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?
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Post # 2

Wow, Lark, just wow.

I find it shameful for people to do that to Elders and teachers, I mean, if you are wanting to learn, then shush it and learn, ask questions on things you do not know or understand, do not be trying to correct someone who most likely knows way more than you do. I was told to respect your elders and if you do not have anything nice to say then don't say it.

It seems like most people have either forgotten that, or wasn't taught that, and its a shame.

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Re: Where Are The Elders?
By:
Post # 3

that is a wonderful story!! thank you for sharing Lark =)

I believe a respect for the older generations is more lost today than it was in your time of apprenticeship. I do not practice wicca, but i do find a lack of mentorship and people who have "been there, done that" in general. Because of this i have taken to my own ways, and if someone wishes to show me a thing or two, regardless of age or experience, i am all ears.

I do feel a sense of duty to pass on the flame of knowledge. But i almost see it more as holding the door open behind you. And if we are forever the doorkeepers then how can we advance our own path. Progress in my own path is the most useful thing i can offer anyone, anything else is just idle theory.

I am wondering if magic is evolving in form, becoming something more apart of everyday consciousness of everyday people, and less an of an arcane art and religion practiced by the few.

Much love! love this post.

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Re: Where Are The Elders?
By: / Novice
Post # 4

Well said Lark!

I see the same thing happening in ceremonial magic circles as well. What's more disheartening is that there many who claim to be "elders" and "teachers" who have not even been students themselves. And, like you said, when those that know speak about things they are ignored, berated or worse. Many have the misconception that they don't need training, and that whatever their mind can come up with is correct.It is a sad, sad time magically. One can only hope that a few will start to seek the truth and the knowledge that so many teachers and elders want to pass on.

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Re: Where Are The Elders?
By:
Post # 5
I don't know why they are bothering to ask questions if they already have all the answers! I have been looking for a teacher/mentor for a long time and have not been able to find one. It makes me sad that there are people out there trying to spread their knowledge who are being taken for granted. The students do not understand what they have.
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Re: Where Are The Elders?
By:
Post # 6
The story of the tea takes me back. I remember being told a version of it in my youth. I agree that recent generations would rather talk than listen and I am saddened by it, however I have faith that when they are ready to listen they will. Surely knowledge will find a way as it always has in the past.
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