I’m pretty much always up for coffee or a meal somewhere with someone interested in learning more about Paganism, if my own schedule allows. And I love teaching in community settings when I can, offering workshops on introductory or other topics. In both cases, mostly what I care about is that we find a setting that works for everyone involved, and that my time is respected (someone saying they’ll come to something, and then not showing up, for example, is a problem.)
However, when I’m considering someone for ongoing training, or as part of a small group, it’s important to me to be very thoughtful and take my time. I want to make sure that someone is the right for what I can offer – and that what I offer is actually what they’re looking for (or if it’s a compromise, we all know what’s involved with that, and have talked about how that might work.)
Applying to a group can be an emotionally challenging process. We know that it can be hard to hear a “Thank you, but no.”
I hope here that by being clear about each step (and what I hope for from it), you will better understand why I ask these things, and how they help me in making choices for the long-term wellbeing of a group. If I come to feel that there just isn’t a good potential fit between your needs or preferred approach and ours, I’ll tell you as soon as possible.
Even if everything goes very smoothly, and we think someone is a good fit, as a tradition, we expect there to be between 3 and 5 months between initial interest and Dedication. Longer is quite common.
This time is intended to make sure we’re compatible (in ritual style, in teaching style, in where we focus) before making a more substantial commitment to each other. We realise this is a lengthy process, but we want you to be able to make a reasonably informed choice – and that means seeing us in action for a little. It also means we need some time to get to know you, and for everyone to begin to get more comfortable with one another.
If at any time you decide that you’re no longer interested in possibly working with me, just let me know. I do expect common courtesy – if you decide to cancel, please do so enough before a planned meeting that I can find out and rearrange our plans.
1) Email introduction:
Through this site and my blog, I share quite a bit of information about me and my hopes for group work. The email is your chance to share a little about yourself and your interests – as well as a good time to make sure we’re on the same page about some practical details. I want to see you at your best, and email gives you the chance to consider what you say in your introduction.
You should get an initial response to your email within 3-5 days (though it’s sometimes longer if I’m travelling or otherwise unavailable.) If you don’t hear anything within 2-3 weeks, please try again, as something’s gotten lost in the ether.
If I feel there’s a potential fit, I will contact you to arrange a face to face meeting. This may take a couple of weeks depending on our mutual schedules.
If I feel there isn’t a good fit up front, based on your email, I’ll say so, and decline to meet. This can happen for many reasons. We do not generally get specific about why we’re saying no unless someone asks directly – just that we don’t feel that there will be a good fit.
However, when we’ve declined to meet in the past, it’s generally been either because someone has clearly not read our information (or fully responded to the points in the introduction letter, especially the practical bits), or because there’s some practical aspect where we just can’t offer what someone needs.
The letter of introduction information page has all the information you need. I’ve done our best to make it clear – if anything’s confusing, please note it in your letter.
2) First meeting:
If I think there’s a potential good fit, I’ll invite you to a meeting in a public place like a tea or coffee shop where we can talk. This lets us get to know each other in a neutral space. We’ll talk about what you shared in your letter, and we’ll share more details about the tradition and my hopes for group work. You’ll have plenty of time to ask any questions you may have.
In our experience, these conversations generally take 90 minutes to 2 hours to have a deeper conversation.
3) Discussion evenings:
If the initial meeting goes well, I’ll set up a few discussion sessions with you. These will focus on our pre-Dedicant class materials, and will give you a sense of my teaching style. These classes focus on things useful to anyone interested in the Craft: an idea of useul resources, common etiquette, ethics, centering and grounding, and other foundational topics. They also include more information about our common ritual structures and practices.
4) Attend a few events:
If we still seem like a good mutual fit after a couple of discussion evenings, I’ll expand the invitations – usually to include at least one ritual, and one social event (a relevant movie, performance, walk, etc.) This is a chance for you to see me in other kinds of interaction. How long this takes depends on our scheduling and yours.
5) The possibility of Dedication:
If, after completing the 5 pre-Dedication discussions and attending group events, you’re still interested in us, and I still think you’d be a good fit, we will discuss the specifics of Dedication. We’ll also discuss a way to evaluate your existing level of knowledge and skill, so that we can best adapt teaching material to your needs.
How we make decisions:
I don’t care about your existing knowledge or understanding (those things are easy to change!) I care far more about your behavior, approach, and interests. For example, I look at:
- How you interact with me (and when relevant, other members of the group)
- How you handle different kinds of questions – specific, open-ended, big picture thinking, and details.
- Whether you are interested in the work we do together.
- How you approach new experiences and learning.
- Whether you have generally followed our requests about group courtesy and behavior.
- How you’ve handled any challenges or problems.
- The nebulous ‘fit’ – do you seem to fit well with the group.
I may like you a lot as a person, but not feel you’re a good fit for the group at this time – that’s one of the limits of a small group. If we don’t feel we’re the right place, we’ll do our best to suggest some alternatives.
Continue to the letter of introduction information.