Last week A while back Albiana reposted an article she wrote about a teen witch she happened upon. If you’re not familiar with her blog, Albiana is a long time Pagan who has more recently joined up with a Garderian BTW sect. Her online persona is that of a wise and experienced, yet sassy, Wiccan. In her blog posts she often times uses this persona to poke fun at the stupidity, ignorance, or absurdity she finds within the Pagan community. It’s a fun blog to read, mainly due to her bitching.
It’s difficult to take issue with Albiana’s post. Her online persona is critical of every minor infraction against intelligence and common sense, and that’s why she’s fun. It’s only supposed to be taken seriously to a point, and beyond that it’s just entertainment. But this post in particular resonated with me, because we adults in the community do treat teens pretty shitty, and we often times don’t give them the proper respect they deserve. These teens then grow up without guidance, and being resentful towards us, and they’ll become the immature and stupid middle-aged people we all complain about having to deal with.
The phrase that Albiana overheard, which set-off the post was this:
“Yeah, so I’ve decided to be vegan now. Oh, and I finally told my parents I was bi, which made them completely freak, but then what can they do, right? I’m almost 16 and in a few years when I’m 18 they won’t have a say at all anyway. Besides, they got more pissed off when I told them I wanted to practice vampire wicca, but its my life not theirs so they can just deal.”
My first impression is complete awe. This teen has such a strong command of the English language that she’s able to express herself in a grammatically correct way, and she can do it without using profanity. However I’m assuming Albiana was paraphrasing from memory, and so this wasn’t the teen vampire-Wiccan talking, but Albiana herself. In that case I have to point out that I’m pretty sure ‘vampire wicca’ is hyphenated, but I’m not positive on that point.
My second impression is that this is a typical teenage girl. I really don’t expect much from them. Even the most intelligent teenager is still going to be largely immature, because maturity is derived from life experience, which teenagers lack. Their spiritual experiences are, at best, still minimal and their spiritual understanding is almost entirely speculation, and they typically have accumulated very little theoretical information, and next to no practical information, to develop that speculation. It’s largely a matter of time. I’ve lived twice as long as a teenager, and the older I’ve gotten the better I’ve gotten at reading. As far as life experiences go, as far as accumulated information goes, age is a huge advantage.
Teenagers are also rebellious and experimental. They do things just to piss their parents off. They also try out new things, sexually, spiritually, and dietary.
Albiana also talks about how these teens never do any real magic because they’re scared of what might happen. It’s probably true, but it’s also normal. They’re still children, and children are scared of things. I don’t mock a three year old for being scared of the dark, and I’m not about to mock a teen for being scared of a demon, or even a simple ghostie.
I’m not scared of these things, but I can easily deal with a ghostie and I can hold my own against a Goetic spirit. But I can see why someone would be afraid of a ghost or a demon. I know how to hurt a spirit, and I know how to kill one, and I’ve tested myself against some pretty nasty things and survived. There’s empowerment in all of that, and that empowerment helps with not being afraid. If I had never fought a spirit, if I didn’t know what I know, a simple ghostie would seem invulnerable. I would see myself as powerless against it. That can be a very scary place to be.
When people get so bent out of shape over something stupid a teenager did or said, I immediately assume one of two things about them. Either they live their lives terrified that someone who knew them back in high school will one day expose them for what they were as a teenager, or they’ve managed to romanticize their teenage years. Sure they may have done kid stuff, but they were intelligent and mature, and even cool about it, and nothing like these kids today.
Fortunately I didn’t really find my spiritual path until after my teen years. It wasn’t something that seemed all that important to me. So there is no goth-vampire-Wicca phase in my past. Still I’ll admit I was just as much of an embarrassment as a teenager, I just found things other than spirituality to focus myself on. Remembering the way I was, it’s hard for me to be critical of the teens I meet today.
There are adults that act like this. When a thirty, or forty, or fifty year old, or an even older person acts like this, they’re a lost cause. There’s nothing that can be done to help them if they’re that spiritually inept and generally immature at such an old age. They’re also going to be looking for things like power, control, and respect, all meaningless things that will prevent them from ever finding spiritual truth.
Teenagers though are awesome. Teenagers are just being teens when they do these things, and they all still have potential to grow up into really powerful magicians. Teenagers have an excuse for being ignorant, immature, and spiritually inept. Sometimes they come into the community to be rebellious and piss off their parents, but even when they do they’re drawn into rebelling in this direction because they have an interest in spirituality. It’s very rare to see one who wants a place of power and respect in the community or control over other people. Usually their motives are more or less pure, and they’re genuinely seeking spiritual truth.
For a lot of them, it’s going to be a phase. Right now I’d say only one and ten will still be involved with some sort of minority faith at thirty years old. But can you blame them? They’re mocked by the more respectable adult members of the community, they’re offered little in terms of guidance, and the only people willing to teach them are usually emotionally unbalanced adults that want to have power over them and possibly take advantage of them. Sadly, the most intelligent among them will see the community for exactly what it is and run away from it. The ten percent that stay are going to be so spiritually adept they don’t really need the community, or so stupid and easily manipulated that they’ll never amount to anything.
It’s the way we approach teenagers. Most teenagers need spiritual guidance when they’re first starting out. Just like most adults need spiritual guidance when they’re first starting out. Responsible adults also need to guard them within the community. There’s a lot of people who would take advantage of them, and there are quite a few more that set a bad example. Teenagers can be taken advantage of more easily. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid or gullible, and it isn’t their fault. They lack the life-experience to see things from the perspective of the adult that is victimizing them, and they often don’t understand why what’s being done to them is wrong.
They also don’t have much experience dealing with spiritual issues. They may be afraid of a lot of things. That’s normal, and a psychologically healthy response. They don’t have the spiritual tools to defend themselves, and they don’t yet have confidence in their magical abilities. That can make them feel very powerless, and make spiritual threats seem invulnerable and unstoppable. What they need is an experienced magician or magicians to take them by the hand and back them up. It’s a safety net for them, so they know that if they get in over their heads there’s someone powerful there who can fix it.
At the same time they need to be regarded as people. They deserve to be treated with the same respect as everyone else. They should be listened to, and they shouldn’t be mocked for having an opinion, being wrong about something, or exploring things. We should also keep in mind that we aren’t their parents. It isn’t our place to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, or what they should or shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t hold it against them because they disagree with us, or because they make a life choice that seems silly to us.
We have to allow them to explore things, to do things, to make mistakes, and discover knowledge for themselves, even if they’re going to get hurt in the process. None of us were content to listen to the advice of our elders, and the same is true of the teenagers of today and tomorrow. We’ve all chosen a spiritual path that is dependent on personal growth and evolution through spiritual experiences. Children need to have those same spiritual experiences in order to evolve and grow. It’s not a type of knowledge that can be imparted to them.