In my recent post I wrote that there are some “teachers” who are only into sharing information in order to gain money, power, or both. In a comment to that post, Elizabeth Hazel wrote, “While you say that â€śitâ€™s all about moneyâ€ť sometimes may be relevant, the reality is â€“ teaching is in most cases not free for the teacher.”
Don’t I know it! I did not mean to imply that teachers who charge are only in it for the money, nor did I write that. What I did post was that there are some people who are only in it for the money and that frequently a sign of such people is their dourness, their lack of a sense of humor, etc.
The Internet and Freedom
The internet is an amazing “place” to obtain information. Unfortunately, for many people this has resulted in the attitude that “If it’s on the internet, it’s free.” As a result, virtually anything that ends up on the internet is passed around and around, resulting in nothing for its creator and often even having his or her association with it removed.
This is not new. You may know Ed Fitch from his book, Magical Rites from the Crystal Well. What you might not know is that he was one of the co-creators of a Pagan tradition known as “The Pagan Way.” The teachings of that group were passed around and became the source for more personal Books of Shadows and covens than perhaps any other writing in history. Most people who follow parts of that tradition aren’t even aware of it. Ed certainly doesn’t get the credit he so richly deserves as one of the true founders of modern Neopaganism.
But that was P.I. (pre-internet). This situation has become more extreme with the ubiquitousness of the internet. People not only get legitimate information given for free, but also assume that some information that is pirated or stolen should be given to them for free, too. [There is a notion among some people that all information should be free. I don't disagree with that. But there's a difference between sharing ideas and stealing someone's exact words, art, or other forms of work without paying them for their hours of effort.]
I don’t spend much time with the dour, money and power focused teachers I described in my previous post. I prefer to spend time with those like Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Raven and Stephanie Grimassi, and Christopher Penczak who not only have much to share, but are just the opposite of the ĂĽber-serious teacher I previously described.
Nothing Without You
In some cultures, people readily support their teachers, especially their spiritual teachers, with donations that allow their teachers to survive and thrive. While this is often true in the West for some mainstream and extreme religious teachers, it is rarely true for spiritual teachers. Thanks to expectations enhanced by internet experiences, more and more people expect their spiritual teachers to give them everything for free. As Ms. Hazel wrote, “Newbies are looking for a way to learn, but either canâ€™t or wonâ€™t invest in their spiritual education.”
Frankly, I would be more inclined to say that it’s “won’t” and that they choose not to pay. They seem to have enough for cable TV, going out to movies or clubs, etc. But for some reason they believe that teachers should spend time and money just to give them something for free. With these attitudes and expectations, more and more quality teachers will have no choice but to look elsewhere for ways to spend their time.
The solution is in the hands of the people reading this. The solution is rather simple: support your teachers and community. I’m not suggesting charity. I’m suggesting that you purchase books and supplies locally. It may cost a few dollars more but it will support your local stores and your community. I’m suggesting that if someone is teaching in your area, pay for the workshop and attend. I’m suggesting that if you’re part of a coven or magickal order that you not only pay any dues, but also donate some supplies to the group.
I have no doubt that some people reading this are saying, “But I can’t afford it.” If you can’t, you can’t. Most teachers I know help those who actually can’t afford training but really want it.
Ms. Hazel wrote that because students don’t want to pay, “weâ€™ll probably discontinue classes because of this issue.” This is a shame and I regret it. I know that many local shops are closing because people are buying things over the internet. The situation in the Los Angeles area, once vibrant with occult shops and bookstores, is currently surprisingly dismal.
I would urge people to support their teachers and community: attend workshops given by teachers. When possible, buy books and supplies locally.