Juveniles in the Craft is a touchy subject. I’m going to talk about young people who have an interest in learning Wicca for whom it’s not the ‘family’ religion. Juveniles growing up within Pagan families is another topic for another time (and possibly another blog post).
For many people, our years as a teenager are when we strike out on our own and explore different things to learn about ourselves. This is expected and I believe this should be encouraged. One thing that gets questioned during this time of seeking is a person’s religious beliefs.
I grew up in a relatively non-religious home for the most part. My mom didn’t go to church and my dad did, but for me, when I attended his church it was more of a cultural experience than a religious one. He was Macedonian Orthodox and attending church with him was one of the ways I felt I got more in touch with that part of my heritage. From about age nine through middle school I went to church with my older sister and considered myself Christian. I did all the Christian things — I got baptized, I got ‘saved’, and I had an experience of speaking in tongues (which I later learned was more common in Pagan traditions than is currently thought of). But as the services switched from being more focused on Jesus as a child to more focused on God as a teen, my interest didn’t just wane… it completely dropped, and I called myself agnostic from age thirteen onward.
From that age, I studied and explored other religions and belief systems. It took a couple of years for me to come across Wicca or Witchcraft (and I go into more detail with this path in my “Who Writes This Stuff” page), but I found my way home to this path and when I moved out to live on my own at 17, I dedicated to Wicca and haven’t veered from that choice.
So I get it when young people learn about Wicca and Witchcraft and get very interested and excited by it and then become frustrated because they aren’t taken seriously or it’s seen as just another phase. For some people, it is a phase because lots of things in your teen years SHOULD be a phase. That’s what it means to try out new things and learn about new experiences. You test stuff and see if it really fits who you are or who you want to be. When it comes to studying the Craft as a young person, please keep these things in mind:
- It is ILLEGAL for another adult to teach or train you in a religious tradition against your parents’ wishes. There is even more of a stigma against the Pagan religions than others because of the misunderstandings most of the public have with our beliefs, practices, and traditions. This is why reputable teachers of the Craft do not take on underage students. Or, if they do, there are things in place like getting written and legally notarized permission from your parent or guardian to do this.
- Most teachers recognize that the teen years are a period of exploration and change and will hold off bringing underage students into their groups because it takes a lot of effort and energy to merge and build a strong group. It’s not bad or wrong that most teens do experience interest in the Craft as a phase, and it is unfair that perspective may color the viewpoint teachers have for all young people seeking training or education, but coupled with the potential trouble for teaching without a parent’s permission, it’s just not worth it. The Craft will still be here when you’re 18.
- There are many things that a young person who is not free to study or train in Wicca can do in the meantime to learn. These are topics to study and things to practice while you seek or wait for a teacher:
a. World Mythology — find a mythological system you enjoy reading about. Are you drawn to ancient Greece or Rome? The Vikings? The Celts? African or Egyptian mythology? Middle Eastern, Indian, or Asian traditional beliefs and stories?
b. Herbalism and Natural Medicines – the Witch is connected to herbcraft in both ancient and modern traditions.
c. Meditation and mental focus — keys to magical practice later on as well as gaining the benefits from regular use now.
d. Astronomy and Astrology — the stars are fascinating and useful for understanding and gaining a viewpoint of the Cosmos as well as understanding and using one of the oldest systems for magical timing and divining in existence.
There are other things to do and study as well. The main thing is always being mindful of your health and well-being. Don’t do anything risky or dangerous. Don’t meet with people alone, and never let someone pressure you into something. There are predators out there who know that seeking something dangerous and forbidden, as Witchcraft is believed to be, will tempt young people into making bad choices. They use that to claim they have secret power or knowledge and these predators often demand sexual compensation to ‘share these mysteries’. Don’t believe it. Nothing in Witchcraft requires you to submit sexually to a creep. And remember, as unpleasant and unfair as it seems, reputable teachers simply won’t take on underage students, so no matter how much you want it, if someone agrees to teach you and doesn’t have strict guidelines involving parental consent, steer clear.
Good luck and blessings on your path.