Stepping Aside

A while back I did tarot reading at a psychic fair.

It was a three day event put on by a local group for the express purpose of raising money for that group to do “research,” whatever that happens to be. They used to do them twice a year but now only do one. The group has fallen victim to a great deal of internal drama and politics, and the fairs they put on have been declining in quality for several years.

One night, I joined some of the vendors at a nearby Denny’s. I listen to their complaints about the fair, and the organization, and decided that since no one was doing anything to address these complaints, I might want to get involved in the group and take some action myself. Perhaps my Scorpio nature might emerge and I might be inclined to take the group over.

So I took out a notebook and asked questions. What was wrong with the fair? What was right? What would the vendors like to see more of?

One of the vendors, who was the most vocal, mentioned that he’d like to see more efforts to promote the fair.

And  mentioned the internet and it all went to hell.

See, this vendor, who is a bookseller and a major conspiracy theorist, was offended at the notion that people involved in metaphysics would look for metaphysical things online. The notion that online advertising could benefit a psychic fair scandalized him, as did the implication that many younger people sought information on magic and metaphysics via online sources.

He told me very simply “You can’t do metaphysics without a direct human connection. You can’t do it through a computer. I don’t know what you think you’re doing on the internet, but it isn’t metaphysics.”

Naturally, as an occult/pagan blogger and someone who has performed long-distance healings and tarot readings via the internet, I took a bit of issue with that position. But the vendor in question was more interested in shouting me down than listening.

Yeah, I kind of blew up at him and stormed out of the restaurant.

See, this guy is an astrologer. And for the previous two hours he had been rambling about how worthless the younger generations were. And he cited astrological conditions as proof.

He said that generations X and Y and the millennials were lazy, and lacked independence and ingenuity, and wanted everything handed to them. That they weren’t entrepreneurs, that they didn’t take risks, and that they didn’t solve problems. And that when it came to the metaphysical and new age communities, the younger generations were sitting back and not taking action, and leaving it to the aging 60’s hippies to keep doing all the heavy lifting.

And I was more than happy to throw that all in his face while pointing out that I was literally making a plan to improve the community and address his complaints, and he shut me down because the ideas I came up with weren’t in line with the old way of doing things.

He wanted innovation and creativity and action, as long as it was the way he did things when he was younger. He wanted to relive the days when his generation changed the world, and complain that my generation wasn’t doing enough, and then tell me that what I wanted to do wouldn’t work because it wasn’t what he did 50 years ago.

Because when he fought the system, it was revolution and progress. But now it’s his system, and by Jove, who am I to question it?

As (neo)pagans we’re big on honoring our elders. On respecting them and what they have done for the community. And that is a good thing. I’ve had the honor of meeting Janet Farrar once and seeing her in a group ritual. It was a good thing.

But we haven’t really figured what qualifies someone as an “elder.” And we seem to have this motion that we should defer to them in all things.

And we don’t need to. We can honor their efforts and still move on.

And the more I look at the Pagan Community, the more reluctant they seem to be to let us.

We’re told to respect our elders. They don’t always respect us.

What authority does an elder have? Why are they still in charge? Shouldn’t they serve more as advisers than the current leaders? Shouldn’t they know when to step aside and allow new leaders to grow? Isn’t the whole point of the Crone archetype to decline gracefully instead of clinging desperately to power and old ideas?

And I’ll be entirely honest here: I’m getting tired of the Baby Boomers.

The 60’s are long gone. It’s over. Stop clinging to your imagined glory days and telling us that your long tired and failed policies and ideologies are the only way to do things. Especially while speaking out the other side of your mouths about how we won’t take responsibility or action or leadership.

Get out of the way and let us.

I recognize that this is coming across as bitter and maybe angry, especially since I opened with an anecdote of an argument. But we as a community need to be more accepting of the fact that thing and ideas change. We need to recognize that some structures that served us well in the 60s and 70s (like covens and magazines and conferences) may not work as well in today’s internet culture. We need to recognize that there are drastically new ideas on what magic is, and how to do it, and what worship is, and that demanding we stick to a culturally archaic model won’t cut it any more. We need to allow new ideas and new models of organization and new leaders to emerge.

And quite frankly, I’ve seen a lot of the older generation working too hard to keep things as they were, and too many of the younger generation dropping out from frustration.

We value your work. We value your contribution. Allow us to make ours.



4 responses to “Stepping Aside

  1. Pingback: Stepping Aside | Practical Pagans

  2. I hear you. Believe me. As one who stands on the cusp between the Boomers and X’ers, I’ve been bombarded with ‘old hippie’ cane-shaking nonsense . I have to remind them that the Summer of Love was both overrated and past my bedtime.

    As I have gotten older myself, I have had to fight what I call the Shell of Inertia that grows around me and keeps me from learning new things, from being adventurous, from experimenting and doing the stuff I easily did as a younger person. It’s not easy, and I have had to compromise between retiring from participating in various things and having the capacity to be coherent and viable. I have gracefully surrendered some of the things of youth, and have adjusted others to fit my older and (hopefully) wiser self.

    If one is young and foolish, they generally do not grow to be old and wise, unless they are exceptionally fortunate or have received a proper metaphysical boot to the head. (Drugs don’t count.)

    I think part of the generational problem is what I call ‘linearity’. People think of time as linear, and in some ways, they are right. But generationally, we’re all in the ‘now’- young, old, etc. We are experiencing the same events, albeit from different experience stacks. Stacked reality isn’t something that is considered when dealing with intergenerational conflict, but it is necessary to do so. We are all in the same place, but seeing the same thing from different experiential distances. And culturally, ‘older’ is ‘better’. But is it? Yeah, I used the USPS and phones to communicate in the mid-70s and 80s. Now I use the Internet. When the internet was new, porn and occult subjects were the most searched for. I had to use libraries, and am very glad that many questions can be answered at the click of a mouse. I love the ability to do that. My 20-year old self would squee with delight at the goodies I can play with today.

    Still, I also like community, and sometimes wish I had more than digital contacts to visit with. And, like you, I don’t want to see things get enmeshed in drama and moribund rules and see opportunities to meet face to face die off. That sounds like what your acquaintence is inadvertently doing. Sad, really. His attitude is alienating people. Who would want to hang out with anyone (young or old) who is that difficult?

    Not me. As a 21st Century Mage, I use the tools available to me -now-. That includes digital tools, streamlined work flows, deeply researched, historically accurate sources, and imagination. Doing these things keeps that shell of inertia from turning me into a crotchety old curmudgeon. I do have my cranky side, but I try to keep it in check. And I respect everyone who is worthy of respect- regardless of their time-in-body.

    I am relatively wise enough to not wish to immesh myself into another leadership role. Sadly, people today prefer to crouch over screens than to deal with the reality of face-to-face communities. Maybe that’s a ‘revolution’ I need to assist in fomenting: a return to in-person stuff. You do the same. Let the old coots mutter in their beards.

    • I’ll be honest, I was nervous about publishing this post. It smacks of resentment at the guy I argued with and the other groups that I’ve been involved with that withered and decayed due to the posturing and legacy-building of the old guard.

      Reading your comment has let me know I made the right decision.

  3. Pingback: Generation Next | Blacklight Metaphysics

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