by Valerie Voigt|
A young woman had done quite a bit of reading and some solitary practice,
and felt the Wiccan Path was where she belonged. After some time, she felt
she was ready to expand her Craft understanding by studying with a
teacher. She had finally found someone who had offered to teach her, but
she wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea. He assured her that he was
a Lord High Purple Robe Something-or-Other, and therefore well-qualified
to be a teacher, but this "assurance" didn't make her more
Well, just offhand, I'd say the guy sounds like
I've run into people who sounded like him --
claiming all sorts of ooga-booga-type titles, etc.
- a black magician
- an egomaniac
- a crank
Some of those were just harmless nut cases, but others were genuinely
dangerous (in the sense of physical danger, and sometimes
spiritual/magical danger as well).
There are many things that can be said about the ethics and relationships
of teachers and students, but one of the most important is this:
Magical training forges a permanent karmic link between teacher and
Therefore, you should exercise caution and judgement when deciding to
apprentice with any teacher: their problems, as well as their skills and
strengths, will naturally, through the karmic link, tend to get passed
along to you. Thus, you want to choose a teacher whom you respect as a
person, AND who has a reasonably good control over her/his life.
Some things you might want to think about:
- Does this person have a healthy sense of her/his own identity? That
is, does s/he seem to have both an honest appreciation for herself and
an honest awareness of her weaknesses? (We all have them, and anyone who
can't accept that fact will tend to trip themself up.) Does s/he like
herself, yet have reasonable humility? (If the phrases "power-tripper",
"doormat", "egomaniac", "paranoid" or "perpetual victim" apply, the
answer is probably no.)
- Does this person handle their life, including the annoying aspects
of mundane reality, in a reasonably balanced manner? The inner and the
outer often mirror each other, and a person who is continually in crisis
mode is not exercising their magic to good effect. This doesn't mean
that a Witch should necessarily be rich, or free of problems, or
otherwise above the daily work of living; but a Witch should not live
habitually in self-generated crisis.
- Do you WANT to share this person's karma, or would you hope that,
er, not too much of it would rub off, thank you?
Isaac Bonewits devised this handy little tool. The higher the score, the
more dangerous a group is likely to be. Bonewits deliberately omits any
numerical scoring system, preferring to leave it more to intuition:
The Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame
Copyright c 1987 by P. E. I. Bonewits. Used by permission.
Note: The current version of the ABCDEF may be found at Isaac
Bonewits' website: http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html.
Rate each of the following from 1(low) to 10(high)...
- ___ Internal control, amount of internal political power exercised
by leader(s) over members.
- ___ Wisdom claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared
- ___ Wisdom credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in
decisions made by leader(s).
- ___ Dogma, rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal
- ___ Recruiting, emphasis on attracting new members; amount of
- ___ Front groups, number of subsidiary groups using different names
from that of the main group.
- ___ Wealth, amount of money and/or property desired or obtained;
emphasis on members' donations.
- ___ Political power, amount of external political influence desired
- ___ Sexual manipulation of members by leader(s); amount of control
over sex lives of members.
- ___ Censorship, amount of control over members' access to outside
opinions on the group, its doctrines, and/or its leader(s).
- ___ Dropout control, intensity of efforts directed at preventing or
- ___ Endorsement of violence when used by or for the group or its
- ___ Paranoia, amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies;
perceived power of opponents.
- ___ Grimness, amount of disapproval concerning jokes about the
group, its doctrines, or its leader(s).
There's no shame in learning from books, either; and most good teachers
will expect you to have read a few. There are many excellent books
available. Some of the standards include:
Should you be near a good library,
you might also like to take a stroll through the Oxford Classical
Dictionary -- starting with the entry for "magic" and going from
- The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.
- This one's her basic book, and recommended before her others, which
are also good.
- Anything by Doreen Valiente or by Janet and/or Stewart Farrar.
- These are particularly valuable for their English Traditional
- Real Magic by P.E.I. Bonewits.
- This little book is entertaining, informative, and very useful from
a practical standpoint.
Well, I hope my comments have been useful. Best wishes for
spiritual and personal fulfillment.