RRivers logoAt some point on our journey we have all been the neophyte, the newbie, the wide eyed seeker. As children or adults we have come to our paths with tentative footsteps or joyful bounds, absorbing all the wonders we experience, discovering secrets of our Gods, our world, and ourselves. Over time and through experience, those who have walked the path with purpose and passion become known as the Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Magicians, Teachers and Elders of our communities. However, here lies the paradox: An adept is never not a neophyte. No matter how skilled, how experienced or how knowledgeable a person is in their chosen area of expertise, there is ALWAYS something new to learn.

Teaching can be exhausting, and not just because many of us teach on top of other commitments to work and family life. Teaching can be exhausting because you are sharing of yourself. You are sharing your knowledge, your experience, your secrets, and your passions. That sharing opens the path of new learning, new understanding and new awareness on a personal level. When you teach others, you cannot avoid being taught by them. When you learn about anothers skills and experiences, you cannot help but learn more about your own. Teaching becomes twofold, you are both the teacher and the perpetual student taught by those you teach. There have been times when I have turned away students who sought access to the knowledge and experience I had gained so far on my path. When I have suggested courses of study and practice only to be told “I know all that, I don’t need to go over it again” I have firmly closed the conversation and directed my energy elsewhere. I do not refuse to teach them because they obviously know it all, but because they think they know it all. This thought process creates a resistance to the art of sharing. Although these potential students may have much to teach me and I them, this kind of teacher/student relationship is often confrontational and I choose my battles wisely. Sharing of myself is deeply personal and not a gift given lightly, nor do I expect it to be given lightly by others. For teacher or student, challenges often help us to grow and new knowledge can add to or alter our perceptions – providing we can overcome cognitive dissonance. How those challenges are presented is often key to how they will be received. A challenge coupled with an aggressive or dominant stance can shut down the receptiveness of others, but a challenge presented with an understanding of perceptions being unique to each practitioner can open the door to a wonderful learning experience for both parties. Understanding that we all experience the same mysteries differently can help in facing challenges to our own deeply personal experiences and sincerely held beliefs. Even within covens where members practice in unison, each practitioner will have different perceptions and personal responses within the same shared experience.

This attitude of ‘been there, done that, know it all’, often appears within the teachers and leaders of our communities. The teacher that cannot fathom that there is always more to learn has not experienced the mystery of the ever revealing veil. There is a world of difference between displaying confidence and awareness of your strengths and skills, and believing that your strengths and skills are the only path of learning. Shouting ‘I know something you don’t know!’ from the mountain of history or experience may be factually correct, but it is not an all-encompassing statement of complete wisdom. Each and every person you come into contact with knows something that you don’t know, and each and every one of them is a potential teacher – no matter how brief the shared experience. Conversely you will also know something that they don’t know, and may for a moment be the one to teach the teacher.

We can learn more about ourselves by learning about and from each other. We can discover more about the Divine by listening to how another experiences divinity. We can all explore our personal spirituality through collective and individual perceptions of spiritual practice. We can share our wisdom, teach our techniques, present our practices and still be on the receiving end of knowledge.

Student or teacher, Elder or seeker, we are never not the neophyte.

PBP2014This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project 2014

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Comments
  1. G. B. Marian says:

    Great post! All very true.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lightgoddess says:

    This exact thing has been a theme in my life as of late. I had a teacher once who freely admitted to not knowing certain things and not wanting to learn about them, either. It caused endless frustration for us both because we seemed, often times, to be speaking apples and oranges to each other, when we weren’t and he, flat out refused, different perspectives. Period. Thank you for this. Thank you for putting some of my own rambling thoughts on this so succinctly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Admitting that you don’t know something can be a challenge in itself, and not wishing to follow a particular path of study is a personal choice. However listening to other perspectives does not mean that we must take those perspectives on as personal truth – we can accept what we don’t know, remain open to learning new things, consider alternative perspectives and still remain true to our own experiences and understanding. Sometimes the teacher/student relationship works well with challenges, sometimes the challenges create a hostile learning environment – it totally depends on the personal relationship between individuals. I am so glad you found this post helpful. x

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  3. S.C. Tanner says:

    An excellent post. Perhaps the most notable character of this post is its balance; you write about perceptions from both student and teacher angles. Well done, and I learned something, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I am glad that you found the post both enjoyable and informative. Throughout my life I have found myself like the pendulum that swings between student and teacher – sometimes at one extreme, sometimes at the other, and often unavoidably both. x

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  4. […] To put it another way… Today I had the pleasure of reading Romany Rivers’ post ‘Never Not the Neophyte‘ at The Poet Priestess, in which she […]

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  5. […] Truth: Ritual Nudity‘. Read it. And then some more of her blog. Including ‘Never Not the Neophyte‘ and ‘Getting the Green Light: Sex Positive is Not Consent‘. One of my favourite […]

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  6. Nimue Brown says:

    Reblogged this on Druid Life and commented:
    I love this line of thought…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Bish says:

    Very much yes. Lots and lots of yes here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] via Never Not the Neophyte | The Poet Priestess. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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