A reader asks, “I have only recently discovered Pagan spirituality, and it’s been a little weird for me because I’m a lot older than most of the people who are “new Pagans.” I’m in my fifties and feel like a total noob, but all the other people who are new to this path are in their late teens and twenties. All the other Pagans my age are Elders who have been part of the Pagan community forever. Am I some kind of freak, or are there other “senior newbie Pagans” out there?”
Believe it or not, people find Pagan spirituality at a wide variety of ages. Look at it this way. Some people fall in love and get married at twenty. Others don’t do so until they’re forty. Being in your fifties makes your journey no less valid than someone who is in their twenties. It just means you’ve had more time to figure out all the things that haven’t worked for you so far.
Kassandra is a Kentucky Pagan who is in her mid-sixties. She says, “I didn’t discover Paganism until about ten years ago - I came to it through my daughter and grandson, who were studying Celtic Paganism. I was at a place in my life where I knew I needed more, and I knew that my previous religion was no longer satisfying to me. I began exploring Paganism and goddess spirituality, and found that it was a good fit. More importantly, I knew it would not have worked for me if I had begun exploring it in my thirties or forties, because it wasn’t what I needed at that age. It took me longer to get there, but I’m very pleased that I found my way.”
In general, if you’re a “newbie” but a more mature individual, you present an unusual dynamic. Younger newbies may expect you to know more - after all, you’re the same age as many Elders in the Pagan community. It’s okay to say, “You know, I don’t know the answer to your questions. Maybe we can find someone to explain that to both of us.”
More experienced Pagans - the ones who are Elders, or who have been in the Pagan community all of their adult lives - will likely treat you with the respect that you’ve earned by virtue of age, but will also expect you to learn and grow along with the other “newbies.” In other words, being a senior in age doesn’t get you a free pass - and as long as you make it clear that you’re not expecting that, you should be fine.
The trick is to find a happy balance. If you’re in the age range that is considered “crone” or “sage”, then you’ll be treated with respect, no matter how much you know or don’t know. Be willing to learn new things, and don’t let yourself be trouble by the fact that the other new folks might be half your age. It’s not going to matter in the grand scheme of things.
Kassandra offers these tips for other “senior newbie Pagans”:
- Don’t be intimidated by younger Pagans. Even though you may be learning from someone younger than you, if they’ve got something valid to teach, age makes no difference.
- If someone asks for advice, based upon your age and world experience, be willing to help out. Don’t diminish your own knowledge - you may not know much about Paganism, but you probably know a lot about other things that you can share.
- Be flexible. You may find that what works well for a twenty year old is not what’s going to work for you. Find your own niche, find your own way, and the journey will be just as amazing.