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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
Degree Syllaubus -