Tag: degrees

Initiations and Degrees

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To initiate means ‘to begin’, coming from the Latin initium. In the context of Pagan or Wiccan initiations, it can mean acceptance into a particular coven or tradition, or it can imply the Goddess or God has called or acknowledged a particular person.

The March poll asked if one required a coven initiation to become a ‘real witch’. It is gratifying to see that the vast majority of you have voted sensibly, acknowledging that ‘no’, it is not a requirement. Ten years ago this may not have been the case.

Occasionally, online or at festivals, someone will introduce themselves as Lady or Lord So-and-so, third degree Grand Witch of X-Tradition, High Priest/ess, etc. One can only assume that this is intended to impress, however, truthfully, these people tend to come across more foolish than anything else.

Coven initiations and coven degrees only hold significance within that particular coven. Outside the circle they ought never be considered as concrete proof of knowledge, ability or skill, even if the coven is of the same or similar tradition to one you practice or are familiar with. Each coven has its own rules and requirements for its degree system and, even within the same tradition, these conditions are not mutually exclusive.

There seem to be a number of dodgy groups and companies out there who profess to train witches via the Internet and attempt to extract money for the dubious honour of receiving one of their ‘astral initiations’.

The skyclad truth of the matter is, the only creatures with any authority to initiate anyone are the Goddess and God. The Mysteries of divine initiation are conferred through experience. Coven or self-initiations are merely intended to recognize when a rite of passage has been met, a physical acknowledgement of what has already been spiritually earned.

There is a saying among the more sensible neo-pagans that goes: ‘a witch is a witch is a witch’. Meaning that whatever tradition, degree, or school of witchcraft one subscribes to, a witch is identifiable by certain, independently arrived, standards of legitimacy.

Certainly, there are different stages of knowledge and ability, but this does not confer or condone any power of one person over another. Paganism has no formal hierarchy, it has no bishops or decans, no mullahs or rabbis. Priest/esshood and degrees are defined within each individual coven. Respect should be earned, not forced, or expected based solely on the titles one uses.

As Pagans, we recognize that we are on a level playing field, each person may be on a different stage of their journey, but that does not lessons or increase their significance in the Pagan community.

Be comfortable with who you are, respect your Elders, and they in turn will respect you.

First published on Suite101.com on 03 April 2006. (Unfortunately.)

OTO degrees

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Subject: Re: SV: Ordos Templis Orientalis Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 00:34:40 +0200 From: "Captain Bjørn Ursfjord" < ursfjord[at]powertech[dot]no > Organization: PowerTech, +47-2301-0000 Newsgroups: alt.religion.wicca, alt.magick
William Edward Woody wrote in message ...

<< Anyone who is alive and free and of sound mind is << entitled >> to take the OTO degrees up to the 3rd degree. I've heard (but again, take with a grain of salt, as I really do not know) that the 5th degree and above are by invitation. I don't know anything at all about the requirements of the 4th degree, and I think there's a degree between the 4th and the 5th.

And (again, as far as I recall), the degrees are "Minerval" (or 0th), 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. There is no such animal as the "3rd degree minerval." Any OTO members reading this want to clarify? >>

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.The OTO actually consists of 12 degrees, from 0 (Minerval) to XI. All men and women who are free, of full age (18) and of good report has an indefeasible right to take the initiations from 0 to III. These 4 degrees are called "the Man of Earth triad". Beyond the IV degree further advancement are by invitation only. The degree system eventually leads to initiation into the IX degree, also known as initiates of the Sanctuary of the Gnosis. This degree teaches the final secret of the magical system practised by the OTO, and the preceding degrees function as preparation to receive this knowledge by gradually initiating the candidate into the mysteries. The X degree is reserved for the Supreme and Holy King (Frater Superior) of the order, while the XI degree is said to have no direct link with the rest of the initiates and do their own magic apart from the rest of the body. Read More

Coven Pecking Order

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Ever wonder what all those degrees and titles are for? Here’s your answer!


Runs into small buildings, recognizes a locomotive two out of three times, frequently wets self with a water pistol, can do the doggy paddle and mostly mumbles to animals.

First Degree Initiate:

Clears a small hut, loses the race with a locomotive, can fire a speeding bullet, swims well and is occasionally addressed by God.

Second Degree Initiate:

Leaps short buildings with a running start and favourable winds, is faster than a BB, more powerful than a railroad hand-car, walks on water in a swimming pool and talks to God…if a special request is approved.

Third Degree Initiate:

Leaps short buildings in a single bound, more powerful than a switch engine, is just as fast as a speeding bullet, walks on water…if the sea is calm and talks to God.

High Priest:

Leaps tall buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than a locomotive, is faster than a speeding bullet, walks on water and dictates policy to God.

High Priestess:

Lifts tall buildings to walk under them, kicks locomotives off the track, catches speeding bullets in her teeth and freezes water with a single glance. SHE IS GOD.