to call themselves Witches before it became fashionable. We all owe a huge debt to people like Laurie Cabot, Sybil Leek, Starhawk, Oberon and Morningglory Zell, Z Budapest, and others who dared to come out of the broom closet at risk to themselves.
Because they had the courage to write openly about Witchcraft, those of us who were seeking the Goddess and God could practice our religion without having to depend on finding a coven and seeking the approval of its members. Many of us discovered that our experience and dedication to the Lord and Lady is just as valid as a coven member with a fancy title.
I have never been formally initiated into a coven, but I feel the Goddess Herself has called me to be Her priestess. I have studied for over 20 years on my own, not only Wicca, but other religions as well. Is my self-initiation less valid? I think not.
Let's welcome all seekers and help them in their journey. Everyone was new once.
| Although We Try To Rise Above Human Nature It Will Always Affect... ||Dec 4th. at 1:56:35 pm EST|
|Mechele de Avila (New Orleans, Louisiana US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
Although we try to rise above human nature it will always affect us on some level. There will always be those who feel that their way is the only way or those who prefer to stick with their tradtions for whatever reason.
I am new to the fold and thus may have a more open view than those who have not had it as easy as I. I have never had to search very hard to find those willing to share ideas and knowledge with me and I have never been persecuted (looked at funny, yes) for my beliefs. There will always be those drawn to things for the "wrong" reasons, fashion, shock value, or defiance and not true devotion, but that does not mean that all "newbies" are not serious.
By nature there will always be people who want routine and sameness and at the same turn of the coin there will always be those who rise against structure and set routines. There will be those who embrace change and those who find comfort in the old ways. I do not think any old traditions will "die, " but we may see some changes in the way some worship.
| I Would Hope That We Do Not Communicate To Those Who Have... ||Dec 4th. at 2:26:10 pm EST|
|Riverwolf (Roseburg, Oregon US) ||Age: 52 - Email |
I would hope that we do not communicate to those who have recently discovered their Wiccan path some sort of lesser status or importance in the Pagan community, solitary or of coven association. We are all learning, seeking new insights about our own path, our own connection with the Goddess and the God. It is not a matter or "right" versus "wrong." The "Old Guard" are not the sole sources of or final judges of correct answers - fortunately we have no Wiccan pope. On the other hand, those who have walked the Wiccan path longer than others are tremendous resources for information, experience, learning and insights into what Wicca can mean for those newer to our religion, and the legitimate keepers of coven secrets. The new generations of Wiccans will play a key role in the evolution of our religion. As with all aspects of our universe, change is inevitable. To the extent that the next generations of Wiccans / Pagans hold to the basic tenents of our religion is a function of our educating our youth. We must be willing to take the time to talk with our children about the beauty and power of Wiccan beliefs and practices. We must take every opportunity to show our children that we are not afraid or ashamed to be identified as Pagans in the general community. Yes, it is hard sometimes to balance everyday life with Wiccan identity. Yes, unfortunately we are still subject to discrimination. Yes, we must keep our children safe from that discrimination. We must teach them to respect the discrete Wiccan identity of others. But to the extent that we can show our children that there is a place in the world for them to live their lives as Wiccans / Pagans with self-respect and dignity - this is our obligation to them as those who will carry on our beliefs and traditions.
| One Might Say "only A Witch Can Make A Witch." How About... ||Dec 4th. at 2:53:05 pm EST|
|Dairine (Bay Area, California US) ||Age: 0 - Email |
One might say "Only a Witch can make a Witch." How about the Goddess? Is She Witch enough for you?
This aside . . . let's dissect: what makes a Witch? And by extension, an Elder?
Knowledge, for one. A familiarity with the practices and theories of this religion or others.
Talent, perhaps. A natural proclivity and inclination, at least, if not natural abilities.
Craft, most certainly. The development of this talent, the ability to raise and direct energy, and to recognize its natural forms. The learning derived from practice and experience and hard work.
And Wisdom. The hardest to pin down. Perhaps it's a circle, and Wisdom overlaps back upon Knowledge. But it's the sort of learning that comes from understanding -- knowing not only what to do and how to do it, but when, and why. Understanding not necessarily the meanings of the Divine Universe, but understanding the ways in which we perceive them.
It's the funny sort of coincidence that these match up with "To Know, to Dare, to Will, and to Keep Silent." They just popped into my head in a moment of thought on the question.
Growth is required. Spending a lot of time doing it, I say, is not.
Perhaps I am biased. But since before I can remember, people have been telling me that I have an old soul. I believed it before I knew whether or not I believed in reincarnation. I didn't think it impossible that my soul had simply aged more rapidly; after all, I'd been doing everything I could towards that end. I still haven't uncovered any of my past lives, but my childhood memories point towards wanting to know everything, and acting on that desire quite frequently.
I do not claim myself an Elder; I even feel a little silly claiming myself a Witch -- I'm in it for the spirituality, from day to day, and the Craft only gets my attention when I'm in the right mood, or when life isn't too hectic. But I will say with certainty that wisdom is not achieved by sitting in one place for sixty years. One of the reasons why I identify with Persephone is because of her ambiguity between Maiden and Crone. (There's a picture with this theme on my amateur art site, http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/loth/l/i/lisal/persephone.jpg.html) I was old before I was young, and I can't say that I'm wise, because that seems like a yardstick and a self-judgment for which I am not qualified. But we are all in different stages of wisdom. My current one, I think, is acceptance.
| I First Became Involved With Wicca When It Was Downright Dangerous To... ||Dec 4th. at 3:03:47 pm EST|
|Starscryer (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 45 - Email |
I first became involved with Wicca when it was downright dangerous to admit adherence to this path - in 1974. In my case, I would have lost my security clearance, and most likely have been confined to the mental ward of a military hospital if I had come out of the broom closet. Since that time, I have seen Wicca grow from a "cult" to a movement. Today it is possible for us to gather in circle in the light of day.
The newcomers to our path have given Wicca its wings. It matters little whether one is "newbie" or "old guard;" what matters is the love in one's heart for the Lord and Lady. The "old guard" is our foundation - we should remember when we were the "newbies, " and use the wisdom that comes with age to temper the natural resistance to change. The "newbies" are our future - one day you too shall be the "old guard." Pray that you too will be challenged by the newcomers, for that is the path to growth and renewal!
| The Beauty Of Paganism Is That It Is As Old As The... ||Dec 4th. at 3:04:46 pm EST|
|Kari C. Tauring (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
The beauty of Paganism is that it is as old as the Earth and as everchanging as her seasons. I still believe that witches are born not made. No matter what calendar date you say you began your path, we all started before our birth's. And what is this about Better than? Paganism is unique because it is able to accept and incorporate the old, the new, the extraterrestrial...It is an organic spirituality, that means change. I have rarely heard a Pagan talk about things with such judgemental words as Better than or More Authentic than. Most Pagans I know are simply happy to see others learn to live in harmony with the Earth and grow in their own acceptance of others. It is also unique because one who follows the path is not hindered by dogma and centuries of rules and regulations. It's good and important to know about the history of our ways. It is equally as important to be able to change our paradigms, our realities, our standard methods. As the Earth Changes are occurring faster and faster, humans need to be flexible in their ways, to hold more light than they used to, to accept that the same set of spells may not work anymore, to change with Her. Finally, remember, we are the future generations of Pagans. Think in terms of the next 7 generations and go with the flow of healing that Earth gives you to use. Open yet grounded, sure of our inner Truth while the truth around us changes. "Everything she touches changes!"
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