A WITCH'S CURRICULUM OF STUDY
Although I have recently decided to drop my studies at the WCC (see my blog "Please no tears, no sympathy") towards becoming an Odyssean Priestess, I feel that my time there learning and studying would be for naught if I were never to share with others some of the things I've learned. After some much needed personal time for reflection, I've decided that over time I will be able to publish some of my class notes. Because of my Neophyte oath, the notes I can share are only those pertaining to the free public classes taught on Tuesday nights at the WCC. Private studies between myself, my (former) Wicca teacher, and the coven of which I was a part will not be published. (For those wondering about copyright issues, the WCC cannot claim copyright to my class notes since my class notes are not a direct transcript of the classes taught and have been modified by my own thoughts and ideas on the subject. In fact, the class notes I intend to publish will be re-written with the perspective of how I would teach the subject.)
Following this discussion is a list of subjects that were taught as part of the public classes of the WCC during the years I attended there. While the subjects listed below were part of a curriculum of study towards becoming an Odyssean Priestess, I feel many of the below subjects would be of interest to pagans and witches as well as those in other Wiccan traditions. Some subjects are specific to the Odyssean tradition and may not be of much interest to solitary pagans and witches (though perhaps other Wiccan traditions may like to note any differences between Odyssean Wicca and their tradition). These subjects are notably "Degrees and Dress" (this class discusses pretty much how to recognize someone of notable rank, i.e, Neophyte, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree Priesthood, within the Odyssean tradition), "Altar Setup" (if you agree with the reasoning for this, you may wish to try this altar setup out sometime and see how it works for you), "Ritual Design" (this class is best for those interested in designing group rituals, I have an old article about how to design a personal ritual - I will try to dig this up sometime), "Traditions" (this class specifically discusses different Wiccan traditions and, if you are more inclined to be a solitary pagan or witch, will not be of much interest to you), and "Investiture, Handmaiden, and Summoner" (which discusses the roles of the Handmaiden and Summoner within the Odyssean tradition).
Additionally, since Odyssean Wicca is heavily mythology-driven there are classes in a variety of mythologies. While I find mythology to on occasion be interesting, I have found that I prefer a more nature-oriented spirituality versus a deity-oriented spirituality. Depending on your own feelings on this manner, you may or may not be interested in the various mythologies (Celtic, Greek, Roman, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Norse) that were taught. Also since I am by no means a mythology expert, the notes I have on the various mythologies are quite basic (although hopefully it will help you determine if you like it or not).
If you are already a pagan, witch or a solitary Wiccan, you may already be familiar with the eight sabbats - Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Lady Day (aka "Ostara"), Beltane, Midsummer (aka "Litha"), Lammas (I prefer the name "Lughnasadh"), and Harvestide (aka "Mabon" - although the god Mabon has nothing to do with this sabbat; I prefer the name "Harvestide" as it accurately reflects that time of the year and is rumoured to be the name of the sabbat Gardner used and inherited from his witch coven) - and may find the class notes on these subjects interesting. I should note here that over the recent years, I have determined how the sabbats fit in with the Chinese calendar (see my blog "Happy Dog Year and Imbolc") and consequently with the eight trigrams of the I Ching and even with the eight colour belt patterns (called "poomse" in Korean) of taekwondo! (I keep meaning to write about these connections.) (Side note/rant: Robert Mills is the only other source I have found who connects the sabbats with the eight trigrams of the I Ching calling it the "Wheel of Changes"; however, his correspondences are not based on a firm understanding of the eight trigrams and the culture from which is it derived. He simply overlays the Early Heaven Arrangement with the eight sabbats when in fact this arrangement of the trigrams was never associated with the seasons - it is the Later Heaven Arrangement that has seasonal associations.) The sabbats provide one way of connecting and celebrating nature and its seasons, which is why I consider the sabbats to be of particular interest to those wishing to celebrate the cycles of nature. If you endeavour to study the Chinese calendar and learn to use it, you will learn to celebrate the cycles of both sun and moon within one system.
Leaving out the subjects mentioned above, the remaining subjects should prove to be of particular interest to pagans, witches, and Wiccans of other traditions. These are listed below with the above subjects listed in separate groupings.
ONE WITCH'S CURRICULUM OF STUDY
Laws and Ethics (universal laws, morality and ethics, a code of honour, basically how do we keep from killing everyone and live at peace with ourselves?)
Elements (discusses the classical Greek elements determined by Plato and some other systems of elements such as Chinese elements)
Calendars (how to track the seasons of nature and thereby celebrate nature)
Ritual Food and Drink (celebrating the sabbats with a feast! what foods and drinks are appropriate?)
Principles of Magic (what is magic and how does it work? the theory of magic)
Candles and Colour Magic (using candles and colour for magic, understanding colour)
Amulets and Talismans (making and using amulets and talismans, what's the difference between the two)
Comparative Symbology (understanding symbols, why use symbols?)
Oils (the use of oils for magic, the basics of oils, also what are essential oils?)
Incense (the use of incense for magic, how to mix incense)
Fairy Tales (explore the nature and purpose of fairy tales)
Nature Lore (reverence for nature)
Moon Lore (revering the moon)
Sun Lore (revering the sun)
Aurae and Energy (what is the aura? dealing with the aura and energy in magic)
Meditation (why meditate, how to meditate, different forms of meditation)
Divination, except scrying (what is divination? comparing different forms of divination)
Scrying (that old cliche, the crystal ball; other methods of scrying)
Herbology (the study of herbs and its uses for magic and healing)
Astrology (the study of the stars, understanding yourself, using astrology for magic and divination, and more)
Numerology (the study of numbers, understanding yourself, using numerology for magic and divination)
Palmistry (the art of reading palms)
Tarot (divination with tarot)
Runes (divination with the Norse runes)
Ogham (divination with the Celtic ogham)
Song and Chant (pagan songs and chants, appropriate songs and chants for sabbats, deities, magic, and elements)
Matrons, Patrons, and Shrines (devoting yourself to one goddess and/or one god, how to keep a shrine)
Men's and Women's Mysteries (celebrating our differences, rites of passages for men and women?)
Spiritual Paths (aka "The 5 Paths" or "The 8 Paths")
Alchemy (transformation studies)
Sacrifice (understanding sacrifice, what's a sacrifice? why sacrifice?)
Qabala (the basics of the Jewish Tree of Life)
Ceremonial Magic (the basics of ceremonial magic)
PR and the Law (how to deal with the public and media, including people who don't know what witchcraft is, and how to deal with the law; knowing your rights)
Paganism and Success (what is success? are pagans successful people?)
The Eight Sabbats
Lady Day (aka Ostara)
Midsummer (aka Litha)
Lughnasadh (aka Lammas)
Harvestide (aka Mabon)
Odyssean Wicca specific classes
Degrees and Dress
Investiture, Handmaiden, and Summoner
Notes for these subjects will become available over time. For now though, you may want to research a topic yourself - Wikipedia is a good place to start, just "google" the subject name with "wikipedia" to see if there's an entry in it.
As part of this curriculum of study, I'd recommend reading Witchcraft for Tomorrow, The Rebirth of Witchcraft, and Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente; Witchcraft for Today by Gerald B. Gardner; Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler; and What Witches Do by Stewart Farrar. If you're really brave and love to read a lot, read Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton and A Witches Bible by Janet and Stewart Farrar. The Farrars' book was originally published as two separate books called Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches' Way. I would like to recommend Teresa Moorey's books, Paganism: A Beginner's Guide, Witchcraft: A Beginner's Guide, and Witchcraft: A Complete Guide; however, I read these more than five years ago and should re-read them before giving them full recommendations. I do recall though that the books seemed straighforward and to the point. If you would like to read them, go ahead, I can't stop you, but just be aware that my opinions on those books may have changed (hopefully they haven't though).
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed on this site regarding Wicca, witchcraft, and paganism are strictly those of myself, unless otherwise indicated, and do NOT represent ALL Wiccans, witches, or pagans.
Copyright C.J. Chow November 2007