teachers

What Your Pagan Teacher Wants you to Know…About Practice

March, 2018

(Leather Bound, Pentacle Journal by Samantha & Jason of Earthwork’s Journals, Home of the Handmade Journal on Etsy.)

 

My mum was a music teacher. A strict one at that. She had this way of showing her immense disapproval with a slight tut and a look away. You ask any music teacher, any teacher at all really if they know that their student has been practicing or not, and they can tell a mile away.


“And you practiced every day?”


Maybe that’s where I get it from.


I’m a pretty good student. I take anything I study seriously (I make Hermione Granger look like a slacker) and I love to learn. Yet even as young as 18 I was already teaching my peers. I was good at encouraging and explaining. I was pretty fearless (but not reckless). It just kept happening really.
My last year of 6th form college (high school) I was sitting as a medium with psychic circles between three or four times a week on equal footing as some who had been practicing some 50 years (Glenis was lovely). I was doing card readings every lunch and break every day. I started reading cards at 14 (playing cards) from my friend’s mum who was a real gypsy.


It didn’t think of it as “work” back then.


Back then it was like finding out you’re are a prodigy at something and going full tilt.


This means I don’t get it.


I just don’t understand the excuses. I’ve heard a lot over the years.


“I didn’t have time.”


“I have a lot on at work.”


“My husband/boyfriend/girlfriend was…”


“My parents were around.”


“I didn’t understand it.”


I mean I could go on and on and on. The only excuse I allow is sickness. It’s damn hard to work on a breathing technique if you’ve been throwing your guts up!


Let me start with “I didn’t have time”. There is no perfect time to do the work. It’s like doing the dishes or brushing your teeth; it doesn’t care how busy you are and it shows if you do it “only on the weekend”. The magick techniques I give out to students are accumulative and knowing more in the craft means I expect you to do more, not less. Most of my assignments I give take between 10 minutes daily, maybe slightly longer on the weekend or a pilgrimage somewhere. The other thing is the techniques are of for you to use in the world, in your life. They are designed to change how you see, and think and interact with the world. When you give me this excuse I hear one thing: “I couldn’t be bothered”. I don’t care if you do it in the shower, in the car, on the loo, getting your mind in order is important.


“I have a lot on at work.” In truth I don’t really know why this is seen as an excuse. If I am trying to give a tool that helps focus your thinking and mind I am actually trying to help you, not hinder. This reads in a couple of ways. “I’m important in my job so you can’t make me feel bad for not doing what I said I would do.” Or “I am so stressed out that I worry if a take a minute to think about it my head might actually explode.” Either way your clear and clever excuse sounds like what it is to me: fear. I hear the fear and the bluster. Either way you have to show a little faith. Set aside your ego for a few minutes and I promise the world won’t fall apart.


“My boyfriend…” I understand that the drama of some relationships impacts a lot. However this relationship is your choice. If it is damaging, violent or difficult don’t bring it to me. You will not want my honest opinion. Relationships are hard work but they shouldn’t consume your whole life. If things are tense or very emotional maybe the work I’ve given you is supposed to help soothe that? Trust me a little? The truth is you can not (and should not) control other people’s behaviour. What you can control is yourself and I’m guessing that’s what I am trying to teach you.

 

My parents…” I don’t teach kids, except my own. So I am supposed to be talking to a grown ass adult? Most of the work I set is not a big witchy ritual with lots of pagan drumming. If you mean you have to clean your whole house because you are about to be “inspected” I can sort of understand. Yet again I say grown ass adult. If you mean, I must remove all pagan, witchy, spiritual stuff from my judgmental folks because I’m afraid, still in the broom-closet, don’t want to deal with that fight, I say “Oh boy, you need some good therapy”. Families are difficult and hard work and some are even legitimately dangerous for your wellbeing. If you are feeling fear, shame or any combination thereof I would kindly suggest that while they might share your D.N.A. that isn’t family. Family is safety and support. Family is love and trust. If you have to hide such a fundamental part of who you are from these people, then my home work is the least of your problems. I’ve known pagans come out to deeply religious or difficult parents, it tends to go one of two ways. They range from loving and surprising supportive or amazingly indifferent at one end to violent screaming loathing at the other. The truth is they might surprise you. Good parents are usually that, and crappy ones are well, crappy. None of which is about you.

 

I didn’t understand it.” This comes down to the idea that magick and its practice should enlighten and fix things immediately, well, like magick. They try something once and if it doesn’t fix everything at once it can’t be “real” or “special”. It is hard to see the benefit of brushing your teeth if you only do it once. I mean they get dirty again, what’s the point? Spiritual practice is like that. Magickal and mental cleanliness are not just good practice but important foundations. This is a trap more mature or experienced practitioners can fall into. They know the how and the why, and they do other deeper work and neglect the basics. Understanding something doesn’t always happen the first time you try something, or the tenth, or the hundredth. In fact understanding a practice ca be layered and nothing it teaches you is “wrong” or useless. It can’t teach you anything if you don’t do it!

 

In other startling revelations if you’re going to do your “daily journal” in the car before you turn up, park further up the street so I can’t see you! Magickal practice is not difficult. It’s not for only one kind of pagan or witch. It doesn’t care if you are bookish or not, or if you are smart or not. Able bodied or not. It doesn’t care how rich you are or what kind of background you have. It is open to everyone. The only factor is this, will you leave your excuses at the door and do the work? Then magick and knowledge will come. Maybe not easily, maybe not quickly but if you work at it you will be rewarded in ways you can not imagine.

Spiralled Edges

April, 2017

Spiralled Edges – Good and Bad Teachers

I’ve been thinking about teachers and students a lot recently. We talk a lot about teachers in Paganism. Someone to teach us how to be Pagan. How to do “it” right.

 

goodbadwitch

 

I’ve been a teacher, and I’ve been a student. I’ve been both at the same time. I’ve been a bad teacher, and I’ve been a good teacher. I’ve known teachers who were bad for me, but perfect for someone else, and vice versa.

But what, in my mind, makes someone a good teacher and for that matter, what makes someone a bad teacher?

A good teacher:

Has a good understanding of their history, including the myths that may be perpetuated about Paganism, and encourages others to know their history. This is true whether you are a Celtic Pagan, Wiccan, Heathen, Hellenic, or Eclectic

A bad teacher:

Presents myth as fact and discourages a deeper understanding or study.

A good teacher:

Knows that knowing the rules is important, but knowing when to listen to internal intuition and break the rules is even more important.

A bad teacher:

Holds fast to dogmatic rules and discourages intuitive awareness.

A good teacher:

Encourages their student to soar, while providing a solid grounding to land upon.

A bad teacher:

Keeps their student tethered to an unsteady ground.

A good teacher:

Admits when they don’t know the answer.

A bad teacher:

Is never wrong.

A good teacher:

Is learning alongside their student.

A bad teacher:

Already knows it all.

A good teacher:

Knows they are not always the best teacher for a particular student.

A bad teacher:

Thinks they are always the best teacher for everyone.

A good teacher:

Wants the student to surpass them.

A bad teacher:

Wants the student to remain less than.

A good teacher:

Sees their student as an equal

A bad teacher:

Sees their student as inferior

A good teacher:

Promotes tolerance and understanding between religions

A bad teacher:

Bad-mouths other religions and promotes intolerance

A good teacher:

Has their sh*t together in their personal life.

A bad teacher:

Is always moving from one crisis into the next in their personal life.

A good teacher:

Realises that sometimes they will be a bad teacher.

A bad teacher:

Tells you they are always good.

Now, I know that this list is not all-inclusive. I will most likely think of a few more that I could have added soon as this is published. It is however a pretty good starting point.

I am equally certain that others will think of items which could be added to this list based on their own experiences. Please feel free to comment with your own suggestions as to what makes a good teacher, or a bad teacher.