Are You Certifiable? Buyer Beware in the Spiritual Marketplace
One of the most common topics of discussion that has arisen over the last four or five years is the explosion in various programs offering certifications in various esoteric, spiritual, and holistic practices. It seems that telling your potential client base that you are “Certified” is increasingly common and taken by both consumers and would be teachers as a testimony to competency. However, this simply is not true in most instances, and many of these certificates are not worth the time it took to print them. For example, I am familiar with several women locally teaching meditation classes. Last year they had no interest in meditation or any spiritual discipline at all. Now, after taking their six-week they are a “Certified Meditation Instructor”. Take it for what it is worth. Yes, they can talk you through the practice, but knowing them as I do, I would not count on them for the needed instruction – instruction based in experience – for when the crises hits. In fact, in discussions with them I have been told that meditation and spiritual practice “should be crises free”. I kid you not.
There is also the current “certified yoga instructor” machinery out there. Churning out “instructors” who have never heard of pranayama, know the basics of meditation, or understand the limits of human physiology across the life-span. Thus, injuries happen, both of the physical kind and the psychological as psychic centers are awakened when stress is released, and suddenly, you have someone crying in the middle of your yoga studio, having neurotic ideation, or even what can be diagnosed as psychotic episodes because the instructor was incompetent. Intentionally incompetent? I doubt it? They probably believed the sales pitch they were given and passed on to their students. But “the path to hell is paved with good intentions”, and good intentions do not protect one from being stupid or injured as a result. What does it mean to be certified? What does it mean this person actually knows and is capable of imparting to me or others?
The same is true in astrology. I have read numerous predictions by “certified financial and business astrologers” who were incapable of giving a single piece of advice in their column or blog other than to purchase financial products off of them. Mundane astrology is difficult. It requires a specific chart for a specific location. Thus, generalities about eclipses, such as our upcoming one on March 20th, are like most generalities – worthless for being anything other than a generality. The effect of the eclipse will be stronger in those areas where it is strongest, weakest where it is weakest, and a non-event where it does not occur. To understand things in detail requires details, like comparing two or more charts, and not general commentary. The same is true with natal charts.
This leads me to answer publicly a question I have often been asked, and that is, “How many students have you initiated over the years?” I have lead or participated in many initiations, but those number of students who I have initiated by my own authority is few. By doing so I was stating that they have the heart and mind to teach others either individually or in the formal setting of a temple, and can act as a 'friend and guide' to those who come to them. They are not perfect, nor in possession of great mystic powers, they are simply solid people who can be relied upon to help others on the Path of Return. If they do not know the answer they know how to find it. They are, reliable. How many have I said this about? Over the last fifteen years it has been a total of six men and women.
In Light on the Path – A Study Guide for Qabala, Alchemy & Astrology there is a section that briefly addresses this notion of 'certification' and learning support being offered by the Institute for Hermetic Studies. It is a total of one paragraph in length. The reason is simple: the Institute for Hermetic Studies would very much like your trust and support in allowing us to be your “authority of choice” in these matters. We very much would like to have a small army of certified students and instructors across the globe who can be counted on to provide solid, reliable, and helpful instruction in the Hermetic Arts and Sciences. However, this is not the primary or even secondary mission of the Institute or purpose for writing Light on the Path. In fact, it is quite the opposite. In Light on the Path an outline of study for four or more years was provided, complete with extensive questions and tests for students and group leaders so they can self-assess themselves. You see, we want people to read and use Light on the Path as their guide of choice for both independent and small group practice. What does this have to do with certification? Very simple. If someone is certified by the Institute for Hermetic Studies they are being tested on everything that is in that book. So, you know what they are supposed to know. Now, if you want to be quizzed by us and sent a certificate that verifies your knowledge in those areas listed in Light on the Path we can arrange for that to be done. However, if you don't that is fine as well. In the end, what matters is that you study and practice an effective path, and, that you know what questions to ask of those who would jockey for your trust and dollars in the guise of your spiritual guide. In Light on the Path some answers to these questions have been provided to assist you in refining your journey – and hopefully that of others - on the Path of Return.