"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
How many times has that statement been seen and heard? How many times has the potential student been frustrated by it, feeling they are indeed ready, but nobody is around?
Many who are new to Wicca truly want to learn. They feel they have properly prepared themselves for the learning, reading the right books, buying their altar tools and ritual supplies, and so they start looking for a teacher. Not all who seek actually find, however. Sometimes there are no teachers in the physical area. Sometimes Internet learning just doesn't have the right "fit." Some may even find a teacher, and the teacher declines to accept them as a student. How could this be?
Many may have an unreasonable expectation of their teachers. The stereotypical "kind old crone" or the yoda-like all patient jedi master are few and far between. Teachers of Wicca are often not what they at first seem. They don't all wear black, smell like nag champa, and wear 20 large silver pentacles. They don't necessarily carry an athame on their belt, wave an incense filled censer around, and offer you wine from a silver chalice. They may be your mail carrier, your waitress, your lawyer or your doctor. Or, they may be your mother, father, sister or brother. Or even your cat.
You do not necessarily need a specialized teacher in order to teach you Wicca. You do not need to be in a coven. You do not need a mentor to take you through specific lessons. All of these things may be quite helpful, but they are not necessary. Solitary practitioners often have at least as close a relationship with Deity as a coven full of people. Energy manipulation can be as strong with just one as it is with 100.
That said, many still may want to find a teacher. As one who has been a mentor, teacher and leader, Kestra has a few suggestions for those who seek a specific teacher.
First: be realistic about your experiences. Occasionally, the 18 year old "high priestess" will appear to pretend to ask for advice, when they actually want to show a group how much they know. This "copping an attitude" is a massive turn off to any teacher (as well as to most of her students). If one feels they know it all, why waste the time of a teacher?
On the other hand, if you have read several books, have done some practice, or have had experience in a family tradition or a coven, don't tell the teacher that you are a neophyte. Don't be ashamed of your personal journey, whether or not you have formal teaching. Your experiences are important to the lesson plans your teacher may decide upon.
Second: Do not approach a teacher with preconceived notions of what you should be learning in what order. Nothing turns off a teacher more than a brand new student who tells them how and what to teach. One of the points to finding a teacher is to let them decide what important points need to be learned in what order. The student who starts off with "teach me spells and potions" will have a far more difficult time finding an appropriate teacher than one who asks about Wicca in general.
Third: Show respect. You are essentially asking a someone you may not know well to provide you with something you didn't have before. You're asking for a significant amount of energy, time, and effort from a teacher. You are also asking them to take responsibility for your actions in the eyes of the teacher's community. None of what you're asking for is trivial. It is a sacred pact between teacher and student in Wicca, and you must understand the sacrifice that a teacher takes in taking you on as a student. This is not the time to complain about having too much work, or how "mean" your teacher might be. If it isn't working out between yourself and your teacher, explain the specific issues, and part amicably if that becomes necessary. Most good teachers will understand if your styles are or become incompatible and will often even help you find another teacher.
Fourth: Don't disregard the Internet. Internet based lessons can create a solid base for later learning. Of course, there are many different types of Internet learning, of variable quality, but some is actually quite useful. Some of these programs offer first, second, or even third degree training online. Some are supplemented with interactive training with a mentor or a teacher, chat rooms, video or audio conferencing, etc. Investigate thoroughly, especially if there is a charge for classes.
Fifth: Don't discount what you can teach yourself from books and other materials. You can slog through quite a bit of material, discarding that which doesn't work for you, and devouring that which does. Put together a compendium of materials that work for you into your personal Book of Shadows, and refer to it often.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Sometimes, that teacher may even be you.