I was born in 1981, as was my high priest. One of my coveners was born in 1990. As Generation Y witches, we look at the world very differently from our elders. We came to the craft long after Gardner’s claims of prehistoric knowledge had been debunked, after many of the craft texts had been sourced to Leland, Crowley, and Valiente. We make no apologies for the fact that the craft we practice is thoroughly modern.
There is very little written material about the craft reflects what we actually practice now. Reading books by Gardner would give you a wholly inaccurate idea of what modern Gardnerianism looks like.
The largest difference I see between younger and older witches is that younger witches revile orthodoxy (right thinking) and take orthopraxy (right practice) very seriously. Our coven has a tradition passed down from our (Gen X) parent coven that helps us to preserve independence of thought in the coven. After we have a group experience, like a circle or a guided meditation, the youngest person (in terms of time in the coven) speaks first, then the second youngest person and so on. This gives the new folks in the group a chance to verbalize their feelings without any subconscious tendency to mimic or please the coven leaders. This has transformed the role of a coven leader from “one who teaches a spiritual path” to “one who guides others along their spiritual paths.”Another aspect that separates us from old school Gardnerians is our emphasis on progress. Much of our upline, i.e. Gardnerians initiated in the 70s and 80s, considers the coven to be a meeting place, and if people feel like they are ready to be initiated or elevated, and the coven leaders agree, then they’ll do that, but it’s perfectly normal to have people stay at the same degree for long stretches, not reading anything, not working on any projects, giving no outward sign that any self improvement or spiritual progress is occurring. My generation likes to see our covens based in flow and change. We like to see people reading constantly. We want our students to actively work toward initiation and elevation and eventually spin off to be coven leaders themselves. We abhor stagnation. Perhaps we focus a bit too much on constant work and instant (if at least a year and a day can be considered instant) gratification, but it’s a small price to pay for the passion and drive that comes about as a result.
The end result of these generational differences will be more diversity of thought in British Traditional Witchcraft, and an influx of new covens and new initiates, which I know will be welcome news to many seekers who have waited years, as I did, to find a coven. Here’s to the next century of independent, passionate, globe-spanning witches!