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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: 20,405,187  

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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 

It Appears As If The Question And The Many Responses I Have... Dec 10th. at 2:56:21 pm EST

Elizabeth (Springfield, Missouri US) Age: 36 - Email

It appears as if the question and the many responses I have read imply an either/or issue. If "newbies" don't follow in traditions path than that path will fall aside. Huh? The real reason for so many "newbies" cutting their own path is the sheer absence of sufficient group slots for the overwhelming numbers of seekers. Do we really believe that the percentages would be the same if every one interested could find a compatible teaching group right off? But they can't. If truly interested and not in it for the fad then they must most often seek info outside a group setting. Period.

Given that situation, they have no choice, they must break "new ground." Thank the ALL that they DON'T have to muddle through with little written guidance like the so-called old-guard. Thank the All that there are now web-sites as well as books to get actual personal feed-back to specific questions. Thank the All that there are on-line groups doing their best to answer the overwhelming crush of questions and ease the anxiety ridden newbies' fears. Even with all this the numbers are incredible and many feel left out and forced to make their own way when they do NOT want to be solitaire.

There is the twist in the question - how many "eclectic solitaires" would there really be if they had had an alternative from the get-go? But all this is neither here-nor-there. This IS the situation as it stands now - huge numbers of people and groups "making it up as they go along." How is that different from what the "old-guard" had to do back when? Did they not have to figure it out and plan it and write it and argue it out amongst themselves and find out what "felt right" to them then? And was not the formulae they came up with seriously influenced by how secure they felt in their community? How, then, are the new groups doing ANYTHING different? They, too, are greatly influenced by the level of security and comfort they have in the public eye as well as the greater pagan community. They, too, have access to the SAME book learning the "original" groups had plus a whole LOT more. They too have their own, personal life-experiences and formal educations and sheer instinct to guide them. They simply have a much greater pool of resources. AND they live in a completely different climate, both socially/culturally and technologically.

EVERY group - no matter how closely tied to the so-called "old" traditions - still find their own way and have their own flavor once they circle-out on their own. EVERY one who completes formal training and moves to a new area and starts their own group puts their own stamp on it. Is this disrepectful of their parent group? I hardly think so. It is the nature of growth. And let's face it people - we have had an incredible growth spurt.

Now we are in the teenage years of strife, self-righteousness, insecurity and awesome self-interest. Also that wonderful time of seeing the whole world full of possibility, of endless fascination and willingness to experiment and incredible committment. It is scary, teenagehood. In a little while we'll look back on this in disbelief. We, the greater pagan community, will be (hopefully) in young adulthood and have new-found respect for those old-traditions that suddenly seem reasonable and worthy. But we'll still be our own people and not clones. We will be the next generation and we will move on.

And in 20 years it will be US who will be whining that "the kids just don't have the respect for us they should!" LOL

As A Solitary "newbe" It Took Me A Long Time To Accept... Dec 10th. at 3:07:46 pm EST

Linda Roden (Godfrey, Illinois US) Age: 42 - Email

As a solitary "newbe" it took me a long time to accept being new. After a lot of soul searching and research it finally dawned on me that it's OK to be new. It's what is in my heart and not what someone else believes or thinks of me that leads me down this path. Everyone was new at one time and without new the old dies away.

As A "newbie" To The Wiccan Religion I Think That The "old... Dec 10th. at 3:08:27 pm EST

Aaron "Navarre" Brown (Fayetteville , North Carolina US) Age: 27 - Email

As a "Newbie" to the Wiccan religion I think that the "Old Guard" should be careful about how they approach this issue. The problem that I can see coming to a head is the fact that there is not a "local" coven in every town. Yes there are some people who have jumped on the bandwagon and declaired that they are witches or wiccan, but that is what happens with every religion. The fact that Pagan traditions have all but been wiped out at one point of time or another suggests that there is no longer a "Pure or Old" religion. There are concepts, some examples, and maybe a book or two passed down but it doesn't make it right. The reason the Roman Catholic church is loosing members is the fact that they refuse to grow, change from old outdated missconceptions to a new more modern religion that addresses the problems of today's issues. I think that because there isn't a coven in every town, and the fact that there is no unified pagan faith structure, than I feel that everyone has the same rights, beliefs and faith as any "coven iniated" person. Faith is faith, we all believe the same concepts. Let the facts that Muslims, christians and Jews all believe in the same god, but are willing to wipe each other out because of the "my god is better" view be a lesson. Let us not forget what the burning times were all about to begin with. The covens should embrase the fact that we are all different and we have the potential to bring new ideas and gifts to even the oldes pagan orginizations.
Thank You and Blessed Be everyone.

I Think That Older May Not Necessarily Be Better. Younger People Whe... Dec 10th. at 3:18:35 pm EST

SHERRY HUBER (CADILLAC, Michigan US) Age: 23 - Email


This Can Go Both Ways. I Feel That Older Is Better, Because... Dec 10th. at 3:39:38 pm EST

tainimoon (Millersville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 23 - Email

This can go both ways. I feel that older is better, because they should be able to help the "newbies" learn about traditions. Also if you never accept any new seekers, then eventually there won't be anyone left to carry out the tradtions. I also feel that too many covens are too quick to judge a new person. I have recently been removed from a coven because I didn't know enough about wicca and couldn't make all of the meetings because I work full-time and go to college. This has made me look down on wicca. I thought witches were to be friendly, open-minded, and to accept people for who you are. A church doesn't kick somebody out because they aren't there every Sunday or because they don't know much about the Bible. They help teach and I thought that is what a coven is for. Not evryone learns as easy as the next person. Some people need visuals or others to help them on their path. That is why I feel that the older ones should help the "newbies" and don't be too quick to judge.

I Consider Myself Pagan, But Since I Am Very New To The... Dec 10th. at 3:50:23 pm EST

Kathryn Philbrook (Tacoma, Washington US) Age: 20 - Email

I consider myself Pagan, but since I am very new to the religion, only two years, and am still navigating my way through the various sects, traditions, variations, etc., I don't proclaim myself as Pagan to anyone but myself. If for some reason, I get into a discussion about religion with someone, I do not hide my personal beliefs, but I don't either call attention to the name I give myself: Pagan. I do this for a few reasons, and none of them are because I am ashamed of my beliefs. I do this because, I am creating a very personal religion based on many aspects of Celtic Wicca, Greek Paganism, Native American Shamanism, etc. etc. etc. It would not be fair to believers in any of those groups for me to identify myself as one or the other, or to let someone else assume that I belong to any single group. Each tradition has its own set of legitimate values that can, and ought to exist in themselves whether or not I agree with each one. Those people that believe in them have every right to care for thier traditions and values, and worry that someone else who uses them will not understand or value them in the same depth as the older practitioners do. I have no desire to change thier faith, thier practices, or their tradition. I also want to be very careful not to step on thier toes: not to call myself Seax-Wiccan, if I don't understand and follow Seax-Wicca one hundred percent. If I have only been studying Seax-Wicca for two years, it is highly unlikely that I can appreciate and understand the totality of the religion. We are not like Southern Baptists that can convert the moment we believe in Jesus. We develop into our chosen religion over time, study and practice. Therefore, and especially because the words Pagan and witch are so misunderstood in society today, it is very easy for us newbies to spread misc-conceptions that taint the opinions of the general populace about things we know nothing about.
Because I am a newbie, I obviously believe that I have every right to be a part of this religion, and that I have every right to create my own variety. However, I also believe that us newbies ought to be very careful not to ruin things for those who came before us. We need to respect the wisdom and effort that has gone into creating these traditions before we even knew they existed.

I Think The Beliefs Should Grow Because What Is New Today Will... Dec 10th. at 4:00:07 pm EST

Lee (va bch, Virginia US) Age: 32 - Email

I think the beliefs should grow because what is new today will be old tomorrow.

Absolutely Not! I Learned What I Was Doing After I Was Doing... Dec 10th. at 7:30:51 pm EST

William Reid (Hurricane, Utah US) Age: 67 - Email

Absolutely not! I learned what I was doing after I was doing it, and I believe I had more raw power then than now. Besides, what are we really talking about? Using your entire brain to perceive more. Who else does that? The young, who have not learned the discipline of proper, acculturated behavior. Older, also, means you have had more opportunities to succomb to displaying your power for personal dominance or agrandisment. So, on a probabilistic basis older is not better either.
Bill Two Leggings.

I'd Like To Comment On The Question Of Experience Vs. Inexperience: From... Dec 10th. at 8:13:02 pm EST

Matt (Edmonton, Alberta CA) Age: 20

I'd like to comment on the question of experience vs. inexperience:

From my perspective, I know that in any discipline there is a rule that says: learn the rules first...then you can start breaking them. I think that if someone is ready and willing to make Wicca or any ritual magick their way of life or a large part of their life, they should go into it as someone who knows next to nothing, and only after (x) amount of time should they even consider doing things their own way.

I've been researching and studying various religions, ways of life, and practices since early adolescence, because my parents decided I should choose my own faith. What I've found is that there is no one way to live your life, and therefore no one practice is right for anyone. I feel that there should be a combination of beliefs involved, not just some hollow belief system based on the dogma of one practice. I plan on doing my fair share of learning before I decide what is the best way for me. I bought a history of witchcraft after reading from Llewellyn's Magickal Almanac (which sparked my interest), and from that I'll decide what's the next step, and so on. I DON'T plan on buying the Witch's Bible simply because it's all-inclusive, and doing everything according to what they say. I'll find my own path, but it'll be an educated decision and nothing less.

I Recently Joined The Craft Myself, I Consider Myself Half-way Through My... Dec 10th. at 8:15:28 pm EST

Winterraven (Indian Mound, Tennessee US) Age: 28

I recently joined the craft myself, I consider myself half-way through my year and a day, and have a few views. I was a member of a coven until the high priestess disbanded it over racial prejudice. I was very disgusted with that I assure you. I also experienced the discouragement of my own gifts by the experienced witches, and information was witheld by them, because I was not far enough on "their" idea of wicca. I have become solitary, praise the Goddess, and feel sorry for those people who are told what they can do, and practice.

I also frequent a chat room where young teenage witches come in to ask older witches for help. Instead of helping these young witches, they ridicule them, ignore them, and eventually find some reason to TOS them. If you don't agree with them, then you are wrong. I'm sorry, but even Merlin had things to learn at the age of 80, and he would be the first to admit it. I now have spirit guides, and have found another pagan in my community who helps me. I would never go back to the confines of a coven.

Hi!; Does Older Equal Better? A Strange Question To An Old Time... Dec 10th. at 9:01:55 pm EST

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 58 - Email


Does older equal better? A strange question to an old time Witch.
Case in point: Your article on "Witches Ladders".

Have you run across the original meaning of such a thing?

It is not a cutesy fun and games decoration with bright cords and feathers.
It was always a hexing implement to weave ill will and a throttling force into the life of an enemy or victim, as the case may be.

It would be made with Saturnine correspondences and heavy invocation of
malice and dread. Then secreted in an enemy's home to bind and constrict his/her life circumstances.

Wiccacrap converts red-blooded Witchcraft into nicey-nicey, which we old timers find appalling.

Taking a fearsome hex and converting it into a parlour decoration is an insult
to the entire Witchcraft genre.

Letting people think it is just a decoration, such as a Yule Wreath, deprives them of knowledge of what it is and what needs to be done, should one ever find
such a thing secreted in one's own home.

Let's face it, not all your Witch acquaintences are trustworthy individuals.

One does not hex strangers, but those with whom one has an intimate knowledge of their coming and going, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes.

One would gain the victim's trust and put him/her at ease, before a hex is laid down. Then the damn things work.

Don't make light of a traditional Witch implement and use it willy-nilly just for the sake of Wiccan nicey-cutesy. BB

Hi!; Looking Over These Posts Many Are Complaining The Old Timers Seem... Dec 10th. at 9:25:55 pm EST

Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) Age: 58 - Email


Looking over these posts many are complaining the old timers seem to
look down their noses at new comers.

Some become offended and leave the Coven trads to be solitaires.
Others rationalize their right to be "new".

What is not being picked up on by the "newbies" is that one will always be discouraged by the Elders just to see of what stuff the newbie is made.

If one is easily discouraged by criticism and judgments from experienced people, one would not be considered worthy of Witchcraft and simply left to Wicca.

Dedicated perseverence and a healthy ego are what experienced Witches want to see in new comers.

Sadly, those qualities are sorely lacking in today's World.

If one is so sensitive to rebuffs by experienced persons, that one runs away to sulk, rather than determinedly sticking with it, Witchcraft is not the place for one.

That is the way the Craft works, as it is designed to produce practical occultists. The Occultist needs a healthy and strong ego.

If one is to leard to weave the warp and woof of metaphysical Time and Space, sissies need not apply. BB

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