Where have the young witches gone…? #paganpride
We celebrated Beltain this weekend at a beautiful Grand Sabbat - a coming together of eight different covens and lines to call up the Oak and the May, and give our love and energy to the land. It was a truly beautiful and heart opening evening - but for the thoughtful comment from one of our young Third Degrees, after being introduced to all the familiar old faces Geoff and I have known for decades :
“Where are the witches of my generation? Where is the New Blood that will keep the Craft alive and thriving…?”
And it’s true: we used to get regular emails and requests from people all over the U.K. in response to The Wellhead’s pages - most of them young pagans desperate to find a Traditional Coven to work and learn with, yet unable to find anyone else online or ‘open’; that utter lack of accessible and open signposting to the Initiatory Craft was the reason we first established our online presence - and it’s how many of the Witches we’ve initiated and trained came to find the Craft at all.
Yet that flow has trickled, and ceased - and many of the Covens we know report very few new and young people seeking initiation. And I wonder, Why?
Where HAVE all the young people gone? There doesn’t even seem to be the same flood of ‘Cunningham’ and ‘teen Wicca’ books and resources there used to be - and even the #witchesofinstagram hashtags reveal very few on the Initiatory and Traditional paths.
Has society moved on, and young people lost their interest in things Magickal? Or has the Traditional Craft backed itself into a Hidden Corner…?
There are very few Covens or individuals who feel safe enough to be open and out there like we are - which I do understand, especially in these Right-swinging times - but I’m reminded of my experiences in the LGBTQ community, and the trouble of being ‘invisible’ and therefore ‘ignorable’ when being ‘closeted’ and afraid to be open.
We (in the UK at least) are lucky to live in relatively free societies - we have freedom of religion, and of speech, and no one can sack you or deny you service because of your faith or belief. Most people are now aware of Wicca, and know that it is not the ‘Devil worship’ it was once maligned as, and most are accepting of us (even if they may think us a little ‘eccentric’, if harmless) - they no longer burn us, so why do so many of us still hide our identities and fear ‘discovery’…?
Could it be that we lack PRIDE in our religion? Do we fear discovery because we secretly feel we do something shameful - or that our Gods and our Faith are laughable…? How can we honour our Gods if we are ashamed of Them or ourselves…?
And yes, I understand that ‘coming out’ feels risky, and exposing - that it’s easy to fear ridicule and retribution - but just like being Out and Open as a gay man: Oppression requires our compliance. Society only started to accept LGBTQ identies when we stopped hiding ourselves - when we started showing pride in who we are and what we believe. And yes, it can be a struggle sometimes, and it does require a toughness of spirit - but without visibility, it’s all too easy for us to be ignored, sidelined, demonised and made irrelevant.
We have nothing to be ashamed of, no reason to hide - and doing so only denies the next generation from finding us or knowing we exist at all.
So, where is your #paganpride…?