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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 31 - 3/5/2001
Whassa Matter With Kids Today?
Maybe nothing, but you couldn't tell that from the main media news stories or from the often disparaging remarks overheard (overread?) about today's youth in the Pagan newsgroups, message boards and chat rooms. Are the Pagan youth of today nothing but shallow thrill seekers intent on finding some easy spoon-fed answers? Do they come off as spell hungry monsters looking for a quick fix? Are they really unable to delve into the deeper mysteries simply because they are young? "Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way?" Pagan Adults: What trends and tendencies do you see manifesting in the Pagan youth of today? What would you LIKE to see? Pagan Youth: What about the treatment often received by young seekers bugs you the most? Is it justified? Do you feel 'stereotyped' as a young person? Adults AND Youth: What are the benefits and drawbacks of inter-generation communication?
| Reponses: There are 71 responses posted to this question.
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| Mm... First Of All, I Object To The Phrasing Of The Question... ||Mar 6th. at 5:47:31 am EST|
|Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) ||Age: 52 - Email |
MM... First of all, I object to the phrasing of the question. We cannot speak of "Pagan Youth" as if its some kind of monolithic movement. Just as is the Pagan Community in general, there is just as much diversity, as much wisdom and foolery among younger pagans as among older ones.
The only difference between a "Teen Witch" and an elder, is experience and perspective. Thinking in terms of stereotypes is just plain lazy thinking, lumping together a diverse people into some kind of lable or pidgeonhole.
I was involved in a message board discussion awhile ago on Silver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch kit. There was a great deal of panic and hysteria about handing such a dangerous thing to erratic unstable teenagers. Knowing that she had published the Teen Witch Book ( which I have since bought for my nine year old daughter) I thought that I would try to get a feel for what the audience (for which it was intended) had to say about it.
I went to Amazon, which sells the book, and where people who have bought and read the book can review it. I read maybe 80-90 reviews by a teenagers who had bought the book, and found as wide a response as you might find among adults on any other book. Some responses were rather simplistic and shallow, and others were very insightful and intelligent.
I think that we would be spending our time better if we avoid lumping all young people into the same boat, and take time to learn about someone who comes to you looking for guidance. Sure they may be a Fairuza Balk wannabe, but they may also be someone deep who is truly looking for answers and meaning in their life.
I don't think that anyone of us would prefer to be treated as a stereotype rather than for who we are. What is there that might make anyone think otherwise? To do otherwise is patronizing, insulting, and as I said lazy thinking.
If some young person comes to you seeking, find out what they really want, then act accordingly. Remember too, as others have already said, people can grow and change, its part of the magick of life. Personally, I hope that I never stop growing and changing in this life or those to come. But as a lady wrote in a book that I read once, I think it was Susan Faludi: "What good does it do to learn how to fly, if you don't teach someone else?" Or as my first teacher told me once: "Be prepared to follow, be prepared to lead."
Don't be hard or judgmental with that fresh, eager young face in front of you, for they are us.
| This Is One That I've Been Waiting For Without Even Knowing It... ||Mar 6th. at 9:40:05 am EST|
|Jaiyla- Jessyka Boyle (North Port, Florida US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
This is one that I've been waiting for without even knowing it. Subconciously I've been ashamed to put down my age on the pagan perspective column because I've been afraid I won't be taken seriously and have been desperately awaiting the big 2-0 to lend credibility to my name. I found Wicca when I was 15, and have been practicing and studying since. It has never been about the spells and magick for me, but the ritual setup is something I immediately felt comfortable with. But I've noticed that's not true of many of my peers. Sometimes they're seeking a way to feel powerful because in all else they feel they have none (those are usually but not always the ones with a terrible family life who have suffered abuse ranging from verbal to physical). Sometimes there are those who are sick and tired of their religion, and they go off trying on every alternative until they find something that fits (I often, but again not always, note a very strict upbringing in these folks, and I was one of these myself, having looked at Hinduism and Taoism without feeling quite comfortable with either). Sometimes they want the mystique and to complete their "gothy" image, when really all they've done is confuse it with satanic worship... these people simply annoy me, I've had some of them call me a "poser". But the "problem" is one that originates elsewhere in their lives I've found.
| Greetings, Everyone! I Am 19 Years Old And Am Now In College... ||Mar 6th. at 10:34:11 am EST|
|Lauren (Piscataway, New Jersey US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Greetings, everyone! I am 19 years old and am now in college, and I discovered Wicca when I was only 13. While in High School, I had to struggle against people who were whole-heartedly convinced that I was an evil, Satan-worshipping monster who would immediately descend into the fiery depths of Hell after my departure from this incarnation. I suffered much mental abuse from these people. Nevertheless, I worked diligently to try to change their minds. With the help of my friends, I am proud to say that we were quite successful in doing so. Many people, students and faculty members alike, had a much more positive outlook on the Wiccan community after coming in contact with us. Unfortunatly, many of the other so-called "Wiccans" I had the displeasure of meeting did just the opposite. One such individual who informed everyone as often as possible that she was a Wiccan had such a horrific reputation (which included racism, thievery, promiscuity, illegal drug use and bringing a deadly weapon to school among other things) sent all the progress my friends and I made in convincing others that Wiccans are good, law-abiding citizens straight down the crapper. Another person who also claimed to be Wiccan was notorious for threatening to place curses on anyone who bothered her. And yet another so-called "Wiccan" was constantly bragging about extraordinary magical powers she supposedly possessed, and also threatened to place curses on whoever bothered her. When a classmate's house suddenly burned down after being struck by lightning, almost killing everyone inside, this "Wiccan" took responsibility for it. She said that the classmate had angered her in a dispute over a boy, so she cast an evil spell on her. My point is, there are many young people who are more concerned with drawing attention to themselves and freaking out everyone they come in contact with than they are with Wiccan spirituality. But there are just as many young people who are serious about their religous beliefs and are very responsible, mature individuals despite their age. Myself and my friends as well as many others are living proof that it is quite possible to be wiser than one's years. We continue the attempt to dispel the many myths surrounding the Wiccan community in various ways, just like we did in High School. So please, do not judge people simply beacause of their age. Thank you for reading this. I will get off my soapbox now.
| I Think That As A Teen Beginning Wicca I Get Stereotyped As... ||Mar 6th. at 1:32:53 pm EST|
|Nokomis (Bangor, Maine US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I think that as a teen beginning Wicca i get stereotyped as someone who is just in it because she wants to rebel, and that isnt true at all. On the whole I dont have to suffer a lot of bad treatment by others but some kids who are badly informed on what Wicca is hate me for it, but tend to leave me alone. Though I dont get a lot of bad treatment, I know people in other places who do. I think another stereotype often imposed upon pagan youth is that we are all a bunch of goths who sit around doing pot all day and harassing old ladies which is both a wrong stereotype of goths and pagans. As just a young person, I know adults classify me as a good for nothing punk kid if i wear a hooded sweatshirt and walk around downtown by myself or with my friends. I think that maybe there needs to be more of an understanding between generations, on both parts.
| At 21 I Am Standing On The Devide Between Youth And Adulthood... ||Mar 6th. at 1:52:26 pm EST|
|Stardust (Lubbock, Texas US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
At 21 I am standing on the devide between youth and adulthood. I came to paganism on my own, both of my parents are Christian. The gift I was given by them was the love of learing. In the craft this has allowed me to discover through books and web sites such as this one my own personal vision of the craft. Looking forward a few years to when I have children, I am terrified by news such as the recent school shooting in southern California. To gain attention, of any kind, teenagers this day seem to resort to extream and oftern unacceptable measures. This might indclude saying "I am a Pagan, " without the real substance and meaning behind it. It's important to distinguish between the attention seekers and those who have a sincere desire to know the craft. I can see only more problems for the youth of America, where programs like "hooked on phonics" has replaced the need for busy mothers and fathers to actually read to thier children, and the T.V. has become a babysitter. I hope that I am wrong.
| At 29 I Consider Myself Somewhere In Between Youth And Adult. I... ||Mar 6th. at 5:01:53 pm EST|
|Samantha S. Vinke (Lawrenceville, Georgia US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
At 29 I consider myself somewhere in between Youth and Adult. I knew I wasn't a perfect youth. But I also don't think youth today are any less perfect. Whether Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. teens and young adults do seem more shallow. I think they have good reason; they are not only trying to discover who they are spiritualy but, also mentally, sexually, and socially. They are constantly testing and pushing envelopes to get answers to these questions. Many decisions don't make sense and youths can't explain why they made that decision. My mom called it swiss cheese logic. I don't think they are unable to delve into the deeper mysteries. It's like having to many "windows" open and trying to multi-task all off it. the system gets clogged.
I think sometimes youths say they are pagan just for the shock value (so do adults for that matter). It's no different than a neon green mohawk. Our society as a whole is looking for a quick fix. As these young people grow and evolve, they seriously follow their own right path.
| I Worked At A Summer Program For Teenagers Last Summer, And Met... ||Mar 6th. at 6:21:09 pm EST|
|Meg (Amherst, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I worked at a summer program for teenagers last summer, and met several pagan young people, all of whom were thoughtful, intelligent, and open-minded. I felt privileged to welcome them into my community. When I held a "Paganism 101" question and answer session during one activity period, the pagan teens who attended were very helpful and assisted me in answering their peers' questions.
Will all of them still be pagans in 10 years? Who knows? I found out about paganism at 14 or 15, and instead of growing out of the religion, I grew into it. I did grow out of other things which I did during my teenage years, as we all grow out of things at different stages in our lives. When I was a teenager my older brother always used to tell me that everything I was going through was just a "phase." Well, maybe for some of these teens it *is* a phase. So what? If it is a phase which ultimately helps them to come to a better understanding of themselves, and maybe gives them a chance to meet some wise and compassionate elders along the way, then I don't see that as a problem.
| Whatsa Matter With Kids These Days...? Youth. What's The Matter With Adults... ||Mar 6th. at 7:04:16 pm EST|
|John (New Naumkeag) ||Age: 33 |
Whatsa Matter With Kids These Days...?
What's the matter with adults these days?
Lack of youth. Or, lack of remembering what it is to be a kid.
There's nothing "wrong" with kids these days; they're kids and youths and young adults and so on ... and they're normal as such.
Let's turn the question around a bit: what are Neopagan kids in need of today? I would say: some wisdom, hard won, by those who have been down the pagan road a bit longer than they -- provided that the wisdom is given wisely and respectfully and mindful of the fact that the adults were themselves once where the kids are and that some wisdom can only be pointed to, that it must be learned through experience, with risk and danger but hopefully not lethality.
In other words, it's same as it ever was though the circumstances do change... :-)
| I Really Am Interested In Witchcraft, And I Consider Myself Pagan. I... ||Mar 6th. at 7:21:34 pm EST|
|Amanda (Anoka, Minnesota US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I really am interested in Witchcraft, and I consider myself Pagan. I gave up Christianity about 5 years ago, but believed in multiple Gods long before that. I believe there are many teenagers out there who want to be Witches, therefore they dress in ritual wear often and cast spells without realizing exactly what they're doing. These teens often get mixed with those of us who truly are Pagan and belief. I would be a magick practitioner if anyone in the area around my house could help me. But, I live in a basically Lutheran community, and I just don't know how to work magick on my own. To top it off, my Papa is a strict Catholic, and he's convinced my beliefs are just a 'stage'. It may be that way for some children and teenagers, but there are those of us who truly believe in Pagan ways, and wish to join a Coven, and wish to be as good as others in the field of magick. But, as for me, it's immpossible. (this prolly turned out to be more of a rant than anything, didn't it? Ugh, I was afraid of that...)
| I Feel That The Problem Is With The Adults Who Discriminate. This... ||Mar 6th. at 8:11:24 pm EST|
|Mystic (Joy) (Mount Gambier, South Australia AU) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I feel that the problem is with the adults who discriminate. This was recently discussed on one of the lists I'm on about the youth of today who are what you could call "wannabe freaks" and the youth of today who want to be witches, cast spells, worship the god and goddess and generally try and do their bit for society. Most adults treat youth like babies. How many times have you heard "its only a stage" "she'll/he'll get over it soon enough" Why will we? Just because either you werent one and passed through the "phase" doesnt mean everyone will. I plan on being Pagan until the day I pass over and not helping me on my path wont stop me.
| I Am The Future Of Neo-paganism. I Started Studying Wicca When I... ||Mar 6th. at 9:02:15 pm EST|
|Metalligoth (Brighton, Michigan US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I am the future of Neo-Paganism.
I started studying Wicca when I was 13, along with any other religion I could find something about. I couldn't find anything accurate about Wicca in my hometown (which was very small at the time, but is in the 3rd fastest growing county in the United States). I settled on being Agnostic for a little while, becuase I didn't agree with my parents religions, but I knew there was something "more" out there.
There was a girl I dated as a freshman and sophmore in high school. I cared for her very much, but she had a secret. One day she called me in tears, telling me, "Kevin, I don't know how you're going to take this... But I'm a Witch."
A student in a class had asked her if she was, but they knew nothing of Wicca and soon a rumor was going around, as one would expect.
So, I wasn't startled becuase I had read bits and pieces on Wicca, but I wanted to learn more. It was the only faith I hadn't studied in depth.
I've been initiated since I was 15. It has been hard at times, first convincing my parents that I don't worship their devil, then coming out of the broom closet to my peers and extended family, and eventually co-workers.
My first couple covens were small, as most teen covens are. My parents eventually decided they respected my religion, but would not support it by signing any permission forms. Most Wiccan groups make you get forms signed for fear of being sued.
I didn't have an Internet connection for a while, either. So, all I knew about the larger Pagan community was a guess. I knew about Covenent of the Goddess from reading The Spiral Dance, how it was a legally incorporated church. I knew my religion was right for me, and I wasn't going to give up.
But, it was very hard. With no spiritual community to back me, I had to teach myself everything. I quickly became a "young elder", as all the teenage Wiccans in my school had to come to me for any advice. They were all in the same boat I was, but I had studied harder, and longer.
There is a dividing line in our Pagan community. Due to the fear of being sued, there is a whole generation of us being left behind in misinformation. Many give up, becuase of the cold reaction they get from older Pagans they try to contact for advice.
I understand, don't get me wrong. I am 18 now, I can be sued. I am not, however, afraid to speak my mind and answer questions. We owe these people the knowlege they seek, becuase they are our future.
Another hardship: I am goth. I was goth before I was Pagan. What does that mean? Hell, I don't know! It means that when I was younger I wore black nail polish, becuase it kept people that would judge me as far away as possible. It means those willing to talk to me, to get past the clothes, or rumors, or whatever else... Those people are open minded, and I want to know them. Now that I'm in college and I have a "real" job as a computer programmer, it means that I can be truly free and creative when I am no longer in a suit, or "corporate casual"...
Becuase I was a minor, and becuase I was goth, I was judged. Many times, it was by those that shared my faith! It was by you, the Pagan adult. Those "wannabe's!"... Can you believe them?
Dealing with wannabes is simple. Ask them if they have any interest in the religion, or if they are just looking for spells. If they are interested in learning what the religion is, take them seriously. If they could care less, then they deserve to be yelled at, becuase by naming themselves a "Witch", they undermine the seriousness of our faith. They create the stereotype in the media we hate.
When we simply blow people off, though, without consideration as to who they are, and not their clothing or their age, we damage ourselves. We damage our future.
I've done what I can, becuase I am serious about my faith. I started and helped direct a comparitive religion study group when I was in high school. Now, I am starting a local group, The WitchMoon Network, to help Pagans in our area find each other more easily and get a presence on the web. Also, we'll be hosting real study groups, and not just Wicca 101. We'll have as much as we can offer, from real people. We'll teach the youth that can legally learn from us how to teach their friends that cannot, so that their will be more young elders.
...and I'm just getting started!
So, to those that blew me off becuase of my age, did you really try to help?
Did you care about me? About the future of the freedom of YOUR religion?
Did you see "metalliGOTH" and think, "wannabe"?
If you did, then screw you.
I know more good Pagans under 18 than you can imagine. I'd estimate that one fourth of all Goths are serious Neo-Pagans.
...I am the future of Neo-Paganism, and we are just getting started.
| Rave" Phenomenon... What Do You Have Against Peace, Love, Unity, Respect (plur... ||Mar 6th. at 11:41:51 pm EST|
|angel (Madison, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 19 |
"rave" phenomenon... what do you have against Peace, Love, Unity, Respect (PLUR)), which is the basic principle of raveing? and actually, ravers are not a majority. yes, there are idiots who go to raves who are just there to do drugs or whatever, but there are higher percentages of violence and drugs in your standard high school. and yes, if you haven't noticed, i'm a little annoyed. yes, i am a raver, no i don't do drugs, and i am a 'serious' pagan (why are we haveing to defend ourselves against people who aren't pagans, even thou they call themselves that?)...what, the "elders" can't figure out the difference? we can, and they're supposed to be wiser.
i am appalled that people that claim to be open minded can be so age-biased and look with blinders on. and for people that are supposed to be open minded, slamming ravers when you don't have a clue what you're talking about is disappointing.
btw- most of the people at mardigras, etc are 'overage', ie mid 20's, not youth. wrong generation; and raveing has nothing to do with mardigras.
i know i didn't explicitly post my opinion on the topic at hand, but i think its obvious without haveing to say much.
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