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Article Specs

VxAcct: 1

Article ID: 2651

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Posted: February 6th. 2000

Views: 17720

Tempest in a Spell Kit

by Wren

The buzz this week as you probably are aware has been all about Silver RavenWolf and the proposed "Teen Witch Spell Kit" based upon her "Teen Witch" book and to be marketed by Llewellyn later this year. An 'announcement about this item circulated the pagan net and the switchboard instantly began to light up. Everyone has an opinion, it seems and that is not unusual in and by itself. What is unusual in this case is the anger, resentment and downright viciousness of the outcry. Given my life long interest in philosophy, psychology, sociology and religious belief systems, my gut feeling is that there is a whole lot more going on here than the premise behind releasing a cardboard spell-in-a-box kit upon the masses. (Your own instinctive mileage, of course, may vary.) Get a cup of coffee. This is going to take a while.

Message boards, web pages and emails have narrowed the outrage into three or four main areas of concern. I won't attempt to address them all here. I also will not go into the character assassination that has been directed against Silver personally other than to say that such things tend to reflect more poorly on those who indulge in it than on the object of their scorn. (Those who stuck to the issue itself even while having strong feelings either way about this kit- or any other material on the market-and did not go into personal attacks-well, bravo! The heat of battle is hard to resist.)

While pagans do not have an official axiom that equates to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I daresay that we have generally prided ourselves in holding to various codes of conduct that embrace fairness, truth, goodwill and empathy for others. Perhaps that ideal though, like many of the old ways of the Craft, is no longer part of our developing community consciousness. Too bad. Those concepts were shining examples of both our ongoing quest to gain tolerance for our beliefs and our own willingness to extend tolerance to others. They were part of what was best about ourselves and what helped to bring out the best in others.

Teens-The Final Frontier

Legally, pagan teachers must exercise caution when dealing with minor children not their own. Most pagan teachers have adopted the positions of either not providing personal education to anyone under the age of consent or only with parental permission (and even more preferably with the parent present at all meetings). This is wise in light of current social conditions and avoids many problems. {For an interesting philosophical premise on the religious rights of children, go to Freedom of Religion and Children}

That teens and young people make up a large percentage of those currently interested in pagan ways is not news to anyone on the pagan Internet circuit. And one way to avoid legal problems with teaching minors has been to forgo the personal contact altogether and only provide reference materials on web sites and in books that the teens can then find on their own. That they are very good at finding this material on their own has also become very clear. They want to know more. They want in.

The main argument-and quite frankly the one that I have the biggest problem with-against the marketing of a 'teen spell kit'-is that it is somehow 'dangerous.' Exactly when did the practices of our earth-based religion become dangerous to children? Just what do we 'conjure up' on a regular basis that some teen may find lurking in a spell kit? What part of our religious practices has the ability to change a sweet and inquisitive child into a hexmonster somehow unleashed upon an unsuspecting world? What is it in the combination of child and magic that is so explosive (to quote a few, "a loaded gun") that we must keep them separated for as long as possible?

Teens since the Littleton shooting have become 'public enemy number one' in our society. Teens must be watched, monitored, searched and metal scanned. Their artwork is suspect, their writings are analyzed for ulterior motives and their every move is scrutinized for 'warning signs.' Politically 'voteless', religiously powerless and increasingly voiceless, it is no wonder that teens are looking for a system that is open to them, that lets them speak their mind, that trusts them to do the right thing-if for no other reason than that most teens DO do the right thing -and that respects them as teens and. more importantly, does not punish them for not being adults.

Paganism is about growth and being open to the world around us. Teens are interested in growth and being open to the possibilities contained in the world around them. From the onset, paganism and teens looked like a good fit. But somewhere along the line-and I don't know what I was doing at the time, but I obviously missed it-paganism became too dangerous for children.

Some have openly wondered, "Well, what will the religious right think about this teen Witch spell kit when they see it?" The reply is, of course, that we ourselves have given them the answer already -It is too dangerous for children. Our religious practices are just too dangerous for children? I guess some would think that this is preferable to being considered frivolous. It sounds much more important anyway.

Wishes For The Future

"Star Light,
Star Bright,
First Star I see tonight.
Wish I may,
Wish I might,
Have this wish,
I wish tonight."

That was the first spell that I ever learned. My cousin taught it to me. I wasn't an adult at the time of the Working. I wasn't a pagan theologian either. I was three years old.

I don't recall what I wished for or if I ever got that particular wish. But the sky didn't fall and the gods didn't give me any grief over my execution of it. What I do remember is the feeling of being so very small in a very large and unfathomable Universe. A vast Universe that, it turned out, was more than willing to patiently hear the first spell of a three-year-old. Suddenly that vast Universe seemed a very friendly place.

I have done that same simple spell many more times over the years. Of course, 46 years later, I understand the symbolism of the star figure, the significance of Light shining in Darkness and the archetypes/deities associated with stars. Yet that same feeling-of being a small part of a larger whole-still floods over me whenever I see that first star appear in the twilight sky. And the Universe still seems to me a very friendly place.

I grew into a more mature understanding of what my pagan beliefs mean to me just as everyone else has done. I made mistakes and I'm sure that I haven't finished making them yet. Magickally, I have done some frivolous things, some wondrous things and lots and lots of very practical things. I have suffered some backlash that I then had to set right, adjusted my outlook on more than one occasion and kept on going.

Spellwork is serious business, I will agree. It is part of many pagan religions and practices, yet it is certainly not all that we are. Not by a long shot. A proper explanation of this is essential when offering spells and magickal tools to anyone for the first time. Silver has indeed stated that such explanations will be included in the kit. Whether the teens will read them or not, no one can say. But none of us who teaches can say for sure if all of our admonishments will be followed by our own students either. Time will tell usually and not in too long of a time at that.

Witchcraft has endured much and survived much. Whatever comes of the spell kit, paganism will go on. Long after the suspicions fade, the hurt feelings heal and the teens grow up, Witchcraft, Wicca and paganism will continue to exist.

For these teens, of course, will eventually grow into adults. What sort of adults that they become depends on many factors. Having the freedom to explore options gives them a variety of choices to consider. The tolerance that they are shown during their formative years will greatly improve the chances that they will grow into adults capable of extending tolerance towards others. In a war weary world where the calming impact of tolerance may save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people some day, I would say that this is a good investment in the future for all of us.

For some presently-teens, paganism will become a life long journey of discovery and revelation. Hopefully they will remember what it was like when they were young. Hopefully they will deal kindly with each other and with the world. Hopefully, they will still have the firm foundation of the past upon which to build their own children's future. Hopefully they will have the courage to persevere in hard times.

Hopefully many young children will grow up looking at the first star appearing in the darkening twilight skies with someone at their side who will encourage them to make a wish.

Walk in Light and Love,

February 7th, 2000
The Witches' Voice
Clearwater, Florida



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