The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boundaries To Remember When Working With A Magickal Teacher

Good Morning My Witchy Reader,

Allow me to start this discussion, with what I had always thought was an obvious concept. What I write about are, of course, my opinions, my experiences and my observations along the magickal path I have walked for decades.  I also, will title my blog posts with provocative titles that work to attract potential readers attention.

Like anything written in our society today, anything, if it speaks to you, resonates within you, then feel free to put it's teachings to use in your life. If it does not, if you disagree, or simply do not see it pertaining to you, then leave it alone. In regards to my blog, people who leave respectful comments, even those that disagree will be published. Those that are insulting, rude, disrespectful and try to put forth opinion that could be harmful for those new to our path, I will not publish them. If you want to put forth wrong, harmful, personal ego building information please do it on your blog, or website or wherever you wish but I will not publish it on my page, so do not expect me to.

Now that the rules are clear, one hopes, let us discuss today's topic. I have put forth some things to consider when you are looking to work with a magickal teacher. I speak of my own experience as a teacher for many years, As I have taught not simply in the magickal arts but in other areas also. Some concepts transcend specific topics.

Many people start learning about the magickal world by reading books. This is a great place to start. Reading published work by magickal masters is always a good basis for a foundation of learning. Eventually some people wish to learn more and seek out magickal teachers. Some of these teachers are Priestesses or Priests in Wicca and Witchcraft, some run covens, some run stores and like myself run stores and schools of the magickal arts. Some teachers offer their classes online, some in person.

Yet in my 13 years of running a school for the magickal arts I have dealt with hundreds of students who have come through the doors of Enchantments.  Unfortunately some have had less than the best magickal studies experience simply because they made assumptions or didn't understand what was expected of them or what to expect and not to expect of their teacher.

I now have a short talk with incoming students to explain to them some concepts I will list here, to help them avoid these pitfalls. I hope these help you should you seek out a magickal teacher.

1.) Your Magickal Teacher is Your Teacher NOT Your Friend:

After a student has taken classes for several months some students allow the boundary lines to blur and because we are friendly in class, share hugs after rituals and socialize during Sabbat celebrations they start to feel as if their magickal teacher is their very close friend. This is not true. Now, I am not saying that the teacher does not like you, not at all.  You may indeed be a favorite student, but not a friend.

Think about it, a friend does not charge you monthly tuition to spend time with them every week. Well, if your friend does do that, it is a strange friendship indeed! Haha  A magickal teacher, who knows her boundaries and conducts her/himself in a proper fashion keeps these boundaries clear. A magickal teacher who is 'your friend' would not be able to give a student a failing grade on a test, or be able to criticize a project or paper with the intention of correcting wrong material.

I personally have become friends with graduates who have left Enchantments and Priestesses who have moved on and are now doing the work of the Goddess in their own towns and who come back to visit. This is long after they have left my tutelage and this can be appropriate, but still proper respect is kept on both sides.

2.)  Seldom Will Two Magickal Teachers Teach the Exact Same Material:

Having said the above, most magickal teachers will teach the same information regarding things like the properties of the elements and casting a circle and the basics. Yet, do not hold them to too rigid a standard that you might have learned from another. For instance, when looking at the pentacle, where one teacher might say the upper left hand point is earth, another might say the bottom left hand point is earth. Is one right and one wrong? No, not at all. They just teach the same concept a little bit differently. Those who have a rigid black and white attitude and cannot handle differing options will indeed have a difficult time with the world of witchcraft, which is fluid and ever changing.

Some teachers start casting their circle from the east, and some start casting their circle from the north. Each are acceptable and traditionally correct, but different because they come from different traditions from different cultures. Yet neither are wrong. All that is wrong is if a student looks at one teachers way and another teachers way and decides one is right and the other wrong. It is the student who loses. When working with a teacher the student needs to know that teacher's specific ways, to be able to pass tests and exams properly. Afterwards a student should pick and choose what works for them, after they are done working with that teacher, and realize there are other ways to get to the same destination.

3.) Remember To Keep Adult Boundaries When Working in A Classroom or In A Coven:

The idea that everyone in a classroom must be best friends or the same in a coven is a misconception that ends up, often times,  causing the student/covener to find themselves with conflicts and issues with other students who are simply not meant to be friends. Not everyone is.

Ahh, this may be the most difficult of all the boundaries I have seen students struggle with. Again, like the first boundary listed regarding your teacher not being your friend, many students come into the classroom and or coven and want to believe they have entered a 'family' where unconditional love and acceptance reigns supreme. Sadly this is never the case. Yes, I did say .  .  .  never.  Many covens today still use the old axiom 'In Perfect Love, In Perfect trust", No, that is also never the case.  In 30 years I have yet to see it, except in the smallest, closed covens with a few close friends that never accept new comers in.

I personally have seen more backstabbing, bad mouthing, judgment and lack of acceptance of new comers in large covens and in classrooms, for nothing more than silly, trivial reasons and more bullying, "I came first, so I am a higher rank than you" power trips in the pagan community than I have seen anywhere in regular society. I do not say this is true for all Pagans, but it does proliferate in our magickal community and I have seen it many times.

The students in your classroom are there for their magickal education, the conveners in the coven you attend are there for their spiritual experience.  Guess what? You do not have to like them. But you do have to work with them. So if you are not close with someone, or just do not feel friendship, your responsibility is to keep your mouth shut when it comes to rude, snarky comments and be professional, adult and do the work required. Do not extend invitations outside of the class/coven experience, do not push to try to become friends as it will only end badly. Just do your work and be good with the fact that not everyone needs to be friends or loved ones. Not in the world we live in.

Most people cannot even be friends with their own blood family members so to expect that automatically when you step into a magickal group is simply unrealistic and will be a sharp disappointment in the end. If you are unable to keep yourself and behavior professional you will find yourself on the outskirts again and most likely blaming others except the one responsible, you. We are responsible for creating our reality.

4.) We Must Work On Our Inner Baggage To Move Forward On The Magickal Path:

Now, again, I am speaking of my personal observations and this may not be everyone's experience, but many will recognize what I am speaking of. The reason is, people come into the magickal world hauling all sorts of baggage, as many were not accepted in the outer world and expect to be accepted just like that, when they come into a magickal group. Yet, they expect this acceptance without releasing their baggage, without doing the inner workings needed to move into a world of light and love, without making the inner changes they need to make. Instead they point fingers and blame others for all of their problems and woes. This path is difficult. The magickal path demands inner change, for each and every person. The truth is, there is NEVER anyone to blame for our challenges on this path, only ourselves. That is one of the most important things to realize about walking a path of self discovery and personal enlightenment.

Just going to rituals, sitting in classes, casting spells and calling yourself a witch is not all that is required. There is inner work the Goddess requires, and those who ignore this work, will find they have difficulties. A magickal teacher will try to empower you, educate you, give you experience and challenge you. But what she can do for you is minuscule compared to the work you will need to do on your own.

5.)  When There Is An Issue With Another Student/Convener Speak First With Your The Teacher/Priestess:

When you are attending a class, or participating in a coven, you must remember you are not in charge. No matter how long you have been in attendance. If there is a teacher or a High Priestess/Priest, and it is not you, then they are the boss. It is inappropriate for you to start a fight, initiate a dispute or any sort of confrontation. The appropriate thing to do is to bring it privately to the teacher or High Priestess and allow them to decide what is the best thing to do. Their decision is final.  At times they might decide to tell the complaining student to leave it alone and focus on their work. At other times they might choose to speak to the other student and sometimes mediation is required, but that is their decision as it is their playing field.

The best way to get bounced from a school or coven is to take the issue on yourself and start a 'witch war', especially if you try to engage other students to side with you or you are found to have tried to eliminate other students.

6.)  Expect to Be Unhappy With Your Teacher At One Time or Another:

There will be times, when you find yourself angry or unhappy with your teacher. Perhaps you did not get a grade you wished to get on your test or exam. Perhaps your teacher requires more from you than a simple first semester answer when you are an advanced student and she knows you are capable of giving more.

To do the work required to make the inner changes necessary on the magickal path, it will cause emotional challenges. It is unrealistic to expect the path of change to be smooth, warm and fuzzy. Change can be painful, as we give up the behaviors and attitudes that no longer serve us, as we set aside the judgment and assumptions that held us back, Many times that energy and emotional turmoil is directed at the teacher, and as a teacher myself, I am good with it. I expect it and I will work with it without personalizing it or getting upset with the student. Now for the student that goes beyond polite etiquette and calls names, is rude and extremely disrespectful, blaming and refusing to take responsibility then the relationship ends.

But for those who are mature enough to handle the emotional challenges, I will work with them and together we get them over the hurdle or hurdles and they get to their desired destination.

7.) Never Assume You Know Everything About Your Teacher:

One of the biggest miss-assumptions a student can make is to think they know what their teacher or High Priestess is thinking or where their thought processes are coming from. We present one face to our students and do not divulge all to them about ourselves or about other students. We have in most cases, years or even decades, of experience that we fall back on, and for one student to think they know all about us with a mere few months or even a couple of years of working with us is a huge miss-assumption on their part which will never benefit them.

For those teachers and High Priestess' who run groups, it is not for the glory and the power as some mistakenly assume. For those who may start teaching others with that agenda they quickly wash out, simply because it is so difficult and there is no glory and no power in this work. It is difficult, frustrating, but it can be rewarding and it is most of all the work of the Goddess and we keep that as a primary focus.

Teachers and High Priestess' and Priests get more accusations, wrong assumptions, anger, blame, and other nonsense from those who are not willing to do the work yet want to be initiated as Priestess or Priest and when they encounter difficulties seek to cast blame.

From my standpoint as a magickal teacher I have worked with hundreds of students, some leave in a positive way, some not so much, but the ones I am working with and the ones yet to find me are the ones I give my energy and attention to. To those who have left, I wish them well on whatever path they eventually find themselves on.  Even those who have left in anger, I send no energy their way because their choice had nothing to do with me, even if they are not capable of seeing that, yet.

In conclusion, the very best advice I can give you, should you choose to work with a magickal teacher is to talk with them privately if you have questions and concerns. Trust that they are working for your best experience and that by approaching them personally and privately you will get your questions answered.

Above all, remember you are an adult, and that keeping emotions in balance, not giving into gossip about others, and refraining from engaging in childish, high school behavior will get you to your destination on the magickal path much faster and your work with your magickal teacher will be more rewarding for both of you.

Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith

© 2010-2017 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

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