(Daven’s Note: This is a portion of some email correspondence I recently had with a young girl in relation to my site. She was, basically, asking me to teach her Wicca. In brief, I told her no, but I went further than many have in the past to tell her why I said that. There are several legal problems and some moral/ethical issues that those of us who teach have to be aware of, and this explains them.
Please note, this does not say that she is not worthy to learn, it simply states that I can’t teach her right now. There will invariably come a time when she is old enough to be free of parental constraints and any teacher in the Craft will be happy to teach her, but right now there are too many issues to deal with to allow me to do more than present this information to her that is on this site. I hope she will not loose her interest as she grows. This was written in 2002.)
(Update July 8, 2004 Let me state this again. I will not teach anyone under the age of 18. I don’t know you, I don’t know your parents, your parents don’t know me, and you don’t know me. I cannot judge your personal honesty when you say “my parents are cool with me learning this”. For all I know it’s one of your friends on the other end of the email or IM. I’m sorry. Talk to me when you are 18.)
> Dear Daven,
> Thank you very much for helping me and everything.
You are very welcome.
> I Guess I forgot to tell you that I am a young beginner
> in this whole witch craft stuff and I want to know if
> I can still become a witch when I am young? I am
> 11years old going on 12 in August.
Well, you did tell me that you were young, I just didn’t know you were *that* young. And now we have a problem. To put it in a nutshell, you are too young, but I’ll get to the specifics of that problem in a bit and see if we can work something out.
> Now I know that you
> are one nice person for emailing me back and not think
> that I was crazy and everything.
Most people are nice online and in the Pagan community, but some of their reluctance may be attributable to your enthusiasm.
> I want to know how to
> do everything in circle casting I really do and I want
> to know every little bit in witchcraft
Well, Debra, I’ll be honest, Wicca and Witchcraft is not something that can be wrapped up in just a few hours of instruction and presented with bows on it. It’s an entire lifestyle, a way of living. An entire religion.
Let’s put this in perspective for a few moments.
I don’t know what religion you are currently, and it doesn’t concern me at all, but for purposes of this email I’m going to assume that you were raised Christian. How many hours and days have been invested in your training in Christianity? How many Sundays did you sit in Sunday School to learn the myths of Christianity, how to pray, the stories of Christianity and so on? Hundreds of hours may be in the area, but I would also bet that it’s in the thousands of hours. This is not something that can be overcome in just a couple of hours of reading. Plus, training in Wicca and Witchcraft would take the same amount of time.
Let me give you my story of my training.
I started studying this in 1972. Yes, I remember back that far, the Bicentennial and the Gas Crisis and so on. I saw the stupid fashions of the 1980’s, and I remember when Compact Disk players cost in the thousands of dollars. This is just to put it in perspective for you.
My grandmother had started teaching me new age mysticism, teaching me the difference between an aura and a shield, what telepathy and ESP were, and how they were different. She had an extensive set of books in her library dealing with these subjects and I read them quite a lot. She and I would talk about this whenever I was around.
From the time I was 10 or so till I was 22 (I was 4 when I started this) I read. I read everything on New Age I could, from crystals to stones, from UFO’s to conspiracy theories, from handwriting to palmistry, from psychometry to psychokinetics. I read people like Robert Monroe, The Amazing Randi, Alice Bailey, Edgar Cayce and other “immortal” authors from the pre-Llewellyn times. I still have many of those books.
Now, I won’t say it was easy separating the wheat from the chaff, because it wasn’t. I found myself believing something one author said because I didn’t have any contrary text from other authors. You have the advantage there in that there are multiple sources of information for you to cross-reference. The Internet is a HUGE help in this area.
I found a book, Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft about 12 years ago. I read it cover to cover. I read it multiple times, I re-read it. I read the references he cited and his suggested reading list. I STILL didn’t consider myself Wiccan or a Witch, although I could probably have been able to call myself that many times since. I looked for more information and I kept reading.
What this resulted in was a broad base of knowledge that allowed me to understand why this had been put in, that left out, where this part of Wicca came from, how this fitted together with this section over there, and why it worked. It allowed me to understand that just because author (WHOMEVER) wrote it down, that didn’t make it right, true or even correct. It meant that I had a basis to start sculpting my own spirituality, without someone telling me what to believe.
Now, well, what I believe is up on the Internet at my site. It’s a mishmash of Wicca, Druidism, Celtic Reconstructionism, Mormonism, Christianity, and other beliefs. It makes things confusing for those who don’t have that same grounding in what they believe and a base of knowledge that is similarly broad.
This allows anyone who does this to sculpt their own spirituality and start being able to see what is true and what is false in author’s claims. Like without having read some of the books I did on English History, I would not have been able to understand that Douglas Monroe was lying through his teeth when he wrote 21 Lessons of Merlyn.
> please email me
> back with more tips if you don’t mind thanks very much
Okay, this is where I tell you you are too young. I understand that you don’t want to hear that, but there are reasons for this, and they are not arbitrary. Hear me out first.
You are an 11 year old girl. I’m a 34 year old man. According to many “profiles” and ways of measuring these things, I could be seen as a stalker, one who is only out to harm you. I talk to you, meet you, teach you, assault, or kill you, and your parents don’t know what happened. I’m not going to do that, but it’s a possibility that you need to keep in mind. The police have way too many cases on file of men who have done this kind of thing, and the girls who have disappeared to prove it.
I understand that I did not contact you, I understand that it’s not me initiating this contact, and that I’m doing this through the email, but none of that matters to the authorities, it’s still a possibility. Looked at from their point of view, I set up the website to attract you into my nefarious clutches and seduce you. There was even a website a while back that someone set up that did just that. Basically whomever set it up said that he would initiate girls from 10 to 16, virgins, into witchcraft and that they could then initiate others. He did not offer to teach them, he did not say that he was a Priest or anything else. The impression that was given by that site was that he would sexually assault these children and abandon them to move on to other conquests.
The police never caught him (as far as I know).
So, that’s the first possibility and why I won’t teach you directly. Here’s another, circumvention of parental rights.
I have a daughter who is 9 years old. I know she knows how to use a computer, I have seen her do it. If she went to a Christian website and started reading their material, I couldn’t stop her. However, if a minister from that website was corresponding with my daughter and teaching her, even at her request, I would be really upset and possibly in a position to sue that minister. I want my daughter to believe what I teach her, and if she wants to learn other things, I’ll be glad to teach her or take her to people I know to teach her, ones I could keep my eyes on.
Your parents don’t know me from Adam. I could be anyone. You have only my word for it as to whom I am and what I am like and my motives. There is little that you or your parents can do if I’m lying to you and them. Now, if you trust me, that’s good, but if you don’t then I can’t prove myself to you other than meeting you and we are back to problem one.
Additionally, most parents want their children to believe what they believe. It’s good in that it gives the children and the parent common ground to understand each other from. In a few years you will want this common ground.
So, your parents may be resistant to you learning a different belief structure from someone they have never met, but I can talk to them if they want, and you feel comfortable telling them about your interest. This is usually the easiest thing to do, telling them directly and getting their blessing/participation in your learning. There are a couple reasons for that.
If you get their permission, you don’t have to hide it and lie to them. Believe me, as a parent, I don’t care how much trouble my daughter would be in if she tells me the truth, if she lies she will be in worlds more trouble. I would rather she come out and say “Dad, I broke the lamp” than “Dad, I don’t know who broke the lamp” because when I found out she broke it, I’ll be madder at her for the lie than I would have been for the breakage. Every parent I know of is like that. They would rather hear an unpleasant truth than a lie. Parents have a way of finding out when their child is lying to them.
Another reason is that they may be able to help you in your quest. I know of two people who I met online who were shocked when they told their parents about their interest in the occult and Witchcraft, and that those parents were able to help them find information, steer them to good resources and help them in their quest. It’s a heck of a shock, but it does happen.
However, if this is not an option for you (although I encourage it highly) there is another option. Reading.
Remember I told you that I have been reading about these kinds of things since I was 10 or so? Well, you can do the same thing. There’s an advantage to that, because you can pursue your own interests. However, don’t be hot to initiate yourself as a witch just yet.
The information is out there, and you can find it if you look long enough, and just about every situation that you can possibly think of has been experienced by someone out there in the online metaphysical community, and many situations you can’t imagine have been encountered and written about. So in many cases, you won’t have to ask a mentor or teacher questions because the info is already out there. All you have to do is read it.
For instance, I have an article I wrote dealing with Lifebonds (soulmates), regular love and lust. I plan on putting it up sometime in April, but I wrote it for a new Pagan Magazine. There are people out there who have written articles dealing with telling parents that you are Wiccan now, coming out of the broom closet to others in your school and so on.
There are reviews of the books that are in libraries and bookstores telling you what is good and what is crap. There is a LOT of crap. Some reviewers of the books recommended will be good to one author, and useless to another person, so seeing multiple reviews of the same text will help.
Also, there are groups out there on the Internet that can help you with specific questions you have. See, this is where the reading comes in. Let me digress for a bit.
Scenario 1 (no reading and joining a group and going “I’m a witch….teach me!) From the good people out there you will get “what have you read” or “Read more”, from the other 90% of the community out there you will get “You know nothing and we won’t deign (look it up) to teach you — you are too much of a newbie/Fluff bunny”
This is probably the single most common scenario on the Internet. The solution to this is to read, read, read. Most often the first question most teachers ask is “what do you already know?” This will also get many of the newbie questions answered (like once I had someone ask me what the Rede was. No kidding) and allow you to focus on specific issues and questions you have. It’s better to ask “How does the Kaballah relate to the major arcana in the tarot cards” than to ask “what’s a tarot card?” The first question will get you a TON of information, the second will get you dismissed.
Scenario 2 (reading a lot and able to ask specific questions) This will usually get you related to as an adult. Asking direct questions and specific questions will allow those in the discussion with you to be able to elaborate on specific points, and if you have references to so “But so and so says that this is why it’s done this way, while so and so dismisses the need to do it at all. Who’s right?” will bring the question you are struggling with into greater focus. You may even be surprised as to some of the responses in that information you may not be aware of will come out. It could be that so and so #2 is not Wiccan at all, but is merely a flim-flam artist and you didn’t know that.
Pretty soon, you will be able to develop your own opinions of the subject matter, but that doesn’t mean that you stop learning. I have been studying this kind of stuff for most of my life, and I’m studying 4 magickal systems so I can present it correctly to my students who are taking a class in Magick (I’d invite you but it’s an advanced course, for those who have multiple years of practice behind them. It’s a course for the instructors. LOL)
But then you will also know the shorthand we sometimes use and know what we mean when we say things like “don’t cast that spell, the Rede and Threefold Return will make sure to kick you in the but, and if they don’t, karma will. Try to invoke the gods and call the watchtowers to make sure they understand what is going on….” without having to have each piece of that statement broken down for you. (look it up. LOL)
Your parents can’t stop you from looking at information on the Internet and in books, they can stop you from seeing someone who you are learning from, and they can prosecute that person. Since I don’t like jail….
If it comes down to it, keep your head down. Once you are 18 years old, your parents can’t dictate what you can and can’t study. You will be old enough that any teacher out there will take you on and teach you whatever you want.
Until then, read, study, find information on the Internet, read books, email specific people on specific questions (like your original one), join some email lists where there are lots of people to all give you their opinions, join a discussion group or an online class in Wicca 101 or something similar. Start a clique (what the heck is an online clique anyhow….) and discuss it with your friends or others who are looking for information.
I can give you some resources:
My site: Classes and at the bottom of the page is some links to “lessons I gave in Pagan Basics”. These can get you started.
Articles from The Witches Voice is a collection of articles I think need to be everywhere and I got these with permission from The Witches Voice. It’s part of their “Basics of the Craft” series.
If you look on my Site map, the first book says “Daven’s Teachings” and most of the information there is good. The OOBE class may be too much for you just yet, but everything else should be okay. I have my ritual book there too.
The next one is some compiled research I have done, and well worth looking at.
Find a Teacher, Join a Coven, Simple, right? is an article dealing with some of the things you are going through right now, along with these:
Fiction This page may also appeal to you, they are stories I wrote for children, but they may just be in that range of something you may like. If not, feel free to ignore it.
Daven’s Recommended Reading List is my list of recommended reading. Start with the “newbie list” rather than any of the others. Most sites have a list like this.
Let’s see, offsite references:
http://www.arwm.net/ It’s a newsgroup that you use your news server to post to. Or Google.com. It’s really good.
http://www.omphalos.net/index.html Some of these are dated, but this is a collection of files that are the basis of much of our spirituality.
http://bookofshadows.com/main/main.htm Good for cross-referencing rituals and so on.
The Literate Pagan
http://www.religioustolerance.org/welcome.htm Always good to know what others believe before you jump in.
http://www.cog.org/wicca/teach.htm Good article.
http://robinwood.com/LivingtreeGrove/MainMenu.htl Robin Wood, the lady who did a tarot deck and a lot of artwork like the “Dragonriders of Pern compendium”
There’s a bunch more on my Links page. Take a look and look at the links they have leading from their pages. That should get you the best of the web. The Witches Voice has links from everywhere, and they don’t discriminate, so you may want to think a bit before deciding that they are good for using as a way of surfing the Pagan Internet.
Other than that, use your head, talk to your parents, if they want to talk to me, give them my email, and take care.