I was recently asked to contribute to a project for Denofgeek.com relating to teenagers and teaching them in the magickal arts. As an educator in both the mundane and the spiritual, this topic has been something I have written and talked about for years. I just never really touched it on my blog, however I thought it would make a perfect follow up to my last post and all the hype over the Sephora bullshit.
One of the concerns that a few had with this “Witch Kit” was that it was easily accessible to teens and that it wasn’t teaching them anything. Despite, how much I could write on that whole topic, the kit is a dead issue.
When I was about eleven years old I began my training in the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca and at thirteen years old I found myself standing naked among my coven mates being initiated. Although, this experience was uncomfortable as a teenager, it allowed me to understand its meaning of birthing into a new way of life. Although, I have walked on from my initial Wiccan teachings, I am grateful of their beginnings and having the privilege of being raised in a magickal environment. However, many children and teenagers do not have this same luxury. Even the ones that do, many of their teachers are their parents or a family member, who only follow one tradition. This was the case with me as well. It was my Aunt who had helped me begin my magickal journey. Unfortunately, I was forced to learn only her tradition and was given no room to explore in fear of being removed from the coven. It was this experience that later resulted in writing “The Little Witch’s Curriculum” (Hopefully to be released in 2019). Although, the book is mainly geared toward the parents of young children, the concepts would also work for teenagers. This is all fine and dandy for those already in a magickal household. But, what about those who are not, where do they go to learn, who do they turn to?
To the surprise of many there is no “Hogwarts” or “Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies”. So, where is a budding teenage Witch go to learn? The truth is “NO WHERE!” well not in the sense of a traditional school or place of learning, Sadly, many teens have to turn to books, and dare I say it …the Internet. Many of the Witchcraft and magickal traditions only offer courses and training that is geared toward adults and in some cases young adults, leaving teens to the hopes that there is a local metaphysical store or center in their neighborhood that they can sneak too now and then. These learners are left with no real hands-on experiences with other like minded Witches and mentors. They have to explore and dabble on their own. Not that that is all bad, many have us had to do it that way. But, that doesn’t mean it’s right and fair. This vital spiritual exploratory age is left out. I feel that one reason that this is, is because this can be an area that many teachers and organizations are afraid of the backlash of consent. Teenagers are still minors, where many of them have to hide their interest from their parents and will have to forgo the idea of a commitment to a curriculum. Then there are also funds, many places that offer spiritual education charge a fee, which leave these magickal explorers on their own. Having to save up birthday money to secretly purchase Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch or Ellen Dugan’s Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens on the families next outing to the mall’s bookstore. Although, these are great books they are missing the element of hands-on learning when not in the presence of a real teacher or group setting.
The only ones who have this opportunity are the children who are being raised in a magickal or open-minded household. Where they are able to participate in home or group rituals and gatherings. However, even in these circumstances, I have found that the children are only taught what the parent knows and follows. They are often not given the means to explore on their own. It’s at no fault of the parent, they can only teach in their own state of knowledge. I have discussed before, here and in my classes, the importance of allowing children to explore their own path of spirituality rather than dictating to them one’s beliefs and paths. Which is why in my “Little Witch” classes I give parents the means to give children opportunities to explore spirituality on their own, while laying down general Pagan and Witchcraft foundations. This of course this has nothing to do with one’s family cultural and traditional “ways of knowning” or belief structure, in these cases I feel it is important to extend that knowledge and linage to child’s education.
So, to any of the well-known schools of magick I employ you to rethink your courses to include teenagers, young adults and even the “Little Witches”. FYI, I have a great curriculum already written. LOL.
Many children who find themselves in Pagan settings often are not given the opportunity to choose their spiritual upbringing. Just like in many Christian homes, they are predestined to receive a Wiccaning and other rites of tradition. In many cases, these seem to be more for the parents rather than the child and might do more harm than good for one’s personal path of exploration. This is one reason I myself will never perform such rites. I will, however, gladly perform a child blessing or an introduction to the elements and universal energies. These initial ceremonies help the child’s own spirit or higher-self open up to the various energies found in spirituality. They also allow the child to choose their own path of spirituality in the future. In many traditions, earth-based and not, what tends to follow next is certain rites of passage and then later, a type of initiation into the parent’s coven or group. Usually, by then these children have already made up their mind if they are going to follow their parents’ tradition or not. They just don’t voice their choice against their parents’ wishes.
Going back to our teenagers of non-magickal households, these children are left to only self-initiate into a tradition out of a book, seemly one written for adults. The only options out there are for those who have been “fortunate” enough to be born into a Pagan spirituality or are able to get their hands on a book to follow, despite the prying eyes and ears of a concerned parent. We as a community need to be a little more willing to extend ourselves in teaching to those who are exploring a spirituality or magickal tradition. Who are we to question whether or not a teenager’s gateway opened up from watching a movie or a beauty store, we should accept with open arms that no matter how they got there, that it was the universe that has placed these children on their current path.