If I hear the term ‘baby witches’ or ‘millennials’ said with distain once more within Pagan circles I might spontaneously combust.
As the other side of my listen before they become ancestors article, I’m going to use today’s post to wonder why the elder generation sometimes seem so combative towards the younger.
I’ll start by saying millennials are proper adults now. They may seem younger than you, but they are in no way young. Stop treating them like children who haven’t lived. The reason they don’t seem as settled as we maybe did at their age is because they haven’t had the opportunity to do so. But brain wise they are over thirty and many of them probably already make that “oof” sound when they stand up.
I’m going to point out now that I’m saying “we” even though I’m still only in the first year of my forties because although I’m a Xennial (that step between Gen X and the millennials) I was initiated at 21 and ran a coven at 25. Many of the Gen X witches and some baby boomers even are my Wiccan-generation peers. I think that puts me in the perfect Xennial position to bridge the generations.
All witches started somewhere. You can be a baby witch at fifty or you can be one at fifteen. If you’re still learning, you’re still learning.
Beginner witches are an opportunity to learn again yourself. That’s why people who run training covens seem so full of new ideas and sparky-ness. The longer you’ve been in a subculture for the less questions you ask and the more you take for granted as just being “the way it’s done”
I stopped asking why so much a few years back and my magick is much the poorer for it. New witches ask what the reasoning is behind everything. They want to reinvent the wheel and suggest things we maybe didn’t even consider.
Yes, many times they’re asking the same things we did, and every single batch of probationers have asked for as long as you can remember. That’s ok too. Sometimes I’ll give them an answer, but a lot of the time I’ll say “try it”
Very occasionally the thing all of us tried before miraculously works for them. Maybe because they aren’t you, or me, or the twenty people who followed in our footsteps, they’re new. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because it isn’t the 20th century anymore and life has changed. The things that didn’t work in 1997 or 2010 occasionally *do* work in 2020. It blows my socks off every time it does but unless I was open to the possibility, I’d never see it happen.
It also means maybe that thing we thought was right for all those years won’t be right for the next generation or might not even work for us as effectively as we think it does in the reality of twenties Paganism.
Change can be glorious, but sometimes it can really hurt. It can feel like the things we held dear are no longer relevant. But that doesn’t mean we can’t allow others to embrace it.
One day we’ll no longer be here. Our teachings will exist in the things we left behind and the minds of the next generation. If we don’t engage those who will walk the path we’ve lovingly trodden our books won’t be read and our films not watched. We can call them ungrateful; we can tell them they should respect us and all our views and they need to listen because they’ll regret it. Yet we need to engage and respect them for our traditions to exist in the future.
Refusing to meet them halfway will mean the way we do things will simply be passed over.
They are the future.
One day they’ll also be the elders and they’ll be fighting the same push-pull we did.
But for now, they’re the future of YOUR tradition. Like it or not these paths will exist after you’ve gone and they’ll be different, because life goes on and anything which stagnates is forgotten.
I look around at initiatory Wicca and I already see less new people coming into it. We need it to grow and change in order to survive. Gardner changed the tradition he found. So did Alex. Vivianne Crowley and Sorita D’Este shook things up and changed them about. Just because they taught you doesn’t mean they didn’t stand up and make things work in the way they wanted it to.
Let the next generation do the same.
By doing so you ensure they remember the things which matter and carry those traditions through to their students, who will then ask the same questions and want to do things differently too.