Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Generations To Go

My HR Director just forwarded an e-mail to me, which he prefaced with, "Uh, yeah, I think you should see this." Apparently, someone I'd interviewed, and who'd ultimately declined the position offered to him, was still interested in working for us. However, he didn't like the required schedule, so he thoughtfully provided us with the days and times he would be working. Also, the starting salary was too low for his tastes, so we needed to bump it up by a couple of thousand. But after that, he can't wait to get started!

To sum up, he'll come in when he wants, not when we need him, and we'll pay him more for it.

Oh, and he misspelled "interview."


I know my co-workers wish I would shut the hell up about it, but they're also not anywhere near as battered by this mindset as I am. They only see it in our department, when we're trying to herd cats keep our employees motivated. I, on the other hand, leave the office, traipse out into NeoPaganism, and see it everywhere.

Leads to angst-management issues, that does.

Before I go any further, let me just say that there are a number of young Pagans who freakin' blow me away with their insight and abilities (Veles, Chiron and Annyikha being shining exemplars). But also swelling in ranks are the tenderfoots who seem hellbent on academically improving Paganism without having truly experienced it. And the thing is, Paganism is an experience over anything else: Regardless of beliefs or book-learnin', the only way to benefit from any permutation of Pagan spirituality is through active engagement.

This does not seem to be universally understood among the up-and-coming generation.

A bright young lass popped up on a British Traditional Wiccan listserv awhile back, introducing herself with enthusiasm. She'd been reading about Wicca for a few months, and while she thought it was nifty and all, she also had a laundry list of changes that needed to be implemented before she could participate. And to be clear here, she wasn't talking about developing her own personal practice: She expected BTW as a whole to reinvent itself in order to accommodate her. So, y'know, if BTW initiates could get on that for her, that'd be great.

As you may have guessed, her requests were not particularly well-received. And if it had been a one-time occurrence, maybe the other list members would've been able to keep their annoyance under control. But the sense of entitlement exhibited in this situation is spreading in waves, and those of us swimming against it are finding it harder and harder to keep our patience afloat.

In a recent article on Witchvox, a high school student described her disenchantment with the gender roles of Wicca. (And believe me, no one is more legitimately world-weary than a suburban, upper-class teenager.)  She doesn't like the God/Goddess "model" as it stands, so she decided that in her Wiccan practice, the Gods, while partnered, are androgynous and celibate. Which, hi, sorry, that ain't Wicca. I mean, if she wants to worship genderless deities who don't have teh icky het-sex, more power to her, but it's not Wicca. And frankly, there's a helluva lot more to Wicca--or any Pagan practice, traditional, ecclectic or otherwise--than "Metaphorical Boy Polarity Gets Metaphorical Girl Polarity."

Again, it's that lack of engagement. And it's a cop out. Because it's easier to rework someone else's perception of the Divine until it's nice and safe than it is to actively commune with the Gods in a ritualistic context to determine how They might choose to reveal Themselves. It's easier to demand that an entire tradition adjust itself to one's comfort level than it is to challenge oneself to grow as an occult practitioner.

It's easier to stay unemployed than it is to accept an entry-level position.

Apoplexy aside, I do have quite a bit of faith in the next generation, both Pagan and non. For instance, I just hired two spectacular new employees and promoted another for kicking much ass at her job; meanwhile, in the Realms of the Beyond, the Veleses, Chirons and Annyikhas of the world are doing amazing and inspiring things. But I don't want any of these guys to be exceptions: I want them to be examples. I want their peers to see what they've accomplished and think, "You know, with a little effort and focus, I could be an example, too."

Which, granted, is a tall order. But hey, I lived down the stereotype of "Generation X."  If my generation can get through that crap, I guarantee Millennials can do anything.


Red Delicious said...

I'm the wrong person for many duties, but I am absolutely the right person if you ever need to gripe about young people. I've been that person since I was 14.

Also, my word verification: oelests. Honestly, now.

Yewtree said...

I have been practising and engaging with Wicca now as an initiate since 1991, and I have some serious gripes about various aspects of it (the oath; secrecy in general; the binary view of gender, which extends beyond the divine to people; the lack of democracy; the lack of a mechanism for change to any of this; the general lack of interest in theology/theory and how it might relate to practice).

Yes, newbies who haven't deeply engaged with it can't just waltz in and demand change without really understanding the tradition; but the criticism of the binary gender model is valid. Where is the General Assembly where I can propose a motion that the oath be changed to something with less massive karmic reverberations (for instance)?

(See discussion a while back on Quaker Pagan Reflections about membership vs identity, which could inform part of a discussion about this.)

Also, traditions should be living, growing and changing in response to changes in society - and Wicca is in many respects stuck in the 1970s or 1980s.

Thanks for starting a discussion on this.

Evn said...

I get kind of stuck with the use of the term "model" when discussing divinities, but that's only because I'm such a polytheist. I don't feel I'm worshipping the God and Goddess when practicing Wicca: I'm venerating a God and Goddess, and I'm celebrating Their relationship. (I also suspect They're polyamorous, but that's a post for another day.)

Personally, I view Wiccan ritual as a framework, with lots of room for flexibility and experimentation. And over in the States, we've got at least seven different trads that fall under the BTW heading, which if anything demonstrates that a given praxis can evolve or adapt. But in terms of proposing change, I guess my big question is this: How much change could occur before Wicca stops being Wicca?

Brother Christopher said...

hmmm, well this person desiring employment is completely moron, that's very clear. He also has a very large ego, which is obviously not doing him any favors.

The girl from the list serve is also dumb and has clearly been spoonfed her whole life, probably by parents who cowtowed to her every whim. So, that she feels entitled to demand changes to suit her, makes sense in that way. I hope the electronic backhand that corrected her for her presumption knocked some sense into her.

The witchvox article seems written by a young person who is dealing with issues of her identity and sexuality. I have nothing but compassion for her. While I suppose Wicca (in the Gardnerian Sense) might definitely have a strong focus on heterosexual behavior, in the ancient world, there was plenty of gender variance among dieties and thier behavior, and quite alot of it was coming from worshippers of the Great Goddess, such as Cybele. But then, it was those ideas that caused all of those initial factions in various forms of American Wicca, so people could explore the sacred aspects of thier identity that wasn't necessarily cut and dry. It just seems sad that these people are seemingly oblivious to that. Besides, if they want greater fluidity, go join Feri or something. Sheesh!

word verification - gratoc

Evn said...

Speaking of Cybele, I've been meaning to show this to you.

temperance said...

Oh, honey. If we were in the same time zone, we would SO sit down to a drink-and-kvetch session. If it weren't for the sane voices crying out here on the internets, and the handful of fantastic folks I've been lucky enough to meet and circle with over the years, I'd have stomped off in disgust ages ago (er, actually done so, instead of just threaten to do so in a blog rant).

(Oh, and today's word to verify: shive.)

Veles said...

The Craft needs an enema.

w/v: redsbilo

Pitch313 said...

Hmmm...In my experience, deities, guardians, spirits present themselves complete with already established genders and sexual orientations. Not each of them by all means heterosexual.

It never occurred to me that these qualities of deities, guardians, spirits, were related to me and my notions of what deities were supposed to be like. How they were was, I figured, a matter for me to adapt to through practice and self transformation.

Jarred said...

Okay, I'm now going to have to go back through the A&J archives to find that discussion, because I can only imagine just how lively and entertainment it got. I'm imagining picturing various people's comments.

Llwyn said...

Well, we talked about this last night, and I figured I'd toss out my take after some rumination...
I -personally- find certain surface aspects of BTW distasteful. Binary gender, etc. Again, something we've discussed. However, rather than say "But I wanna be a Wiccan, you guys should change your obviously wrongheaded practices so I can join" I said "Hm...I like -these- idea, just not those, so I'll run with that and just not call myself Wiccan." Now...I don't really see what's so hard about that. If you don't like the tenets of a religious practice, don't be that religion. DUH. At no point has anyone (with half a brain) said that in order to be a Witch and to practice Magick that you have to be a Wiccan. I've led a very magickally fulfilling life for the last ten years without being part of any tradition. Only just recently have I been interested in initiatory mystery traditions. At your suggestion, I also took a look at Veles' post regarding this, have to say that our discussion last night dovetailed rather nicely into this. He commented about people wanting androgynous deities out of a PC mindset of "gender is meaningless"... I have to say, I don't understand that idea at all. Gender, meaningless? Tell that to my penis. I'm a dude. I like other dudes. I don't want someone sexless in my romantic life, and that carries over into my religious life as well. The ability to magically assume the opposite gender role/identity is one thing, but that very power comes from the firm identification WITH the original, yes? Straddling the fence is only effective if one foot is on male soil and one on female. At least, that's the way I see it.
I think this idea of "Gods are the mold from which we were cast" is some demented throwback to Christian background. I don't tell my straight friends not to have sex just because vaginas gross me out - conversely, I don't WATCH it, either. I don't think I'm cast from the mold of any god or goddess. Shaped by their hands, perhaps.