Q of the Week: What if you don’t have any Elders?

Wow, it’s been a long while since I posted a Question of the Week, hasn’t it?

Sorry about that. It seems that Sunday is no longer the most convenient day of the week for me to be doing this. I’ve also started on some of those big changes in my life that I’ve hinted at. I’m blogging to you now from the fine locality of Barrhaven, a suburb of Ottawa. I also finished Book the Fifth (which I suppose I should start calling by its proper title now).

Some of you noted that I was a guest blogger on The Wild Hunt, during the week that Jason was occupied with moving. My contribution, posted a few days ago, was entitled “Who are the Elders?” I received a number of kind comments to this post. Among them, a friend of mine drew my attention to a post on her own blog from a few months ago which seemed very relevant. Here’s a quote from it:

For many of us, there are no Elders where we live. The only Elders are the ones in the books we order online and pay high shipping costs to get, or on web pages we must look at using slow speed dail-up. And this makes these elders and teachers barely tangible.

Read the whole post here.

When I got started in my teens, the only “elder” I knew was a huckster and a fraud. When I left his circle, I didn’t have anyone at all for a few years. I read books, mostly borrowed from friends, and I participated in discussions on the internet. The internet was still text-only then. (Wow, that puts a date on me!)

I joined my first pagan group around the age of 20 or 21, and some of its members were already in their 40s. The use of the word Elder was not yet in vogue at that time, but that’s effectively what they were, and how we treated them. Or, at any rate, that is how I looked up to them, and still do. (Curious to know if any of them are reading this blog!) I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had pagan elders around me one way or another ever since then. That is effectively all my adult life.

But as Juniper pointed out, this isn’t everyone’s experience. Well, friends, instead of listening to me pontificate, let me ask all of you: What, if anything, should those who have no Elders do? Who should they turn to? If anyone? Although I characterise the Elder as a person whose path is largely a path of service, can Elders be expected to drive hours and hours to remote places to meet with individuals or small groups? (To say nothing of the economics involved: the cost of fuel, etc.) Also, and I think importantly, might the recent interest in pagan elders be inadvertantly alienating those who don’t have access to Elders?

Honestly, I’m not even sure how to phrase the question, let alone suggest an answer. But I do think this is an important matter, and that where I am at a loss, others might be able to help.

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