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Tangled Moon Coven is a part of the Oak, Ash, and Thorn (OATh) Tradition of American Wicca. As such, we are guided by the traditions and customs of that Tradition in the establishment of the customary usages of our coven. Some of the strongest of these traditions concern becoming a student for initiation within the Tradition.

Within the Oak, Ash, and Thorn Tradition, we consider our initiates to be clergy. It is for this reason that even at the First Degree, our initiation ritual endows each candidate with the offices of "...Initiate, Priest(ess), and Witch." It is not a path onto which someone should enter lightly or for frivolous reasons. To borrow the words of a guide for students used previously within the OATh Tradition:

"Oak, Ash, and Thorn is a teaching tradition of Wicca. One of our principal missions is the training of strong, caring, and competent priestesses and priests who follow the Wiccan path. When someone asks to study for initiation within our tradition, we presume that that individual has some comprehension of what it means to be priest or priestess, and that he or she is prepared to commit the time, effort, and energy necessary to serve the Wiccan community in that role.

"The process of becoming an initiate Witch is different for each person who experiences it. The single common factor in every such experience is that no one emerges from the process unchanged. It is not an undertaking into which one should enter lightly, without serious contemplation and reflection. The cost to the individual, which we reckon not in terms of money but in terms of what an individual can give to the community, is high. And although we are not usually asked to begin making payments until after we have been initiated, very often the payments will last for the rest of our lives."

Any person who celebrates with Tangled Moon on a regular basis may request of the coven's Initiates Council that he or she be permitted to study for initiation within the coven and the OATh Tradition. Prior to making such a request, a candidate for student status must meet the following requirements:

1) The candidate must be at least eighteen years of age;

2) The candidate must have completed the coven's training program for Dedicants and must have gone through a ritual of formal dedication to a Wiccan path.

3) The candidate must have participated actively in the coven's activities for at least two months since his or her formal dedication before asking to be considered for student status

4) The candidate must be able to clearly articulate why he or she wishes / needs / is drawn / feels compelled to become a priest or priestess of the Old Gods.

5) The candidate must have good reason to believe that mundane issues are unlikely to interfere with his or her progress toward initiation.

NOTE: As an exception, requirements 2) and 3) above may be waived by the Initiates' Council where the candidate has previously acquired verifiable training or experience which the Initiates' Council considers to be equivalent to or an adequate substitute for the training offered in the coven's program for Dedicants. Such waivers are to be considered exceptions to the Coven's normal way of doing business, and will be granted only where it is clear to all concerned that the candidate would be unlikely to derive any benefit from undertaking the course of instruction for Dedicants.

The Initiates' Council will consider each request for student status submitted by a candidate who meets these requirements. In doing so, the Council will consider whether the candidate is likely to bring credit to the coven and to the Tradition as a priest or priestess, as well as considering whether permitting the candidate to study for initiation is likely to be in the best interests of the candidate, the coven, and the Tradition. The mere fact that a candidate meets the initial requirements does not guarantee that he or she will be accepted as a student for initiation. Likewise, being accepted as a student for initiation does not guarantee that the student will complete the training program. And completion of the training program does not in and of itself guarantee that the student will thereafter be initiated.

Unlike the "class" model of instruction used in the course for dedicants, training for initiation within the Oak, Ash, and Thorn Tradition is conducted using a "preceptorship" model. Upon acceptance, each student will be assigned a "preceptor," an experienced initiate of the Tradition who will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the student's training, and for determining when the student has satisfactorily completed each of the requirements. After the student has successfully completed the training program, it is the student's preceptor who will recommend to the Initiates' Council whether the student should be considered for initiation. It would be fair to note here, too, that it would be extremely unlikely for the Council to even consider initiating a student who has not received an unreserved recommendation from his or her preceptor.

It is customary for preceptors to be opposite in gender to the students to whom they are assigned. However, this is a matter of custom, not of immutable law, and students may be assigned a preceptor of the same gender if the Initiates' Council finds it to be necessary due to an insufficiency of available initiates of the appropriate gender and Degree.

It is the responsibility of a newly-assigned preceptor to arrange for an initial meeting with the student. At this meeting, the student will review and discuss this syllabus with his or her preceptor. (If the student has not already reviewed and discussed the Coven and Tradition bylaws as part of the course for Dedicants, this discussion will also take place during this initial meeting.) The objective here is to insure that the student has a clear understanding of his or her rights and obligations as a student, and of the Coven and the Tradition's expectations. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the student to contact his or her preceptor and arrange for further meetings as the student feels that such meetings are necessary. It is, however, the province of the preceptor to determine the order in which the various lessons which make up the program are presented.

Students are expected to adhere to the following rules:

1. Students are expected to accept and follow the instructions and guidance of their preceptors in all matters relating to their activities within the Coven, within the limitations and strictures imposed by the Bylaws and this syllabus.

2. As participation in and observation of ritual work is considered to be an important part of their training, students are expected to attend Coven rituals on a regular basis.

3. Students are expected to remain in regular contact with their preceptor, and to arrange and appear for at least one period of instruction during each quarter of the year. The student may meet with his or her preceptor as often as is mutually convenient, but failure to make the minimum requirement in any given quarter may result in the loss of student status. (Students working primarily by correspondence are relieved of the necessity to appear for a face-to-face instructional period in each quarter, but are still required to maintain regular contact with their assigned instructor and to make regular progress in their studies.)

4. Students will not seek to become students of any other teacher while they are studying with Tangled Moon without the consent of their current preceptor. Conversely, Tangled Moon will not knowingly accept as a student any individual who is currently studying with a teacher from outside the Coven, without the expressed consent of that other teacher.

5. As a courtesy, students should inform their preceptor prior to attending ritual with another coven or group.

6. Students who have a disagreement with their preceptor, or a grievance, are expected to follow the grievance resolution procedure outlined in the Coven's Bylaws.

7. The assignment of any given student to any given preceptor may be changed by the Initiates' Council at any time, for good and sufficient reason.

8. Students may give up their student status voluntarily at any time. An explanation for this action, while customary, is not required. Alternatively, a student may request a temporary suspension of his or her student status if he or she feels that there are too many other demands on his or her time. Such a suspension may last no longer than twelve months, after which time a student who fails to resume active study will be presumed to have voluntarily withdrawn from student status.

9. Students who are removed from, give up, or lose their student status may request that they be reinstated by the Initiates' Council. The student will normally be required to wait at least three months before resuming active student status, and the Council may impose additional conditions on the student's reinstatement if it sees fit. In situations where the Council determines that the loss of student status was due to circumstances beyond the student's control, the Council may waive the waiting period and additional restrictions. A student who has been once reinstated, and who again is removed from, loses, or gives up his or her student status, will normally be required to wait for a full year before requesting reinstatement, unless it is clear that the circumstances were again wholly beyond the student's control.

While some traditions specify a standard period of time for a student to work toward initiation, Oak, Ash, and Thorn does not. In our view, a student will be ready for initiation when the student is ready. We recognize that some students will find the requirements to be more difficult than other students have found them, and will subsequently progress at a slower pace. No student who continues to demonstrate commitment and to make progress in his or her studies will be dropped from student status because of time limitations. Likewise, a student who, in the opinion of his or her preceptor and the Initiates' Council, is ready for initiation, will not have his or her initiation delayed to meet any sort of time requirement. At First Degree, Oak, Ash, and Thorn has had students take as little as six months to achieve initiation, and as long as three years.

Once a student's assigned preceptor is satisfied that the student has met all of the requirements for initiation, the preceptor will propose the student to the Initiates' Council as a candidate for initiation. If the Council consents, a date will then be set for the candidate's initiation. In general, the date set will be at the next celebration of a major holiday, but the Council has the liberty to schedule the initiation at any time that is convenient for all parties concerned. Once a date for the initiation has been set, the High Priest or High Priestess of the Coven will contact the candidate with specific instructions as to the candidate's preparation for the initiation rite.

The Oak, Ash, and Thorn tradition recognizes three degrees of initiation. A First Degree initiate has demonstrated possession of the knowledge and skills needed to take care of his or her own spiritual needs and, under the supervision of a more experienced initiate, to act as a preceptor for students for First Degree. A Second Degree initiate has demonstrated, over and above the requirements for First Degree initiation, that he or she possesses not only the necessary knowledge and skills but also the willingness and the capacity to minister to the needs of others and to work as a leader within the Wiccan and Pagan community. Beyond Second Degree, a Third Degree initiate has demonstrated to his or her peers that he or she is competent to lead his or her own Coven. To borrow a phrase from our initiation ritual: "At First Degree, we give you back to yourself; at Second Degree, we give you back to the Community; and at Third Degree, you give yourself back to the Gods."

Brock, High Priest
Three weeks past Ostara, CE 2003


redbtnDedicant Program

redbtn1st Degree Syllabus

redbtn2nd Degree Syllabus

redbtn3rd Degree Syllaubus -