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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 15,179,942  

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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. Reverse Sort 

I Think The Beliefs Should Grow Because What Is New Today Will... Dec 10th. at 4:00:07 pm EST

Lee (va bch, Virginia US) Age: 32 - Email

I think the beliefs should grow because what is new today will be old tomorrow.

I Consider Myself Pagan, But Since I Am Very New To The... Dec 10th. at 3:50:23 pm EST

Kathryn Philbrook (Tacoma, Washington US) Age: 20 - Email

I consider myself Pagan, but since I am very new to the religion, only two years, and am still navigating my way through the various sects, traditions, variations, etc., I don't proclaim myself as Pagan to anyone but myself. If for some reason, I get into a discussion about religion with someone, I do not hide my personal beliefs, but I don't either call attention to the name I give myself: Pagan. I do this for a few reasons, and none of them are because I am ashamed of my beliefs. I do this because, I am creating a very personal religion based on many aspects of Celtic Wicca, Greek Paganism, Native American Shamanism, etc. etc. etc. It would not be fair to believers in any of those groups for me to identify myself as one or the other, or to let someone else assume that I belong to any single group. Each tradition has its own set of legitimate values that can, and ought to exist in themselves whether or not I agree with each one. Those people that believe in them have every right to care for thier traditions and values, and worry that someone else who uses them will not understand or value them in the same depth as the older practitioners do. I have no desire to change thier faith, thier practices, or their tradition. I also want to be very careful not to step on thier toes: not to call myself Seax-Wiccan, if I don't understand and follow Seax-Wicca one hundred percent. If I have only been studying Seax-Wicca for two years, it is highly unlikely that I can appreciate and understand the totality of the religion. We are not like Southern Baptists that can convert the moment we believe in Jesus. We develop into our chosen religion over time, study and practice. Therefore, and especially because the words Pagan and witch are so misunderstood in society today, it is very easy for us newbies to spread misc-conceptions that taint the opinions of the general populace about things we know nothing about.
Because I am a newbie, I obviously believe that I have every right to be a part of this religion, and that I have every right to create my own variety. However, I also believe that us newbies ought to be very careful not to ruin things for those who came before us. We need to respect the wisdom and effort that has gone into creating these traditions before we even knew they existed.

This Can Go Both Ways. I Feel That Older Is Better, Because... Dec 10th. at 3:39:38 pm EST

tainimoon (Millersville, Pennsylvania US) Age: 23 - Email

This can go both ways. I feel that older is better, because they should be able to help the "newbies" learn about traditions. Also if you never accept any new seekers, then eventually there won't be anyone left to carry out the tradtions. I also feel that too many covens are too quick to judge a new person. I have recently been removed from a coven because I didn't know enough about wicca and couldn't make all of the meetings because I work full-time and go to college. This has made me look down on wicca. I thought witches were to be friendly, open-minded, and to accept people for who you are. A church doesn't kick somebody out because they aren't there every Sunday or because they don't know much about the Bible. They help teach and I thought that is what a coven is for. Not evryone learns as easy as the next person. Some people need visuals or others to help them on their path. That is why I feel that the older ones should help the "newbies" and don't be too quick to judge.

I Think That Older May Not Necessarily Be Better. Younger People Whe... Dec 10th. at 3:18:35 pm EST

SHERRY HUBER (CADILLAC, Michigan US) Age: 23 - Email


As A "newbie" To The Wiccan Religion I Think That The "old... Dec 10th. at 3:08:27 pm EST

Aaron "Navarre" Brown (Fayetteville , North Carolina US) Age: 27 - Email

As a "Newbie" to the Wiccan religion I think that the "Old Guard" should be careful about how they approach this issue. The problem that I can see coming to a head is the fact that there is not a "local" coven in every town. Yes there are some people who have jumped on the bandwagon and declaired that they are witches or wiccan, but that is what happens with every religion. The fact that Pagan traditions have all but been wiped out at one point of time or another suggests that there is no longer a "Pure or Old" religion. There are concepts, some examples, and maybe a book or two passed down but it doesn't make it right. The reason the Roman Catholic church is loosing members is the fact that they refuse to grow, change from old outdated missconceptions to a new more modern religion that addresses the problems of today's issues. I think that because there isn't a coven in every town, and the fact that there is no unified pagan faith structure, than I feel that everyone has the same rights, beliefs and faith as any "coven iniated" person. Faith is faith, we all believe the same concepts. Let the facts that Muslims, christians and Jews all believe in the same god, but are willing to wipe each other out because of the "my god is better" view be a lesson. Let us not forget what the burning times were all about to begin with. The covens should embrase the fact that we are all different and we have the potential to bring new ideas and gifts to even the oldes pagan orginizations.
Thank You and Blessed Be everyone.

As A Solitary "newbe" It Took Me A Long Time To Accept... Dec 10th. at 3:07:46 pm EST

Linda Roden (Godfrey, Illinois US) Age: 42 - Email

As a solitary "newbe" it took me a long time to accept being new. After a lot of soul searching and research it finally dawned on me that it's OK to be new. It's what is in my heart and not what someone else believes or thinks of me that leads me down this path. Everyone was new at one time and without new the old dies away.

It Appears As If The Question And The Many Responses I Have... Dec 10th. at 2:56:21 pm EST

Elizabeth (Springfield, Missouri US) Age: 36 - Email

It appears as if the question and the many responses I have read imply an either/or issue. If "newbies" don't follow in traditions path than that path will fall aside. Huh? The real reason for so many "newbies" cutting their own path is the sheer absence of sufficient group slots for the overwhelming numbers of seekers. Do we really believe that the percentages would be the same if every one interested could find a compatible teaching group right off? But they can't. If truly interested and not in it for the fad then they must most often seek info outside a group setting. Period.

Given that situation, they have no choice, they must break "new ground." Thank the ALL that they DON'T have to muddle through with little written guidance like the so-called old-guard. Thank the All that there are now web-sites as well as books to get actual personal feed-back to specific questions. Thank the All that there are on-line groups doing their best to answer the overwhelming crush of questions and ease the anxiety ridden newbies' fears. Even with all this the numbers are incredible and many feel left out and forced to make their own way when they do NOT want to be solitaire.

There is the twist in the question - how many "eclectic solitaires" would there really be if they had had an alternative from the get-go? But all this is neither here-nor-there. This IS the situation as it stands now - huge numbers of people and groups "making it up as they go along." How is that different from what the "old-guard" had to do back when? Did they not have to figure it out and plan it and write it and argue it out amongst themselves and find out what "felt right" to them then? And was not the formulae they came up with seriously influenced by how secure they felt in their community? How, then, are the new groups doing ANYTHING different? They, too, are greatly influenced by the level of security and comfort they have in the public eye as well as the greater pagan community. They, too, have access to the SAME book learning the "original" groups had plus a whole LOT more. They too have their own, personal life-experiences and formal educations and sheer instinct to guide them. They simply have a much greater pool of resources. AND they live in a completely different climate, both socially/culturally and technologically.

EVERY group - no matter how closely tied to the so-called "old" traditions - still find their own way and have their own flavor once they circle-out on their own. EVERY one who completes formal training and moves to a new area and starts their own group puts their own stamp on it. Is this disrepectful of their parent group? I hardly think so. It is the nature of growth. And let's face it people - we have had an incredible growth spurt.

Now we are in the teenage years of strife, self-righteousness, insecurity and awesome self-interest. Also that wonderful time of seeing the whole world full of possibility, of endless fascination and willingness to experiment and incredible committment. It is scary, teenagehood. In a little while we'll look back on this in disbelief. We, the greater pagan community, will be (hopefully) in young adulthood and have new-found respect for those old-traditions that suddenly seem reasonable and worthy. But we'll still be our own people and not clones. We will be the next generation and we will move on.

And in 20 years it will be US who will be whining that "the kids just don't have the respect for us they should!" LOL

I Think That The Traditionalists And The New, Or Eclectic Wiccans Are... Dec 10th. at 2:21:54 pm EST

Gregory Nacu (Kingston, Ontario CA) Age: 19 - Email

I think that the Traditionalists and the New, or Eclectic Wiccans are Looking at this issue from Completely Different Sides. The Traditionalists have been Trained in a specific way of thought and practice. But they have also "proven" their devotion and their willingness to learn and challenge themselves through tests and degrees. They do not necessarily look down on Newbies because they are new. But because they doubt their sincerity. They question their reasons for becoming a wiccan. I am a solitaire. That means I don't have anyone looking over my shoulder. And I've been looking for a Traditionalist group that would be willing to teach/train me. But I MUST submit, that being eclectic, or solitary, is potentially MUCH easier than being a trained member, educated in traditional ways or a specific Coven. This does not mean that we should accept ill treatment from any traditionalist. However to me it makes sense. When I look around me, I see many people who call themself wiccan... "because it's Cool." Well 'Cool' is not a reason to be wiccan. Which is BETTER? who the hell knows?! but, There are a great many non initiated 'wiccans' who are not Even Wannabe's, Not even Seekers. they are rebels. And I disagree with following a religion out of rebellion. You should follow a religion out of faith and truth and Personal devotion. From a traditionalists point of view... Being an initiate is a way of demonstrating that you Are serious about what you are doing. To Extend this to say that ALL non-initiates are NOT serious is Just plain wrong, and bigotted. It's a sticky situation. But understand that if a traditionalist looks down on you... it's probably because they have had too many experiences with people not at all serious about the faith. And if you care to have them understand you.. get to know them.

In Responce To Steven Bragg's Responce To Me Opinion #1703 Let Me... Dec 10th. at 2:20:37 pm EST

Hunter (Peterborough, Ontario CA) Age: 23 - Email

In Responce to Steven Bragg's responce to me opinion #1703
Let me re-iterate my point by clarifing what I believe is stupid for lack of a better word: the argument over which is better new or old is nonsensical for what is now old was once new. The process of debate was not ment to be judged, I believe strongly that debate helps to shape our society for it intergrates new ideas with the old and as a result fosters an environmet that is far more reflective of the wants and needs of the society. I think it is important for everyone to have a voice and express their opinion, but there are greater debates with more importance then the one at present ie; which one of us has the right to call themselves Witch Wiccan or Pagan, those of the old ways or of the new ways. It is my opinion that this type of debte fosters no community and is counter productive thus if we want to strive for a stronger community social exceptance and a heathier environment we must turn our attention to the things that encourage us to unite not in debates that may result in alienation. We simply must excercise disgression in the debates that we engage in and my engagement was simply to point out that we should have greater concerns. I appologise if I offended you in any way please know that that was not my intent
Warmest Wishes

I Feel That Whatever Path In Life You Choose To Walk, It... Dec 10th. at 12:59:43 pm EST

Barbara Bacon (Burnley, England UK) Age: 50 - Email

I feel that whatever path in life you choose to walk, it should be about learning and knowledge, sharing the knowledge with whomsoever needs it, irrespective of age or gender. Not to share it would then be a negative action which would raise a question for me of the purpose that one would seek the knowledge in the first instance. I feel that Pagans should and do look at what is already there from the ancient ways, but from freedom of choice should then be free to go on to search and discover new and thought provoking ways to follow their path in life. Life is a learning curve, and the lessons do not end until life itself ends. Some will be happy to spend their time in the "school of life" content in knowing and learning about what is already in place, but others may wish to proceed to the " college of life" to seek and add to what is already known. I have been quite content at "school" and only find myself asking questions at my late age in life. I feel that this is also my choice and should not be questioned in relation to age. In respect of the "old guard who will guard the knowledge they have and not pass it on.I have found this to be a problem, if I am to be honest. Only so much knowledge can be gained from the written word, then the life experiences kick in as part of the further learning process. If they are not shared, how then can a person make an informed choice in the beliefs they may arrive at. Life is about sharing, be it knowledge or anything else, so if what knowledge the "ancients" left for us to explore and learn from is not passed on then we shall be left with "blinkered vision". I ask all that follow paths of the "ancients" to keep that thought when they find themselves questioned by a "novice", it is never to late or to early to offer a guiding hand. Blessings be to you and yours.

We Take Ourselves Too Seriously. Things Change. Times Change. In The Face... Dec 10th. at 12:42:02 pm EST

Weaver (Norfolk, Virginia US) Age: 27 - Email

We take ourselves too seriously. Things change. Times change. In the face of change, everyone becomes a "newbie". That is what some fear, I think. The loss of status or face in the face of change.

What's Wrong With Being A Newcomer? I'm Not A Newcomer To The... Dec 10th. at 12:11:29 pm EST

Marcia J. Rawlyk (Forked River, New Jersey US) Age: 52 - Email

What's wrong with being a newcomer? I'm not a newcomer to the earth, having lived here for over half a century. I am a newcomer to Paganism/Wicca although many of the concepts I've learned about are not new to me. I do resent people who look down on newcomers. Everyone was ignorant once. Shouldn't we try to share our knowledge instead of acting superior to those who know less? I do want to learn as much as I can about old traditions, but my belief system is a very personal thing. In the long run I would want to decide what is valuable to me and what isn't.

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