There are many pathways in spirituality, some narrow and uphill, while others are winding and confusing. Some offer peace, while others might offer challenges. The first step in finding a teacher is recognizing what your needs are in the spiritual path you’ve chosen.
Not everyone shares the same spiritual needs. I personally sought inner peace and understanding of my Self. I wanted to know why I do things I do, and how I can live in better harmony with the world around me. Unfortunately, not many of the books on paganism even touches those aspects. Instead they offer a quick means to setup an altar, cast spells, speak prayers or chants, and do all the required actions to make oneself pagan.
You might feel compelled to learn the various degrees within a coven to attain the level of priest/ess, but don’t feel as though you have to. Covens are often seeped in politics and too many teach practices and not enough about religion/faith. Instead, listen to your heart to what you need from a teacher.
In finding a means to learn doesn’t necessarily require a teacher. In fact, in many ways the best teacher is yourself. Who better to fulfill your spiritual needs than the God/dess within? But in order for you to learn, or rather unlearn then relearn, you need to shed preconceptions and your hangups. You have to ask many questions, and listen to answers, and then questions those answers. Meditate, ponder, and live by the guidance of your heart.
That being said, in finding someone to teach you the ways of any spiritual path, you need to sift through the scam artists and the ones who take advantage of others.
Other qualities to look for in a teacher;
- Experience. They should know enough about what they are talking about to pass this on to their students.
- Patience. A good teacher welcomes questions from his or her students.
- A sincerity of service. This means a good teacher understands the path they’ve chosen to teach others doesn’t have anything to do with ego or their self importance. Instead, they are ‘in service’ to their student and to the path of beliefs they’ve chosen to teach.
- Free. Someone who teaches religion shouldn’t ask for money. Such information should be freely given and shared, and honored. Asking for money is simply unethical. Outside of the cost of books (and many you can borrow or buy used), you can learn without spending a dime.
Some might argue the last point, saying that a teacher should be able to be compesated for their time, but if they profess to be clergy, to be in service to the god/dess, how can they justify demanding money for what all people should understand?