Back before the followers of my spiritual path thought to call that path “Wicca”, they called it “Witchcraft”. Of course, to the average mundane person, that conjures images of random spellcasting amongst many other stereotypical images of what defines being a Witch.
I admit that, even after reading Sybil Leek’s book The Complete Art of Witchcraft, my interest was really peaked by all the magickal possibilities I thought Witchcraft held for me. I was far from thinking about the spiritual aspects and possibilities. Naïve is a polite word for where I was when I found someone to teach me all about it. I had no idea what to ask or what to expect.
Thanks to the passage of 40 years and the internet, most people seeking a path have access to much more information than was available to me at the time. That doesn’t mean that misconceptions or a lack of any conceptions doesn’t still exist. There is as much misinformation and watered down information as there is good, reliable information about the path that has come to be called Wicca. There is also a HUGE diversity of information – all of which is valid for those who practice it as their tradition.
As I have always said to you, and shall continue to re-emphasize, I can only speak from my own experience, learning, and practice of these 41 years as a Wiccan. What I believe is that we have reached a time where those who are seeking a spiritual path – and particularly the path of Wicca – should know what it is that they want from that experience. Are you solely looking to learn magick? Are you seriously seeking communion with those beings we refer to as “the Gods and Goddesses”? Are you on a quest to find your True/Higher Self? Do you have a desire to help others and/or teach? These are important questions that need answering before you seek out any person or group to teach you.
Not all groups teach all things and this is why a person seeking to be taught by others should have some idea of what they are seeking to learn. An example of this would be if you are looking for a group that will not only teach you about the history and tradition of that path, but also about healing through the used of herbs and stones. You find a group, but they don’t do any herbology, not even an introduction to it, and, although they are very thorough in the teaching of their tradition and its history, believe that stones make nice jewelry but don’t use them for healing purposes. Would you really feel satisfied with them and what they teach? That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with what they teach, but are they ‘right’ for you?
When I found a teacher, it didn’t take me too long to figure out that she really didn’t know much. She charged $10 per lesson and I could live with that, even back in 1974, but when she taught the same lesson three weeks in a row, for a total of $30, I left feeling like I was definitely NOT learning what I should as a practitioner of Witchcraft.
What that experience did do for me was to make me determined that when I became a teacher of Witchcraft I would at least give my students an introduction to the many subjects that I felt were related to the practice of this spiritual path. Did I know all of them? Heck, no! However, I was willing to learn for my own enlightenment and to be able to pass it on. I also determined that if a student asked a question and I didn’t know the answer, I would admit I didn’t know the answer but would be more than willing to help them find the answer. In today’s jargon, a definite win/win situation!
Once the gal I got in the Craft with (see my article in the Journey Log section of this site) and I reached our Third Degree, we started a small group that met for teaching and learning in the afternoons once every two weeks. It started with us doing reports that we presented to the group and that would lead to discussions. Those discussions generally led to more things we wanted to research for another time. Those were interesting and enlightening times.
Where it all ended up was with Temple of Wicca having a curriculum that it has taught for the best part of 35 years or more. So what do we teach? Well, there are different things that are taught at each stage of initiation in the Temple’s tradition. Of course there is the history of this spiritual path, but there is also the particulars that make up our tradition. There is also ritual performance and how to cast a Circle. Is there a main focus? I would say, “Yes.” That focus is on knowing yourself. Peeling away the layers of programming and illusion that have been given to us throughout the course of our lives in order to find the real being underneath all that. That particular “lesson” is ongoing and can take years, if not decades. It courses throughout all the other lessons taught here.
Ah, but there’s more! We recognized early on that there was no way we could teach every subject in-depth. If we did that, it would take students decades between degrees. While it’s true that no one who comes here to learn does so in the usual ‘year and a day’ between initiations, it is also true that we didn’t want students to be dedicated at 29 and be 79 when they reached Third Degree. So, we settled for something somewhat in-between. While we still believe that there are many subjects connected to the practice of Wicca, we have come to recognize that we can’t cover them all and the ones that we do cover, depending on what they are, are “introductions” to that subject so that a student has an awareness of them. We feel that if a particular subject ‘calls’ to a student, they will investigate it further on their own and we will be happy to help them do that, if asked. There are a few subjects that we go a littler further into depth with as well.
Finally, I give you the curriculum of our Temple for your contemplation. Keep in mind, besides what is listed here, there are reading lists and reports to do from which you can gain even more insight and knowledge.
Dedicant classes include: Ritual Performance, Knowing Yourself, The Goddess, The God, Basic Astrology, Divination, History 1, History 2 and Magick.
Neophyte classes include: Specifics of the Coven and the Laws, Tools and their Consecration, Circle Casting, Basic Herbs, Amulets and Talismans, Meditation, Karma, Reincarnation, Hypnosis 1 and 2, the Human Aura, History of the Sabbats and Basic Spellcasting.
First Degree classes include: Vocabulary, Ritual Writing, Public Relations, Wholistic Healing 1, 2 and 3, Astral Projection 1 and 2.
Second Degree classes include: Interpretation and Understanding of Laws and Ritual Passages, Special Rites, Forming a Coven and Your Responsibilities as its Leader, Administrative Information, Techniques of being a Counselor and Arbitrator, and Being a High Priestess or High Priest in the Pagan/Wiccan/Magickal Community.
There are tests and final exams for all this as well and evaluations by both us and the student as to whether they are ready to move forward to the next Degree.
It has always been, and continues to be, important to us to turn out well-informed, enlightened High Priestesses and High Priests who will go out and, in turn, do the same for others who are seeking to learn of this spiritual path. Quantity doesn’t matter. Quality does. We are more interested in helping others to learn about themselves and this spiritual path than seeing how many we can claim to have made a High Priestess or High Priest.
If this information does nothing else, I hope it will help some of you, who are still seeking that ‘right’ group/teacher, to think about what it is that you truly want to learn when choosing a spiritual path. If it helps even one of you do that, then it has done what I’ve set out to do. <smile>
If this leads any of you to think we might be who you’ve been looking for, then please feel to contact me. You can find me on Facebook (Samantha Herron) or you can email me at Durga1974@aol.com.