Who are Our Pagan Elders Anyway?

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Recently a discussion in a Facebook group led to this very question.  Who is an Elder?  I had to first really examine the word.

Elder is defined as one of a group who is of greater age. 

As a solitary, I've had very limited experience with a formal coven setting.  I've been involved in two “alternative” groups both did not end very well.  As the online community has grown I've been able to meet some really wonderful people.  People who know a lot about different subjects and who I consider to be subject matter experts (SME) in their area of study.

I have friends that are extremely well versed in plagiarism and copyright.  I have friends who are certified project managers and some who are animal rescuers.  I have friends who are artists and some who are authors.  But when I look over my list, are there any elders there?  In fact, where are the elders anyway?

For this particular post I went over to “About*” to check out what Patti Wigington had to say on the subject.  Her article on Pagan Elders is on the money.  She writes, “Elder is a status that is generally given to someone, rather than claimed for oneself.

To me I believe that there are many out there who are in the community for the show of it all.  They are looking to sell a candle or a book, make some money and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.  I spent a few hours looking over a few popular Facebook Pages to help locate a post not credited and found that most of the people appearing on the pages all have very sultry looks, a large walking stick and thick eyeliner.  

Is this the “new” Pagan? Are these folks elders?

For someone who spends the majority of her spare time making items by hand for her shop, rescuing kittens and feeding her hens, the thought that I need to have high heels and eye liner to be a pagan sorts takes away from what its really all about for me. 

This takes me back to Patti’s article where she writes – “a Pagan Elder is a little uncomfortable with the title - not because they haven’t earned it, but because often they do their work for the community out of love

Yeah, Patti that’s it.  It ieah, Patti that’s it.  It' not the book or the candle.  st.  It'agan sorts takes away from what its really all about for me.  ng her hens, the thought ths not the eyeliner or the podcast.  It is not the book or the candle.  It is about helping each other.  That is why I do what I do.  Because of a love of what I do.  That’s not to say that someone is wrong for having a shop or wearing eyeliner, it really isn't that simple.  We cannot, nor should we judge who is real in their practice.  Each path is individual.  But we do have to consider at what point is wisdom valued over pomp and circumstance.

Here is my opinion on the subject, and please feel free to disagree. 

I believe an elder would be something like my grandmother.  She passed away at 98 years old.  I spent Sundays with her making biscuits and hearing her stories of the old days.  I had a chance to share in her wisdom and learn from her.  She would be an elder.

I've had the opportunity to learn about authors in the pagan community, some of which I've actually met in person and spent time with.  Some have been great friends.  I wouldn't classify an author as automatically an elder, but I would say that I have a tendency to put them on a higher level.  I probably shouldn't do this, I have been let down in the past based on this very thing. I've also been honored to have one on one online relationships with some of these people and they've been really rewarding.

Currently looking at the way I define elder, the only one I can find is Selena Fox. The main characteristic seems to be love.  I don’t know her personally at all.  I've only had one exchange with her via a message on FB.  However to me, she seems to honestly be one with what’s around her and always positive.
I’m sure others have differing opinions and I’d love to hear them.

But as a community, what do we have now. 
Who are our elders? 
What makes them an elder? 
Does this status change based on who is using it?
Would we include Zsuzsanna Budapest? 
How about Selena Fox?  
Is an author automatically an elder? 

This post isn’t meant to answer the question but yet pose that question to my readers.  Feel free to share this message.  I’d really like to see what people feel about this topic.


*Special thanks to Patti for her permission in referencing her article on about.com

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