I was able to interview M. Macha NightMare as she waited for a plane to MSP airport, I asked her;
“What have you been up to recently?
Well, Cherry Hill Seminary, which I am always working on. I hope will develop into a more stable foundation. It is something that needs more support from the Pagan community. They have wonderful teachers and students.
I have been working on a Pagan elders study. I did a survey on survey monkey, and got over 800 responses and have been analyzing that data. I have been starting to present on that topic. We have never had elders because we are a new religious movement. We are not a tribe in the conventional sense, and we really don’t have any role models. We have to look elsewhere for models. There are two different kinds of elders, one is older people, and another is people who have been in a community for a while and have some perspective and are turned to frequently for counsel or lore and things like that. Those are the ones I am thinking about. It is not defined and very haphazard. I think it behooves us to examine what our assumptions are about elders and try to put some things in place within our various communities.
What do elders actually do?
That is one of the things that I believe we as the Pagan movement have to determine for our communities. Who are the elders accountable or responsible to? What kind of matters do they address, if any? I got a lot of answers, but they are all over the place. Any human community has occasions and individuals that are not healthy for the well-being of the whole group, and may be dysfunctional and that may be unacknowledged. Some people see that behavior and may be frustrated or alienated. They may withdraw from a community instead of fixing it, or they may not know where to turn to get it addressed. I don’t have the answers. What I have is a lot of questions. It is not up to me to determine what the answers are. I can share some of the answers I got in the survey. I have my own ideas, but I don’t have a nice tidy description of what an elder is yet, because of all the input I have been given. It is pretty interesting. I come at this from a selfish perspective in that people have turned to me as an elder, and have not really known what my role is. I want to respond in an honorable way, or refer them if that seems appropriate.