Qualifications? A Review

When I am not sure how to deal with something I marinate on it. This means I sit around thinking  through what has happened or been done or said and then respond. Months and months ago, a review for Family Coven: Birthing Hereditary Witchcraft  was posted.

I read it and was wholly offended by portions and understood other points. Ultimately I didn’t respond to the review when I knew there were several factual errors in the review and omissions that would have shed a different light on the review.

After posting about qualifications on Monday, I decided it was time to set the record straight and found the comment section on this article closed. SO… I get to do it here.

Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism

I am not going to continue this debate. The author suggests that I am confused. I am not. I understand the alleged distinction between these three terms and I categorically reject them. I feel like these distinctions are most often used by traditional Craft to further divide our community.

Inexperience & Idealism

It is true I only had one child. It is also true that I have a bachelor of science degree in psychology and that a portion of every chapter of my book was written by different families of different types and make ups. Further it is true that the initial writing of the book occurred when Tree Bear (please note the appropriate name), was younger and the book was re-worked when Tree Bear was nearly sixteen.

I stand by what I said when Tree Bear was three through seven and there are some things I would have done differently that are directly related to my personal journey and the personal journey of my Family Coven. None of this detracts from the fact that the ideas presented in this book were not only tested in my Family Coven. Many different families utilized the tools I suggested and gave me feedback long before the book was published and for me this gives the information a much more grounded perspective than if this was just “my idea.”

Further I took great pains to research, study and research different types of parenting and learning styles that are presented in the book. All of which seems to be missing from the author’s judgement of my experience.

Children In Ritual

This biggest issue the author takes is around my assertion that communities should make room for children. She jumps right into the fray about how children’s presences isn’t appropriate in ALL rituals and completely blows by the fact that the last chapter of this book actually charges parenting partner(s) with the responsibility of ensuring a child’s readiness to participate in community events (Family Coven, page 263-269). Many of these points can actually be read on line on the Willow Dragonstone Community website. This particular article in some form has been reprinted numerous times and has been complimented as an excellent guideline regarding children and ritual or children and gathering attendance.

To be clear, I don’t care if someone doesn’t prefer my view point of family and craft which I have termed Family Coven. I do care, however, if criticisms are inaccurate and incomplete. Anyone can take one sentence out of a book and build a rant about a book to suit their view point and opinion, especially if they leave out points that would counter the stated argument. I have learned long ago that paganisms many flavors are not savored by everyone and I see nothing wrong with that.

I also know that it is a radical thing to empower families to behave as a spiritual entity first before joining with community. I understand that it can be idealistic to hope that someday a book of shadows created by you might be cherished by another. I also understand that questioning the unilateral authority of traditional covens is offensive to those who hold power.

I can live with all of that. Just get my son’s name right and don’t leave out important information and we will be all good.

 

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LEADERSHIP QUESTION: Qualification?

Just recently I had a social media run in with a teacher who was advertising for a class for trauma victims. They responded with a list of magickal affiliations and techniques none of which I cared about. So I asked again, “That’s great. Thank you. And what specifically qualifies you to teach trauma survivors?”

The response I got back was a listing of the persons’ own trauma and life story. My response was as follows:

I am not trying to insult you and I appreciate your candor. I strongly believe that any pagan anyone who wants to help the healing process for trauma survivors should have either developed their own process from their own need OR have the appropriate psychological training. I think it is down right psychologically dangerous for someone to present weekend “training” or magickal “rituals” around trauma unless they have had one of the aforementioned. I also believe that Seekers have a right to know what qualifies someone to present a workshop or weekend intensive. For example, if someone was presenting a weekend intensive around polyamory I would not give a flying crap about their magickal titles and affiliations – I would want to know how long they have had a successful polyamorous relationship. Just because they can put a class together doesn’t mean they have the practical successful experience needed. Conversely, in trauma, those who have not experienced it or studied the different methods that are used to help survivors thrive, should not be presenting classes around it, in my opinion. I would love to hear more about your method and how you developed your program (what books you used, what types of therapies you have tried, what magickal intersections you exploit) but I was unable to send you a message off list because we are not friends. So I friend requested you. I am not in XX so there is not any hope that I could attend a weekend event. I am not insulting you. I am merely asking for clarification of qualifications. This is something I believe anyone has the right to do of any person who presents themselves as a teacher on a topic, especially specefic topics.

This prompts this week’s question: Do pagan seekers have the right to demand specefic information from teachers who present themselves as authorities on a topic? Under what circumstances do they not? Does being a HPs or HPS or a teacher of any tradition mean that they are qualified to speak on EVERY topic equally without question? What do you think or feel about this? How do you handle questions about your qualifications?

LEADERSHIP QUESTION: Humility?

Lady Chirona suggested this week’s question be around leadership and compassion. Doing a search for this I came across Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. In an article about Compassionate Leaders, I found the following quote particularly interesting.

The first and perhaps the most important finding in the book is the role of leadership. It takes a very special type of leader to bring a company from goodness to greatness. Collins calls them “Level 5” leaders. These are leaders who, in addition to being highly capable, also possess a paradoxical mix of two important and seemingly conflicting qualities: great ambition and personal humility. These leaders are highly ambitious, but the focus of their ambition is not themselves; instead, they are ambitious for the greater good. Because their attention is focused on the greater good, they feel no need to inflate their own egos. That makes them highly effective and inspiring.

Given the use of titles and the often exaltation of pagan leaders, I have to wonder what the relationship is between humility and compassion. Which brings us to today’s question – In leadership, what is the relationship between humility and compassion?

Guide for Beginners

NewbieQuickStartLogo

I have seen a lot of posts and had a lot of questions around being new to paganism and Wicca. People wanting spells or energy or worrying about being psychically attacked. People wanting some easy to follow menu that tells you what types of paganism is available and which would be best for particular people. Below is my advice for newbies (also called neophytes in The Craft).

  1. There is no Newbie Quick Start Guide. Seriously. A lot of newbies are looking to identify their “path” or figure out what “structure” this new spiritual experience is going to take on. That is often the first mistake. Because The Craft is a spiritual path and not necessarily a religious one, there is no guide or structure that is universal. As someone once told me, “There is no Ten Commandments of Wicca.” Stop thinking what you are looking for is going to look anything like what you have previously experienced. Drop your expectations.
  2. There are no stupid questions BUT ~ I am even guilty of posting questions of social media that I don’t know an answer to without attempting to search for the answer myself. If someone says, “You should learn to ground and center.” Don’t follow that up with, “Teach me how!” Go search ground and center and paganism and then read several blog posts and website explanations of this type of working. Then try it for yourself at least three times – then take specific questions developed from your own research and attempts to a more experienced practitioner.
  3. When someone offers you a resource, do them the respect of actually reading what has been offered to you. Don’t just skim the document or website and then dismiss it as not what you are looking for. This reflects a continued search for that Quick Start Guide – and because there isn’t one, you are not going to find your answers in some easily sorted place.
  4. If you are a newbie, this does not imply you are an idiot. Stop flaying around in cyber space saying, “I’m a newbie! But I’m a newbie!” Newbie or no, you are a thinking, reasoning adult, who can read. Take some ownership for your spiritual development and path. Paganism is the spiritually doing path. No one else is going to be able to do for you as good or as effectively as you could do for yourself with a little research and self application.
  5. Paganism is not a quick fix spirituality. You don’t get out of dealing with your issues because you become pagan. In fact, paganism at it’s heart is facing and dealing with your issues. If you think you are going to find a spell that suddenly reverses your life and changes everything over night, you are not looking for paganism your looking for an easy out. Easy outs have nothing to do with real spiritual work.
  6. If you have major depression or mental illness before you were pagan, paganism is not going to cure your major depression or mental illness. Just like diabetes and sexual transmitted diseases are not affected by magick. You wouldn’t cast a spell to cure gonorrhea – what made you think casting a spell will cure your depression which is a physical ailment just like being sick is?
  7. Working a pagan path is to work your life. Paganism isn’t a religion so you can’t go to church one day a week and then do whatever. Paganism is a spiritual way of life that allows you to work on your issues and life from a spiritual place outward. Notice working is used here. You have to WORK AT IT.
  8. If you are a newbie, met someone and they immediately do any of the following:
    • Offers to teach you for a fee
    • Tells you you are being spiritual attacked
    • Asks you do any ritual, rite, initiation that involves physical acts of sex
    • Explains how they are some great pagan who is better than all other pagans~ RUN – do not WALK – RUN AWAY from them
  9. Most really experienced practitioners will tell you to research and read. That’s it. That is all you are going to get from good spiritual practitioners who are pagan. Experienced pagan practitioners feel that path to a newbie is to seek through research and study THEN after doing both of these extensively they will know enough about what they really want to learn and know.
  10. Follow pagan bloggers, authors and leaders and figure out who you identify with. If you have serious questions ask one of them, not some general group or social media outlet. Do your research on these people.
    • How long have they practiced?
    • Is their social feed filled with drama?
    • When you google them do bad reviews or other issues come up?
    • How much drama do they write about in their personal blog or social media?
    • Do their core values resonate with yours?
  11. Be a solitary practitioner for at least a year before trying to join a group. Be sure of who you are as a pagan before you seek other influences.
  12. Don’t be naive – bad people are looking for pagan newbies to exploit for sexual reasons, monetary reasons or just because they like to create drama and newbies are a fertile ground for this. Just because someone appears to be pagan competent doesn’t mean they are. Ask yourself if their life reflects the life of someone who is spiritually empowered or does their life reflect a person who is caught up in drama, abuse, or values inconsistent with what they espouse.
  13. You do not need a by your leave from a high priest, high priestess, arch druid, grand poobaa, mistress of the dark, coven, grove, community, circle, another witch, wizard or warlock to study paganism. All you need is a desire to seek the gods and willingness to do the work. Anyone else who says different is selling something or wants something from you.

That’s it. Research. Read. Try. Do. Be cautious.

Paganism is not a spectator sport. It is a spiritual path that requires doing.

 

Good luck!