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In this section please feel free to post various quotes and articles of Elders who have gone before us. Things they have said to inspire your spirit, enlighten your mind, and feed your soul.  It does not matter what path these wise mystics come from so as long as they had a spiritual path and can contribute to those here.  Those Elders who have undergone their Saging or Corning  are welcome to post their own advice or stories here, they have earned it.  This is the room only for the wisdom of Crones and Sages, not third degrees. This room honors these elders of all religions who speak the truth and wisdom of their peoples cultures.  Deepest honer to ancestors past, may their words live on clearly and truly. Hail the great Crones, hail the great Sages of old! Thank you all for your respect and blessed be.





Look into my face. Do you see my wrinkles? Do you see my years? Then you do not see me.

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WISDOM – THE GIFT FROM THE CRONE By Angie Skelhorn
Posted September 18th, 2008 by Anonymous

As the Crone, a woman has reached a milestone in her life. With age comes knowledge and knowledge is power. At this stage in life the Crone has rid her self of earthly fears and inhibitions. The wise woman has the ability to view the big picture and make things happen for the better. Others should look up to the Crone in their lives for wisdom.

Wisdom is a gift given over time. Wisdom is having or showing good judgments. It's about sensible, sound, prudent, decisions and aware of what's going on around them. Knowledge is something learned and kept in the mind. It is understanding gained by actual experience and a clear perception of the truth. Knowledge is being informed and wisdom is accumulated learning.

A Crone's wisdom has been earned. She realized through knowledge, that what is of concern today may not be as important tomorrow.

From maiden to mother we test to know we fit into the outside world. The path of the soul's development involves seeking and seeing the big picture and perceiving the interconnectedness to all.

Most people at some point in their life want to discover for themselves how it all fits together. The Crone, being in the winter of their life, a dramatic natural change can offer compassion in a cruel world based on individual perspective of the life experienced. When there is struggle between right and wrong, a Crone giving out sound, sensible advice can be found in family, friends, even strangers. A Crone's role in our lives is not to interfere. A Crone will take an interest in your development if asked. First, you must be a willing student.

A Crone would counsel to perform in the world with the intent to do good. The wise woman would try to instill their skills to further growth amidst the controversy.

Take a minute and talk to the Crone women in your life about the dreams you wish to accomplish. They may have valuable wisdom to share. I truly appreciate the two Crones who have taken an interest in my development. Joan Kennedy, a well known psychic from my home town and my Aunt Donna Jennsen, both whom saw a willing student, with the intent to improve herself in a positive manner.

Meeting Joan was a major turning point in my life. During many Tarot readings the wise woman removed limitations I had place upon myself. The Crone encouraged me to become a unique individual, who is true to self. Joan was crucial to my personal growth. Love was given, respect was earned, trust was acquired and courtesy was given. The Crone slowly taught me to live in harmony not only in my life but with my surrounding environment. I learned extreme behavior must be constantly balanced. Joan recognized my creative side. She explained that I had natural talent that would be nurtured. The wise woman encouraged me to write my unique story. What I had to say would heal me and inspire others. The Crone guided me in the right direction. I needed to be patient. There is no magical time limit. Live life in a good way. Karma returns and dreams come true.

My Aunt Donna, experience gave me everything I needed to succeed. The wise woman helped me take my ideas to the next place The Crone, saw promise in an aspiring writer. Her valuable knowledge as a secretary educated me in protocol. The wise woman gave of her time to work with me to polish my written work to make the material marketable. Her only reward was her efforts had not been wasted.

I was faced with challenges, but remained optimistic about my situation. The Crones were both inspiring and indispensable. The two wise women saw potential and were willing to share their years of knowledge.

Crones have the power to free one from false illusions, and remove limitations upon self. They guide and encourage in the right direction. The wise women's knowledge will give everything needed to succeed during personal change.

During a major turning point, when faced with challenges, consult the Crone in your life. The Crone has valuable knowledge to share. Follow their support and advice. With much personal effort you may become the giving and accepting person you want to be, surrounded by all the good in life.


Sages, Crones, and Other Wise Ones

June 16, 2008 by Rachelle Mee-Chapman

In my heart,I hold a memory. My Grandmother is in her early 80's. We have come across the state to see her, picking her up at her retirement center and driving her across the street for lunch at Applebees. She has ordered steak, and a margarita, and white wine. It is 11:30am.

Grandma's hands are gnarled by arthritis, so I help her cut her steak. She weighs about 99 pounds these days, but she eats with relish. "Ummm.This steak is so good. Ummmm! Can I try your shrimp? "

After the margarita and before I can surreptitiously chug most of her wine, Grandma picks up her glass and leans over to me conspiratorially.

"I got a tattoo, you know."

This happened a year ago. Grandma, at 82, had been suddenly longing for a tattoo, and talked about it incessantly. Finally, my Aunt, in an uncharacteristic burst of caregiver frustration said, "Fine, Mom! Go get a tattoo!" My rebel cousin, Eric, was there at the time, and he and Grandma decided to take that as a go-ahead. The next week Eric and Grandma went on a field trip. When they got back, both cuz' and granny had new ink.

"It's an angel on my shoulder." she says. Here, Grandma paused for a dramatic swig of the house white, "I have my beliefs you know!"

Indeed I do know, though I've had to listen between the lines to find them. Grandma, always the spunky edge dweller, never towed the protestant line. Instead she knit together a spirituality that combined a little of big of Blackfoot folklore; a strong pull towards the mountains; and some affection for Jesus on the side. This angel -- a small smear of blue-green ink on the soft wrinkled skin of her shoulder blade--this is her guide now, helping her through the drawn out years of her 'final days', and into the unknown and unknowable hereafter.

I take heart in my Grandma's tattoo; in her love for the hillside she re-planted with pines after the fire; in her sudden insistence that all the great-grandchildren have leather-clad Bibles with their names embossed in gold. She has created her own path--godward, onward. In these her final days, when stories spill out of her like down from a pillow, she has helped me to see that my gender, my era, and my distracted spiritual self can help me find the way to my most soul-felt home.

A Little Humor from a "Wise Woman"


Andy Rooney says:


As I grow in age, I value
older women most of all.
Here are just a few reasons why.

An older woman will never wake you in the
middle of the night to ask,
"What are you thinking?" She doesn't care
what you think.

An older woman knows herself well enough to be
assured in who she is, what she is, what she
wants and from whom. Few women past the age
of 50 give a damn what you might think about her.

An older single woman usually has had her fill
of "meaningful relationships" and "commitment."
The last thing she needs in her life is
another dopey, clingy, whiny, dependent lover!

Older women are dignified. They seldom have a
screaming match with you at the opera or in
the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course,
if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you
if they think they can get away with it.

Most older women cook well. They care about
cleanliness and are generous with praise, often undeserved.

An older woman has the self-assurance to introduce
you to her women friends. A younger woman with
a man will often ignore even her best friend
because she doesn't trust the guy with other women.
Older women couldn't care less.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to
confess your sins to an older woman. They always know.

An older woman looks good wearing bright red lipstick.
This is not true of younger women or drag queens.
Once you get past a wrinkle or two, an older
woman is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
Her libido's stronger, her fear of pregnancy gone.
Her experience of lovemaking is honed and reciprocal
and she's lived long enough to know how to please
a man in ways her daughter could never dream of.
(Young men, you have something to look forward to.)

Older women are forthright and honest.
They'll tell you right off you are a jerk if you
are acting like one.

Yes, we praise older women for a multitude of
reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal.
For every stunning, smart, well-coifed babe of 70
there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants
making a fool of himself with some 22 year
old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize for all of us.

That men are genetically inferior is no secret.
Count your blessings that we die off at a far
younger age, leaving you the best part of your
lives to appreciate the exquisite woman you've
become, without the distraction of some demanding
old man clinging and whining his way into your serenity."

The Crone: Wisdom

Posted by witchery in crone, goddess, shrine.

The Crone: Wisdom

The old hag at her cauldron is perhaps the most enduring image of the Wise Woman and a remnant of a time when women were the healers of their communities. They were shamans, witches, midwifes, medicine women, and priestesses of the Goddess.

The Crone is a symbol of inherent wisdom that comes from experience. She has lived through love, sorrow, hope, and fear, coming out of it all a wise and confident spirit. Through these experiences she has learned the secrets of life and death and of the mysteries beyond this world. She has tasted death itself and watched those she loved make the journey before her. It is through her mourning that she faces death, grows to understand it, and becomes the gatekeeper between worlds.

The wisdom of the Crone comes only after learning the lessons of non-judgment and compassion. Through these lessons the Crone becomes the balancing scales between light and dark and between life and death. She is selfless, yet she loves herself. She is kind, yet she knows when to be harsh. She is free, she is compassionate, and she is wise. Only the Crone can complete the journey to the Otherworld and birth the Child of Completion.

The Crone is full of power. Her body is no longer fertile, but her mind is sharp and able. She no longer bleeds, keeping her power within her and owning it without shame or fear.

She is often seen as a healer, working in tune with Nature to cure ailments and guide those ready to leave or enter this world. She is the elder priestess of the Goddess; the Grandmother whose words are few yet priceless in their wisdom.

In myth the Crone is often seen as something to be feared. She is a representation of death and its mysteries. Things that are unknown are always feared, thus we work to know the Crone; to understand her wisdom and beckon her to impart the mysteries upon us. We surrender our fear and ignorance to the Crone and let her strike these overpowering influences down as a stalk of wheat with her shining sickle.

As with all aspects of the Goddess the Crone is not only found within the aged. She is in all beings at all times. She can be present in men and women, young and old; though age may very likely come before her lessons are fully realized.

The Crone is a cleansing force that sweeps through the world carrying away those whose time to live is done to make room for new life. She is associated with the element of water and the direction of west – land of the dead. She is the necessary force of destruction like the force of a wave on the shore; ripping away the beach and returning it to the sea from which it came.

She is the reaper, the comforter, the mysterious old woman who possesses the knowledge of all worlds. The next time a thunderstorm passes overhead take a moment to listen to the voice of the Crone. Feel the tears of joy and mourning fall upon your head and take the first steps to understand her mysteries.

Affirmation of the Crone

Use this affirmation daily to seek the wisdom of the Crone within yourself.

Ancient Crone,
You are the source of eternal knowledge
That leads to the completion of the spirit.
Let my soul seek your lessons,
And strive to understand your mysteries.
I will not fear the darkness
For I know you wait for me within it.

A Journey with the Crone

Prepare yourself as you have for the other journeys. Light incense or play soft music if this is helpful to you.

You begin, as always, on that familiar path. Look up through the now thinning branches of the trees into the night sky. The waning moon hangs overhead, it’s sickle shape bright and surrounded by millions of stars.

It is hard to see anything along the path. Shadows take up much of the spaces where flowers once grew. If you look hard enough you may see a healing plant or two tucked in along the path. Take your time and explore a little. You are not afraid.

Animals of the night move in the forest around you. An owl can be heard in the distance asking her eternal question. She wants to know who you are. Can you tell her or are you unsure of yourself?

As you walk up to the gate you see that it is now covered with dying vines, dried up and withered. Leave the baggage of your mundane life on the ground and push it open to approach the cottage.

You can see smoke rippling out of the chimney and the windows are glowing with a welcoming light. Walk to the door and enter.

Bent over the hearth is an old woman wearing a dark cloak with the hood pulled up over her grey hair. When you enter she turns to you, pays you half a glance, and silently gestures for you to sit by the fire. She has been expecting you.

You watch her work in her cauldron, grabbing bundles of herbs from the mantle to add to her brew. After a moment she takes a seat beside you and pulls her hood down to expose her time weathered face.

She turns to you and in her hand is a cup of the brew she has been tending. She offers it to you and says:

“I am the grandmother of mysteries. You have come to this place seeking wisdom. Drink from this cup and learn all that you need to know at this time.”

You take the hot cup and drink deeply from it. What knowledge comes into your mind as the bittersweet liquid passes over your lips? Is anything foggy? Are there things that are not clear to you still?

Speak with the Crone for a time. Spend time with her and learn from her timeless experience.

When you are ready to leave embrace your grandmother and return to the gate. Take only what you need before returning down the path and allowing your consciousness to surface slowly.


Embracing the Crone Ritual


You will need a dark or silver colored bowl of water, your favorite incense, and a candle. Get everything prepared and find a quiet place to sit alone.

This ritual should be done as closely as possible to the last quarter—the waning moon.

Invite the Crone in your own words. You may choose to use a specific Crone Goddess if you like or simply call on the Crone aspect of the Great Goddess.

Now might be a good time to use the Crone meditation you read earlier. Either way, quiet your mind and ground yourself in whatever way works for you.

Recite the following words:

Ancient Crone, allow me to find wisdom within myself and to always remember that your lessons are within me waiting to be revealed. May I strive to understand all that is light and dark without fear.

The bowl of water represents a portal between this world and the Otherworld. When you are ready, relax the focus of your eyes and gaze into the surface of the water. Stare at it as long as you can allowing yourself to “daydream” into the water.

Make note of shapes, letters, images, etc. that you see on the surface of the water. Later you may want to do some research and soul searching to find out what these things mean.

When you are done scrying thank the Crone in your own words and drip some of the water over your hands and face. Pay special attention to the area of your third eye—on your forehead between your eyes.

The ritual is ended here. You may choose to go outside and gaze at the waning moon and be with the Crone.

Prayers and Chants of the Crone

I.
Ancient Crone,
Cleansing waters of wisdom,
I embrace you within myself,
And dance with you ‘round the well.
Let me be a seeker of knowledge,
And courageous in the face of darkness.
My heart sings your melody
And my spirit is forever whole.

II.
Cerridwyn of the Cauldron,
Timeless Grandmother,
Shape shifting Queen of mysteries,
Let your wisdom surround me and be within me.
Reap away my fear and ignorance.
Lady Crone, bless me with your gifts.

III.
Lady of Autumn,
Fading blossom of Samhain,
I am your heart’s drummer
And forever your student.

IV.
The Crone awakens within me.
Now and always I seek wisdom.

“Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
Mahatma Gandhi quotes (Indian Philosopher, internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest, 1869-1948)

“Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”

Dorothy L. Sayers quotes (British Writer, 1893-1957)

Pagan Quotes on the Goddess, Earth, and Magic
Wisdom and Words to Live By

Apr 12, 2009 Patricia Deneen

Pagan authors have produced a wealth of information to draw inspiration from on wide-ranging topics including the Divine Feminine, magic, and respect for the earth.

Modern Paganism has inspired and been inspired by authors who have produced memorable words to live by. Below are quotes by just a few of the many writers whose words embody different Pagan experiences of spirituality.
Goddess as the Divine Feminine:

One of the foundational principles for many Pagans is that there is a Divine Feminine that has been neglected in favor of the Divine Masculine. To bring these two into balance is paramount in presenting a complete picture of the true nature of the universe.

"A religion without a goddess is halfway to atheism." - Dion Fortune

"Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions." - Starhawk

"For I am the soul of nature the gives life to the universe." - Starhawk in her rendition of The Charge of the Goddess

"The Goddess is Alive. Magic is afoot." - Z. Budapest
Honoring the Earth:

Pagans honor the earth not just as a place to call home but as a living, breathing entity. Known also as Mother Earth, Pagans believe the planet deserves the respect that any good mother should receive.

"This planet is our home. Our life and hers are interdependent." - Doreen Valiente

"When we let go of believing we are superior, we open ourselves to the experience of living in the community of Nature." - Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm

"Religion is about creation, and for that reason religion should be about the earth." - Laurie Cabot
The Art of Magic:

Magic is greatly written about and often misunderstood. While not all Pagans practice it, magic is deep at the heart of spirituality for others.

"Make no mistake about it, magick is an art form, and every true magician is an artist." - Lon Milo DuQuette

"You see, no matter how important everything else is to magical success, belief is the most crucial." Dorothy Morrison

"No one can give you magickal powers. You have to earn them. There is only one way to do this. Practice, practice, practice!" - Donald Michael Kraig

"Magic is not always serious or solemn. It is a joyous celebration and merging with the life-force." - Scott Cunningham

One of the most famous quotes about magic comes from Magick in Theory and Practice by the influential occult personality and author Aleister Crowley: "Magick is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will."

For more quotes by Crowley and to learn about this controversial figure, visit Aleister Crowley Quotes on Magic and Will.

All of these authors come from different backgrounds. However, they all tap into ancient and new concepts to express the modern Pagan's thirst for knowledge and experience of divinity.


Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names.

Proverb

Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.

A. Sachs

The fear of death is more to be dreaded than death itself.

Publilius Syrus

Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure in life.

Charles Frohman

Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life.

Bertolt Brecht

There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.

George Santayana

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.

Isaac Asimov

As men, we are all equal in the presence of death.

Publilius Syrus

No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or afer death.

Plato

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

Italian Proverb

Our Pagan Elders: Who They Are and Why
interview
by Melanie Fire Salamander

Many pagans consider Samhain a time to honor ancestors. This Samhain, Widdershins looks at the community's ancestors, our pagan elders, a topic connected with the paper since its birth.

In early 1995, the year Widdershins was born, the topic "Where are the elders?" was the subject of an editorial in a Seattle pagan paper, The Northwest Magickal Times. Somewhat querulously, the editorial asked for community leadership, hinting that certain elders were abusing their power. A meeting of the pagan community was subsequently held about the topic. Or I should say a meeting of the pagan communities was held -- one point discussed was that Seattle and its environs hold many different pagan communities.

The event drew out people who could be considered Seattle-area elders, so in a way it answered the editorial's question. A lot of riled pagans had their say on elders and their place in community. More than anything else, the editor of The Northwest Magickal Times succeeded in making a lot of people angry.

She also succeeded in starting a rival paper. Around the time of the meeting, she wrote in an editorial that if anyone thought they could put out a better paper, they should. Sylvana Silverwitch, a few other volunteers and I picked up the gauntlet at Beltaine 1995, and Widdershins began.

In the 1995 Mabon, Samhain and Yule issues, Widdershins took up this hot topic of elders, though not in the same fashion. Writing under my then-given name Miriam Harline, I interviewed certain area elders: Pete Pathfinder, then pastor of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC); Haragano, a leading high priestess of the Kingstone Tradition; Blacksun and Shadowhawk, of StarWyrm Coven (Blacksun also later worked with the ATC); and Changing Woman, then archdruid of the Greenwood Grove. In Imbolc 1996, Sylvana and I interviewed Leon Reed, another Seattle-area elder, later a founder of the Bards of Caer Pugetia. Those interviews, online at www.widdershins.org, contain these elders' still-engaging thoughts on the Seattle-area pagan past, present and future.

Looking at the topic of elders again after eight years, we sent a different list of questions to a different set of elders:

* Dana Corby, a founder and spokesperson for TERRA (Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association).
* Moondancer, a leader in Covenant of the Goddess (COG), Pacific Northwest Local Council, the local branch of the oldest national Wiccan organization.
* James Nobles, a U.S. Grand Lodge Officer of Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), Secretary of the U.S. Grand Tribunal (the OTO's judicial branch) and a VII*.
* Stephanie Raymond and Robert Reeder, aka Bobby, founders of OLOTEAS (Our Lady of the Earth and Sky), a nondenominational pagan church.
* Zanoni Silverknife, a co-founder of the Georgian and StarBornSothis traditions.

Our Pagan Elders: Who They Are and Why
interview
by Melanie Fire Salamander
Most have worked with other groups as well as those listed.

Widdershins: When did you first enter the Seattle-Tacoma pagan/magickal community? How has the community changed since you first entered it?

Dana Corby: I'd hesitate to use the term "Seattle-Tacoma pagan community"; what I see is two communities that have good relations.

I came to Seattle in 1985 from a six-year stint in Idaho (Southern California before that). At that time, the community pretty much revolved around Haragano and Leon, but shortly thereafter things started changing -- lots more new people, few of the Brit trad, for one thing, so the community diversified fast. Community Full Moons led to a lot of other activities including the founding of ERCA -- the Earth Religions Cultural Association -- which put on Sabbats and Full Moons, mostly at the Longhouse, for a couple of years.

My husband and I came to Tacoma in 1997 against the advice of all our friends in Seattle -- we were told there were no witches down here. Every witch or pagan we met here told us they and perhaps a small group of friends were the only ones here; it soon became obvious that there were lots of us. [People] just didn't have any way to find each other.

Moondancer: Our family moved to the Puget Sound area in June 1987. [The community has] become a lot more splintered and isolated, in many ways. There are fewer people actually talking with each other from different segments of the overall community, outside of their own groups/organizations.

Zanoni Silverknife: 1988 -- my daughter and I started attending NRDNA Druid Greenwood Grove and Full Moons in Bellevue. The community has gone through metamorphoses many times since then. There are several venues within the greater community that give a person options to participate on different levels.

Robert Reeder: [I entered the community] 14 years ago today, more or less. It was Columbus Day weekend of 1989.

Our Pagan Elders: Who They Are and Why
interview
by Melanie Fire Salamander
In some sense, our own little corner of the community looks very much like it did then, because OLOTEAS is now in the same venue that ERCA was back in the late '80s and early '90s. There are differences, though. For starters, there does not seem to be anything like the amount of bickering that used to happen between different groups. I imagine that this is largely the result of the total number of local pagans now being rather greater than it was then, so each group is able to be more comfortable in their own autonomy, and they also have less time to trouble themselves about what other groups are doing. This is good. It allows for each group to grow and evolve by their own lights, and as the Lady dictates.

Another change that seems to be happening is a drift away from the "coven" model. Fourteen years ago, the larger groups in this area tended to be confederations of covens; that doesn't seem to be the case as much these days. Traditional Wicca generally seems to play a much less preeminent role in paganism today than it did then. There was also some sense then of paganism being a "religion of clergy"; today, it seems much more of a "religion of individuals who have very little use for clergy." This is also good, in my estimation.

We have become larger, more visible, more diverse, in some sense more mature as a community and definitely more critical and scientific in our thinking. We're growing up. But not yet growing old, I think.

Stephanie Raymond: I've always lived here, but when I made up my mind to look for some pagans here it was harder than I thought it would be to find them! After reading about them in Drawing Down the Moon, I first made contact with the ATC in the autumn of 1989. They sent me a bunch of information, including the old "LA-PAGAN" phone event list, from which I heard about a free class on magickal herbalism being taught near me the following January. That class was run by one of the ERCA folks. That's where I first met Bobby.

It seems to me [the community is] much larger, much easier to find, and with a lot more and varied activities than when I entered. I agree with Bobby on a lot of his points on this. I think as a community we have come to value the contributions of our youngest and oldest members more than was true when I entered, and that's a good thing.

James Nobles: I first moved up here in 1994. I see a lot more serious and professional practitioners [now].

W: What is your definition of an elder? What does an elder do?

JN: Hmmm, that's a tough one. An elder is a big tree with... oh wait, that's an alder.

Seriously, an elder is someone who is mature (and not necessarily old) and enjoys working with individuals to help them on their path.

M: I define an elder as a person of authority (in their area of concern/expertise), who is entitled to respect for that expertise and experience. Among tribal cultures, the elder, or elders, are the highest authority in the tribe. However, in our magickal community, we are not a single tribe, but at best a loose confederation of tribes, each with its own elders. Elders should advise and lead by example, not command (as if anyone could realistically command the magickal community!). They also need to be active within the community.

DC: I make a distinction between a coven elder, who is simply a senior member who is in service to the coven, trad and Craft; a tradition elder, who is the upline for several covens and is a source not only of learning but of authenticity; and a community elder who is a teacher, an organizer, an activist and in many ways a states(wo)man. I "had words" with a young man in TERRA not long ago who made the remark that what was important to him about an elder was not what they knew but what they did, and I rebutted that that was what elders do -- know things and share them.

RR: I would consider an "elder" to be someone who has celebrated the Saturn return of their original third-degree initiation, in the Wiccan or equivalent sense of that. So if someone were "red roped" at the age of 30, they could be considered an "elder" at the age of 59 or 60, assuming that the individual had been actively teaching and studying during that time and not just sitting on their laurels admiring the lovely red rope around their waist. And by that definition, an elder should "do" pretty much whatever they please. If that means retirement, more power to them; they've earned it.

SR: My definition of an elder is someone who has reached the point in their lives of being a crone or sage. It has much less to do with the idea of being a community activist or attaining a particular level of magickal training, and much more to do with fulfilling the traditional role of elderhood -- keeper and teacher of old knowledge, one who is able to offer the perspective of the years, etc. -- that exists in traditional communities. If I may make a huge generalization, I think modern America has lost the type of community structure in which elders are valued, or even in which elders exist. It is very easy for us to spend most of our time around only the generation of our birth, and apart from others. I think neo-paganism has grown in recent years as a part of the neo-tribalism that anthropologists and sociologists have observed happening to compensate for the very transient, socially isolated overculture that exists in America today.

Back to topic: Elders know things and can look at things with a long eye of experience in ways that younger people are not always able to do. Elders share their knowledge and experience where they think it will help. Which is not to say that younger folks can't do that, too; goodness knows everyone in the community shares knowledge and experience where they think it will help! But in the case of crones and sages, I think that knowledge and experience has a depth and comes from a place of more consideration than perhaps it does from younger folks. When I think of it, there is little that an elder does that someone younger can't do -- impart knowledge, lend assistance, be a mentor or role model -- but to me there is somehow more of this from an elder than from someone younger.

Maybe I can illustrate by example: If I have a question about gardening, if I ask a gardener friend I know who is my age, she will likely recommend that I come over to see how she does it, check out this Web site and maybe call these people from the university cooperative extension master gardener's program. If I ask my grandmother, she will think about it for a while, then tell me what she did, what her mother did, and what her grandmother did. Either way, I'm getting information that will help me, but to me the quality of information I get from my elders is a bit richer and more personal. It feels like a gift, so I will hold onto it and remember it as something precious, instead of just bookmarking a Web site in case I need to go back to it. My elders won't always be there to answer my questions, so what they give me now becomes much more valuable to me.

ZS: The short list: Be a mature adult in all aspects of your life.

The much longer list, copyright Zanoni Silverknife:

1. Balance: Keep perspective in trying situations. Maintain a healthy balance between personal, professional and magickal lives. Take pride in your life, home, appearance, Craft, yet practice humility. A true priest or priestess is the servant of their people, not the other way around. Maintain your magickal integrity.
2. Ethics. Adherence to ethics: The rules apply to everyone in equal measure. Behave as a rational adult, knowing that your actions create waves that affect many people. No flying into a rage, especially at public events. Examine the facts (not hearsay) thoroughly before you make a decision that can cause enormous harm to others, nor shield those who need a virtual kick in the pants. Do not bow to public opinion. Like as not, they heard incorrectly or misinterpreted it, anyway. Maintain a good work ethic and fulfill financial obligations as best you can.
3. Courage: Stand by your convictions. Know when to draw the line. Know when to speak and when to hold your tongue. Never let another make up your mind for you. Communicate clearly, firmly, politely. Accept what is happening as a lesson to be studied and learned. Learn to do what is necessary, and when it is necessary.
4. Diplomacy: Exhibit intelligent diplomacy. Never snub anyone. If you disagree with their stance on issues, or have a problem with their behavior -- personal, professional or magickal -- avoid them as much as possible. Flexibility is a must. Graciousness never hurts, and no matter the circumstance, you will walk away knowing that you behaved in an impeccable manner. This does much to elicit respect from others, as well.
5. Teach thoroughly. Do not leave gaps in a person's training. Know when to pass a person on to someone who can train him or her, if you are not capable of filling his or her needs. Let go of ego; a large following is only quantity... quality is to be desired. Do not expect all students to perform up to the standards of your star pupil. Do not compare them to another. Everyone is as tall as they are tall, and no more. No one can measure up to another's yardstick. Do not expect them all to become real hot third degrees. Everyone has his or her own needs and level of development.
6. Awareness: Provide public awareness service. Write an article or speak literately to a school or civil group. If you are not a good writer or speaker, do not attempt this as it will cause you embarrassment and not show the Craft in a favorable light. Show up at pagan community events when possible, especially when a new group is forming and needs support, or when visiting dignitaries are speaking. Quietly be present. Those who are sincerely seeking elders will find you that way.
7. Humor: Maintain a good sense of humor. Life can throw you the curve ball now and again, and in the tempest of what passes for community amongst pagans, it can corkscrew. Ride out the storms of gossip, innuendo and character assassination. Be aware of what is going on in the community, but do not involve yourself with the infighting and gossip, as this only serves to perpetuate the problem.
8. Conduct: Your life should be an example to others. We are all human, subject to making mistakes. None of us is above another; no one of us is better than another. We are all different. We are all on different levels of spiritual development. Strive to improve yourself. Give compassion to those who are struggling. Do not condemn or condone. Exercise nonjudgmental behavior. We are all held accountable for our actions or lack of them. The Threefold Law works whether or not you believe in it, as do karma and magick. Know your limitations; accept them in good grace.
9. Self: Absolutely necessary -- take care of yourself. In every aspect of your life, use good sense and discretion. Relax more often; the world will not crumble if you step back from teaching to nurture your own needs. Take the time to ensure your personal health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual). Seek counseling should you need it. Make sure there is time with and for your family. Do not define your life by only one aspect of it.
10. Creativity: Inspired rituals, teaching and counseling are far more important than doing it by the book. Some of the best and most powerful rituals I have done or attended happened because Spirit-flow was allowed to lead the sequence of events. Maintaining a good sense of when to go by the ritual script and when to allow inspired creativity is of utmost importance.
11. Continue to advance your learning through reading, networking, practicing your meditation and divination. Keep your ritual instincts sharp.
12. Improve your abilities to deal with others by taking classes offered in counseling, group dynamics and so forth.
13. Probably the most important: Use words carefully, maintaining a positive manner... give thanks daily for your life, for your Craft.

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