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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: 14,596,315  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 199

Lurker/Post Ratio: 164 to 1

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 Have The Utmost Respect For Those Who Dared To Call Themselves... Dec 4th. at 1:40:44 pm EST

Amethyst (Lynnwood, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email

I have the utmost respect for those who dared to call themselves Witches before it became fashionable. We all owe a huge debt to people like Laurie Cabot, Sybil Leek, Starhawk, Oberon and Morningglory Zell, Z Budapest, and others who dared to come out of the broom closet at risk to themselves.

Because they had the courage to write openly about Witchcraft, those of us who were seeking the Goddess and God could practice our religion without having to depend on finding a coven and seeking the approval of its members. Many of us discovered that our experience and dedication to the Lord and Lady is just as valid as a coven member with a fancy title.

I have never been formally initiated into a coven, but I feel the Goddess Herself has called me to be Her priestess. I have studied for over 20 years on my own, not only Wicca, but other religions as well. Is my self-initiation less valid? I think not.

Let's welcome all seekers and help them in their journey. Everyone was new once.

Age, Gender, Sexual Preference, Race, Color...none Of This Matters One Bit... Dec 4th. at 1:05:46 pm EST

Lasairchroidhe (The Flaming Heart) (Cedar Rapids, Iowa US) Age: 36

Age, gender, sexual preference, race, color...none of this matters one bit. YES we should honor our elders for their experience and the wisdom accumulated over many years of practice - but there are many young folks out there with enormous talents, great minds, with much to contribute to the growth and evolution of our spiritual path(s).
I think part of the problem is that people don't take you as seriously when you say "I've been a Witch/Druid/Pagan/etc. for 7 months" and think it's probably just a creepy phase you're going through. I've been a Druid for 20-some odd years, but only been practicing for 2 years, which is the same as being raised in some church and going back to it as an adult. My Dad was an agnostic Druid (if there can be such a thing) so I have had to introduce myself to my Gods and Ancestors - which has been fine - and I only felt moved to do so a couple years ago, but that doesn't negate the first 18-odd years of my Druidism.

It's becoming fashionable to be a Pagan now - just like Lesbianism was fashionable a few years back and faded into the closet again - just like other things come into fashion and out. I think we all have a great desire to say "NO! My feelings about this are true and real, and I'm NOT going to forsake my Gods and my Groves for the Methodists (or the Catholics, or Baptists, etc.) when the going gets tough."

A very wise musician told me that he always believed that there was something he could learn from any musician, no matter their skill level, and I think that's a very wise way of living your life. He was in his 50's and I was a teenager, but I taught him how to play Irish fiddle tunes and that music has become a great love for him.

I Don't Know, I'm Making This Up As I Go Along! Neopagans... Dec 4th. at 12:37:49 pm EST

arielle (Seattle, Washington US) Age: 42 - Email

I don't know, I'm making this up as I go along! Neopagans ( and we are neo because we don't have any guaranteed evidence of how our ancestors worshiped) are on the cuttung edge of religious evolution. While we are harking back to beliefs that are thousands of years old, they have been suppressed enough that we have no "bible" that suppposedly tells us everthing we need to know. This frees us from other's interpretations of our beliefs - we can decide what they mean to us. There is no one right way - tolerance is definately necessary in any mixed group of pagans. But this acceptance of others beliefs is part of what sets pagans of any kind apart from the judeo-christian-islamic faction. They are all one right way sorts. It doesn't matter if you are new or old in your beliefs. Acceptance is the name of the game, and new energy should always be appreciated. I appreciate energy of any sort! And I will keep making life, the univers, and everthing up as I go along!

Being A "newbie" Myself, I Find The Attitude That A Number Of... Dec 4th. at 12:25:56 pm EST

Torin Rainwolf (Cape Carteret, North Carolina US) Age: 17 - Email

Being a "newbie" myself, I find the attitude that a number of the "old guard" take against ecelectic beliefs to be rather hypocritical. Let's face it. When it comes to the "Old Religion", "Old" is only about sixty years. As one writer put it: "Gerry invented it, Alex modified it, and Doreen wrote it down". Wicca, even in it's "Old Guard" segments, is firmly a part of the 20th century. Our roots may stretch back into antiquity, but the tree called Wicca sprang up in the 1950s. That is fact, I'm sorry. I can't speak for anyone else, but I was never attracted to paganism because of claims to be ancient or "the old ways". I was attracted to paganism because it espoused the beliefs I held and gave me new ways to view things I couldn't put words to. A religion of poetry as opposed to dogma. Show me anything on the Goddess' green earth that stays the same. Nature Herself is in constant evolution. The universe changes by the microsecond. How can a faith that embraces Nature as manifested Divinity resist evolution?


I Am A "newbie" And I Don't Feel The Need To Pad... Dec 4th. at 12:09:05 pm EST

Green Sprite (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 18

I am a "newbie" and I don't feel the need to pad my experiences, I feel wonderful about being less than a year down my spiritual path, because I know I've got so long to go and so much to see and do and it's all brand new to me. This, my first year in the craft, has been one of the most memorable times of my life. I'm discovering the real meanings of holidays, Yule and Samhain and Beltane, which to me just used to be Christmas, Halloween, and May Day, and none of those wer ever as important to me as the holidays are to me now. They were just times for fun and food and gifts before, now they're spiritual occassions, and I find I almost live holiday to holiday and esbat to esbat. In the next few years I will have amazing experiences because of my new spiritual life, and yet what's more I know that those few years will be but the groundwork for the years and decades to follow. I have so much time to learn and experience and rise above my limitations and non-spiritual impulses. For me, being a "newbie" is the most wonderful thing there is, so I don't feel a slight bit of shame in admitting that I'm not an elder of the craft. No one else should, either.

Is Older Better? Ummmmmm No..........but..... Certainly Noone Can Deny The Benefit... Dec 4th. at 11:59:26 am EST

Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) Age: 30 - Email

Is older better? Ummmmmm no..........but.....

Certainly noone can deny the benefit of a well disciplined and lovingly guided education in Craft - and what I believe is "better" is just this kind of path. The traditionalists can feel somewhat more secure than the rest of the newbies, because to some extent this discipline and course are clearly laid out and therefore provide clear goals to pursue. Newer traditions and practices also have their benefit however, because there is no acceptance of the status quo - one must build one's traditions from the ground up and is given the marvelous opportunity to take nothing for granted, question everything, find one's own answers, and become the freer for it.

I think there's a middle meeting point to be acheived though, and this is it: Solid, loving, responsible leadership in our teachers/clergy/priests and priestesses (whatever definition of leadership role you use)

I gotta say that I'm frequently scared at the number amd unquestioning acceptance I observe in many newbies who seem intent on plunging into Craft for shock value, or power through magic, or because it's fashionable - without due respect for the spiritual foundation which lies at the core. This is after all, a religion! While many would say that those who are not meant to pursue the spiritual path and pay it's price will naturally grow bored and drop off, I am finding that this is not necessarily the case. Rather, we are seeing many more Wiccans who pursue only the light "fluffy bunny" side of Craft which makes so many traditionalists cringe. I believe this stems from a lack of teachership in the community - and by this I mean teachers who are willing to demand more, push deeper, force the student to question the who what where when how and why, and do it in a loving and responsible way.

Is older better? Not necessarily. But I'd rather live in a house with dark closets as well as picture windows, and it'd better have a bloody good foundation!


I Think We Can All Agree That While There Is Something To... Dec 4th. at 11:59:23 am EST

Green Sprite (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) Age: 18

I think we can all agree that while there is something to be said for antiquity, like a fine wine, the most important thing is you, what you like and want and need and feel comfortable with. A person who feels more comfortable choosing their own wayalong their path should, while a person who feels more comfortable with the old ways should follow that. Call your Gods and Goddess by whatever name, reverence them by whatever methods you most feel comfortable with, call yourself Druid, Gypse, Essene, Buddhist, Wicca, Toaist, it's all up to you, the world was made a wonderful tableau, grand and infinitely varied, so that the choices presented us are endless. Follow whatever path is best for you as long as it be loving and respectful.

I Find That When These Questions Are Discussed There Are A Number... Dec 4th. at 11:57:50 am EST

Tony (Tampa, Florida US) Age: 28 - Email

I find that when these questions are discussed there are a number of people who forget something that I find to be an integral part of my belief system, and that is probably a large part of the beliefs of any of us.

I may be a "newbie" because I've only been pursuing a pagan path for about two years -- or because I've not made much foray into the community. However, that doesn't mean that the experience or wisdom that I may have gained during the previous years when I was devoutly pursuing a Christian path is worth nothing. Additionally, what wisdom or knowledge might I be carrying forward from a former incarnation?

I find that the integration of all of one's experience is necessary to build a holistic belief system. It may be that those experiences are reinterpreted somewhat in light of the new realizations associated with arriving to a pagan path, but I believe it would be a mistake to completely deny the experiences and refuse to draw from them the lessons that they bear.

One Of The Greatest Problems Inherent With The 'establishment', Or 'old Guard... Dec 4th. at 11:16:45 am EST

Asmodeus (Frederick, Maryland US) Age: 26 - Email

One of the greatest problems inherent with the 'establishment', or 'old guard' in any religion, is forgetting that belief is something that comes from within. Belief is not real if it is force-fed to the masses by a small minority of stale old persons who have become so self centered and stagnant as to believe that they alone have the license on 'truth' and that anyone who does not follow their particular brand of the truth is labeled a 'heretic', 'non believer', or 'heathen'. A millennium and more of oppression from the stake burners, who incidentally followed the same philosophy, seems to have taught some of us nothing... Personally I think that anyone who has reached their belief through personal experience, and sought the guidance of those more experienced for the sake of guidance, not to get a neat pre-packaged and bar-coded shiny answer, is a true believer, regardless what conclusions their particular journey has taken them to, or wether or not they follow the 'establishment'.

Does Older Equal Better? No! The Age Of A Religion, Belief, Idea... Dec 4th. at 10:57:20 am EST

Thomas Councell (North Platte, Nebraska US) Age: 37 - Email

Does older equal better? NO!

The age of a religion, belief, idea, tradition, by no means a mark of validation. If it was, then who sets the standard? It seems many seek to validate their beliefs, based upon (so called) old traditions, books, family practices, coven membership...etc. If you are seeking validation from other's, you're looking in the wrong place. Look in your own heart for those answers.

Older Isn't 'better' Just Different Than The New Generation Of Pagans. The... Dec 4th. at 10:21:02 am EST

Archer and Keelia (Woodbridge, Virginia US) Age: 32 - Email

Older isn't 'better' just different than the new generation of Pagans. The great thing about Paganism is that it is tolerant of other people and religions, isn't it? That was a big reason we chose this path to begin with. Religion evolves and changes just as people/times evolve and change. Christianity falls into this trap by following ancient scripture. By not evolving, the religion has become less relevent, and people are falling away from the church. Religion has to remain relevent or it will wither away. The Goddess and God and Magick are within each of us...we don't NEED to have a lineage or a scripture to practice what we believe and feel. These things actually serve to hinder or bind or limit the expression of our magickal selves. I have encountered the 'Old Guard' and feel that they have the right to their opinions; however, if these Traditionalists would be more open with newbies, then they may have more newbies following the old way and not breaking off to form the new generation. It's almost as if they are trying to increase their personal power over others instead of teaching and sharing the old ways. One of our favorite quotes from our mentor who is open and forthright with his teaching states, "Seek power with, not power over."

In Reality, Every Person Practices Their Belief System Differently, They See The... Dec 4th. at 10:15:29 am EST

Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar Saba Israel, Israel) Age: 15 - Email

In reality, every person practices their belief system differently, they see the Divine differently and does it make a difference, what does it matter what kind of rituals one does, or what shape they see the God(s/ess).

So what if so and so came about 5000 years ago, or 2000 or 60, it makes little difference.
And any way, when you think deeply about aren't we all part of each other and Nature and the Gods, who cares if you call your belief system this way and I call it that way.

But that's a perfect world, people do care, and people will be petty and say that how they do it is better than the way I do it.

I have two things to say to those people (please forgive the language) "Tough Shit"

Be Happy, Live Long, May the Force Be With You and Gods Bless.

Have a Merry Yuletide.

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