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Elders - Commentary
Holly N. -
4 / 13 / 2002

Defining an Elder

Defining an elder within the larger pagan context is quite a problem, since there are far more people practicing (serious practitioners) than belong to a fixed group or trad.

The definition will differ depending on the person, group or situation. This is part of the reason I refer to "eldering" (a function) rather than "an elder" (a thing with fixed qualities). Could there be a human who was a pure elder — i.e. who elders 24 hours a day, sleeping and waking? I don't think so — to my mind, part of the definition of being an elder is to be someone else's "junior" — someone who elders that elder. So, it's a matter of perspective.

But that's not helpful in this discussion. If we're trying to get a handle on elders and promoting eldering, what do we look for?

For myself, I look for qualities of quietness, kindliness, curiosity, patience, a kind of unexpected ruthlessness, and an appearance of depth — of having echoes and depths, like clear deep water or empty space. This latter quality is hard to describe, as it is, at its strongest, featureless.

In my experience, qualities which interfere with eldering are fear, vindictiveness, lack of perspective, anger, a need for admiration, and confusing the form of religious action with the content (divine contact).

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