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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: 20,300,838  

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Reponses: 74

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Question of the Week: 112 - 5/28/2003

Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them?

From The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

elder : 1. an older person, especially one with a respected position in society; 2. an official of a religious group.

What is your definition of an Elder? Do we need Elders? Do we want Elders? What would be the role of an Elder in the Pagan/Heathen communities?

Who decides who is an Elder? Can someone simply declare him/herself an Elder? Do you discern a difference between ‘someone with a respected position in society’ and ‘an official of a religious group’? Can a solitary practitioner – who is not an ‘official’ of a recognized group, but nevertheless provides something of value to Paganism/Heathenism -- be considered an Elder?

Is age a factor? Wisdom? Proven track record? Who do you consider to be an Elder?

 Reponses:   There are 74 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I'm Not. Jun 1st. at 7:40:47 am EDT

Neko (Calgary Canada) Age: 21 - Email

I'm not. I just know what I've seen here. I've seen people who openly abuse their bodies and seem to be out of control in their own lives. They don't seem to know boundries with themselves or other people.

I don't really care what anyone else thinks.. I'd distance myself from anyone who claimed to be a Priest or Priestess of a religion which has no linage to begin with.

It really concerns me that just any person can wander around calling themself a priest or priestess. I've seen a so called "priest" who had less basic knowlege (not magical, factual) about the occult subjects than I did. I'm not saying that everyone who enjoys a nice smoke and a cola isn't qualified for eldership..

But there's always going to be some person who will take my words at complete black and white and discard what I'm trying to say..

What I was trying to explain in my generally crude fashion was that if your gonna call yourself an HP/Hps or an elder you BETTER have the qualifications and the ..ehem.. *yknow* to back that up. I'm VERY skeptic of anyone who claims to be a great priest or a priestess.. I've seen some really pathetic attempts at faking it and the fakes ussally show through with lack of respect for themselves, for others and for the world around them in general..

Apples And Oranges Jun 1st. at 8:52:10 am EDT

willow (Ottawa On) Age: 41 - Email

Well, I've read all the responses to date and always enjoy the variety of views. Some make you say "aha!".. and some make you think "h'mmmmmmmm".....

For ME... and Elder is someone *I* can turn to for guidance, advice, answers. Someone who is an Elder to me, may not be an Elder to you... or maybe they are. Age has no bearing.. however i think experience does to an extent... the experience i speak of is LIFE experience. I had an interesting discussion with my 86 year old father just last night about religion and sex. More about belief systems than the down and dirty..LOL... but he is completly opposed to same sex marriages and new age "religions"... ALL in how is has raised... by the end of our conversation, i was able to have him "see" a small glimpse of MY view (a HUGE success in my view) ... do i see him as an Elder? Actually, in some respects yes and in others no. I will turn to him for advice on large purchases (house, car, etc) or financial planning.. in THOSE instances he certainly fits the bill... however for a spiritual Elder, I will turn to those who can back up what they "preach" with firm and proven logic.

and perhaps.. i'm simply confusing the term Elder, with Mentor... to me, they are synonomous....


What Is A Headline? Jun 1st. at 9:30:53 am EDT

Annalijse (A dark room) Age: 14 - Email

The traditional definition seems to be someone older than you.

In my opinion, an elder is someone older than you who has had more life experience and can share it with you in a way that's understandable.

So you can always learn something from your elders. You can sometimes even teach your elders something, which is often a very nice feeling.



Elders Jun 1st. at 9:59:23 am EDT

Luna Calum Keelia (ontario) Age: 12 - Email

First of all even i know elders are chosen by the people in the coven. do u really need and elder .no. but they can be helpful. elders need to be wise not nessesscarily old.

As With Most Things... Jun 1st. at 10:31:32 am EDT

RiverGypsy (Chicago, IL) Age: 24 - Email

in our beautiful pagan religions, 'elders' seem to be completely subjective.
In a coven, it could be your high priestess and high priest. It could be one who holds no office but is always available to try to answer your questions.
For a solitary, it could be an author who's books you read and re-read. It could be someone's page on the web that inspires you.
And in life in general, an elder can be your parents, your best friend, your spouse/partner, anyone you continually learn from, sometimes without even asking. And in turn, you can be an elder to someone else.
Those strong of heart, faithful in spirit, and with a true concern for others can be elders. Don't limit yourself...

Blessed be!

Re: Elders: Who Are They And Do We Really Need Them? Jun 1st. at 2:19:10 pm EDT

Julian Strychen (Norristown, PA) Age: 25 - Email - Web

I would imagine that the phrase 'Respect your elders' would come into play here. Of course, we should have respect for everything and everyone, but the phrase is a bit more than that. Elders have the gift of experience; they've seen and done more than you have. This is not to say that everything an older or more experienced person spouts out is
automatically correct, but it's a nice basis to start from. If you're going to go traipsing off into the unknown, consulting someone who's already been there is a good idea.

I must also note that the term 'Elder' when applied to *any* religious or philosophical sense does not necessarily denote age. I've met people older than me who have come to me for wisdom and advice (not many, mind you) . That's the core of the idea of an elder: someone who's wiser and
more experienced in the path you're seeking. Even if it's not the same exact path (and few are the same) , it's good to seek the advice of someone further along theirs. They may have an insight or two you don't.

So do we need them? Of course not. However, wisdom is a resource. If it's there for the asking, why not use it?

Do We Need Knowlege And Wisdom? Jun 1st. at 3:15:59 pm EDT

Penny J. Novack (Berkshire Mntns, MA, USA) Age: -62 - Email

It's so strange to see "elders" dismissed so easily by some while others are more tolerant and some actively enjoy what these people have to offer.

I said, once, that the term "Elder" is subject to many definitions -- and, as is true for almost any word, it is true for this one. But each of us has had wisdom at each stage of our lives and we all have something wonderful which we could, given the opportunity, give or teach. Time is a kind of education. A person could watch the Discovery channel constantly and read lots of books and end up with information. That is one sort of wisdom time offers a person. But one could also just live. Read some, play some, work some, love some -- have heartbreak some -- screw up some. Live. And after a while, if you're paying attention you learn a sort of kindness which is difficult for young adults to have -- because as you get older, if you're lucky, you learn not to be so critical of people, including yourself. You learn to see what's wonderful in other people and to appreciate their potential even when right now they're in a screw-up phase.

I don't think I'd have lived to get out of childhood if I hadn't been rescued numerous times by "Elders" who offered me a shoulder to cry on and a place to hide. One of my deepest goals was to grow up to be a Neat Little Old Lady. Because they were the best grownups I ever knew.

I can't relate to hating people who are old. Everybody has something to offer. Just not to every person.

Young One Jun 1st. at 6:29:55 pm EDT

Thalia (Toronto) Age: 19 - Email

Elders are the people who are going to be Elders regardless of what anyone writes here. They simply are because they've earned the right to be.

Elders Jun 1st. at 8:06:41 pm EDT

Dan (guess) Age: 44 - Email

An elder in Wicca is a rapidly aging human being who is expected by the young to be the happy show that will change the world when all you want do is to cry because you just lost another loved one.
but at the same time we still do it because we are witchs and we love it.

Elders Exist Jun 1st. at 8:40:22 pm EDT

Ailliefilliu (Norfolk, Va) Age: 22 - Email

I think of an Elder as one who spreads wisdom to those who have less of it. In paganism, we find that not all youths are young, and not all Elders are truly old. An Elder can quickly be found, usually it is because they are recounting tales of days gone by.

Not all Elders are Elders. Being a Crone or Sage is posible with out some form of recognition, but an Elder is teaching wise things, intended or not.

I personally know five elders from different paths, three Matriarchs and two of their consorts. Though, each follows a slightly different path from each other, and all follow a different path from mine, I still recognize them all as Elders through the respect given them by their students and clansmen.

Elders? Jun 1st. at 8:45:21 pm EDT

Charlayne Elizabeth Denney (Friendswood (Houston) Texas) Age: 46 - Email

An Elder is someone who knows more than anyone and still knows they have a lot left to learn.

The Elder walks in grace and beauty but isn't afraid to get her hands dirty caring for that which needs caring for.

An Elder will impart wisdom to those who seek it but will not force the issue: they realize that the best lessons are learned by the seat of your pants just as the Elder learned them.

An Elder sets the example but does not miss the fact that there are those who set the example for them as well.

An Elder knows when to speak up and knows when to stay silent and can tell when it's right to smile because what wasn't said was wiser than the spoken.

An Elder isn't afraid of age, doesn't care about the gray hair, and knows that life is too short to worry about the laugh lines.

An Elder will probably be the last one to admit they are Elders and the first one to be asked to stand in as an Elder when needed.

It doesn't take rites, religious definitions, age, gray hairs, or even lots of book-learning to be an Elder. It takes having the wisdom, knowing the way, being willing to impart when asked, stay silent when not asked, and to lead by example and by personal responsiblity.

Elders are the students of yesterday, the leaders who were and the examples of what should be in the future. They are very important in the community and should be honored for their wisdom.

A Little Of Both Jun 2nd. at 11:45:53 am EDT

Severix Bloodfox (Kentucky) Age: 14 - Email

To me, an elder is someone with experience and with that experience guides others. And whether they know that they are elders or not, they continue what they do as a sense of responsibility to preserve what precious little is left in the gloomy days ahead.
If age were a factor in an elder's life, then we would have several more elders. Some of which wouldn't have any sort of experience. I have several elders in my family, and I use my description of elder to describe them.
If an elder were based on age or wisdom, some things would be left unknown, because sometimes the smallest, most insignificant things, are the most important of all.
Blessed Be,
Severix Bloodfox

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