Author: Rev. Mason Stone
Selena Fox, Margot Adler, Raymond Buckland, Laurie Cabot, Starhawk. The list of Elders that we have in the Pagan community is vast (those listed above were simply the first to come to mind) . The title of this essay might seem contradictory, but it’s precisely what I can’t seem to find; young people in the Craft who have the tenacity and balance to stand up for, encourage progression, and lead.
When looking to ‘Elder Qualifications, ‘ I think the best requirements are found in the Charge of the Goddess. They are: beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence. That pretty much sums it up to me. The problem is, how many of us youngsters do see that you can honestly say contain even half of those qualities?
Before anyone starts to think that I’m picking on young people, first let me say that I am one of those young people. I know that I don’t contain within myself all of these virtues. The point that I’m trying to make is that we should try to be more balanced and focused in striving toward these merits. I know that not everyone is called to elderhood but if we honestly take a closer look at this list and employ ourselves to the task, would it hurt us or empower us?
In these next few paragraphs I’m getting information from Thuri Calafia’s book Dedicant: A Witch’s Circle of Fire (published by Llewellyn) and throwing my own two cents in (what’s one more opinion) . Each of the eight qualities is given in pairs for a reason: balance. I agree with Thuri on this (being a Libra, to say that balance is important to me is an understatement) . The first pair is Beauty and Strength. To sum up Thuri’s thoughts on this dynamic duo: beauty without strength leads to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and low self-esteem.
Strength without beauty causes callousness and bitterness. But when the two are in balance, beauty and strength, they strike a harmonious chord and promote a sense of self-worth, confidence, and the positives of both. I agree with this. Isn’t it neat how two completely different ends of the spectrum complement each other rather than take away? Guess there is something to that old opposites attract thing.
The next twosome we’re given is Power and Compassion. We have all seen what too much ‘power’ can do to a person: inflated ego, selfishness, and in some extreme circumstances, cruelty. Compassion with the absence of a sense of power comes to be meekness and usually ends up with one being the proverbial doormat to the world. Once again though, when the two come together they flower into a person who is not only ethical, but someone who is able to help others without being too timid to say “no” when they are overtaxed. This makes sense to me; do you see why the whole balance thing is important?
Our next set is Honor and Humility. Thuri says that living honorably is being honest, living in a positive manner, and being reliable. But honor is not so nice when humility is not in the equation; it causes arrogance and pride. Humility that isn’t tempered with honor leads to someone who is ignorant to his or her self-worth; they will never be able to reach their full potential because they fear it. Honor fused with humility promotes a sense of pride and also wonder, an utterly charming combination.
Our final couple of virtues is mirth and reverence. Mirth, as delightful as it is, does have its negative attributes. When one has no sense of reverence they aren’t truly respectful of the goings on, making light of everything. While our celebrations are joyful expressions of the divine, however we may perceive it, they are not one big joke for us to sit around and laugh at. Alternately, when reverence decides to stand alone we may find that we have taken all of the joy out of our rites, leaving us only with stiffness and strictness. When mirth and reverence are melded into one, we are able to have a good time and still be respectful.
To try to bring all of these thoughts to a single point, we should all, young and old alike, try to bring these qualities within ourselves and integrate them into who we are, truly striving to balance them all. The oracle at the Temple of Delphi had two requirements before one could enter: “Know Thyself” and “Nothing In Excess”. These are two tenets that I believe we should all invoke. Kind of makes sense, huh?
What prompted me to write this is that I see far too many people, mainly newcomers who are of the younger generation who get into Wicca or Witchcraft or whatever you, dear reader, prefer to call your practice simply for either shock value or the magick and spells; and then there are those who do have a sincere heart but simply don’t realize that a core precept of our ways is not to change the world around you, that’s the Goddess’s territory, but to change and make you better. If we all make every effort to integrate these qualities into the us present and accounted for and shift into an ‘elder’ mindset, regardless of our age, we can find the fortitude and positivity that our community needs to continue to foster in order to remain progressive.
It worries me that not enough of us “new-generationers” (for lack of a better term) are going to be able to take up the reins when it comes our time. One of the faults (or blessings depending on how you look at it) of the human condition is that we inhabit a body that ages, withers, and dies. In forty years, who will nurture the next Circle Sanctuary? Who will write the next Drawing Down the Moon? Who will be there to show guidance to the next set of young ones? By taking action now, we will be ready when that time arrives.