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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 22,485,575  

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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 

As A Witch I Have Come To Realize And Accept That Part... Dec 8th. at 11:59:13 am EST

Anthony (Utica, New York US) Age: 33 - Email

As a Witch I have come to realize and accept that part my faith or tradition has a good chunk of it's basis in the concept of "change". All things change - continously expanding and contracting. Sometimes the time frame inwhich change occurs is over such a great span of time that it is almost invisible to our wee perspectives in the greater scheme of things.

So - like all things around us, does it not stand to reason that the Craft (or whatever we wish to call these days) is going to change over time as well? If we take our lessons from the natural world around us - those things that remain in perpetual stillness - eventually stagnate and decompose. Even a rock changes with time. . .

I Agree That The Simplicity Of Post #1655 Is Emotionally Motivating In... Dec 8th. at 12:09:41 pm EST

Steven Bragg (MSU, Mississippi US) Age: 24 - Email

I agree that the simplicity of Post #1655 is emotionally motivating in getting us to remember the larger picture of our religion. However, the point at hand is being missed. Certainly the Gods have no need of traditions or even religions for that matter. However, we humans do. This is quite obvious from the centuries of religious practice of humankind. And we are not dealing with Gods, we are dealing with humans. I don't get snubbed by a God/dess, I get snubbed by a human who doesn't understand where I coming from, if I get snubbed, that is. I don't live next to a God/dess, I live next to a human. The point of these discussions is to hopefully come to a better understanding of each other as human beings. To appeal to the supersensible Divine force and say "it doesn't really matter what happens here and now because it's all good in the end" may by true, but it doesn't help us here and now get along with one another.

I Have The Utmost Respect For Those Who Are From A "long... Dec 8th. at 12:14:39 pm EST

Jarren Garcia (Imperial County, California US) Age: 31 - Email

I have the utmost respect for those who are from a "long line of witches". I am only a second generation wiccan. I'm 31, an my mother brought me into the craft when I was 13. I thought it was the only sensible way to be, since I already knew that "hidden abilities" were inherent in all of us. Here was a religion that encouraged the developement of abilities that were scorned for hundreds and hundreds of years! The people in my mothers bloodline have always encouraged their children to listen to their "natural voices". My mom took it one step further, and gave those "natural voices" a face. She knew that it was the Gods/Goddess' talking to us, and giving us direction. I agree. It's hard to deny something you know to be true because of first hand knowledge. The debate on whether it is a valid religion is, however, not in question. What is in question is the "old school" vs. "new school" theory. I can only speak for myself. I wouldn't presume to be arrogant enough to speak for all other pagans around the world, and I don't think I'd like all the other pagans in the world to speak for me. Tradition is wonderful. I think we should all at least learn the proper forms before we start going freestyle. I think that there are certain fundamental basics that have to be learned. Sabats, history, balance, ... etc... The pagan tradition is a beautiful one. From the deepest parts of history the traditions of the Lord and the Lady have survived. I would hate to be a part of the generation that chose to disregard and rewrite the past. I am, however, honored to be part of a generation that has chosen to stand up and say that we are proud to serve the Lord and the Lady. Service to the Gods means just that. We serve. If the Gods want something altered, then they are going to make sure that it's altered. The traditions that were true 2000 years ago were done that way to suit the witch of the day. What do the Gods have in store for the witch of this day? Or in days to come? I'm proud to be a Wiccan Priest. I honor the old ways. I keep an open mind about the ways yet to come.
Brightest Blessings to you all
Jarren Garcia

I Am 19 Years Old, And I Walk This Path For Just... Dec 8th. at 12:32:22 pm EST

Marko Vujnovic (Belgrade, Yugoslavia) Age: 19 - Email

I am 19 years old, and I walk this path for just over 3 months now. No, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a seeker. I see no reason why anyone would be ashamed to admit such a thing, nor do I see a point in 'experienced' pagans acting in such a manner as to make seekers feel ashamed of what they are. Of course, I'm not saying that is the case always. I have met some people that have been pagans for years and years. I was even lucky enough to get in touch with a priestess, who is now teaching me the basics. All of those people were as forthcoming as one could expect. However, I also got in touch with some seekers that told me about people who wouldn't do so much as lift a finger to help seekers. An if it harm none, do what ye will, and thruly, they aren't harming anyone. but is Wicca really all about beeing a 'rules lawyer'? In kendo they have a saying: "To ask may be a moment's shame, but not to ask and stay ignorat for ever is a shame for life".

I also cannot comperhend why some pagans like to bolst their way as the 'right' way. That's how Christianity started, and look where it is now! As I understand it, pagan religions are about beeing who you really are, expressing your individuality and personality. I live in Yugoslavia and I know only one other person that's pagan (and I met her yesterday; yes, I'm serious). Also, I saw only one 60-page book about Wicca which should be named 'Why I warship Aliester Crawley and Gerald Gardner' rather than 'Wicca'. They even went so far as to explicitely state that beeing naked while doing rituals is a must. With all this in mind, I really had no choice but seek my own path. Of course, already mentioned priestess is beeing a lot of help and I thank her for it, but both she and I feel that I should carve my own path that I am about to walk. I already found some interesting information about a tradition noone seems to know a lot about. It's called Wolf's Head, and main deities are Melikki and Pan (by the way, if you do know about this tradiition, please contact me) but still I am not sure I will want to follow that tradition to the letter.

The traditions of the old? Sure, why not, if you feel that's for you, go ahead! But please, do not make seekers think that old necesarily means better.

I Believe That Older Does Not Equal Better. I Think That No... Dec 8th. at 1:00:20 pm EST










I Am Not Quite Sure If This Will Be At All Worth... Dec 8th. at 1:18:38 pm EST

Genyfer Munlyht (Scottsdale, Arizona US) Age: 17 - Email

I am not quite sure if this will be at all worth the effort of reading, but I'll try to express my mixed feelings as best I can.
I was raised christian and in a very odd way too. My dad is somehow jewish AND non-denominational, yet he WAS ordained a reverend. Now, maybe I don't know anything about judeo-christianity, but that's practically impossible. (you can read up on him at My dad always showed respect for younger people. I ate first, I got first seats, the best in everything until I grew older. Then, he sent me away to my mother's house.
She is catholic. At the time, I was non-denominational and I gave catholicism a try. It made no sense whatsoever. Young people always made room for the elderly. If my mom wanted to sit down or my uncle or someone even a year older than me wanted something I had, I had no choice but to give it over BECAUSE they were older than me.
Now, here's my opinion:
I feel as though those who are more experienced should be showing our way. I f I knew someone who had experienced everything, then I would indeed make way for them. But, of course, I won't even meet anyone like that. I know my mom, my friends, my sisters, my roommates, and everyone asks me for advice all the time and It's because, as they have told me, I have a way with expressing myself that shows in a poetic mannerism. It's also because I have used my words and found what words to speak and not to speak by trial and error. (I was a noisy and very faulty child) I am young. I am very young (17 yrs), but I am experienced at expressing myself and that's all. When it comes to those of us who know more than me, I can and will step aside with dignity and learn what I can from those of you who know.
I don't know if I got my point across, but at least I can say I tried.
Thank-you for you time,
Gentlest Breezes
Lady Moon

There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A Seeker Or A Beginner In... Dec 8th. at 1:35:10 pm EST

Gawen (Kingwood, Texas US) Age: 19 - Email

There is nothing wrong with being a seeker or a beginner in any Path or anything at all. If you ask me, that shows a lot about a person to want to learn something new. It irks me when the "elders" of the Pagan community look down their noses at teens and young Pagans, and when they pretend that they are almighty when it comes to teaching someone the Pagan path. I have encountered my fair share of these people, and I don't really consider them Elders. The true Elders of this community are those who remember what it was like to start out on a new path where everything seems so uncertain, and they keep that feeling in mind while they compassionately help the seeker find his or her own path.

As for the new generations of Pagans, I think they should follow their hearts before thinking about the traditions of others. The old traditions may not survive in whole, but parts of the old traditions will survive as long as there are Pagans around.

So no, older is not necessarily better. Wisdom doesn't necessarily come with age.

Older Has Seemed To Be The Popular Thing For So Long, I... Dec 8th. at 2:45:31 pm EST

Naomi Armitage (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) Age: 20 - Email

Older has seemed to be the popular thing for so long, I think, because so many new seekers aren't serious or don't seem to be. I sometimes don't blame them for feeling that way because making a trend of any religion is pretty sick, but as a young student myself, it bothers me. A lot of them seem too quick to judge, and expecting too much out of young people, or nothing at all.
Instead of complaining about the state of the new generation, the older one should help do something about it. Those who aren't serious will find out that the Craft requires work and discipline, and find an easier way to get attention. The serious ones will cherish the guidance.

Asking The Question Does Older Equal Better Is Akin To Asking If... Dec 8th. at 4:06:35 pm EST

Eiri (Fred Barrett) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) Age: 20 - Email

Asking the question does older equal better is akin to asking if one culture's views on religion are better than anothers... I believe that our religious practices, views, and beliefs are reflective of our realities and our experiences... I believe everyone to hold their own unique perception of reality. Everyone has experienced different things in their lives, and although between two people life experiences may be almost exact in their similarities, the two people will not react to those experiences in the same exact ways. From there their perceptions of reality will begin to diverge, and so will their spiritual needs. I believe older traditions to be valid and proven while newer variations on older themes are just as valid. Likewise, I believe newer innovations and ideas to be, for their adherents, more valid than the older ideas, whereas the older ideas are more valid for their adherents than the newer ones...

Does anyone think that it was wrong for Doreen Valiente to elaborate upon tradition and create her own version of The Charge of the Goddess? I certainly dont. And likewise, I would not be at all upset with any newer variations upon her verion of The Charge.

My opinion on all of this stands within certain boundaries though, which are the boundaries of our Creed "harm ye none"... i believe all variation, creativity, seeming divergance and elaboration within Wicca to be totally "kosher" (as our jewish brethren would say) just as long as it helps the individual to commune with themselves, their world, and their deity and just as long as it doesnt get in my way of doing the same. And that doesnt destroy or in any way undermine the validity of older traditions, because that works for the same reasons as the new ideas work.

I think what is right for the individual is right for the individual...

Now, if your ideas of what is right stand within structure and symbolism, then it would suffice to say that variation doesnt work for you. And if we are to learn from our ancestors and the lives of those Wiccans who have gone before us, it would behove us all to at least study and become versed in their practices, in order to learn how they saw the world and how that related to their understanding of the Lord and Lady - really, what i mean by all that blabbering is we need to know why our ancestors did what they did, and we need not to undermine what parts of tradition are spiritually fulfilling and help us to develop as people, as wiccans, and as spiritual entities... but you i think there are many ways to do everything, and just as long as you can figure out the essence of the ritual or lesson or prayer or meditation an can encorporate that into a new method of practice, the more power and love to ya!

I Think That It Doesn't Really Matter Much How Expeienced We Are... Dec 8th. at 6:47:50 pm EST

horse (Missoula, Montana US) Age: 26 - Email

I think that it doesn't really matter much how expeienced we are in the eyes of others, for it is only in the eyes of the gods that our experience and training matter. For myself, I feel as though I am a new seeker every day, finding my path as I tread upon it. For this outlook, I am often rewarded with new enlightenments and knowledge. It doesn't matter how experienced or equipped someone else thinks I am, because they are not in my shoes, treading my path. What is important is having an open and caring community, from which I may find others who have had experiences similar to ones I have had, so that we may share and celebrate our spiritual journeys.

The knowledge of those who have gone before is invaluable to those who are yet to come. The experiences of my elders prepare me for the journey ahead of me. I know that no two people's paths are identical, and my experiences will be unique to me, as my elders' were to them. However, the dance of life spirals and cycles, and peoples paths often share space and breadth; we are all interconnected.

In practicality, to answer the questions posted, I don't think there is an inherent right or wrong in the practice of one's beleifs. Newer generations of pagans will follow; some closely, and some loosely, and our religion as a whole, our "Pagandom" if you will, will evolve in its' own rich tapestry because of it. Old traditions will survive, because in a sense, our craft is based on tradition. Will all traditions survive? Of course not, because they will not be necessary. An example I think of is the tradition of 'keeping silent' about ones religion. The advent of religious freedom and the pagan web have effectively nullified it.

Change happens. Paganism happens. I like it :)

Everything Flows, Nothing Stays Still" A Quotation From Heraclitus.2500 Years Ago... Dec 8th. at 7:01:33 pm EST

Adrianna White (Barbados) Age: 58 - Email

"Everything flows, nothing stays still" a quotation from Heraclitus.2500 years ago this Greek philosopher made this statement which is as true today as it was then. We are constantly evolving. That is as it should be. Perhaps the question should be "Should we at least respect the"older" traditional methods and rituals?" We are each so very unique. Not even identical twins are truly identical. Rather like snowflakes. Instead of trying to find separateness from each other, we should be striving to unite under a common banner. Perhaps this will be the work of the generations that are with us now and the ones that will follow. Astrologically, the Universe has certainly been giving us some very big pushes in the direction of expansion and enlightenment. It warms my heart to see so many young people taking an interest in the Craft. I am solitary now but not by choice. Blessed Be to all and a Happy Yule.

I'll Say It Loud ... I Am Very New To Wicca. I Have... Dec 8th. at 7:27:52 pm EST

White Crow (Farnborough, England UK) Age: 29 - Email

I'll say it loud ... I am very new to Wicca. I have only been practising as a 'Wicca' for about 3 months.

However, most of the ideas and even practises are things I have thought and acted out for years!

To me, deciding to become a Witch was not an evangelical moment, but one where I realised there was a name for what I was seeking and practising!

My journal is not called the Book of Shadows, but the Book of Pathfinding. Each day is another step down the path - you cannot be sure of all the tracks there are!

To me being human and being a Witch is about finding new answers every day as well as new questions. Such a path has no end and no measure of success, it is the joy we experience along the path which is its own reward...

So the young must seek to learn, and the old must take care that they do not use their knowledge as an excuse not to learn and grow themselves.

Blessed Be!

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