NextGen Pagan: Paganism for the Next Generation

The youth of today's Paganism have more to offer than ever before. Gain a unique perspective on Pagan leadership, advocacy, and spirituality from the next generation.

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David Salisbury

David Salisbury

David Salisbury is a queer, vegan, Witch and author experiencing life in our nations capital. David is Wiccan clergy within the Firefly Tradition and is High Priest of Coven of the Spiral Moon, a Firefly coven based in DC. The focal point of his spiritual practice is one of service, activism and respect. To fulfill this vocation, he is a full time employee with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization. He is the author of The Deep Heart of Witchcraft (Moon Books, 2013) and Teen Spirit Wicca (Soul Rocks, 2014).
Youth Q&A: Swordless in New York State

In the correspondence-based work that I do with Pagan youth, much of my communications revolve around answering questions and giving suggestions about how to live a Pagan life with both the restraints and opportunities that being a young person represents. This Youth Q&A column will be updated regularly with my questions and answers, shared with permission from the questioner. Only the names will be removed for privacy and safety.

Question: 
Having a sword or athame is the only thing my mom won’t let me do. Everything else is fine with her. I have to have one for my altar, right?
Age 16, Syracuse NY

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jennifer Bisson
    Jennifer Bisson says #
    I also started out using a letter opener. I have also used a pointed crystal, a wooden folding fan, a pencil, a small spear point
  • Finn McGowan
    Finn McGowan says #
    In the bad old days when living with my parents or unsympathetic partners I would use secret, mundane tools. The Athame was a Swis
  • Diane Hedden
    Diane Hedden says #
    I am a witch who has worked both as a solitary and with a coven for over 25 years. I have met quite a few other witches who do
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    For my handfasting, the priest was more than happy to use the titanium spork I provided.
Challenges for Pagan Youth, In Their Own Words

The results are in! You may have seen my last post discussing a survey question I sent out to my youth network asking what their favorite part about being a young Witch or Pagan is. The results were surprising to most but I can’t say I was very surprised. However, the results of this survey question did surprise me a little.

To a network of thousands of young people on social media and email, I asked “what is the biggest challenge for you, being a young Witch or Pagan?” I received over sixty responses within 48 hours. Here is a small sampling of the responses:

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  • Lily Taylor
    Lily Taylor says #
    I think one explanation for at least some of the people saying that lack of resources is something they are having a problem with
  • Ruth Pace
    Ruth Pace says #
    my thoughts and advice: age-hate - the only times I've ever put anyone younger than me down, was BECAUSE someone who was 21 years
  • Steven Metlak
    Steven Metlak says #
    The tradition that I belong too was founded to be an inclusive, educational church. When we conducted the main ritual at the loca
  • Mary Featherwolf
    Mary Featherwolf says #
    I would like to help some of these young witches, do you think you could give them these links and my Email address? I am willing
  • Lady Selene
    Lady Selene says #
    I don't understand why people don't like to hear another opinion, especially someone younger. We ALL have Something to TEACH, we A

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
What Young Pagans Like

Writing and marketing my new book, Teen Spirit Wicca, has been a very interesting process. Most people know that my prime work in the community is based on advocacy and youth outreach/support. Advocating for young Witches and Pagans means constantly engaging with this demographic and being open to their interests, likes, and dislikes. I learned so much while interviewing teens during the initial writing of TSW, but I continue to learn as I pose new questions to the community that has built up around it. So for the next few months I'm asking the young Pagan community about their thoughts on a number of topics that I'll report on here. Some of them will be deeper and more intellectual, and some will be based on simple feelings. I ask these questions through a number of outlets including Facebook pages, groups, and via email to the youth I know.

Last week I started with a simple question: What in your opinion is the best part of being a young Wiccan, Witch, or Pagan? How is it helpful for you? What are you most proud of?

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  • Nova
    Nova says #
    I think most people take younger people for granted sometimes forgetting who they were and how they thought when they were younger
  • Julie Chedzo
    Julie Chedzo says #
    I am new to Paganism. I love Nature and i love the freedom Paganism gives you. I don't like rules and being free is great. I like
  • Julisa
    Julisa says #
    I am also a younger Pagan and I chose this religion (coming from a firm Christian family) because I feel a strong connection to na
  • David Salisbury
    David Salisbury says #
    Julisa- thanks for sharing! Isn't it cool how nature can call out to us and poke us to learn more about it's mysteries?
  • Julisa
    Julisa says #
    Yes David, it is amazing. It also made me look back up the trunk of my family tree as well. Come to find out, I come from a long

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Grain of My Life

Lughnassadh is to me a celebration of legacy. The grain falls and we remember what is important; life, love, survival, and memory. The grain is the blessing of the gods to their people, a chance for the future. On this day, I look at my impact and my legacy. What is the grain of my life? Will my actions sustain my generation and future generations to come?

Although many celebrate the First Harvest as the darkening time of looking back and giving thanks, I like to keep the focus on the work that must still be done. Gratitude is something I weave into my daily practice every day of the year so what is seen as "harvest" is more about looking forward than back, in my work. In western Europe, this is quite a busy time for farmers rushing to get as much done as possible to stretch the crop as long as possible. It is a mad dash to create a legacy of abundance that will last through the truly dark winter months. Nothing "stops."

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Songs for the Feri Gods: Dian Y Glas

For this next edition in my series of devotional playlists for the gods of the Feri tradition of Witchcraft, we take a look at Dian Y Glas (and boy does he liked to be looked at). Dian Y Glas, also called simply "Blue God", Is the youngest [mostly]male emanation of the Star Goddess in the pantheon of Feri deities. Dian Y Glas is often seen as young, lustful, and androgynous. He represents the love and passion held deep within the heart of the Star Goddess, where all things emerge. 

Blue God to me represents the power of the ecstatic Craft that celebrates all things free and wild. His energy is chaotic but seems to make sense on a deep and cellular level. He is filled with pride, confidence, and attraction, which are all things that awaken within us when we follow the tune of his call. My playlist for Dian Y Glas consists of songs that make me jump up and down and scream "I am ME and I am completely and utterly awesome in every sense of the word."

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Songs for the Feri Gods: Star Goddess

I was a kid when making mix-tapes turned into making mix-CD's. I would make compilations for my friends that reminded me of them and give them out as gifts. In fact I still do this! CD's have turned into playlists that I have for all sorts of situations and ideas. I probably have more playlists on my mp3 player than I do songs. So in honor of my anniversary of starting to train in the Anderson Feri tradition of the Craft (mid-July) I'm making some play lists of my own.

Of all the concepts in Feri, the gods are probably what fascinate me the most. They are as abstract as they are embodied, as compassionate as they are fierce. For the next week I'm going to let you in on my playlists that I have for each of the Feri gods. Many of the Feri gods share similarities with other more popular Pagan deities so once you learn a bit about each one, you can see why I might have chose a certain song. They'll cover the whole spectrum of silly and sad and strange and sensible, just like the gods themselves. Oh, and they won't be "Pagan" either.

To start out, today's playlist features the Star Goddess. In the Feri tradition, Star Goddess is the original point of all creation. She is the nexus point from which all things emerge and return. All other gods extend outwards as manifestations of her limitless spectrum. The songs of Star Goddess focus on (obviously) the stars themselves, the expansion of space, and the lovely chaos of time outside of time.

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  • David Salisbury
    David Salisbury says #
    NOTE about the Owl City song: YES, I realize he wrote this with the intention of it being a Christian song and the lyrics "He is t

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Equal Light, Equal Rights

Yes, this is partly a political post so if you don't agree with things like civil rights, marriage equality, and progress for LGBTQ individuals, this might not be the post for you. But you know what I really love about contemporary Paganism? One would be hard pressed to find someone who isn't on board with these issues in our movement. That is another post entirely though.

This sabbat week of Ostara is a very significant one for me. As a Wiccan, it has been part of my religious culture for most of my life to reflect on the balance of light and dark at this time. To reach towards the expanding light as I examine and honor my own dark qualities within and without. But this Ostara feels so much more tangible and Earthly than usual. The world is on the edge of so much change and I think others are sensing that more and more every day. The timing is incredible, and I'll explain way.

I work for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization working for LGBTQ equality in the United States. In my work here in Washington DC, I get to see first-hand some of the most amazing legislative and culture-based changes. These are changed that many of my older friends thought they would never see in their lifetimes. Workplaces are increasing benefits for same-sex couples all over the country. Schools are implementing anti-bullying programs to help queer youth and their families. Currently, nine states plus the District of Columbia allow same-same marriage and there are several more possible states that could be added to that before the year is out. To say that we are on the precipice of a huge cultural shift would be an understatement. Recent polling shows that for the first time ever, the majority of Americans support marriage equality for all citizens.

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Yes, Pagan societies have also supported slavery, war, and lots of other things. Like, say, pedastry, patriarchy, and the subjugat
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Yes, Anne, every historical and pre-historical pagan society has supported real blood marriage, families, and children. That supp
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Greybeard: with all due respect, if marriage is primarily about "blood children" then logically no couples intending to be childle
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Argumentum ad Absurdum. Nobody alleges that all people will go extinct. The whole human population won't go extinct, but subgroup
  • David Salisbury
    David Salisbury says #
    Greybeard- The argument that gay marriage will result in human extinction is - to put it as kindly as I can - absolutely ridiculou

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