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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: 13,176,397  

Vox Q Stats

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Reponses: 199

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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 

If "older Is Really Better" Then I Am In Some Serious Trouble... Dec 5th. at 12:56:43 pm EST

Jim (Lynn Haven , Florida US) Age: 37 - Email

If "Older is Really Better" then I am in some serious trouble for I am the dreaded "newbie" solitary that is consistently asking questions. At 37, I hope that as I get older I continue to get better, but the only "padding" of experience I show is around my waist line. If there was something 'wrong' with being a new seeker then we wouldnŐt be here today in this forum. The "Old Guard" should be revered for the wisdom they can pass on but if I have learned correctly, Wicca itself as a religion is fairly new in the scheme of things. The new generations of Pagans, which despite my age includes me, should follow in the footsteps of those who have already started the journey down the path before us. However, no one should be chastised for breaking new ground as long as it harm none. Intolerance of any kind, even of fellow Pagans, is something we need to avoid. The old traditions survive and will continue to survive as long as people continue to seek knowledge.

No, One Thing I Like About Wicca Or Paganism Is The Acceptance... Dec 5th. at 12:49:45 pm EST

Lady Gwendolyn (Dothan, Alabama US) Age: 46 - Email

No, one thing I like about Wicca or Paganism is the acceptance. I have seen a trend over the past few years that appears to be "I'm better than you because I've been practicing longer than you." Everyone has their own unique gift from the Gods to share with each other. Older is not better than younger, just different and sometimes wiser.

I Believe That One Should Be Open To Both The New And... Dec 5th. at 12:07:18 pm EST

Priestess Morganna (Birmingham, Alabama US) Age: 29 - Email

I believe that one should be open to both the new and the old. If one gets stuck in tradition then it can become stagnant. Being a priestess in a coven that is starting up a rather new tradition, I believe both are worthy of the future. There are those who prefer to be taught by someone who has been around for awhile as though this gives what they are taught more meaning. And this is true for some. And then are those who wish to learn by those who are easier going or have something that may be considered simpler than what the old guard may teach.

For me both are just as valid!

Elder Does Not Always Mean Better. We All Know That Not Everyone... Dec 5th. at 11:50:48 am EST

Moonstone (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) Age: 29

Elder does not always mean better. We all know that not everyone is suited to be a pagan. We do not seek converts from other religions. However, we should be more accepting of everyone. This path comes to people when they need it and when they least expect it sometimes. Most of us probably feel as though this path found us. We are all of The Goddess and The God, and we are all equal under them. Sure some may have been practicing for 20 years and some may have just thought about it. We who are of the wicca know who we are and our dieties know who we are. Being the elders of this religion should embrace these "newbies" and guide them. Unfortunatly, many of our priestesses and priests seem to be corrupted by the possible power that their posts hold. An it harm none do as ye will... Does elevating oneself with delusions of grandure not only harm yourself, but also those who could learn from you, and the entire community? We were all "newbie" at one time. I count myself lucky that the group that trained and initiated me did not have these problems. I am relatively new to this path. I have been practicing for around 4 years. During this time I have practiced alone, been self dedicated, worked with a group from a local store and finally found the coven that trained me. Like I have said I am lucky to have them. Although many of my tradition elders have been practicing for many years and have been initiated into several traditions NEVER has any willing seeker been turned away. That is the way of the wicca. We need to remember that learning doesn't end with initiation!!! that is only the begining. Who knows what some of these newbies have to teach. Besides we who are of the wicca know who we are, and even though some may be newer than other, I am willing to bet that if asked most would say that they were a Witch long before they started to practice, they just didn't know it yet.

Before we become too corrupt and power hungry lets step back and take a good look at where that attitude will take us. And always remember the three fold law... If we put out an attitude of intolerance with in our own community what do you think we will draw to us from the rest of the world. It wasn't that long ago that we could be killed for these beliefs. I doubt that anyone wants to go back there.

There Is Something To Be Said For Tradition. It Offers A Time-tested... Dec 5th. at 11:38:09 am EST

Persipone (Washington, District of Columbia US) Age: 20

There is something to be said for tradition. It offers a time-tested structure, organized and effective methods of teaching, and valuable standards for clergy training. But too often in our community "tradition" becomes and excuse to exclude. No one should be considered, or should consider themeselves less of a Wiccan/Witch/Pagan etc., because they don't have a traditional initiation or a third degree. The initiatory trads are an important part of the whole, but they're only a *part*. A solitary eclectic's dedication and knowledge may be equal to -- or greater than -- a traditional High Priestess's; it's a question of individual feeling and practice. Some people will always prefer the traditional path, and others will always prefer to be solitary innovators. I think we should treasure the variety of our community, rather than striving for uniformity.

And as for people who are new to Craft- we are a religion of converts. Few of us were raised in a Pagan households, and most of us found the Craft after years practicing another religion. We were all newbies once. Let's remember that, and cut our "younger" brothers and sisters some slack!

Well This Is Indeed A Very Good Discussion, As The Following Of... Dec 5th. at 11:34:34 am EST

Michael (Dublin, European Union, Ireland) Age: 23 - Email

Well this is indeed a very good discussion, as the following of paganism is indeed rising rapidly.

I'm afraid that I feel quite happy with my healthy dose of scepticism, I, as an adult respect other adults of sound mind, and would not dare to assume that I am of of superior spiritual authority or experience, or on the other scale I would not view another as superior in a spiritual sence to myself.
I genuinely think that spirituality is not meant to be governed by temporal laws or rank.
People definately do assume an air of superiority when they believe that they are more experienced than another, this is an unfortunate result of our vanity.
I am personally disgusted whenever I see people put other people down in order to increase their own standing, be it in their own, or other peoples eyes. It is rather like trying to increase the height of your "mountain" by reducing the elevation of the surrounding landscape. It is selfdefeating, unethical and above all it is fake.
As for new versus old, well the current incarnation of Paganism is indeed less than a century old, so claiming that one tradition has more authority than the other is rubbish.
As for myself, I am refusing to put specific classification on my own conclusions, as I believe that there is some truth in many of the world religions and as a result I'd like to think that the sum of all these little truths holds some value.

While I relate closely with Wiccan, it would be a mistake to dictate strict dogma, it goes against every principle for which we stand.
Spirituality is a very personal issue and can never be dictated by external influences.
Morality is on the other hand often shaped by external agencies.

I Am A Pretty New Pagan Since I Have Only Been Praticing... Dec 5th. at 11:09:55 am EST

fairywhisper aka debi (wilkesboro, North Carolina US) Age: 36 - Email

I am a pretty new pagan since I have only been praticing for going on 3 years, most of that was tentative and unsure since I live in a rural area of the "Bible Belt" and had no one to talk with or learn from. Since I got my computer and link to the rest of the pagan world I feel that I have learned a lot, and become more secure in my beliefs. I look to "older" pagans for advice and help, but still look to myself for my main directions. Truth to one's self is my goal, so guideance and support can come from outside sources, but you still have to look to yourself for the main ideas and feelings that make you who you are.

As With A Great Many Things There Must Be Balance. Between Interest... Dec 5th. at 10:36:34 am EST

Andrasazel (London, England UK) Age: 17 - Email

As with a great many things there must be balance. Between interest in the old ways and keeping to traditions, and working towards a progression from them. In order to truly break new ground one needs to both have a good understanding of the old way, and a fresh perspective and openness to new ideas; a willingness to re-evaluate.

Age as a indicator of ability with this kind of thing is completely ridiculous. So is time as an indication of experience. Experience is just that. If you have been working with the craft for longer then someone else, it doesn't mean you have learned more or done more for that matter, and vice versa. These kinds of crude tactics to make snap judgments are wrong. Also it is possible that people may well have a talent for the craft which has to be taken into account.

It is all fine and good dismissing people's snap judgement stereotypes about "Newbies" or or "Oldies". All newbies aren't silly hyperactive's who don't understand the bigger picture of the craft, and all "Oldies" aren't people so encrusted in their old ways that they can't understand.

Here's what i think about it:
THe reason these judgements fail to judge fairly is because they are judging something which is inherrently false. There is no better or worse faith between newbies and oldies. Admittedly there may be a large number of people who are new to the faith who don't quite get the picture, and there are a large number of people who have been in it for a long time, who have lost the bigger picture along the way, but "THE BETTER" that we are looking for is neither age nor experience specifically - it IS the bigger picture: The ability to percieve and interact with the universe better and better, and study further how the universe has it's cycles, what magick actually is tangibly, and why we shouldn't harm etc etc. The Oldies Vs. Newbies argument is fought as a result of a lack of recognition of a bigger picture on both sides. Once you lose this you tend to lose your faith in general.

I don't know if this rings true with anyone. I'm only a 17 year old who's been wiccan for 1 year, witch since 12 years old, and does very little work on account of hiding his religion. E-mail me with any thoughts, i'd really be interested.


Good Or Bad... Right Or Wrong... The Reality For Me Is That... Dec 5th. at 10:23:08 am EST

Aspen May (Central California, California US) Age: 29 - Email

Good or bad... right or wrong... The reality for me is that if I want to learn of this religion I shall do so on my own. Living in the "Bible Belt" of California doesn't give much opportunity for finding Elders to learn from.

When I first started on this journey, I wished for a teacher who could just tell me what the beliefs were, instead of sifting through so many sources and authors, many of who contradicted each other, and try to figure it out for myself. It was a very different way of learning than my Christian upbringing had been... where there was ONE book and ONE person (the Priest) to tell you what you were supposed to believe. Then I realized that for me, this was the strength in Wicca. I had to think for myself. And I think the struggle has been worth the result :)

It still hurts when another Witch tells me I can't be a "true" witch as I wasn't inititated by a Coven. But the thing about being a solitary is... I don't need that person's approval to follow my own path. :)

Bright Blessings,


Unfortunately, Being A Newbie These Days Is A Bad Thing, Because More... Dec 5th. at 10:06:39 am EST

SilverCat (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 25 - Email

Unfortunately, being a newbie these days is a bad thing, because more often than not, newbie translates into wannabe. And the new seeker is left defenseless, unaware of the trouble-makers who cruelly paved that road ahead of them. And just as what happens with parents and children, Elders in the Craft forget what it's like to be a newbie in a whole new world of spiritual possibilities.

There should always be a respect for Elders, regardless of whether it is a religious community. And the teachings should be listened to as words of experience. But it is up to the next generation to adapt that to the world around them and to help our religious community grow. Mother Nature makes subtle changes in her appearance every cycle-- so should we with each generation of Pagans. =)


I Have Nothing Against Teachers, Authors, Or People Who Pass Down The... Dec 5th. at 10:02:05 am EST

Oriole (Milford, Connecticut US) Age: 43

I have nothing against teachers, Authors, or people who pass down the ideals and rituals of Witchcraft. It is necessary in order for the religion to survive. The problem is that many long time practitioners, especially Traditionalists, feel that they know the only "right" way to do things. This reminds me so much of the Pope claiming that he, and only he, represents god and that you must live as he tells you. It is this very arrogance that turned me away from Christianity at a very early age. I hate to see it in Witchcraft.

Religion is an expression of thanks to the creator; there is no "right" or "only" way to do it. Most solitaries (rightly so) ignore the snobbish claims of traditionalists and seek their own path. Isn't that what Witchcraft is supposed to be about, finding your own path? Isn't having your own PERSONAL relationship with the divine a cornerstone of our religion?

Older Is No Better,nor Vice Versa. All That Should Matter To... Dec 5th. at 7:46:29 am EST

Matt (Auckland) Age: 25 - Email

older is no better, nor vice versa.
all that should matter to us is fire, air, earth and water, discovering these elements inside our souls and in the envronment we live from!
blessed be!
luv ya, witchie poo. NZ

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