Friday, February 24, 2012

Dos and Don'ts for Students: Pagan Blog Project

Last Friday, I posted on Dos and Don'ts for Teachers. When it comes to occult instruction, there is a lot of focus on teachers. I have seen very little on what students should and shouldn't do. 

As with the last one, something needs emphasized above the rest. Talk to the teacher and the group ahead of time. What are the expectations? Ask about the teaching style? How many students has this person taught? What is expected of you? What can you expect from the teacher and group? Never accept someone saying something is a secret tradition. While that can be true for some questions these are basic and should be answered. If they won't, run.

  • Find out what the teacher's expectations are. Can you meet them? Are the reasonable? Is there something you can't abide by? Talk it out. 
  • If something changes in the above, discuss it. 
  • Spend a lot of time with the teacher and the people around him or her before jumping in. You can tell a lot about a person by the type of people they attract and which they support. 
  • Listen and ask: It seems obvious but I've seen so many people ask a question and never listen to the answer or get an answer and never ask a follow-up question.
  • Follow the rules. If someone says, "That is fine in that tradition but in this one it works this way," do it "this" way. If you are not willing to work within the tradition, you shouldn't be in that tradition. 
  • If there is something that feels wrong or is wrong, talk about it softly and without accusation.
  • Demonstrate some respect. Teaching is hard work performed by dedicated people. A few pleases and thank yous are in order.
  • Make sure the person is qualified to teach. I was once put under the direction of a neophyte in a tradition. MISTAKE. 
  • When you don't understand politely tell people you don't get it. Ask people to rephrase their words or explain what certain actions meant. 
  • Do be on the look out for paranoia. If you see it, RUN. 
  • Do not over-inflate your teachers skills, wisdom or anything else. No one can met such high standards. When they show themselves to be human, you will be very disappointed and may leave a tradition unnecessarily or contribute to an untenable situation. 
  • Do not put up with evasion and bullshit. In your gut you know what is wrong. 
  • Do not allow yourself to be put down or humiliated in any form.
  • Do not accept unjust punishment or chastisement. 
  • Do not force yourself to fit into a situation or tradition because "it is the only one available". When you are ready the right one will arrive. 
  • Kissing ass to get what you need should be avoided. 
  • Do not mix traditions without permission from instructors in BOTH traditions. Some traditions need time to do their work within you. Mixing in other stuff is usually not helpful. 
  • Do not try to manipulate a teacher with magick. You would think this shouldn't need to be said but trust me, it does.
  • Do not stay if you can't respect the teacher. That isn't fair to either of you.
  • Do not do something against your nature. One tradition I belonged to believes its neophytes are nothing but bus boys and wait staff. I didn't do well. It is one thing to be humble and serve it is quite another to have teachers that need this sort of treatment or worse feel that they 'deserve' to be served. Teachers serve the students, not the other way around. This sort of forced respect demonstrates a lack of humility within the group. People that demand respect rarely have the capability of earning it.
I feel something(s) are seriously missing from this list. I will likely revisit this issue when more time presents itself.

1 comment:

Andrew B. Watt said...

The point about paranoia is a good one. Get out of traditions that teach paranoia, or encourage you to do magic against those "out to get you". The number of people who are competent to "get you" without getting themselves is pretty small — and most of them are committed to getting closer to the One than to getting others, or they should be.

As an occasional teacher, I'm conscious of telling students — would-be and actual, at the beginning, and in the middle, and at the end — that I'm simply a guy who has been practicing on and off for ten years or more, and I know some stuff... but I haven't had any of the "big woo" moments like K&C of the HGA, and that they should avoid taking anything I say on my say-so: in magic and spirituality, personal experience is REALLY the best teacher.

Again, one of the things I really like about groups like covens and lodges is the responsibility to rotate leadership from time to time. The traditions aren't enriched by listening to the same person do it over and over again — they are enriched by learning to do it for yourself, which is one of the most effective ways of learning. Again, personal experience is a great teacher