Teenagers are looking for outlets that they can call their own. They seek to define themselves on their own terms. Sometimes this is a variance of their parent's belief structure. More often than not the teenagers look elsewhere. This seeking includes the spiritual. One avenue the teenager has is the neopagan world. At this point there is enough literature and websites to fully define the many possible breadths of what being neopagan is about. Some teens take this avenue. The outcomes are not always pretty.
Let me say that many neopagan practices are only adult-friendly. The ritual embrace of the female and male leads to practices that teenagers should neither see nor participate in. While this is a valid point, these practices are only a portion of the spiritual world that is neopaganism. The acknowledgment of the world's cycles, the mysteries of the balance, and the identity/embodiment of deity is not restricted to only adults. Teenagers can find spiritual solace in the neopagan world. It is up to the adults to guide them as best we can.
The Christian guys know the relative value of the teenager. Once 'hooked', the teen is a decent enough bet for a similarly practicing adult. The cynical can say that the Christian motivation is suspect. They only want to recruit because it is in their charter. This may be true, but the thing that Christians are doing right is serving the spiritually curious. The neopagan world seems to fall short here. The Christian brethren may be suspect, but their actions are commendable if spiritual support is the objective.
My thoughts turn back to the neopagan approach to teenagers. I'm not proud of what I've seen. The first steps of the new neopagan, henceforth referred to as a newb, are dangerous ones. The mis-smash of neopagan information and support sets the teenager up for being eaten alive by the older neopagans. We eat our young. The reasons I see diverse. Here are a few:
- The newbs don't use the correct words in their correct places. Yep. They're newbs.
- The newbs 'threaten' established traditions by borrowing terms and making up new terms. Times change - its the cycle thing.
- The newbs remind us of ourselves not too long ago. Everyone started somewhere.
- The newbs use 'hip' language that does not span the 'intellectual' generation gap. Reference the cycle thing again.
- The newbs are the sub-minority that the neopagan minority can lash out at as a cathartic exercise. This especially sickens me.