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  • The Elder Issue

    So there seems to be a lot of controversy around the term "Elder" and so I thought I'd make a thread for folks to hash out their ideas in

    In another thread the question was asked, what defines an Elder. I'm sure everyone has their own answer and I look forward to hearing them. Here's mine:

    Blood, sweat and tears.

    To me, an Elder is someone who has put in the time and effort to help build their community. These are the people that go short of sleep because they are juggling a job, a family, a social life and putting together that Beltaine ritual, that monthly pagan pub night, running those classes, mentoring those students that show that they are in it for the long haul, etc.

    Being an Elder, or rather someone that others would consider an Elder is WORK, a lot of which is quite thankless. It's taking time out of your life to be part of more then yourself and your individual doings. It's about reaching out and being accessible, about helping others in both big and small ways. It's about being a leader, not on a pedestal, but in the trenches, working hard alongside everyone else.

    In short, the idea that someone calls themselves an Elder for the sake of an ego boost is downright laughable to me. And I HAVE called those ego trippers on it, I HAVE laughed int their face when they claim to be such because when it comes right down to it, they have no clue what the term really means.

    The actions of an "Elder" will speak far louder then any words said.

    Now, see the next post for a little story on the subject of elders :P
    The Sexy Heathen Babe

  • #2
    Back in the day, when I was just getting involved with paganism, I found a local organization, got to meet people and was added to the mailing list.

    Now at the time, I had also found the wonderful world of fanfiction, specifically anime and was having much fun writing. I came up with a "cool" pen name form myself, Lady Aiyoku and as I was the member on 7 fanfiction mailing lists at the time, I set my email handle to, you guessed it, "Lady Aiyoku."

    Well, take a guess what happened when a person showed up on the pagan list with that name. I got slammed by a local "elder" for daring to claim a title I wasn't "entitled" to. She went on at length about how I was making a mockery out of the title and belittling those who has actually earned.

    More baffled then hurt, I explained that it was my pen name and that I wrote fanfiction. Not that she listened. She just kept pounding away at me. then her partner got in on her side and it very quickly became a flame war. The "elder" was demanding that I show her the proper respect (no remember that this is via email and I had never met this person in meat life). At that point, I told her that respect was earned, and so far all she'd done was earn my disdain.

    The thing is that while she MIGHT have been an elder at one point, she lost that status (in my eyes) when she was having her hissing fit and working to divide the list.

    To my mind, the position of "elder" is a transitory one and you CAN lose it; it's lose coming when others no longer see you fulfilling that role.

    When you meet the real deal, the term elder will never even need to be mentioned
    The Sexy Heathen Babe

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    • #3
      age doesnt equal wisdom by any means just as knowledge doesnt equal wisdom.





      (i decided to shorten my post)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Rudas Starblaze View Post
        age doesnt equal wisdom by any means just as knowledge doesnt equal wisdom.
        Out of curiosity, do you mean that having wisdom makes one an elder?
        The Sexy Heathen Babe

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
          Out of curiosity, do you mean that having wisdom makes one an elder?
          pretty much.

          and that can come at any age with or without "proper" training/education.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Rudas Starblaze View Post
            pretty much.

            and that can come at any age with or without "proper" training/education.
            To me, it helps but without community involvement it's meaningless as far as being an elder goes.

            I know a couple people that would make great elders, but who are practically hermits and want nothing to do with others beyond showing up of the occasional social gathering.
            The Sexy Heathen Babe

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
              ...... but who are practically hermits and want nothing to do with others beyond showing up of the occasional social gathering.
              well i know you arent talking about me! i dont even show up for family gatherings let alone social gatherings! (i have a bit of social anxiety disorder.... not to mention i hate pretty much everyone!)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
                To me, it helps but without community involvement it's meaningless as far as being an elder goes.

                I know a couple people that would make great elders, but who are practically hermits and want nothing to do with others beyond showing up of the occasional social gathering.
                Well, I don't know if I'll make a "great elder" but I do know the rest of that description fits me pretty well. The only reason I've stepped up to the job is that our group would have been kaput if I hadn't agreed to become the leader. It will take time to see if I become an Elder as well as a Crone. No, age isn't the best criteria for determining what makes someone an Elder. And wisdom that isn't put to good use isn't much good at all.

                I think one of the best criteria for calling someone an Elder is someone who is willing to teach what they know and realizes that they are still learning - even from the noobs.
                ____________
                If you make a customer happy, he'll tell 3 other people.
                If he's not happy, he'll tell 20 others.



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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lunacie View Post
                  I think one of the best criteria for calling someone an Elder is someone who is willing to teach what they know and realizes that they are still learning - even from the noobs.
                  I totally agree the best elders (and teachers) and the ones that are reluctant and would prefer not to be, but do because it's needed....NOT so that they can have some grandiose title.
                  The Sexy Heathen Babe

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Vigdisdotter View Post
                    Back in the day, when I was just getting involved with paganism, I found a local organization, got to meet people and was added to the mailing list.

                    Now at the time, I had also found the wonderful world of fanfiction, specifically anime and was having much fun writing. I came up with a "cool" pen name form myself, Lady Aiyoku and as I was the member on 7 fanfiction mailing lists at the time, I set my email handle to, you guessed it, "Lady Aiyoku."

                    Well, take a guess what happened when a person showed up on the pagan list with that name. I got slammed by a local "elder" for daring to claim a title I wasn't "entitled" to. She went on at length about how I was making a mockery out of the title and belittling those who has actually earned.

                    More baffled then hurt, I explained that it was my pen name and that I wrote fanfiction. Not that she listened. She just kept pounding away at me. then her partner got in on her side and it very quickly became a flame war. The "elder" was demanding that I show her the proper respect (no remember that this is via email and I had never met this person in meat life). At that point, I told her that respect was earned, and so far all she'd done was earn my disdain.

                    The thing is that while she MIGHT have been an elder at one point, she lost that status (in my eyes) when she was having her hissing fit and working to divide the list.

                    To my mind, the position of "elder" is a transitory one and you CAN lose it; it's lose coming when others no longer see you fulfilling that role.

                    When you meet the real deal, the term elder will never even need to be mentioned
                    They'd have lost my respect pretty quickly! Titles are titles, people who have to defend them that jealously frequently aren't worthy of them. Most elders have been through so much on the path that they don't care about titles, plus while the word Lady is nice, because of the way the word Lord is used in other contexts it always has the danger of sounding extremely conceited.

                    I know a physician that says "I'm hardly likely to forget I went to medical school and residency, I don't need to be reminded daily, If I were to forget we'd have far bigger problems than just a title!" An elder is unlikely to forget the school of hard knocks or the long hours of study either!


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                    • #11
                      This is certainly an interesting concept, and I'm with Rudas that someone who can be considered an Elder is someone with a great deal of wisdom. It's that person who seems to have all the answers and yet gives you very few because he/she knows the value of learning lifes lessons by living them.

                      I can wrap my mind around the community involvement but at the same time I don't really agree that it defines being an Elder but rather using that time to progress towards becoming an Elder.

                      I have a similar problem in my world with martial arts. I was suppose to test this year for my 4th Dan Black Belt, but I have chosen not to. In my family 4th Dan is a Junior Master ... but a Master nonetheless ... and I am not ready to permit others to consider me a Master.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Autumn View Post
                        They'd have lost my respect pretty quickly! Titles are titles, people who have to defend them that jealously frequently aren't worthy of them. Most elders have been through so much on the path that they don't care about titles, plus while the word Lady is nice, because of the way the word Lord is used in other contexts it always has the danger of sounding extremely conceited.

                        !
                        I personally dont think the title Lady sounds conceited obviously and I am aware of the connotations that follow it.

                        I agree with what Rudas said, that imo and Elder has alot of wisdom, but for a variety of reasons may be hesitant to advance it in the community. Often people of great wisdom, are asked by people who are clearly not ready, to have it shared with them.....for various reasons throughout the span of time people who were geniuses in various fields have been mocked for their ideas.....that may make some who are not as comfortable with debate unhappy. Some also are so secure in their wisdom they dont feel the need to justify themselves. My two cents.

                        LadyWinter
                        Last edited by LadyWinter; July 22nd, 2007, 01:07 PM.
                        And you don't like being huged with? Well, welcome to Discordia, dumbass. This is what happens when you try to lean on the weird. - Little Billy

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                        • #13
                          To me an Elder, with a capital 'E', is someone with experience, knowledge, wisdom, and community involvement (at some point). It doesn't matter if this person has fancy lineage or not, as I've seen lineaged elders behave like fools, it instead matters how much they give and teach to others minus selfish motivations such as power, control, and status (what many like to term 'queen bee syndrome').

                          Many people aspire to be elders, and even try to be right out of Wicca 101 classes. I've never understood this as Vigdisdotter said it is a thankless job! Getting pagans organized is like herding cats - they don't like to be told what to do, and it's hard to get them to pay attention! Elders put in a lot of hard work with little reward or thanks - they sacrifice their homes, their time, their life so that others can enjoy events, rituals, gatherings, festivals... Many Elders end up jaded and bitter and withdraw from the community. So all I have to say is if you want to keep them -- respect your Elders, don't take them for granted, and lend them a hand!!

                          :fpraise::fpraise::fpraise:

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                          • #14
                            Well, take a guess what happened when a person showed up on the pagan list with that name. I got slammed by a local "elder" for daring to claim a title I wasn't "entitled" to. She went on at length about how I was making a mockery out of the title and belittling those who has actually earned.
                            Lord. First of all, who says you aren't entitled to it? In my opinion, titles like Lord and Lady are specific (like cords/degrees) to the trad or group in which one is in. I will not lie, and sometimes when someone like Lady Rainbowstars is on a list talking about how she changed ALL of the stoplights on her way home from school, I have myself a little chuckle, but this is way out of line. This 'elder' should have minded her own buisness, IMHO.

                            As to your actual question (heehee), I believe that an Elder is someone who is involved in the community or tradition, someone who is knowledgeable and wise (two seperate things in my book), and someone who is willing to share their experiences with others.

                            To me, an Elder would be someone who would know more than most, be willing to share with most, and help educate those who ask for it. All of this without an ego-trip. Or the queen-bee syndrome. Ick.

                            I agree with Lolair:
                            Many people aspire to be elders, and even try to be right out of Wicca 101 classes. I've never understood this as Vigdisdotter said it is a thankless job! Getting pagans organized is like herding cats - they don't like to be told what to do, and it's hard to get them to pay attention!
                            I don't know that I'd call myself an "elder" in any sense, but even leading a coven can correlate to what Lolair mentioned. Its a lot of work, usually you're underappreciated (not in my case, I 've got a great group), you're out the most $ of anyone in the group, and you have to pick up others' slack. Plus you have to be the bad guy if difficult changes need to be made for the good of the group. You have to put what YOU want aside for whats good for the group. And that can. be. hard. sometimes.
                            Ivy Artemisia
                            Twilight Spiral Coven [Site | Facebook]
                            Hearth and Hedgerow [Site | Etsy Shop]

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                            • #15
                              I personally think the label "elder" is a term you have to be given rather then something that you give yourself. I think an elder is somebody I deeply respect and honor and, personally, I don't care if they are involved in the community or not.
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