Students of Blackberry Circle
The first thing is we will not accept you as a student if we do not know you. Please make an attempt to attend the public rituals and make your intentions known to a member of the Coven. This will not only allow you to get to know us, but also let us begin to know who you are.
Secondly, not everyone who wants to be a student may make it right away. If you have not made any effort to get to know us, or to let us know you are interested, do not expect us to accept you immediately.
Third, as a student of Blackberry Circle you will be a member of the Circle itself, but not of the Coven proper. In order to become a full fledged member of the Coven you must first complete all of your training, and be active with the Circle for at least one year. Following that time, if you are interested in becoming a member of the Coven, you must make your interest known. The Coven will discuss your interest and perform a blind vote for your inclusion into the Coven. One negative vote will preclude you from joining the Coven at that time, but will not end your membership in the Circle, if you chose to continue. You will have opportunities in the future to join, if you still desire it.
Blackberry Circle offers classes for those 18 and older, or under 18 years of age with their parent’s expressed consent, who seek to learn the ways of worship of the Ancient Gods and the Old Ways. We want students who seek to know themselves and their connection with the Divine, both within and without.
Students must have a desire to learn the Mysteries from which a greater understanding of themselves, and the Universe around them, will develop, and they must have a certain amount of self-drive in order to pursue the Mysteries.
A mentor will either be assigned to the student or the student can choose a mentor. Below are a few lines from a ritual that best describes what a mentor is to the student:
And I make this pledge to you in return.
For the lesser knowledge which can be taught,
I will be your teacher.
For the greater knowledge which must be discovered,
I will be your guide and friend.
For the questions and perplexities of the path,
I will be your companion,
To answer when I may
Or simply be silent as you seek your own answers.
And when the time comes to choose
Whether you will enter the priesthood,
I will share with you
All I have observed and thought,
And may the Gods prosper our work together.
Know that although I am your primary teacher, this Circle is not made of the two of us alone.
All here are dedicated to the Old Ways and each has unique knowledge.
All of us learn from and with each other.
You too bring the learning of a lifetime and the fresh insight of a beginner’s questions.
Together we are more than the simple sum of each of us alone.
The curriculum will cover everything from history, traditions, energy work, meditation, magic, divination, elements, deities, et cetera, with a Blackberry Circle Tradition twist. If sometime during their training the student elects to continue within the Blackberry Circle Tradition and choose to be initiated into the priest/esshood, then further studies including psychology, counseling, leadership and others in order for the student to become certified clergy within the Blackberry Circle Tradition.
Students are expected to not only learn from their course of study, but to also take part in the working of Blackberry Circle and in its endeavors. This may include anything from helping out at rituals and other events, to working on developing the ritual area (yes, physical labour). A student not only learns from the formal teaching, but from simply being around and working with others within the group. There is a psychic and physical connection that occurs, and without both, the student is not able to truly attain many of the insights that will enlighten them to the Mysteries.
While a traditional one year and one day approach will be taken, your studies may take you into years of exploration and new discoveries; not only about your spiritual path but about yourself as well. A student does not have to seek initiation in order to take classes or learn from Blackberry Circle.
Initiatory Degrees within the Blackberry Circle
Blackberry Circle has chosen to adopt the three degrees generally accepted within Wicca. These degrees are an acknowledgment from Blackberry Circle of study, personal growth, discipline and service to the community. It is the desire of Blackberry Circle that those who attain these degrees are recognized by the Wiccan, and other religious communities, as individuals who have dedicated themselves their studies, and are considered leaders within their field.
First Degree Initiation designates that the student has completed their studies and have successfully passed a written exam with a minimum of 85%, have demonstrated to Elders the generation and control of energy, and have demonstrated leadership abilities, either through their work or through ritual.
Those who wish to take a shortened path to First Degree Initiation, and either have previous training or experience, can challenge the tests following an induction into the Blackberry Circle Tradition. Be forewarned though, the written test is very similar to what most groups provide for their Third Degree Initiations.
A First Degree Initiation must be requested by the student to the Elders.
Second Degree Initiation designates that the student has completed a minimum of one year of intensive study into a specialty within the Craft. The student must exhibit a very thorough working knowledge of their specialty, submit a peer review style paper regarding some aspect of their specialty, and be able to withstand examination of that specialty by others who are familiar with that specific specialty. This is similar to arguing your dissertation before a board of peers in college.
In addition to their specialty, the Second Degree Initiate must also exhibit further leadership skills through their work within the community and rituals.
A Second Degree Initiation must be requested by the student to the Elders.
Third Degree Initiation designates the student is a leader within the Blackberry Circle Tradition, the Craft and the community at large. This degree is not a knowledge based degree per se, but one that is obtained only after invitation by the Elders who have recognized the student has exhibited self realization, self reliance, leadership abilities, and a strong spiritual connection with the Divine. This degree may follow shortly after realization of the Second Degree Initiation, or it may be years in the making. It is recognized within the student by the Elders and it cannot be requested.
For those who wish to be ordained clergy, as recognized by those outside Blackberry Circle, they must attain a minimum of Second Degree as well as further pastoral studies. The student may elect to make pastoral studies their Second Degree specialty, but it is not a necessity.