I am a second generation Contemporary Pagan (CP); my father converting when I was very young, in the mid-80s. I later got involved around the age nine via him. For all you older first generation Pagans, you remember those kids running amuck at festivals? Well, I was one of them. This was the early to mid-90s or so. At the time we were few and far in between. I knew two people during High School that were a CP; it should be no surprise we stuck together. By the time I was an adult moved out on my own, I was still a rarity in the community; I was someone that was raised as a CP. The first time I approached a Coven as an adult I was not believed, that is until my Dad provided a vouch for me.
Now a little over a decade since first approaching a Coven I have noticed that there is a small change in the community. Whereas before I knew no one else that had been raised CP at the same time as me, I have since met a few. Furthermore, the second generation is having kids, and you know what? This is a major stepping stone. Granted our community is still largely converts and most of our growth continues to come from such, but there is a noticeable shift, or at least I see a shift. I remember going to festivals as a kid and there only being a small handful, maybe five or so, kids of various ages, but now there are four or five times that many at the small festivals.
With this shift, there looms another, a much bigger and potentially more crucial shift. It is a shift in the mental egregore of the CP community. The mindset and thought process of a community of adult converts is very different from that of a group of people raised within that community. There is no internal struggle with a past religion and its teachings, because it wasn’t a part of the experience. At the moment, we are still a long way from the later but it comes.
What got me to thinking about all this? My kids, or at least some comments they made got me to thinking about it. In the car the other morning my son told me, “At night when the moon is full, I turn into a stag.” This reminded me of my daughter telling me, “Daddy, the Goddess lives in the trees.” Now, this is par for the course for comments my kids make on occasion. However, it struck me at that time that my kids have a very different childhood than I grew up with, let alone that of the older CP generation.
My kids have robes, and sometimes play ritual. They know that when the moon is full that it is time for the family to circle together. They know how to take libations out to the land, and do so every night with our devotional offerings from the family meal. Last year when asked to draw a picture of the family doing something together by his kindergarten teacher, for a Christmas project, my son drew us all in robes standing around a Yule log. And so on and so forth…
I see the same all around me, as others raise their children. Each approach is vastly different, and yet all are within the parameters of Contemporary Paganism. What is most striking is their shared mentality towards life. Take a moment and watch next time you are around the kids at a festival, you will see. Before you will be a glimpse at what is coming.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."