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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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| I Think That The Older You Are Doesn't Matter As You May... ||Dec 9th. at 6:45:08 am UTC|
|Lady Silvernight (Ryde, Isle of Wight, England UK) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I think that the older you are doesn't matter as you may have more experience but you may not be wise. People try and say they have been practising for longer than they really have because to be a newbie is seen to be oh yeah its only a phase or it is when you are in your teenage years. The thing that is annoying is that some people who have been practising longer are more arrogant and think they know best and altough they may do it is annoying whjen they will not even give any information to any enquiring people wanting to know more about wicca. So many young people have to go by books and web sites and when it is difficult coping with people who are totally against anything but their own religion it can be very difficult to cope and find out anything.
| No! Indeed Not. "older" Can Often Equate To "jaded" And Losing Sight... ||Dec 9th. at 5:33:47 am UTC|
|Marilyn (Mansfield, England UK) ||Age: 46 - Email |
NO! Indeed not. "Older" can often equate to "jaded" and losing sight of ones spirituality. I am 46 years old and am a new active seeker of personal spiritual enlightenment. "Newbie" do I hear you say? No, quite the contrary. I have had time to examine the prescriptive religious institutions and only NOW am I ready to begin my quest in earnest. I have always had very strong leanings to pagan ways, thoughts and ideals whereas many practising wiccans etc. are relatively young and have little experience or life. In order to gain spiritual enlightenment, you have to know yourself intimately, warts and all (excuse the pun). For those who view new seekers in this negative way, they should take care to ensure that their egos do not create negative energies that will only serve to impede their own quest and maybe they need to question the reasons and motives for following their chosen paths.
I would like to hear from anyone who has something intelligent to say and can speak with a voice or calm reason and experience.
| Old Guard? New Guard? Why Is It That In The Pagan Community... ||Dec 9th. at 12:00:02 am UTC|
|Toliara (Phoenix, Arizona US) ||Age: 25 - Email |
Old Guard? New Guard? Why is it that in the Pagan community today that people must boast of themselves in this manner? I have been practicing for over four years, and I will never consider myself anything other than a student. I am a student of Life. I know people who think their pedigree is more important than actively pursuing education and it sickens me. Since when did Paganism become an exclusive country club? Exclusive meaning that it excludes certain people. So, who decides which Pagans are good enough and which arenÕt? If this is how the community is going to be, then four years ago I made the wrong choice.
Modern paganism has no history. Fifty years more or less does not a history make. Just as the ÒfoundersÓ of our religion innovated, so too should we, the inheritors, make our own Òtraditions.Ó
The issue here isnÕt innovation and creation or even alteration. It is not age or traditions. It is personal vanity and the need for some people to feel special.
| The Truth Is Eternal; The Craft Is Perennial; But The Forms Of... ||Dec 8th. at 11:14:07 pm UTC|
|john (in transit) ||Age: 33 - Email |
the Truth is eternal; the craft is perennial; but the forms of expression do change.
essays more could be written on this question; almost 150 responses just on this board show that. the jist is the same.
but here are my additional two cents on the topic:
for a *Pagan* example of old and new, traditional and eclectic, iconic and icnoclastic, hereditary and converted that all, somehow, works more or less together... look to India and its Hinduism.
all of those elements (and more) are there in Hindu India: a form of Paganism that's been going strong for 4000+ years now and which is currently reinventing itself too in response to this (current) modern age. and among the Hindus, Truth is heard (the Vedas, especially the Bhaghavad Gita); Truth is recited (the Upanishads); and Truth is expressed and lived through human forms, some religious, some vocational, some Craft (sadhus, sannyasis and more, oh my!) and some mundane, some saintly and some evily, and most somewhere in between.
it's just a thought: Western pagans examining Hinduism. most of us are not from hereditary families, and most of us are therefore new to paganism. on the flip side, the Hindus have been successful at being pagan for 4000+ years... without interruption, in urban as well as rural environments, and in the face of imperial christianity and islam to boot. considering that, they might have a thing to teach us here in the West, as we awake in the cradle (and in the ...... diapers!) of a pagan rebirth.
the study of Hinduism need not be mimickry of it; it could be just discerning some essential lessons to help us as we develop our own paganism.
and one of the first lessons of Hinduism is that "Truth is One, and the sages call It by differnet Names."
and another one of the first lessons of Hinduism is for everyone, especially new students, to revere and learn from the sages and gurus (teachers)... because the sages and gurus are people who have already been down the road, so to speak, and thus often have something worthwhile to teach to those just starting out.
and another one of the first lessons of Hinduism (which some Hindu fundamentalists would do well to recall) is that any part of all is All, i.e. atman is Brahman, and all that any of us are doing ultimately is realizing that.
those thoughts aren't goofy if given more than superficial consideration; nor do they fail to address the question; they point instead to the answer, which is bigger than the question asked here.
| I've Been A Practicing Wiccan For A Little Over 2 1/2... ||Dec 8th. at 10:06:20 pm UTC|
|Bryony Ravenwillow (Independence, Missouri US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
I've been a practicing Wiccan for a little over 2 1/2 years, and I still consider myself a "newbie". I'm also not ashamed to admit that I am completely self-taught, as I suspect most who have come to the pagan path over the last twenty years are. I consider myself to be as much a Witch as a 3rd-degree HPS in a coven dating back to Gardner's day is.
I believe that the main problem lies not so much in "Old Guard" vs "New Guard", but the fact that there are so many "New Guard" compared to "Old Guard". In other words, too many students and not enough teachers. Not all seekers are fortunate enough to have close access to an established coven with degrees and lineage. For some people, they're lucky if they know one other pagan over in the next town. It's no wonder that for so many, Scott Cunningham is their High Priest and Silver RavenWolf is their High Priestess, even if it is only through their written works.
I'm fortunate in that I live in an urban community with a sizeable pagan community, so I have plenty of opportunities to meet with and learn from other pagans, whether they belong to covens, are solitary, or practice another pagan path. I wouldn't mind if I found a coven to formally train with, but it's not the major priority it was when I was just starting out.
I believe that all pagan paths are valid. Indeed, ALL paths, regardless of what religious umbrella they fall under, are valid. If what they do fulfills them spiritually, then it is the right path for them. I feel that eclectic Wicca is right for me.
Which leads me to my next point, "traditional" vs "eclectic" Wicca. Modern Wicca in its current form is only 50 years old, though many of its tenets have roots in beliefs that date much earlier. It's not surprising that in the years since there has been much in the way of experimentation. Modern Christianity isn't much like its earliest days, when there were many many different sects practicing and preaching. Eventually there was an internal "Christian War", where different groups battled each other for supremacy, destroying the smaller and weaker groups, until eventually what became the modern Catholic church emerged as the "one, true way" when it came to Christianity, a claim that lasted pretty much until the Reformation. I'd hate to see a similar thing happen to us Witches. So what if one is Gardnerian, or Alexandrian, or Stregherian, or eclectic? What does it really matter whether or not we are self-initiated, or have been initiated into an established coven environment? Does that make our commitment to the Lady and Lord that much less? We are in the earliest stages of a brand-new religion. There will be growing pains and disagreements, but we shouldn't be working towards breaking each other down because our circle-casting isn't up to snuff, or because we wear the wrong color and style of ritual gear. Those are pretty petty differences. We all worship the Lady and Lord in different ways, and if They don't like the way we do it, I'm sure they'll let us know. They seem to be pretty happy with me thus far!
*decides to get off the soap box and let someone else have their say*
Love and Light,
| I Think We Are All Born With A Porpuse That Is Our... ||Dec 8th. at 9:17:58 pm UTC|
|Janet (Carlotta, California US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I think we are all born with a porpuse that is our own, and not the porpuse of some guru or teacher. All a proper teacher should do is teach someone how to fulfill their own destiny, not expect a mind wiped slave for the rest of their life.
This is an argument going on now elsewhere. I think alot of us miss out on alot because we cannot mesh Teen FX with Adult drive and Cronish wisdom and spiritual connection. I think we all suffer for it, and if we could accept each other with Love and Trust instead of mutual exploitation, I think magick would return in a way not seen in a very long time.
sxoa, aka crone mosh
| For Crying Out Loud, How Old Is "old" In The Neopagan Community... ||Dec 8th. at 8:25:20 pm UTC|
|Gwydion Oak (Elkhart, Indiana US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
For crying out loud, how old is "old" in the NeoPagan community. There is no evidence of modern Wicca being any older than Gerald Gardner (howbeit that many individual elements of the movement precede him, a few by centuries)? The whole purpose of appealing to age is, to me I admit, nothing more than trying to appear legitimate to our JudeoChristian neighbors who continually point to their 2000 years of history.
One of the greatest strengths of Paganism is that it DOES break new ground, almost constantly. It has been doing so ever since it started. Some traditions are beginning to form, which is good in some ways. Traditions can guide new seekers and help prevent them from going off the deep end. Experienced individuals and groups are a valuable resource for new seekers - if titles and age of your group doesn't count, genuine experience DOES. But the key words are "guide" and "resource." Everyone was a new seeker once, and that time of growth and discovery is a terrific experience. Older by itself doesn't equal better. But if "older" means wisdom and experience than it can help make better. If the "old guard" and traditions survive, it will be because they have something timeless to offer new seekers, that the members of those traditions have left signposts along the way that younger seekers will be able to (and want to) follow. If so, it will be good to have them. If not, newer generations will hammer something out for themselves -- just as we did.
| I'll Say It Loud ... I Am Very New To Wicca. I Have... ||Dec 8th. at 7:27:52 pm UTC|
|White Crow (Farnborough, England UK) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I'll say it loud ... I am very new to Wicca. I have only been practising as a 'Wicca' for about 3 months.
However, most of the ideas and even practises are things I have thought and acted out for years!
To me, deciding to become a Witch was not an evangelical moment, but one where I realised there was a name for what I was seeking and practising!
My journal is not called the Book of Shadows, but the Book of Pathfinding. Each day is another step down the path - you cannot be sure of all the tracks there are!
To me being human and being a Witch is about finding new answers every day as well as new questions. Such a path has no end and no measure of success, it is the joy we experience along the path which is its own reward...
So the young must seek to learn, and the old must take care that they do not use their knowledge as an excuse not to learn and grow themselves.
| Everything Flows, Nothing Stays Still" A Quotation From Heraclitus.2500 Years Ago... ||Dec 8th. at 7:01:33 pm UTC|
|Adrianna White (Barbados) ||Age: 58 - Email |
"Everything flows, nothing stays still" a quotation from Heraclitus.2500 years ago this Greek philosopher made this statement which is as true today as it was then. We are constantly evolving. That is as it should be. Perhaps the question should be "Should we at least respect the"older" traditional methods and rituals?" We are each so very unique. Not even identical twins are truly identical. Rather like snowflakes. Instead of trying to find separateness from each other, we should be striving to unite under a common banner. Perhaps this will be the work of the generations that are with us now and the ones that will follow. Astrologically, the Universe has certainly been giving us some very big pushes in the direction of expansion and enlightenment. It warms my heart to see so many young people taking an interest in the Craft. I am solitary now but not by choice. Blessed Be to all and a Happy Yule.
| I Think That It Doesn't Really Matter Much How Expeienced We Are... ||Dec 8th. at 6:47:50 pm UTC|
|horse (Missoula, Montana US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I think that it doesn't really matter much how expeienced we are in the eyes of others, for it is only in the eyes of the gods that our experience and training matter. For myself, I feel as though I am a new seeker every day, finding my path as I tread upon it. For this outlook, I am often rewarded with new enlightenments and knowledge. It doesn't matter how experienced or equipped someone else thinks I am, because they are not in my shoes, treading my path. What is important is having an open and caring community, from which I may find others who have had experiences similar to ones I have had, so that we may share and celebrate our spiritual journeys.
The knowledge of those who have gone before is invaluable to those who are yet to come. The experiences of my elders prepare me for the journey ahead of me. I know that no two people's paths are identical, and my experiences will be unique to me, as my elders' were to them. However, the dance of life spirals and cycles, and peoples paths often share space and breadth; we are all interconnected.
In practicality, to answer the questions posted, I don't think there is an inherent right or wrong in the practice of one's beleifs. Newer generations of pagans will follow; some closely, and some loosely, and our religion as a whole, our "Pagandom" if you will, will evolve in its' own rich tapestry because of it. Old traditions will survive, because in a sense, our craft is based on tradition. Will all traditions survive? Of course not, because they will not be necessary. An example I think of is the tradition of 'keeping silent' about ones religion. The advent of religious freedom and the pagan web have effectively nullified it.
Change happens. Paganism happens. I like it :)
| Asking The Question Does Older Equal Better Is Akin To Asking If... ||Dec 8th. at 4:06:35 pm UTC|
|Eiri (Fred Barrett) (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Asking the question does older equal better is akin to asking if one culture's views on religion are better than anothers... I believe that our religious practices, views, and beliefs are reflective of our realities and our experiences... I believe everyone to hold their own unique perception of reality. Everyone has experienced different things in their lives, and although between two people life experiences may be almost exact in their similarities, the two people will not react to those experiences in the same exact ways. From there their perceptions of reality will begin to diverge, and so will their spiritual needs. I believe older traditions to be valid and proven while newer variations on older themes are just as valid. Likewise, I believe newer innovations and ideas to be, for their adherents, more valid than the older ideas, whereas the older ideas are more valid for their adherents than the newer ones...
Does anyone think that it was wrong for Doreen Valiente to elaborate upon tradition and create her own version of The Charge of the Goddess? I certainly dont. And likewise, I would not be at all upset with any newer variations upon her verion of The Charge.
My opinion on all of this stands within certain boundaries though, which are the boundaries of our Creed "harm ye none"... i believe all variation, creativity, seeming divergance and elaboration within Wicca to be totally "kosher" (as our jewish brethren would say) just as long as it helps the individual to commune with themselves, their world, and their deity and just as long as it doesnt get in my way of doing the same. And that doesnt destroy or in any way undermine the validity of older traditions, because that works for the same reasons as the new ideas work.
I think what is right for the individual is right for the individual...
Now, if your ideas of what is right stand within structure and symbolism, then it would suffice to say that variation doesnt work for you. And if we are to learn from our ancestors and the lives of those Wiccans who have gone before us, it would behove us all to at least study and become versed in their practices, in order to learn how they saw the world and how that related to their understanding of the Lord and Lady - really, what i mean by all that blabbering is we need to know why our ancestors did what they did, and we need not to undermine what parts of tradition are spiritually fulfilling and help us to develop as people, as wiccans, and as spiritual entities... but you i think there are many ways to do everything, and just as long as you can figure out the essence of the ritual or lesson or prayer or meditation an can encorporate that into a new method of practice, the more power and love to ya!
| Older Has Seemed To Be The Popular Thing For So Long, I... ||Dec 8th. at 2:45:31 pm UTC|
|Naomi Armitage (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 20 - Email |
Older has seemed to be the popular thing for so long, I think, because so many new seekers aren't serious or don't seem to be. I sometimes don't blame them for feeling that way because making a trend of any religion is pretty sick, but as a young student myself, it bothers me. A lot of them seem too quick to judge, and expecting too much out of young people, or nothing at all.
Instead of complaining about the state of the new generation, the older one should help do something about it. Those who aren't serious will find out that the Craft requires work and discipline, and find an easier way to get attention. The serious ones will cherish the guidance.
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