Everywhere I go, I see people posting requests for teachers, and I get e-mails and messages from those hoping I will teach them. While I certainly understand the desire to find someone who can help you along your spiritual path, I would still like all of you to sit down a moment and consider some things.
First of all, do you have any idea what you are asking for? If you dont even really know what Wicca is, how do you know you want someone to teach you about it? And how do you know whether their teaching is correct if you dont know the kinds of things that Wiccans believe and do? Deciding to change your spiritual beliefs and follow a completely different religious path is not something that should be done without careful consideration. While the growing interest in this path is a good thing, rushing headlong into something you don't know much about and which will change your life in many ways is not such a great idea. So let's stop a moment and consider some of the following issues...
Second of all, why do you want to be a Witch? Is it because it is **kewl** to be spooky and to wear all that neat jewelry and to shock and amaze your friends and parents? That's not being a Witch that's just playing dress up. My generation annoyed our parents by dressing as Hippies, growing our hair long, and wearing love beads. Dressing as a Witch for the shock value is the same thing, different clothes. Most of us grew out of that phase, and many former Hippies wear three-piece suits to their successful businesses these days. When people smirk and say it's just a phase you're going through are they right?
Are you doing it because it gives you a sense of your own power over others? Certainly there is power inherent in Witchcraft, and it can make your life better in many, many ways. But it is power that comes from within yourself and makes you a stronger person; it is not power over others through the use of fear or magic. If you are looking for a spiritual path that will help you grow into a better person, then explore this one more thoroughly. If not, you won't find your answers here.
Are you prepared to be shunned because you are "different"; or to lose your job, your friends, maybe even your home because you are a "Satanist"? Witches have nothing to do with Satan, but that is not what the public believes. Travelling this path can get very uncomfortable. Are you ready for this?
Im not intending to put anyone down. Believe me, I remember what it was like taking my first stumbling steps along this path and wishing I had someone to help me. It is much easier today with all of the information available on the Web. What becomes frustrating is the number of people who arrive on a site wanting to be handed all the knowledge and power of the Universe without having to make any effort on their part to work at learning it. Well, I have a surprise for you...it doesnt work that way. We are a religion with a core belief of personal responsibility. If you arent willing to work at the learning process, you are going to go nowhere. I dont spoon feed my real world students, why should I do so to those clamoring at me on-line. Dont just come up to someone and say teach me all about Wicca. Browse the sites and find information. If something doesnt make sense to you, THEN ask a specific question and anyone will be willing to help you out.
Before you take someone as a teacher, find out a bit about his/her background. How old are they? How many years have they been practicing? What Tradition did they train in? How do they see the relationship between the two of you? While age is not a promise of wisdom, I would really look hard at someone in their teens who told me they knew all about the Craft. Yet I see these people advertising for students all the time. I would also be cautious about accepting the word of someone on the internet about their teaching credentials unless they can offer some validation for their claims. Remember that on the internet anyone can claim to be anything they want.
Did you know that there are people out there who will respond to your request with, Of course Ill teach you all of the magic of the Universe, just hop up here on my magical bed? Do you stop to think about what the persons background, training, and level of knowledge is before you latch onto them as a teacher? If you wanted to learn American history instead of Wicca/Witchcraft, youd certainly want to be sure your teacher knew what they were talking about. Isnt it even more vital to be sure you have a knowledgeable teacher when it is in regards to something as important as your spiritual path?
Something else to consider is the difficulty of working in a student/teacher relationship over the internet or by e-mail. Wicca is an experiential religion . That means that it is different for everyone because everyone sees and feels something in a slightly different manner. It is difficult enough sitting with a student face to face and having both of you understand and agree on what is happening, but really difficult on-line. For instance, if I am teaching how to Ground and Center to my real-world student, I can feel when he is grounded by the changes in his aura and energy, but try doing that over a computer. Not that it cant be done, only that it is difficult.
Those who want to be Witches also need to know if they approach a Wiccan, they are asking to learn both a religion and a way of life, not just a bunch of spells and certainly not curses. Along the way you are going to be asked to learn ethics, moral behavior, comparative religions, counseling skills, and many other things which have little to do with the standard image of the Witch. You are going to be expected to develop a personal relationship with the Gods and to actually practice your religion on a regular basis. And youre going to be required to work hard at mastering the material your teacher is going to assign to you. If this isnt what you are interested in, dont waste your time or your teachers time by starting out on a path you arent willing to follow to the end..
Another point to consider is that in the USA it is illegal for anyone to interfere in the religious upbringing of a minor without the parents consent. That means that I, or any other teacher, could go to jail for teaching the Craft to anyone under the age of consent without the knowledge and permission of the parents. At best it might mean a nasty trip to court and lawyers fees. At worst it could mean loss of a job, a home, a professional license, or jail time. Do you think it fair to ask that of someone?
The relationship between a teacher and student is similar to that between parent and child, for these are our Witch children. We as teachers raise them up in our image. We rejoice with them as they find their true path, and we feel the guilt of failure when they falter along the way. It is not a bond to be entered into lightly or treated without respect.
And unfortunately there are those teachers who will take advantage of the fact that the student looks up to them for guidance and will abuse the students desire to please their teacher. The following is a good set of guidelines that every student should keep in mind when determining whether the person they have approached to teach them is someone who is safe and ethical to study with:
Seekers Bill of Rights
Written by Charles Mars, Texas Local Council Member and 1999-2002 National CoG Board Member
I. The Right to Verify Credentials:
a group or teacher shall not obstruct Seekers from contacting persons who can substantiate or disavow claims made. In the case of Elders who were inspired to create a new tradition, the Seeker has a right to know the circumstances surrounding the inception of that tradition.
II. The Right to Anonymity:
Seekers have the right to keep their involvement in the occult a secret to preserve their personal and professional lives.
III. The Right to Financial Stability:
Seekers shall not be required or coerced to take on financial burdens on behalf of a teacher or a group.
IV. The Right to Compensation for Professional goods and services:
Seekers have the right to be paid for goods produced and/or [for] skilled labor from which they would normally receive an income. Seekers shall not be required or coerced to provide "freebies" or discounts on behalf of a teacher or group.
V. The Right to Sexual Freedom:
Seekers shall not be required or coerced to [have] sexual relations with unwanted persons. Nor shall Seekers be restricted from sexual relations with consenting adults.
VI. The Right to Physical Well-Being:
Seekers shall not be required or coerced to submit to any form of physical injury.
VII. The Right to Abide by the Law:
Seekers shall not be required or coerced to commit any illegal act.
VIII. The Right to Consistency:
Seekers have the right to expect consistent policies from a teacher or group. Seekers should be formally informed in a timely manner of any policy changes.
IX. The Right to Separation with Impunity:
Seekers have the right to discontinue association with any teacher or group without fear of harassment or reprisal.
X. The Right to be at Peace with One's Conscience:
Seekers shall not be required or coerced to commit any action contrary to their own sense of ethics and morality.
So by all means if you think you might want to become Wiccan take some time beforehand and make sure first of all that you are doing it for all the right reasons. Next, be certain that you understand enough about Wicca that you can make an informed decision that this is the spiritual path you want to follow. Then, when you decide you are ready for a teacher, take the time to evaluate that person carefully to be sure that they are indeed both a knowledgeable and an ethical person that you can trust not to bring you to any harm. If you have done all these things and you have found someone that is the kind of teacher youre looking for, then you will find this life-long journey one that you will never regret starting.