By Madame X © 2004
House of the Dreaming strongly recommends the mentorship approach, because we feel that it is the best way for the Initiate to learn the ways of the Family, explore their nature, define their talents, establish themselves in the community, and settle personal/private issues that may arise in the dayside-family, work place, etc. that may require special attention from an experienced party. The alternatives to mentorship are trial and error and enrolling in classes… unfortunately, there are not too many classes offered in the basics of Vampyrism or the principles of Therianothropy… Yoga, Tai Chi, and comparative religion class will only get you so far.
The Old School term for Mentor is "Sire" which implies Father. As such, a Mentor will dedicate their personal time to the Initiate because they wish to nurture and council a new member of our family, this, in contrast to someone who may be just too busy or unavailable. There is a mutual agreement of loyalty, dedication and respect between Mentor and Ward. The Mentor should schedule regular conversations and periodically assign research, projects, meditative studies and introspection to determine the Ward's interests, progress and resolve. Part of the Mentor's duty is to direct the Ward towards any answers they may need in order to satisfy any Household requirements like the completion of the Dream Book or any ascension ordeals. It's good to know that the Initiate has a designated person to turn to, to be a sounding board for ideas and to give solid council. A Mentor can also determine the Initiate's level of aptitude and readiness for certain roles, duties or ascensions within the household and community. Plus, the Mentor/Ward relationship is more than a student/teacher association. Think of the relationship between Batman and Robin, there is a friendship, a strong sense of kinship, family even.
Similarly, not only is the Ward under the protection and tutelage of the Mentor, but the Ward should also act as the eyes, ears and as a direct extension of the Mentor, helping, watching and protecting when needed. The more service the Ward provides to the Mentor, the more learning actually takes place. Another way to think of it, is as the relationship between the medieval Knight and Page; where the Page aspires to Knighthood and in exchange for tutelage offers his services to the Knight.
HotD does not arbitrarily assign a Mentor. We hope that the Dedicant gets to know the house members and establishes connections to at least one of us, and asks that member if they can take-on the role of Mentor to them. Only in rare instances will a Mentor approach the Ward with the offer. When possible, it behooves students to select the best teacher for them, someone that has either gone thru the same life experiences, has similar background, or similar perspectives. The student needs to feel a sense of respect and allow themselves to be guided by the Mentor. Taking on a Mentor who is a prestigious individual in the community commands more weight and respect, than being tutored by someone who may be very knowledgeable, yet unrecognized. As a new member of the community, it is not uncommon to be asked, "Who is your Sire/Adra/Mentor"; ideally, the Initiate should be able to respond with the name of their Mentor, as well as their Mentor's lineage. House of the Dreaming reserves mentorship duties for those that have attained at least Calmaeship; part of our requirements for Calmaeship is community involvement. We cannot officially endorse Initiates as Mentors, as they may not fully meet our internal household criteria for mentorship. In other words, any member can act as mentor to anyone in or out of the family, but The House will only "officially recognize" as Mentors, those that are Calmae or higher.
Generally, a Mentor/Ward relationship is for the continued duration of either party's interaction with the community at large. Regardless if the Ward is an Initiate or an Elder, they should be able to always seek out their Mentor, requiring council less frequently as they progress through the ascension process. In most traditional circles, the Mentor is responsible for their respective Wards' conduct, and to some degree so is their house. Although HotD recognizes that the behavior of the Ward reflects back on the Mentor, we are in complete awareness that any Dedicant/member is a responsible adult and therefore ultimately accountable for 'their own' actions. Under no circumstances do we support tyranny or condone blind followers.
Nothing prevents any dedicant from seeking a mentor in or outside of the Family. However, it is advisable that a potential HotD member (Dedicant) chooses internally, rather than a mentor from another household; as doctrines, or personal beliefs, may jar or be in direct conflict with our Family doctrine and cause possible conflicts of interest in the future. Similarly, HotD recommends that members of our house who wish to mentor focus their effort where they will reap the most rewards; i.e.: choosing Wards/students from the membership/dedicant pool only. The primary reason for this recommendation is so that the family can benefit from the mentoring effort; as the Initiate will one day become an elder of our house. Secondly, the Ward/Student relationship requires a great amount of time. If either party is not a member of the House, this work remains unnoticed within the family; therefore we advise that such responsibilities be kept within the house. Another reason why mentorship should be kept in-house is the possible circumstance that the Mentor moves or for some reason is unable to continue mentoring, at which point another family member, being familiar with the Ward, can resume the instruction, with good knowledge of the prior Mentor's methods and direction. In addition, should any conflict ever arise between Mentor and Ward, the family can intervene and resolve the issue, if it is an in-house relationship. However, if either member of the relationship is not part of the family, then the conflict may spread to the community at large…which would be a really bad thing. Along the same lines, the family acts as a support system for both the Ward and the Mentor; without this support system, the long-term success of the relationship may be in jeopardy.
Certainly, HotD does not impose any stipulations on Mentor/Ward relationships whether they are officially recognized or not; we trust each and every one of our family members and know that they will take the best course of action for themselves, the household and the community.
There is some concern about how likely it is, given the current size of Our Family and the potential for Dedicant-turnover: How probable is it for a full member to take any particular dedicant on in a mentorship capacity. This can not be answered by an mathematical forumula. It depends not only upon the quantity of Inner Circle members verse Dedicants, but on the amount of time and energy that the Inner Circle members can put into being a mentor. That is, presuming that you only see the Inner Circle members as potentially fit to be mentors, but that's a false assumption.
In truth, everyone who you encounter can be a mentor to you in some way... perhaps small, perhaps profound. Even the random bum you pass walking down the street presents some lesson for you, if you are ready to receive that lesson.
Everyone who comes to the House of the Dreaming's forums, regardless of how deeply initiated into the House, will have lessons that they can offer you and therefore can be a mentor to you.
Obviously developing stronger ties towards the current Inner Circle may expediate the process of being initiated into it yourself, but don't feel that you need to be in the Inner Circle to learn.
There is very little beyond the privledge and honour of being called "Family" that we deny towards our Outer Circles (which is no small thing -- but shouldn't be your motivation for being here).
If we have something to teach and have the time, energy, and inspiration to teach it, we will make the information available, or we will help guide you to the sources that you should look at. We wouldn't generally deny you access to information you need on the basis of your not yet being initiated. If we know you seek certain information and we feel you are ready for it, if we can answer your questions, we will... either publicly or privately as dictated by the particulars.
Nor do we claim that we should be looked to as an exclusive source of truth / information / ideas. While we do hold an exclusive policy against the members of other Houses (or family like structures) being initiated into our House, we do encourage interaction with the members of the entire community, including those of other Houses.
Don't worry, you'll get the information you need either from us or from elsewhere as you need and are ready for it. If you find you aren't getting the infoirmation, its not because you aren't an Inner Circle member but because you aren't ready for it. In fact, it is my contention that the only answers you ever need are actually somewhere inside you -- the only thing that anyone else can ever offer you are keys to unlock these truths. But you don't need someone else's keys -- when you are ready for the answers, you'll be able to access them freely.
Most often, the answers we don't see are those we don't want to see because they don't fit with our current paradigm of how the world works or should work. It's not that the answers are being hidden, we just refuse to see.
It has been said, "the master will appear when the student is ready": while I wouldn't say this is necessarily true in a literal sense -- the master doesn't need to be a single and physical human -- I believe this is completely true in the sense that the road takes you were you need to be when you need to be there and you'll find the lessons you need everywhere along that road.
I'd even caution against investing yourself too far emotionally into the concept because this can have unintended magickal consequences -- bringing someone to you to answer what you think you want (containing all your preconceived notions of a master-- but limited in potential because he/she won't go beyond your paradign), but not really bringing what you need (and possibly bring things you don't need because of issues you might not have contemplated among your preconceived notions). A physically embodied master might be a nice touch and might be helpful, but it isn't a matter of necessity... and the wrong "master" can be confusing, misleading, abusive of the relationship, create false feelings of dependence....
We are here for you as mutual possibilities and desires permit... Don't worry about finding a master / mentor or prolonged initiation.... Just have faith in your own path to bring you what you need when you need it -- if a mentor is to be a part of that path, so be it... if not, so be it also.