Teachers, Good and Bad… The Many Ways to Pass Along the Knowledge
There are all kinds of people out there today who may call themselves
or “experts” in Witchcraft and Wicca. Some advertise in New Age
publications or over the Internet. Some are well known local
offer regular lectures, workshops or Wicca 101 classes. You
may hear of a
teacher through networking with other Pagans in your area. How
can you know that
these people are who they say they are? Or more importantly
to you perhaps, how
can you know that a teacher will be the right one for
There are many Paths and many different approaches to passing on the Craft.
little prior research into the various systems or Traditions in advance
almost a necessity before making the decision to take training in a
system. We encourage everyone to do as much reading on the
subjects as possible.
See what interests you and then try to find a teacher
that will help you further
develop in these areas of interest.
There are some definitive things that you can do to help insure that you
positive experience BEFORE you spend a lot of time or money in
classes or other
training. We have provided a listing below that we have
developed from personal
experiences, the experiences of others and various
reference materials that may
help to know what you should be looking for and
how to ask the questions that
may help you decide if this is the teacher for
you. Some teachers may not
exhibit all of the signs listed, but most teachers
will fall predominantly into
one category or another.
A GOOD TEACHER… generally:
Has a sense of humour… Humans do silly things sometimes, and a sense of
can help keep things in perspective. A good teacher will help you
yourself (and them!) but will not hold you up to ridicule.
Has respect for all living things… One needn’t be a vegetarian to care
the lives and welfare of animals. Environmental concerns are also
Neo-Paganism is a “nature or earth-based” religious Path. Abuse
of any living
thing is pretty much a “no-no”.
Has a healthy self image… A teacher who realizes that he or she can
just as much from a novice as the novice may learn from the teacher is
comfortable in what they know, yet open to new ideas and concepts.
Is kind and compassionate… This doesn’t mean that you will not be
or have to work hard, but it does mean that your honest efforts
will be met with
encouragement and gentle guidance. A good teacher will not
“look down his or her
nose” at your sincere attempts; they realize that
experience is necessary to
Tells the truth and is direct… This means that you will not be led
either by one who is afraid to confront you when you are heading in a
direction or by one who seeks to manipulate you for unspoken ends. They
spade a spade and want you to do the same. They ‘walk their talk” and
have a separate code of conduct for themselves while expecting you to
Is able to teach by example… The good teacher will often tell stories of
time that they really ‘screwed up”. They also can tell you about their
and failures and do so – neither making excuses or being overly
about their experiences. They can offer practical examples and
of such examples clearly. They are not “mysterious” so much
as they demonstrate
the “mysteries” in simple ways to help you understand
Has a global point of view… Local “gurus’ may only be interested in making
name or creating a following for themselves. A good teacher will encourage
students to reach beyond the local area and embrace the rest of the
Is inclusive rather than exclusive in attitude… Anyone who promotes an
vs. them” is dangerously close to becoming a cult leader. There are real
out there to contend with, but a teacher who finds an enemy around
should be avoided.
Allows for mistakes and admits that he/she is not perfect… “We are all
this together” is a good statement to hear from a teacher that you
considering working with.
Is flexible, yet honors commitments… Too rigid a set of rules
regulations stifles energy flow and the learning experience. Too random
training program may also interfere in the discipline required for growth.
balance between the two is best.
Encourages you to do your own research and ask questions… A good
wants you to discover and explore new ideas. A good book list should
in any training program. You should be able to disagree with a
being censored or reprimanded. (A well thought out concept
should be “thought
provoking” however and not just “provoking”.).
Gives credit where credit is due… A teacher who is using references
techniques from other sources should plainly state this fact. The use of
people’s work without credit is theft, plain and simple.
Listens more than talks… A good teacher is genuinely interested in
thoughts, feelings and opinions. Feedback is one way that a teacher can
you are absorbing and integrating the materials and lessons. Someone
all the time about his/her experiences is more interested in
impressing you with
their personal knowledge than helping you to acquire
knowledge of your own.
Wants you to mature and move on… A good teacher wants his or her students
surpass them. That is the greatest compliment that a teacher can receive.
as a good parent wants to send mature and well balanced children out
world, so does a good spiritual teacher want their “children” to
grow up and
ON THE OTHER HAND… You Should AVOID a teacher who:
Possesses a superior attitude… If a teacher states or implies that they
the sole holder of some sort of “special” or “secret” knowledge disclosed
to a “chosen few”, you really don’t want to know what that may
Excludes members of any race or culture… Bigotry of any kind has no place
Is attacking or violent… Obviously.
Is either overly sensitive or too insensitive… Someone who either
slights and attacks where there are none or ignores actual tangible
not be in touch with “reality”. Best to leave them to their own
Is ingratiating… Someone who is overly friendly and shares intimate
of their personal life with you almost immediately may be looking to
over.” This is a real danger sign that is often overlooked. By
soul”, they encourage you to do the same in return. This
“instant intimacy” can
leave you vulnerable to manipulation and abuse. Go
slowly when meeting someone
Is controlling… No teacher should expect you to abandon your family
friends. Isolation from the rest of society is a classic cult activity.
should not be expected to run errands or perform tasks. Sometimes you and
teacher will work out a “fair exchange of energy” in return for training.
sure it IS fair. If you feel like you are being taken advantage of, you
Is continually cancelling classes… This is a classic indication that
simply have your money and no longer care about fulfilling the deal. If
postponing classes until several months from now, you may have a
real problem on
Belittles you or uses you as an “example”… You deserve to be treated
respect even if you are a novice. No teacher has the right to strip you
self-esteem. You should not be bullied into doing something that
uncomfortable or that you do not understand. On the other hand,
being held up to
others as the “teacher’s pet” is also incorrect and this
teacher may be setting
you up for something that you may not want to become
Has few or no “elders” in their group… “Where are the people who have
trained before me?” is a good question to ask. Perhaps they DID mature
on… or perhaps they just ran screaming from the room!!…It pays to
Talk to anyone you can find who has trained with this teacher before.
Wants a lot of money up front… You should be able to get a class schedule
other outline of what the training will consist of BEFORE you sign up.
over carefully and ask questions. If the information seems to be no
what you can get free from books or by talking with other Witches,
it may not be
a good value. Degrees and titles are earned; they are not
Has assistants; cohorts or senior students who you are expected to
Some groups do have a system of ‘elders” who deserve respect. However,
not obligated to accept anyone simply based on his or her “rank”
within a group.
If the teacher has an “entourage” which follows them
everywhere and seems to
“cater” to this teacher’s every whim, watch
carefully. You may end up being the
Is overly idealistic and impractical… If this teacher has marvelous
for the world -and especially if they tell YOU that you will be a part
grand scheme -but he/she cannot balance their check book, take care
children or hold onto a job, you want to leave now. You may end up
shoring up these “dream castles”; you may end up supporting this
financially and emotionally. Witchcraft is a Path of personal
a teacher should be able to manifest this in his or her
Exhibits any of these characteristics… lying, sexual misconduct,
physical violence or abuse.
by Wren Walker of The Witches’