Recently a brilliant woman doctoral student picked me, apparently by intuition, out of the hundreds of editors available online, to edit her research proposal. Having hired me, she then googled me, learned much more, and sent me a long enthusiastic email about her psychic talents and experiences. She is immensely well informed and is what I might call a “natural-born Witch”—but she had never met another Witch face to face. We have been having long, advanced chats about many things; she would like to study with me, but she’s in the middle of the US. Not physically feasible in the foreseeable future.
This wrinkle has evoked some rather uncomfortable feelings. I miss being able to teach the more advanced aspects of the Craft. My new friend and my wife have both suggested that I might try teaching by means of modern technology: Youtube, podcasts, Skype, whatever. But there are some inherent problems for me in trying to use such vectors.
First, I cannot teach into a vacuum, to an invisible audience. I need to know what people need to know. I teach by answering questions. Given my weird memory, I know a great deal about many topics (but not everything, not cars and sports). I learned long ago not to do core memory dumps on people who have not asked me a question, or even if they have; that’s useless or sometimes counterproductive. The adult mind cannot learn information it has no use for. And the mind of a person who is not in some way paying tuition does not know that it is supposed to be learning anything. One cannot teach people who do not want to learn, just as one cannot help a man who does not know that he needs help. They have to ask in order to initiate the process.
The Craft Law that forbids taking money for teaching someone what can be taught only in circle has been salutary, in keeping con artists from fleecing the marks, as has happened far too often in the New Age movement. But it has led to problems. The student must be paying in some way in order to be able to learn. And the teacher needs to receive enough, by way of energy exchange or in some other way, for the teaching to not drain his or her life resources. Not knowing how to maintain a viable balance has caused many coven or other leaders to burn out and become rather antisocial.
My emotional payoff for teaching and leading was always the personal relationships, the network of friends, the community. The NROOGD Full Moon Coven was a Camelot, created by a synthesis of unusual factors that are not likely to ever recur, but it provided a model one could try to emulate. I am grateful that many who were active in that coven are still my friends, forty years later.
I am thoroughly not interested in teaching the beginning, Outer Court stuff that can be taught by many other people, and the Inner Court cannot be taught abstractly. It depends on face-to-face interaction to assess a student’s psychic patterns, and much of it, as you may know, is very hands on.
Could I offer workshops at festivals? Maybe. The festivals are a major, community-building facet of the Wiccan/Pagan movement, and have been for at least 30 years. The pattern that developed early is that the organizers invite a BNP or two to be the star attractions. There are some such who have worked the Pagan borscht circuit annually; 25 years ago I was one such—but I’m not now. I haven’t been invited to a festival during about the last 15 years. Giving a workshop to tell people what they want to hear in order to reinforce what they already believe is essentially a form of entertainment. (Not all workshops are like that, of course, but many are.) I am in no way enthusiastic about doing anything like that. I would want to teach about Gnosis, rather than what is now considered Witchcraft, and that might not be what people want to hear, even though I now perceive that Gnosticism and the Craft are ultimately manifestations of the same spiritual current.
Offering a weekend seminar, if half a dozen or so prospective students were willing to cover the minimal expenses (transportation, room and board), might be feasible. It is both ethical and essential to have one’s expenses covered, and psychologically, that would be equivalent to paying tuition and this being open to learning. In a weekend, I could teach enough of the basic Inner Court practices to make it worthwhile for the students, especially since many could probably not learn about such matters in any other way. Still, there are logistical and intangible problems about such a plan, and I do not see offhand any way that I could teach the advanced Inner Court, the heart of the Craft that distinguishes it from all other spiritual paths (at least in this country).
Could I teach such a workshop locally? Perhaps by way of gathering a new coven? Maybe. But what I would prefer is to find other Awakened Gnostics to share with, and that is not easy at all.
The main logistical problems I am facing are, of course, mundane. Covering the household budget while teaching part time. Dealing with health issues, even though we have Obamacare. Doing anything like marketing and promotion in hopes of increasing sales of my books. In my capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Hierophant Wordsmith Press, I now have four titles available on Amazon. Right now, they bring in just enough royalties, on the 26th of each month, to help us get through ‘til its end. As soon as I can, I will send a set of them to Library Journal. Getting even one of them reviewed and so getting library sales would be a God(dess)send. I can hope for that, but obviously not count on it.
If I sound somewhat discouraged and conflicted by this situation, you are hearing me right. If you have any suggestions about what I might do, I would be grateful for that feedback.
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Available on Amazon:
Aradia and the Books of the Sacred Marriage: A Tale of Love, Witches, and Gnostics
Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches: A Social History of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn
A Tapestry of Witches: A History of the Craft in America, Vol. I, to the Mid-1970s
Theodyssies and Paradoxologies: Collected Poetry