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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: 22,485,199  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 199

Lurker/Post Ratio: 164 to 1

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 

I Have Been Practicing For Around Two Years. This Makes Me A... Dec 10th. at 9:28:50 pm EST

Rick Miller (San Diego, California US) Age: 26 - Email

I have been practicing for around two years. This makes me a rookie of sorts. I started as a solitaire and later joined a coven. I found that being a coven member did not quite work for me. My wife had the same experience. We now have our own little family tradition that her, myself, and the children practice. I feel that being a solitaire or a covener are equal. Not everyone makes a good covener and not everyone can do it on the own like a solitaire. For that matter, some folks like a little of both. I thought part of being pagan was to be opened minded. It is unfortunate that pagans fall into the same trap as other paths. We are human though. I guess that is why we are on this plane of existence and not another.

Blessed Be!

I Was Guilty Of "padding" My Years. No, I Lied About My... Dec 11th. at 8:46:46 am EST

Elizabeth (okc, Oklahoma US) Age: 27 - Email

I was guilty of "padding" my years. No, I lied about my first year status. (Let's be real here!) It would be easy to blame other people, and say that the community has a negative attitude towards newcomers. But that's unfair to the countless people who have dedicated alot of time to helping people come into Wicca and learn. Also, alot of studious newcomeers realize that much of the Wiccan community will be cautious about extending precious resources to those who are still in the beginning stages of learning, and have not had enough time to know if Wiccan is for them. I think I padded my experience because I wanted to look cool. I wanted access to more, to groups, to knowledge, and of course, to feel welcomed by other Wiccans.

I am a solitary, I have only been in Wicca for three years. So I don't know all that much about other Wiccans. But I have noticed that I tend to get snotty sometimes. When I read about newcomers, I sometimes smirk. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's a sense of competition? (I don't like admitting to that.) Or worse- a sense of doubt about myself, my faith, and my direction.

For a long time I have suspected that Wiccans will tend to look up to older traditions as a way of validating historical claims our community has made, and the nonWiccan community questions. The older it is, the more valid Wicca, and the claimer, are. After all, we need a sense of history. Everyone does.

I think traditions will survive for as long as they are needed and asnwer to the need. I think we are all wannabes. And wannabe status is in every religion. I don't know anything about imparting knowledge, since I am a solitary, and have only three years experience.

Thankyou for your time & Blessed Be

It Is An Interesting Fact Of Human Nature That Those Who Have... Dec 11th. at 9:21:09 am EST

Steve Wright (Theresa, New York US) Age: 30 - Email

It is an interesting fact of human nature that those who have power, wisdom, or knowledge believe others must suffer before they are worthy. It is also notable that people love to rebel against authority.
As with so many other things, this is not a black or white subject. It is an area of grey shades. Some older traditions and knowledge are to be respected. We might not be burned at the stake today, but we can (and have) lost jobs and homes. Likewise, we have turned toward the lighter side of Wicca. It's original practices and ideas were lost (yes lost) a very long time ago, so nothing is completely old.
If I have confused you, good. We should all be seekers.

Blessed be!

This Is A Direct Response To Tarostar. I Would Use Email, But... Dec 11th. at 11:20:14 am EST

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

This is a direct response to Tarostar. I would use email, but I've had trouble getting his address to work.

Tarostar: I've read criticisms from you for a short while now and have noted each time you've rejected the Religion of Wicca, calling it "Gainist (do you mean Jainist?) fluff bunny" and "Wiccacrap" and such. Each time you've done this I've noticed a blatant logical inconsistancy that I'm surprised others haven't called you on, at least to my knowledge. You've compared your form of Traditional Witchcraft to the Religion of Wicca in terms of quality of magickal practices and concluded that because Wicca uses "watered-down" techniques of magick, that the Religion of Wicca is inferior to your form of Traditional Witchcraft.

Well, I agree whole-heartedly that Wicca magick pales in comparison to the complex Hermetic and Qabalistic structures found in some Traditional Witchcraft repertoires. Therefore, from this perspective, Wicca magick might be considered an inferior practice. However, you cannot prove this. Different forms of magick work differently for different people (hence, the different magickal systems used throughout the world and history), but this is not my point. My point is that the Religion of Wicca is just that--a religion, a fulfilling way of life that helps a person get out of bed in the morning and gives that person the strength, courage, and hope to keep living in this sometimes Goddess-forsaken world (a more refined definition of religion is needed, however, for sake of space I won't discuss it here.) The form of Traditional Witchcraft you seem to advocate is a shadow-cloaked, power hungry mutation of Traditional Western Occultism. I admit, it's good at what it does, magick, but that seems to be its goal. Magick, being a good Occultist, is not the goal of the Religion of Wicca.

Perhaps you missed the transition in your cryptic, Crowley-laden rants when Starhawk and Adler came into the picture, but there is now a group of people who don't give a flying salamander about your "Eldership" or Hermetic teachings. Their goal is to be happy practicing a religion that reflects their inward spirituality. They don't care about your acceptance or your rejections, so you're wasting your precious energy by doing either. Just as you have no inclination to be a Jainist fluff bunny, these people have no inclinations in becoming a Dunggeon Master High-Class Adept Mage, with a demon perched on both sholders ready to leap forth and torment the next poor, short-sighted Wiccan who passes by with a hint of happiness in his or her aura.

There is one way, though, that you can crumble my argument, at which point I will gladly admit my unsuccessful attempt at verbalizing my feelings. You must show a religious system equal to that of Wicca. I have yet to find any Traditional Witchcraft teachings to be consistent within a religious practice, much less what you have said about your own. Of course, that won't completely destroy my point, because your rants have been about the magickal practices of the two items in question. And I've already shown this matter to be settled.

I'd love to hear your attempts in either equating your form of Traditional Witchcraft to the Religion of Wicca as religioius practices, or your attempts at rejecting Wicca as a legitimate religious practice (be warned on this one...unless you have expertise or accomplishment in academic religious studies, I wouldn't try this one with me.) Use this list or email me directly at

Brightest blessings.

In Response To The Point In Opinion #1725: Perhaps The Witch's Ladder... Dec 11th. at 11:50:57 am EST

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

In response to the point in opinion #1725:

Perhaps the Witch's Ladder was used for a different purpose back in the good ole' days of hexing and cursing, however it's used for a differen purpose by different people today. And simply because something was used for a different purpose at a different time, doesn't mean that it's set in stone and can't be changed. The nature of the Universe, for many, is change. This is also the nature of symbols and tools. Back in the day, the crucifix was a symbol of Rome's power and threat of torture if not obeyed. But what is it a symbol of now? And what is it used for now (other than keeping vampires at bay)?

Things change with time, even cyclical time, and those who don't accept this are doomed to fade with the past.

But what about the threat of an innocently made Witch's Ladder, accidently "going off" in someone's home? This depends entirely on one's subjective view of the Universe and the way it works. Thanks to the philosophies of Hume and other great skeptics, nothing--not the physical world, the spiritual world, even reality itself--can be proven to exist. Therefore, one must take a leap of faith in even believing in existence. After that, if one wishes, one must take an even further leap to believe in a type of existence--philosophical or religious. If philosophical, one must make an even further leap in deciding which philosophy. The same goes for a religion; this includes any mystical system (e.g. Witchcraft.) A large leap must be made to get from the beginning point to that of calling oneself a Witch. So, if someone doesn't believe that simply making a Witch's Ladder will imbue it with unintentional magickal forces without consciously putting it there, then it won't--and no one can prove otherwise. The proof, you say, would be it actually working? Well, the effects of such an occurance is ever harder to prove than the system from which is comes.

Old system, new system; old use of tool, new use of tool; old meaning of symbol, new meaning of symbol--all of these are in the subjective opinion of the person using it, which have no bearing on the empirical world, which itself cannot be proven to exist.

I Think In Some Instances, Such As My Own It Comes To... Dec 11th. at 8:05:38 pm EST

Martin McCabe (chamblee, Georgia US) Age: 15 - Email

I think in some instances, such as my own it comes to acceptance. I myself would like to be taught rather than learn by myself becasue I believe that although your own rituals and ceremonies dont lose any of their potential at being powerful, An older tradition could bring it to the peak of its intended power. Like I said, acceptance.. I myself am 15 and am afraid that older practitioners might see me as a "wannabe", or "fake" even though I know myself I am very serious about wicca. Also my race constitutes problems for me, I used to think that I would not be accepted into the majority of the wiccan/pagan society because I am native american, black, hispanic, and white, but have learned that though some might discriminate others wont and dont tolerate it. Others might not know this and might find it more comfortable to take the chance. On the issue of older and newer practices, I dont think there is any way to know whether one or the other is better or worse.


It's Been Brought To My Attention That My Response, Post #1738, To... Dec 11th. at 8:54:23 pm EST

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

It's been brought to my attention that my response, post #1738, to Tarostar's post #1725 proposed one interpretation over another possible interpretation. After careful consideration, I agree that the line "Don't make light of a traditional Witch implement and use it willy-nilly just for the sake of Wiccan nicey-cutesy" could be taken as meaning something other what I took it to mean in my response. I want to apologize for any undue criticism, if in fact the meaning of the post was not as I interpreted it.

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