So you want to study Paganism with me…

English: Primary School in "open air"...
English: Primary School in “open air”, in Bucharest, around 1842. Wood engraving, 11x22cm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It must be that time of year. A few folks have approached me in the past three months about teaching them about “Pagan religions,” and while I’m not averse to taking students, it’s a lot of energy for very little reward on my own part. I’m not someone who finds the “joy of teaching” a privilege or a reward … I find it a drain. A drain I rather resent. At the same time, there are people that come to me that really do need a teacher, who are like me and don’t fit with a tradition in the traditional sense, or who really just want to learn enough magic to do what they need to do to make their daily life functional. I don’t necessarily enjoy the approaches, but I also won’t turn away people who a)genuinely need some help b)are willing to make the changes to make that help matter (this is not the same as doing it my way, though those resistant to change might read it that way) and c)are mature enough not to blame me or project onto me when it comes to the fucked up religious and spiritual messages they’ve internalized over the years.

My requirements:

If you’re genuinely serious, compatible, and willing to commit, you must:

1)Complete the Artist’s Way. You don’t have to do it in the allotted 12 weeks, but you do have to do it. As you do the program, you will start to see why, yourself.

2)Complete Money Drunk/Money Sober – the less fucked up you are, the better you’ll do with any endeavor.

3)Present me with a proposed syllabus of what you aim to study after you have completed the first two requirements.

This will take you at minimum 6-9 months. And I would insist you do that before I even consider putting you on a dedicant year. And I don’t do it the way covens do with dedication leading to initiation. You do a dedicant year, and then you do a pre-initiate year, and THEN there’s initiation. My religion and magical practices are serious stuff that changed my entire life. I’m not going to fuck around with any Playgans.

I can initiate you into Wicca, but I have obtained no other initiations that I can confer. I am not associated with any traditions at this time because there are no Wiccan traditions that really fit who I am as a complete adult. There is no regulatory system determining what initiations are valid or are not, so if you go through all this with me and then move onto a coven, you’ll most likely have to go through their entire training system from the beginning as well – as you should. Wiccan traditions are not the same as simply being Wiccan.

If you ask my permission first, I will answer questions you have about Paganism. What teaching I do generally comes through writing.  While I have in the past taken 1 on 1 students, I don’t normally.

Why I don’t take students in most cases

Why?

I’m following my new rule of looking to my own needs first. When you’re just starting out in Pagan study, or in anything, you don’t even think about the needs or realities of the people you want teaching you. That’s normal, and many react badly when they’re turned down because they want what they want for themselves so badly that it doesn’t occur to them that the person they want teaching them always has to do so at some personal cost that is physical, emotional, financial, and time-consuming.

My primary reason for turning away formal students right now:

I’m still looking for a suitable, on-my-level magical working partner. It’s my unicorn, my holy grail, my TARDIS. I’ve muddled along with working partners that I’ve had to teach, but you can’t have a wholly healthy friendship and spiritual connection with a person AND be their formal teacher – not until you’ve had a few years of space between teaching relationship and personal friend.  Both my parents were public school teachers at various points in their lives, and it was visible to me every day how even twenty years after a kid graduated from high school, that power dynamic never faded.  Right now there are bugaboos – if that person is in a coven that does oathbound stuff, inevitably something we’re doing will come into conflict and from my point of view, unnecessary, “those people are controlling assholes,” conflict. Of course I can’t know the other side other of the situation, and except when it comes to protecting the identity and safety of your fellow coveners or preserving the sanctity of initiation, most secrecy is a load of steaming bollocks. I’ve also been informed that my choice to be public about my Paganism risks making other coveners I’ve been involved with publicly identifiable – another load of steaming bullshit.

My experience with covens has led me to feel that for whatever reason, when I personally get involved with a coven I will be treated with disrespect and my voice will go unheard or be silenced when I do speak my mind. I am well aware this is not the case for other coven members, but this is how my two coven experiences have gone thus far, and I have zero interest in repeating that pattern further. So while I don’t object to a prospective partner being involved with a coven, I generally anticipate some coven-based interference that I’d rather not deal with.

You’re really just interested in dabbling

Don’t fucking waste my time. I don’t care if you don’t like reading books.

Your boyfriend/girlfriend is an asshole

Sadly, I’ve had to have students drop because they just couldn’t get their non-Pagan partner to trust them. The worst was the girl who was convinced I was out to have sex with her boyfriend. I do NOT have the bandwidth for that kind of drama, especially of the “I imagined it so it must be true,” kind of bullshit. If you’re in a relationship like that, you’re in a bad relationship, and you need to sort that out before you go pursuing a religious path that will alter your place in society.

You’re still focused on a previous religion, or you just want to piss someone off

My religio-magical practice is not petty, and is too important to constantly refer itself to Christianity, monotheism, or the usual patriarchal clutter. If you’ve got something to prove, don’t prove it to me – all you’ll do from my perspective is demonstrate yourself to be a jackass.

You don’t want to feel uncomfortable

There’s bad uncomfortable i.e. “I’m being taken advantage of” and “this is new” uncomfortable. You need to be mature enough to know the difference before you pursue any magical practice.

The vast majority of people that approach me fall in the “no” category for the above reasons. You need to demonstrate you’re serious, because otherwise, you’re not just treating the material dismissively – you’re treating me dismissively.I’ve had enough of that shit from people that were ostensibly my teachers in the past – I’m certainly not going to tolerate it from teachers OR students now.

It’s the reason I insist prospective students do the Artist’s Way first. This way they’re clear with themselves what they’re really trying to do, and since about 98% of the time Paganism is a possibility and not an answer, they can define their paths for themselves by following Cameron’s program. Honesty takes courage, and most people try to defer telling the truth which makes it worse and worse until it blows up. If you have the right attitude – “I want to learn, I won’t be good at everything, and I need to speak up right away if this isn’t right,” is hugely important in the spiritual work that I do.

And if you haven’t figured it out yet, if you’re just looking to smoke up and camp out with a bunch of hippies, I’m the wrong person.

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