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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: 5,346,292  

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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 


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.


I Have Always Thought That Being Part Of Wicca And Nature, Meant... Dec 7th. at 4:20:06 pm UTC

Chris Molder (Auburn, Washington US) Age: 16 - Email


I have always thought that being part of Wicca and nature, meant that you were in a state of perpetual learning and experiencing. Why do some people just refuse to say were together in this. Is a sapling any less precious or important than a towering redwood. I know that my point is not well desputed and my opinion is very long, but i think it is something people need to think about.


I Don't Believe Older Equals Better, Nor Does New Equal Worse. Both... Dec 7th. at 3:48:49 pm UTC

Lughaidh (Burleson, Texas US) Age: 42 - Email


I don't believe older equals better, nor does new equal worse. Both states have merit, and both have their place in any religion.

It is unfortunate that the conditions exist that anyone would feel pressured to 'pad' experience in order to avoid disparaging names such as 'newbie' or 'wannabe'. All of us have been new to something at one stage or another, and new things often bring vitality and freshness to many endeavours.

No one comes as an experienced seeker, since all can be termed a 'new seeker' at one point or another. Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a new seeker. Nor is there anything wrong with being what some call the "Old Guard"; the term would be irrelevant without new seekers -- the "New Guard". Concerning being inherently right about being what some call the "Old Guard", my question would be right about what? Right about not being a new seeker any longer? Right about having gained experience and knowledge?

Resistance to change can be (but is not always) a dangerous position to be in. For example, the Roman Catholic Church (used here because of the age and history of the institution) has a clear history of resistance to change. When one is accepted into what becomes a (basically) exclusionary order, others participate in the religion on an increasingly limited basis. Becoming comfortable and secure in a position may potentially lead to excluding those that may bring new vitality to something that is becoming, or may have become, stagnant and musty. At the same time, though, continuity can be maintained with little or measured change.

Seekers on a new path, especially one that is established, would do well and exhibit wisdom to follow closely those that would mentor and instruct them. At the same time, mentors and instructors may exhibit wisdom also by acknowledging that new seekers may have strengths that may have been forgotten or overlooked. To use the analogy of a human family: is it better to be a parent or a child? A parent was once a child that has matured and is charged with guiding the child, even though the child may at times act foolishly (as the parent may once have done). The child follows the parent's guidance (hopefully) but seeks for their own place and identity separate from the parent. The child and parent are still of the same family, but both change with time. Soon, the child becomes a parent charged with responsibility of guiding that child into maturity. The family continues and survives, and should continue to do so. The family whose members demonstrate antagonism because one is the 'parent' and one is the 'child' often develop tensions and dysfunction.

I suggest that unless the "old guard" and the "new guard" develop respectful levels of communication between themselves, the old traditions may become traditions of memory only, resulting in loss to all. But perhaps those memories will be revived in, say, another two thousand years by a new group of 'newbies' and 'wannabes' seeking old truths. The opportunity exists now, here, today, to avoid losing that which has already been found and to discover that which has not.


Merry Meet~ "whether It Is Traditional Wicca Vs. Solitary Wicca Or Coven... Dec 7th. at 3:34:52 pm UTC

Rhiannon Gwendolyn (Reno, Nevada US) Age: 29 - Email


Merry Meet~

"Whether it is Traditional Wicca vs. Solitary Wicca or Coven Trained vs. Self-Initiation either side of the issue, "Is Older Really Better"?

This is one of the questions at hand (now everbody clap for me)... anyways... If one takes a look at the history of "Traditional" Wicca as it has been presented we find a religion that isn't very olde' in itself. We also find a religion that has brought in many other religious aspects and ideals to create what we call "Wicca". And it was this very foundation of "indifference" or "originallity" or "creativity" that brought us the Wicca we know today. Someone stepped up to the plate and tried to bring the Olde' religion back to us with what knowledge that could be found. So... if that person wouldn't have brought in their "new" ideals, and focused them with some olde' ones, I don't think we would be where we are today.

I mean when you take the term "Self Initiation" vs. "Coven Trained"... I don't see too much of a difference. Who initiated the very first Coven member within a particular tradition? Such as Gardner? Crowley??? So does that mean we all focus on the Order of the Golden Dawn? Heck no!

The Americanized Paganism movement has always been about change and the new to very large degree when compared to European Trads. Especially the Strega... which is one of the very few who have come out of the Olde' time broom closet if you will... yet, will only share so much of their trad.

So I would have to say that "older" doesn't necessarily mean better. I would like to think that it is more of our history that is important, that can help us to become better "witches" in the future. And with every path being as individual as one's thumbprint, what works for me doesn't necessarily work for another. So no, again, "older" doesn't mean better. It is a reflection of what we are to become.

"We have even heard of some folk padding the experience (or years) so as not be called a "newbie" or a "wannabe". Is there something wrong with being a new "seeker"?

I can compare this to "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop"? Anyone know? Me niether. Anyways... The real wannabes are the ones that feel they have to "pad" who they are. Real Witches walk in pride and are not afraid of who they are or what they seek. Also, I have met many a witch who has been "studying" for longer than myself and met many who have been "studying" less... Each have their lessons to share. One never truly quits seeking IMO if they are a Real Witch and not a wannabe. Witches accept realities that most people will not. We know that there is a reason or even a need for every aspect of life and are WISE enough to know that the young and the olde' have lessons to teach... When you can sit there to yourself privately at the end of a day and or a situation, and try and see what you are suppose to be learning regardless of what is happening... (very hard indeed), or at least open yourself to the idea that there is not such thing as "one absolute truth". Wannabe's pad... Witches learn as they go and are proud of every accomplishment and embrace it with love and honor.

"Is there a point where revering the "olde' way" of teaching/passing on the knowledge actually becomes "resistant to change"?

Yes. I believe there is to a degree. Some laws can never change. For instance, if you believe in the law of 3 or not... Some don't veiw it as "3" or interpret it to be any numerical value of "karma" or "will", however, there is definitely the need to heed to this lesson. I can only assume that this is an "olde" way if you will. But there are other aspects that can change, will continue to change, and be passed on, and in turn become olde' ways.

"Should the new generations of Pagans follow closely in our footsteps or should they be free to break new ground? Can the olde' traditions survive if they do? Should they?

I believe that Witchcraft as a whole presents us with a religious freedom that I haven't found within any other religions while upholding to the highest of morals and ethics. We can't just do wrong and say, "Well geez, i am sorry could ya forgive me now"? The elders themselves have broken new ground anyway... why shouldn't we? That's what its all about, and the older traditions can still survive I believe until it is time for them to go. It is all part of the circle of life. We cannot have a Spring without a Winter... we cannot have new without an olde'. They compliment each other, and each will pass at some point and become one in themselves. The new will become olde' someday, and the olde' will be revived someday... I mean look at bell bottoms... they came back? Not to trivialize my meaning, but seriously... You can't have one without the other. And besides... we "newbies" need our elders to guide us... some of these elders out there never had an elder of their own to turn to so we "newbies" now days are quite blessed if you ask me.

I think the most important thing to remember is that their is knowledge in the young and the olde'. And it is very arrogant and perhaps unwise to discount anything from either source. We as humans constantly learn... and if we can keep the doors of communication open, the future for our Pagan communities will become a wonderous reflection of us all... and perhaps our knowledge will not die out as easily as before.

Blessed Be~
Rianna (Newbie for 4 years now *grin* )O(


I Am A Traditionally Trained Witch And High Priestess Of The 3rd... Dec 7th. at 3:23:57 pm UTC

Rowan AmuletSong (Colorado Springs, Colorado US) Age: 27 - Email


I am a traditionally trained witch and High Priestess of the 3rd degree...

I have mundane, eclectic's, self initaties and students alike; all ask what is the the difference between traditional training and non traditional. Traditional training is based on a established traditional practice and usually requires a degree system and is mainly a coven style of teaching. I was trained in the traditional format of Alexandrian/Gardnerian with a strict structure of ritual design, and practice with a coven hierarchy. Advancement, rank and title were based on degree's requiring extensive lessons according to the coven and doctrine, and then initiation into the coven. Keep in mind a coven is a law unto itself and is normally autonomous. According to most traditional systems, I know of my own, there IS a difference between Dedication and Initiation:

Dedication is the process in which a person accepts the Craft and vows to study and learn. However, there is no ceremony only the person's ritual and decision to practice witchcraft as a religion and magickal system. Anyone can practice witchcraft ,

Initiation is the induction into an order or coven as well as an advancement from one degree of teaching to another and is usually a ceremony that truly altars your life and according to most traditions (mine included)makes a person a witch and a member of the priesthood.

The concept of this rule is "Only a witch can make a Witch" and it is a good rule to follow. When a mechanic decides to work on your car I am sure you would rather know that he had to under go apprenticeship instead of reading a book. I don't want a doctor to perform open heart surgery without going through the teaching or internship first... such is or at least was the thinking of the craft until recently.

Many traditional covens still rely on this rule, as mine does. If someone is naturally drawn to witchcraft and its concept, the best thing to do; is become initiated and train under an existing witch of the appropriate education and degree, But what if you have no way of joining a coven or have no way to learn from an experienced teacher, then the best road to take would be to teach yourself but, when most traditions were founded that was not possible, but now there are many text on the subject, Keep in mind traditional 2nd and 3rd degree coven teachings are not found in any book.

I myself resent the non-chaliant way most of the Pagan and wiccan communities disregard our teachings and our path... they say "Oh they like to be told what to do" it is not a matter of being told what to do, rather then learning an established way of worship, the growing thought of this stagnant feeling and the same ritual design, same diety worshipped is a matter of the tradition.

The requirments for me to reach second degree was to design an alternate way of conjuring the circle, writing my own rituals, and designing a new way to call the quarters for exsample. I feel the traditional format is lost now and no one wants to even talk to us if we tell them we are degreed. They refuse to worship with us when they see our symbols of rank (if they even know what it is) They tell us we do not think for ourselves, we have technic but no heart, our chosen paths are said to "be taken with a grain of salt" that we are "Stagnent" that "No one tells me what to do" and they forget if Alex Sanders had not initatied Janet and Stewart Farrar they would not have "the Witches Bible" IF Gerald Gardener had not initated Ray Buckland we would not have "The Complete Book of Witchcraft" it seems that rank and formal training is great only for a time being, it allows people to buy the books but, totally disregard the actual covens that still work and rely on these systems.

Many traditional covens do not recognize self initiates or "self taught". However, many do recognize the self dedication, my Mother coven does acknowledge a person dedicating themselves to the principles and the religion of the craft but, does not consider that person a witch or part of the priesthood, only as someone practicing witchcraft. The reason for this is the fact that many, not all, self taught "witches" use the term Eclectic or self initiated, as a refusal of a structured format or laziness.... many read one book and get to page 67 and decide it's time to self initiate. I have met many people who were or are self taught and the extensive of their knowledge is amazing. If a person practices Alexandrian witchcraft and subscribes to the doctrine that is fine, but they are not an initiated traditional Alexandrian Witch.

Also, there are many covens that recognize the self initiated and can provide more training in areas that may be of need. I myself have two students that are undergoing there training for 1st degree, they are not bound to the laws of the coven I was trained under, but they are bond to the traditional teachings of Alexandrian, to myself as their High Priestess and to my coven. And, both were self taught and decided to strip themselves of the eclectic gathering of information in order to learn a traditional witchcraft.

Let me say this Eclectic is not bad or invalid, I know a witchy couple who are traditionally trained 1st degrees but their training is also very extensive on other doctrines of the craft, however they are being trained under a knowledgeable and educated Witch and not gathering information and using what ever gives them that warm fluffy bunny feeling and High Priesting circles. Let me also say that many practitioners of the craft are eclectic and self- initiated have started their own groups or covens and are very knowledgeable and may enter any coven, that acknowledges their learning, but please remember a coven is a law unto itself.

I guess I am very tired of everyone telling us we are invalid but, don't anyone ever tell the eclectic, self initiated "witch" they are invalid there will be nasty rumors all over the place. Many traditional groups are hidden, gone undergrown, and are very secertive because of what our communities do to us... My coven was public and after getting kicked in the mouth for us wanting to preform public ritual for many who have never seen it, the established eclectic community rolled their eyes within our circle, they ridiculed us by saying we were closed minded, walking away from us when we offered our help in the community., And , people wonder why they can't be trained or enter many covens...once bitten twice shy folks.

It is a good thing we have our covens, and groups like "Covenant of the Goddess" they give us respect when our communities ridicule, and hate us.


Where Would Any Of The Traditions Be Without The "old Ones"? Would... Dec 7th. at 2:17:45 pm UTC

Blue Mystravyn (Harrisville, Wisconsin US) Age: 36 - Email


Where would any of the traditions be without the "Old Ones"? Would there be any at all? Personally, I think not, but that is of course one opinon of a "newbie". I began living my path only two very short years ago and could never proclaim to know anything more than most other newbies at this stage. One of the truth's that I follow is the Rede. To me, it is the foundation of my beliefs and my chosen path. I am what I consider to be just about as solitary as one can get. Often, unfortunately, I feel as though I must remain so, simply because there are so many uneducated and misinformed newbies out there, that communicating with them at all makes for even more confusion concerning my own path. Perhaps "Older" does not "Equal" "Better", however I do believe that for me at least, "Older" does Equal" Wiser" in most cases. Saying that, I do not mean that a 20 year old could not be as "wise" as a 40 year old. Quite the contrary actually. I have certainly met much younger and much wiser folks than I. What I mean is that, someone who has walked thier path in the Wiccan or Pagan religion for many turns, would absolutely be much wiser. That is of course, if they have been true to thier path. I feel it is incumbent upon each and every one of us, "Newbie" or an "Old Gaurd", to take the responsibility of being honest. The rede, if an individual is truly honest with themself, demands it! Otherwise, one is in fact harming others with their dishonesty. As we all know, there are many traditions and beliefs. What we each chose to believe is wonderfully individual and beautifully natural. As a newbie, I only desire peace and harmony in life and with those whom I share this existance with.
Blessed Be and Gentle Journeys,


I Have Been Told That There Are Standards And There Are Traditions... Dec 7th. at 2:10:53 pm UTC

Laura (Long Island, New York US) Age: 17 - Email


I have been told that there are standards and there are traditions to being a pagan. There are rules to follow and codes and languages and all matter of what-have-you to respect and abide by and that if you do something wrong you could end up in the disfavor of the gods and then what will you do?
But I never put much stock in all that. I think that there are traditions that I like and I do follow because they make me feel a connection with the diety(ies) that I acknowledge. However, people like, environment, are an evolving changing force and so there must be no limits to what we do. I believe we owe it to ourselves to let our sprits go to new lengths and break records and cut the red tape that is sometimes wrapped around them.

There is nothing wrong or shameful in being new to realizing a part of the grand truth, or the simple truth for that matter. (By truth I mean a spritiual path) I think that there is a great deal of hate brewing in our world and many of us let it pass us by without halting it. I see many times that people who recognize themselves to be witches or pagans will hassle someone new to a path or to discovering one. This is not right and is something that needs to be stopped! Where is our message of love in the world? My heart feels so cold when I see this hate, this opposition. We need to nurture those who are stepping into our world and our consciousness. We need to help them. It is frightening to be on a spiritual pilgrimage and always a great unburdening to our sould when someone is there to understand.

The old traditions are important. They have been the basis on which we form new traditions. Everything has a place, no matter how concrete or abstract. It is time to open up, to love, and to bridge the gap of loneliness. It is time that we all began to share more with our souls and hearts rather than with our doubts and fears.

Much love,
Laura


I'm Fairly New To My Path, And I Try To Be Honest... Dec 7th. at 12:54:18 pm UTC

Britishblue (Shaw AFB, South Carolina US) Age: 33 - Email


I'm fairly new to my Path, and I try to be honest about that. There are times when, as a human, I feel the urge to try and "pad". But I find that it makes me uncomfortable to do so, and therefore go back to the "straight and narrow". Even at the still-young age of 33, I feel the peer pressure to be something that I am not, and that is where my life experience kicks in and straightens me out. I've only been studying my Path for 1.5 years now, and there is so much that I do not know. But one thing, as a solitary, that I HAVE learned is that I MUST make my own Path.

I absolutly fell in love with Scott Cunningham's books, and one of the things that I love is that he repeats over and over that it's up to us to make our way, and feel out what is right for us. I have discovered through trial and error that I cannot walk the same Path that someone else has made. For example, I tried to follow a solitary ritual once, and ended up making myself sick for 3 days. The next time, although scared to death to try, I did my way. It worked wonders and I felt completely at home! (What's amazing is that I learned that lesson with one try, not 40 like normal!)

Anyway, I have met a couple of folks that are of the "Old Ways", and one of them scared me, and the other one I've never been afraid of and love to death! Like some of the folks that were mentioned by one of the earlier posters, this person thinks they know all and can't possibly learn anything else. Not only that, but this person believes in teaching things that, in my opinion, should NOT be taught. Things that I have found, are quite frowned upon in the Wicca commmunity. The other one is a ray of sunshine in my life. She's the type of person that is so comfortable with who she is, that you can walk into a room having never met this person and know instantly who she is. (I know because this is how I met her!) She's not afraid of teaching others, but is also not afraid of telling them that they need to find their own Way.

I'm not sure that I will ever be experienced enough to be a teacher, and I'm finding that I'm ok with this. I'm finding that being a "newbie" is ok. It means you're learning. It means that you're not afraid to admit that you're learning. I believe that in order to admit that I am a "newbie" that I must have humility, modesty, and a willingness to learn from others. As for the issue whether the "Old Ways" are better or worse, I think we need ALL of it. The Old Ways, and the New Ways. We learn from experience, and where else do we get experience, but from History? We take from History, in order to make something better, or more powerful. I learn from each ritual or working that I do. Each time I remember what I did last time, I include that, and work to make this particular ritual better than the last. I read to see what other folks have done, why they did it, then take what I'm comfortable with and work with that. If we did not have the "Old Ways", what would we learn from?

In closing this long drawn-out post, I must add this one final point. We talk about how the world is changing. If the world is changing, why should we not change with it? We must change in order to retain our place in this world, and in the History that we are creating each and every day.
Blessings to one and all!


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