In the terms of our magickal practices, the most important and strongest relationships we develop are with our teachers. And by teacher I’m referring to a traditional one on one spiritual mentorship. There is also the more modern usage which would refer to someone running a class or seminar on a metaphysical topic. That is an entirely different situation with different rules and boundaries, and nothing said here is in regards to that situation.
Often times our teachers will push on in new directions of thought and practice beyond our normal boundaries and press us to think and do things which may make us uncomfortable. They are people who are above us, who we deem as more powerful and more knowledgeable, who guide and instruct us, and who many of us will naturally seek the approval of. And they typically come to us when we’re still new to the community, and before we know any better. They demand us to trust and have faith in them. And that trust and faith demands a great deal of responsibility on the teacher’s part. It’s very easy for the student to be taken advantage of in a student-teacher relationship. It’s also common enough for the student to be seeking a teacher for all the wrong reasons. In any instance, the teacher is considered the superior person in this relationship, and no matter what the circumstances they should know better. Below are some thoughts and facts on the student-teacher relationship and what it should ideally be, which I’m providing as a guide for students and prospective students. I would hope that anyone engaging in the teaching side of a student teacher relationship would already know all this.
1. Most importantly, and the cardinal rule of the student teacher relationship, is that our teachers come to use when we need them, and we instinctively know that they are our teachers and we need to follow them. Every part of our being tells us that the relationship is true and right. If there is doubt that a person is really your teacher, if you don’t feel instinctively drawn to the person and their teachings, then they are not your teacher.
2. A lot of people in the community actively seek teachers, either because they want to possess their power or they want the prestige that comes with being a student of a particular teacher. These are the wrong reasons to be taught by someone, and a person should be wary of anyone willing to teach them under these circumstances. Besides, power comes from yourself, not your teacher, and your prestige, if you are a worthwhile practitioner, should be because of your acts and your ability, not because of your lineage.
3. Your teacher should be teaching you because it is their role and their place in the relationship, the same as it is the student’s role and place to learn. Just as a student feels a compulsion to be taught by the teacher, the teacher feels a compulsion to teach the student. That being said, teaching is not a career or a service rendered. The student shouldn’t have to earn their teaching in any way. This means paying money of course, but it also means buying gifts for their teacher (including paying for meals or going out with them), driving their teacher places, doing chores for their teacher, or working for free or at a reduced wage for their teacher (such as in a metaphysical store). Not all teachers will have money though, and it is acceptable for the student to be expected to pay their own way, ie buying their own books and magickal tools and supplies for spellwork, paying for their meal when they go out to eat, and even bringing something to a pot luck gathering they attend with their teacher.
4. Sex –> it’s inappropriate for a student to have sex or engage in any other type of romantic act with their teacher. There is no reason for it, and a teacher should never even ask. A student should never feel as if they have to, or that there’s something to be gained by it. It is appropriate for a teacher to instruct and give advice concerning sex magick or sex in general, however a boundary is crossed when telling turns into showing or doing. Sexual magick is something that is ideally done between equal partners. Sex magick is something that sexual partners explore together. The teacher-student relationship is not a partnership of equals, but one of a superior and inferior person.
5. Your teacher is not your friend or your romantic partner. These are relationships that are based, at least in part, on an equality and mutual respect. They are also relationships that move outside the boundaries a teacher should keep. It’s perfectly natural for a student and teacher to develop a very close and intimate relationship with one-another, however this relationship will still remain in the boundaries of the student-teacher relationship. It can only develop into something else after the student has completed the teaching and has had time to develop themselves so as to be a peer to their teacher. And it very rarely ever develops into a relationship that breaks the boundaries of the student-teacher relationship.
6. Teaching shouldn’t last forever. It’d be rare for it to last much longer than a year. Whatever the case, eventually the teacher will have fulfilled their purpose and at that point they should release the student from their bond so both can move on with their spiritual paths. There are those in the community who attempt to get students and then try to keep them forever beneath them and forever their students, which leads directly into number seven.
7. The ultimate goal and dream of every teacher should be that their students exceed them. In this way every successive generation becomes more powerful than the last. This isn’t always the case, some students will never reach the level of their teacher, but it should be the goal.
8. A student is not their teacher. Every spiritual path is different, and a student’s path may not match their teacher’s. While the relationship persists, the student may be very much in line with their teacher’s thinking and methodologies. However at some point the student should break away and craft their understanding, magick, and spirituality to fit their needs and personality.