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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Musings Of A Wiccan High Priest and Elder
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Article ID: 11341
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Stanley Modrzyk or Dorothy Modrzyk
Posted: January 14th. 2007
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On Teachings and Tradition…
A wise man once said, “There are NO secrets, there are only times when understanding is not meant to be ours.”
I am sure that there are many people who have studied with a teacher or a group and in the course of their classes encountered something they did not fully understand and when asking, “Why is that?” or “How come it is done that way?” have been given the reply, “It is a secret!” To me those four words are some of the most unacceptable words a person, especially a student, may ever hear. Doubly so when it comes to Wicca and its teachings or Magickal practice.
For a person who claims the position of teacher to respond to a student’s serious question by saying, “It is a secret” and then say nothing more is a cop out. This should be a clear sign to a student that the teacher has been asked a question that they are not capable of answering and/or do not wish to be bothered with.
Now, there are some times that the student, in the opinion of the teacher, is not ready for the particular instruction. If this is the case, then the teacher should reply that the student will be taught the answer to their question when the student is ready for the information. However, if this answer is given it should always be followed by a short explanation of why the student is not ready at this time. If the student is a part of a larger class and the question goes to material that will be covered in an upcoming class, then the student along with the rest off the class should be so informed along with a timeline of approximately when the material will be covered.
A teacher should be ever aware that students – especially new students – are very much like explorers of old. Each step forward upon this new path brings them to new discoveries. Each crest they reach opens before them a new panorama of experience that they cannot wait to dive into. Because of this, any delay needs to be explained to the student with a reason. To say, “It is a secret” or “We’ll get to that later” without a more detailed explanation does the student a serious disservice. Remember that true students are on a quest for knowledge and vague wave offs instead of real answers will not only hinder them on their quest but may dissuade them from their quest entirely.
Likewise, if a student asks why something in ritual is done in a particular way there should always be a valid reason that the teacher can explain, in detail if needed, as to why in ritual something is done in a particular way. Too often teachers have relied on an answer of “It is Tradition” to explain why they do something a particular way in ritual. While indeed a particular way of working a ritual may be steeped in a Tradition that has been carried forward for years, for a teacher to use “Tradition” and “Tradition” alone as an explanation is more of an excuse for not knowing why than it is an answer as to why they do what they do.
When it comes to working ritual and magick every action done in Circle is an action that requires an expenditure of energy. Energy is never something that a person can waste in a Magickal Circle. Working within a Magickal Circle our fore bearers did nothing more and nothing less that was absolutely required to achieve the desired end. From the casting of the Circle itself to the order of lighting the candles to the exact number of times a direction within the Circle might be censed was done with a very specific reason and was meant to accomplish a specific and necessary part of the overall ritual. Anything and everything that they did within that Circle had a purpose that could be explained without the use of the word, “Tradition”.
So it should be in any Circle wherein magick is to be worked. When you work a ritual you should always know why you do everything that you do. It is not enough to simply know how to do it. All of your actions within Circle should be done with full consciousness of reason. Working with “Tradition” as your reason is no better than working in a mental fog or working with your eyes closed. Because of this, no teacher should ever just say to a student, “We do it this way because it is our Tradition”. A good teacher should be able to define the reason and the purpose governing every action that is done during one of their rituals.
Over the years there have been a number of times when one of my students asked a question that I had never been asked before. A question that, even after thinking about it for a while, I could not come up with a real answer for. Now I could have tried faking it and brushed it aside with the “It is a secret” line. But as said before, that would do the student a serious disservice. It would also be doing myself a serious disservice.
By admitting that I had no answer to the question I showed my honesty to the student.
Then, by opening up a willingness to research the answer with the student’s help, I created a mutual “quest” for the both of us. The resulting quest for the answer by both of us brought knowledge and a deeper understanding of the subject to the student and to myself as well. Knowledge which, had I said, “It is a secret”, I would never have gained.
It also brought the student and myself closer together because the student learned that while their teacher may know a great deal there are still thing that their teacher needs to learn – and, more importantly, is willing to learn.
As I said at the beginning of this musing, a wise man once said, “There are NO secrets, there are only times when understanding is not meant to be ours.” Sometimes it takes a question from a student and honesty on the part of the teacher for that time of understanding to be now.
Musings by Stanley J. Modrzyk
Copyright: Copyright 1995 by Stanley J. Modrzyk
Stanley Modrzyk or Dorothy Modrzyk
Location: Berwyn, Illinois
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