Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sacred Cauldron's Lesson


“A Lesson In Humanity And Other Folklore...”-

By MajikVixen (bluevioletvixen.lorefield)

What does religion in Second Life mean to you?  Some people do not separate real life from Second Life, they admit that SL is just an extension of their real life.  Is it therefore important to find some spiritual grounding for your avatar?  I happened to think so, until I ran into a situation that made me feel really uncomfortable. 

It began with me recently seeing another article on Sacred Cauldron, Witch School, Wiccan Seminary, part of the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, and I immediately took some personal interest.  I visited the Sacred Cauldron sim, and a lovely helper greeted me and answered some immediate questions.  She informed me that she volunteered to help pay for her classes, and they treated her very well.  I honestly liked the feel I got when I was there, I was given the impression that I could enroll and volunteer too.  It had been a dream of mine to fulfill my spiritual needs and to find a new place to belong to, especially since I spend so much time in Second Life.

She directed me to the application part of the Wiccan Seminary website, where it asked me for personal things like my legal name, phone number, birth date/time/place, current occupation, educational background, magical training, High Priest/ess contact info., and medical/mental/disability/learning issues, etc.  I filled all this out, of course, in good faith (part of the Wiccan Rede is "An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"), thinking that perhaps I would be on my way to a scholarship. 

The next thing I did was contact Belladonna Laveau (belladonna.yarrowroot).  The helper said I should contact her, as she's the dean, and she would help me figure out what classes I needed (I had completed previous Wicca training in real life, and I was unsure as to how that worked with this new school).  I also informed Belladonna that I was looking for a possible scholarship, and explained that I was on a fixed income, various other things, long story short, I'm not Richie Rich, but that my intentions were pure and dedicated (I even offered to help teach a class on The Secret / The Law of Attraction, as compensation).  She got back to me a few hours later explaining that they understandably needed some proof of my income to qualify me for a scholarship, and a letter of approval from my current HP/s.  I confirmed with her where to send my proof of income to, and that my training was complete (but that she was welcome to contact my HP/s).  She thought that was wonderful, and that they should be able to set me up the next business day.  So I sent them  proof of my RL income to the e-mail address she requested it be sent to, and gave her my HP/s contact information.

Upon doing so, I received two e-mails (one of which included a manual PDF):

"Welcome to the Wiccan Seminary!

     "Merry Meet,

     "Thank you for your interest in WiccanSeminary.EDU. I am contacting you to help you register and transition into campus life. Please take a few moments to create a profile for yourself on www.wiccanseminary.us and set up your subscription payment at: http://www.wiccanseminary.edu/WSTS/tuition.html

     "Once you have set up your profile on the class website www.wiccanseminary.US and set up your subscription for payment for your classes, please take a moment to look over the 100 Level courses. We will need you to send us your two elective choices so you may be placed into classes.

     "Please remember that your monthly subscription covers your core classes and two electives and is under your control. We can not stop or terminate the subscription from our end and when you complete your schooling, you will need to terminate the subscription unless you wish to continue to support our efforts for Wicca.

     "We have you scheduled for Joining the Circle: Orientation, which occurs Wednesday at 7pm PST

    "Have you created an avatar in Second Life and visited the Virtual Online Campus, Sacred Cauldron? Have you joined us at any of the online classes, rituals, or events?

     "There are so many fun things to do everyday. Our next session began on April 3, 2017, but you are welcome to join in your classes once the registration process is completed. I’d be happy to meet you on campus, show you around and introduce you to everyone. When would you have time to set up your avatar on Secondlife.com and meet with me?

     "Please remember that you can always find updated information on the Google Calendar in the lobby of the Castle on SecondLife or on www.wiccanseminary.edu website. To see the Session Dates, view the calendar by month and look up at the top of the calendar for extended date listings.

     "I look forward to hearing from you. I am attaching a copy of your Student Manual that has lots of great information that you will need in order to succeed here at WiccanSeminary.

     "Blessed Be,

     "Tarren/Badger

     "Enrollment Coordinator

     "Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary"



"Greetings  ---RL-Name-Removed-For-Privacy---

     "Thank you so much for applying for a Service Scholarship at the WSTS.

     "The Scholarship Program offers access to classes in exchange for your skills and effort in a given position.  The minimum time requirement for any Scholarship position is between 15 and 20 hours hours per week.

     "Before you are granted access to your classes, you must complete a 30-day probationary period. If you can be placed in a position where your service can be of value to the school, your tuition will be waived as long as you uphold your scholarship commitments.

     "You will need to plan on attending the Career Counselor's meeting at 5:00pm SLT on Wednesday's which is posted on the calendar in the Lobby of the Sacred Cauldron. You can also contact Capewind Dept. Director or Belladonna Laveau, Dean of Wiccan Seminary.

    " We are so glad to have you as a part of our growing student community, and look forward to working with you as you grow with us.

     "Should you need immediate access to your classes, you are welcome to move forward with paying tuition for your classes. There are several tuition levels that may be able to help you.

     "Bright Blessings,

    "Capewind,
    "Volunteer Director"


To both of these e-mails, I responded by explaining my real-life work schedule, and that Wednesday would be a problem for me, and to please help.

I waited a couple of days, and Wednesday anxiously drew near.  I then, finally decided to contact Belladonna again.  She responded a few hours later that she never got my e-mails and that they would not be able to provide me a service scholarship because I work.  That the scholarship requires 15 hours of work a week, and already I was having scheduling issues.  Furthermore, that I should consider a hardship discount instead.

I was baffled.  Now, the e-mails I got, looked very much like "welcome aboard" letters to me.  I was just concerned about getting my initial bearings and welcome class underway.  The manual I had been sent along with these e-mails prided itself on the students being able to earn their degree through just the use of the website, and that it wasn't necessary to go inworld (it also contradicts itself and says that at least 1 hour a week for class labs is required as a Freshman).  My main concern however, that I also shared with Belladonna, was that a school would turn down a scholarship to someone who was trying to better themselves by working while being on a fixed income.  And how would I not have enough time for spirituality and their school?  In SL, I have been self motivated enough to have my own store, my own sim, write for the SL Newser, write the Lindo TOS, have a great rank in the Fish Hunt game, and had even worked my way up to Gateway Guide in Faerie Crossing and edit their Magic Messenger.  I additionally pointed out that this could be the beginning of a good business relationship, as once I was properly trained by her school, I could broaden their schedule to other hours that weren't previously available for people all over the world.  I explained that I gave her all my details upfront, especially RL info., but now, because of my RL work schedule, my scholarship was no longer a consideration?

Belladonna responded that wasn't about me not being able to attend events, that it was about the needs of the school, as scholarships are not guaranteed.  They found that people with already full schedules do not do well in scholarship programs, and based on the information I provided, I was not qualified.  She wanted someone who would be reliable in their job duties and someone who can be respectful to others when there is a problem.  Consequently, there were no job openings, not even for mascot (which I filled out the application for as well).  She added that she was not discriminating against me, she was just following the policies set forth by the school.  To that, I replied that it seemed she was judging me unfairly, and that a disclaimer would have been nice before I took a chance in sending them all my RL information in hopes of such. 

Lastly, Belladonna explained that the 2 received e-mails I got with the manual that made me think I had already been accepted, were actually form letters (as in, pre-written corporate letters that everyone gets).  She asked if I had noticed the part where they mentioned my monthly subscription covering core classes and 2 electives.  I told her I did notice that part, and I figured someone would respond to my e-mails and explain it to me, or that they would be covered in orientation on Wednesday.  She then said that she had responded to my application (during this last instant message), and that the others had written her about the fact that I did not qualify, and wanted her to make a decision so I wouldn't have to wonder any longer.  After figuring out the circumstances and feeling a bit duped, my last reply was, "This whole thing has been a fantastic journey of wanting something and not being good enough to get it, but I thank you for the lesson and wish you well," and it seemed rather hypocritical but expected, that her last words were, "Blessed be."


I'm sure there are probably lots of testimonials that would say otherwise, however, my final thoughts for those of us who are genuinely kind people and trust too easily (and can therefore be taken advantage of): 

♦NEVER give out your real life information and make yourself vulnerable, unless you are SURE that it is worth it, and you have researched the crap out of the asking party's intent.  Just because a website looks official, doesn't mean that it actually is.  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

♦Any spiritual school, especially from Second Life, that is going to send out form letters to applicants, does not strike me as professional, instead they come off in the end as impersonal, manipulative, and not worth any investment.  If they give the impression that they are too busy for an applicant, then their goal of trying to coerce money (or other things) out of potential applicants seems counterproductive.

♦Always be on your guard; never be so desperate to fill a void in your heart that you end up throwing yourself or others under the bus.  Trust takes time for a reason, but all things of value are worth the wait.  Sometimes being an overachiever and being on top of everything means to have the virtue of patience.

I wish you all well in your SL: go forth, being true to yourselves, as well as wary.

By MajikVixen
MajikVixen@GMail.com

Editor's Note. I contacted Belladonna Laveau about the matter. Her response was "MajikVixen had applied for a service scholarship, meaning she would be allowed to attend school in exchange for working for us. Based on the information she provided in her application, she does not qualify for a scholarship. We welcome all students, and we make it possible for every person, who truly wants to go to school to do so. We have policies and limits, that protect the integrity of the school, the applicant and the rest of the student body. We have many hardship programs, which fit into almost any budget. We did our best to help MajikVixen, but were unfortunately unable to meet her demands."

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