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Link For The Morning

The Notion of Pagan “Elders”

This was originally nabbed from Lupa.

This person brings up some interesting arguments and points of discussion, and I say this as someone who engages in the honoring and recognition of “honored dead” in various forms (ancestors, etc.). However, sometimes when people do mention “elders” it does make my eyes roll back into my head–this is probably a good articulation as to why, and I’m really glad that there are those out there who are addressing these issues.

I’m also wondering why the term “elders” is one that ceases to recognize the contributions of women, as the author of the post argues. Believe me, as someone who is very concerned with gender equality, I’d be quick to point out any such inconsistency, but I think my reasoning is that I always assumed that “elder” was a descriptor for females as well as males. This may not have always been the case–my modern mind just automatically parses it that way.

Still contemplating all of this, needless to say.

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  1. June 2, 2011 at 1:37 am

    o.O Errm… “elder” is appropriating Native American culture?

    Ok, first off: Elder is an English word. It’s derived from the Old English word for “older person or parent”, eldra, and has been in use long before the time of Columbus, much less the colonization of the Americas by Europe. While we usually translate an equivalent Native American term into English as “elder”, the term elder and the concept of an elder did not originate with Native American tradition.

    Hell, from the 1611 King James Bible: “And Ioseph went vp to bury his father: and with him went vp all the seruants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,” (Genesis 50:7). That’s one of 197 separate uses of the term elders in that version of the Bible.

    This is really a universal concept. Claiming that using the term “elders” appropriates Native American culture strikes me a lot like claiming that the use of the term Shamanism appropriates Native American culture, despite such practices having been found worldwide and the term itself not originating from any Native American dialect.

    And, as you note, I also don’t see how it in any way ceases to recognize the contributions of women by referring to them as “elders”.

    The terms offered by the author as substitutes also grate on me. “Thinker”, “Theorist”, “Philosopher”… these titles don’t really seem to indicate that much beyond thinking has been done. The people I recognize as elders have done a lot more than just think, theorize, or philosophize. They have taken action. They have helped blaze fresh paths. That leaves the fourth suggestion: “teacher”. My problem with this term is that it implies a far more personal relationship. If someone has never met me, has no idea who I am, then they are *not* my teacher any more than I am their student. They may, however, still be an elder whose work and life I have learned from.

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