Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wiccan Studies

Wiccan Basic Training is one of the best general purpose Wiccan classes that I have ever taken. It is balanced, filled with wisdom and common-sense, and is an effective introduction to this important emerging religion. Lord Starwalker was taught by Sibyl Leek, and this, in and of itself, speaks volumes about his qualifications in this field – he is great.

The coursework is so very well put together. It addresses the theoretical first and then moves to the practical. The course begins with a historical overview that is both rich and balanced in its approach.  The student then moves to the setup and use of the altar including tools which may be used. I especially liked this section because Lord Starwalker stressed that tools were useful in focusing energy and intent but were not required. This observation is exceptionally powerful. There are many people who teach about Wicca who insist that tools are a requirement and that the workings at hand will not work without the use of tools. This is not my experience – one may do magical working anywhere – with or without tools. Lord Starwalker's teaching validates what my own experience has shown me.

Once the student moves out of the theoretical, one moves onto the practical application of the art. Beginning with a wonderful and effective series of lessons on dowsing, the student is taught to use something early on in their training that is not only useful, but it also works. Success is training is so very important for the new student and the two lessons on dowsing encourage the student to continue with their studies.

After the practical lessons of dowsing, it is back to theory with Lord Starwalker. Energy work, reincarnation, and an extended discussion about holidays round out the first half of the course. While I personally believe that in most classes too much emphasis is put on energy, Lord Starwalker, as always, presents a much more balanced review of the topic. Energy work is a central tenet of Wicca, although it is not the only one. In my opinion, honouring the Gods is the most important thing in this religion. Everything else is secondary. Energy work, however, is core to the work that is done and ritual and its presentation here is excellent. Three lessons are dedicated to holidays and I think this is done so well. The year is broken down into a series of components, both fire festivals and seasonal festivals and this is the crux of the Wiccan calendar. Lord Starwalker's presentation is not only historically accurate, in my opinion, it is thoroughly explained. His reference to the Coligny Calendar is crucial to add some historical foundation to the teachings. The Coligny Calendar dates back to Druidic times (see my lesson in the Master of Druidry course on Coligny) and is a crucial piece of the historical record.

The mythology section presents an excellent overview of deities. The treatment and characterizations of the deities is to the point and presents a good point of departure for further research. In every lesson, Lord Starwalker offers information and encourages the student, often through assignments, to find out more. This is one of the reasons that this is such an excellent class – the course is more than just what is presented. The student is encouraged to take the next step.

The section on ritual is worth the price of the course by itself. The breakdown of ritual into the various components is colour-coded and succinct. These steps are a good reference for the neophyte and an excellent review for the experience ritual technician. Lord Starwalker presents a good working description and it can be used without issue or concern. The additional sections on changes and variations are also quite good. As with much of Lord Starwalker's material, strict dogmatism is not required. The different steps for ritual described at one point are merely a suggestion and the following lessons describe and celebrate the variability that a situation may require. In the final analysis, dogma is thrown out the window and practicality is encouraged and celebrated. This is one of Lord Starwalker's strongest points and should be celebrated.

Returning to the practical aspects of Wicca, herbalism is discussed and some excellent examples are presented. His eyebright ritual is simple, elegant, and effective. The consecration of tools is done in a balanced manner and his definitions of Wicca and pagan are spot on. Once again, simplicity rules – the arcane does not need to be cryptic or confusing, and with Lord Starwalker it is not.

The sections on spell work are also well written, simple, and effective. There are excellent examples given that work without unnecessary flourishes and extras that do nothing more than exaggerate the importance of the ritual performer. After all, ritual is about not Gods, not the priests/priestesses.

Finally, there is an important discussion of ethics. Much of the ethic dilemma is left up to the practitioner because of the breadth of the Rede. Nonetheless, the importance of ethics in any religious system should not be ignored.

A student of this course, in performing the Self-Dedication ritual, is prepared to walk proudly into the Wiccan tradition. I do believe that further study is necessary as well as hooking up with a group with which to commune. The path laid out in this course is thorough, well-studied, and logical. While I had a lot of background in this topic, I surely enjoyed the class and learn a number of things which have enriched my experience.

 Rev. Jean Pagano


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