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Where are the Elders?

Forums ► Wicca ► Where are the Elders?
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Where are the Elders?
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 1

Back in the "old" days before the advent of the internet and the plethora of Wicca 101 books that were published to meet a growing cry for information on Wicca one had a tough time learning on one's own.

When I first came to Wicca in the 1980's there were only a handful of books on the subject and they weren't always easy to find. Stores didn't tend to carry them, libraries didn't stock them. About the only way you could learn was to get lucky enough to find a teacher, and teachers didn't advertise in the papers looking for students. Anyone who wanted to learn knew that it would be hard work to find a teacher and hard work to study and master the material. But what they were getting was far more in depth material than in any book. You also got all the wisdom and expertise of the teacher and a helping hand over the rough spots.

With the inception of the internet it became much easier to find teachers and groups that would challenge you to grow and learn. But that is changing. People are asking "Where did the Elders go?" But that's not the right question. What they should be asking is "Why are the Elders and teachers going back into hiding?" And the answer is that that they are tired. They are tired of offering their advice, their knowledge, their time, and their skills. They are tired of being told that they don't know what they are talking about, or that their views are worthless. I wonder how many of those turning their backs on the opportunity of interacting with these people realize what they are losing?

On another board I post to we were discussing the importance of Gerald Gardner in the creation of Wicca. Someone asked, "If this Gardner is so important why isn't he writing books for Llewellyn?" When others tried to point out that Gardner was the founder of Wicca but had been dead for many years someone else piped up claiming that Gardner couldn't have created Wicca because he was a man and Wicca was a woman's religion. The two of them were completely unwilling to listen to anyone discussing the history of Wicca because it wasn't in a book from Llewellyn or fit their misconception of Wicca. They would rather continue believing something completely wrong than to listen to the words of people who had been initiates of Gardner himself. This is the sort of thing which is poisoning the well for Wiccan Seekers.

Many Elders (and I do not consider myself and Elder, merely a teacher) find themselves trying to answer a question posed by a student or someone on a board like this only to be told they don't know what they're talking about because someone said differently in a book or on a website. What those belittling these people don't realize is that the Elder they are denigrating took the time and effort to respond to their request for knowledge and to share their experience and knowledge with the seeker. How many times do you think that happens before the Elder decides that responding isn't doing anything useful and they simply stop trying to teach? How much wisdom is lost because the student wants a quick and easy fix and not a true spiritual path?

The Elders and the teachers are still there. But they have been silenced by the MTV generation that is too busy to listen and learn. More and more of those that I knew and learned from are retreating into their solitude and no longer reaching out to the greater community. And perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps if people have to really work to find teachers again they will learn to treasure what they receive when they do find them.

To share a little story that I believe bears thinking about:

There was once a Zen master of great renown who lived in the mountain. One day, he received the visit of a young philosopher whom had traveled from afar especially to meet him. That philosopher came under high recommendations by his teachers, so the master agreed to see him. As the two sat under a tree to discuss, the subject hastily came to what the master could teach the young philosopher. Recognizing the flame of youth, the master smiled warmly and started to describe his meditation techniques. He was cut short by the philosopher who said: "Yes, I understand what you are talking about! We did a similar technique at the temple, but instead we used images to focus! "

Once the philosopher was done explaining to the master how he was taught, and did, his meditation, the master spoke again. This time, he tried to tell the young man about how one should be attuned to nature and the Universe. He didn't get two sentences in when the philosopher cut him short again and started talking about how he was taught of such things and so and so.

Once again, the master patiently waited for the young philosopher to end his excited explanations. Once he was done, the master got to the subject of seeing humor in every situation. This time, the young man didn't lose any time and started to talk about his favorite jokes and how he thought they could relate to situations he had faced.

Once the philosopher was done, the Zen master invited him inside for a tea ceremony. The philosopher having heard of how the master performed the ceremony like no other accepted gladly. Such a moment was always a privileged one with such a man. Once inside, the master performed flawlessly up to the point where he started to pour the tea in the cup. The philosopher noticed as the master was pouring tea, that the cup was being filled more than usual, then, as the master kept pouring tea, the cup got full to the brim. Not knowing what to say, the young man just looked at the master with a look of astonishment on his face. The master kept pouring has if nothing was wrong and the cup, not being able to contain anymore, started to overflow, spilling hot tea on the floor mattresses and the master's hakama. Not believing what he was seeing, the philosopher finally exclaimed: "Stop pouring! Can't you see the cup is already full and overflowing?"

With those words, the master gently placed the teapot back on the fire and looked at the young philosopher with his ever present warm smile, looked him in the eye and said: "If you come to me with a cup that is already full, how can you expect me to give you something to drink?

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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 2
You are right and it applies to so much more than just magick. I was tutoring a 7th grader the other day on math and I noticed they used the calculator a lot. On the next question, I took the calculator away and asked them to do the simple multiplication in their head. It was 12x9 , something I learned on a multiplication table in second grade. They did not know what the answer was. I told them to try it on paper and they didn't know how to. This student had relied entirely on being handed the answer by their calculator and never truly learned the subject.

It's the same with the internet. People look up something and instead of researching multiple sources, they click the first link that was written by Joe Blow in Kamikazbektrastan at age five and automatically take it as fact. Then they start sharing this information and get into heated arguments when, if they had done the proper research to begin with, they would know better or at least have a leg to stand on when they are presenting their position.

Sorry to rant. This subject kind of gets to me because I know we as humans are capable of so much more than we currently do.
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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 3
Wise words as always. Thank you for that.
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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 4
Thank you. I am listening andwill find the way. Not always easy. But always right.
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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 5
Wonderful words of wisom from a tale that stands the test of time
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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 6
I just don't get why they even ask if they don't care. When I read this I kind of wanted to cry. Poor elders. :(
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Re: Where are the Elders?
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 7
Oh, yes! Lark, as usual, words of wisdom and teaching. I suppose I am an elder,at 81, and I must admit I often lose patience with the young.But they have so much, these days. Vast areas of information, that I never had when I was young. But I did learn; from my witch teacher who taught me, and was my friend, for over sixty years. I was there when Wicca came into the public domain. I was there to hear Aleister Crowley speak of magic. I was there to meet Alex Sanders, and his wife Maxine. I learnt a lot about Wicca. About magic. About how the Earth works. How the Universe works. How Life itself works.
And now, if I try to tell the young, the truth? What do I get? Arguments, and please can you turn me into a mermaid.
There are times when I despair of the young. But, I keep trying!
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Re: Where are the Elders?
Post # 8
Yeah, I learned that you respect your elders not tell them they are wrong. :-/
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Re: Where are the Elders?
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 9
Oh, we don't mind being told we are wrong. We are not always right! So long it's not insulting. Even "elders" learn something new everyday. Only recently there was a wonderful post about a Mexican Saint; something new for me!
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Re: Where are the Elders?
By: / Novice
Post # 10
@ V.Rowenwand your story reminded me of my 5-6 grade teacher. He hated calculators, and made us take pop quizzes for math. It started slow but after a few months we had one minute to answer 100 math question [adding, subtracting, division, multiplication] without a calculator. Also made us read The Time Machine for English. I remember those days, getting 100%, and then think of today. I'm not great at math, but I think without a calculator it would take me about a minute to calculate 12x9 when that use to be on the minute quiz. Sad, but this is how the world is evolving. A girl who got a summer job this year at my work is doing her placement in teachers college now, she not only can't read cursive writing, but its optional to teach kids. I had to write in cursive from grade 3 onward. [I moved in grade 9 and was told to stop because certain teachers and all my friends couldn't read my writing.]

@ Brysing Alex Sanders! You keep finding new ways to amaze me.

Now, very nice post Lark, really enjoyed it. I started my research into Wicca for a school project, but as I progressed in my studies I felt a connection, and I agreed with a lot of what I read. Not long after I chose to convert a girl in my class approached me, she was a third generation, her grandmother converting in the 60's, and she helped me with my studies by giving me books, an address to a local occult shop, and helped me with little things like pronouncing certain words like Samhain and Athame, but I didn't have a real teacher. I think she's the reason I point people in the right direction instead of giving them step by step instructions. I think having a teacher or elder to speak with would be great, but I'm happy being solitary, and the closest I'll probably get is this site and my occult shop [luckily it teaches, but I don't have a car and its one town over, so good and bad]

Just because its published doesn't make it fact. Experience will effect perception. Those who are under 18 and haven't told their parents are limited in what they can do, but if you have the chance, I would find an occult shop that hopefully teaches. I am very lucky my local shop [which they call themselves a spiritual shop because they have books for all religions] is only 20 minutes away and has many classes almost every night on many different subjects, as well as Sabbat circles.
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