Signs of a Good (and Bad!)
Let's face it: anyone can set themselves up as a spiritual teacher... whether or not they are qualified or deserving. And that happens in Wicca as well as any other religion.
Because we're not used to assessing the qualities of spiritual teachers, and because society implies that we shouldn't and can't
judge such leaders, we're left in a vulnerable position.
Do we simply trust someone because they offer something we want? Risky! We've all heard stories of people who've been taken advantage of by someone they thought they could trust to be their spiritual guide or mentor.
There's no reason to go in this blindly. There are good solid signs to let you know when you've found someone safe. And warning signs to warn you off those who aren't.
Let's begin with the latter, and then we'll look at what you should look for in a good teacher.
Avoid anyone who does any
- Tells you what to think or how to feel and insists on obedience
- Insists that their way is "the only right way;" claims to have the one truth or greatest power
- Requires you to believe what they believe
- Gets angry or offended when you want to learn from other sources as well
- Becomes angry or intimidating when questioned
- Threatens you or others in any way
- Pressures you to do things that you aren't comfortable with
- Tries to rush you or push you into trusting them
- Becomes emotionally or sexually engaged in relationship with students (or those who were recently students)
- Belittles or humiliates people (to their face OR behind their back)
- Is sarcastic, judgemental, disrespectful, or verbally abusive
- Subtly demeans you — makes you feel unsure of yourself or inferior to them
- Promises you great power and superhuman abilities
- Suggests that you will be able to take revenge on others
- Claims they are doing things you don't like "for your own good"
- Is inconsistent (e.g., acts friendly in person but talks nasty behind people's backs)
- Shows a disconnect between who they claim to be and how they behave
- Has double-standards of behaviour for them and others
- Insists or even hints that you should give them a lot of money, service, or anything else
- Breaks agreements
- Lies, steals, or otherwise demonstrates little integrity or good character
- Makes you earn their approval
- Encourages you to recruit others
- Claims to hold many secrets and dangles them like a lure
- Hypes their teaching with nonsense like: "no one else knows this" or "I'm gonna be in trouble for teaching you this"
- Feeds you fear to motivate or control you
- Continually finds or perceives enemies
- Does harm to others in any way
- Generally leaves you feeling worse about yourself, others, the Divine, or life
Signs of a Good Teacher
You’ll know you've found a good teacher or coven for you, when they...
- Respect your needs and boundaries
- Accept the limits of what feels right to you
- Are open and honest
- Value your questions
- Are respectful to all
- Uphold their agreements
- May require a fee or some service in exchange for their work with you (as with an apprentice), but it is reasonable, up front, and willingly agreed upon
- Share your values and deep beliefs
- Are patient and compassionate
- Have been practicing for at least 10 years
- Are generous and open with their knowledge
- Are generally kind (a spiritual teacher's kindness can occasionally manifest as a harsh lesson, but the overall interaction always comes back to kindness)
- Consider service to be a necessarily element of spirituality, and lives that belief themselves
- Are humble and grateful to their own teachers
- Honour your right to study with others as well
- Usually leave you feeling uplifted, inspired, and empowered
- Their teaching is helpful and works
Go Slowly, and Trust Your Gut
In short, Your own intuition and experiences are the best guides.
Take it step by step, testing it out before you trust completely. There's no need to rush into anything with a teacher who is truly working from spirit.
If what they teach is working for you, if you feel good about yourself and life and others afterward, that's a pretty good indication.
The single biggest clue is this:
Is your life improving along the way?
Your attitude, your mood, your relationships, your self-awareness, your forgiveness patience and compassion and kindness... all these will naturally improve if you're doing real spiritual development. You will become more loving, more peaceful, more fulfilled, and more happy.
These are the best signs of all that you've found a good teacher.
And no matter what, never give your power away to anyone else.
You, with the direct guidance of the Divine, are always the final authority on what is right for you.
Coven Articles in this Series:
Signs of a Good (and Bad!) Spiritual Teacher
With Brightest Blessings,