I’ve been training people in the Craft for almost two decades years. If someone who comes to me looks very young, the first thing I want to know is their age and whether or not their parents are aware that they’re seeking this training. Under 18? Your parents don’t know you’re here? Then my answer is always an emphatic “No!” Invariably, these kids want to know, “why not?”. There are many reasons why the vast majority of Wiccans and Pagans will not consent to train anyone under 18 in the Craft, and all of them are established to protect the community, including the person wishing to be trained and the group she or he wants to join.
The biggest reason that we won’t train someone under 18 is related to parental consent. Without parental consent, anyone teaching another religion to a child can be prosecuted under the law. Let’s face it, most parents who aren’t Pagan are strongly opposed to having their child(ren) exposed to witchcraft. On the other hand, parents that aren’t opposed are usually studying it themselves. They’re more than fine with letting their kids learn age appropriate material with them, and do.
Which brings me to reason #2. I say age appropriate, because we are a fertility religion. That means the act of creation, and the sexual union of God and Goddess is sacred to us, and is the basis of our religion. You can’t ethically teach that until someone is over 18, because it’s confusing AND illegal. We, as a culture, have decided that sex with children is wrong. We, as a society, have decided that the age limit is 18. We, as a people, made this decision based upon the negative experiences that humanity has encountered when adults have crossed this line. It is an important line, and although all of us mature at slightly different rates, you never know if you’ve crossed that line until AFTER someone is emotionally damaged. Since, the price of safety is only a couple of years, it is foolish to risk it. RESPECT this rule, because if you do not, you cannot undo the damage after it has been done, and you spend the rest of your life trying to get over it. Besides, impatience is a sure sign that one is not ready for magical training.
Reason #3 – What most academic schools are teaching is actually the foundation upon which magical training is built. To be successful in any field, especially Witchcraft, you need a good understanding of Mathematics, Algebra, Mythology, History, Social Studies, Geography, Science, Literature, how to write a research paper, and grammar . These things are very important to know before you begin studying witchcraft. Without this strong foundation, you will never be able to get past the basics of the craft. I look at the report cards of new students coming into the seminary who are under the age of 30. Students with bad grades inevitably lack the required skill set needed to perform in a college level setting. Since they’ve not developed the discipline required to learn basic educational concepts, they have a difficult time grasping the more complex concepts that are required to train your brain to move from a linear thinking pattern to a spiral thinking pattern. Basically, schools are doing FAR MORE to establish the roots of magical training than most people realize!
Reason #4 – Teenagers are really busy “growing up.” Teaching them magical concepts creates more trouble for them. For example, look at the stories of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”. She causes herself way more problems with her powers than if she’d just be a regular kid. Notice how it takes advice from someone older and more mature to help her find her way out of the trouble she gets into. Maturing teenagers are learning how to interact as an adult in an adult environment: how to be respectful, honorable, grounded, etc. If you dishonor your training, and there are many ways to do this, you could be dismissed and not allowed to return.
Reason #5 – While most of us who are appropriately trained in the craft try to come from our highest place every moment of every day, there are just as many who are lying about their training and looking for anyone to worship and glorify them as God or Goddess incarnate. These people are hard for adults to identify until after they’ve already been spiritually abused. It’s impossible for Wicca, as an institution, to protect our youth from these predators, if we allow children to enter training too soon. We do not have many safeguards to protect people seeking craft knowledge, and people get deeply challenged in the best training programs. BEWARE of anyone willing to teach students under 18! Oftentimes these are unethical people who are more interested in amassing students and lording their power over others. These people can do just as much harm as the worst abusive parent, and then you could be spend the rest of your life trying to get over it.
All in all, youth is a very short chapter in our lives. There are times in life when one’s energy is just not conducive to studying witchcraft. The teenage years are one of those times. It’s not that you don’t need the spiritual interaction or ministering, because if you feel you do, you should do something about it. But do it the right way. Get your parents to take you to a Sabbat celebration and participate in the joy of the craft. Pray to the Goddess, meditate, read mythology, learn to read tarot. The time for formal study will come. It will come when you stop being a member that attends meetings, and start learning how to be the person that leads the meetings.
If you seriously want to study Wicca and become a Priestess or Priest, then properly prepare yourself so you’ll be ready for it when the time comes. Make good grades, take your Literature assignments and writing assignments very seriously. You’ll write a lot as a priest/ess, so you should be able to do it well or people will not respect what you have to say. Learn about our history, because there will be other stories that can’t be found in books that you won’t be able to understand, if you don’t know the historical background. Take your Mythology, Science and Shakespeare lessons very seriously. All of them have mysteries you will discover later in your training.
You are already in magical training, because you’re here on the planet. Magical training has to do with the way you look at your life, and how you respect the magic that is already there. This perspective earns you the right to be exposed to more. When the student is ready the teacher will appear. Make sure you’re ready for formal training, by applying yourself in school, making good grades, learning to be honorable, telling the truth, doing the right thing, and respecting your parents, even if you don’t agree with them sometimes. Respect the fact that people that are older than you have learned many lessons and are trying to help you avoid the same mistakes. The world is this way because experience teaches us things that youthful optimism doesn’t: human nature is not the same in reality as it is in our heads.
Find the long version of the Wiccan Rede and memorize it. Follow it. It has many mysteries in it. Then, when you’re 18 and you apply for training, you will more likely be accepted. Always remember this extremely important part of the path. It’s JUST like college. You APPLY for magical training, you don’t just show up and expect to get it. A High Priest or High Priestess has absolutely no obligation to teach you. They can dismiss you from training at any time, and will, if you make the experience of teaching you unpleasant. If you come properly prepared, if you’re humble, respectful, appreciative, and hard working, you will find your place among the Wicca. Consider your relationships with your parents and current teachers. How do you treat them? Do they find you a joy to teach? Do you turn in homework? Do you listen in class, and read the chapters? Do you take the time to understand why your parents make the decisions they make, or do you just rage against the restrictions? These will tell you where you need to grow. If you make your life successful as a teenager, you’ll make an excellent witch. Good luck.