Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Elder's Rant

I recently read an email on an Elder’s list, 
asking whether or not an Elder should Initiate
a particular student.

My response was,
"If you have to ASK, my answer is 'NO!"

If the level of skill in the Neophyte 
is not evident,
I strongly believe it is in the best interests of all
To wait. 

The Oakmist tradition doesn't water down the Craft 
by elevating people
who don't have the backbone to carry the weight. 

We don't elevate people with certain mental disabilities.
We don't elevate those with certain physical disabilities.

We don’t elevate people who are addicted to drugs, 
whether those drugs are prescription or not.

We don’t elevate people who can’t handle certain types of stress.

We also don’t elevate people who don’t make their meetings 
or who don’t take the work as seriously as they take their own social life.

Nor do we elevate those who are faint of heart.

Some people should not be doing magic.
They can harm themselves.
Some people should not be doing magic.
They can cause harm to others.

Some people simply should not be doing magic.

It's difficult to make the decision not to elevate.
Especially if you've become close with the student.
But you have to remember to do what causes the least harm.

Healthy Growth

We DO want the Craft and the Tradition to grow.
But we have learned from those who came before 
that by not cutting the dross,
 we weaken the stock.

Some beings are not meant to breed.
It's a biological fact.
You can't wish it away.
Evidence: the photo above.

Some just aren't meant to lead a group.
They only have their own interests at hand.

A leader MUST be strong.
We believe it's better to elevate ONE good kick-ass 
High Priestess or High Priest,
than THIRTY un-dedicated,  
wishy-washy, non-committed, 
mentally unstable, nice-but-dippy, 

I do my best to stick to my own advice in this regard.
I am known in the community for being a VERY tough teacher.
Some say “hard assed.”
It’s true.
I do not apologize.
I’m not here to stroke you.
I’m here to train you and make you hard as nails.
And sometimes, yes, to find your weak spot and make you cry.
By pointing out your weakness,
I help you become stronger.

My weaknesses?
Oh, I know them… intimately.
And I work on them every day.
We all have our shadow work to do,
and for many of us it continues over our lifetimes.

The Math

In 28 years,
 and over close to 80 students,
I have elevated 3 students to Third Degree. 

Only two of those actively practice the tradition.

Several students left after 1st Degree and succeeded greatly in their life's work.
We like to think that Oakmist has helped them find their way.

One has become a famous Yogi with an international following.

One has gone on to form her own tradition fairly successfully, 
with only a First Degree level of training. 
I consider her to be of great worth 
and to finish her studies would surely enhance the strength of her group. 
She can only teach what she knows. 
But nevertheless, I'm very proud of her and she is loved. 

One has gone on to be a famous Craft author.
Again, she has proven herself to be of the blood,
and has sought out training in other traditions.

Several either did not have the stamina or loyalty to contend with the study,
or they found a path more suitable to their needs.

That is exactly what should happen.
This tradition is not for everyone.
A Desire for More

Oakmist is here to train leaders; HIGH Priestesses and Priests.
We are looking for people with focus and strong desire.
We are looking for those who WANT what we have to offer.
All others need not apply.

Frankly, what we have to offer
 doesn’t become apparent until after the testing period.
You have to survive those breastfeeding years 
before we offer you meat.
We have to be sure we can trust you.
We have to know you will not break under the stress.

Lately, I have noticed a trend.
I think maybe I’m a bit too nice. 
I have noticed this in other Elders as well.
Are we losing our backbone?
In my case, I think I’m just getting tired.
Perhaps that is the same thing?

Have you read anything about Apprentices in the old days?
Even Mickey Mouse knew what was expected.

I know from experience! 
Pat Patterson kicked our asses! 
Today, they label that "abuse,"
but for us, it was a toughening process.

Pat called us "idiots" when we behaved such, and we kept going back!
He told us when we were hard-headed, and wrong, and we kept going back!
He made us repeat lessons over and over and over – and we kept going back!
He answered our questions with questions and we kept going back.!
He laughed AT us when we fucked up, and we kept going back!
He blew smoke in our faces, and smoke out his ass, and we kept going back!
He put us to work doing menial jobs like stapling his newsletter, or typing,
And we kept going back!
He discouraged us much more than he encouraged us, and we kept going back.

If we wanted a clean place to meet, 
we MADE it ourselves 
because Pat had a day job and was too damned busy to mess with housecleaning! 
I cleaned Pat's toilet and bathtub, 
did his dishes, 
and washed his clothes.
I cooked for him and mowed his yard.
I washed his damned dogs 
and picked up their shit so we could circle in the yard.

Because he had something I wanted!

Respect Your Elders*

Respect for Elders is to be encouraged in the Craft.
One should not only respect but seek the blessing of the Elders.
It is because of the Elders that we are enjoying our life on this planet.
Elders have seen a lot of life
and are willing to share their experiences.
Those experiences can be like a lamp to help guide you through tough times.
All you have to do is stop talking and open your ears.

It is of great benefit to the student 
to thank the Elders on occasion.
This costs nothing and 
means much to the Elder.
Even a small gesture can add huge energy to their tired, weakening bones.

It is also of great benefit to the student
to ask the blessing of the Elder
whenever possible.

Please Be Of Service

Ask yourself:
When is the last time you even stayed to clean up after a meeting?
When is the last time you offered your chair to the Teacher and YOU sat on the floor?  
Or offered to fix their plate? 
Or to give them a shoulder rub 
because they’d been on the computer all day preparing your lesson? 
Or to bring them a cup of coffee?

Don't Chafe at Correction.

It is our JOB to correct you.
And it’s your JOB to listen and take the correction to heart.
We don’t do it because we enjoy being mean to you.
We do it because we want you to be stronger.
Buck up!

My Elder HPS would have kicked a waffling, whining student to the curb 
in a flash, 
sealing the banishment with a dusty "x" and a stomp!

My Elder HP would have grabbed them by the ear and tossed them out by the seat of their pants!
No coddling,  no explanations, no second thoughts.
Not even a kiss goodbye!

Some days I feel like yelling,
"Holy Hell, you have it so fucking easy!
Stop whining!"
Today has been one of those days...

The Future of Oakmist

I'm still hopeful that a student with wisdom, 
good common sense, tenaciousness, 
and loyalty 
will surface on this side of the pond.
Every now and then, I see a bubble or two.
Some who showed great promise in the beginning
are showing less interest now,
something I've grown used to.
The road to 3d Degree is long and hard,
and often has many distractions and detours.

I'm pretty damned weary of late,
and I'd like to retire.

I have some years left to pass on what I know.
But I’m feeling the weight of time in my bones.

I expected Siany DragonOak to inherit the Oakmist Tradition in Wales, 
where Oakmist ws strong, healthy, and thriving. 
Sian has proven herself to be far above and beyond 
any of my expectations when it comes to leading. 
 I couldn’t have asked the Goddess to bring me 
a more perfect daughter in the Craft!  
And her students have excelled.
However, Siany has decided to form her own tradition,
and I can't be too sad, 
as it is Oakmist's goal to help students find their own way.
I wish her all the best and all the success in the world!

Where Are You, USA Heir?

As far as the USA goes, 
I continue to wait.
I've put out a call to the Goddess.
Will someone step up to the plate?
Leading and teaching the Craft
 is a long and difficult road to travel
and there are no shortcuts.
Your days will be filled with joy and laughter,
but your nights may be filled with tears.
Your stamina will be tested
and you learn the meaning of the word "loyalty."
Some will keep their oaths;
many will not.
Why anyone would take upon them such a burden,
is beyond me.
But as in the old days,
I keep coming back.
I'm looking for a kindred spirit.

I'm going to give Oakmist Portland at least another Year and a Day.
We will see where it goes.
It could remain a hereditary tradition here.

The person who responds will need to be proactive.
That person will have to WANT it.
And that appears to be a lot to ask.

Time will tell…

Blessed Be!
Rowan of Oakmist

* From an article by Arun at this website:


  1. I can see that certain mental disabilities mean elevation is impossible -- if the person lacks the capacity to understand the material or use it appropriately, then that's a good decision. As a High Priestess and person with a physical disability, I'd like to know more about what you consider a disqualifying physical issue.

  2. As a High Priestess with a physical disability myself, your question is an excellent one. In my humble opinion, MOST physical disabilities would not preclude one from practicing the Craft, or from being elevated.

    One that might raise a red flag for me would be morbid obesity. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Although there are genetic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities."

    While I agree certain medications and certain diseases can cause obesity, often it is a result of a person simply not being responsible enough to control what they put into their mouth or how often they get up from their chair and move.

    If a person is studying with me, and they are obese (which doesn't keep me from accepting them as a student), but I notice that they are not making good health decisions, I may refuse elevation. It shows me a lack of a strong WILL. For instance, if I see them sucking on sugared soft drinks and munching on bags of potato chips when they are supposed to be actively working to get control of their bodily functions (which is one of the first steps before learning magic), then until that changes, I will not elevate them. If they are laying around watching tv instead of walking around the block, I will not elevate them. If they are huffing and puffing after a short walk to an outdoor Full Moon site, I may inquire as to why, and if it's simply a matter of laziness, I won't elevate them until they're in better condition.

    If a person is on a medication that causes obesity, I have to ask what their medical condition is and make a judgement based on more research into the condition. Certain types of magic can cause great harm to a person whose primary magical instrument, their body, is not in prime shape for their age.

    Let me say that again: The BODY is the primary instrument of magic. You can have all the crystal tipped wands and pretty inscribed blades you want, but if your primary instrument isn't running the energy, your magic will fail every time.

    An example of a problematic disease might be cancer.
    A better choice for a person with cancer might be to use every ounce of their strength to fight that dis-ease before they advance further in their studies with me. Their assignment would be to concentrate their entire WILL on healing themselves.

    Leading a group is very stressful. There are days I feel the need to just crawl into a cold, dark cave with no stimulation in order to survive it.

    To heal from cancer you need NO stress, not more stress. While I'd not hesitate to give that person a First Degree, I most likely would not elevate them into the High Priesthood. However, there is no blanket rule. Each case is decided after much discussion, meditation, prayer, and research.

    I realize this seems harsh. I've gotten feedback that I'm being too judgmental. But I feel that this is EXACTLY what is needed in the Craft; Leaders who ARE judgmental.

    To me, judgement equals responsibility.

    You wouldn't allow a 6 year old to drive a car on the freeway, no matter how much he screamed and kicked and told you how unfair it was. You wouldn't hand a 3 year old a loaded gun. It's no different. Good judgement is necessary - otherwise the Leader is being negligent, in my opinion, and putting the student in harm's way.

    This is not to say I wouldn't train such a person in the First Level - I would. That material can be found in a million Llewellyn books at the bookstore and is pretty much harmless. These are the people who do open rituals and celebrate the Turning of the Wheel, and they are very important. They can do much good in the community and have a respected place.

    But elevate them into the Greater Mysteries or train them in LHP work and cause them possible harm? No, I'm not willing to do that.

  3. The article and your reply about physical disabilities is spot on. I'm currently just working with my wife and myself, and since moving to our present locale, haven't found anyone to even be a student much less work toward priest/esshood.

    Okay, so we're in a small, mostly Christian town, but I'd hoped the presence of a very liberal arts/folk art& music tradition college would have helped, but, no.

    I've kicked people out the door (politely, usually) for not "getting it", and in some cases, simply directed them to other paths they were more suited for. My wife started out as a student with a sister group. When I was her summoner for her initiation, I never thought we'd wind up in a wedding circle! 18 years later, and there we were.

    Magic is one of those pursuits that requires a certain level of mental and emotional stability, as well as physical health. I've seen priests of years experience drop into drug-dependent diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, then drop of his meds and become a danger to himself and his wife.

    The admission of celebrants to a circle is a fine thing. Those that just want to worship and celebrate the Lady and Lord are more than welcome. Those who wish to become serious need a lot more questioning and analysis.

    1. I really appreciate your comments, Jim.

      I also have seen Priestesses and Priests lose their minds under the stress of Magic.
      When the God/dess fills a vessel, imperfections are amplified.

      To borrow the saying from one well-known Adept, "No one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined."

      I feel one of my jobs as a Teacher is not only to help my Students transform their wineskins, but caution them not to transfer the wine before the skin is ready.