Author: Mja Principe
Date: Sunday, 31 July
The seasonal change is upon us, I hear the cooing of the first turtle dove and note the gentle return of the Sun’s golden rays that stimulate the sprouting of tender greenness and coax the beautiful crocus flowers to break ground and grow. Winter has passed and once again it is time for seeding, for it is the transition point of the energies of the threefold Goddess, who pass from Crone to Maiden.

The Ladies and Wisemen of the Woods were once a part of every witch tale. People of the Winterlands, blessed by time and seasoned by living, they were considered wise and important to their communities and tribes. Imbolc marks the beginning of Spring. It is a time of renewed youthfulness and here we are, standing around the altar then sitting around a table, sporting white hairs, wrinkles and hip replacements. Time has left its mark upon us, but we still taste the goodness of wine, we still carry fire in our bellies and a merry song in our hearts.

We may appear to be the past participles of the slave-making machine, dry twigs or fire kindling, but in reality we are Solitary Women, Sages, Crones, Seers, experienced beings, mature in woman-and-manhood, celebrating youthfulness, fertility and virility that represent this time of the year.

Just how sustainable is all of this when you have entered your Passage to Power and you suddenly become a "victim" of newfangled ageism? Despite the silver in our hair, we are still a functional part of this society, contributing through work (if we fortunate enough to have one), paying taxes, etc., whilst the entire world worships the young and ignores the elderly. What a deceiving notion this is.

Well, let me tell you just how much enjoyment, laughter and delight there is in discussing one’s body that gradually loses flexibility and all your assets take a plunge southwards towards your expanding waistline. Our belly-birthed mirth is filled with horror at what happens to our physiques, but also in the secret knowing that we are free at last, to simply be. Our grandmothers, we are told, aged gracefully, but how much grace can one muster when there is no respect for the process of aging and when our clumsy limping into an office of young faces who fail to understand the bittersweet essence of maturity dismiss the wisdom of our forefathers and mothers as poppy-cock?

Together we subject ourselves to the corporate machine but we know full well that euphemisms like “the approaching golden years and the golden handshake” are nothing but lies, a cover up for their necessity of skills development and continuity plans. We know that our need for monetary compensation will outlive their pension schemes and inadequate funeral plans. Yes, no matter how remarkable others try to make this system of exploitation, the aging and aged can tell the difference and it is laughable, maybe even pitiful.

We gather around the altar and feast table, heathen folk caught up in the recognition of a Goddess and Her own Church (Nature), the web of patriarchal society all around us, free thinkers who are equally comfortable with discussing sexual predilections , glory holes, animal husbandry, the Dow Jones, anomalous freak accidents, humanitarian issues or politics, over a celebratory meal. Imbolc is our time for freely honouring the young from within a perspective of age that knows no years, and who owns the green tendrils of the sprouting sweet pea as it does the aches and pains brought on by the changing season.

We eat our meal, share stories and laugh and ask ourselves what happened to our feminist ideals, our struggle for equality, and the spiritual revolution we lead? They were all rejected by generation (X) who instead chose to embrace cold science, consumerism, cyber living and skepticism and resisted all the “airy fairy” philosophies of the past.

We know that it is time for changes within our Community. The young ones need to realise that we have something to offer. How many times have you been told by your young ones, “no, you don’t understand”, or “our generation does/believes this or that”. I tell you what you need, young adults of tomorrow, you need a dose of old fashioned logic, of old fashioned medicine, principles and reasoning, of “shut the fuck up and ask an Elder”. “Constant Chatting” is not the answer to fixing the world we live in. Doing is! Doing is the answer. Being and doing are still the only way which will secure the survival of the Old Ways.

We look at one another over the green candles and have another glass of fruity Merlot and laugh over our chocolate fudge pudding, nodding our knowing, silently. We broke the rules, we burned the bra, we stood up, we spoke out, we demanded change, we raised our voices and achieved the unthinkable ... but we dropped the ball somewhere along the line. Perhaps when we got married and had children. Somewhere along the line we became invisible and voiceless. We gave away our power to society. Was it age discrimination or were we too involved in our own private ménage to care about Community?

We discuss if we want the next generation of Pagans to be strong and assertive in an environment which is hostile to all forms of alternative spirituality and we agreed that we have to give them role models to show them how. This means stepping up to the plate and setting time aside to laugh with and guide our younger Pagan wards.
The sense of Community is gauged not only by its longevity, but also by its involvement in the lives of its senior citizens, in the support provided for the disempowered and less privileged, in the exchange of energy from young to old and old to young. This is, we know, what will guarantee the survival of the Old Ways.

This is where bridge building comes in. This is where we pull together our forces and set aside the petty differences and histories and get on with what is really important and beyond ego and hubris. Now is the time for an independent collective Paganism that takes lead in the regeneration of Pagan spirituality, values, virtues, over and above its cyber element, pulling together in a series of drives so that one that in a not too distant future we may be blessed with the very needed supportive infrastructures we have so long dreamed about.

A Blessed and Joyous Imbolc to all our Illustrious Members on behalf of the Executive Committee.

SAPC Convenor