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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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| Well, I Am An Eclectic Pagan And I Face Adolescents Daily. One... ||Mar 10th. at 7:51:19 pm EST|
|Mother Superior (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Well, I am an eclectic pagan and I face adolescents daily. One day, recently, we were all herded into a gymnasium for the "ash Wednesday mass" and I was one of many who did not receive ashes nor communion. A young woman, a freshman, asked me, "Are you not Catholic?" I shook my head. She gave me an apologetic look and went back to gossiping. Later in the day, at a Debate Club meet, a young man, another freshman, asked me if I was not Catholic. I shook my head no and told him I am pagan. He said, "I thought so." I was in complete shock, for he took no heed of my pentangle. When I asked him how he could have conceived it, he said my attitude led him to believe so.
That same week was a Fringe Film Club meet at the same high school and I went. I brought last year's Magickal Almanac, a wonderful resource for crafts and the "contemporary pagan." The club is made us, mostly, of senior men. When I started reading with the book up to my face so I could not see the snickering students when they told dirty jokes. Two of the male seniors came over and asked me questions. I told them I am eclectic and it would be better if they had books or went to a pagan chatroom. I handed them the book and answered what stale questions they had. Though the school is Jesuit and 80% of the student body is Christian, I often feel alone. They told me there are about three Wiccans and one of them club members practiced/practices the tarot.
Altogether, I think the main reason why most young persons look to paganism and its denominations is to cast "love spells" and "curses", as I am asked to give them some to "cast" on others. I have a close friend who is a freshman in a Christian school who thinks Wicca is all that is shown on the show Charmed. She actually thought she could develop powers like the characters. I was not brought to paganism by this at all. Believe it or not, I started practicing my path three years ago, at twelve. I am now fifteen and happy in my peace.
| Pagan Youth Are There Just For The Thrill Of It? Oh Come... ||Mar 10th. at 11:39:58 pm EST|
|Tiara, craft name Zephyrina Nystrom Hayes (Ulu Tiram, Johor, Malaysia) ||Age: 15 - Email |
Pagan Youth are there just for the thrill of it? Oh come on. That's over-generalization. Just wanna be Pagan because it's cool? Well, if it wasn't cool we porbabaly won't bat an eye BUT we're NOT in it JUST BECAUSE IT'S COOL. We're in it because we (or at least I) have felt the urge to learn...to live...to experience more. Age does not reflect maturity. We ARE willing to learn. We ARE willing to endure. But do you know how HARD it is to find a guide? We're at the time where society pushes things on us and we have to make up our minds quickly...but please, give us space. Teach us. Trust us, we're loyal listeners. Don't assume that we are here just for some quick spell to got 120% in our exams. Show us the wisdom of the world. Tell us what our Earth has to offer. Open our sight, mind and heart. We are still growing...and we do need guidance.
| Just A Thought As A Father Of A 15 Year Old "young... ||Mar 11th. at 2:40:01 am EST|
|Eder Shadowalk (Jonesboro, Arkansas US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Just a Thought
As a father of a 15 year old "young Adult" (he doesnt like the words Kid, Child, or Teenager)I feel that we as the parents need to pay more attention to our children. Not just in what they are saying, but how they say it, how they talk to friends on the phone, what showes they like to watch, etc... We need to tune into them. Only by knowing our children, can we give them the guidance they need and ask for. It's the teen who is searching for his path and not knowing where to look that gets into trouble. Just like driving in any large city for the first time. How easy is it to wind up in the worst of neighborhoods if you don't have a map? quite easy! (Thank you Rand McNally!)
When my son decided to become a wicca like his mother and I, we sat down together and held a family round table discussion. We talked about many aspects of religion, his friends, his future plans, and so on. Now he wants us to have this types of discussion once a week. I think he really enjoyed knowing that we were "about" him. We didn't find his path that night, but atleast he knows he has a map in his back pocket.
| I May As Well Start Off At The Point: Pagan Youth Are... ||Mar 11th. at 1:06:40 pm EST|
|Ashley Martin (Peterborough, Ontario CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I may as well start off at the point: pagan youth are NOT looking for "quick fix" solutions, plain and simple. And, now that I've made such a bold statement, I supposed I should at leasty try to justify it.
It seems that this concern that young people are being attracted to pagansim in general, and Wicca and withcraft in particular, has been growing for some time. The introduction of commercial "witch kits" fairly recently has only added to the distaste many older pagans feel for today's pagan youth. There are several things I would like to say about these witch kits, but I'll try to keep this at a reasonable length. I'll content myself with making the following points:
-Youth did not demand these things. I imagine that they, instead, were the product of well-intentioned authors, and marketers. (At least, at no point do I recall sighing "Oh, how I wish I had a witch kit!")
-One thing that most youth are lacking is money, especially those who are vey young and have not had the opportunity to make any substantial earnings of their own. These kits provided a more affordable way to access several basic (and some perhaps silly) materials than many more "old-fashioned" pagans or teachers would call necessary. Apparently, to be a Witch is expensive. (Though I personally disagree with this statement, as do many others, there are still people who wonder why I, a well-read, practicing witch of over seven years do not yet own a commercially produced athame, wand, or pentacle.)
-These are a symptom of a cause. A *good* cause, let's not forget. More and more people, primarily youth, are becoming interested in Wicca and the rest of paganism. In doing so, they are making the world as we know a safer, more accepting place for all pagans. The mainstream isn't the worst thing that could happen to us, especially when looked at alongside ostracism, rejection, hatred, threats, and disrespect. True, this would be a bit of a problem if all pagan youth were interested in was self-serving spellcraft, but I have to reiterate that we aren't, at least not according to my observations.
One of the many things I do which some would frown upon is teach a class on Wicca at a local communitiy education centre. I am always afraid of being called on this by someone who is a third-degree-belted Alexandrian, for instance, but I persist in doing so to offer people in general, and young people in particular a chance to learn about modern Witchcraft in a safe, all-questions-permitted setting. I have co-taught this class about Wicca for three terms now, and have yet to be faced with someone interested particularly in making spells, or developing supernatural powers. I have met young people who are interested in the Wheel of the Year; the relationship between the God and Goddess; linking their spirituality to saving the Earth; making contacts withing the community; and so on. While magical "correspondences" and spellcraft usually come up, in this student-directed class, they have yet to be a focus of the teaching. (Which, all things considered, is fortunate, because I'd hate to have to give a flat-out "no" to my students.) From anecdotes I have been told by others, and by my own experiences, the majority of people looking for stop-gap magickal solutions are not people who would call themselves pagan at all. I spent a lot of high school explaining to self-proclaimed "atheists" that I would not, could not, shoud not "do a spell" for them to win the affections of their crush, etc. Not once has someone approached me, a completely "out" Witch, with the statement "I'm Pagan, and I really want this boy/girl to like me. Will you teach me a spell to do?"
I have the wonderful, rare experience of being pagan youth and working with pagan youth. Those who become attracted to the glamour seem to mostly become attracted to the faith. Either this, or they discard of any witchy pretensions quickly, and return to their secular existence.
There is no reason to fear us. That is, unless one fears being brought more and more into this world, and building a bigger and bigger bridge between pagan sub-culture and the rest of society. I realise that this *is* scary, to some people, but it is my belief that maintaining an aura of remote secrecy--and encouraging young people to do so--is not conducive to breaking down barriers created by ignorance.
Young people, in this new millenium, are reshaping paganism, just as it was reshaped in the 1980s, and the 1950s, and countless times before the past century. I am convinced that this will be a positive shift, characterized by imagination, creativity, openess, and an ever-increasing willingness to learn the Old Ways and reconcile them with the New.
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