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On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Finding A Teacher in the Craft
Article ID: 13075
Age Group: Adult
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What makes a good teacher? Many disagree on this point. In different traditions, ideas differ. This is to say that from coven to coven, witch-to-witch, you will find that everyone has his or her own special way of operating. Some have complex hierarchies which describe who is qualified to teach, based upon rank. Others tend to leave such matters entirely up to the Goddess and the individuals' own intuition; and most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the two poles of opinion.
If you don't have a teacher and would like help in finding a good one for you, here are some guidelines to augment your search.
It is my personal perception that you do, indeed, get what you pay for. Craft teachers are holy, committed people and deserve to be paid for what they do. However, service, not money, is the motivating factor in any teaching worth learning. Therefore, if the teacher loves teaching so much that they are willing to do it for free, then (and only then) should they be considered qualified to be paid.
You as a student will want to examine your attitude toward paying. If it's not worth the money to you, or you are feeling swindled, why are you bothering? Perhaps you need to look at your motivation for studying, or find a new teacher who better suits you. Also, if a teacher is firm (albeit loving) with you in regards to payment, don't necessarily conclude that they are money hungry charlatans; they may be helping you work through your own poverty consciousness. At the time of this writing, my fee is $20 per class.
If a student needs to owe me, or would like a free class or two, that is not a problem -- all they need to do is tell me the truth about it. If a student approaches me and simply cannot afford $15 per week, I do not refuse them instruction.
First, I usually ask them if they would enjoy being able to afford my fee. If the answer is no, then we work out a rate that they can afford and stick to that. Most people, however, indicate that they would indeed enjoy being able to afford to pay for what they want. I ask them how much they can afford now, and we work out a reasonable schedule, which gradually increases, with the agreement that their personal income increases as well, until they can comfortably afford the full tuition.
We also agree that if at any time paying me becomes a struggle, they will discuss it immediately with me and we will work something else out. I will usually start them on some exercises to raise their prosperity and self esteem as well. I also offer a work-study program to a limited number of students. Other ideas of payment may be scholarship, or trading goods or services.
What's important is a tangible, purposeful exchange of energy. Students are never the financial means of survival of a good teacher. Get money handled early so that it doesn't interfere with your training. Does the teacher charge you more than you can comfortably pay? Does money seem to be the motivating factor of his or her teaching? Is he or she willing to negotiate some other form of payment that could work more easily for you?
Although I do not advise judging a person's teaching abilities by his or her appearance, the way someone presents herself can say a lot about his or her personality style. Do they dress mostly in dark, witchy clothes? Do they wear dark intimidating make-up? Do they bathe? Do they wear designer suits? Do they wear so many rings that you can't see their fingers? Do they brush their hair? Can you see the clothes they're wearing behind the tangle of pentagrams and talismans around their neck?
None of these characteristics of appearance are good or bad, right or wrong, just notice the teacher's non-verbal way of presenting him or herself to assist you in determining whether or not you feel compatible with their particular personality style.
3. PRESENTATION OF MATERIAL
There is no one right way to present Craft material. Some of us use the oral tradition; others employ the use of computers, photocopiers and/or electronic files. Some teachers are ultra-traditional in approach, and others incorporate more of the so-called "new age" trappings into their craft. The way in which a teacher presents the material can give you some valuable insights as to whether or not they know what they are talking about.
Are they on some kind of power-hungry guru ego trip or are they a member of a thriving spiritual community. Are they willing to answer reasonable questions without belittling the student? Do they seem to have at least a general lesson plan for each session? Do they raise their voice or get out of line on a regular basis? Do they shroud each topic with so much secrecy that everything they teach seems ambiguous? Do their lectures motivate you? Do they gossip? Do they belittle other teachers or traditions? Do you leave class inspired? Do you feel alive or drained when you leave their presence? How often do they smile? Do you find yourself over-powered or bullied by them?
In most traditions, the training of a teacher is a long and thorough process. You deserve to be trained by a well-trained teacher. Don't settle for less than adequate -- interview them! Politely ask them about their tradition, training, their prices, their views on drugs, and sex with students, classroom procedures, etc. Although time is not the only factor in making a good teacher, I suggest that teachers have at least two to three years of training as an apprentice, or under supervision, before teaching alone.
It is all right to ask them from whom they received their training and possibly interview them as well. Granted, the Craft is still secretive, especially so in some branches, so don't be surprised if the teacher's teacher is "unavailable".
Talk to your prospective teacher's students. Do you like the general unifying energy between the students (not necessarily individual personalities) ? How does the teacher react to your politely asking for references? Are they willing to give you at least basic information on their background? (NOTE: don't expect intimate details on subjects such as initiation, rituals, coven mysteries, etc.)
A main function of the priesthood is to provide a support system for students and initiates alike. Your teacher's particular tradition may not include a functioning priesthood per se; however, you will still benefit from aligning yourself with not only a teacher, but also the spiritual community of which he or she is an active part.
Ask to attend a function. Most covens or craft communities have occasional circles, rites, celebrations or parties where guests are invited. It isn't considered polite in many craft circles to ask for full names or addresses at gatherings, as they tend to be anonymous. But be observant.
How does the energy feel? Are people trying mostly to welcome or intimidate you? Do you feel these individuals are developing personal power from within, or does everyone seem to hand their power over to the leader? Is there love, trust, and acceptance or defensiveness and rigidity? Is there a feeling of brainwashing, or does everyone seem to be encouraged to think for him or herself? Are these people afraid to leave this group?
A primary attribute of a well-trained, well-experienced teacher is his or her ability to effectively lead group discussions, processes, meditations, rituals and lectures. Although students will invariably respect and love a good teacher, the student will be encouraged to find his or her own power and leadership abilities. The guru syndrome is discouraged.
A good teacher will be able to teach any student for an indefinite period of time until they mutually agree otherwise, yet the student should always know that they are free to leave at any time. The student is encouraged to have respect and appropriate behavior in class and ritual; the teacher is not seen as all-powerful, nor need the student bow down to the teacher's every whim.
How does the teacher react to questions? Is his or her word expected to be taken as law? How does the teacher react to new, creative input? Does class run smoothly? Are meditations and processes beneficial? Is the leader training new leaders? Do you feel the teacher is monopolizing leadership opportunities in this group? How is disagreement handled?
7. YOUR PROCESS
Be careful not to judge too harshly. It is very easy to take these guidelines far out of context and never be satisfied with any teacher. A lot of times discomfort and dissatisfaction are the products of your own spiritual process. Are you testing this teacher with the hopes that they will fail? Are you asking questions that are inappropriate or lack integrity? Do you use this class as a forum for pontificating? Are you addicted to disapproval? Do you have a poverty consciousness? Are you a prude about dress or appearance? Would Mother Theresa hurt your feelings too? Are you afraid of groups? Does the idea of a spiritual community scare you because of you own family history? Do you dislike anyone in charge or with authority?
If you don't know where to find a teacher, call your local metaphysical or occult store. Many of these shops offer Wicca classes, as do some community college extension programs. You can find an astonishing wealth of Pagan web sites and references. As in looking at advertisements or checking out metaphysical stores, it is important to use caution and good judgment.
Please understand that not all places that offer training in the Craft are reputable, and there are no witch police, so it is left up to your own ability to investigate and choose wisely. Although it is absolutely true that no teacher is better than the wrong teacher, I would certainly encourage you to consider inviting the perfect teacher to show up for you.
As we witches say, when the student is ready, the teacher will find them (and vice-verse) . In the mean time, this book will get you started on your way and if you absolutely cannot find a good teacher, you can start up a group of your own. Trial and error has been an excellent teacher for centuries.
I wish you infinite happiness in whatever path you take! Blessed Be!
Copyright: 2000 Lance and Grail
Location: Santa Ana, California
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