Let's talk, for a moment, about things NOT to do when you're looking for a Pagan teacher.
Random Internet Postings
- I want to be Wiccan – let’s chat on Yahoo/Aim/Whatever!
- You don’t know me but we’re both Pagan - be my Facebook friend!
- I’m a cute single girl who wants private Wicca lessons!
Can you see how some of these might be really bad ideas? Of course you can – and yet, people post them by the dozen every day on message boards, websites, and Facebook walls. The Internet is a big place, and you open yourself up for all kinds of trouble if you’re randomly inviting people to message you, call you, or meet you in private. This is a no-brainer, when it comes to safety issues.
However, there’s also the issue of not having any idea of the qualifications of someone who responds to your request. If you post a request for strangers to contact you for the purpose of being a teacher or mentor, how do you know what you’re getting? How do you know that Lord ToasterStrudel really is a fourth-generation British Traditional Witch directly lineaged from Gerald Gardner, like he claims, instead of a nineteen-year-old kid with no real experience beyond what he saw on reruns of Charmed?
Don’t Forget to Pay Attention
So Lady Snickerdoodle has let it be known that she’s taking female students only, who can meet on Wednesday nights, to study a flavor of Celtic Paganism that she’s well versed in, but you chose to ignore all that because you were really excited about meeting a potential teacher. Don’t get upset because you’re only available on Mondays and you’re really much more interested in Roman religion, not the Celts. It’s not her fault you didn’t pay attention, and now you’ve wasted her time and your own. Take some time to listen to the information being provided to you, and realize that even if Lady Snickerdoodle isn’t the right teacher for you, by paying attention you might find the one that is.
So you called Lady Snickerdoodle and left her a message, and two days have gone by and you haven’t heard back yet. It’s probably too soon to call her again – after all, she may be working a full time job, taking care of three kids, going to night classes to finish up her degree, and looking after her disabled mom. It’s okay if she doesn’t drop everything to call you back immediately. If two or three weeks go by, feel free to call her again, and just leave a polite reminder that you’re interested in speaking with her.
Don’t Suck Up
There are a few people in the Pagan community who thrive on being worshiped by lesser mortals. However, the ideal teacher is not going to be one of those – after all, do you really want to work with a teacher who only accepted you because you kissed up? No. You don’t. So however much you may admire Lady Snickerdoodle, don’t be a suckup. This means don’t send her gifts, don’t tell her “The Goddess told me YOU ARE THE ONE”, and don’t tell everyone in town how excited you are that she’s even opening your emails before you’ve even heard back from her. It’s a bad idea, and makes you look needy and fawning. Don’t do it.
Oh, and if your potential teacher is someone who really likes to be told that they’re the best thing ever? You might want to reconsider whether this is the person you want directing your spiritual growth.
Not Taking No For an Answer
Maybe you’ve decided Lady Snickerdoodle is the perfect mentor for you … but for whatever reasons, she’s decided not to accept you as a student. Don’t take this personally. If Lady Snickerdoodle doesn’t want to be your teacher, then she’s not the right one for you. That’s it. It happens, and it’s okay. Move on. Don’t hound her asking why she won’t take you and begging her to reconsider. Another teacher will come along eventually. Also, don't go around talking crap about her just because she turned you down. You may find yourself, some day, in a position where you'd like to be on her good side.
The Bottom Line
Finding a spiritual teacher is a deeply personal thing. Some people search for years before finding someone that they can really connect with. Others move from one teacher to another without really connecting with any of them. Take the time to explore and learn, asking questions, and meeting other people in the Pagan community. Eventually, you’ll find your way to a dependable and qualified person who is willing and able to be your mentor. Until that point, continue learning and growing on your own.
Finally, be sure to read about Warning Signs in Prospective Covens if you're given an opportunity to study in a group setting.