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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: 17,890,507  

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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. Reverse Sort 

Much Of The Pagan Community, And Much Of The Wider Community Has... Mar 5th. at 5:08:39 am UTC

Sah'aquiel Ka'asha (Sydney, New South Wales AU) Age: 16 - Email

Much of the pagan community, and much of the wider community has a particular view of pagan youth, or 'teen witches' as they are usually called. It seems that to some extent the phenomenon of the Goth has taken the place of the skinhead or whatever method kids used to use to set themselves apart from the majority of society. This stereotype of the rebellious youth has taken pagan youth as collateral damage. While I confess there are many out there who take a minority religion simply to be different, there are still many of us out there who believe what we believe because we choose to believe it - not because the majority of society chooses not to. For every teen witch who's seen 'The Craft' and likes to cast an odd curse on teachers there's one young pagan who follows the craft like elder respectable pagans do.
Stereotypes are almost always justified, as usually a large sample of the stereotyped population fits. However stereotypes are almost never fair, as a large sample of the stereotyped population won't fit - while the misconception of pagan youth is based in part on truth, it is still far from true.

I Belive That Teens Are Intelligiant To Make There Own Descions And... Mar 5th. at 8:04:46 am UTC

Selkie Moonchilde (covington, Kentucky US) Age: 17

I belive that teens are intelligiant to make there own descions and most Craft
based teens are gentle, caring, individuals uncapable of mass murder.

We Are Not Like Are Parents Because We Grow. Each Step Of... Mar 5th. at 9:38:03 am UTC

Ceo Moontear aka Mikey (Owosso, Michigan US) Age: 18 - Email

We are not like are parents because we grow. Each step of the way in the lives that have existed up to ours have all been a learning process. There isn't a "how-to" manual that comes with life. I am 18, and I know I'm really different from alot of my elders, but there's a spot they don't seem to see. They lived the same road I am living now. They have made their mistakes, and probably will keep making them (None of us are perfect ya know), and with those mistakes, they live on, teaching what they can to us younger generations. But can you seriously expect us to be exactly like our parents? That's not really fair. The times are changing, with the new year, the movement of Mother Gaia, the ecosystem, the energies that are currently at work right now. This is all a sign of change. For your answer, I'll say this. Would you like to be exactly like your parents? And them like theirs? And so on and so on. Why? We are all seperate creations that the Lady and Lord put here for a reason. And that reason is to bring about change. We all change. And we are all our own persons. Thank the Light for this because if we didn't have this, we'd still be in the neolithic stages. And who wants to be smelly? Hehe.

I Am Not Sure That There Is Anything Wrong With The Pagan... Mar 5th. at 12:17:46 pm UTC

Aedh Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) Age: 35 - Email

I am not sure that there is anything wrong with the Pagan youth of today which has not been "wrong" with the young from the beginning of time. OF COURSE many young Pagans, or Christians, or whatever, are thrill seekers. OF COURSE many young people lack perspective. This is part of being young. I was something of a shallow thrill seeker myself when I was 18. If anything, the young Pagans I meet are more serious and less neurotic than the Pagans I knew years ago.

Unless my memories are playing me tricks, the Pagans of 15 to 20 years ago were a pretty wild lot. I seem to recall rituals followed by sitting around passing an ever-full pipe of weed and bottle after bottle of apalling Romanian retsina or burgundy for hours at a time. I seem to recall attending at least a couple of orgies at early PSGs, and lots of fairly wild "lingeree tea dances". Then there were the damiana wine, Jaegermeister, Goldwasser, and other beverages which used to flow like water at almost every festival. I am almost sure I remember attending Pagan parties with a pirate copy of Rocky Horror (which had years to go before it was legally out on video) playing in the living room, while people got high in the "Zen Room", or had sex upstairs.

These must all have been dreams, for we old-time Pagans were such serious, spiritual people in our youth. Of course, youth is a relative term. Most of the attendees at these affairs were my age, now. I was the "baby" among this crew of people-my-mother-warned-me-about, which does not mean I was not an eager participant.

I really can't imagine most of the young Pagans I know partying like that, and I know quite a few young Pagans. They seem almost puritanical by comparison with our carrying on in the old days. They are often a bit doctrinaire, perhaps the result of Silver RavenWolf's influence, but I am not sure that is entirely a bad thing; it does help us keep up our morale in Fundie America.

They also strike me as much more sincere than we ever were. Sure, there are a few Goths in search of magic powers among them, but I remember one guy in 1984, supposedly an "experienced ceremonial magician", tell a group of us newbies how he invoked Cthulhu in the steam tunnels under the University of Minnesota, and "got something". (OOOHHH!!!) Certainly, there seem to be fewer bright young things in search of getting laid these days, which cannot help but be an improvement, however much fun we had.

It must all have been my imagination.......

As To Whether There's Something Wrong With Today's Kids: Plato (yes, The... Mar 5th. at 12:39:58 pm UTC

bthylafh (Pittsburg, Kansas US) Age: 21

As to whether there's something wrong with today's kids: Plato (yes, the Greek philosopher) complained about exactly that more than 2000 years ago. We seem to have done well enough since then.

I think that people tend to see their youth through rose-colored glasses and also forget what it was like to be an inexperienced kid. I'm guilty on both counts (at age 21!).

As A Member Of The Pagan Community And As A Teenager, IÕve... Mar 5th. at 12:48:08 pm UTC

Callum (Lyons, New York US) Age: 16 - Email

As a member of the Pagan community and as a teenager, IÕve had first hand knowledge of this issue. I can honestly say that there are certain teenagers out there that are "Play-gans". They simply say that they are Pagan, but in reality they neither barely know or take part in the path. Even in my own school IÕve seen a number of these people. They believe once theyÕve seen "The Craft", "Charmed" or read about five pages out of a SilverRavenWolf book that they can declare themselves something theyÕre not. But with my experiences these type of people donÕt last long. Without the will and dedication to their choice they often times fade away from their Pagan facade. To the Adult Pagan community, however they feel towards teenage Pagans is their own choice. I can agree with them that the sight of a teen, whoÕs merely calling themselves a Witch for fad purposes only, is extremely difficult. I find myself biting my tongue and walking away, instead of trying to battle the uneducated minds of a misunderstanding youth. I almost feel that the resentment comes from a deeper fear rooted in many Pagans, not from the actual youth misconstruing the craft. For so long the Pagan communities of this country, and of the world, have been trying to become understood in the eyes of the majority of the religious population. When a teenager fails to keep a certain code of Pagan presentation and conduct, itÕs almost like a shot back down the ladder of success and understanding. Possibly many Adult Pagans, and some teenage, distrust the goth-like teenage Pagans and Play-gans not out of what they do, but out of the fear of what they can do.

Speaking As A So-called "teen Witch" I Find That There Is Nothing... Mar 5th. at 12:51:30 pm UTC

Rhiannon Solana (Wichita Falls, Texas US) Age: 19 - Email

Speaking as a so-called "Teen Witch" I find that there is nothing wrong with a majority of the teenage pagan community that I have come across. In any situation, religious or not, you will find people who want power for the wrong reasons, abuse it if they have it, and generally do things that make whatever group they're associated with look bad overall. It's not strictly limited to teenagers in the Craft. I'll admit that there was a certain movie (which I will not name) that didn't help any of us who were seekers at the time. It simply gave society yet another way to label us, to group us into another category where a vast majority of us should not have been placed. I thought that was extremely unfair. But of course it only takes one to ruin it for all, or so I was often told in grade school. There is more truth to that statement than I care to admit sometimes. I myself began my journey down this path at 16 years old. I'll be the first to admit that my interest in pagan religions, more specifically Wicca, began with a spell book a friend of mine bought. I was a little wary of the idea of casting spells to be honest, and I did nothing more than glance over that first chapter before handing her the book and saying, "You know what, this is not my thing." The writer stated in the first or second paragraph that she was not Wiccan; she was merely a witch. She then briefly talked about what Wicca was, and that is what caught my attention and sparked my curiosity. I went on a hunt for information. I read anything I could find. I read about things I agreed with and things that I didn't. From there I discovered exactly what was and wasn't and based on that information began to find the path that is right for me. I suppose I was rather fortunate, I wasn't ridiculed on my search. I wasn't let down at all by most the Adult Pagans I came into contact with, in fact I find that most were very open to me. Of course I was often asked why I chose the path, but that's fine by me. I have nothing to hide, there are no bad intentions here. I'm not here because some guy broke up with me, because I wanted to be prom queen or anything like that. I came here because I found the home that I was searching for. I felt the love that I never felt anywhere else, and more importantly I am happy and satisfied with myself and what I am learning on this path. I have yet to find any drawbacks in my experience with inter-generation communication, and I am very thankful for that. However, I have noticed that I find many young pagans want a teacher, and there are few out there who are willing to take someone under their wing. In a way I cannot blame them, but how are we going to get rid of the stereotypes and myths if no one will speak up about the truth? I myself have been happy working and learning alone for the most part, but in the interest of those who are not, I felt the need to address that issue. At any rate, I have come home, and I intend to stay.

As The Single Mother Of 2 Teens, I Don't Feel There Is... Mar 5th. at 1:38:10 pm UTC

areille owl (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email

As the single mother of 2 teens, I don't feel there is any inherent difference between the teens of today and teens through the ages. They are still going through the amazing hormone flux we all went through. They are still learning to deal with being sexual beings in our society. They are still growing into the adults they will be - despite the constraints placed on them by parents and society. I am fortunate in that I have kept the lines of communication open with my children. And I work at keeping them open. They know that their opinions and wishes are listened to and do figure in the final decisions. This doesn't mean I do what they want, but I do take the effort to consider the validity of what they say, and sometimes they are right. My home has become one of the major hangouts for my daughter's group of friends, and listeneing to their conversations is very enlightening, but not frightening. I think many parents, my ex included, remember their teen years quite different from how thier parents remember them - in the case of my ex, I know this for fact. There is the assumption that they were perfect, and so their children will fulfill the parents personal ideas of perfection. Anything less is unacceptable. The flip side is those parents who assume that their children will fail miserably - and they are so smug when their children fulfill their wishes. Children and teens are human beings - just as we are. They deserve the same respect, rights, and room to be the person they actually are.

First, Let Me Say That The Quality Of The Writing On This... Mar 5th. at 1:44:52 pm UTC

Sunfell (Little Rock, Arkansas US) Age: 40 - Email

First, let me say that the quality of the writing on this board by the young Pagans posting here gives me hope and assurance that our schools are actually teaching kids to write, think, and speak coherently. This, above all, is the most important thing- we need to have people who are capable of both thinking and expressing themselves intelligently to hand our legacy to.

On the other hand, every time I post an essay in the Adult section, I get a slew of letters that read something like this:

Òi want to become a witch right now but my parents belefs arent the same as mine i want to learn witchcraft will you teach me witchcraft so i can learn spells and stuff teach me rightnow without my parents knowingÓ

Now how the heck should I address this? My Stock Answer is usually along the lines of it isnÕt nice to start off learning about the Craft by deceiving your parents, and that I never, EVER teach minors without the parentsÕ EXPLICIT permission. And when I say ÔexplicitÕ, I mean, I want to meet them in person, suss them out, and decide if theyÕre on the level. And I will end my letter by telling them not to write me again.

I am very aware that some of these letters might not be from youngsters at all, but from authorities ÔtrollingÕ for unscrupulous Pagans to bust. So, kids, youÕre totally off limits. Read my essays if you want to learn something. Read everyone elseÕs too. There is a lot here on the Vox to teach you, if you look.

I went through the University of Hard Knocks, and I expect that most of my thirty and forty something peers did so, too. My teachers came to me when I needed them, and I learned much. The acquisition of a magickal education is a life-long process, and no weekend seminar or book will impart you all you need to know. And kids, if anyone offers to do that for you, run like hell, because they arenÕt legit. We elders weren't and aren't perfect, and anyone that says otherwise is full of hot air. Sometimes I think that we older Pagans acquire a layer of psychic 'fat' that insulates from the immediate curiosity of our youth, and we forget how eager and what pains to our own elders) we were.

For every genuine seeker, no matter what their age, there are about 20 who are dabblers, want-it-nows, or lost souls. This is true with youth, too. Our culture is an instant-on, ready in 10 minutes, overnight delivery, gotta have it now mess. And our kids have been raised in this environment, and see it as normal. No one teaches or counsels patience. And as a result, many of our kids are gratification poisoned and intolerable.

As a senior member of the Craft, my responsibility is to find that the jewels in the bucketful of sand- and impart what Light I can to them. Age is not important, intent is. If you shine, you will be found, respected, and treasured as the asset to the Pagan community you truly are.

We know you're there. We'll find you! Be patient! :-)

I Believe That All Of The Negative Ideas About The Youth Of... Mar 5th. at 4:05:48 pm UTC

Kaicielia BlueDragon (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 24 - Email

I believe that all of the negative ideas about the youth of today are blown out of proportion, greatly. i have found that you are much more likely to remember a negative experience with anyone, especially teenagers, than you are to remember neutral or positive experiences. I know many youth, children of friends and family, and feel very positive of the future of the world.
The media blows things out of proportion, and, face it, if you are going to go around gossiping, you are going to talk bad about everything and everyone you talk about. People love to gossip, why do you think daytime talk shows are so popular?
Also, you have to remember, children are primarily seekers. Few youth who come to us looking for information truly know what we stand for, that is why they are asking. They have been fed a lot of bull from the media, some from families, friends, and schoolmates, and who knows where else from?
Many of us do not have the time or patience to deal with these questions. I have to admit that, at times, I fit into this group. But we must all try. It is the only way to correct the misconceptions.

Well I Wasn't Going To Put In My Two Cents, Seeing As... Mar 5th. at 5:09:44 pm UTC

Shadow (Miami, Florida US) Age: 17 - Email

Well I wasn't going to put in my two cents, seeing as the question seemed to suggest "for us old folks only". However after seeing all my peers' opinion I decided "why not". As I see maturity and wisdom don't hold consistently together. I can bring up as many teenagers who would rival Mo Tzu (ancient taoist master) as I have seen full fledged adults display the mentality of the common toddler. Yup, it's a brave new world out there. There will always be the spell crazy quickies and wannabes out there; and from ALL shapes sizes and ages. The question is what to do with them. I say we give them a pat on their preverbial little head and let them know politely " patience is the essence of which you know yet not"; then let scoot them along out the door until they re-enter with some level of maturity, humbleness, and wisdom. Thanx for your time, and your actual patience to follow my ramblings this far. Tootles!

Among My Young Friends Are Some Amazing And Wonderful People. A Young... Mar 5th. at 5:45:44 pm UTC

Sue McCullough (Oakland, California US) Age: 41

Among my young friends are some amazing and wonderful people.

A young man of 22 whom I've know since he was 15 - and would have trusted even back then with emergency baby-sitting of my then infant son. The number of people on that emergency baby-sitting list was 5. My teen-aged friend and his step-mother were the only non-relatives, and he was the only person who was a minor.

Today I know two girls, ages 14 and 15, who I would trust with my children, and my older boy, the infant mentioned above, is now 8 1/2 and has been diagnosed with autism, a severe developmental disability that many adults are not competent to deal with.

One of these young women has been on the staff of a major Pagan religious conference for the last two years, and worked as unofficial "junior staff" the year before that, at age 13, and I do mean WORKED.

The other young woman has proved herself an enormously powerful and conscientious priestess. She probably does more public ritual in the area than any of the adults who work with her.

And these three aren't exceptions. The other Pagan youth all seem to be making their contributions to the community and making that community sit up and take notice in positive ways.

Yes, I've seen my three young friends (and many of the others) have difficulties and conflicts with their parents. That's normal and expected of teens. They aren't children, and they need to move beyond parental controls.

What I think makes the difference, is that the larger community has accepted these young folks as talented individuals, ignores their ages except where legal considerations require it, and gives them opportunities and support to express themselves and make contributions outside their family unit. And their sensible parents have let go of their "babies" and allowed and encouraged the larger community to get these terrific people involved.

When my own youngsters have outgrown mom and dad's limits, that larger community will be there to support, encourage and nurture them. It will be hard for my husband and me to loosen the apron strings, especially with our autistic boy, but I'm looking forward to the day when some of my age-peers in the community can say about my boys, "Glad to have them here. Look at all they've given to the community."

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