- Casey Giovinco
It became apparent pretty quickly once I started writing Uncrossing Your Roads that I could make the course available to the public and kill two birds with one stone. Ask any of the witches I've trained. If I have the option to make something more efficient or more elegant, I'm going to take that option eight times out of ten. In the case of Uncrossing Your Roads, I couldn't resist. Not only could I help Gala's high priesthood better-train the witches in their covens, but I could also give my audience some extra material that I didn't get to put into my Gay Witchcraft books.
Since this course was going to do double time, I wanted to create a year-and-a-day style course, since that concept is something familiar within public witchcraft Circles. It had to be self-paced, but it also had to teach the skills that we, in Gala, think are necessary before seeking initiation into any tradition of Witchcraft. I imagined the course being completed before a seeker approached us for dedication. Then the covens (in the case of local seekers) could pick up from there with more personalized, one-on-one training.
That's not how things happened after we launched the course, however.
As people began taking the course, they began reaching out for advice or to have me answer questions about things outside of the material. They wanted to know if this spell they read in someone else's book might be good for this or that particular ritual. I also got questions about how to modify exercises to fit into their personal practices. Ultimately, what they were seeking was a greater sense of community. They wanted to know if there was a FB group or another online forum where they could meet each other. It was as if the course was building its own community, something in-between complete solitary practice and initiation–an outer court of sorts.
This led me to create two other aspects of the course that were not originally intended to be part of it. We launched an outer court social group on Discord where students who were interested could talk about the material with each other. I also created what I began calling the "Mentorship Program."
Self-Paced or Directed Study
Initially, I took on the responsibility of mentoring the students who were interested, but over time, other Gala witches expressed interest in helping with the process of training seekers. Again, I'm absolutely mad for efficiency. So when the idea hit me to pair seekers up with first degree initiated Gala witches who have expressed an interest in considering the High Priesthood, I jumped on it. The Gala witch could get a taste for teaching and decide whether he liked it or not, and the student in Uncrossing Your Roads could get the personalized help he was seeking.
It was a win-win-win situation, and it worked amazingly well. The students who wanted to take the course at their own pace were able to do so. The students who wanted a greater sense of community had every opportunity to take it, and we also had a new method to test first degree initiates to see if they were ready to take on the responsibilities of the high priesthood before they made the commitment. How's that for efficiency?!
The Issue of Cost Addressed
Mentorship also fixed another issue that I ran into when launching the course. There was a small, but very loud contingent of the online Pagan Community that had some rather choice opinions about people charging for training. They didn't believe that they should have to pay for witchcraft or spiritual training in general.
In an ideal world, a lot of things would be free. Believe me. I would love to live in that Utopia. Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and it costs money to get the information into people's hands. For example, Teachable (the platform that Uncrossing Your Roads is hosted on) costs $159 a month. The course has to generate at least that much money a month or it can't exist. (It also wouldn't do any good to switch providers. The other available options for hosting the course are comparable in their pricing. Rest assured. I've looked into it.) Another factor that those critics didn't take into account is that their belief about witchcraft being completely free is built off of one group's oaths, which do not apply to all witches or all traditions of Witchcraft universally. While Gala Witchcraft (and the traditions connected to us) do not charge for initiations, there are plenty of reputable traditions around today who do.
I pointed this out to a few of my critics who contacted me directly. I also pointed out to them that I did not make money off the witches who are initiated into Gala or our kin traditions. In addition to donating all the money made through Uncrossing Your Roads to Gala, I also gave every initiated witch (whether they were in Gala, Horsa, or Sacred Pentagraph) a code that wiped away the cost and ensured that they could access the material for free.
Now, I'd like to elaborate a little further on one more aspect of this for you, dear reader. For the Gay men who take Uncrossing Your Roads, get mentorship, and eventually initiate into Gala, I take all the money they have spent on Uncrossing Your Roads and apply it to their costs to attend their first Grand Coven with us. That way, they get to come meet everyone as my guest. Then, after their initiation, they also get to keep accessing the Uncrossing Your Roads material for free, just like all the other initiates in our lineage.