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3 Signs of a Good Spiritual Teacher—My Next Appearance

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on May 2, 2010 | Comments (5)

One of the most common requests I get is for a good teacher or group. As a policy I generally don’t give out referrals like this any more. I can’t stay in contact with everyone, and it has happened that a group or individual started out being very good but ended up focused on acquiring money and/or power rather than teaching. So I suggest that people visit local book stores or occult shops and ask there. Alternatively, organizations such as The Witches’ Voice or journals such as the Circle Guide to Pagan Resources or central organizations for specific occult orders may help. Even so, how do you know if someone or some group is a good one?

Of course, they need to be able to provide you with guidance that makes sense to you and they need to be able to answer your questions; that goes without saying. But there are also other signs of a quality teacher or group. Here are my top three:

Laughter

A good teacher or group should be quick to laugh and be able to laugh at themselves. I’ve seen some groups that are filled with dourness and an attitude that you shouldn’t laugh. They are never focused on anything positive and are almost always focused on gaining supposed power over others and enhancing their own egos, fighting non-existant psychic or magickal battles with other individuals or groups. Sometimes, when giving workshops, I have to explain, “I’m very serious about what I do, but I’m having far too much fun to take myself seriously.”

Singing

Good teachers and groups sing and enjoy music. Singing is often a sign of passion and joy. One of my favorite examples of this is in the original movie (not the awful remake), The Wicker Man. In it, we first meet Lord Summerisle (played by Christopher Lee) while he is singing with a woman (possibly his lover, the schoolteacher Miss Rose, played by Diane Cilento). His singing is terrible! But that doesn’t matter. He’s singing because he enjoys it and it shares his passion for Miss Rose. Later, he leads the islanders in a rousing version of the song, “Sumer Is Icumen In,” the oldest English folksong for which both original words and music exist.

Dancing

Currently one of the most popular shows on TV is “Dancing with the Stars.” If you watch it over the weeks of the season, you’ll see that some of the people improve remarkably. They begin as stiff and uncoordinated and end up flexible, graceful, and fluid. The body/mind/spirit (BMS) trinity are deeply interrelated. By having at least some degree of flexibility, grace, and fluidity, as shown in dance, the ability of the BMS trinity to allow magickal energy to flow easily also allows magick to occur more easily.

There is an old proverb from Zimbabwe that says, “If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.” This doesn’t mean that you have to be great at either, only that you do them. And if you are secure enough in who you are, you can laugh at yourself, too. To my mind, these three qualities are a necessity in a good teacher or group.

Here Comes the Pagan Unity Festival!

Wow! Time is really flying. In just a couple of weeks I’ll be one of the speakers at the Pagan Unity Festival in Burns Tennessee. It runs from May 13–15. Other featured speakers will include Edain McCoy, Raven and Stephanie Grimassi, Dorothy Morrison and M.R. Sellars. There will also be merchants and music, rituals and fun. If you go to their website you can get the schedule of all the events. I’m going to be giving two fully computerized workshops. One is on psychic self-defense and the second is on secrets of magickal evocation.

At this festival I’m offering something brand new. Although I am certified to teach hypnosis and have taken thousands of people through past life regressions, I’ve never offered private work at festivals. For this festival I’ll be offering to lead individuals to explore past lives in one-hour hypnotic sessions. You can do this just to see how its done, to experience past lives, to discover if something from a past life is preventing you from achieving your goals, or all three. A sign-up sheet will be available on site for those who are interested.

I hope to see you at P.U.F!

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Elizabeth Hazel
on May 4th, 2010 @ 3:02 am

Laughing, singing & dancing are all good qualifications for instructors. It also helps if the teacher knows a lot about what he/she is teaching, too!
In the past 2 years I’ve worked with the Education Director of the local Unitarian-Universalist church to create a Pagan Pathways class. It’s open to anyone interested in learning, and the church is kind enough to offer space for the classes. We’ve designed a broad-based survey of pagan beliefs and traditions so students can figure out the path they want to pursue, and have some hands-on experience in participating in a variety of rituals. We’ve also given several open-to-the-public rituals that were a great success. Hey, we give good ritual.
People see our notices around town and on WitchVox and inquire. It’s amazing how many of them think that the classes will be free. It isn’t free for us to give! We pay to print handouts, for supplies, and for the space.
While you say that “it’s all about money” sometimes may be relevant, the reality is – teaching is in most cases not free for the teacher. Students should expect to pay a reasonable fee for classes. We aren’t recruiting for a coven – we’re offering education. This is very clear in our notices, as are the fees.
Local covens don’t invite inexperienced pagans to their groups, and no local group is offering classes. The high priests and priestesses I’ve talked to complain about candidates who don’t know a chalice from a hole in the ground. Newbies are looking for a way to learn, but either can’t or won’t invest in their spiritual education.
We sought to fill a genuine need in this area, but sadly, we’ll probably discontinue classes because of this issue.

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#2 
Written By Kyle
on May 4th, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

Thanks for the post. I’ve come across more than one “teacher” who tells you they can do A, B, C, etc. and that they’ve reached the end of their spiritual enlightenment and are here to help others. (*Red flag). Then they will inevitably say something that you just know is wrong or doesn’t sit well with you.
I also think one should seek out a good group, too, if you aren’t going to be doing mostly one-on-one work. I was working with a group once and for all the distance they said they had come, their out-of-practice comments made me skeptical of their advancement.
My predicament becomes…do I stay with a mediocre teacher/group and pick and choose what to get out of it? Or work by myself until that perfect (or prefect fit) teacher/group comes along?

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#3 
Written By Eric B.
on May 5th, 2010 @ 7:05 am

Has the recent flooding in Tennessee changed your plans Don?

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#4 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on May 6th, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

Hi, Eric.

As many people know, central Tennessee has had tremendous flooding with the loss of lives and property. My condolences and wishes for a better future to all those who have had losses.

Several of the staff for the PUF event have lost their homes or had property damage. Certainly most or all of them know people who have suffered. However, the site for the event is in good shape and the event will go on “as a celebration of life.”

I’ll definitely be there and hope to see many friends, old and new, next week!

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#5 
Written By aricept
on June 15th, 2010 @ 4:56 am

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