Safety Tips for People Seeking Groups, Covens, or Teachers
- Aldwyn, High Priest
I would like to first recommend Isaac Bonewits' "Cult Danger Evaluation Frame" to anyone who is starting to get a feel for a group or a teacher. The frame can help you determine whether or not a teacher or group could be harmful to you, and your spiritual growth. (not to mention your bank account!)
Now, onto some points I wanted to make of my own!
There are many good teachers and groups out there in the community... but there seem to be just as many bad teachers and groups as well. I hope the following will help you along your path when seeking a good group or teacher!
Just because someone SAYS they are a pagan, doesn't mean they are!
It's a good idea to try and get some references for the person
(or for any group for that matter) if you can. The pagan community in
the DC/Baltimore area is a decently sized one, but even so, those folks
who have been around a while know the other old timers, established groups
and their histories. Ask!
And to add to #1, just because a person says they are a "third degree" or a
"High Priest/Priestess" or whatever, doesn't mean they are. It worries me,
the number of people I have seen who have studied the Craft for a year and a day
(or less!) and then call themselves a "High Priest/ess". Also, even if a
person was given a ceremony for their 2nd or 3rd degree doesn't mean they
have the skills or the knowledge to teach you or even Wicca for that matter.
Beware of groups or teachers which will accept you as a member or a student right away.
A good teacher will generally get to know you first before accepting you as their student,
and a good group will usually do the same. Generally, if someone/a group accepts you
right away, they are doing so for their own benefit, and your personal growth
(which is the important thing!) will end up playing second fiddle, if it gets played at all.
And that's not to say that worse things wont happen. The only exception to
this rule that I can think of are the larger "mass market" type Wicca 101
classes which can have upward of 30 people in them at a time.
To add to #3, also beware of groups who take the Amway approach in trying
to get you to join. Any group who bugs you/begs you to join is not going
to be worth a damn. A true teacher who cares about your growth knows that
your choice is yours and that they could cause you harm by "talking you into"
joining or becoming their student. Either way, if someone is doing this
to you, ask yourself "Why do they want me so bad when they don't even know me?
What is in it for them?" Chances are, it's either to boost their self esteem,
for the power they can try and hold over you, or worse...
NEVER pay for the "service" of being taught Wicca. I don't care WHAT
argument you get from the "teacher", the information is NOT theirs to sell.
Paying for materials you use/receive in class is fine, but anything over
that and walk away. If anyone requires, or stresses a "donation", walk away.
There are other teachers out there who are dedicated to teaching the Craft
for the Gods, and not for their wallet. This goes for on-line teaching and
instruction as well!
While sex is part of the Craft, it is NOT a REQUIREMENT for anything
in the Craft! You don't have to sleep with anyone to be a student,
you don't have to sleep with anyone to get a degree, and you don't have
to sleep with anyone you don't want to: PERIOD! If someone is suggesting
to the contrary, leave. It's generally considered a bad thing within the
community for a teacher to sleep with a student, either way.
Make sure you are getting what you asked for. If you want traditional
Craft training, verify that someone who is teaching you can show their
lineage, and make available their lineage contacts (it's up to you if
you wish to contact them or not). If someone can not give you their
lineage (who they were given their degrees from and when, at the least),
then you aren't getting traditional Craft training. Also, unless the
person who is teaching you is at least a second degree or above,
they are not Traditional Craft! The exception to this is when a
class is run by an initiate who is "student-teaching" under the
supervision of a 2nd or 3rd degree (and you should be able to
Beware of on-line training courses! Many will charge you oodles
of dollars with the promise of occult knowledge and/or degrees.
Typically, what you get is information readily available in books for free.
And any "initiation" (or "degree") given on-line will not be
recognized by many.
Use your instincts!! If something doesn't feel right, or a group or
teacher makes you uncomfortable, you don't have to stay! Your best
allies in determining whether a teacher or group is good or bad
can sometimes be your own common sense, intuition and instincts!
May the God and Goddess protect you on your search, and on the path you walk!
So Mote It Be!