Pagans wonder ‘witch’ way for the next generation as New Age trend ages

(RNS) Oh, the kids.

They don’t know the history. They don’t know how hard it was in the old days. And many ditch their spiritual upbringing for the next new thing.

Lammas, or Lughnasa, is a festival of the wheat harvest and is one of the eight sabbats in the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year.

Lammas, or Lughnasa, is a festival of the wheat harvest and is one of the eight sabbats in the neo-pagan Wheel of the Year. Creative Commons image by Graham Huntley

It happens to Catholics, evangelicals, Jews, and yes, pagans, too.

Second-generation pagans — those whose parents were converts to pagan spirituality — are a lot like their peers in other faiths. They often do spirituality their own way. Or not at all.

“Born-to-it pagans just are who we are,” said Angela Roberts Reeder, 43, whose parents were involved in ceremonial magic when she was young.

This week, Reeder said she might continue the tradition by joining a public celebration for the first harvest festival of Lughnasa, also called Lammas, at a Washington, D.C., temple.

“Today, it’s so much easier to be openly pagan than 20 or 30 years ago” when converts often faced strong disapproval by family and society when they came out of the “broom closet,” so to speak, Reeder said.

Where the first generation had to struggle to find teachers, books and like-minded pagans, the Internet now offers a wide knowledge stream and infinite meet-up possibilities.

Still, the tendency of youth to rebel against their upbringing and to hunt for something new is ageless.A 2007 study by LifeWay Research found that among the 65 percent of millennials who call themselves Christians many are no longer observant. More than two in three said they rarely or never pray with others , attend worship services or read the Bible or sacred texts.It may be even more challenging to hand down paganism’s free-form spirituality from one generation to the next.An author and a scholar teamed up last year to survey more than 160 second-generation pagans to see how they identify as adults. Laura Wildman-Hanlon, a Wiccan priestess in Amherst, Mass., and author of “Celebrating the Pagan Soul,” and Julie Fennell, an assistant professor of sociology at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., presented their research at a sociology conference last fall.They found that 49 percent of second-generation pagans had shifted to identifying as “nones” — people who say they have no particular religious identity — a group that now [...]

Pagans wonder ‘witch’ way for the next generation as New Age trend ages

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