Recently, on facebook, a friend shared a meme in a group we are in that said something to the affect of “we are the new ancestors, act accordingly”. Of course, my response was a joking “Awwwe do I have to?” But, inside my mind was thinking “that was a giant V8 smack from the universe for me” But, I let it slide out of my head for awhile after that. Although I did notice that I was giving even more thought after that to certain teachings that bother me, and about how some topics are addressed in the modern pagan community. Then, the other day, I was chatting with a younger friend who described herself as a “baby witch”as many young/new pagans seem to do now days, and we got to discussing how at the time I first came to paganism, the internet was still a relatively new thing in the home. We didn’t have facebook, and had very few forums that were made where you could view past discussions, (Scrolling chat rooms did not give us this option beyond the past 5 minutes if we were lucky) and even online, it was hard to find good information and we had to go through actual printed books because well, e-book was not a thing either. On top of that, many started with Wicca because that was really all we had much access to, and that too was limited. Add to that a teenager or young adult living in a small town in conservative Christian-ville,you were lucky to find anything. And even those things were often in the “18 and up” blocked zones of the internet because, well.. we can’t corrupt the children now can we? I was one who was lucky enough to be able to go with older friends to certain shops, and my parents allowed me to actually read whatever I chose. Many did not have that, and some still don’t. So, my generation became very good at being seekers and experimenters by using knowledge from what few elders before us we could find, and this new found access to knowledge called “in-home internet”. And for some of the very younger readers here, we did not have Google, and unless your family was pretty well off, your computer was only the big stationary desktops, so you could only really research at home or library. So, this got me thinking, what can we older pagans possibly offer a generation growing up with facebook & google practically in their pockets 24/7? And again, it all goes back to experience, trial, and error.
Before I start on experience, let me say that we do need to also show the research and academic side of things so that we can show “this is what this group believed”, “this was a thing they did”, etc. And combine that with our experiences. Having said that, one of the first things I see a lot of is people asking “how do I do this for this deity”, “I can’t find reference to this”, “what if I do it wrong?” and so on. Well, as someone who had little to no access to metaphysical supplies starting out, I learned very quickly that you can work magick with just about anything you have on hand. The kitchen spice rack is your friend, and your imagination and gut instinct will guide you if you let it. There is no reason to think you have to do something a specific way with a specific item unless the deity you are working with somehow tells you it has to be that way. And that is by your gut and connection to them. Not because some book or other person said they only accept it this way. What we often forget is that every spell or offering ever, started with someone guessing or feeling that this will work. Unless you believe that some god came before them in person and said “Mix this herb with this color candle, with this…” then you have to accept that someone somewhere thought “I bet this will work!” And then experimented. And for those of us who are Lokeans here, remember that experimentation is one of the “Tenets of Loki” that we very often see floating around our groups and websites. So why not experiment? Grow some balls with your practice. I’m pretty sure Loki and his goat incident is a sign we should have a set. (Metaphorically of course). But seriously, that is an example of how even the gods (especially Loki) were willing to try some of the most hair-brained things imaginable to get the job done. Remember Thor’s wedding dress? So why would they be at all offended, or the universe not answer your petition, if you use basil instead of sage because it was on sale at the grocery store when you were low on cash? Now, how does this relate to us being the new elders? Well, one thing I see a lot of that really eats my ass, is leaders and elders in the pagan community teaching newcomers that their way is THE way, or that a particular way WILL NOT work. Except for very, very, rare occasions, I have not seen or heard any evidence that there is one way to do anything. And when it comes to magick and spellwork, the intent & energy means more than the words and ingredients anyway. Those tools and actions and petition papers are all mental triggers for you to focus YOUR energy. So if it doesn’t work for you, try something else. I rarely chant or recite spells anymore. I sing or hum while focusing on the intention. And it works. Now, this also applies to offering, beliefs, and anything else in the sphere of religion & spirituality. Unless you find something in the text & lore of the gods you are dealing with that says “do not do this” or shows that it is offensive to them, don’t let anyone other than the gods themselves tell you that you can not do it that way if it is not something that is harming innocent people or animals. And there is more on that in a later blog. So, what do we need to do in this area as elders? Its very simple, tell the ones asking what you have experienced or witnessed, and if you have any lore or references that apply to the question, show them or tell them where to find it to read it themselves. Preferably the latter, as that allows them to make the final call from their own spirit. And that leads to the main thing I believe we can possibly offer any newcomer to any path we may walk. I saw a pagan posts on social media once that said the job of a priest or priestess is to guide others to their individual soul’s path. And that really struck home for me. I have claimed “eclectic pagan” as my title for many years because I had mixtures of everything but all of nothing when it came to a true “path” or branch of paganism. I am Lokean. But I also work hoodoo, have a close relationship with the Egyptian pantheon, and still have quite a few beliefs I picked up from those. That is because, I had no choice but to really find my own way that worked for me. I had few that I could view as teachers. And they only taught one specific branch and belief, and gods help you if you openly say you disagree with some of them. But there are many other paths, and they can’t all be wrong. And obviously more than one path works for thousands of people. Isn’t that part of why many of us left the Abrahamic faiths? Because we did not believe there was only ONE way? And truthfully, (though they rarely admit it) even the christian bible says to let others choose for themselves how to believe even in the confines of Christianity. “Study to show thyself approved”, “some will believe, some will not”, God gave us free will. So, why then would any pagan decide to take it upon themselves to tell anyone they have to believe this specific way? Now, I am not saying you have to agree with anyone and everyone you meet. The point is to show them your knowledge and experience as you lived it, and then let them study and think and feel if that works for them or not. Don’t down them or insult them if they don’t take your path or if they find a different way. Now, there are limits. We do NOT have to accept or let it ride when someone takes up beliefs of hate or bigotry or harm of innocents. That is a no-no in EVERY religion whether the extremists admit it or not. And we don’t let it ride when we see people insulting others for believing something they don’t personally believe. But aside from hate, harm, & insult, just guide by showing your knowledge and experience and let them do what they will. Because in the long run, even if it is the “wrong way” to get the job done, its not your business if you at least gave them that info & experience. That’s on them. The point of being an elder or a leader is to be a guide for others. Not a know-it-all giver of the rules. And most importantly, the part of religion and spirituality that matters the most, is not in the type of offerings, the things you believe, the way you do your magick if you practice it, but rather in the connection you find, and have, and feel with your gods. Our job as the new elders is to use our knowledge and experience, combined with the new forms of sharing we have available, to help others find their personal and individual connection with their gods. Because in the long run, that is what matters, and what will mean the most and help the most for both them and you.
That’s all for now. Blessings to you all.