Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oldsters & Youngsters

Earlier in the month at MerryMeet in Massachusetts, Laura "Spellweaver" Wildman-Hanlon organized a conversation between long-time Pagans and younger Pagans. The older folks, myself among them, were mainly Witches. The younger folks included both teens who were brought up in Pagan families and college students from U-Mass' SPIRALS Pagan student group. The latter were people brought up in more conventional households.

I learned a lot and left feeling optimistic about our survivability as a religious movement.

I had the pleasure of meeting a younger, though neither teen from a Pagan family nor student Pagan, Cosette from Miami (a member of Everglades Moon Local Council* of CoG), as well as the teen children of Ariadne (I think of her as Ariadne even though now she goes by her give name of Lisa) and Macha/Rachel (not me). Ariadne is a long-time member of of CoG active in the Antelope Valley of California, formerly of Orange County** Local Council.

One of the highlights of this discussion, for me, was hearing Joan C. tell about her early exposure to Witchcraft in Boston. I knew her about 30 years ago when she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have had the good fortune to reconnect with her on my occasional broomstick trips to Western Massachusetts. She participated in a workshop on death and dying that I facilitated at Mary Colleen McDougall & Ted Tarr's late Tarr & Feathers store in Greenfield. (Also got to chat with Mary Colleen & Ted at MM.) Then in March '06 I learned that she's a member of Apple & Oak Coven, of which Laura Spellweaver is High Priestess. I hope the younger Pagans were as fascinated by her tales as I was.

Another highlight was hearing from a young college student about how he and his spiritual beliefs are accepted in his fraternity.

I should mention that this discussion was deftly facilitated by Thea Collins, author and faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary.

A few months earlier I'd been asked by Ariel Monserrat, the new editor of the revised Green Egg, to write something about elders and eldership. Being pressed for time, I reread an article I'd written on the same topic for the same publication back in 1996. I felt it held up to the passage of time, so resubmitted it. It appears in the Beltaine 2007 issue, which also contains lots of

I don't have enough time to keep up on all the endless discussions about elders and eldership that seem to be taking place everywhere I look. I know Druid Michael Gorman , whom I featured on a panel discussion at PSR last year, wrote one in a recent GE, and I'm aware that the legendary GE Forum has been host to lively discussion on those topics. I also notice that PanGaia magazine has been publishing articles and discussion about elders.

It's always been a topic of interest to me, perhaps because we had so few when I was new to Paganism. I could probably name the ones I knew or had heard of on one hand (at least here in California): Victor and Cora Anderson (Feri/Faery); Grandma Julie Tower (Tower Family); George Patterson (Georgian). Other friends grew to become elders during the time I knew them: Judy Foster (NROOGD); Alison Harlow (Feri/Faery).

I've always maintained that until the full spectrum of human lives is included within our ranks, we are merely a club, a clique or a fad. By the full spectrum, I mean the unborn, the babies, the children and youth, the adults, the elders, and the ancestors. If Paganism is to survive -- I believe it will -- it must reflect all the stages of life, and have a place or places for everyone in our communities. This leads to a whole different discussion beyond the scope of this little post.

In any case, I continue to ponder where we're going. I look at other cultural phenomena and see how they sustain themselves, and how they regard elders. I love history. I find it such a rich resource of observations about human nature, human behavior, human strengths and foibles.

Shorty after I came home, I received an email from a young Pagan named Gwinevere Rain, editor of Copper Moon E-Zine: A Witch's Publication for Teens and Early Twenties, an online zine in which I was interviewed a few years ago. She reminds us that Copper Moon is alive and seeking to serve younger Pagans:

Copper Moon is an online blog magazine for Wiccan/Pagan practitioners in their teens and early twenties. Our features include eye-opening author interviews, articles, book reviews and more! This interactive site enables readers to comment on individual articles, subscribe through e-mail or in a RSS reader! Our aim is to have at least one new article or book review up each week. Since 2002 we have been providing a venue for young practitioners to express their opinions and have their writing showcased. If you are 13 to 26 we'd love to read your submission. Thanks for considering Copper Moon, one of the leading publications for young adult Wiccan/Pagans on the web.

* In fact, in addition to the two EMLC folks I already knew to be fun and standup and honorable, Canu and Rayna, I met several other cool folks from that LC: Coral Tran, Lord Cuchulain, and Lord Coyote, who happens to share a Pisces birthday with me.

** Here's a fascinating tidbit: Orange County is a conservative Republican area of California, yet Cherry Hill Seminary has more students from Orange County than from any other single region of the country. Go figure.


Memory Echoes said...

The elders in Pagandom are -- at least from my point of view and others I've spoken with who qualify as "youngsters" -- our heroes. You possess the wisdom, knowledge, power, and mastery we aspire to, but you're also as cool as rock stars. Think Bono.

And I just had to express that, because you kept appearing in Dreamland last night, and I kept looking at Macha the oldster and Macha the youngster. And Macha the oldster is the Macha I wanted to talk to. And she was the one with the rock star glamour of Bono.

Broomstick Chronicles said...

Wow, Willa! I'm touched.

Anonymous said...

I have to echo Willa. The elders are often the rock stars of the this community. And it was a real treat meeting you.

Unknown said...

I know the meeting was not without its issues. But I agree with the things you said about the friendships. I did so enjoy talking to the majority of folks and would have loved to have talked more if my "job" at GC wasn't the main focus of why I was there. At some point, since I'm Georgian, I would like to correspond with you concerning Patterson. I never met him since I came into the Trad after he died. Enjoyed meeting you. Marla

Unknown said...

Hi, Macha -- I found your blog while googling for Mary Colleen, who was my Feri teacher in Western MA. I'm now in San Francisco, and don't have a way to get back in touch with her -- if you do and would pass her my email address, I'd be so grateful.

melissa at melissagira dot com

A longtime admirer of your work, and thank you for having this blog!