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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: 5,539,236  

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 


Details, Details, Details, The Goddesses And Gods Have No Concern Over These... Dec 8th. at 9:36:58 am UTC

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


Details, details, details, the Goddesses and Gods have no concern over these details. Old or young, new or veteran, solitary and coven practitioner, just details. Love the Goddesses and Gods, reverence them, be loving and gentle to your friends, loved ones, neighbors, and even enemies, and all those things will be enough. The divine doesn't haggle over details, it only cares what's in your heart and spirit.


Merry Meet All! No!old Isn't Always Best.. I'm A Young 40... Dec 8th. at 6:07:26 am UTC

Emerald rain. (corfu.) Age: 40


Merry meet all! NO!Old isn't always best..

I'm a young 40 and I've been given the stongest felt lessons of my life, by youth.Young (I hate this word..)'wannabe's', often open our eyes to new issues that they feel effect them more directly-Selfish attitude? NO! We were young once and our parents didnt or couldn't listen to us when we told them that what they were doing would have this or that effect on them/us/the world/the planet..whatever we were into at the time. It hasn't changed much today.

I check myself frequently, when I hear myself telling my children that 'I know best'

WELL.I DONT!

These young ones are running and slipping and skinning their knees on exactly the things that we did, at their age.(they're doing it with roller blades) They have the benifit of the www.font of info and they're no less devoted to their particular form of the faith than we are to ours.

They're full of new hope and energy and a font of new ideas.It's not surprising, since as each day passes more and more info is coming to light- science and the craft working with each other...
They're interested and interesting.Whether we like it or not they are our tomorrow.We had just better be ready for them.

I hope we have the brains and the B..ls to NOT act as our parents did-'DO AS I DO!'

Really- do we want rebels? or a new generation who show respect for us because we show them the same resect that we knew we deserved..way back when..

I might add that I've never been a circle person..My grandmother and I had a lot of time together and that was my school.There was nothing that she wouldn't have done for me- part of which was to listen to and guide me if she felt I was off the track.

Upon finding 'like spirits', I became quickly dis-illusioned by their methods and narrow-mindedness towards 'newbies' and wannabe's'.I found that they reminded me of my mothers church..UGH! So I lit out on my own.

I've treated my own daughter with the respect I beleive she is due, for all the wonderful new things she teaches me..'Come on mum..open your mind...'and the result is that we work together on all levels and love the time we spend together, whether in worship or working making soap!

Dont think, please, that 'wannabe's' are all shooting stars that'll burn out- If they do, it might be because we didn't listen when we should have or perhaps we didn't take them seriously enough.
It might be because we sound like a conventional church group and scare them away or bore them to tears...Woe betide that!

I hope, as I said 'above', that we're more clever than that.

I hope that we love and respect tomorrow enough to guide these wonderful inquiring minds, so that we DO have a tomorrow-full to the brim with the beauty of our history and the joy of spending our beloved celebrations in the company of our grandchildren, all in love with our beleifs, because they are the ..WISE! CRAFT!and we know that they are..


Looking At The Posts, I Think One Of The Problems Is, As... Dec 8th. at 5:20:07 am UTC

Skye Cat (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) Age: 27 - Email


Looking at the posts, I think one of the problems is, as it always is, definition.

Like most people, when investigating Paganism for the first time, I got in through Wicca. For a variety of reasons, it's one of the most accessible perspectives, certainly in it's eclectic form. I use principles that most people would recognise as Wiccan occasionally, but I wouldn't define myself as Wiccan.

Why? Well, I feel the term is becoming diluted. If a person says they're Wiccan, they could mean anything from they practice in the most traditional Gardnerian coven you could find, to they're as eclectic and solitary as they come (I'm sure I missed out some interpretations). It doesn't mean anything. Also, I know that I'd annoy some factions within the Pagan community if I called myself "Wiccan". What's the point in doing that? A rose is a rose is a rose.

Personally I refuse to define myself any more closely than as a "Pagan". To me, that covers a multitude of viewpoints and perspectives. I don't need to be defined any more closely than that - it puzzles me that other people seem to need this. Who's approval are you seeking?

I see a person's spiritual journey as very personal - whether working in a coven or alone in a "Witchy" context. To me the whole idea of coven and structure is anathema. So, I'm solitary. Others will make a different choice. That's OK too.

I think it's time we celebrated our commonalities rather than fought over our differences. We're all on different paths up the mountain, that's all.

Skye


As Being A Younger, And Relativly New To Wicca, I Can See... Dec 8th. at 2:31:07 am UTC

Randall (aka Drayca) (Jacksonville, Florida US) Age: 18 - Email


As being a younger, and relativly new to Wicca, I can see an arguement on either side. Of course, one would like to have experiance and knowledge in what they are doing. As a younger pagan, I look to those older than me for guidance and knowledge.

Of course, there are always those who let their wisdom and knowledge cloud their better judgement. Some who may think of themselves as intelligent, do seem to become more resistant to outside and different thinking. One becomes sure in themselves after learnin so much, it makes them hard to believe someone else, and maybe younger, would know better. This goes for anything, not just the topic at hand.

As for how this relates to the topic and myself, I do believe that newer pagans should let their newer ideas and beliefs knownn to the elders. I, personally, wouldn't expect to be greeted with enthusiasm if I shared my ideas.
Every person's ideas and beliefs differ, and this is one of the true blessings of this walk of life. We aren't held to one particular set of rules. If new ideas surface, then they should be embraced as any older ideas would be. Within a certain degree of course.


This Is A Response To Rowan Amuletsong’s Response #1637. This Is Not... Dec 8th. at 1:11:12 am UTC

Steven Bragg (MSU, Mississippi US) Age: 24 - Email


This is a response to Rowan AmuletSong’s response #1637. This is not a personal attack on Rowan. I see Rowan as being representative of the basic views of Traditional Witchcraft, so I am using her statements as the “generic” basis.

It is unfortunate that there is a rift within the Witchcraft/Wiccan community between the initiated and the non-initiated, however, I do not see this rift as being the fault of the non-initiated, which is the implication I felt in Rowan’s response, but in part the fault of both sides of this situation. I don’t believe non-initiates would have such a strong rejection of the initiated now if there had not first been a rejection of the non-initiated from the initiated when the non-initiated first began to emerge, which, in my opinion, was inevitable. Furthermore, the initiated, if they are holders to the secrets of Witchcraft as some claim, could have predicted this divergence and made preparations for it. But as history shows, a bitter and sometimes immature controversy has blossomed from this rejection and rejection of a rejection. Very unfortunate, indeed, from those who claim to be practitioners/believers of the Ancient Tradition of the Wise.

The first issue I take is with the idea of there being a significant difference between dedication and initiation. Rowan says that dedication is “the process in which a person accepts the Craft and vows to study and learn.” I agree with this concept of dedication, however, I disagree with her next statement concerning dedication that “there is no ceremony…” There very well can be a ceremony for one’s dedication; that is up to the individual. Perhaps the Traditionalists do not perform a ceremony for it, but they do not set the implications of common words for the rest of us.

She says of initiation that it is “the induction into an order or coven…that truly alt[e]rs your life and according to most traditions makes a person a witch and a member of the priesthood.” I have several issues with this concept. First, the induction into an order or coven could be an order or coven of one’s own design. Does this invalidate the initiation? Considering that there had to be a first order or coven, not in the least. And since, as Rowan says, a coven “is a law unto itself and is normally autonomous, ” the question may be asked, What validates each individual coven? It’s tie to another pre-existing coven? But if it’s an autonomous entity, it needs nothing outside itself to validate itself. And if that’s the case, then any coven, Traditional or Eclectic, is valid. The second part of the statement, that initiation “truly alt[e]rs your life” I agree with. Any religious experience taken seriously by the person experiencing it usually has great and lasting effects, which, of course, happens in any religion—Traditional or not. The third part “and…makes a person a witch and a member of the priesthood, ” suggests a monopoly on legitimacy of ministering to the Wiccan/Witch community. It is the work done by the minister or priest/ess that proves his or her capability, not a title, Tradition, or degree, or ordination. Of course, a minister cannot function without that which to minister. But then, who says what is truth? One Tradition? It’s offshoot groups? If it’s an autonomous entity, then it’s teaching can hold on its own. And if that’s true, then any coven’s teaching, Traditional or Eclectic, can hold its own.

This exposition invalidates the second issue, that of the rule “only a witch can make a witch.” But the more effective way of invalidating this “rule” is to simply ask the question Who made the first witch? This parallels the Theistic problem of the First Cause argument of Who made God (the First Cause)? One answer to this question is that no one made God, and in fact we can account for the universe by supposing an unbroken line of cause and effect happenings that go back in time forever (assuming time is linear in this case) and forward forever. Naturally, we cannot have an unbroken line of witches extending forever both backward and forward in time. And if the Gods made the first witch, then what’s to stop the Gods from making a witch now, regardless of Tradition training?

The third issue arises when Rowan suggests to the non-initiate “become initiated and train under an existing witch of the appropriate education and degree…” Now, exactly what is meant by “appropriate education and degree”? It is my understanding that even the Traditionalists wage war over this one. How on the Goddess’ green Earth are we non-initiates supposed to determine this? I have a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion and am beginning my Master’s in religious studies. Certainly I can hold my own in the area of education. Does that put me halfway there? Can I just zip through the degrees by sitting down one afternoon and designing my own ritual? I do that regularly over coffee. But more than this, I feel the presence of the Divine when I do this. But am I invalidated because my view of the Divine isn’t that of the Traditionalists’? Exactly what is the requirements for being a witch or a member of the priesthood? Can any human say? I believe that only the Gods can decree this, not humans. And when the Gods have blessed one with this calling, others sense it regardless of that person’s training or degree or title.

The fourth issue is an emotionally charged one for me. Rowan says that “many, not all, self taught “witches” use the term Eclectic or self initiated, as a refusal of a structured format or laziness…” I cannot attest to the actual number of self taught that are lazy or resent formal structure to religion, but neither can anyone else. I resent the inference, though of laziness. I have studied the original myths and legends in the best English translations I can find and in a more strict and rigid setting than even the Traditionalists—the University classroom. I have read more books (in their entirety) on the occult, Wicca, Shamanism, comparative religion, etc. than some Traditionalists I have made contact with. If it’s one thing I’m not lazy about, it’s knowing my religion. And most of the self-taught Witches I know are avid readers and excellent interpreters of what they’ve read. Now, academic study is not all that is needed to be a Witch, I realize. Experience of actually executing ritual and communing with the Divine is the key. But I wonder: If one were to measure the actual practice and participation of an initiate, who gets to participate in some, but not all, ritual procedures, and hold these up to the solitary non-initiate, who has had to do all by him or herself, and through trial and error, find the best working path possible for that person, which may take years of hard practice, which of these would come out on top? Who would then be considered the more experienced?

The fifth issue, and probably the most emotionally charged, is when Rowan talks about “not gathering information and using what ever gives them [non-initiates] that warm fluffy bunny feeling…” That “warm fluffy bunny feeling, ” as she puts it, is the same feeling, just a different variety, that a Christian feels when he or she prays, that a Muslim feels when he or she worships, that a Buddhist feels when he or she meditates, that a Native American feels when he or she chants and dances…and what I feel when I commune with my Gods. And I absolutely resent this feeling being reduced to “warm fluffy bunny feeling.” This is the stuff that we’re all going after, what lets us know we’re on the right track, what leads us to truth and from deception. Is religion supposed to be an organized way of stifling this feeling? Should we institutionalize religion in order to give us a more “grown up” and serious outlook on this feeling? Can we not take it for its simplicity and beauty, accept it from the Gods as a gift that even though we face hurt, pain, and disappointments in our daily lives, we have something attainable to give us hope and strength?

I hope these are not the only issues that separate the initiates and the non-initiates. For if they are, then I have to say we’ve been quibbling for all the wrong reasons. It’s time for the “mystery” traditions to grow up, compare notes, not be afraid to bring our beliefs and practices to the light, and get on with living and celebrating life. What are we scared of? We can talk about the mysteries without losing them. The mysteries are experienced inside each person, not in ritual design and secret scripts. Nothing will be lost by finally talking, but much could be gained.


I Think That Individuality Is Most Important In Answering This Question. It's... Dec 8th. at 12:47:02 am UTC

Michael John Casey (Portland, Oregon US) Age: 29 - Email


I think that individuality is most important in answering this question. It's the reason I left Christianity behind; most Christian sects seem intent on preserving the "old way" or the "one true way"... But in my opinion, no such one way exists for all people, nor, it follows, for all Pagans. There are over 6 billion human beings on this planet, and which was the last of those humans that you agreed with about *everything*? We all have so many unique differences, preferences, experiences, etc... How can one way hope to express all that?

I feel that there is plenty of room for the "old ways", as there are always people who want or need a predefined structure for their spirituality to grow within. Yet those who break new ground are following their own wants and needs as well; I don't think that takes anything away from those who follow tradition. And there is no room for those following their own path to judge those following the path of tradition - What is important, I think, is to learn from one another and at the same time remain true to ourselves. Those breaking new ground do themselves a disservice, I think, if they completely disregard what's been learned by those before them... If they were scientists, they would studiously examine *everything* that had been theorized and tested before, rather than begin by asking "I wonder what's inside the human body? I wonder what's the smallest indivisible particle in the universe?" Scientists are still searching for that particle, but they don't start from scratch. By the same token, even Albert Einstein, one of the deepest scientific minds ever, did himself a disservice IMO when the science of Quantum Physics emerged... He never found the amalgam, between his theories and those of Quantum Physics, that he sought. But what new ground might he have broken if he applied his great mind more fully toward that new science?

My feeling is that the old traditions will always survive, and flourish, and well they should. But there may be a point where that becomes resistance to change. What is essential is for each individual one of us to seek what we wish to seek, without hindering any other's search or implying a superiority of "our" approach over "theirs". Then we can all learn from one another, without fear of losing anything ourselves, or taking away from anyone else.


Religion Is Very Personal, Between Each Individual And Their Deity/deities. Everybody... Dec 7th. at 11:51:13 pm UTC

hellenichuntress (Flagstaff, Arizona US) Age: 45


Religion is very personal, between each individual and their Deity/Deities. Everybody is a "wannabe" in a way because our interest and passion for our religion leads us to constantly explore unchartered territory related to our religion, to grow in our religion. We all "wanna" do that, right?

"New seekers" may sometimes have a deeper connection to Deity than "Old Guard". (It's not myself I'm defending here. I've discovered that I am a Witch over 20 years ago.) I often meet newcomers to the Craft who have a thing or two to teach me. Granted, I am very traditional in casting a circle, using the same general format for years (works for me); this doesn't mean it will for everyone. This religion evolves with its practitioners. I'm proud to be Old Guard, but we must not look down our noses on those who are just starting out, "breaking new ground". They may be "planting" something wonderful; if the Gods are happy, who are we to judge?


I Am A New Study To The Craft. Not Yet Initiated Self... Dec 7th. at 11:36:15 pm UTC

Ken (Monroe, Georgia US) Age: 24 - Email


I am a new study to the craft. Not yet initiated self or other wise. Though
sense I Know no other pagans or wicans, If I do, It will most likely be alone. Sense I began research on the net I have felt put off even looked down on by "elders". Me being sensative to what others think, have been discouraged.

As far as the old ways go, From what I have read they were all lost, I could be wrong. We live in a far different world now, and to live everything must change.Don't get me wrong I have no problem with tradition as long as its roots means something to you.I feel very uncomfortable with high dramatics (not to say it wrong)I just don't feel comfortable.I'm also not very good at latin or hebrew for that matter. Maybe Its because it is new and diffrent. Or Its not natural for this time and place, at least not for me.

I am an isolated, non-violent, vegitarian, self discovered, young pagan.
And maybe I "WANNA BE" a wiccan but not from what I've seen so far.Maybe if I felt some guidance it would be diferant story.(where is the spell check on this thing)

Light and love to all


I Am New To The Wiccan Religion, So In My Opinion, It... Dec 7th. at 11:35:39 pm UTC

Jack Rounsville (Bremerton , Washington US) Age: 29 - Email


I am new to the wiccan religion, so in my opinion, it is not bad to be a "newbie", hell, you gotta start somewhere whether it is with Christianity(YUCK)or Wiccan. So to all these "old timers" give us a break ... you to were once a "newbie"


Is Older Better? Naaah, Just Different! I Have Been Neopagan For Mumble20mumble... Dec 7th. at 8:31:37 pm UTC

Ravan Asteris (Cupertino, California US) Age: 39 - Email


Is Older Better? Naaah, Just Different!

I have been neopagan for mumble20mumble years now, technically "old guard". Yet I can still remember with fury those who, when I was new, had no will to discuss their knowledge and experience, but just wanted to know "who trained you?", "who initiated you?". Phui! I refuse to be like them now, even though I have a "tradition" and such.

Yes, I know more now than I did then. Time does that. But I gathered my richest knowledge and experience in those first few whirlwind years of discovery, insight, and experimentation. The years since have been occupied with expanding, testing, refining, and sharing what I've learned. I also learn and incorporate new stuff, because I don't have to be perfect and all-knowing.

Am I a Big Name Pagan(tm)? No way! Is my trad "descended" from some high and mighty "ancient" "lineage"? Are you kidding? I made it up as I went, and refined it with my circle mates and coveners. None of this "so and so says it's this way, it's in the ancient book, so mote it be" stuff - it had to pass the here/now realism test.

Do I look down on "newbies"? Only when they are shallow, or aren't honest with themselves and me about their experience. Then it's not newness, but BS that ticks me off.


This Is An Interesting Question. We Have To Fight To Get Our... Dec 7th. at 5:21:06 pm UTC

Shanna Melton (highpriestess) (Bremerton, Washington US) Age: 31 - Email


This is an interesting question. We have to fight to get our beliefs recognized by the reigious majorities and now we run into questions of faith in our own back yard. I myself was a self dedicated witch since I turned thirteen years old. At the time I didn't know that was what I was. I didn't learn the name for it till several years later. No one was there to teach me in the beginning. I went on instinct and later from books on the subject. I didn't become a member of a formal coven until 4 years ago when we started the group we have now. We were lucky to meet two very special people who are now our elders.
They had spent nearly 30 years as solitary practioners and were starting to despair about passing on their knowledge. Now we have a healthy, functioning, teaching coven that is starting it's own tradition of Wicca. What I am trying to say is this: There is no room in our movement for prejudice. Old knowledge or new, young or old, 18 or 80 everyone has a valid contribution to make. Whether you accept their ideas or not is up to you, but no one should be made to feel unwelcome. Especially a seeker. How do you think our religion will survive? We cannot live in the shadows anymore. There are some out there to rigid to change, but I will keep my options open. For my coven and for myself.


I Think That Old Gaurds Are Good Because They Have Lots Of... Dec 7th. at 4:36:19 pm UTC

Sarah Hastings (Vienna, Virginia US) Age: 15 - Email


I think that Old Gaurds are good because they have lots of experience and can help Newbies. I myself am a newbie and I would love it if an older, wiser witch could help me with my studdies and tell me stories of what they have learned. But I don't. I live in a Christian family that went insane when I told them I was converting to Wicca but I did it anyway. When I try to talk to my parents about it, they get mad at me and it makes me feel really bad. It would be wonderful to have a mother-like-figure to talk to and to have actually understand me. I think we should continue with old traditions, maybe adding in some new ones, or slightly changing old ones to make it easier for a new time period.


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