Chicken Soup for the Witchy Student’s Soul

I wrote this post on April 9th. It’s one of those that sat in my “draft” box for much of this month. I was going to revamp it and publish it, but I think I will just go ahead and let it be what it is. Mostly.[1] You see, last night I had a conversation with a student who was frustrated by hateful remarks made by another blogger.

It’s no big secret. Everybody knows that there is tension—we’ll call it tension—between me and another writer. Dance all you want. It is what it is. Over the last year I have learned to ignore it all—the oblique false accusations, the sideways insults, the innuendo.[2] Sure, I get texts and emails and “Did you see?”s. Usually I haven’t seen. And usually I don’t even go look. But this time she took  a low jab at my students’ progress.

This is just to set the record straight on their behalf. Muck with my reputation all you want[3]—hands off theirs.

The original post follows—my retrospective commentary and comments concerning the insults made about my students are in blue. The picture is new.

****************************************************

Ceci n’est pas un vrai livre.
This is not a real book.
It is a .jpg of a real book (by Toni Patrick) that was doctored to make me giggle.
It did.

4/9/2013—I have a final class tonight before my first degree Neophytes make an elevation over the weekend and I thought I’d just record the moment and fill you in on what it’s been like to have my student population explode over the past year.

This time last year, I decided to start taking-on students again after two years’ hiatus. Last spring, there was one. Then there were two. A few months later there were three. By November, there were six. Then five.[4] Now, there are ten (temporarily) going on eight, then expected to be twelve in August.

I’ve decided to put a moratorium on newcomers until August when the more seasoned students can help out. Which they can–intellectually, but there is a matter of their school/family/life schedules. I don’t have a single student who doesn’t have a full-to-the-brim adult life (except perhaps my son, the youngest in the crowd by four years). And yet, they all manage to work magical studies and kindred support into their routines.

Aside from the pilot, the lawyer, the journalist, and the other amazingly talented members of our tribe[5] that are not students, we have a nursing student, several parents (toddlers to adults), military folk, ex-military folk, business owners, artists and musicians of all kinds (including tattoo artists), students of all kinds, and professionals of–well, not all kinds–but several kinds. Average age hovers around 31. Our conversations are “in depth” as well as “with breadth” to say the least. Everyone comes at magic from a different perspective and yet manages to land on the same square. Simpatico.

For the good of all, I’ve decided to slow down the training of the most senior class by a few weeks and speed up the training of the second level class by a few weeks so that they can all work together. That means that in a few weeks, I’ll have a nice big class where everyone can study together. My heart is saying, “Thank you!” My main goal is to have the more experienced students mentor the less experienced students within the year.

This has been the bombdiggity as far as I am concerned. And boy-howdy do my students seem to like it. We don’t fit in my classroom anymore so we gather around the family dining table sitting all on top of each other batting around profundities and processes and sharing experiences, occasionally digressing into a nonsensical string of levity that binds us together even more strongly. We craft and weave and work together like any healthy working temple should. No competition. No monopolies. No power-struggles. I often seek council from my most senior students, who—in turn—are open and honest with me about their opinions but always deferential to my authority.

Our program is very intellectual but includes a ton of hands-on lessons. For instance, last week my “Seeker” class (0 grade) had eggs and tea and pendulums and Tarot cards and coins and the I Ching and . . . and . . . and . . . for a class on divination. I always have such fun with that one.

For me, the program has several levels of “beginner” grades. The four outer-levels make up what would typically be considered the “year-and-a-day” training. I don’t expect that all of my students will make it through the whole thing. (Mostly because of the time obligations.)[6] It’s rigorous. More rigorous than the home-grown year-and-a-day curriculum I’ve seen floating about.[7] We do a lot of hands-on work but we read the work of others as well. I mean we read—a lot. And, every now and then, some of it borders on secular academia too. Like tonight, my Neophytes are giving presentations on creation myths and pantheon legends–but they also have to apply the legend to The Hero’s Journey. (This then applies back to their ongoing Tarot study on a basic level—it is comprehensively intertwined.) So, I guess I attract a particular kind of student: smart and willing to think critically and to question all things, busy—but dedicated to craft-learning, fun-loving—but able to stay on task when the moment calls for it (and to goof-off when the moment calls for it!), and—damn—they are kindred-minded. To watch them pull together on group projects is such fun. No competition,  no backbiting.

I’m glad I mentioned this in the original draft. You see, we are not a Wiccan tradition. Therefore, it is just downright goofy to peg our elevations as 1-2-3-Wiccan-style (which is a totally legit structure—for other traditions, just not ours.). We are a mystery tradition and, as such, have a tiered and methodological approach to unraveling the details. This is just to say that my students do not rapid-fire elevate as was recently alleged by someone who knows nothing—absolutely nothing—about my curriculum.  

I’m not telling y’all this because I feel like I have to defend myself against meaningless disparagements made by complete outsiders, but because I know that my students are working hard and I want to go on record as saying that their progress is beyond reproach. I know what they are achieving; they know what they are achieving; most importantly, the gods know what they are achieving. Whatever you think of me, their gefrain is such that there are no grounds upon which their training can be questioned.

By-and-large, these guys get behind the balls and really impress me. I have one student who regularly sends me links to things that he finds while he’s studying. If half the battle is engagement, we win—these folks are engaged! This past week the newest bunch were tossing all sorts of divination articles at each other. I love the spirit of cooperation with which they approach occult studies more than just about anything. It’s the heathen in me that loves to see kindred-spirits form and congeal as they become family.

And that’s what we’ve become. We are not just teacher, student, priest/gothi, priestess/gydia, har-gydia. We are a unified kindred.[8] I love youse guyse. You have no idea how much you have blessed me this year. Between affirmation, education, and chicken rearing, I don’t want to think of a life without you.

And after last week’s mondo-lesson, I think I’m ready to start talking about low-magic once more. It’s like falling in love with an old friend all over again.

I’ll leave you with that; and as ever, I’ll let you know how it goes.

~E


[1] After my rooster moved from my momma’s house to my sister’s house, I wrote one called “Everything I Need to Know About Hookin’ I Learned From My Chickens.” Now I reckon I’ll have to re-look at that one too.

[2] Well there was this one time this winter that I allowed myself to get irritated. But now I don’t even remember what it was. If you remember, don’t remind me; it’s all SSDD anyhow.

[3] And I reckon if you’ve know me long enough, you feel you have the right. But from now on, how’s about you do it in person? You know I’ve always been open to full-disclosure arbitration. Go on, call my bluff. 

[4] One decided to return to Christianity. It’s all good. She’s more open-minded and better armed to defend her personal faith today than she was before the class. Good on her! She still comes to kindred gatherings.

[5] Holy-Hela, I said “tribe.” Lest I be accused of plagiarizing the term, may I point out it’s what nearly every heathen calls their folk. I’ve been biting my tongue on the term for too long. I don’t use “theod” out of respect for the Theodish way.

[6] Right now, I’m at 27% attrition—but 2/3 of those plan to return in August.

[7] Now, I’m sure there’s other out there. I’m just sayin’ I ha’n’t seen it.

[8] Actually, I will be initiating a few folks into priesthood soon. (That happened Saturday, BTW.) I’m thrilled that 3/4 of them are my students who have risen to the occasion and have proven themselves capable of priesthood within the kindred. The kindred (“church”) is different from the training program (“school”). There is a good deal of layover in membership, and each supports the other, but they are not a single entity.

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