A Teen Perspective on Wicca
Article ID: 15178
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 30th. 2012
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I view Wicca as an initiation-based religion. I feel that traditions are important, that titles like ‘Priestess’ have to be earned. I also feel strongly about it being a Mystery path. I think covens are important in that they can be mystery schools. I dislike the commercialized approach to Wicca, or that Wiccans are now seen as “crystal-hugging, air-headed-vegenazis”.
And, I happen to be a 16 year-old uninitiated teenage girl. I just feel that there is more to Wicca than the mass-produced version we pay for, in all those ‘easy magick’ book, more than just the exoteric aspects…
I found Wicca about two years ago. I was an atheist, as I had been all my life, and had just happened across a web site, claiming to have spells, for instant love and wealth... the typical fluffy bunny website. I glanced at it for a laugh... But then a small box of text in the corner caught my eye- it was the Charge of the Goddess. I decided to learn more.
At first, my sources were web sites and forums. Here I quickly encountered the stereotypes of Wicca- the bored housewife spending 800€ on a chakra crystal wand, the black-clad teenager with a pentacle the size of a plate, the white-lighter, the fluffy bunny, the high priestess on an ego-trip, the persecution complex...
I now suppose that this was necessary part of my path. I learnt some of the pitfalls to avoid at least- but I was half ready to give up Wicca in exasperation at the complete disregard for fact and reality. Yet… I had read things, in rituals and poems, rites of passage and other practices, that hinted at something more.
I’m a bookworm, so the next logical step was buying some books (Buckland’s big blue book, Starhawk’s Spiral Dance, Cunningham’s Wicca and Living Wicca) . Some of it, like the tools and correspondences, I already more or less knew from the Internet but other passages moved me. Some seem to dislike Cunningham for over-simplifying the craft, but you can’t forget the power of discovering that you are your own priest/ess, or the beauty of the religion and rituals he speaks of. And his theories and worldview do make sense.
The Spiral Dance was poetry to me. The Goddess, the power of ritual, the concept of a ‘younger’ or ‘deep’ self, the importance of responsibility, the self-knowledge… At that point, I was sure that I wanted to follow this path. I started celebrating the sabbats and esbats on Samhain of 2010.
From there, I started exploring. I read Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler- the history and all the implications of the neo-pagan movement were ideas to explore, knowledge to gain. I bought many book- every single euro of my Christmas and birthday money in the past two years have gone towards books- I have to buy them, because I don’t live in an English speaking country.
I’ve read many authors, from Marian Green to Christopher Penczak, to Laurie Cabot, Z Budapest, T. Thorn Coyle, Kaatryn MacMorgan, Starhawk, and many others. I found eBooks by Margaret Murray, Charles Leland, and Gerald Gardner. I spent hours reading essays on Witchvox. Here I’d like to add- Elders, please do not blame newbies for being confused. The huge amount of stuff to be found is confusing, even more so without a guide, teacher or mentor to discuss our new ideas with.
It doesn’t help that the lines between Wicca and other Pagan paths can seem blurred at times, not to mention the influences of other philosophies on Wicca.
At that point, I was really interested in Reclaiming. I found it empowering, and it they helped me gain insight into some things I’d noticed in society. Add activism, feminism, power-from-within and immanent value… All those things made sense. And whether the mother-times are real or not, the vision of the future portrayed is appealing.
And along with that was the beauty of nature and the awareness of moon phases, the joy found in crafting tools from nature’s gifts- like when you see your athame emerging from pale white hazel wood as you work. Then there’s the wonder you can feel at the sight of a tiny, fallen, five-petal flower, the turning wheel of the year, the Goddess and sometimes even the God. The offerings left in the forks of branches and buried in the earth. The waking up at 6 in the morning while camping to do a ritual, getting soaked in dew, candles refusing to light in the cool mountain mist, but dancing and chanting till you are breathless anyways as the sun rises. It’s not really something that can be described, but that many of us seem to know …
More recently, after reading the Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton, I bought some more “traditional” books. Vivianne Crowley, the Farrars, Doreen Valiente, Maxine Sanders, and Frederic Lamond. At this point, I was looking for books that went beyond the basic 101 books. This really changed some of my views, especially on initiation. There was so much more knowledge to be found! (Though, maybe it was just that I had matured personally, and so was getting more from my books than before. Perhaps I would have found all this in the first books I had, if I had been ready.) Anyhow, it was then that I realized that there was a part of Wicca I hadn’t seen before. Amongst other things, there were many references to psychology. At some point I had enough of reading about personas, shadow selves, individuation, anima/animus, ego-transcendence and archetypes without understanding the basics, so I read the two books by C.G. Jung I found at my local library. Though not strictly related to Wicca, this led to a whole lot more questions about myself… (After all, if magic is about changing yourself…)
I’ve also read so much about Wicca being a mystery path. I’m still trying to figure out how I can learn about these things without a teacher. When you are alone, it’s hard to be aware of your faults and imbalances, to be objective. It took me a lot more time than I feel it should have to figure out that I’m too inclined to the element of air, all the intellectual stuff, and that I should balance that with water, like learning to scry. I wouldn’t have seen that without some outside help, for instance. And there are still so many things to learn!
I feel I’ve learned, and grown, a lot in the past two years. But now, I’m unsure of what to do, what to research, where to turn. A lot of times, I feel like I have no idea of what I’m doing. If you know there are Mysteries, you can’t really just forget and go back to how you were before. But I’m finding it hard to go forwards without any kind of guidance. I’ve hardly had any contact with other Wiccans, and the Pagan community in France is small and hidden.
I would like to join a coven, but I’m still a minor. I will hopefully be leaving for college next year, at only 16. Will the fact that I’m not living under my parent’s roof anymore allow me to be considered mature enough for a coven? When will I be seen as old enough to consider initiation (I know I’ll have to wait at least till I’m 18, and I know it’s not just about the rituals and book knowledge.) ? And more importantly, when will I be ready?
Maybe you are wondering why I'm writing this. I’m not the kind of person who feels the need to tell the world about my life for the sake of attention. Basically, I want to show others how the path might look for seekers today. It’s hard for us to find reliable resources and teachers, to go beyond what is readily available. There are a lot of doubts, of confusion, and no one to share it with. It’s harder for minors- we are so often dismissed as fluffies, at worst, or at best told to go back and learn other things until we turn 18. Those who are willing to help have so much to do, and I admire their patience in answering over and over again, explaining, and suggesting resources. But even those who would help can’t do everything, and they seem very few.
Yes, teaching minors can be a problem. I know in America at least, there might be legal problems in teaching teenagers. It’s harder for us, changing as we are, to “know ourselves”. Maybe younger seeker will be less mature, but maybe not. And I’ve heard of warnings, that we will be lonely because of our different views (actually, many of us who are drawn to Wicca already are somehow different, and might already know that loneliness) or that we should develop our personalities before learning about Wicca. But again, that varies. It depends on the person- all these things could be said of adults too! And what are the alternatives? Left to our own devices, where can we find knowledge? When we realize it's the right path for us, and are ready to work, what can we do? If it’s, as so many people say, a calling, we can’t really just put it on hold either.
Even when we are told there is more than the 101, we are never told where or how to seek it. When we ask for help, and are turned down, where else can we find information? Is it surprising that many young Wiccans appear clueless, or maybe unwilling to work, or not mature enough?
I’m not saying covens have to teach minors, or that people have to face legal problems to teach. And I can understand, from some of my experiences on Witchvox, that teaching teens is harder. I'm not sure what can be done, other than making reliable information available. The fact that Wicca is a mystery path, that it requires work and dedication, and self-knowledge should be more widely known. Yet beyond that, what else can be done? I don’t know.
Another goal of this essay is to add my voice to those who call Wicca a mystery path. I want to say that there are younger people who wish they could preserve Wicca as an esoteric, and not exoteric path... and would like to know how to, and to have a chance to do so.
Wicca as 'mainstream religion' is growing, and is a valid path for many. Even it's form of being 'only' celebration is beautiful. I’ve heard of sabbat Wiccans, or festival Wiccans, or outer courts of covens forming into a form of congregation for those with the beliefs but who do not wish to train as priest/esses. And people find that fulfilling too.
But that isn’t the only aspect of Wicca.
Finally, as the only teen listed in France in the Witchvox listings, I receive emails from other French teens, so I can understand some of the frustrations of those teaching. How many of the email answers I carefully wrote out that have never received answers? I had to clarify that Cate Tiernan’s Wicca books, or House of Night and so on, are fiction? Or to explain that no, I can’t give someone a spell? I’ve sent links to helpful sites and books, only to be told that ‘reading a book is too much work, could you just explain it all now’?
So I guess I’ll end my essay with advice to any newbie teen passing this way- Maybe you’ve heard Wicca is not only about spells and magick. But it’s also not only about casting a circle 21 times a year. It’s not for playing at being Morgaine Lafay either, or for calling yourself a high priestess. Psychic gifts or past incarnations do not make you a Wiccan, nor does owning a cauldron, broom, and pentacle.
But if you are called to Wicca, I really wish you luck on this path. ) 0 (
Location: Les Yvelines, France
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