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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: 20,649,919  

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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 

What I Believe Is That All Should Be Welcome To Explore This... Dec 4th. at 3:04:53 pm EST

unlycia (Elmwood Park, New Jersey US) Age: 25 - Email

What I believe is that all should be welcome to explore this religion and any religion no matter what age. Age discrimination is just as wrong as race discrimination. I think that the people practicing should not roll thier eye's or turn thier backs on the young seekers b/c they are the one's this religion needs to make it live on for years to come. If we teach them the "old ways" and they incorporate some "young ways" to this religion, we can all learn from each other. I have spoken to a lot of young teenagers who have been called "wanabe's" b/c of thier youth. We all have to remember that everyone starts somewhere and so did we and it is a lot easier when people are thier to help you not put you down b/c you are so young in age. The truth is that age should measured in numbers it should be measured in mentality! Plus, nobody should have to validate thier beliefs to anyone! We should all open our arms and hearts to today's youth to join in and so that this religion can be passed on and live on forever!!!!

I Have Found That Many Older Witches Do Not Take Me Seriously... Dec 4th. at 3:26:40 pm EST

Celestial Lily (Farnham, England UK) Age: 17 - Email

I have found that many older Witches do not take me seriously because of my youth. But you can't really blame them as I myself have met many teenagers claiming they want to become Witches, but what they really mean is they want to cast a spell to make someone they fancy go out with them, or they want to be like Sabrina. It makes it harder for those of us who are genuinely interested to be taken seriously.

However it is a sad fact that some Witches feel they have moved on from the learning stage and have no time for those new to the Craft. I guess they feel they're above us or something. But thankfully these are rare and I have found Witches to be very helpful and friendly people.

Is Older Better? Not Necessarily. It Doesn't Matter How Long You Have... Dec 4th. at 4:12:53 pm EST

Moonlight Morgan (Windsor, Ontario CA) Age: 17 - Email

Is older better? Not necessarily. It doesn't matter how long you have been Pagan. Some newbies know more than those who have been practicing for many years. On the other hand though, many "oldies" know more than "newbies." It depends on how much you study, practice, how interested you are in learning, your attention span etc... Not how old you are or how long you have been pagan doesn't have much to do with it. Besides, you can have a 60 year old and a 30 year old, and the younger one may have been pagan longer. I have heard of padding too. In fact, I used to do it. But now I realize that no matter what anybody thinks about my lack of years, I am proud of them. Last November 27th, I self-initiated myself, that makes me a 1 yearer! YEAH!!!

Sometimes, for those who know quite a lot about Paganism, or anything for that matter, some newbies can be quite annoying. I mean, after the 30th time of explaining that we cannot shoot flames out of our fingers, it gets redudent. However, we must all remember that we were all newbies once. Each and every one of us. Even if you are one of the few who were "born" a witch (that's another Pagan Perspective discussion), you still aren't born with ALL the knowledge. You are still a newbie.

I think that newbies should remember that the oldies have some good ideas and traditions and the oldies should remember that the newbies will have some good ideas and traditions and that neither one is better than the other, but that with cooperation, the future of the craft look good!

I Feel As A Member Of The Mostly Widely Discriminated Against And... Dec 4th. at 4:23:14 pm EST

Bal (florissant, Missouri US) Age: 40 - Email

i feel as a member of the mostly widely discriminated against and misunderstood religions in the world, we run a danger of defeating ourselves. let us not be judgemental and turn away "newbies" or even "wannabes" if they follow our Rede. coven, solitary, it's all well and meet. the last thing we need though is to have a cloister mentality.

Goddess keep and speed us all

There's Something To Be Said For The Old Ways. They're Tried. They're... Dec 4th. at 4:27:57 pm EST

Trina Burke (Tallahassee, Florida US) Age: 25 - Email

There's something to be said for the old ways. They're tried. They're proven. However, as with anything, there is danger without balance. As the world changes, so must we. Old ways will need to be modified out of practicality. There is nothing wrong with this, nor is there anything wrong with being a new seeker. Even the eldest among us were young novices once, and while they have much to teach, there are certain things that must be come to on one's own in finding one's true path.

Each new Pagan should find his or her own way, with the help of those who have experience (if possible). The main thing that has drawn me to paganism is its lack of dogma. It is openly acknowledged that there is no one right way. If we begin holding on to old knowledge for dear life, we will never grow and the wheel will leave us behind.

The old traditions can survive, but not always in the same forms. In the end, what works will survive.

As A Virtual "newbie," Perhaps Some Will Dismiss My Opinion Or Discount... Dec 4th. at 4:44:15 pm EST

ShadowSpirit (Biloxi, Mississippi US) Age: 42 - Email

As a virtual "newbie, " perhaps some will dismiss my opinion or discount it and claim a lack of discovery. For so many years I knew there was a path for me and the old religion is it. I happened upon it through friends, was welcomed in to their homes and lives, encouraged to read and learn and try on my own and told "there is no one perfect way." So, if this is the true and founding basis, the old ways will never fade away for they are the resin our faith is formed with. The basis for a spell is energy. The basis for our faith is energy. This will remain no matter how that spell or belief is cast, so long as the rede is upheld. As yet I have not completed a formal initiation but hope to soon. Yet I am accepted and my knowledge looked upon as valued and important. We learn from each other, new and old. Let this interaction course through without interference. Let each other grow together with our own personalities. Support the rede, appreciate what mother earth and father sky have given us, protect them and respect them, as well as each other. And love!!

Blessed Be.

The Earth And Our Religion May Be Old, But We Are All... Dec 4th. at 5:02:19 pm EST

AmberMoon (Fredericksburg, Virginia US) Age: 31 - Email

The earth and our religion may be old, but we are all still learning, and our journey is not complete until we pass into the next existence. Therefore we are all 'newbies' and as so, we all continue to learn.

One of the things that attracted me to our religion was the fact that everyone made their own path, and that freedom was within. The only drawback is the negativity that surrounds those of our paths, something which I did not believe in till much recently...

Bright Blessings,

There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A New Seeker. I Think This... Dec 4th. at 6:13:00 pm EST

Epona SilverSky (Bloomington, Indiana US) Age: 18

There is nothing wrong with being a new seeker. I think this is especially true of a religion that has a large population of "converts" as opposed to people born into the tradition. Being a seeker means that one is concerned with his or her spirituality and is exploring the religious life. This should never be a bad thing! Our religion should be open to change, but not so open that it's fickle and hard to commit to. The core should remain the same, but perhaps there is a little leeway concerning the details. One of the things I love most about Wicca is its flexibility. I like that I can make my own mistakes rather than follow the mistakes of the people before me.

I've Been A Self-acclaimed Pagan For About Three Years. That May Not... Dec 4th. at 6:46:55 pm EST

Dave [Jonas Moonchild] (West Bloomfield, Michigan US) Age: 16 - Email

I've been a self-acclaimed Pagan for about three years. That may not seem like much to some, but it's almost one-fifth of my life. [I'm 16.] Over the course of my studies, I have come upon so many different traditions, types of worship, styles and so forth that I see no harm in people choosing freely. There's so much out there that it's at the point where you can pretty much choose any tradition and you all of the sudden relate with half a dozen others.

One of the only problems I see is so many people want to do this, and see it's OK, that they just go ahead and make up their own belief system. Good or bad, I cannot say. On one hand, the old traditions, whether strict or lenient, aren't followed and the followers of that "specific" tradition do not grow in number. On the other hand, the material and folklore [and much more] of the tradition will always be there, no matter who follows the whole thing, for the rest of us. For example, If I saw something in the Alexandrian tradition I agreed with and another thing in Seux-Wicca, I'd just blend them to suit me. This way it works out best for everyone.

With the message of religious freedom most Pagans try to spread, I would hope that the general idea of create-it-yourself would be included. Some people mix Bhuddism and Judiasm, just as some mix Egyption Magick with Celtic mythology. The ancients might not stay as in tact as before, but if more people are bettered when the tradition is shared openly than kept all-or nothing, I say share it.

Sharing something can only help it by spreading it's ideas. Just because old traditions might have their ideas "borrowed" does not mean they will cease to exist. To me, it just means they are more flexible. It's not the age of something that counts, it's who's life it touches and how it affects the world.

I'm New To Wicca...really About A Year Now. Doesn't Bother Me... Dec 4th. at 8:07:49 pm EST

Ali (Greensboro, North Carolina US) Age: 15 - Email

I'm new to Wicca...really about a year now. Doesn't bother me to say I'm a 'newbie', because there's so much I want to learn. I chose it because it appeals to me the most, as opposed to a judeo-christian faith or a faith like hinduism. I keep to some old traditions, some not. I make up new spells for me, but use some old ones. I think that if we can all find a balance of new and old, then perhaps other cultures will accept Wicca better. Maybe not. But keeping some of the old traditions is ridiculous, becuase of the circumstances that most of us live in now. If we balance everything, then Wicca might fit people better, and other people might join, as well.

I Think It Is Great That Age Is Finally Revered. In This... Dec 4th. at 8:52:22 pm EST

Braid (Vallejo, California US) Age: 26 - Email

I think it is great that age is finally revered. In this society (USA), where younger is better, I think it is nice that people are showing such respect for the "Old Gaurd". The people who pad their experience understand and revere the crone. I think it is sad that some newbies feel the need to pad. I have often been laughed at, due to lack of experience. However, I choose not to lie.

I start my year and a day with a coven soon. I choose to honor the fact that I am a 'maiden', new, innocent and filled with wonder. I am excited to learn more.

I think people should be honest with others and themselves. Honor and enjoy where you are now... it will not come again.

This Is An Interesting Issue. The Way I See It, Wicca As... Dec 4th. at 9:42:09 pm EST

Nelli Thorngate-keel (Carmel Valley, California US) Age: 24 - Email

This is an interesting issue. The way I see it, wicca as it exists now is only about 50 years old anyway - all the really old stuff has been excavated, remembered borrowed, embroidered and so forth, so we're all newbies, to an extent. What is the cutoff time? Is ten years in the craft long enough to be a tenured member of the wiccan community, or must you actually be a hereditary witch or an Elder to be "old school"? Respect for elders is one thing (and is something that is very important - there is so much to learn from those who have had ample time to live and learn), but it is another to claim that wisdom only comes with age, whether it be the age of a person or a tradition. There is definitely something to be said for tradition, but there is also something to be said for experimentation and the beginner's mind. For myself, I am a solitary, and I freely mix wicca, buddhism, and science in a way that probably only works for me. I enjoy the freedom I have to absorb new philosophies, new magics, and new ideas without having to worry about whether or not Tradition is being violated. I think there are some basic traditions that are very important, that help us grow together as a community and a religion. Calling the quarters as part of circle-casting. Honoring the sabbats and living close to the wheel of the seasons. Paying heed to the law of cause and effect (threefold law) and trying to live by the rede. And, of course, or tradition of being free to mix and match, blend, explore and experiment. Take a look at christianity and buddhism. Buddhism has been around for about 2500 years, and continues to grow in popularity because while there are certain forms in meditation, and a certain heirarchy of practitioners, it allows people the flexibility to follow their own path Christianity on the other hand has been around for almost as long, but it is beginning to lose ground as it remains rigid in the face of cultural change and evolution. The best way for wicca to grow and survive as a religion, I think, is to maintain certain forms or traditions, like the ones I mentioned above, but to allow lots of room for practitioners to individualize their faith and practice.
People who claim to be part of "the old guard" who look down on new seekers as inauthentic, wannabe's, or somehow less-than, have issues that they need to examine about their own self-esteem and security in their faith. I have some sympathy, but little tolerance, for anyone who claims "it's my way or the highway". There is no One True Way.

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