How Can Ethics Training Strengthen Your Group?

—A short interview with instructor & author Anne Hill

What does it mean to be an ethical magical practitioner?
How can you tell if a teacher or coven leader has good boundaries or has crossed them?
When we step into leadership, how can we make sure we are able to do right by our communities?

What’s the difference between ethics and boundaries? If you think of the self as a circle, ethics is at the center. Our personal code of ethics is how we want to be treated and how we treat others in the world. Boundaries are where we say no, how we filter out random experiences in our lives, how we make choices and react. The coolest thing about this class is that we create a personal code of ethics. For many students over the years, it’s been a time to reflect on, for example, “Gee, what happened back then when I was studying with that high priestess, that was an ethical dilemma, and now I have the chance to think about whether and how I might do things differently.”

I just love teaching the Boundaries and Ethics course. I’m always surprised by the vitality of the class, the variety of life experience that each student brings to the group, every time. What’s great about Boundaries & Ethics is that the class always just takes off, because it’s a very practical class, specifically designed to face all the issues that we face, whether we are public school teachers, or librarians, or chaplains, or just involved in our covens or communities – all of our interactions, it’s about having our own compass intact when it comes to representing ourselves and our religion in our community.

I try to give students a grounding in historical ethics, because Paganism is fortunate to have an extremely long history of philosophy and values and ethics in writing. So we can touch on some of that to create a code of ethics that works in the modern context. Like every other spiritual path and religion out there, what works in terms of ethics in a religious context won’t necessarily be in alignment with civil laws. So we spend a lot of time talking in the class about when those things bump into each other. Like how do we honor the code of our coven versus talking to the police. We talk about work, family, relationship, etc., situations. As a teacher, I love the level of engagement in the classroom because we really get to hash this stuff out.

If you’ve read Anne Hill on Huffington Post, listened to her Dream Talk Radio, or read Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions, you know what a vibrant and gifted person she is.