Consider the following a sample of what one teacher might cover with students leading toward initiation.
This is very much ‘a sample of what I would teach and the order I would teach it in’. It’s an example, not a rigid set of requirements (my requirements are more about the end results – what someone can do at the end of Dedicant training – not the steps to get there.)
There’s a lot of material listed here.
I’d expect to cover most of this content in 2 classes a month (each lasting 2-3 hours) plus some discussion at time after ritual. Students would generally plan on 3-5 hours at home each week, some time in practical exercises and personal practice, some in written or creative work (not counting reading time or the deity projects described below). So, if you have less time for your learning, you might expect it to take longer to cover this many topics.
I’m one person.
I have reasons for what I include, and where I put it, and why it’s there -but there are lots of other very viable ways to teach religious witchcraft, to share a tradition, to build skills and knowledge, and much more.
There are things on this list that a lot of people don’t teach directly (finding and evaluating information, the bits about arts and music) because they’re important to me or the group focus. There are things I don’t teach substantially here (much in the way of astrology or herbs, for example, other than some basics) that many people spend much more time on. (I think they’re useful, but I think they’re something people can explore in other ways, or that’s a good focus for post-initiation work.
I’m more flexible than this list might suggest.
I put the sequence together to remind me that there are some things where sequence matters, and that there are some things I want to cover in a specific order (but that’s partly about personal preference). But in practice, I’m just as likely to work with a checklist (to make sure we cover everything), a rough order, and go where makes sense.
I’ve italicised the parts that are really only relevant for group work (but left them in, so you can see what we cover.) I’ve edited a few tradition specific exercises/etc. to say “Trad-specific exercise” for the same reason.
Basic goals for the Dedicant year:
(Again, you, your teacher, other groups, may have a different set of goal. These are mine.)
By the time a student completes their Dedicant training and is being considered for initiation, they should:
- Know whether they wish to make the commitments of initiation (and whether they wish to make those commitments with us in specific.)
- Can create and manage their own personal magical and ritual needs in most circumstances.
- Have the skills and ability to manage group work in a small and emotionally intimate setting.
- Know how what we do fits (generally) within the broader Pagan community.
- Be familiar with a range of introductory information about relevant topics (divination, magical systems, ritual design, etc.)
- Develop a meaningful personal practice, including deity relationships.
Note: These are the more quantitative requirements. I also need to feel comfortable initiating this person (connecting my energy very directly with theirs in a lasting commitment), and that they are mature and responsible enough to take on the commitments of initiation. Those are harder to measure – it’s a “Know it when you see it” thing.
In addition to the topics below, I expect students to read 6 books: (I have suggested lists but they can also suggest others.)
- Ritual theory and design.
- Mythology or folklore overview (relevant to whatever culture makes sense).
- A Pagan-relevant fiction book.
- Nature, science, or the world around us.
- A book that they use to develop a meaningful personal practice of some kind (meditation, prayer, music, all sorts of things are possible.)
- A book about an interest you can apply to your religious practice – food, cooking, crafts, art, whatever makes sense for you (and possibly for deities or other entities you’re honouring or focusing on.)
The goal of these is partly to help them develop a basic reference library for some common topics, and also to develop the habit of reading and learning from a wide range of sources. (This is my professional librarian-life brain coming into play.)
I also expect them to complete 9 deity projects: some deities are required (deities the tradition honors or works with regularly), some can be chosen to meet general guidelines (to encourage variety). These include both research (a deity’s culture, background, major myths, etc.) and a creative project. I’ve picked 9 projects rather than 12 so that students have a little flexibility (and they can do them in any order.) A student might form a close connection to a particular deity this way, but a big part of the purpose is to establish good research habits for personal learning later on.
Also expected is that a student will keep a journal (of responses to classes and rituals, dreams, divination, and anything else they think is relevant.) They may be asked to share specific pieces with us (like a response to a ritual or event), but have the chance to edit out other parts first.
Getting to know you stage:
I begin with some simple classes after a prospective student and I have met (and decided there’s a possible fit) but before a student Dedicates. This gives us a chance to get to know each other further, make sure we’re compatible, and that what I can offer is working for them. These don’t cover any details of our tradition, but do cover general material about Paganism, religious witchcraft, our local community, and basic skills that are useful in a wide range of settings. I refer to these as Seeker classes, and the post-commitment classes as Dedicant classes.
- General points listed might be covered either via reading before class, or by lecture/discussion in class (in which case, the class will be a bit longer) or some of both. They’re basically “What we’re covering this class” notes.
- Discussion means that it’s a topic we talk about in specific (back and forth conversation, rather than an information sharing lecture with questions).
- Exercise means we work through the exercise together (with the teacher giving feedback, advice, and other ideas, as well as sometimes demonstrating.)
- Assignments are things to be turned in at the next class. (Most of these are relatively short and should take no more than 1-2 hours to complete, and many will be much shorter.)
- At Home indicates what they should be working on at home as part of their daily/regular practice to build skills.
Seeker 1: Words and concepts
- Terms and their meanings (how I use them, how other people use them.)
- The ideas behind centering, grounding.
- Discussion: What it means to learn about a new culture and community.
- Discussion: group history and focus, if we haven’t already discussed in the intro meeting.
- Exercise: Introduction to breathing exercises.
- At home: Breathing exercise practice.
Seeker 2: Playing well with others
- Etiquette (basic ritual etiquette, common practices in community)
- Shielding theory
- Discussion: talk about what it means to work with other people – how to do that in a way that respects individual learning and group work.
- Exercises: practice centering and grounding.
- Assignment: write an ethics statement.
- At home: breathing, centering, grounding.
Seeker 3: Ritual and magical theory (intro)
- What is magic?
- Ritual, why we do it, and what we do.
- Discussion: ritual experiences (Q&A)
- Assignment: What kinds of rituals have you been to/done? What did you think of them? How did they compare to rituals you’ve been to with us?
- Exercises: Continue practicing previous, add simple shielding and visualisation practices.
Seeker 4: Developing a daily practice
- What is daily practice? Why do it? Shrines, altars, etc.
- Self-care and how it fits into Craft work, including getting rid of habits that don’t serve us anymore.
- Discussion: What I do (and don’t do) daily, and why, looking at what might work for them, what they’re interested in, suggesting ideas. Seeking balance in regular practice.
- Exercise: Learn about cleansing a space. Practice doing it.
- Assignment: Come up with 3-5 possible times in your day when you might include a short daily practice.
- At home: Cleanse and prepare a personal shrine space.
- At home: Continue practicing visualisation and other previous exercises regularly (daily, ideally.)
Seeker 5: Dedication
- What does dedication involve? Discussion of hopes/boundaries/limits of training.
- Dedication names (their use as a tool)
- Oathbound material (what’s covered, what isn’t, what they can share).
- Discussion: review of group expectations, what it means to work in a small group. Preparation for dedication ritual, talking to others about your path choices.
- Exercises: review previous exercises. Are any still difficult? Work on those together.
- Assignment: review the dedication oath specifics, and ask any questions (before the scheduled ritual…)
You may wish to perform a dedication ritual in solitary practice at about this point. Lots of books have one. I suggest keeping it simple. A commitment along the lines of “I commit to learning more about [chosen path], and whether it is what calls to me, from now until [whatever Sabbat a year from now]” is a good place to start. Don’t make large commitments you aren’t sure you can keep.
Also, you may have noted that a lot of what’s up on this site is material I cover in the Seeker sessions. That’s pretty intentional. There are some essays you’ll see here that cover material in the Dedicant classes (and will be a few more as I continue to develop the site). However, more of that material gets into either things that are specific to the tradition (and don’t make sense outside that context), or things that I’ve committed to keep private within the tradition.
If you reach this point, and you don’t think what you’ve been doing is a good fit, now’s a good time to go back to square one and readjust what you’re looking at. Ask lots of questions of yourself about what you want, what calls to you, and so on.
Some of these classes would preferably be done in a cast circle, partly so the student gets to hear and see the tradition and group practices frequently (it makes them easier to learn), and partly because some of these exercises are better done in that setting. If you’re working on your own, you’d adapt for your circumstances and comfort.
Class 0 : Administrivia (might be combined with class 1)
- Review student, teacher, and group expectations, share group practices document for students.
- Discuss hopes, boundaries, other things that might come up.
- Exercises: Work through all core exercises up to this point, and see if there needs to be additional work/practice/etc.
- Assignment: Write up hopes and boundaries for the coming year (to be shared with teacher).
At this point, assume that having a basic personal practice (regular breathing practice, centering, grounding, visualisation practice, and journalling) are all ongoing ‘at home’ work, though they’ll take less and less time as someone practices. Additional bits will get added in later as noted.
Class 1: Self-Awareness
- Multiple intelligences (and relationship to Craft learning)
- Personality types (and relationship to Craft learning)
- Useful tools (journalling, etc.)
- Discussion: Learning types, etc (teacher as well.)
- Exercises: More visualisation (short guided meditation focusing on different sensory modes, etc.)
- Assignment: Take relevant quizzes for typing/mode preference
- At home: Begin reading ritual theory book.
Class 2: How the Craft is not Like Other Learning
- Teaching overview (how we teach, and why)
- Discuss information ethics (copyright, credit, and other issues)
- Pagan Research 101 method.
- Exercises: Cleanse space. Review other core exercises as needed.
- Assignment: locate 5 useful Pagan resources from the public library system. (These do not necessarily have to be obviously Pagan books). Discuss what search approaches were used.
- At home: Continue reading ritual theory book.
Class 3: Energy
- Energy theory (including polarity)
- Intro to psychism
- Discussion: Psychism + energy theory.
- Exercises: Energy sensing. Psychic exercises. Charging/cleansing an item.
- Assignment: What places/situations make you feel X? (comfortable, uncomfortable, etc). Discuss at least 5.
- Assignment: What do we do in ritual that is not commonly mentioned in books? Be prepared to discuss.
- At home: Continue reading ritual theory book.
Class 4: Ritual theory
- Ritual theory book read
- Witch’s Pyramid + elements
- Discussion: Why do we do ritual? Review of what we do in specific.
- Exercise: Banish (and methods)
- Exercise: Bless (and methods)
- Exercise: Walk step by step through other ritual parts – talking about the energy shifts as the teacher does them. (if time)
- At home: Cleanse and bless your shrine space or other home spaces.
- At home: Begin reading book on mythology.
Class 5: Psychic hygiene and psychism:
- Cleansing, shielding, home blessings, wards. Ethics of shared spaces.
- Psychic skills and related ethics
- Discussion: How these things fit together.
- Exercises: Balancing, auras, psychic skills
- Assignment: create something that describes what feels safe/secure/whole to you (i.e. your home being a safe and protected place.) Could be writing, could be art, could be something else.
- At home: continue reading mythology book.
Class 6: Mythology and deity:
- Judy Harrow’s articles on getting to know a deity.
- Mythology book.
- Discussion: Pantheons, initial work with deities. Intercultural issues.
- Assignment: Discuss a pantheon you’re particularly interested in – not an academic research paper, but a “Why am I interested/what intrigues me”.
- At home: Begin working on deity assignments if you have not already. (And add material to previous ones if needed.)
- At home: Begin being aware of potential deities of interest. Light exploration is okay – no commitments yet, though!
Class 7: Magical tools and altars
- Tools in brief
- Altars and shrines in more detail.
- Tool options and alternatives.
- Discussion: Tools and how we use them. Correspondences. Practical tips.
- Exercise: lay out the altar as for group work.
- Exercise: Given a specific ritual focus, discuss how you’d adapt the banish, bless, and quarter calls.
- Exercise: introduction to quarter calls.
- Assignment: Given our standard quarter assignments, come up with 10-15 things associated with each direction or element for you.
- At home: reflect on each of the four directions and elements as you work on the assignment. Begin reading magical theory book. Begin learning the process for quarter calls.
Class 8: Magical persona
- What is a magical persona, how do we use it, names, clothes, and other triggers.
- Group work with others – two person grounding, etc.
- Discussion: various name choices, group shared spaces and tools.
- Exercise: tradition-specific meditation
- Exercise: review quarter calls.
- Assignment: Consider items or options for triggers to help you enter sacred mindset. (Jewelry, name, clothing, etc.)
- At home: start incorporating the above into your personal practice.
Class 9: Symbols and correspondences
- What are symbols? What are correspondences?
- Timing (including some very basic astrology intro)
- Personal associations vs. group associations
- Discussion: come up with various correspondences, and their interrelationships.
- Exercise: tradition-specific meditation #2
- Exercise: practice quarter calls.
- Assignment: List personal correspondences for common goals (prosperity/abundance, health, love, friendship, magic, etc.)
- At home: Create a symbol that represents your hopes for your dedicant year.
10: Magical theory (circle)
- Magical timing, magical ethics
- Discussion: Ritual vs. spellwork (i.e. theurgy vs. thaumaturgy). Spellwork types.
- Exercise: Circle scribe (work through the process: what needs to happen? Practice with teacher saying the words. Practice words alone. Etc.)
- Assignment: Given a spell, highlight what different parts might be trying to do. (3-5 spells)
- At home: Design a simple spell. (don’t do, yet. Just design)
Class 11: Divination
- Divination overview – types, theory, intro to ethics when working with others.
- Exercises + Discussion: Pendulum and methods.
- Exercise: Do the spell you wrote for this class (teacher casting circle)
- Assignment: Select 5 cards from one of our indicated Tarot decks. Outline correspondences and symbols (without looking at a book/guide).
Class 12: Meditation, visualisation, pathworking
- What are these, and how do we use them in personal and group work?
- Discussion: Different meditation options.
- Exercise: tradition-specific practice
- Exercise: tradition-specific meditation #3
- Assignment: Explore a type of meditation that interests you (moving, dance, breathing, guided working, etc.)
- At home: Practice motions for tradition-specific practice. Practice circle scribe.
Class 13: Healing:
- What is healing? Different kinds of healing (physical, self, etc.) Ethics.
- Chakras and energy meridians
- Intro to herbs
- Discussion: Healing modalities and when to use/not use them.
- Exercises: Sending/receiving energy.
- Exercises: Magical first aid (rapid grounding, etc.)
- At home: Create at least one practice that feels healing to yourself – something you can incorporate into daily practice when needed.
Class 14: Ritual, part 2
- When do we do ritual? Wheel of the year theory.
- Personal ritual design. Practical issues.
- Discussion: Our ritual practice.
- Exercise: Practice setting up circle through quarter calls.
- Assignment: Given a sample ritual, what would you have questions about, want to change?
- At home: Practice entire circle up to this point and get comfortable with it. (Add quarters when you feel comfortable.)
Class 15: Tarot
- Tarot overview
- Fool’s Journey
- Spreads and choosing a spread.
- Discussion: Structure. Questions. Patterns. Numbers.
- Exercise: sample readings (a few smaller 3-5 card ones, plus one larger one)
- At home: Try drawing a card a day, or doing a reading a week (your choice.) Keep good notes for review next class.
Class 16: Ritual language
- Language in ritual and words of power
- Standard liturgy pieces to be familiar with (the Charge, the long Rede, etc.)
- Discussion: Language. Deity and ancestor calls.
- Exercises: Circle cast through to deity. Deity and ancestor calls.
- Assignment: Analyse a ritual text of your choice (part of the Charge, the long Rede, our circle cast, the parent group circle cast, or others as suggested.)
- At home: Write at least 2 deity invocations, write at least one ancestor invocation. (Deities of your choice.) You don’t need to do them yet.
- At home: if you have not already started, start reading the Pagan fiction book you’ve chosen.
Class 17: Pagan history and community
- Where do modern Pagan religions come from (in detail)
- Witch wars and other disagreements – cultural baggage.
- Discussion: Living in community – how active do you want to be?
- Exercise: Deity meditation.
- Assignment: Describe at least one ancestor/category of ancestor of some kind (blood, story, kith) who resonates with you. Create something evoking them (art, poem, etc.)
- Assignment: Why do you think we make you read a fiction book? (And why’d you pick the one you chose?)
Class 18: Pagan arts
- How do we incorporate the arts in ritual and personal practice? Ethics of some choices (i.e. Christian music in ritual, filking, etc.)
- Small group ritual design and magical workings
- Pagan fiction book due
- Discussion: Music and dance and art in ritual.
- Exercises: Setting up an altar that feeds all of the senses.
- Exercise: Full circle set-up.
- Assignment: Create a piece of art in some form that could be used in ritual (decoration, music, fabric arts, whatever.)
- At home: Student should practice full circle cast when they can (at least 2-3 times each month) on their own.
Class 19: Our history, and ethics part umpteen
- Our tradition’s history in more depth.
- Lineage, and when it does and doesn’t matter.
- Deeper discussion of magical ethics, community ethics, and so on. Ethical case studies focusing on community issues – confidentiality, privacy, solving differences, etc.
- Assignment: Do you have any questions about the history? Was there anything that surprised you?
Class 20: Being part of a coven
- Group work, group roles, group commitments. Ethics of group work
- Assignment: Skills you could bring to group work, and skills you would like to improve (with list of possible areas: communication, knowledge, being able to be supportive, etc.)
- Discussion of any other topics needed.
- Exercise: circle practice if desired.
Class 21: Initiation and the tradition
- What is initiation? What kinds of ritual workings might be involved?
- Preparing for initiation (name, pre-ritual prep choices, etc.)
- Tradition specifics
- Discussion: requesting initiation, initiate names, etc.
- Assignment: If you wish to be considered for initiation, complete the letter of request as discussed in this class. (There will be further discussion, etc. after that, too.)
[last edited December 26, 2016]