The Witch School First Degree by Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell © 2008 Llewellyn
978-0-7387-1301-4 240 pages Paperback $19.95 (U.S.)
I am from the “old
guard” BTW branch of Wicca, so I was basically unfamiliar with the
Correllian tradition. I hit a couple of stumbling blocks in the
Preface and Introduction, but nothing too serious. The first was
the use of the term “Nativist” as equivalent of “Pagan,” and the
second was their dating system (1579 Piscean is equivalent to 1979 C.E.).
On a personal level those simply strike me as unnecessary affectations,
but they have effect on the actual teachings, so they aren’t a major
Since the Correllian
tradition, like many other systems of Wicca, is structured around a
three degree system, and since it is anticipated that each degree will
take a year (more or less) to complete, this book is comprised of twelve
lessons (one per month). If you work through the lessons in an
honest and focused manner, at the end of a year’s study you should be
ready for initiation as a First Degree Correllian. How honest you
are with yourself will determine how much you get out of your studies.
Each monthly lesson is
composed of multiple parts consisting of the actual lesson, exercises to
develop your skill, a basic spell (for practical experience), a deity
(to expose you to the multiple facets of divinity), a glossary (to
explain words which may be unfamiliar), and study questions (13 for each
I would strongly suggest
that you obtain a notebook or two (depending upon your personal
preference) to house a handwritten copy of each lesson’s glossary (I
know a computer and printer are more likely to produce a crisp, clear
copy, but if you take the time to hand write it, you will remember more
of it) and you answers to the questions. And for your sake,
don’t just copy the relevant answer from the book. Think about
it, and put the answer in your own words, in detail. The more
effort you put into it, the more benefit you will derive from it.
It isn’t about getting the “right” answer. It’s about
getting your answer. Your concept of deity (for example) most
likely won’t be exactly the same as anyone else’s. That
doesn’t matter. You are expected to make these lessons a part of
The lessons are extremely
basic (after all, this is a “Wicca 101” book) and for that reason
may be boring to more advanced students. They are, however,
presented from an Aradian point-of-view, which is often neglected in
today’s community. There have been few mentions of their beliefs
in general circulation; fewer public exponents of the system; and even
fewer well-known public personalities. All of this makes this book
(and the upcoming ones in the series) a valuable addition to the public
The lessons progress from
extremely theoretical (the meaning of magic) to the practical (basic
energy work) to the very practical (herbs, stones, oils and incenses).
Each of these lessons is carefully thought out and well presented.
At the conclusion of the
lessons is a little background on the Correllian tradition and its
evolution from a family-base (Scots-Cherokee) to a public organization,
through a merger with the Aradian tradition in 1904. Beyond that
there is a “Self-Wiccaning” (“Dedication”) ceremony which will
grant you membership in the Outer Court of the tradition, as well as
Correllian versions of the Charge of the Goddess and the Charge of the
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The Witch School Second Degree by Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell © 20008 Llewellyn
978-0-7387-1302-1 480 pages Paperback $24.95 (U.S.)
This book is a little
different from the first one in the series, as is to be expected.
It is designed to follow the same basic pattern, but has variations
because of the subject matter. It constitutes a “Wicca 201”
book, as opposed to the more familiar, and basic, “101” books so
commonly available in the market today. I am still not really
impressed by the use of their own dating system, but I accept it as a
given when it comes to internal events. Its use for dating mundane
events seems unnecessary, in my opinion.
Once again, the book
contains 12 lessons, based on the assumption that the average student
will take “a year and a day” to complete each level (“degree”)
of training. Each chapter is composed of the lesson itself, some
exercises intended to help you expand your comprehension of the
material, a spell to impart practical experience in the use of the
information, and a short glossary of unfamiliar terms. Unlike the
first book, however, there are no questions at the end of each chapter.
The topics covered in this
book are very different from those in the first book. They cover
everything from divinatory methods (the tarot, Astrology, and Runes
among others) to Sex Magic to Group Dynamics. This is in keeping
with the Correllian position that by the time an individual has
completed First Degree training, the basics should be well integrated
and understood and he or she should be ready for more complex concepts.
In the Correllian Tradition
Second Degree initiates are expected to be competent ritualists and
should be able to answer questions on most topics. They should be
able to function as temple or shrine leaders with occasional assistance
from the High Priest/esshood. Therefore the information in this
book is aimed at developing those abilities as well as expanding the
individual’s general knowledge. The information is extensive,
even if it is not comprehensive. It gives a good foundation for
Obviously, as a text book,
it is not intended to be read straight through. There are
exercises to do and spells to perform on your way through this book.
Nonetheless, I would recommend skimming through it and reading the first
page or so of each chapter, just to familiarize yourself with what will
be covered. Then go back and work through each chapter, taking as
much time as is needed to make the information contained within it a
part of your world. Do not rush this process. Allow at least
a month per chapter. And don’t assume that a single reading is
enough (especially if a topic is unfamiliar). Don’t hesitate to
re-read a paragraph (or an entire chapter) if needed.
The lesson on chakras is the
longest in the book and is far more extensive than any treatment I have
seen outside of a book devoted specifically to the topic. Most
authors treat chakras in a rudimentary manner, if at all, but by the
time you work through this chapter, you will have a significant
grounding in chakra lore.
The more effort you put into
the exercises and spells, the more benefits you will gain. Your
goal should be to become competent in the various areas covered in this
book, to expand your knowledge, so as to be able to help others along
Some of the beliefs and
attitudes expressed by this series of books will offend people, and not
just those outside the umbrella of paganism. While some of their
statements may come across as dogmatic, it is necessary to remember that
being non-judgmental is stressed in the early lessons. The reader
is intended to make what use they may of the information provided.
It should also be remembered that these works are intended to present
the “official” position of the tradition. Your understanding
and position may vary.
The chapter on Group
Dynamics is almost worth the price of the book in itself. It is
well worth taking this book off the shelf and reading this section at
least once a year.
At the end of the book is an
appendix which discusses many non-Wiccan Pagan religions. Some get
a short background and some are more extensively covered. All of
these religions are ones which are either currently a part of the Pagan
mindset, or are major components of current Pagan religions. While
I don’t completely agree with everything that the author has written,
it is useful as a jumping-off point for further, personal, research.
There are two more books to
come in this series (Witch School Third Degree and Witch
School Ritual, Theory and Practice) and they will address topics (I
am sure) which will benefit the entire Pagan community. You
don’t need to plan to join the Correllian tradition to make use of the
information they are presenting in these books. Unless you are
fortunate enough to live near a major training group or seminary, you
will find these books an invaluable resource even if (or especially if)
you disagree with some of what is said.
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The Witch School Third Degree by Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell © 20008 Llewellyn
978-0-7387-1303-8 333 pages Paperback $29.95 (U.S.)
This is the third, and
final, “degree” book in this series. There remains one more book to
come (devoted to “Ritual, Theory and Practice”) and, as such it
makes certain assumptions. These assumptions are: First,
that the reader is dedicated to the path of service which is implied by
aspiring to a leadership position; second, that you are capable of
sustained study; and third, that you have completed the study of the
first two books in the series.
Although their approach may
seem very simplistic in some ways (defining things in positive terms
instead of negative ones), but this does not make them simple or easy to
accomplish. It requires a change in attitude and thought patterns.
As anyone who has ever tried to break a bad habit can tell you, this is
far easier said than done. However, once it is accomplished
personal rewards and insight are sure to follow. And each
accomplishment makes the next attempt easier.
There are some aspects of
this book which may cause even experienced members of the Wiccan
community to doubt the sanity of the author. Lesson VI, on
“time”, is one of those aspects. The idea that people can
relive portions of their lives without being aware of it, or others
being aware of it seems to push the boundaries of acceptable thought.
These books are written for
two reasons, and they succeed in at least one of them. The first
reason they exist is to provide training for Correllian priesthood, and
I can’t evaluate that since I am not in that program. The second
reason is to make the wider Wiccan/Pagan community aware of the beliefs
and actions of the Correllian Tradition and how they interact with the
wider community. In that they succeed admirably. That is not
to say that everyone will agree with everything put forth in these
books, but at least they can’t say they don’t understand where the
The subjects covered in this
book are some that are not normally discussed in print, since many (if
not most) of the books currently being written are at an extremely basic
level. There is a need for more advanced materials. While
some of the comments are sure to rankle some individuals they will, or
should, stimulate discussions and further thoughts/
Obviously, merely reading
this material, and doing the exercises, cannot make one a member of the
high priesthood of the Correllian Tradition. You need personal
contact, instruction and interaction to achieve that goal.
Fortunately the tradition is in an expansive mode, and the number of
temples, shrines, and individual practitioners is on the rise, so this
contact is becoming easier.
While I cannot say that this
system WILL work for you (every individual reacts differently to the
same stimuli), I can say several things. First, the system appears
to be consistent. Second, it incorporates – for the most part
– ideas which have stood the test of time. And, most
importantly, it is based on experience, not merely dogma and
pronouncements from “on high.”
If you are willing to put in the time and effort to do the exercises and study the teachings, you will find yourself well-rewarded even if you decide not to pursue membership in the Correllian Tradition. This book (and series) while not NECESSARY, can certainly aid in spiritual and magical development. There is a wealth of material herein, which can be of benefit to all.