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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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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.
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| Intent Is All That Matters. People Serious About Their Religion, Pious To... ||Dec 6th. at 2:07:07 pm UTC|
|Brian Leach (turnersville, New Jersey US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
Intent is all that matters. People serious about their religion, pious to their gods, celebrating life, this is what matters. Any serious newbie, won't be one for long, because they will work hard to become wise in their path. Then there are naive and very fake practitioners who have been pagan for years and years. I think it is very easy to tell the difference between dedicated people, and the...well, SILLY people.
| As A Traditional Hps Who Has Been Initiated Into Three Of The... ||Dec 6th. at 1:08:14 pm UTC|
|Flora Green (San Francisco, California US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
As a traditional Hps who has been initiated into three of the "older" traditons,
I must say I don't necissarily think "older is better" but I do feel the older traditions offer much in the way of a firm grounding in the Pagan path.
I have personally known Pagans and Heathens who are very talented in both constructing meaningful ritual and working powerful magic. I don't believe you have to train in a traditional coven to do this. However, I have found that the most dedicated of these folks actively seek out traditional groups to gain more experience and to become magically linked to tradition.
If an older coven is a good one, they will not be resistant to change, but embrace it within the larger frame work of it's rituals. I don't think there is any need to worry about these older trads passing away... We usually are turning people away from training groups! Whether or not you believe it, there is a strong connection in these trads with the witches of old. Much of our material is oathbound and so it can't be spoken of, but there is a strong possiblity that the Craft as we practice it may have older roots than is commonly believed. The recent books and articles that have claimed otherwise aren't really looking in the right places or ignoring evidence that is right in front of them.
Blessings to All on their paths,
Flora Green Hps and WQ, Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions and
| Of Course Older Isn't Better In And Of Itself. I've Been Doing... ||Dec 6th. at 12:44:42 pm UTC|
|Catherine Harper (Woodinville, Washington US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Of course older isn't better in and of itself.
I've been doing this for a while now (how long kind of depends on what you count -- started studying with a group 14 years ago, more or less). I've certainly have met people who've been studying a long time, and even had a nifty collection of initiations who struck me as pretty clueless, and have heard quite a bit of wisdom from relative youngsters.
But for most people, experience does teach a few lessons.
On the other hand, I've been hearing more and more people who have become involved with paganism more recently pooh-poohing the established traditions, and that also bothers me. Yes, things will change. They need to. But it often seems to me that many people have gotten so defensive about not having started out in a coven that they become resistant to the learning that does exist in that setting. And, particularly in Wicca, it seems that many people in the newer generations are creating a religion that is simplified, streamlined, and a lot more smug and sanctimonious than are most of the traditionally trained wiccans I know. (When did the Wiccan rede get shortened to two words?)
I'm not saying these are bad people, I'm saying it's a loss. If anything, it's almost inevitable, considering how many more people are interested in learning than have formal training... and worse, how many of the first large generation of the self trained (I'm thinking those who cut their teeth on Starhawk and Adler and then the later writers) are hostile and belittling to "newbies". I see it most from people who have been studying for some years, and have fought tooth and nail to put together pagan circles or other organizations pretty much from scratch (which is an awful lot of work and a laudable accomplishment) who then turn around and try to tell people just getting started that they are too young and too stupid to work magic.
If I was talking to someone who was considering making their first forrays into the pagan community about how to deal with more established pagans, I'd say something like this:
"Listen to everyone, talk to everyone. Don't pass up chances to learn, and be careful about getting drawn into other people's conflicts -- you'll almost always learn more talking to people on all sides. But keep your own bullshit detector turned on and pay attention to it, too. (Though many, perhaps most, people have both bullshit and wisdom in their repetoires, complicating the issue.) Navigation isn't simple, and it's pretty unlikely you're going to find someone to take you by the hand and spoon feed you either magic or religion in a way that will help you in the long run. But there are a lot of people out there who have a lot to share -- learn from them with your eyes open. Part of being a grown up, no matter how old you are, is establishing your own values and making your own choices."
| What Is Older? To Me, "older" Is A Positive State Of Mind... ||Dec 6th. at 12:07:03 pm UTC|
|Sarah (Elmira, New York US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
What is older?
To me, "older" is a positive state of mind, as opposed to a physical aging, or marker along a path. When you describe someone as "older, " it conjures up an image of someone who has helpful experience (sometimes it is the quality of the experience, not quanity that matters) and wisdom. This can occur at any age, at any point along a religious path.
I know of many who has taken the title of "elder" by virtrue of their age, but lack wisdom or depth of soul. They are not truely "old, " nor do they deserve the title that they adopted. A "newbie learner" can posses a great amount of wisdom and an inherient ability to learn, which makes them for "older" then then the "elder."
Should newbies even care?
People who are truly "elders" show be listened to and learned from by all new Pagans. They do have a lot of knowledge to impart, knowledge that can lay the framework for any workings done in the future. As someone moves along their religious path, they may find themselves taking teachings from all elders they
have met, and weave them all into their own tradition.
Does it mean resistance to change?
It goes back to what I define as "older." I think that wisdom brings with the ability to have an open mind. Sometimes change can be beneficial, and an elder must recongize that. If they want to reject change in the name of "protecting a tradition, " they must stop and think. Sometimes, the reason to why some things are done are lost in time. People stick to it out of habit and a sense of duty. Perhaps something can be changed to allow for meaning and depth to the act. Conversly, all change should not be embraced wholeheartadly. Such an attitude means a lost of consistancy and possibly, a loss of value.
Traditions can survive some change. I highly doubt any pagan path that is followed is exactly as it was founded. If a tradition is a healthy one, one that indeed, leads to spirtual growth and health to its followers, then it has nothing to fear of change. It is only when people are dissatsified with a tradition, that it fails to provide what people are seeking, will change be destructive to that tradition.
Sorry to rant so much. I have been thinking about this a lot since some problems I have experienced
| An Amendment To My First Response #1575. Some Say That Older Is... ||Dec 6th. at 11:39:37 am UTC|
|Steven Bragg (MSU, Mississippi US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
An amendment to my first response #1575.
Some say that older is better in terms of wisdom and experience. I don't think that's necessarily true.
I'd like to point out the common logical fallacy in thinking that the older something is the more wisdom it has. Wisdom is simply knowledge of what is true or right. Knowledge can come from logical reasoning and can be done by someone very young. Children sometimes see wisdom that "grown-ups" cannot.
So, if older doesn't equal better in terms of wisdom, does it equal better in terms of experience? Not necessarily. Experience is simply wisdom gained through doing. As I said above, wisdom can be held by the young. One can gain the same wisdom through logical reasoning as someone else has gained through experience. I always use the saying "We learn from our mistakes, but if we're really smart, we'll learn from other people's mistakes." One doesn't have to experience something in order to have the wisdom from it. If that were the case, then what's the point of school? Why don't we just all go out and reinvent the wheel thousands of times a day?
But someone may say, "but what about experience that involves an emotional aspect? Surely someone who hasn't gone through what I've gone through can understand the emotional component to it." This may be true, but emotions are highly individualistic. Who's to say what you've done in the situation is right? What is right? And why should I do the same thing? I'm a different person in a different situation. Emotional experience cannot be transferred, and therefore is not better than someone's lack of emotional experience. One can give advice, we all do, but in the end an emotional decision must be made alone if it is to be a significant one to that person.
All that is said of older people with wisdom and experience being superior to those younger and less experienced I reject. I do not respect someone simply because that person is older. I take into account what that person says and judge for myself the validity or invalidity of that advice or statement. We are all equals, young and old, but we can all think for ourselves, and we are all equal in the eyes of the Gods.
| Greetings To All & Merry Meet, Now To My Opinion.... Well There Is... ||Dec 6th. at 11:13:44 am UTC|
|MARY SCHOBER/GYPSYMOONSHADOW (RICHARDSON, Texas US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
GREETINGS TO ALL & MERRY MEET, NOW TO MY OPINION....
WELL THERE IS MUCH TO BE SAID FOR EXPERIENCE. AS WE STUDY & PRACTICE, WE GAIN
EXPERIENCE IN WHAT WORKS FOR EACH OF US.
THEIR WILL ALWAYS BE EXPERIMENTS TO BE TRIED, BUT THE OLD WAYS ARE ALREADY THERE
FOR US, TRIED, & TRUE. AT TIMES PATIENCE IS THE KEY, BUT I SAY FREEDOM TO ALL
THAT HARM NONE IN THEIR EXPERIMENTATIONS.
I BELIEVE WITCHES ARE USUALLY BORN GIFTED, AS THE MESSENGERS OF "OUR GODDESS".
SO ALTHOUGH EXPERIENCED, WE ALL STILL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN, FIRST THOUGH, LISTEN
TO YOUR SPIRIT, & LET IT SOAR INTO THE MAGICKAL REALMS, THERE YOU WILL FIND
ANYONE WISHING TO CONTACT ME FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS, PLEASE DO SO AT
MUCH THANKS TO OUR FRIENDS HERE AT THE WITCHVOX FOR THIS PLACE TO VOICE
| I've Been A Witch For The Past 7 Years, The Past 6... ||Dec 6th. at 10:48:12 am UTC|
|Catherine Houghton (Newcastle Upon tyne, England UK) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I've been a witch for the past 7 years, the past 6 of these have been solitaire but I've recently formed a coven with 3 more university students, one of them being fam trad. Although I'm only 20 years old, I find myself being the oldest in the coven and jokingly being called 'the crone'. I am by no means 'Old Guard' nor a newbie and I believe that the Craft is a learning process that spans lifetimes.I also believe that everything has a place in the craft too, after all, where would the Knowledgeable Old guard with their traditions be without the inovations that the newbies bring to the craft??? The craft would be stagnant. I have come across much disrespect towards the old guard from young witches, sometimes as a result of the treatment that they have received from the Older witches. Young witches need to respect the elders for their knowledge and experience, however, older witches (not all of them) need to think about ways to guide the young people of the craft. It is their duty. Simply telling them to go away, ignoring them or threatening to curse them as happened to me about 4 years ago isn't going to work.
This is something that we are going to have to address as a community.
We need to find a balance between the Old and the Young.
Maybe we should see it as a challenge that the Great Mother herself has set for us????? If we don't, the craft will remain divided and therefore weak against political opponents
| Not Neccessarily. Older Is Usually Better If Only For The Tapestry Of... ||Dec 6th. at 10:24:04 am UTC|
|Gary Reed (Dallas, Texas US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
Older is usually better if only for the tapestry of experience that been gathered. However, simply passing on knowledge is somewhat hollow if it is not accompanied by wisdom.
To stick to old traditions or ways is a good way to maintain a link to our heritage. However, if things never changed, we would still be living in mud huts, hunting with spears and cowering in fear at every eclipse.
Change is inevitable and if we can guide that change it will be to the good of all. Traditions give us roots. Change gives us wings but, like Icarus, we must be careful to temper our flight and not stray too far too quickly.
So, to those who choose to just pick there practices they want to fit their lifstyle or whim, be careful. Make your choices only after becoming informed and educated as to where that particular practice, tradition, spell or rite came from and how it fit in its original intention. Some practices fit well with other traditions while others, may seem OK on the surface but after close examination, actually may conflict with your base belief systems.
To those who insist that your tradition is the only acceptable way, remember that mud huts where a tradition at one time. I'm not saying you must give up your traditions but don't cling to them so tightly that your spirituallity stagnates.
So children, FLY and be free, but don't lose sight of your ground. After all, we are all children of the earth.
| I Suspect A Lot Of The Frustration In The "old Guard" As... ||Dec 6th. at 9:59:13 am UTC|
|Fishgoat (Winnipeg, Manitoba CA) ||Age: 36 - Email |
I suspect a lot of the frustration in the "Old Guard" as you put it comes from the masses of newcomers who, instead of being true seekers, are just out for a quick "Wicca fix". You know the type: "Gimme a spell to get back (or get back at) my ex." or "Can you teach me how to shapechange, just like in The Craft?" and then turn around and be nasty because someone tried to explain to them that Wicca is a spiritual path and , no, "I will not hex your ex for you" (or whatever). I end up dealing with far more dabblers than seekers on-line, which depresses me.
That being said, I don't necessarily think that the older traditions are automatically better, just because they are old. What I am concerned about is the fact that much good lore, poetry and magickal knowledge (not to mention Wiccan history) is being abandoned just because it IS "old", or requires "too much work", or isn't "happy" enough, or whatever. If it doesn't work for you, fine. At least study it a bit before automatically rejecting it. (The same goes for "traditionalists": take a look at the newer rites and such first before dismissing it *all* as "fluff".)
Let's keep Wicca diverse so that seekers have a place to go that fits *them*. Let's also continue to be aware of our diversity, to experience it, and to celebrate it, so that we can be a good example to the new seekers AND be able to direct them to likeminded folks.
Me? I'll continue to be an eclectic traditionalist ;)
| I Feel That There Really Is No Difference Between The Old Seeker... ||Dec 6th. at 6:07:05 am UTC|
|Iucunda (Tampere, Finland) ||Age: 26 |
I feel that there really is no difference between the old seeker and the new seeker, both are just seekers. In Wicca no practitioner is above or below the other, and therefore people who seek power haven«t got a clue to what everything is all about, but that is no surprise since that is what is wrong with the world, peoples hunger for power where wicca and paganisms are against rigid authorities and someone being better that the other. After all, it«s just us, the animals, and the gods.
The problem with most religions is that they are not willing to evolve where the evolution of humanity has taken enormous leaps ahead. If religions do not evolve they perish or they force peolple to hold themselves back. The reason why most have turned to paganism and/or wicca is that they don«t feel comfortable with the rigidness of mainstream religions, and find the rules constrictive and obsolete and the dogmas too simple and contradictory to themselves. And the fact that we're having this conversation means simply that not all people are willing or able to let go of pride and the need to be recogniced and accepted by others as a valid practitioner, which is the result of bad self-esteem.
| I Have Been Practicing Wicca (solitary) For The Past Four Years. I... ||Dec 6th. at 2:58:06 am UTC|
|Caelum (Dallas, Texas US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I have been practicing Wicca (solitary) for the past four years. I will explain my beliefs, but I don't feel that I should have to defend them to anyone. If I am considered a 'newbie, ' then so be it. Most of the Pagans I have met do not condemn a person for wanting to understand a new path. I'm not claiming to be a High Priestess or anything. I just want to be left in peace to believe as I do and celebrate in the way I see fit. Should new generations be allowed to break new ground? Absolutely. Is not the law "Harm none and do what ye will?" )O(
| I Am New To Calling Myself A Wiccan. But It Is Something... ||Dec 6th. at 1:11:11 am UTC|
|maer again (Keswick (still), Ontario CA) ||Age: 37 |
I am new to calling myself a Wiccan. But it is something that I have felt a kinship with for my entire life. I have always felt that everyone should be able to express their spirituality in the way that makes them feel happy and comforted. No way is right. No way is wrong. Comparing the old way, and the new way is an apple/orange proposition. I think there is beauty in the old ways, and these traditions should be revered, and kept to pass down to those who will follow. However, I also think that some of us are not ready to follow the old ways in their entirety. Now we can bring the things we feel good about from that aspect to our own spirituality. That freedom to choose is one of the most beautiful things about Wicca, and Paganism. For that, I am thankful. We are Blessed. And this time, I'll get it right! (sorry)
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