Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Author: Peter Beckley 

The various paths we tread contained under the “umbrella” of Paganism can benefit greatly from structured, formal training. Several of the benefits from having a structured system of passing knowledge from teacher to student include the following:

1. Being able to track progress along a charted plan can provide a beneficial sense of achievement. To know that you are making progress along your chosen path isn’t just a spiritual need; it is also a significant psychological one. Everyone likes to know that they are making gains whenever they embark on a quest. It is especially important when topics such a sympathetic magick are involved since everything one does either helps or hinders the focus that is placed and required to perform this type of magick. Whether spiritual or educational, the nature of the quest doesn’t matter either, although these two are seldom mutually exclusive anyway. Even during a physical journey, it is always nice to know that you’re going in the right direction to get where you want to go.

2. Another need that most people have is the one of tribe or group membership, otherwise known as identification. Many people have a desire to identify themselves as part of a group, from those who go to a ritual solely to socialize afterwards, to those who are interested in achieving planned results and raising specific energies. Even those who identify themselves as solitary are doing it. They belong to a group, and label themselves and that group. The need of tribe or group membership may be strongest during childhood and young adulthood, but people never really outgrow the need to belong to something. One of the most common questions we ask when meeting someone for the first time who we know to be Pagan is, “What are you?” or “What is your path?”. This also explains the reason we wear symbols of our faith, be it pentacle, Thor’s hammer or whatever, and even why we put bumper stickers, signs and other such things on and in our cars.

3. When you are part of a Pagan group that has a formal training program in place, whether face to face or by correspondence, you have opportunities to gain a sense of order to the mysterious world beyond the mundane one that self-teaching might not be able to provide. It can be comforting to know that there is someone you can turn to when you have a question that can be answered within the construct of your chosen “path”.

4. Using a system of responsibly passing knowledge from teacher to student helps to make sure that the information is not lost or forgotten. The programs usually have a specific form that the knowledge is in, a Book of Shadows for example, that gets copied bit by bit as the person learns more of the knowledge. In oral traditions, great care is taken to emphasize remembering the entire breadth of knowledge as it gets passed from student to teacher.

There are also benefits that need to be mentioned when approaching Paganism and its knowledge from the self-taught point-of-view.

1. One of the benefits to teaching yourself about the path you choose to walk is that, if it turns out to not be what you spiritually identify with, it is very easy to start exploring another one. There is not the guilt which is sometimes associated with leaving a spiritual group, nor are there the hurt feelings members of that group might feel if you choose to leave.

2. Following that same line of thought, being self-taught probably increases the amount of convenient exposure to other paths for you to explore. Eclectic Pagans, whether Wiccan, Druid or whatever, use this idea to their advantage by using parts, concepts, ideas and even pantheons from various paths they’ve walked or read about to create their very own, personal Pagan path.

3. While not exclusive to those identifying themselves an eclectic, the idea of being self-taught lends itself most readily to the idea of eclectic Paganism. There is also something to be said for being “your own person” and that can be developed more easily when you aren’t compelled to follow a specific path of structured traditions.

Bringing a third point of view to the table, not all people who belong to groups with formal instruction believe that they should solely rely on the formal teachings as a source for magickal/spiritual instruction. There are folks who feel that self-teaching or exploring topics related to your chosen path should be viewed as a supplement to the knowledge you gain from “inside” your path. Still others have the exact opposite view, seeing the knowledge outside of what their own path teaches as less valuable, perhaps even flawed.

Quite often, it is the source of the information that can bring the question of self-taught vs. formal training to the forefront. Those who believe that, if it didn’t come from someone they regard as an authoritative figure or expert on the subject, then the information isn’t accurate or at all to be considered for use, argue that self-teaching runs the risk of diluting the accurate information in the world. Some go so far as to refuse certain sources of information entirely. On the other hand, there are those who will assume the “good faith” of the sources they find until proven otherwise. These folks will take information from many sources, whether books at the library, stories and training from a teacher, or even the internet, and gather them all up to cross-reference, double-check and verify to find the useful and most accurate information from it all and apply it to their purpose. They may even go so far as to tell others what they find “good” and “bad” about the sources of information. By using the paradigm of the laws of supply and demand, this invariably leads to better resources

While this essay is certainly geared toward the positive side of both choices, there are drawbacks to both as well. This essay doesn’t seek to be complete in the discussion of such a broad subject, but I hope that it has provided some useful and thought-provoking information for you to consider. The most important thing to remember, and I’m sure even those just starting out on any Pagan path have heard it, is that as long as it doesn’t hurt anything, and you feel the spiritual connection you desire, then you’re on the right path.

Advertisements

Becoming a Witch

Becoming a Witch

by Morgaine

© Morgaine 2001.

This article may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.

I am often asked how one becomes a witch. Do you find someone who is a witch and they make you one? Or are you a witch just by saying you are? Can you  make yourself a witch?

The process of becoming a witch doesn’t happen overnight. It is a life change, a new path upon the journey of your life. It takes consideration, study  and work. If you have previously followed a mainstream religion, you may have things that take time to let go, and new things that take time to absorb. I  have heard many people say it is often hard, coming from a life of Christianity, to feel comfortable praying to the Goddess. All new things take time, but if  you are serious upon this path, you will find your way. The Gods call their own home to them.

No matter how you have came about finding the Old Religion, here you are. So where do you go? To the book store. For a novice, books are like the air you  breathe. You must have them, or access to them in some way. If you cannot afford, or do not feel safe having books on the Craft, the internet is the next  best place.

In both books and on the internet you will find a wealth of knowledge that will help guide you upon your new path. Of course, as with anything else, there  is good information and bad information. Avoid any kind of book, or internet site, that speaks of controlling another person in any way, harming them, doing  love spells on a specific person, or tells you to chant in latin, even though you have no idea what you are saying (yes, I have seen sites like that). These  books/sites will not fulfill your need for knowledge in the Craft and will only serve to confuse you.

Once you have read a variety of books and feel called to this path, the next step is to find a teacher. If you have access to a teacher, in my opinion  this is the best course of action. A teacher or a coven can often be found if there is a new age book store in your community. Also, the Witches Voice is a  site that offers networking in every state. It has grown extremely large over the past few years and is a valuable resource in the Craft community. All of my  coven members have found me on the Witches Voice.

Having a mentor can offer so much to you when you are beginning. There will be things you come across that you have a hard time understanding and need  clarification. If you have a teacher, they are just a phone call or email away. If you do not, you must try to decifer things on your own, and may not come  to the correct end on them. If you do not have a teacher, again, the internet is the next best place to look.

If you are only looking for a ‘how to’ on casting spells, then the Craft is not for you. Witchcraft is a serious spiritual path, in which magick  is performed, but is secondary to the religion itself. I would suggest you look to ceremonial magick for that.

A couple of things need to be said about beginning this path, in light of recent attitudes about the Craft. Here lately it seems that you have a people  who, after reading a few books, feel as if they can call themselves a master of the Art. They throw on a title like Lady/Lord, or HP/s, add some black  clothes, a pentacle the size of a hubcap, and they are ready to go. This is not what the Craft is about. If you have spent years following a particular path,  have worked hard for the spiritual lessons that have been presented to you, and through this have attained the title and rank, then by all means use it. But  think of how you would feel if, after all that, you have a newbie with 6 months and 5 books unde their belt walking about calling themselves Lady Starry Ski  or Lord Thunderbutt. It is very offensive. Just like your parents told you when you were growing up (or maybe you still are) ‘don’t rush things, it  will all come to you in the end, and be sweeter for the waiting’. This is true with the Craft. Using titles, putting on airs, and in general acting high  and mighty are not going to make you any more spiritual. And that is what this path is about. What it will do is alienate you from people whom you may  actually want to meet and get to know!

All of this being said the way to become a witch is through study and dedication. Gather all of the information you can. Find the best teacher possible.  Read whatever you can get your hands on. Go outside in nature and commune with the Goddess and God. Listen to the trees and the wind and the rush of the  water, for this is the witch’s world.

The Pagan Man

The Pagan Man

Author:   Panisch Lockelear   

When you see images of the green man, Hermes, and the horned gods of many pagan religious paths, it is easy to deduce that the male role is important within out pagan society. When I was younger, I went from elder to elder seeking to understand my role as a male in the ways of the various pagan paths. Although my findings were varied, a single idea prevailed. One of a strong man, full of wisdom. A protector of the innocent and a hunter and provider.

This was somewhat different from the images I was exposed to as a younger pagan male. The men that made up most of the pagan community seemed to be a little more and a little less, when measured to this general sense or idea of a pagan man.

On first impressions of the male pagan, I saw a man full of strong drink, drumming from dusk until dawn, a savage sexual appetite, and servant to the woman of their choosing. On the other hand I could also see a man that cared about his own and all children. I found a wealth of teachings about the land we call mother, and the ways and order of the circle of life we all share.

I must say that many ways and experiences from the pagan men who influenced me greatly, were in my mind conflicting. How could a strong man be a hunter, provider and protector of his clan or those who he was sided and also be sub servant, nurturing and bow to what seemed like a lesser position within our religion?

The men, who I learned from, were all of these things and more. Why then would they seem to take a lesser position within our pagan community?

In talking to a man who had the greatest impact on me as a pagan young man, I learned a lot from my mentor and elder Pond hopper I think he had the greatest impact on me, because he seemed to always have time to answer my often strange questions. He took the time to explain this to me and what I noticed was these were teachings he himself actually lived by.

I remember getting into the subject of pagan male role models and I asked him who his were. His answer surprised me. He said ‘ the Grey Squirrel’.

His words hit home for me. ‘You see, the Grey Squirrel helps his mate to make a house in the trees for the family, he helps her in gathering nuts and food for the long winter’. ‘ When a wayward bird comes along to attack him and his young, he becomes a fierce fighter, yet to see the male Grey Squirrel with his young, he is tender and playful.’

I thought on this and quickly replied to Pond hopper asking him, ‘ well what about sharks or fish, who eat their young or leave their young to fend for themselves, never becoming a part of their life?’

I realize his reply to me now was to make me think for myself. He said to me, ‘ Have you ever heard on the television or read in a paper where a man hurt one of his kids or left his family alone?’

Then he asked me…’ Why do you think that is?’

Of course I had no idea at that age as to why. Later on he explained by simply asking, it is funny how we mirror nature and nature seems to mirror us? The fact is we are not being mirrored at all, because we are apart of this circle of life.

We must play our role in this circle. The only difference between the animals and us is the fact that we can choose. We can choose to either be like the Grey Squirrel or like the shark. I pondered this for many years and found a lot of honor in his teachings.

I slowly began to understand that a good pagan man could be fierce and strong when need be. He can be a hunter and he can be a teacher as well.

A mature pagan man also understands that he is apart of a larger circle as well and must learn to adapt, live and work within both the clan family and the natural circles he finds himself in. I learned that there is a natural order and there is a wisdom needed to be able to navigate this order. This is something the pagan male will strive to become comfortable with by making mistakes and testing his bounds.

Falling down, becomes our teacher and the prize is wisdom. I have fallen down a lot in my life and on my pagan path. For that, I thank the gods and pond hopper for the effort and the gift of time they took to raise me to be a pagan man.

I still strive to understand the mother Earth and her circle that I must be a part of. I learned that I would fall down and in doing so I will learn. I know now that the role of the pagan male is something different to all of us depending on the teachers we have had. The way we have gained our wisdom to navigate the circles we are in are important. They are as important and those elders who take the time to teach us.

I am reminded that in my life as a pagan male, I am a role model for those younger men who watch me. They look to me for the knowledge needed to find their place within the circle as hunters, providers, protectors, servants, and men of real wisdom. I know that I owe a debt to the circle of life.

I know now that Pond Hopper was a man that understood the need to lead by example. I also know that while I may fall down, this is not the end of me. To be strong enough to do that means that I am not relegated to a lesser role within the pagan religion. My role is very well defined and the gods and my mentors are my guides.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 10

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 10

“The battle for Indian children will be won in the classroom, not on the streets or on horses. The students of today are our warriors of tomorrow.”

–Wilma P. Mankiller, CHEROKEE

The world is constantly changing. One of the strengths of Indian people has been our adaptability. In today’s world, education is what we need to survive. We need doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists. We can become these things and still live in a cultural way. We need to live in two worlds; the educated world and the Indian cultural world. Education will help protect our land, our people’s health, and provide knowledge for our people. We must teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Also, we must teach the language, the culture, the ceremony and the tradition of our people.

Creator, let me remember You are my teacher.

Daily OM for October 30th – A Great Teacher

A Great Teacher

Living Like Water

by Madisyn Taylor

 

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.

 

The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.

The Daily OM

Awakening Witches

Awakening Witches

Where to begin? If you are just now starting to awaken, there is so much to learn that it’s mind boggling. I would like to stress here that the information below comes from my own personal beliefs, which have been evolved over many years with input from a huge variety of sources ? some physical, some not ? and my aim is to help other people understand what is going on around them at this time. If you have not yet had the advantage of access to this information, some of it may sound unbelievable to you but please do not dismiss it out of hand just because it is unfamiliar to you. If you are going to form an opinion on whether you believe the information or not, at least let it be an informed opinion. And if you don?t believe the same things I do, that’s fine too ? I don’t expect you would find any two people who believed exactly the same things. I suggest you print this article out and refer to it often while starting your spiritual journey.

1. Keep An Open Mind

Many people start their spiritual quest (as I did many years ago) with an interest in the supernatural and ghosts, then explore spiritualism, witchcraft, tarot, angels, astrology, UFOs, meditation and generally dabble in all different forms of divination, religious and spiritual teachings. This is a great way of learning, and after a while you’ll start to see how the different parts link together as part of a bigger web that incorporates new elements you haven’t yet heard of. As long as your mind is open and receptive your knowledge will continue to grow. Sometimes that also means acknowledging that beliefs that worked for you before, no longer give you answers, comfort or the knowledge you seek. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, they could be just limited because of antiquity, mis-interpretation, dogma – or just be a smaller part of the bigger picture.

Nothing stays the same in the universe, and by putting all your energies into one area or thinking that the limits of spirituality are contained within that area, you can be missing out on learning so much more. All spiritual pursuits are learning experiences and part of a bigger picture.

2. Keep Your Personal Power

It is very tempting when you feel depressed, lost or alone to want to find someone who will ‘make it all right’ and show you the way to the light. You will always attract the kind of lessons you need to learn, but you need to be able to discern the difference between a Teacher and a Guru (for want of a better expression). It is always wonderful to find someone further along the path from yourself to learn from, but a good Teacher will never insist that their way is the only way. A good teacher will help you on the path to further knowledge and help you to do things for yourself, leaving you personally responsible for your own progress, thoughts and beliefs.

There is obviously more personal responsibility in this – but that is part of what you’re here to learn. Retain your personal power and free will. Learn what you can from a teacher and when you are ready another will cross your path to teach you more. You will also find yourself teaching others who are starting their spiritual journey.

A ‘Guru’ will let you give them your personal power. They will tell you how to think, what to do and how to believe. They enjoy the adulation you give them and won’t ever let you know as much as they appear to, and like to have permanent bands of followers. Most are good people and are just trying to spread a spiritual message. They may not even be aware of the effect they have. By all means learn from them – just remember to keep your personal power and an open mind, learn what you can and move on.

By asking your spirit guides (yes you have them) to help you find knowledge, they will help direct you to people and situations that you can learn from. Also note that not all ‘teachers’ are people. A wonderful book may come your way or you may discover something profound on the internet; a channeled message, direct spiritual contact or even a life-changing experience may be your ‘teacher’.

3. Keep Your Money

Be aware of paying large sums of money for courses unless you’re really sure what they can and can’t offer. While there are a lot of genuine courses around, remember no-one can do it for you. YOU have to put in a personal effort to achieve anything worthwhile. There is no point paying $500 for a meditation course if you don’t have the attention span to meditate to a 30 minute guided tape. There is such a wealth of cheap or free information available to you that you would be wise to explore these options first. $500 can buy a lot of really good books at the new age shop!

An excellent source of help for beginners is your local Spiritual Church. They usually have a very small door fee to cover the tea & bikkies and will introduce you to various spiritual teachings and local mediums and channelers. In addition to the Sunday service, many spiritual churches offer meditation and medium ship groups, healing and channeling evenings and various courses; some even have libraries of books to borrow. Your local spiritualist church is a friendly, enjoyable and cheap way to meet new like-minded friends.

And of course there’s always the internet for great information! Between the Library on this site and the Links to other like-minded sites you should never run out of information.

4. Keep Protected

While you are starting your spiritual journey, it is important to realize that like the physical world, the spiritual world contains beings of various degrees of enlightenment, but with more extremes of good and bad than we have here. I mention this here because many young people write to me asking about using a Ouija Board, which does have the ability to contact various spiritual beings. Many people use the board for quick thrills or ‘to see if it works’. Well, I can tell you it does work and IT IS NOT A TOY. It is a tool which used properly in the right hands can be helpful and enlightening. If used wrongly, it can give you a bad experience that may taint your desire for further spiritual knowledge, and leave you thinking, as many people do, that the board itself is ‘evil’. I do not recommend beginners or children using the board.

5. Universal Laws

KARMA

Witches have a creed: “Do What Thou Will and Harm None”, which is basically the slogan I use on this whole site. A true witch would never do anything to harm another person or being, or to influence their free will because the witch knows that what goes out from you comes back three-fold. This ‘what goes around comes around’, or ‘reap what you sow’ theme is common to many spiritual traditions. You may have heard of it’s Eastern name of Karma. Whatever the creed, theme or name, it is a Universal Law – part of the on-going cycles of life in the universe.

All life forms are connected to each other in a subtle web, so if you do harm to another, it comes back to you. It may be in a different form, it may be immediate or even in a different life but it comes back. Realizing this fact is part of your awakening because you have to take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for your actions. Not only should the enlightened person not start any negative action, but harder still is not perpetuating actions that are already in progress. I’ll give you an example:-

Not starting any negative actions: Your ex-boyfriend is going out with someone new. A bad thing to do would be casting spells to bring him back or making his new love have an accident. Whether or not anything physically happened, your negative intent is enough to set up bad vibes that will make their way back to you. What you would also be doing is lowering your own vibrational rate with your negative emotions. When you become more enlightened you will see clearly that most relationships are temporary and that you came together at a certain time to learn something from that person – and about yourself. Look at what you learned from the relationship, then let it go with love. Then your heart will be free to attract a new love.

Not perpetuating negative actions: Someone does something nastily or hurtful to you. You think you are justified in returning the hurt because ‘they started it’. That may not be the case. You may well have done something to hurt them that you’re not conscious of, or even in a previous life, in which case you are now even and the karmic cycle has finished. By seeking revenge you would be staring a new karmic cycle of bad vibes. If the other person has just started a new bad cycle, then if you don’t perpetuate it, the bad vibes will just go back to them – what goes around comes around. Again, look at what you’ve learned and let them go with love.

This ‘turning the other cheek’ is hard at first but after a while, you will find yourself becoming more calm, enlightened, loving – and lucky – because you aren’t constantly bringing bad vibes on yourself.

Also, don’t forget that you don’t have to wait to react to bad vibes. You can send out good vibes any time you like and find that good things start to happen to you. Try sending love and light to someone who doesn’t like you and see what a difference it makes!

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE

This law is also very important. Have you ever wondered why the same sort of people all hang out together? It’s usually because they are all vibrating at about the same rate. When you say such-and-such is ‘on a different wavelength’ you are probably right.

One of the difficult things about starting a spiritual journey is finding you have less and less in common with partners, friends and family. It’s nice when they take an interest, or are at least open-minded about what you’re learning but sometimes people are so afraid of what they don’t understand that they can even become hostile to it. If this happens try letting them read some material or meet your new friends – they may just be concerned for your welfare or worry that you’ve joined a cult! Also try sending them white light from your heart to strengthen the relationship. As a last resort will you may need to cut the ties and let them go with love.

One of the positive things you will find is that you will attract new friends who are interested in the same things you are. These friendships too may come and go because everyone is growing at a different rate and people attract to each other while they are on the same ‘wavelength’ and drift apart when the wavelength alters. The more people you come into contact with, the more you will learn.

This phenomenon is not limited to the physical realm. On other planes of reality there are also corresponding vibrational rates to your own. People who are going through spiritual growth find they attract new spiritual guides and teachers to help lead them on their journey.

The important thing to remember with these universal laws is that the more genuine love that you send out – the more comes back to you – your vibrational rate rises and you attract more love and enlightened beings to help and teach you. You gradually rid yourself of negative karma and increase your knowledge and skills that can be used to help others and another wonderful cycle begins. Of course a downward cycle is also possible where you attract more negativity to yourself and think the whole world hates you, but now that you are armed with all the information in this article you won’t let this happen will you?!!!

Now take a deep breath, fill yourself full of white light and warm love…

spellsofmagic.com

Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Pagans with Training and Those Self-taught

Author:   Peter Beckley 

The various paths we tread contained under the “umbrella” of Paganism can benefit greatly from structured, formal training. Several of the benefits from having a structured system of passing knowledge from teacher to student include the following:

1. Being able to track progress along a charted plan can provide a beneficial sense of achievement. To know that you are making progress along your chosen path isn’t just a spiritual need; it is also a significant psychological one. Everyone likes to know that they are making gains whenever they embark on a quest. It is especially important when topics such a sympathetic magick are involved since everything one does either helps or hinders the focus that is placed and required to perform this type of magick. Whether spiritual or educational, the nature of the quest doesn’t matter either,  although these two are seldom mutually exclusive anyway. Even during a physical journey, it is always nice to know that you’re going in the right direction to get where you want to go.

2. Another need that most people have is the one of tribe or group membership, otherwise known as identification. Many people have a desire to identify themselves as part of a group, from those who go to a ritual solely to socialize afterwards, to those who are interested in achieving planned results and raising specific energies.  Even those who identify themselves as solitary are doing it. They belong to a group, and label themselves and that group. The need of tribe or group membership may be strongest during childhood and young adulthood, but people never really outgrow the need to belong to something. One of the most common questions we ask when meeting someone for the first time who we know to be Pagan is, “What are you?” or “What is your path?”. This also explains the reason we wear symbols of our faith, be it pentacle, Thor’s hammer or whatever, and even why we put bumper stickers, signs and other such things on and in our cars.

3. When you are part of a Pagan group that has a formal training program in place, whether face to face or by correspondence, you have opportunities to gain a sense of order to the mysterious world beyond the mundane one that self-teaching might not be able to provide. It can be comforting to know that there is someone you can turn to when you have a question that can be answered within the construct of your chosen “path”.

4. Using a system of responsibly passing knowledge from teacher to student helps to make sure that the information is not lost or forgotten. The programs usually have a specific form that the knowledge is in, a Book of Shadows for example, that gets copied bit by bit as the person learns more of the knowledge. In oral traditions, great care is taken to emphasize remembering the entire breadth of knowledge as it gets passed from student to teacher.

There are also benefits that need to be mentioned when approaching Paganism and its knowledge from the self-taught point-of-view.

1. One of the benefits to teaching yourself about the path you choose to walk is that, if it turns out to not be what you spiritually identify with, it is very easy to start exploring another one. There is not the guilt which is sometimes associated with leaving a spiritual group, nor are there the hurt feelings members of that group might feel if you choose to leave.

2. Following that same line of thought, being self-taught probably increases the amount of convenient exposure to other paths for you to explore. Eclectic Pagans, whether Wiccan, Druid or whatever, use this idea to their advantage by using parts, concepts, ideas and even pantheons from various paths they’ve walked or read about to create their very own, personal Pagan path.

3. While not exclusive to those identifying themselves an eclectic, the idea of being self-taught lends itself most readily to the idea of eclectic Paganism. There is also something to be said for being “your own person” and that can be developed more easily when you aren’t compelled to follow a specific path of structured traditions.

Bringing a third point of view to the table, not all people who belong to groups with formal instruction believe that they should solely rely on the formal teachings as a source for magickal/spiritual instruction. There are folks who feel that self-teaching or exploring topics related to your chosen path should be viewed as a supplement to the knowledge you gain from “inside” your path. Still others have the exact opposite view, seeing the knowledge outside of what their own path teaches as less valuable, perhaps even flawed.

Quite often, it is the source of the information that can bring the question of self-taught vs. formal training to the forefront. Those who believe that, if it didn’t come from someone they regard as an authoritative figure or expert on the subject, then the information isn’t accurate or at all to be considered for use, argue that self-teaching runs the risk of diluting the accurate information in the world. Some go so far as to refuse certain sources of information entirely. On the other hand, there are those who will assume the “good faith” of the sources they find until proven otherwise. These folks will take information from many sources, whether books at the library, stories and training from a teacher, or even the internet, and gather them all up to cross-reference, double-check and verify to find the useful and most accurate information from it all and apply it to their purpose. They may even go so far as to tell others what they find “good” and “bad” about the sources of information. By using the paradigm of the laws of supply and demand, this invariably leads to better resources

While this essay is certainly geared toward the positive side of both choices, there are drawbacks to both as well. This essay doesn’t seek to be complete in the discussion of such a broad subject, but I hope that it has provided some useful and thought-provoking information for you to consider. The most important thing to remember, and I’m sure even those just starting out on any Pagan path have heard it, is that as long as it doesn’t hurt anything, and you feel the spiritual connection you desire, then you’re on the right path.

THE ABBREVIATED LAWS

                       celt71

                                    THE ABBREVIATED LAWS

‘Tis the Old Law, and the most important of all Laws, that no one may
do anything which will endanger the Craft, or bring us into contact
with the law of the land or any of our persecutors.

* Be it ardane that none shall use the Art (magick) in any way to do
ill to any.
8 words the Wiccan Rede fulfil: An it harm none, do what ye will.

* Respect the privacy of other Coveners. You may reveal the involvement
of no person save yourself.
In case of trouble, the Coven will be disbanded. Should this
happen, all Coveners are to avoid one another for the safety and
well-being of all.  Should this happen, refer to the Old Laws.

* Never accept money for the use of the Art, for money ever smears the
taker (and clouds ethical judgement). For all things magickal, pay
the full price asked without haggling. If it is unaffordable, it is
probably inappropriate in some hidden way.

* In case of dispute, the High Priestess is the final arbiter. Within
the Craft, no law save Craft Law may be invoked. Any who will not
agree, or who will not work under this HPs, may and shall remove
themselves from the Coven. Any of the third (L.T. Initiates OK) may
form a new Coven.

* The traditional way to hear complaints is this: Before the High
Priestess and any other Elders shall come first one, then the other,
then both together to be heard. The decision may be rendered
immediately, one lunar month later, or whenever the time of waiting
is filled.

* The year-and-a-day rules pertains to: The minimum time between
Progressions; The final time of all Leavings; The closings of all
cycles.

THE TEMPLE LAWS

* In order of precedence, you are accountable to: The Gods, your Self,
your High Priestess, your Teacher. Initiates are also accountable to
the Craft as a whole.

* “Pagan Standard Time” gives you 15 minutes leeway for an announced
class or ritual.  If you’ll be any later or won’t make it, CALL!

* Questions are expected, desired, and anticipated.. The only “dumb
question” is the one the student doesn’t ask.

* Common courtesy in all things. When in doubt, it is preferable to err
on the side of caution and silence.

* Ultimately, you are responsible for your own development. Independent
thought and research are strongly encouraged.

Comments on The Abbreviated Laws
by J. Random Folksinger

The Wiccan Rede, while it has been taught widely, is not a
part of the Laws, although it may be considered derivative of them.
There is nothing in the Laws that says that “in case of trouble, the
Coven will be disbanded”. There are, in fact, quite a few possible
solutions to specific instances, not just for “trouble”.
There is nothing in the Laws about unaffordability equalling inappro-
priateness in the purchase of a magickal tool.
What the heck are “L.T. Initiates”? Long Term? Why is is OK for them
to form a Coven when it is plain that you have to be of the Third
Degree?
The traditional way to hear complaints, at least in my set of the Old
Laws, is for the High Priest or High Priestess to convene the Elders.
It says nothing about whether the HP or HPs are included in this group,
but it is assumed that BOTH, not just the HPs, are so included. There
is also nothing in the Old Laws about a “time of waiting”for a decision.
In the Old Laws, the only thing the year-and-a-day rule pertains to
is the leaving of a High Priestess.

Everything in the “Temple Laws” falls in the good-to-very-good
category of advice; NONE of it is in the Old Laws. And I have known a
good many pagans to take PST to mean anytime during the calendar DAY.
There are a number of teachers in my experience to whom you NEVER ask a
question, at penalty of being kicked out of the class; still, a teacher
who can accept this rule is probably a good teacher.

In general, this sheet appears to be a worksheet handed to new
students and gone over with them for a quick rundown of the Craft in
order to go on to other things; in my opinion, giving them this sheet
and NOT reviewing the entire set of the Old Laws (in whatever form) is
doing the students a disservice; having this sheet around for later
reference, on the other hand, is probably a Good Thing.

For The New Craft Members – Finding A Teacher, Mentor or Guide

Finding a Teacher, Mentor or Guide


When your comfort level with the concepts of the Pagan path have grown to the point where you are certain that this is the lifestyle you wish to follow, you will undoubtedly wish to share that fellowship and comradely with others of like mind and spirit.  To avoid being drawn into a group where the intent is less than honorable, there are a couple of things that may assist you in avoiding contact with the nuts out there.

The first and most important thing is to listen to your Spirit Twin, Guide, Little Voice, Gut Feeling or whatever you choose to call it.  Most of us have found that this inner voice is rarely wrong and you “WILL” know when something simply does not feel right.  If you get that uneasy feeling about someone or a group, back or run away as quickly as possible.

When you initially make contact with someone, especially here on the internet, you have a great advantage in that you can limit your contact to relatively anonymous contact through e-mail.  While this is not always fool proof, and there are some great deceivers out there.  This does offer you some protection.  Exchange mail withholding all personal information until you are absolutely certain there are no safety risks.  If someone keeps pressuring you for personal information, break off all contact with them immediately.  If they persist in bothering you after you politely tell them you no longer wish contact with them, contact your ISP and lodge a formal complaint giving this persons e-mail address and their host name.  There are federal laws regarding electronic stalking and harassment, something of this nature would qualify for assistance from various federal agencies in getting that person to leave you alone.

Finally, Issac Bonewits developed a small questionnaire in 1979 (Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame) that you can use which will help your inner voice when determining if an individual or group poses above average risk.

The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame

(version 2.0)

 

Factors:   Low  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  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 or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations._____


3. WISDOM CREDITED to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s)._____


4. DOGMA: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism.”_____


5. RECRUITING: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing._____


6. FRONT GROUPS: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group._____


7. WEALTH: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members._____


8. POLITICAL POWER: Amount of external political influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ secular votes._____


9. SEXUAL MANIPULATION: of members by leader(s); amount of control exercised over sexuality of members; advancement dependent upon sexual favors or specific lifestyle._____


10. CENSORSHIP: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s)._____


11. DROPOUT CONTROL: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts._____


12. VIOLENCE: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s)._____


13. PARANOIA: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories._____


14. GRIMNESS: Amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the group, its doctrines or its leader(s)._____


15. SURRENDER OF WILL: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual  dis empowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s)._____


16. HYPOCRISY: Amount of approval for other actions (not included above) which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate group’s declared principles for political, psychological, economic, or other gain._____

Low   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  High


Copyright© 1979-1998 c.e.,  Isaac Bonewits.  This text file may be freely distributed on the net provided no editing is done, the version number (if any) is retained and this notice is included.

The Celtic Connection

http://wicca.com/celtic/cc002.htm

A Pagan Students Bill of Rights

A PAGAN STUDENT’S BILL OF RIGHTS

1. You have a right to the quality of education commensurate with the medians in similar education for others in your chosen area. Check several teachers or schools to find just what those medians are considered to be.

Corollary: You do not have the right to expect your teacher to be a “SuperPriest/ess” who will fulfill your every need, want and desire. Today, many are advertising themselves as “teachers” with little more than a few years experience themselves, much of which may be book learning. Truly experienced Elders and “Grand Masters” are exceedingly few and far between. Consider yourself astoundingly fortunate if your teacher falls into this category, but within reason, expect a teacher of Paganism to be human and fallible – resolve for yourself to learn what you can from the situation you are in.

2. The terms of your education shall be agreed upon in advance of its commencement by mutual contract between both teacher and student. Either party may at any time with prior advance notice, rescind said contract. Don’t accept an amorphous “well, we’ll just take it easy and see what happens” approach. You have the right to know exactly what to expect in terms of time, commitment and subjects learned.

Corollary: You may not drop out of tutorial with a teacher without making a reasonable attempt at telling them why you are feeling uncomfortable enough to do so. Be specific, they need to know how their behavior affected you and your potential for learning from them.

3. You have the right to expect a teacher who is compassionate, has a good sense of humor, has respect for you and others and who has a healthy level of self- esteem. A good teacher will admit when s/he is wrong in the moment and will usually heark back to their own novice days with anecdotes of their own trial and error to share with you. A good teacher knows how to maintain the delicate balance between friendship and appropriate discipline.

Corollary: Any teacher who projects as “too perfect” definitely isn’t. Beware also the teacher who is continually in a state of personal woe – these people need too much of your energy that you won’t have to give them. Walk out the door and keep searching.

4. You have the right for the teacher to always be truthful with you. Choose teachers whose styles permit you to question freely, who “lead by example” and show you as well as tell you the things you are learning. You can’t learn herbalism solely by reading books, some day you have to get out into the garden and root in the dirt. Look for a teacher, whatever their specialty, who does the equivalent in their particular form of practice.

Corollary: Beware of teachers whose main boast is how many books they’ve read, or that all of their knowledge is “book learned”. Such teachers will not be giving you anything authentic that you cannot learn on your own from the same books. A person “teaching” like this is perpetrating little short of plagiarism. To bring in the danger factor, you do not want someone “teaching” you the art of soul travel/astral projection who has never really done it themself. Don’t be someone else’s guinea pig. A teacher is a rich resource not only of the literary materials they have consumed, but of their own experiences: those triumphs, failures and illuminating moments of true enlightenment that cannot be learned from any book in print.

5. You have the right to expect your teacher to hold a broad education themselves, with specialty areas in which they might be considered to hold above-average knowledge. Anyone purporting to be a teacher of Witchcraft, Shamanism or one of the other forms of Paganism is held to a standard of excellence in their own community, and usually will have specialised in some branch or another of its components. Bonus points to a teacher who has cross- cultural initiations or similar expertise/other cultural referents to draw from. A broad educational base generally lends another primary desired quality of a good teacher: a broad mind.

Corollary: Ask your teacher to name their teachers or others in the community who know them, and talk to them before signing on to that particular teacher’s list. You may find they have an expertise in permaculture, spellcasting or soul retrieval – or you may discover knowledge that might lead you in another direction. It never hurts as a consumer of a service, to obtain references.

6. You have the right to expect discipline from your teacher. You have the right to expect that they will not let you get away with slackness in your learning, presentation or commission of your duties to them. When learning, expect no less than to apply yourself with the diligence most would reserve for a graduate school degree. A good teacher does their own research and give credit where it is due – expect the same of yourself. Be on time; ahead of time even, for lessons and coven/circle activities as your teacher should. Do one more bit of homework than is expected of you. Expect no less than excellence of yourself and you will be richly rewarded.

Corollary: You have the right to expect your teacher to be firm, but flexible within reason. Teachers should be expected to keep their committments to you as you do to them. Overly regimented structures are not conducive to learning, although sometimes in some traditions, such strictures may be put into place specifically to challenge you and help you grow. Look for teachers who walk the balance between firm and flexible for the best learning environment.

7. You have the right to expect change. Do not expect a smooth ride. Life is its own powerful teacher – learning the arts of Shamanism or Witchcraft are seriously advanced study in the crafting of your own soul. By virtue of this process, your issues will be brought out into the open and you will be expected to deal with them and act/react accordingly. How you react will be noted by your teacher and you can expect to have such reactions become the topic of discussion for your further growth. You have the right to expect during these “spiritual crises” for your teacher/s to be there for you to consult, lean on just a little bit and to provide you resources for getting through. You do NOT however, have the right to call the teacher in the wee hours every night of the week with a new crisis, to monopolize your teacher’s time for weeks on end due to a major crisis or series of smaller ones. Some support is to be expected from a teacher, but not unlimited support. Ask prior to your training what level of support the teacher is comfortable giving you and adhere to that. Know also when to refer yourself to a competent psychotherapist or healer. And if your teacher suggests you do so, take their advice without quibble. Clinginess from crisis-prone students who do not engage competent healing staff at the appropriate times is one of the behaviors that can be incredibly abusive of the teacher. If such clinginess is particularly time and energy consuming, it may cause the teacher to end their relationship with you.

Corollary: Your teacher does not have the right to use information concerning your spiritual crises against you, or to pass you off without seriously attempting to help you. Any teacher who does this you should immediately disengage from. Such a person is not the one to be trusting with your soul and your psyche as is required from a teacher of the metaphysical arts.

8. You have the right to be listened to, to have your questions answered and the right to expect a reasonable amount of your teacher’s time for the discussion of issues you might have with your training, different areas you wish to explore, etcetera. A good teacher like a good psychologist learns to listen more than talk in order to know what is important and relevant to you, the better to help them custom-craft your learning experience. Walk away from teachers who refuse you time to state your concerns, pooh-pooh your questions or who motormouth over your every utterance.

9. At the appropriate time, you have the right to expect your teacher to either inform you that it is time for you to move on into your own practice, or to be open to your suggesting something similar to them. A good teacher expects their students to mature and progress beyond them and will be quite pleased for you when this happens.

Corollary: Any teacher who keeps you hanging on indefinitely for initiation, advancement, further training et. al. with prolonged and continual protestations of “you’re not ready!” when you know you are is not behaving in a mature manner. If it gets to this point, leave and seek those who will support your spiritual growth and advancement.