Lola Medicine Keeper, Shamanic Medicine Woman
Not every mentor has your best interests at heart, even though they should.
After getting burned to a crisp by a mentor of mine a few years ago, and watching this happen to my friends and clients with various teachers and leaders, it became clear that it’s time to speak up. How do you know if you’re in a relationship (or considering entering into one) with a “bad” witch? Read on… the further upstream you can catch it, the less damage will be done. No names will be named, as it is not the who that matters nearly as much as the patterns at play.
These are red flags to watch out for. If they are happening to you now, read on for suggestions of what to do next.
1: They don’t like it when you veer away from their path.
You are drawn to a teacher because they (seem to) have more experience, knowledge, and insight in an area of interest that you want to develop for yourself. This is not a problem! It’s why many people come to me for Shamanic work, healing, and to learn how to open these gifts for themselves.
However, a problem does arise when the teacher, mentor, or leader suggests that their way is the ONLY way to achieve/learn/grow/develop/evolve in the area of focus. This is not the same thing as requiring students or participants to follow the “rules” when it comes to certain rituals, working with plant or other medicines, or facilitating healings. Those rules are in place to keep everyone safe and it is of the utmost importance to have an experienced guide/teacher/elder (and GOOD witch) at the helm of this type of training, experience, or ceremony.
Rather, I am referring to methods of exploration and dogmatic, rigid approaches to learning. If, for example, you are working on opening up your intuitive gifts… there are MANY ways to encourage intuitive development and psychic enhancement. Any teacher who tells you that their way is the only way and gets upset, frustrated, angry, or vindictive if you try other ways is wearing a giant red flag. It can be very confronting to a Bad Witch when a student wants to explore the subject matter in another way. What if the student learns more and becomes more powerful than the teacher? A Bad Witch will stick to his or her dogma and get very upset if you try to rock their boat. They do not want you to become equals or more powerful than they are. This is because…
2: It’s all about THEM.
Rather than teaching you how to access YOUR innate wisdom and gifts, a Bad Witch creates an environment where your gifts are diminished or ignored (or worse, subverted). Instead, the focus is in you “getting” to learn the teacher’s gifts. How lucky! This might be especially tempting to someone who doesn’t believe they have gifts of their own; someone who would instead benefit most from a mentor who sees those hidden gifts and helps bring them to the surface. But, a Bad Witch doesn’t want that to happen, because…
3: They are threatened by you.
Feel a little hesitant to share your success with your teacher? Do they act funny or strange when you’ve had a big shift or perhaps a big financial win? Do they try to diminish your experience or play down your gifts? These are all signs that your teacher/mentor/leader is threatened by you. A GOOD witch will celebrate you at all points of your journey; he or she will be with you when you in the depths of despair and give you a candle or torch of hope… and when you are at the peak, they will be right next to you again, cheering you on; among your biggest fans.
It is my belief that humans thrive best in CIRCLES. Where there may well be a guide, an elder, or a leader in place, but not in such as way that it feels like a triangle, with them at the top and their clients/students underneath… We are meant to sit next to each other, to walk with each other, to circulate energy among us all. For a Good Witch, the students/clients’ successes are a brilliant reflection of their own success as a leader. It’s proof positive that the work works.
Nothing makes me happier than when I see a client achieve the success and joy that we’ve worked so hard together to help them create.
4: They are threatened by their peers.
If it’s not so obvious that your mentor is threatened by you, have you noticed how they talk about others in their field or industry? Do they refrain from shit talking or spreading gossip? Do you never hear about the women and men who your mentor has studied/worked with? To have an abundance mindset (new age buzzword alert), one must truly believe that there is enough for all. This includes enough success, clients, and work to go around. There is no need to hoard success or talk shit about anyone else. If you don’t agree with how someone works, walk away. May they find their tribe and serve them well.
5: They breach confidentiality to make you feel special.
Does your teacher talk about other students or clients to you in ways that are inappropriate? Sometimes, this is a strategy to help you feel like part of a special inner circle. Other times, it’s not manipulation per se, it’s simply unethical behavior. Just like on the kindergarten playground, if someone is spreading gossip to you, it’s just as likely they are spreading gossip about you. Imagine what might happen when you become their peer? Or worse, if you are ousted from the inner sanctum (possibly for a breach of item #1), which leads to item #7.
Sacred work is just that, sacred. Each client or student’s privacy should be held safe and guarded, and identifying stories shared only after receiving permission. If a relationship with a student or client ends, regardless of reasoning, it is none of the other clients/students business what happened, with the exception of the barest of facts if it was in a group setting and the remaining group needs a general notification.
6: They manipulate you to keep working with them.
At some point, we will outgrow each of our teachers. It’s natural when you are on an evolutionary path. If you feel like it’s time to move on, that you are ready to graduate to working with someone else, then a Good Witch will let you go with grace and celebration. The Good Witch knows that, should the desire arise, there is always an opportunity to work together again.
On the other hand, a Bad Witch will guilt trip you into staying or find ways to sabotage your progress (see “Your clients don’t need you“) to keep you in a working relationship together.
It’s worthy to explore your reasons for leaving and uncover if there are patterns of self-sabotage happening that are trying to keep you from progressing. This however feels very different from simply being ready to move on and feeling clean and clear about leaving.
Regardless, if you truly don’t want to work with your mentor any more, there is no reason for you to keep paying them, and for them to force you to continue showing up. Is being under duress and resistance where magic and powerful work usually take place? In my opinion, not really. Forego a refund if you must and walk away with your heart and integrity intact. No amount of money is worth self-compromise.
7: When it’s time to “break up,” it’s brutal.
When a relationship ends between a mentor and a client/student, as WILL happen eventually, how are you treated? Is it with a fond farewell, perhaps a small celebratory ceremony/ritual, kind words about your next adventures? Or is it with bitterness, or worse, back-stabbing, ostracizing, false accusations, and more?
Unfortunately, these things happen. If that has happened to you and your mentor is unwilling to listen if you try and defend yourself against their claims, if they are spreading rumors about you, or if you’ve seen this happen in their community, run for the hills! This is the reddest of the red flags. This is not a person who can be reasoned with. They likely inhabit a different reality than you and fully believe the tar they are spewing. Best to dissociate yourself from them as quickly as possible, hold tenderly the pieces of your heart and mind (because you will likely feel shredded), and find yourself a truly loving community to support you in your journey.
Have you been broken-hearted by a Bad Witch?
I have, too… and my heart goes out to you. I know how much it hurts, and how long the pain can linger.
Let this be an opportunity to get even clearer on who you ARE. On how you will operate DIFFERENTLY with your work, students, clients, and friends. Know that as time passes, the wounds will hurt less, and seeing their face or name online or elsewhere won’t feel so much like a dagger…
Try a burning ritual to help release your ties to this person. And, reach out to me or another more aligned Good Witch for support (I know quite a few if you need ideas)!
No matter who you work with, may your journey be fruitful and may you find the loving, wise, kindred support, training, teaching, and mentorship you deserve.
Header and featured image photo cc by Anaïs Nannini
Elevate Your Being
Your presence inspires me... as do the words that you share on your podcast, your website, all the different touch points you choose to reach others with. It has allowed me to start weaving the narrative of what I desire to create. Your courage gives me courage. Your vibration dances with mine. Your work still carries me forward with its potency. This is excellence.