Articles/Essays From Pagans
February 1st. 2019 ...
Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media
September 25th. 2018 ...
Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Lady on the Stairs
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
July 26th. 2018 ...
The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
An Open Mind and Heart
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
So You Think You've Found a Teacher...
Article ID: 15435
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,129
Times Read: 4,373
RSS Views: 12,931
Author: Valerie Voigt
Posted: May 26th. 2013
Times Viewed: 4,373
A young woman had done quite a bit of reading and some solitary practice, and felt the Wiccan Path was where she belonged. After some time, she felt she was ready to expand her Craft understanding by studying with a teacher. She had finally found someone who had offered to teach her, but she wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea. He assured her that he was a Lord High Purple Robe Something-or-Other, and therefore well qualified to be a teacher, but this "assurance" didn't make her more comfortable.
Well, just offhand, I'd say the guy sounds like
•a black magician
I've run into people who sounded like him -- claiming all sorts of ooga-booga-type titles, etc.
Some of those were just harmless nut cases, but others were genuinely dangerous (in the sense of physical danger, and sometimes spiritual/magical danger as well) .
There are many things that can be said about the ethics and relationships of teachers and students, but one of the most important is this:
Magical training forges a permanent karmic link between teacher and student.
Therefore, you should exercise caution and judgment when deciding to apprentice with any teacher: their problems, as well as their skills and strengths, will naturally, through the karmic link, tend to get passed along to you. Thus, you want to choose a teacher whom you respect as a person, and who has a reasonably good control over her/his life.
Some things you might want to think about:
•Does this person have a healthy sense of her/his own identity? That is, does s/he seem to have both an honest appreciation for herself and an honest awareness of her weaknesses? (We all have them, and anyone who can't accept that fact will tend to trip her/himself up.) Does s/he like herself, yet have reasonable humility? (If the phrases "power-tripper", "doormat", "egomaniac", "paranoid" or "perpetual victim" apply, the answer is probably no.)
•Does this person handle their life, including the annoying aspects of mundane reality, in a reasonably balanced manner? The inner and the outer often mirror each other, and a person who is continually in crisis mode is not exercising their magic to good effect. This doesn't mean that a Witch should necessarily be rich, or free of problems, or otherwise above the daily work of living; but a Witch should not live habitually in self-generated crisis.
•Do you WANT to share this person's karma, or would you hope that, errr, not too much of it would rub off, thank you?
The late Isaac Bonewits devised a handy little tool for evaluating groups. It's called the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame, and it can be found at
http://neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html. I summarize it here:
Rate each of the following from 1 (low) to 10 (high) ...
1. __ Internal control, amount of internal political power exercised by leader (s) over members.
2. __ Wisdom claimed by leader (s) ; amount of infallibility declared about decisions.
3. __ Wisdom credited to leader (s) by members; amount of trust in decisions made by leader (s) .
4. __ Dogma, rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility.
5. __ Recruiting, emphasis on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing.
6. __ Front groups, number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of the main group.
7. __ Wealth, amount of money and/or property desired or obtained; emphasis on members' donations.
8. __ Political power, amount of external political influence desired or obtained.
9. __ Sexual manipulation of members by leader (s) ; amount of control over sex lives of members.
10. __ Censorship, amount of control over members' access to outside opinions on the group, its doctrines, and/or its leader (s) .
11. __ Dropout control, intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.
12. __ Endorsement of violence when used by or for the group or its leader (s) .
13. __ Paranoia, amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; perceived power of opponents.
14. __ Grimness, amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines, or its leader (s) .
(The ABCDEF is copyright (c) Isaac Bonewits, and may be reprinted as long as it is unchanged and this notice is included.)
Any group, Pagan or otherwise, with an overall high score is bad news: run, do not walk, away!
If you're not sure about a teacher or group, you might seek out some ex-students or ex-group members and learn their perspective. Everyone, teachers included, has his or her quirks (a teacher may be knowledgeable, but not very organized, for example) . Some quirks may be an issue for you, while others are not. I, for example, tend to do some of my teaching in a roundabout fashion, telling lots of personal stories to illustrate different points. Most of my students love it, but it nearly drives one of them crazy because his learning style is more oriented to a linear, logical style of presentation.
If, after considering the questions raised above, you feel that you are comfortable with the teacher, it's a good idea to find out how much experience they have, and how well they know their stuff. This last can be hard for a newcomer to judge. Checking the teacher with local Elders and other Pagans in the area may help. If the teacher is from one of the established, organized traditions (such as Gardnerian, Correllian, and so on) , you can check their credentials with the Elders or officers of that tradition. Teachers from the English traditions (Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Silver Crescent, and so on) can usually be verified through the New Wiccan Church or through Amber and Jet, a Yahoo online group dedicated to those traditions.
There's no shame in learning from books, either and most good teachers will expect you to have read a few. There are many excellent books available. Some of the standards include:
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. This one's her basic book, and recommended before her others, which are also good.
Anything by Doreen Valiente or by Janet and/or Stewart Farrar. These are particularly valuable for their English Traditional background.
Real Magic by P.E.I. Bonewits. This little book is entertaining, informative, and very useful from a practical standpoint.
Should you be near a good library, you might also like to take a stroll through the Oxford Classical Dictionary -- starting with the entry for "magic" and going from there.
Well, I hope my comments have been useful. Best wishes for spiritual and personal fulfillment.
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Location: Palo Alto, California
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