Courtesy and respect or how to get what you want
Courtesy and respect are qualities which will get you far, so I strongly encourage people to learn the art of making intelligent, and polite, inquiries.
As someone who’s invested a large amount of time and energy regarding my Wiccan training, I do expect a mild amount of courtesy when people ask me about possible training or Coven membership. I’m not talking about meekness or servitude, nor do I want you to kiss my….. I am talking about the general courtesy of “please” and “thank you” rather than demands and rudeness.
As mentioned before, a general letter of inquiry, stating what you might be looking for will be an ideal way to open conversation with a potential leader or teacher. Once they’ve returned a response, which should let you know whether they’re accepting students/members, they’ll probably either start asking questions as a way to start the “getting to know you process,” or provide you with alternative resources.
Again, I can’t speak for other leaders, but I believe many of us will ask similar questions regarding the following:
- We’re curious as to what your experiences of paganism have been.
- Your age and general location
- Pagan material you’ve read.
- What has drawn you to Paganism
- Any left-over issues with previous religious practice
- Your beliefs and ethics
- Whether you’re a good match for the Tradition we may practice
After initial exchanges regarding the above, we might also inquire as to your life-circumstances with a question of whether you’re in a stable place, whether you’ll have the time/energy required to devote to studies, and what your goals might be regarding training or Coven involvement.
Because we’re asking about you, we typically want to know what your involvement with Paganism has been, as well as your ability to invest the energy into training or Coven participation. Here are some interesting, though irrelevant, topics which have no bearing on whether you’re accepted as a student or Coven member:
- Whether you can see fairies or ghosts
- Who you were in past lives
- Whether you have ancestors who were witches or Native Americans
You are accepted on the basis of who you are, not who you were, who your ancestors were, and whether or not you have particular gifts. Some of these things may play a part in who you’ve become, or even give you an advantage in certain areas of study, but they aren’t the basis for acceptance as a student or Coven member.
What are we looking for? An individual who’s in a stable phase of their lives, old enough to have developed some life-experience and maturity, as well as a person who has a healthy sense of who they are, demonstrates ethical behavior, tries to take accountability for actions, and can devote the time and energy needed regarding formal study or group involvement.
A few other key pieces, which must be emphasized, are the following:
- Conversation with the leader does not mean they’ve accepted you for training or membership.
- Initial acceptance does not guarantee continued training or membership.
- You’re not entitled to what a teacher or Coven can provide.
- Training or membership will change you, hopefully for the better.
- Just because you’re “curious” doesn’t mean you should undertake study or membership.
- Just because you have a friend or spouse, who’s currently the leader’s student or coven mate, doesn’t guarantee you the right to admittance.