Two preliminary steps - asking for and checking for references, and asking for a letter of self-introduction - will assist you screen out the obviously-inappropriate contacts that you will receive.
If the seeker has had any prior contact along with the Pagan community, they may be capable to supply you with references. While it''s not fair to reject a new person for simply being new, and without prior contacts, when references are available, they can be extremely helpful. How much weight you should give to a reference will depend upon your opinion of the person who provided it. Consider:
- Is the reference honest? It pays to have a number of independent notions of if or if not the person providing a reference is trustworthy. Sometimes people will give good references for a problem student, simply to shift the burden of dealing along with that person on to some other teacher.
- Is the reference insightful? Occasionally a person will be quite honest but not specifically insightful - some people have an ingrained aversion to expressing any sort of criticism of a third party, thinking that it is somehow unfair or not socially acceptable. All of us have our blind spots that can reduce the accuracy of our references also our own screening. Judy, for instance, is a notorious sucker for musicians.
- Does the reference have the same criteria for a good student as you do? They may attain a different notion of good character or relevant talents as compared to your own. No matter how well they know the seeker, they may not make out you or your group well enough to judge how well you would fit together.