I’d like to write about this topic while drawing from over 25 years of experience as a Wiccan practitioner. Through interactions with seekers, and participation in covens and organizations, I’ve had the chance to formulate a few thoughts and suggestions for those who are seeking.
This particular subject is very fascinating, and very frustrating, due to certain trends that seem to worsen, rather than improve, over the years. Perhaps, by sharing a few observations and suggestions, there will be more constructive opportunities between seeker and teacher/group.
I’m sure I don’t speak for all teachers and coven leaders, yet I believe some of my observations are shared by my colleagues, in regards to how seekers make contact with us, and the outcome of those efforts. Efforts which typically start with an email message.
Let me first say that I love to receive emails, will happily share what resources I have, and hope that seekers find what they’re looking for, whether it’s with me, my group, or someone else. I’m probably just as excited by the contact, and realize that many seekers may feel awkward and unsure regarding the person they’ve made contact with. I was once a beginner, and remember the nervousness of initiating contact with a teacher and coven.
Effective vs. ineffective communication
There are numerous ways to initiate contact with a potential teacher or coven. I’ve found that many seekers are unsure of how to start the process, and have a few observations to make:
When someone sends an email, I would hope to see the following: a greeting, an expression of interest, a question of whether training or membership is available, and a farewell, signed with either their first name, or a public Craft name. This will typically get an immediate response, with me providing a greeting, answering any questions, possibly providing resources/suggestions, an encouragement to stay in touch, and a farewell.
The encouragement to stay in touch is specifically done so the seeker knows they now have a contact, in case they have current or future questions. A positive greeting also fosters encouragement and connection, so the seeker feels supported, especially if they feel nervous.
Effective communication would be about introducing yourself, trying to get to know the potential teacher/coven leader (without being invasive), exchanging information to see if there’s a good fit, and giving thanks for a response and any resources that might be provided.
Another suggestion would be to provide an adequate subject line, as email filters are notorious for sending messages to the Spam folder if they look like junk mail.
When someone sends me an email stating the following: “I want to join the coven, and think I should be initiated as a 2nd degree because I’m ready” will typically piss me off as I find this type of statement to be directive, rude, and ignorant. Another type of email, which gets no response from me, is the following: “hi, where are you?” No greeting, no inquiries, no farewell, and no name. This all equals no response.
Messages which contain references to being involved with the local ghost-hunter society, number of ancestors who were psychic, Native American heritage, or the ability to see fairies or ghosts, are also ineffective in regards to having someone take you seriously. These subjects do not make you more eligible, may have nothing to do with Wicca, and have nothing to do with initiating contact and getting to see if I, or any other teacher/coven leader will be a good match.
Other approaches that are ineffective will be an overbearing attitude, a sense of entitlement, a belief that having read many books gives you immense wisdom, and the belief that because you have credentials from an online school or program, you are somehow knowledgeable of what a teacher or group is practicing.
(stay tuned for Part 2: Courtesy and respect, and how to get what you want)