“The Elders were closer to the Maker of All Things and should be deferred to whenever they made their will known.”
– Patricia Briggs
As you spend more of your years in the magical community, you’ll watch a lot of elders, teachers, facilitators, and leaders get completely burned out. This happens in part because these people care so much that they put personal needs on the back burner. And while we can’t deter that heartfelt drive to serve, there is one way we can help−namely giving back equally to their energies.
Care and Keeping of the Magical Elders
Those that serve need service: There are a lot of needy people in the world, and when we’re in need we often overlook the very person assisting us. That’s normal−but later, when that need has passed how do you say thank you? What do you give back to that person, and to the All? How do you complete the circle? These are very important questions and ones that you might pose to yourself.
Ethics of Community Care
If we don’t take care of the people who have earned our respect and gratitude through honorable actions and ongoing dedication, it reflects negatively on our ethics. Those looking from the outside in may wonder about such laxness. While the “world” may still be in a disposable mindset (when something is worn out-just replace it), we are a community focused on nurturing, sustenance, and recycling.
In terms of people, this means using our human resources wisely. Sustain them, nurture them, and share what we learn from them with others. How exactly? In any way you can!
- Give them a hug.
- Offer a back rub.
- Make them a meal.
- Clean their house.
- Help with child care.
- Tend them when they are sick.
- Do yard work.
- Provide for known needs without being asked.
- Do good for good’s sake (don’t expect anything in return).
- Pay it forward.
But don’t stop there. We need to keep the wheel of giving and receiving rolling, or it will inevitably become flat (and likely run over a few good people in the process). If you remember to keep the words balance and reciprocity in your thoughts, words, and actions, you’ll be doing very well indeed.
Cautious Use of Titles in Magical Communities
Along the same lines, it’s important that we take great care in how your respected titles get used. Reading one book, leading one ritual, or taking an online course in the Craft does not give anyone the right to call himself or herself a Priest or Priestess. That title has group implications, and it’s one that’s earned.
Likewise, adding shamanic practices to one’s path does not make you a Shaman. Such distinction takes years, if not a lifetime, of study and practice. When we misuse these titles (either out of ignorance or ego) we dishonor those who have, by rights, earned those designations.
Why get so uppity about a title? There are many good reasons.
2. Ego: Some use unearned titles as a means of bolstering public images; it is a sacred trust for the Witch to protect others from this type of abuse.
3. Appropriation: Giving yourself an unmerited designation robs our true leaders (many of whom you don’t even see because they are working quietly behind the lines) of the honor they are due.
Some of the wisest and well-informed practitioners in our community rarely flaunt their titles.
Warning Signs of a Rogue Teacher, Priest or Facilitator
If you happen upon someone who is really “out there” you can share that information with other people in your area by networking. Now, “out there” doesn’t mean you disagree with their magickal constructs or personal politics. Rather, things like:
- Running a coven or study group under false pretenses (like claiming training or lineage they do not have).
- Claiming to have the most powerful (and 100 percent successful) form of magick.
- Calling themselves a witch (or Shaman, Druid, etc.) in an effort to manipulate people.
- Making promises of incredibly effective curses, potions, etc., for equally incredible service fees
- Requiring a coven or study group member to do something that goes against personal ethics or they cannot be in the group.
- Facilitating a workshop, group activity etc. Without sound advice and input from the community.
- Avoiding responsibilities, particularly those they’ve promised to attend
- Pulling people into internal politics and arguments, pushing them to choose sides
All of these activities send up a huge warning flag. Document everything you find out from that point forward and then share it with individuals and groups alike.
Please do so without becoming a gossip–bear in mind the goal is to help, not harm. You don’t need to backbite. As the saying goes, “just the facts, madam.” Present what you’ve discovered and let individuals draw their own conclusions. By so doing, you give people an opportunity to weed out the weekend warriors and Wiccan wannabes.
Let‘s put our TRUE elders and teachers back in the seat of honor where they belong.
Adapted from “Witch’s Book of Wisdom,” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.