Dualities - The Seeker and the Teacher

By Jet Blackthorn

It dawns on me that pagans who have been around for a while are asked to fill a dual role. Or to fill two opposing positions. We've all heard the cries of "the leaders need to step up and teach the flood of newbies" or "Where are all the experienced people who can teach us" coming from lists and live spaces. The wails and lamentations of the newbies is loud and clear in most parts of the country.

We're expected to step up, step out, and put ourselves out there to teach the "right" way, to put our money where our mouths are when we say $RW is a bad author or don't read X or Y book, read A or B instead.

And yet, when we take the time to do so, when we take the time to point out fallacies or bad logic or just downright rotten history...in short, when we actually *DO* step up to the plate...we're often derided with the title that many are now taking up: Meanie, Facist, Nasty Poo-poo Heads.

The slightest hint that someone may not accept another's cherished beliefs brings about cries of victimhood and persecution. Pointing out the facts of the "Burning Times" rather than accepting the myth of 9,000,000 dead by Evil Christian Persecuting Hands leads to howls of modern day witch hunts lead by pagans themselves against the Holy Personal Beliefs.

When those with the experience *to* teach get tired of all this, they become the Hidden Children once more, fading back into the background to sit and watch and wince as the floundering begins anew, listening to the cries of "Where are all the teachers" rising once more.

Time to set a few things straight, I think. (Yes, I'm about to fall into MFNPPH territory.)

1. You can't have it both ways. If you want teachers, they are *going* to teach you what they know. That includes things that will contradict your precious Personal Beliefs, challenge you to investigate the shoddy history that's been propigated by Certain Publishers, and actually make you grow and learn things.

2. Things will not always be easy, neat, or to your liking. Suck it up. We all had to do the same thing when *WE* learned from our teachers who quickly disabused us of the white-light, cotton candy batting that we wrapped around ourselves when we started down this path.

3. Religion is not easy. It's hard. Don't be fooled. Anyone who promises you the sun with no work at all is a liar. Plain and simple.

4. When we say we don't charge for teaching someone, that's only partially true. We don't charge *MONEY*. There is a high cost to learning, however, and thats taken out of your blood, your sweat, your tears, your energy, and your time. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

5. While we are sympathetic to the trials that you are about to go through, we will not allow you to back away from them and take an easier path. There isn't an easier path.

6. There will be days when you hate us. That's ok. Growth hurts and sometimes you need to lash out at what's prodding you to grow.

7. There will be days and nights when you want to quit. Only you can make the decision to keep going. Most traditions will admit that at some point you *will* face what is refered to as the Dark Night of the Soul. Probably more than once. You'll get through it.

8. We're here, with our hands out, waiting. We won't do your work for you, but we'll hold your hand and help as much as we're able. Hugs are always available. So are band-aids, antiseptic, and support.

9. We will not come to you. Many of us require that you request multiple times to be admitted into teaching or groups. This isn't a statement about you as a person. We have learned that it takes time to find a good match between those seeking and those able to teach. Requiring you to approach multiple times means you get to evaluate *US* just as we get to see how you fit in with our members. Requiring you to go through multiple steps for admittance is not only a protection for us...it is a protection for you.

10. There are rules. I know that the current trend in paganism is to say that the important part is what fits and works for you. To an extent, that is true. There are multiple options out there for you to pick from, including going your own way. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't rules to how you can pick and choose and what works together and what doesn't.

These, of course, are my rules. Others will have very different lists of things that are important. I wish there was a simple resolution to the duality that we're seeing now. Unfortunately, I suspect it's going to continue, rather than get better.

Jet Blackthorn is a Third Degree Initiate of Wheel Dancing Teaching Tradition, and the founder of Dragon Clan Witchcraft. Among her other many activities Jet maintains an active message board, and also runs Dragon Clan's Witchcraft Lessons, an on-line teaching program.

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Last updated 04/08/05