Walking Our Paths Alone Together
Let's be honest about what Gay men want when they seek to join a Gay male coven. Sure, some might have sexual fantasies that propel their search for a Gay coven over a coven that includes women in it. If a sexual desire for other men is part of the search for a genuine seeker, it's just a surface level goal. It's not the end result of what they actually want, though. What they really want is a deeper bond of companionship with other men and the opportunity to embrace their own sexuality in a sacred way without feeling like a satellite to someone else's experience. They want to know that there are other men like them who see them, know them, accept them, and love them, and they want to know that their personal experience is cherished and honored as equally valid.
That said, our modern, mainstream Gay community isn't always the best at recognizing intimacy or love outside of sex, so many Gay men only know how to express this desire for connection and inclusion through an urge for physical sex. Joining a Gay coven or a Gay tradition, like Gala, should help to teach Gay men that intimacy and acceptance can be achieved through many ways (not just sex alone). Through positive, healthy, and uplifting experiences had over time, initiation into a tradition should give each witch hope that his ultimate sense of isolation can be healed.
It was this push for intimate, loving companionship that initially turned me off to training people long-distance. How could I tell people that they really would feel connected and loved when nothing in their physical environment appeared to change for them in the beginning stages of their training?
It didn't take long for me to make the shift in perspective and accept that, when done sincerely, remote training was just as intimate, just as valuable for building community as in-person training. Paradoxically, long-distance training can sometimes be more tailored to the individual student and can often produce a more intimate experience between the initiator and initiate. Since a great deal of their connection is spent in one-on-one interactions, it really does develop deep bonds quickly. In addition to the tailored attention, the student is often more relaxed and comfortable because he is in his own home environment and out of the spotlight as he asks questions he might otherwise stifle down (so as not to hold back a group or look "stupid" in front of others for not knowing something everyone else knows).
Within the first couple of Grand Covens, I started to see just how many great relationships (like the one I mentioned with Afolabi in the last post) were developed through my personal style of long-distance training, and it really did change my mind. Instead of viewing this method as a handicap that only stunted someone's progress in witchcraft or left them feeling isolated and alone, I saw it as helping that future initiate get a head start on what we, in Gala, call the Hedge Witch Path. My long-distance students may have been walking their paths alone, but we were in it together.
(Afolabi isn't the only successful example, by the way. He's just the first witch who gave me permission to tell his story. As this series of posts goes on and other Gala witches give me permission to talk about them, I'll show you more, but one of our oaths in witchcraft is never to reveal the names or personal information of our initiates without their explicit consent.)
Tune in next time to find out more about the Hedge Witch Path and why this is so valuable to us in Gala.