Reflections is accepting applications for 2012 school year till Samhain, October 31st.
Every year we post the Reflections application for admissions and every year we hear the stories people make up within their minds about how difficult the application is or the fear it generates in some folks. I have received a great deal of push back about our admissions process. And every year like clockwork, the brave and the determined seem to submit the application just fine even with more than a little trepidation and every year they make it through the admissions process mostly unscathed.
And here we are again, another year of trepidation, nervous questions and more push back.
So this year like in previous years, I thought I would tackle another one of those “questions” we get at Reflections on a regular basis.
Why do we require folks to apply to Reflections instead of just admitting everyone who signs up?
I will answer the question, but first I need to tell you a couple of stories. (And I apologize for the length, but it could not be helped.)
Story #1: Witchcamp “Advanced” Paths
At Reclaiming witchcamps, we teach via a selection of paths. Each path meets daily at the same time, and each path will generally cover a different topic for the week. So in selecting a path, you were selecting your work for the week. You do not wander from path to path, you have to commit to a path for the week from day one. This works pretty well for the most part and the paths were usually advertised ahead of time and right after dinner on the first night, the path teachers describe their paths and the following morning, you have to pick which one to take.
However if you wanted to offer an advanced offering that required folks to be at a similar level of training, we found it helpful to require students to register for the path before camp. We would usually set a cut-off date in the camp brochure and require folks to send in letters directly to one of the teachers. So that once camp started, these students already knew what path they were in and had already completed some preparatory work.
And each year, there would be a couple of students who would request entry at camp, and each year, we would say no. Why? Because each of the students had committed to work ahead of time and as a result had already begun the work of the path. It was both a respect for their prior commitment and a guard against the new students starting up already behind the rest of the class.
Story #2: Michael Conforti, Ph.D and the Assisi Institute
Dr. Conforti founded the Assisi Institute a couple of decades ago. He began his work not knowing how it would turn out or that he would invent a new discipline in Jungian Psychology, Pattern Analysis. But one thing he learned long ago is the need to be selective in bringing in new teachers AND new students.
He shared recently that he interviews every prospective student before the application process because he wants to make sure that they are a right fit for the program. Why? Because he has worked so hard to build the learning environment (i.e. container), he wants to make sure that everyone who enters it can not only thrive, but contribute to its strength.
Dr. Conforti is not a pagan, but his attention to the learning container he has created should be familiar to any High Priest/ess worthy of the title. We try to learn as much as we can about anyone coming into our covens, lodges, circles and groups because we are guardians of the group boundaries.
The Admissions Process
And so I am determined to preserve the level of scholarship, the level of commitment and the level of maturity found within the mix of our student body. There are no perfect candidates, but I needed a way to tell if someone was capable of thriving in our school AND contributing to its overall strength.
The tool I use in addition to interviews is our application. It has twelve questions -- seven collect information such as your name, birthday, address, etc. The remaining five questions asks the candidate about their life, spiritual state, practices, references and what they seek from Reflections. Additionally we have them take a freely available Myers-Briggs test, and list classes that have taken or taught over the last 3 to 5 years.
When I wrote the application, I intended it as a way for folks to demonstrate their accomplishments, commitment, experience and depth. I had never even imagined that it would discourage good folks from applying.
And so recently I was advised to drop the application, and maybe just have interviews.
I thought long and hard about this issue and I decided to keep the application. Why? Well because interviews take up a great deal of my time, energy and attention. And if I am willing to talk to anyone who fills in an application, the least they could do is give me some information about themselves ahead of time. And the application provides me with just the information I need to conduct an interview.
And at the same time, I understand that the application may seem like an impersonal data gathering device. So here is my compromise.
I will explain what I am looking for in each question.
Questions 1 though 7 are pretty self explanatory. Here we get your names, info to pull your astrological information and ways of contacting you.
Starting at question 8 however is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak.
8 - Please explain briefly how you have demonstrated any three of the following; sustainability, willingness, self-care, humility, service and discipline.
So where did this list of qualities come from anyway. Well if you had taken the hint to read the website over carefully, it would have jumped out as the six vows of the Order of the Elemental Mysteries, The underlying spiritual tradition that supports Reflections.
And also notice what word is not listed in this question -- spiritual. This question is not about your spiritual life, it is a question whose sole purpose is to get you to talk about how these qualities already express themselves in your life, your entire life. It is an opportunity for you share your accomplishments in the world.
Did you train for a marathon, or work as a Peace corp volunteer? Did you serve in the military or help plant community gardens? Did you care for a sick relative or persevere in the face of great odds? Here is your chance to share it with us.
It is not an essay question on a college exam. We are not testing to see if you know what the words mean. We are simply giving you a chance to tell us something amazing about yourself.
9 - Please describe briefly your present sense of your spiritual strengths, abilities, challenges, and growing edges.
Now this is where we finally begin asking about your spiritual life. And again, it would help if you read the section on admissions on the website.
“Applicants are expected to have taken our foundation course Elemental Mysteries or its equivalent, participated in group ritual, and have taken steps on their own to deepen and expand their knowledge, skills and experience as a spiritual seeker
Acceptance into Reflections is based on a variety of factors including: experience, skill, knowledge, talent (latent as well as learned), maturity, self-awareness, appropriate uses of power & influence, stability, leadership and level of commitment. Special consideration is given for candidates who have tested themselves via initiation, long-term study, challenging leadership roles, or have faced difficult life challenges.
Although Reflections does not currently accept beginners in the craft, we do offer public foundations courses, such as Elemental Mysteries and the Language of Magick. Reflections however is a place for folks who have already begun the work of personal transformative change.”
So this section is asking that you demonstrate how you meet our expectations for admissions.
What are your skills, talent, knowledge, experience, etc. and what areas do you believe could be improved
10 - Please describe your current personal spiritual practice. How does this help you personally, in service, in leadership, and in community?
I always thought this was an easy question. What do you do and how does it help you. If you are a solitaire, fine. But how does your spiritual life impact the rest of your life? That is all we are looking for here. If you are not sure, say so. You cannot get this question wrong. There is no right answer. Really.
11 – Please list two people who can affirm the level of your magical/spiritual experience, ability and training. Please include either an evening phone number or email address for each. Listing their organizational affiliation is also helpful.
I have only contacted one reference ever and that was because the person misread the application, so I had to make sure it was just nervousness. That person is now one of my top students.
So please do not fret about this too much. I understand every one can have a bad breakup with former teachers or coven mates. But surely you know someone who will vouchsafe for you?
Because if you cannot get along with anyone, why on earth do you want to join a community of committed spiritual seekers?
12 – What do you seek to accomplish within Reflections? What are your hopes and aspirations? What are you fears and concerns?
Okay, this should be a straightforward question. Moving on ...
So now to the section that gives everyone a fright.
- Please provide a list of all your magical/spiritual trainings over the last 3 to 5 years, including names of teachers and/or mentors. You can summarize as needed.
- Please provide a list of all magical/spiritual classes you have offered over the last 3 to 5 years, including names of co-teachers and/or mentors. You can summarize as needed.
Everyone frets over these questions. So here is a hint. I am not using the answers to this question to determine if you get into Reflections. So relax. There is no wrong answer here. Just tell us what training you have had or provided. And “None” is a valid answer to either question.
And that is it, the entire application explained in detail. The only thing I did not discuss is the Myers Briggs test scores. And frankly, just attach the score sheet and forget about it.
So now, what else are you waiting for? An engraved invitation? Apply! The deadline is Samhain. I look forward to reading your application!
Submitted by katrina on Sat, 10/08/2011 - 3:56pm.
This is the message I delivered January 3rd, during the opening of our sixth year of Reflections.
This is the sixth year of the school, and I’d just like to welcome everyone to the sixth year. There’s something special about…well, each year is special. I know some years I’ve been very weepy at the start, or weepy at the end. But there’s something very special about being able to get to a sixth year. One away from the seventh, and once you get there it’s sort of like settling the first chakra. We’re heading toward that place, where we’re starting to get the root of the school really solid, and so that feels so momentous, there’s like a momentum there.
I’m really excited about it. It really warms my heart to have you all here as part of that journey; a journey that is part of all of our contributions. Now we are all involved in this process of creating this container, maintaining it and caring for it. It is one of those things that is often invisible. I know part of my job—my primary job—is maintaining the container, but if it was only up to me, I don’t think it would be as strong as it is today. Our container is rich, deep and multi-layered; it is just so incredibly intricate.
It is like looking at a fractal. There’ve been some incredible pictures as of late of three-dimensional fractals and the beauty inherent in them…you can see things that resemble cathedrals, fountains, trees and orchards, and it’s just an incredible richness that was only hinted at in the two-dimensional renderings which only came alive in the three-dimensional. Our school container is just such a multi-dimensional structure. At every level you go down you find the pattern repeated, and it reveals such a rich, beautiful, and intricate pattern.
Some of you are starting to see some of those patterns, and as a result your own work is deepening. But everyone has deepened and grown through this process. It’s the not so obvious, the subtle work, that does this. Every once and a while I discuss the core of reflections -- the work of the soul.
The work of the soul is heady work; it is not for the light-hearted. It is not for folks who are unused to pressure or discomfort or disillusionment or disintegration. Quite frankly, it takes courage to walk this journey -- it takes such deep courage. It takes the kind of courage that we are often unaware of in the larger culture. It’s not the kind of courage that you see in a film when you see the hero say, “We’re outnumbered! We only have four bullets and there’s a hundred people outside, but I’m gonna make a run for it!” Not that kind of courage, that kind of courage is actually quite silly, if we are honest about it.
But it takes the kind of courage that, to me, is more reminiscent of the courage of my ancestors, where you didn’t know what each day would bring, whether you would live to see the next morning. But there was still, even within that unknowing, still time to comfort a child, to take care of an elder, to show someone love. Even in that uncertainty, there was strength of character; it mattered what we did, even if this is the end. That is the kind of courage I am talking about. The kind of courage that says, “I don’t know where I am right now, I don’t know what to do, but I’m gonna show up.” And that’s the kind of courage that it takes to do this work, to be here, to be on this journey, to walk this path.
And I want to honor that. Part of my job is to honor that journey; every single journey, because every journey is unique. However, if you step back far enough, they’re all part of the same glorious, blossoming life of spirit, of mystery. It really needs to be acknowledged, on my part and on your own parts, how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and how much you’ve contributed to the growth and development of others here in this room, as well as outside of this room. And I know that even as a teacher, I have learned more by working with a school as opposed to just teaching classes. So I’ve grown, and my growth, development and journey has been informed by your growth and journey. It’s a process that’s unfolding and revealing in and of itself. This is really a journey that we are taking together; a journey of spiritual community.
So when you look at yourself and how you are developing and moving forward, even if you’re unaware of how much you are moving and developing—I can tell you all that you are—if you could see that pattern from a distance, you would be in awe, you would be in complete awe. But if you could see the journey this community has taken, you would be filled with such joy. This community’s journey is just incredible -- the blossoming and growth that we as a community have made. And I would like to think that it has had an impact on our surrounding communities, our families, loved ones, and others. I’m proud of us as a community and I’m proud of you as individuals. So I want to especially applaud that, to acknowledge that, validate that. I am honored to be your teacher, I am honored to be part of your journey, and I am very, very proud of each and every one of you. And so thank you for continuing this journey. Thank you. Thank you for this. Thank you.
Submitted by katrina on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 5:14pm.
Around this time every year, during Reflections annual admissions’ period, I get questions from folks about what is it that we do in our mystery school. Most folks are concerned about requirements for things like homework, reading assignments and how often they have to come to DC. And every year I promise to fill in the gaps in our FAQ.
I decided this year to not wait for questions, and instead of adding even more items to my growing to do list, I will discuss the deeper issue underlying the work of Reflections.
At Reflections, our focus is soul work. We offer classes on magickal and spiritual topics yes, but our primary area of concentration is evolving the soul.
What is Soul Work?
Soul work has many components, many in line with most, if not all, spiritual traditions at their core.
- It involves strengthening the core, or one’s sense of self. This portion involves building up inner and outer boundaries, the I and the not-I for instance. This is crucial if one wants to experience the oneness of all. One cannot merge with source until one has a self to dissolve.
- It involves shadow work. We reclaim our hidden energy and talents, literally the gold held by the Minotaur, so that it is available in our life and in our work. As we take back our projections, cleanse our lens and unearth our repressions, our soul expands. This work is crucial for everyone, but most especially for those that follow a spiritual or leadership path.
- It involves building a spiritual practice that continually polishes the jewel of our soul. I am often quoted as saying, “It is not how long you can be centered, grounded, compassionate and present, but in how you return to grace.” And the key is having a regular practice of returning to grace.
- It involves self-awareness as to our strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities and limits. In this way we can give from our surplus instead of our scarcity. Too often we are not responding to our internal sense of “Yes!” but to an external expression of “No.” So we contour our spherical selves to slip into ill-fitted square holes and then wonder why something doesn’t feel quite right about our lives. At Reflections we start with who and what we are in our core and expand to fill it out by beginning our search for meaning within.
- It involves discovering our growing edge. What is the growing edge? Our growing edge is the place where it seems like the entire multi-verse is conspiring to draw our attention. The issue will come up at work, at the doctor’s office, and in your intimate relationships, hell even complete strangers will bring it your attention. Everyone and everything seems to be shouting, “Look at this!” It is our belief that if we attend to the edge that is being called to our attention we will have the most traction with our efforts and potentially experience the greatest growth.
- It involves listening to the ancient voice within. We listen primarily through our dreams. Dream work requires us to learn the language of mystery itself. We attune to this language through the study of myth, folk tales and symbolism. We excavate our dreams for images, symbols and messages. We enact ritual to engage these mysteries and strengthen our vocabulary, grammar and syntax in this ancient tongue.
- It involves listening to each other. We recognize the divine in everyone and allow ourselves the luxury of deciphering its message within voices of the people that surround our lives, especially those who have made a spiritual commitment to evolve their souls.
- It involves reaching outside the known. We listen as well to the wisdom keepers of the world. We study, discuss and engage with ancient lessons shared by those we encounter in our daily lives and those we seek out for wisdom and mentoring.
- It involves all of this and so much more.
And then we rinse and repeat.
So many people I have met wonder what is it that attracts them to Reflections. They are all knowledgeable people with extraordinary gifts. They ask themselves, “What can I possibly encounter that is new in this school?” Which is a good question. If all you do is look at the classes we offer publicly, with rare exceptions, many advanced spiritual practitioners will find that they already have sufficient knowledge and ability in most of these areas.
It is in the portions that are not open to the public, however, that our true worth shines. We are first and foremost a community of fellow seekers on the path. We are a haven for folks who in their respective communities are often sought out for answers. The question is this. Where do you go with *your* questions? At Reflections, you will find peers, mentors and elders.
And finally, when all is said and done, the real reason it works is because we have committed elders and brilliant teachers. Angela Raincatcher, the presiding Celebrant of Becoming, is our School Administrator. Ivo Dominguez, Jr., Elder of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, and I are the faculty. Every year we invite brilliant teachers such as T. Thorn Coyle, Helena Domenic, Michael Smith and Lisa Aerianna Tayerle. Next year we have Anne Hill of Dream Talk Radio and Tigre Cruz of Kiva already lined up to offer classes in 2010.
Obviously, I am not an objective observer. I hope our students, visiting teachers and staff will add their voices to this discussion by commenting.
I am proud of the work we do in Reflections. And every year, we work hard at improving the school, the classes, and our student’s experience. If this sounds like something that may meet your needs, apply. I look forward to hearing from you.
Submitted by katrina on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 10:35am.