There’s an oft repeated saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Most of us aren’t patient enough to just sit round waiting, and often a part of that readiness is manifested by going out there and seeing who might be able to help.
When we start out learning Druidry, the idea of a teacher-parent-guru who has all the wisdom and who can make encouraging noises about how well you’re doing, is a really alluring idea. Been there, have several badly tattered t-shirts to testify to the experience. So often what we want from a teacher – a simple way forward, affirmation, reassurance – is not what we get. Druidry is not straight forward and much of what makes us Druids is not the doing of specific things, or the learning of certain facts, but a developing of understanding. That takes time, and no one can do it for us.
Not all people who offer to teach Druidry are wise, kindly, insightful people who will help you on the journey. I’ve been stung, twice now, by ‘teachers’ who turned out to be unfair, demanding, fond of humiliating me, and otherwise no kind of good.
So here’s what I’ve learned.
It is not a good idea to place responsibility for your learning into someone else’s hands. For one, it is your path, not theirs. No matter how good a teacher is, they cannot tell you how to be yourself. The ones who wish you to become a version of themselves, are not good news. Relinquishing authority and responsibility into the hands of another is not a very Druidic thing to be doing, and it pays to start this at the learning stage: Hold responsibility for your own path, do not expect anyone else to have all the answers.
Teachers are flawed humans, the same as everyone else. Capable of error, misjudgement, conflict of interest and anything else you might think of. Put too much power over you into another person’s hands, and you can cause them difficulties. Put too much expectation on another person – to have all the answers, to sort your life out – and you can be asking way too much. Good teachers tend to be busy, and much as we might want them to be able to hold our hands and support us on a challenging journey, they won’t always be able to do that. We might ache for craft parents, but that doesn’t oblige or enable anyone to take on that role.
I think it works better to look at teachers in a more temporary way, as people who help with bits of the journey, not people who will define the whole thing. Go to someone to study a course, a concept, an approach – that works fine. Go to lots of different people. Learn from your peers. We all have different experiences and knowledge to bring to the table. Don’t assume, either, that a person needs a formal teaching relationship with you to be a good teacher. I’ve had some of my best experiences of being mentored with people who may not even have considered that was what they were doing.
Life and nature will teach you even if human teachers are not forthcoming. You can seek out knowledge and develop skills without needing someone else to light the way. It is a good thing to own your own journey. That means, if you do find someone along the way who can guide you for a bit of it, there’s no urge to try and drop everything you have ever needed onto them.