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Author Topic: When a Teacher is Not an Option  (Read 7580 times)

Juni

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When a Teacher is Not an Option
« on: August 31, 2011, 09:13:00 pm »
This is probably going to be a little rambly, for which I apologize.

I am in the position where a teacher would be very useful. I can see very clearly who I want to be as a person, and where I want to end up religiously. I am pretty realistic about who I am right now, what my strengths and weaknesses are. I was working on that very stuff with my therapist, but I am pretty sure I have reached a point with her where the secular conversations just won't cut it anymore, and while she knows I am a polytheist, I don't think she really grokks it. A teacher- a group or an individual- would be helpful is pointing out the places to work on, and how to work on them, and as Kiya said in chat, being support during the Times of Great Flailing.

However. Right at the moment, I am not in much of a position to find a teacher. I don't want to get involved with my 'local' community, because the pagan 'scene', as it were, in this state unnerves me. I don't feel safe or comfortable around the people I have interacted with, and from what I can glean, most of the community is much of the same. The internet is also not likely to be of much help, because many teachers don't like to take on students they can't work with face to face, and honestly, that's something I really would want, that face to face connection. And I am not going to be in the financial position to leave this state for a depressingly long while, I suspect.

So: what do you do, when a teacher is the best option but an unavailable option? How do you keep yourself growing and moving and challenged, and not just walking blindfolded in circles over the same ground?
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2011, 09:54:50 pm »
Quote from: Juni;17009
.. So: what do you do, when a teacher is the best option but an unavailable option? How do you keep yourself growing and moving and challenged, and not just walking blindfolded in circles over the same ground?


I found out a long time ago there is truth to the statement that a teacher will appear when the student is ready.  But the biggest issue when dealing with teachers is that to many have a preconceived notion of what or who a teacher is.  It seems most think that a teacher must be a human two leg and nothing else will do nor do they look for anything else.

Many times Spirit, Gods & Goddesses or what ever name you choose have laid out a whole world of lessons and guides to instruct you along the way.  You just have to be willing to look to them and look, listen and hear thier lessons and teachings.

Even a drop of water upon the windshield is a teacher and gives a lesson.  Think of it, a single drop of water shows what can be done yet also shows that the conditions that acted upon that single thing are always different for each occurance.  Forces that are visible and invisible are acting upon its course, destination and even the duration of the action.  It shows how a thing by itself may not do anything but it does attract like items and when thier force and energy is added a weight is created that pushes through obsticules that may appear in its path or would otherwise have changed its course.  Yet it also shows how to much can cause a run away situation with no control, guidance or direction other than forces it encounters that move it, not that it moves them.

But one has to look to all thier teachers to see all the lessons.  Lessons both great and small but always playing out before you if you look.

Marilyn/Absentminded

Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2011, 11:05:44 pm »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;17020


 
On the other hand, there are things you can learn from a human teacher that a raindrop is just not equipped for.  Having a preconceived notion of what a teacher is is not a bad thing.  I'm not going to learn math or musical theory from a mountain, any more than I learned patience from my English teacher.  Knowing what you require, even when you can't find it, is a good first step.

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2011, 11:24:56 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;17028
On the other hand, there are things you can learn from a human teacher that a raindrop is just not equipped for.  Having a preconceived notion of what a teacher is is not a bad thing.  I'm not going to learn math or musical theory from a mountain, any more than I learned patience from my English teacher.  Knowing what you require, even when you can't find it, is a good first step.

Absent


Actually I would disagree.  You want musical theory listen to the chords as the wind moves across the various plants, stones, and formations of the mountain and you'll hear more music theory than you can process.  Listen to the pitch, vibration and meter of the water on the mountain, to the winds even to the very wildlife that sings and calls all over that mountian.

That single drop of water can teach you chemistry, fluid dynamics, laws of motion, intereaction between stable and dynamic variables, the list can go on and on.  It can inspire one in multiple ways to look at the world about them and understand the inter-relationship between mass, movement, static and dynamic influences.

The main difficulty is that when viewing the water droplet or the mountain one has to use critical analysis skills and observational skills wwith some deductive reasoning and ability to extrapolate resuls and conclusions.  For the human teacher most times you simply have to sit and wait and they will explain it all for you and you have to do little to move beyond that point.

But I do admit it amazes me when I hear people say they can't learn from a thing.  Those who developed the rules of math or language in use today learnt from observing other things and creating a theory then applied it to see it if holds true.

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2011, 01:01:35 am »
Quote from: Juni;17009
This is probably going to be a little rambly, for which I apologize.


 
I would suggest asking your gods to help you since you can't find a physical human teacher at the moment.  

I'm remembering you honor Hethert, correct?  She'd be a good goddess to go to about dealing with emotions, and being supportive when things don't go as you'd like.  I'd also suggest cleansing baths with natron too to help cleanse your ka of, well, everything.  This may help you with others stuff that your therapist maybe wouldn't be able to help you with.  

Just my two cents.
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2011, 05:14:40 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;17031

But I do admit it amazes me when I hear people say they can't learn from a thing.  Those who developed the rules of math or language in use today learnt from observing other things and creating a theory then applied it to see it if holds true.


And then the people following them learned from them.  I don't advocate reinventing the wheel every time you want to know something.  Wind in the mountains will actually not teach you musical theory.  More importantly, it will not teach you to play the piano.

You can teach yourself, hitting keys alone and together and listening to the sounds they make.  So what?  It is not always the process which is important.  Sometimes it is the knowledge itself, and I see no benefit to taking a year to reconstruct a piece one could learn in a week if one simply studied how to read sheet music.

'It's the journey that's important' is an over-used and over-rated concept.  It also limits what one can learn rather severely.  What's the point of living in community if everyone has to develop the same knowledge over and over again.  Better to learn what is already known and then expand that.

Plus, sometimes people want specific information.  The actual legend of an actual figure of mythology or history, the historical reason for the use of a certain herb or symbol.  They don't want to make up something with powerful personal meaning, they want to learn what is there.  

Not all knowledge is natural and instinctive.  Some is specific and rote.  That does not make it less worthy and, again, going into a learning environment knowing what one wants to learn is not some kind of betrayal of the idea of learning.  Deciding rather than drifting, have an idea (even pre-conceived, which is not a dirty word) of what one wants does not somehow deny true learning.

Advising people to listen to their own inner voice does not help if it is someone else's voice that will convey the knowledge they need/want.  It's like saying 'do what feels right' in every situation.  Fine for personal vision, not so great for medical treatment.  Different goals require different routes.

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2011, 07:13:00 am »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;17051
And then the people following them learned from them.  I don't advocate reinventing the wheel every time you want to know something.  Wind in the mountains will actually not teach you musical theory.  More importantly, it will not teach you to play the piano.

But it's not about reinventing the wheel its about the ability to conceptualize and see possibilities.  One can take a monkey sit it at a keyboard and eventually it will recreate all the works of Shakespheare but it doesn't mean it knows or learnt from what it was doing.

Yet to listen to the winds song and be able to hear it, feel it and recreate it means you've learnt it and understand it.  You've listened to the harmony and know the beat but more so you've got the deeper construction and the entire orchastration that made each verse.

So its more than just playing the piano.  To play the piano is just to hit keys in a certain order.

Quote
You can teach yourself, hitting keys alone and together and listening to the sounds they make.  So what?  It is not always the process which is important.  Sometimes it is the knowledge itself, and I see no benefit to taking a year to reconstruct a piece one could learn in a week if one simply studied how to read sheet music.

And none of that means you learnt anything other than to ape what another did.  Or worse simple rote learning which shows you can do it but doesn't mean you understand or can create from it.

Quote
'It's the journey that's important' is an over-used and over-rated concept.  It also limits what one can learn rather severely.  What's the point of living in community if everyone has to develop the same knowledge over and over again.  Better to learn what is already known and then expand that.

Again its not about learning or reinventing the wheel.  Its about taking what is before you and being able to not only recall what you've been shown but to take the so called leap of faith and conceptualize.  It's the ability to apply critical analysis skills in analyzing and reviewing the entire process and deducing, creating  or comprehensive understanding from it.

Quote
Plus, sometimes people want specific information.  The actual legend of an actual figure of mythology or history, the historical reason for the use of a certain herb or symbol.  They don't want to make up something with powerful personal meaning, they want to learn what is there.
 

Again you can read all the books written and learn nothing.  Yet when you can look at the world about you and see the subtle things that make it up you can look to the historical data and critically analyze what is written, what is implied, what is social influence coupled to the author's personal biases.

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Not all knowledge is natural and instinctive.  Some is specific and rote.  That does not make it less worthy and, again, going into a learning environment knowing what one wants to learn is not some kind of betrayal of the idea of learning.  Deciding rather than drifting, have an idea (even pre-conceived, which is not a dirty word) of what one wants does not somehow deny true learning.

I never said pre-conceived knowledge I said a pre-conceived notion of what a teacher is.  A teacher is not a facilitator though both instruct.  A teacher is not an instructor nor do they employ the same methods and idealogies in order to convey or prescent the material they wish to place before thier students.

Nor did I say anthing about going into a specific learning environment and knowing what one desires to obtain from said situation.  I would expect a student to have some base idea of what they expect to learn from a given scenario.  Yet I equally expect them to have the ability to do more than just say some one said it was such and blindly accept that with out asking why.

Some applications of rote learning is useful, such as in multiplication tables.  At times even useful in using anagrams or such to remember tables, names, componets, etc.  Heck even useful in learning and applying language specific to a given industry or organization, all those I do agree with.

But within the occult world I say bs on that concept.  The ability to recite or recall candle colors is only applicapble when you read a book and say they are right.  That is similar to how one places things about their elemential wheel but never look to the why of it or where it originated from but blindly learn it via rote because it was in some book.  That goes back to critical analysis skills and observation and ability to apply it and understand the concept behind it.

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Advising people to listen to their own inner voice does not help if it is someone else's voice that will convey the knowledge they need/want.  It's like saying 'do what feels right' in every situation.  Fine for personal vision, not so great for medical treatment.  Different goals require different routes.

Absent

I'd say the moment they stop listening to thier inner voice their screwed.  That's not to say one shouldn't go to those who specialize in a given field of study and ignore their council.  Nor am I implying one should become their own doctor so to speak.

But heck maybe I'm dated and jaded for I was taught in the 70's and 80's where our teachers expected us to be able to research, analyze the material discovered reach a conclusion then present it in a fashion which could be tested and our arguments discussed.  They didn't teach us the facts they taught us to think and do more than just look for answers in a book.  Mystical was the totality of it all and they served to guide and inspire us and make us apply oursleves fully.

Seldom did we ever have a teacher that did it all for us or gave us straight answers that were static.

.................

On a side note I really wish there was a spell checker here it would make it so much better.  Nothing like seeing the word but having your own mind see it correctly though it may not be what your fingers typed out.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2011, 07:17:15 am by monsnoleedra »

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2011, 07:25:29 am »
Quote from: Juni;17009

So: what do you do, when a teacher is the best option but an unavailable option? How do you keep yourself growing and moving and challenged, and not just walking blindfolded in circles over the same ground?


My basic advice is to look at what stuff is an option. Finding spaces which encourage thought and development and learning is a good start.

While I agree with you that community stuff is complicated, if you're unhappy with the local community options, chances are that there are other people out there who feel the same way. In that situation, I'd probably do a lot of low-key awareness of local events and any mailing lists/etc. and see if anything popped up that was of interest (even if most things weren't - and having investigate Connecticut Pagan stuff when I was looking at a couple of jobs there, I know what you mean...)

I'd consider also looking at places you could get to - even occasionally. Would the train to NYC work for an occasional workshop? Up to Boston? That might give you a few more options for at least feedback.

The question of how you keep developing is also one that confronts people who do have training, but whose circumstances change - one I've been thinking about a lot, because, due to my move, I'm a) away from trad mates I might otherwise do ongoing advanced work with b) not looking to start teaching again yet (until I'm a bit more settled), and c) still want to push myself to learn more.

My basic approach is to figure out what I want to work on, and what it'd look like when I'd made progress on that thing (in other words, something like my goal/outcome). If there's areas where you really can't make a lot of progress without some feedback (some kinds of energy work skills, group ritual skills, practices where assistance is helpful to necessary), what about focusing on other areas for right now - deepening skills in meditation, divination, things like that.

[I have more to say on this, I think, but need to dash to work]
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2011, 07:49:22 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;17053



First, don't play the age card.  I'm in my fifties too.  Even in the seventies and eighties I didn't think much of cryptic teachers who took the grasshopper route.

Second, why do you think that learning from others means not questioning or thinking for yourself?  It is possible to think for yourself and come to the conclusion that you agree with your teacher.  Or not.  Or that what they've taught you gives you a proper base, a jumping off point, or a necessary foundation for progression.  Very few teachers actually lay down the law and allow no deviation.  When they do it is usually because deviating from the recipe before learning the recipe will make your souffle fall.

Third, not every path, not even every mystical path, is nature-based.  Not everything can be found in the wind and the rain, especially not critical thinking skills and that ability to analyse that you mention.  These are human concepts and talents.

I didn't realize I had said pre-concieved knowledge either.  What I meant was what you are dismissing - a pre-conceived idea of what a teacher is.  If I want to know how the wind feels I will stand out in it.  If I want to know what causes it to blow I will take a meteorology course.  I know who I will learn from - it's part of knowing myself.

I also think that whole 'when the student is ready' idea is bunk.  Sometimes you have to teach yourself, at the library, at human watering holes, or on the web.  You can twist that around and say that obviously the teacher that appeared was yourself, but that is just more grasshopper shit.  

Juni has, according to her OP, come to a point where she needs a human teacher or teaching group.  I trust her self-knowledge and believe that she does, in fact, know what she needs.  It is a practical problem that needs a practical solution.  There really are things you can learn best from someone that already knows them.

Palliative advice, meant to dismiss a need or imply that the need is filled without actually filling it, seems condescending to me.  At the very least, impractical.  (But then, pragmatism is my besetting sin.)

I don't know if the vbulletin software has a spell checker you can turn on or not.  Randall or Jubes would probably know.  I have it turned on in my browser so I've never worried about what comes with the board software.  (I use Firefox).

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monsnoleedra

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2011, 08:47:37 am »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;17057
First, don't play the age card.  I'm in my fifties too.  Even in the seventies and eighties I didn't think much of cryptic teachers who took the grasshopper route.


I'm not playing an age card I was referring to how covens, trads and groups worked in the 70's and 80's when I was being trained and initiated.  Everything I pointed out was a common descriptor that was often repeated by those I knew who also underwent training and initiation in those times.

It was all part and parcel of proving one wanted to be trained and would commit to the pathway and the demands of it.  At that time one didn't go looking for a teacher you had to prove you were ready for a teacher and be accepted by a teacher.

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Second, why do you think that learning from others means not questioning or thinking for yourself?  It is possible to think for yourself and come to the conclusion that you agree with your teacher.  Or not.  Or that what they've taught you gives you a proper base, a jumping off point, or a necessary foundation for progression.  Very few teachers actually lay down the law and allow no deviation.  When they do it is usually because deviating from the recipe before learning the recipe will make your souffle fall
.

The only way I can answer that is say look to the many psuedo histories to be found in the pagan community.  Look to the many threads that ask for an answer but never once indicate the person even attempted to look for themselves.  Look to the number of author's that are known to push incorrect data or opinon then see how many recite them as source material and never once consider thier realiability or creditability.

While I assume there are those that do go deeper based upon surface appearance it's more likely they don't.

With regard to laying down the law and allowable deviation that really depends upon the subject matter at hand.  It also depends upon whether it is theory or application of theory as to whether deviation is allowable or not.  Some things I as a teacher did allow deviation in, other things no for death was not a viable option.

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Third, not every path, not even every mystical path, is nature-based.  Not everything can be found in the wind and the rain, especially not critical thinking skills and that ability to analyse that you mention.  These are human concepts and talents.


I never said it was nature based, I simply refered to a natural event that presented many of the observable features of an action, ie a rain drop on a windshield or a musical pattern in the wind.  Both of which clearly demonstrate the concept of "WHY" and the variables that are to be found.

Quote
I didn't realize I had said pre-concieved knowledge either.  What I meant was what you are dismissing - a pre-conceived idea of what a teacher is.  If I want to know how the wind feels I will stand out in it.  If I want to know what causes it to blow I will take a meteorology course.  I know who I will learn from - it's part of knowing myself.


Nope not dismissing it at all.  I just know from experience that one of the biggest issues is the assumption of what a teacher is and how they will present material.  As I stated a Facilitator is one who teaches through one medium, a lecturer through another medium, an instructor through yet a different set of mediums and a teacher through yet another.  Yet to most they are all lumped beneath the "Teacher" category though they are not in the traditinal sense.  That doesn't even touch upon whether one shall be looking to an academic level of instruction, post secondary level of instruction or structured or free-slow form of instruction.  Like I said you have to know what a teacher is and the type you need.

Quote
I also think that whole 'when the student is ready' idea is bunk.  Sometimes you have to teach yourself, at the library, at human watering holes, or on the web.  You can twist that around and say that obviously the teacher that appeared was yourself, but that is just more grasshopper shit.


Nope I don't really buy into it myself.  I believe that a teacher will appear when the student has shown they need one and go in search of one.  But to me that search normally starts with seeking and research into a thing then seeking more specific or learned guidance with a detailed idea of what your seeking out.  No just a general or broad statment of I need a teacher.

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Juni has, according to her OP, come to a point where she needs a human teacher or teaching group.  I trust her self-knowledge and believe that she does, in fact, know what she needs.  It is a practical problem that needs a practical solution.  There really are things you can learn best from someone that already knows them.


From my perspective she hasn't said anything or indicated what she needs.  She made a broad general statement without any identification or indication of what she was looking for beyond "A teacher".  At what point has she arrived?  We do not know where she is at or at what level she has attained.  We do not know what she is seeking or what information or application of knowledge she is seeking to enhance or expound upon.  All we know is she is looking for a teacher.
 
Quote
Palliative advice, meant to dismiss a need or imply that the need is filled without actually filling it, seems condescending to me.  At the very least, impractical.  (But then, pragmatism is my besetting sin.)


I don't seek to dismiss a need nor make light of a person's assumption they have a need.  I just don't accept blind assumptions about what the supposed need is nor the blanket statement that they have tried everything.

But that comes from having been a formal teacher for a number of years, a facilitator in another program a designated instructor in a technical capacity and an educator in general.  

Quote
I don't know if the vbulletin software has a spell checker you can turn on or not.  Randall or Jubes would probably know.  I have it turned on in my browser so I've never worried about what comes with the board software.  (I use Firefox).

Absent


I know vbulletin might have the capability from some of the other sites I use but beyond that don't know.  I tried Firefox a couple of times and it kept blowing up on me so I don't have much faith in it, but my wife uses it without a lot of the problems I encoutered so it might just have been the version I had at the time.

As a side note thanks for the replies for it makes me think and have to try to support my argument and position.

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2011, 09:44:52 am »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;17057
Palliative advice, meant to dismiss a need or imply that the need is filled without actually filling it, seems condescending to me.  At the very least, impractical.  (But then, pragmatism is my besetting sin.)


I quite appreciate your pragmatism, Absent. :)
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2011, 09:53:51 am »
Quote from: SatAset;17038
Just my two cents.


I'll have to look for a natron recipe- I've never used it before. I suspect my ka could use a good scrubbing ;) I've definitely felt emotionally/energetically heavy, weighted down with gunk, but all of the purification stuff I've tried doesn't feel like it makes much of a difference. (Of course, I think I'm energy-blind, too, so that doesn't help. Can't sense it to save my life.)

And I'll reach out to Hetharu. Part of my issues right now is a sense of not being worthy of the attention; I know I *can* be, but I don't feel like I'm there yet. (As I am a slacker and a procrastinator.) So I hate to ask for help from them. :/

Thanks, SatAset!
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2011, 09:57:27 am »
Quote from: monsnoleedra;17064
From my perspective she hasn't said anything or indicated what she needs.  She made a broad general statement without any identification or indication of what she was looking for beyond "A teacher".


Actually, I explicitly stated in my OP that I desired an individual or a group, preferably face-to-face.
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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2011, 10:14:16 am »
Quote from: Juni;17081
Actually, I explicitly stated in my OP that I desired an individual or a group, preferably face-to-face.


To my perspective no you haven't.  You said group or individual but have given no additional data.  Is it an open group?  Is it a closed group?  Is it for ceremonial practitices?  Is it for an open circle or closed circle type group?  Is it a group that celebrates the Wiccan wheel or a group that celebrates another wheel?  Is it a lineaged group or a book group?  Is it a group desire to teach group ritual and group or coven dynamics and leadership?  Is it a group based upon Wicca, upon Santeria, upon Stregia, upon a reconstructinist program, upon a family folk lore type practice that you are seeking?  

And none of that even touches upon magical positions, divination types to be used or learnt, meditation techniques, etc.  It really doesn't touch upon deities, manner of spiritual observance, type of spiritual practice and honoring, offerings if any, initations prodecures or practices.

But as you said you asked for a group or face to face, your just didn't state what your needs or desires for learning are.

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Re: When a Teacher is Not an Option
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2011, 10:19:56 am »
Quote from: Jenett;17054
In that situation, I'd probably do a lot of low-key awareness of local events and any mailing lists/etc. and see if anything popped up that was of interest


I've just signed up for the CWPN mailing list, so we'll see if anything useful comes of it. :)

Quote from: Jenett;17054
I'd consider also looking at places you could get to - even occasionally. Would the train to NYC work for an occasional workshop? Up to Boston? That might give you a few more options for at least feedback.


Absolutely. I'm very willing to go a couple hours in any direction, once a month or so. (More frequently than that, if I can take the train.) Stuff like this does not occur to my brain, for some reason. Socialization and networking are not strong points with me. :o

Quote from: Jenett;17054
My basic approach is to figure out what I want to work on, and what it'd look like when I'd made progress on that thing (in other words, something like my goal/outcome). If there's areas where you really can't make a lot of progress without some feedback (some kinds of energy work skills, group ritual skills, practices where assistance is helpful to necessary), what about focusing on other areas for right now - deepening skills in meditation, divination, things like that.


I think I will sit down and try to make a list, and see what things I can actually work on by myself.

Quote from: Jenett;17054
[I have more to say on this, I think, but need to dash to work]

 
Thanks, Jenett! (Also: yay, work! :))
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