I adore my witch study group because they make me think. I find myself challenging years of training, years of study, and many preconceived notions. Today was especially challening. One young, firey member whom I treasure questioned why she had to trust what others say when, even as a new and inexpereinced witch, she knew in the depths of self what felt right whether or not she had the experience to back it.
At the risk of painting my back with a target, I'm going to risk wading in on this one. Remember, this in only my .02 cents worth, backed by coven work, solitaire work, and my eclectic leanings after leaving several covens over the years. So yes, I know my stuff. Nope, don't know everything: )
Generally, when a new person petitions to enter a group, be it a coven, grove, or whatever, they are taught tools/associations/etc. The reason is that in order to enter the group mind, and to achieve tighter focus/results, if everyone has the same view of "green means money" or "blue means healing when we can't use green cause it would cause harm" or "wand represents wisdom/air" while athame represents "fire/will" then the group can effect stronger magic because everyone is working together with the same associations/imagery.
Now, that does not negate the use of personal associations/"feels right" kind of stuff. When that group member is at home they may choose yellow for a healing color because they gave a cool piece of citrine on the altar that works for them. The solitaire might use a piece of black obsidian instead, because they want to target cancer cells and destroy them. In each case, magick is effective. In each case, the witch had studies, prepared, and knew what they were doing.
Now, let's look at an example of the danger of doing "what feels right" without having studied or been part of a group. Let's say my friend has cancer and asks for a healing spell. I know that green is good for healing, so I use it as a part of my healing ritual. It feels right. What I don't realize is that green, as a color of growth, will actually grow my friend's cancer even faster. If she steps into my circle without special shielding, the circle energy will grow her cancer even faster. These are the counter intuitive aspects that not being a part of a group to train, or not being a part of a list like this one, or not asking those who have been around a while. I can't emphasize this enough: there are counter-intuitive aspects of magick that can cause harm.
Stepping out even further on a limb: Outside of magic, "what feels right" for a twenty-year-old is not the same as "what-feels-right" for a fifty year old. The same applies to magic. Now, on the flip side, that might mean that I, as an older memeber of the community, limit myself unnecessarily because I have developed so much caution, or because I have bought into coven teaching without questioning as much as twenty-something.
Consequently, I think that we function better in the pagan community when we discuss, share, listen to teach other. Age does not buy me respect or knowledge. Age does not negate your knowledge/experience. We learn together. Nevertheless, those of us who have practiced awhile, who are crones, who do research have an edge all sould pay attention to and benefit from. And it can be a matter, especially in a discussion group, of taking what you want and leaving the rest.