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Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 14,596,225  

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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 

This Is A Heady Topic. I Guess The Only Way To Truly... Dec 5th. at 2:04:22 am EST

Jonathan (Santa Rosa, California US) Age: 33 - Email

This is a heady topic. I guess the only way to truly answer is from personal experiance. I have never worked or worshiped with a coven, so I can not answer that side. I have a few friends and sometimes we find ourselfs togather for circles, and boy it is a grand and great feeling. However, being free to see things as they come your way is the only way I personally tend to learn. Be that from others, reading, listening to my inner self or finding a magical day and is all learning. I am fairly new to this "new" way. I can not truly measure my experiance in years because I have not dedicated years to constant pagan study. I have been aware of my-self as pagan for several years yet i find myself at times doing nothing and other times constantly trying to form up my pagan views. I think people should focus on what is important, be it learning form the "old gaurd" or striking out to new ground. Both concepts are a ligitimate(gads, my spelling is horrid) way of expanding yourself and growing. Fundamentaly speaking, our spirtuality must constantly grow with our experiance, all experiances from the mundane to the extraordinary.

First Of All, Every Seeker Was Once A New Seeker. Having More... Dec 5th. at 12:33:19 am EST

Emily (New Haven, Connecticut US) Age: 19

First of all, every seeker was once a new seeker. Having more experience in the craft does not, in my opinion, necessarily speak of greater wisdom. As followers of a religion blessedly free of dogma, I think we should embrace the truth we find in our visions, our intuition and divine inspiration, rather than adhere to the teachings of others, regardless of our experience or lack thereof. After all, it is those inborn beliefs that are the most sincere. I do not believe that any two people, even within a given religion, can have the exact same beliefs. It is through these infinite variations of love of the Holy One who is the Lord and Lady, that divinty manifests itself and speaks to us. We each walk our own path, at our own pace. If we can learn from each other, so much the better! The young may learn from the old, the inexperienced from the experienced, and vice versa. It is when grow rigid and complacent in our beliefs that we become guilty of the very things many of us sought to avoid through Wicca -- for instance, of valuing one path over another, or establishing religious authorities that seek to control our beliefs.
Besides this, modern witchcraft is, indeed, modern. Its roots may lie in an ancient religion, or in a number of them, but there is no true justification for the claim that Wicca is the Old Religion itself. I personally consider this more of a strength than a weakness. Religion should evolve with its followers, it should LIVE. That is how it may remain genuine -- not through dogmatism. Blessings to you all.

Even If You Have Been Learning The Craft For 40 Years, That... Dec 5th. at 12:21:19 am EST

Callandra (Arlington, Texas US) Age: 34 - Email

Even if you have been learning the Craft for 40 years, that does not
mean that you have mastered, I am not ashamed to be known as e "newbie". Even thoough I've studied extensivly and have been initiated into a coven. I most likely will take several lifetimes to understand the world
and universe around us.

Merry Meet! On The Topic Of Does Older Equal Better....not Necessarily... Dec 5th. at 12:12:49 am EST

Wynterhawke (Oak park, California US) Age: 47 - Email

Merry meet!

On the topic of Does Older Equal Better....not necessarily so.
However, this is somehwhat of an emotional topic. Viewed from many different perspectives...
I realize some of the Old Guard do flaunt their "credentials" at the newcomers, and although I know some of the Elders are simply stating their experience. it can come off sounding superior.
I have joined in several wiccan and pagan chats and found that quite a few of the newcomers had very little knowledge in place..yet, there they were seeking "recipies" for Love Spells, etc.
The Old Guard recongnizes the manipulation of magick to curtail the free will of another as going against the Rede and Karma...however, some of the newcomers feel they are reinventing Wicca.
I am torn about how I view this topic. Ok, I will give my "credentials"...I am 3rd drge Hps with some 20+ years experience...does this mean I know everything? NO! Does this mean I think that Wicca is unbendable?NO! do I think there needs to be structure? Definitely!

My Opionion On This Matter That Those That Are Starting Out Sould... Dec 4th. at 11:34:42 pm EST

Chaotic_Symphony (Unadilla, Georgia US) Age: 19 - Email

My opionion on this matter that those that are starting out sould consult thise that have been practcing for a long time and taht old in this case is outweight new but that is noto say that new can not improv on old but only after they know waht the old ways are so taht training is needed you can not learn everything you need to know from a book you need human interaction to learn mutch more

Ah! Is Not What Some People Assume...that Is, A... Dec 4th. at 10:38:24 pm EST

Caliburn Greywolf (Unionville, Connecticut US) Age: 21 - Email

AH! is not what some people assume...that is, a constant "getting better", evolution is just adaption to change.

Newer things are merely that...newer.

With each generation some beings have ideas.

Most of these cause death or deformities. Most mutations and new "traditions" are rather bad when put to the test.

BUT, they are the ONLY way to adapt to the changing world. The new ideas that take root and grow strong, which are more suited to the times will flourish.

Older USUALLY equals better, merely because it has been passed through the fire and survived. Newer USUALLY equals worse, because it is untested, and may fail.

Whatever is better or worse, we must continue to preserve old traditions, unless they prove harmful, and we must continue to put forth new ideas, with the acknowledgement that most will fail, so that the few which are truly great will take us to new places.

Around Samhain 1999, I Found Wicca Through A Very Informative Website (unfortunately... Dec 4th. at 10:22:01 pm EST

Kate "Storm-chaser" Lehr (the den, New York US) Age: 14 - Email

Around Samhain 1999, I found Wicca through a very informative website (unfortunately I have since misplaced the link...) and rushed headlong into soething so different from everything I had previously known. This scared my parents and, truth be told, me too. At Yule, I decided to give myself a year and a day to decide if I wanted to continue on the spiritual path I had so recently found. That year and a day is nearly drawing to a close, and I think I have found the beliefs that will work for me.

During my year and a day, I learned so much more than what I had found out from Samhain to Yule. I learned patience (a year and a day is a long time, y'know) and respect, both for life and for other belief systems (I did attend midnight mass that Christmas Eve and plan on going again this year). I know I have much to learn, which is why I do not consider myself a full-fledged witch yet. Maybe by the time most covens will consider a teen pagan (age 18 or better) I will have learned enough to be able to participate in a group ritual. As it stands, I still have a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to the journey. I realize that I am young yet. I look up to those that have more years than I do, and give them the respect they're due. Older is not necessarily better, but more often than not, the older you are, the wiser you are.

Yes, I'm a newbie. No, I'm not clamoring to give myself extra experience. I recgnize that I still have much to learn. I think we all do, don't you?

This Is An Interesting Issue. The Way I See It, Wicca As... Dec 4th. at 9:42:09 pm EST

Nelli Thorngate-keel (Carmel Valley, California US) Age: 24 - Email

This is an interesting issue. The way I see it, wicca as it exists now is only about 50 years old anyway - all the really old stuff has been excavated, remembered borrowed, embroidered and so forth, so we're all newbies, to an extent. What is the cutoff time? Is ten years in the craft long enough to be a tenured member of the wiccan community, or must you actually be a hereditary witch or an Elder to be "old school"? Respect for elders is one thing (and is something that is very important - there is so much to learn from those who have had ample time to live and learn), but it is another to claim that wisdom only comes with age, whether it be the age of a person or a tradition. There is definitely something to be said for tradition, but there is also something to be said for experimentation and the beginner's mind. For myself, I am a solitary, and I freely mix wicca, buddhism, and science in a way that probably only works for me. I enjoy the freedom I have to absorb new philosophies, new magics, and new ideas without having to worry about whether or not Tradition is being violated. I think there are some basic traditions that are very important, that help us grow together as a community and a religion. Calling the quarters as part of circle-casting. Honoring the sabbats and living close to the wheel of the seasons. Paying heed to the law of cause and effect (threefold law) and trying to live by the rede. And, of course, or tradition of being free to mix and match, blend, explore and experiment. Take a look at christianity and buddhism. Buddhism has been around for about 2500 years, and continues to grow in popularity because while there are certain forms in meditation, and a certain heirarchy of practitioners, it allows people the flexibility to follow their own path Christianity on the other hand has been around for almost as long, but it is beginning to lose ground as it remains rigid in the face of cultural change and evolution. The best way for wicca to grow and survive as a religion, I think, is to maintain certain forms or traditions, like the ones I mentioned above, but to allow lots of room for practitioners to individualize their faith and practice.
People who claim to be part of "the old guard" who look down on new seekers as inauthentic, wannabe's, or somehow less-than, have issues that they need to examine about their own self-esteem and security in their faith. I have some sympathy, but little tolerance, for anyone who claims "it's my way or the highway". There is no One True Way.

I Think It Is Great That Age Is Finally Revered. In This... Dec 4th. at 8:52:22 pm EST

Braid (Vallejo, California US) Age: 26 - Email

I think it is great that age is finally revered. In this society (USA), where younger is better, I think it is nice that people are showing such respect for the "Old Gaurd". The people who pad their experience understand and revere the crone. I think it is sad that some newbies feel the need to pad. I have often been laughed at, due to lack of experience. However, I choose not to lie.

I start my year and a day with a coven soon. I choose to honor the fact that I am a 'maiden', new, innocent and filled with wonder. I am excited to learn more.

I think people should be honest with others and themselves. Honor and enjoy where you are now... it will not come again.

I'm New To Wicca...really About A Year Now. Doesn't Bother Me... Dec 4th. at 8:07:49 pm EST

Ali (Greensboro, North Carolina US) Age: 15 - Email

I'm new to Wicca...really about a year now. Doesn't bother me to say I'm a 'newbie', because there's so much I want to learn. I chose it because it appeals to me the most, as opposed to a judeo-christian faith or a faith like hinduism. I keep to some old traditions, some not. I make up new spells for me, but use some old ones. I think that if we can all find a balance of new and old, then perhaps other cultures will accept Wicca better. Maybe not. But keeping some of the old traditions is ridiculous, becuase of the circumstances that most of us live in now. If we balance everything, then Wicca might fit people better, and other people might join, as well.

I've Been A Self-acclaimed Pagan For About Three Years. That May Not... Dec 4th. at 6:46:55 pm EST

Dave [Jonas Moonchild] (West Bloomfield, Michigan US) Age: 16 - Email

I've been a self-acclaimed Pagan for about three years. That may not seem like much to some, but it's almost one-fifth of my life. [I'm 16.] Over the course of my studies, I have come upon so many different traditions, types of worship, styles and so forth that I see no harm in people choosing freely. There's so much out there that it's at the point where you can pretty much choose any tradition and you all of the sudden relate with half a dozen others.

One of the only problems I see is so many people want to do this, and see it's OK, that they just go ahead and make up their own belief system. Good or bad, I cannot say. On one hand, the old traditions, whether strict or lenient, aren't followed and the followers of that "specific" tradition do not grow in number. On the other hand, the material and folklore [and much more] of the tradition will always be there, no matter who follows the whole thing, for the rest of us. For example, If I saw something in the Alexandrian tradition I agreed with and another thing in Seux-Wicca, I'd just blend them to suit me. This way it works out best for everyone.

With the message of religious freedom most Pagans try to spread, I would hope that the general idea of create-it-yourself would be included. Some people mix Bhuddism and Judiasm, just as some mix Egyption Magick with Celtic mythology. The ancients might not stay as in tact as before, but if more people are bettered when the tradition is shared openly than kept all-or nothing, I say share it.

Sharing something can only help it by spreading it's ideas. Just because old traditions might have their ideas "borrowed" does not mean they will cease to exist. To me, it just means they are more flexible. It's not the age of something that counts, it's who's life it touches and how it affects the world.

There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A New Seeker. I Think This... Dec 4th. at 6:13:00 pm EST

Epona SilverSky (Bloomington, Indiana US) Age: 18

There is nothing wrong with being a new seeker. I think this is especially true of a religion that has a large population of "converts" as opposed to people born into the tradition. Being a seeker means that one is concerned with his or her spirituality and is exploring the religious life. This should never be a bad thing! Our religion should be open to change, but not so open that it's fickle and hard to commit to. The core should remain the same, but perhaps there is a little leeway concerning the details. One of the things I love most about Wicca is its flexibility. I like that I can make my own mistakes rather than follow the mistakes of the people before me.

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