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?

Here's a recap of a small number of the many responses I received along with some observations on what I noticed about them. I've only shared initials to protect privacy, although I also share age when it was given.

"Being able to be part of a loving community and informing others what Paganism is."

"I love the acceptance I get and the help. I'm solitary but I still ask a ton of questions. Its challenging but i love the freedom it gives me."

"Wicca teaches me how to be responsible for myself and to make myself better. It pushes me to do better things with my life."
-A, age 16

"Being a Wiccan has been so helpful because it has helped me to become one with myself and the nature around me. My mind has been set wide open and everything is shed in a new light, which is shattering and beautiful. It has brought me back to who I am and has saved me in more ways than one."

"I love knowing that the gods are there for me to talk to when I have no one else to talk to. I'm never truly alone."
-K, age 15

"My favorite is that it has helped me be me in almost every aspect of my life. That I see myself, others and nature in a different way than I used to."

"Knowing that no matter what, you can relay on the strength that nature has to support you when you are feeling weak."

"When I meet people who believe the same, I have an instant bond with someone I can connect with in the community."
-L, age 17

"The best part for me about being Wiccan is the amazing feeling of joy I get from helping people. It gives me drive and focus. When I found Wicca I found myself."

"I love that I can connect with other people to share something special about me. I like meeting people who feel drawn to this path like I do."
-B, age 16

This is just a small sampling of the dozens of responses I got through both social media and email and encompasses a pretty visible range of the answers I received. 

Can you guess my first observation? No spells! A terrible assumption by some older Pagans is that young Pagans are only interested in magickal paths for the instant glory that a spell can promise. Though out of all the responses, I honestly did not see a single one that mentioned "being able to cast spells." This to me is proof that the young generation of Witches and Pagans is a lot deeper than many like to believe. This isn't a new thing either. Starting as a teen myself, I can tell you that spells and magick was certainly something I thought was "cool" but was not the main attraction to me and those I practiced with. I'm tickled to know that this sentiment extends beyond my own experience.

My other observation was the huge number of responses focused on finding and engaging with a community. This isn't surprising considering that a formative trait of growing up is learning how to interact with different communities and finding what you consider to be your place within them. This is especially important for young Pagans who may feel ostracized for being of a minority religion, where social acceptance could be a little harder to come by.

Stay tuned to this series for more insights into the minds of young Witches and Pagans today. I feel it is important to pay attention to what our young think and to actively listen when they decide to share those thoughts. Hearing the voices of young Pagans is a gift for the future of our community and is something I hope we can all take a greater interest in.

Photo: Moon Church, Brooklyn 2013