One of my pet peeves is this continuing conversation (or battle depending on who you talk to) within the Wiccan community about access to quality Wiccan information and training for potential students. Depending on the tradition (and indeed the coven leadership on many occasions), there seems to be this notion that Wiccan training is only available to people who meet certain criteria like students MUST;
- be taught face to face
- reach a minimum standard of literacy before we’ll let them in
- do Tarot or Runes or whatever other favourite divination method is flavour of the month
- pay us squillions of dollars or pounds before we will give them any information (particular screaming of horror at that one!)
- attend EVERY Sabbat forever and a day to remain a part of the coven
- wear whatever we tell them too (or tell them not to) at rituals
- be white, middle class people with good educations and jobs before we’ll teach them.
Look, much as I know this will annoy a number of people (including some of my own readership I suspect) in my opinion, everyone has the right to information about Wicca and it doesn’t matter whether they’re white, black or dayglo green with pink spots. It doesn’t matter if they are geographically isolated and simply can’t get to every coven meeting, it doesn’t matter if they have caring responsibilities and the needs of their kids/parents/pets frequently have to come before coven related business. Everyone has the right to knowledge; good quality, ethical, appropriate knowledge and I don’t care what their circumstances are, everyone has that right.
In terms of training, that’s different than information. While I believe that everyone has the absolute right to access top quality Wiccan information at any time, I also believe that everyone (regardless of their colour, location or circumstances) also has the right to access training. (That will really stir up the battle I suspect!)
Let’s clarify something here, I said that everyone has the right to access training, regardless of whether they can attend every time or not, whether they have caring responsibilities, whether they have no car and are 400 kilometres away form a group or whatever. EVERYONE has the right to access both good quality information and good quality teaching. So online teaching like that from Oak and Mistletoe and like that from the one or two other great quality online teaching schools is a brilliant way for socially or geographically isolated people to access that information and training.
But, and here’s the big but, while everyone has the right to access Wiccan information and training, those people accessing that training also have the responsibility to do their part and actually engage with it. A teacher doesn’t do training ‘to’ the student, they do training ‘with’ the student. So training is a two way street with joint responsibility and joint effort. Your teacher puts in the effort to teach so the student needs to put in the effort to learn.
That learning though can take place online, face to face, through reading, through research, through watching, and of course always through practicing. Wicca is a doing religion and the training is about ‘doing’ as well as ‘knowing how to do’. That’s where the student’s responsibility comes into play.
I may be one of those ‘neo-Wiccans’ that the Wiccan traditionalists despise but sobeit. I was taught the old way and initiated within an oath bound coven before I moved into a more contemporary version of our religion and while I absolutely uphold the value of that teaching methodology, there are also other, equally as valid and robust forms of teaching our wonderful religion. What I get annoyed about is the sublime hierarchy, the blatant discrimination and the absolute snobbery around teaching where some people will tell you that you’re not a true Wiccan unless you were taught by an initiated Wiccan within the confines of an oath bound coven. What utter claptrap!
If you are a Wiccan student, eager to learn about Wicca but not able or prepared to do so within a coven, then you still have EVERY right to top quality, ethical Wiccan knowledge and training and don’t you ever forget that your needs as a student are equally, if not more important than the dogma and restrictions of some traditions and teachers.
We’re living in the 21st century, not in the dim dark ages of post way England when Wicca was first developed. I’ve been teaching adults now as a profession vocationally for more than 25 years and teaching and training always has to be centred round the student, not around the teacher or the topic. So students and people new to Wicca, you stand up for your rights because you might be a beginner in Wicca but you’re still an adult and you do have the right to good quality, ethical information and training. Don’t you ever let anyone tell you otherwise!
Smiles and blessings, Amethyst