12 September 2014

Why I Teach

As I prepare to launch my correspondence courses (shadowkrafting.com coming soon!), I've been reflecting a lot on my own personal philosophies and the reasons why I teach magick.  So I'm going to tell you the story of my very first ever Pagan ritual and why I teach magick the way I do.

Emily at Wellesley
Me my first year at Wellesley
It all began back in the fall of 1999 during my first semester at Wellesley. I'd been interested in magick for a little while at that point, but had only read a few books and tried a few things on my own.  Then one day I saw a friend of mine draped out in a flowing black cape and I asked where she was going.  She explained that she was on her way to the Pagan Students Group (PSG) Samhain ritual.  I asked if I could tag along, she allowed it, and we made our way to the ritual.

I wasn't exactly prepared for what I experienced.  I'd read about the Sabbats and rituals, but I had zero experience.  I hadn't really started my formal practice and only knew the bare minimum of how things were "supposed" to go.  So I just followed along what everyone else was doing and followed the HP's instructions...for the most part. 

Oh yes, my very first ritual and I was already doing my own thing (not exactly a genius move in hindsight).  We did a meditation to go to your astral temple and do something I can't recall.  Well, I didn't really have an astral temple per se, but I did have a spot that I would go to that would later become my astral temple.  While the HP led the group in whatever astral activity we were supposed to be doing, I went off on my own down a path into a dark forest.  As I said, I knew almost nothing and had no idea how dangerous that could be.  Luckily enough, when I got to the end of the path I found myself in a clearing surrounded by what I can only describe as my true family.  There were perhaps a dozen people there, all magickal folk, all welcoming me home.  It felt like being bear hugged by a star.  I felt my entire being shake and shift in that moment and I knew without a doubt that I had finally found my path.  To this day it is one of the most profoundly sublime moments of my life.

As the ritual ended I was excited and vaguely terrified (but in a good way) by what I had experienced.  I pulled my friend aside and explained what I experienced.  She was rather baffled by it and we went to the HP to ask her opinion of what had happened and to see if she could advise me.  I'm not sure what I expected from her, but what I got was: "Well that wasn't what you were supposed to do."  No understanding.  No advice.  No help whatsoever.  I had just had the most profound magickal experience of my life and she was totally uninterested.  Needless to say I was less than impressed by her leadership.

From that day forth I made it my mission to make myself available to anyone who found themselves in my former position to give them the help I wish I had gotten.  So I did what I do best and I obsessed with every fiber of my being until I was an expert.  I've now been teaching for almost a decade and have seen many students grow into powerful practitioners.  It's been a long and difficult journey, but a rewarding one. 

Me by my Junior year - President of PSG

That is why I teach - because when I needed a teacher the most there wasn't one to be found.  That is why I will answer just about any question people will put to me. I teach defensive magick because the things I experienced at Wellesley freaked me out and there was no one to advise me.  I try to make sure my courses are easy to understand and as practical as possible.  The most boundless knowledge is nothing if it can't be understood.  All the theory in the world is useless if it can't be put into practice.  I put exercises in my lessons so my students can get real practice so they can be prepared when they need to be.  I'm happy to talk to students about the issues they face in their lives because I would have given up favored body parts to have had that back when I was new.  I teach in the hopes of helping people to not be the frightened newbie that I was.