I stood nervously in my white robe. My hands clasped in front of me, gripping the robe as I had been taught. Around me were the 16 students who had made it through the introductory classes. There was a lot more room to sit now than there had been less than a month before, but it was still crowded in the Temple room. Two Bells rang, and then Three.
Lord Allistar, the young man who was dating the british girl in our class, was again our Summoner. This meant that he rang the bells at the beginning of class and after the break. Additionally, he censed the room, and in those first weeks, did our learning invocation. That means that he took the hanging censor that was on the altar, lit the charcoal in it, and dropped in the special incense we had for class time. And then he walked clockwise around the edges of the room, enveloping us all in the thick heady smoke. Next, NightWing sprinkled the holy water around the edges of the room, traveling around the same clockwise path he had. Allistar stood at the front of the room and invoked the Goddess to help us with our studies, and then annointed our heads with the oil that our Temple used for classes. We paid our respects by filing past Lord Aries and Lady Diana giving them a curtsy or bow and a simple “My Lord. My Lady.”
This was the way that every class would begin. It was both a form of prayer and ritual, and a very effective method of getting us into the proper frame of mind. In addition to both of those things, it taught us how to work with the censor and the water which would become very important later.
The air was thick with the smell that meant “learning is happening here”, and we all settled on our cushions. Except AspenSky who wasn’t comfortable on the floor. She had her chair in the usual spot by the open back door.
Aries and Diana sat in the plush red velvet recliners at the front of the class. These chairs were always in the Temple room, and were reserved for Elders, Instructors, and guests. Even in later years, long after I’d left the Temple and moved on with my life, when I came to visit I felt odd even considering sitting in them. I had never achieved that rank, therefore I had never earned that privilege.
Aries had assumed a position which would quickly become familiar to all of us. He sat in the chair, hands steepled in front of him, eyes sparkling from above. Diana regarded us all passively, waiting to see if we had learned what we were supposed to.
Over the past week we had all been busy studying in the “approved” Temple method. It really was quite effective, and I’ve used it for studying many more things beyond that. What we had to do was read the chapter we had been assigned, once, straight through. And then read it again, except this time we would choose the passages of the chapter that we thought were most important. We would turn each of these passages into a question, or perhaps a series of questions. And then we would quiz ourselves and each other on the questions we had decided on.
Aries opened the large leather book on it’s stand and looked at us. We all took out fresh blank pages and pens. This is how the class would work. Aries or Diana would read a question from the Book of Shadows on their table. Anyone who knew, or thought they knew, the answer would raise their hands. When you were called on, you answered. Whether you had your hand up or not. Hopefully you had it right. If so, they would read the answer word for word from the Book of Shadows, and we would copy it down in our own notebooks. If not, someone else got a chance to answer. If it was clear that none, or not enough, of the class knew the answer then it was counted incorrect. Too many incorrect questions meant that we hadn’t learned the chapter well enough, and we would revisit it the next week. Nobody wanted to fail a chapter. Every class failed a few, it was inevitable.
“What is Wicca?” He read out loud to us. Every hand shot up. It was the one guarantee we had. In the introduction classes that question was used as the example for how we would study. It was also one of the very first lines in our textbook. “Alyana.”
“Wicca is both a religion and a craft. Ritual Witchcraft, and Operative Witchcraft, with a nature basis.”
This was the definiton of Wicca which was required in the temple. Ask any one of us, at any point in our training, and we would be able to answer that question for you. I was correct, and it made me happy. Of course, I knew I would be, that was the easy one. The gimme. More questions came.
“What are the names and dates of the Sabbats?”
The only people in the class who could get that one were NightWing, and Annaleise. The Brit. She had been in classes before as well, but only got a few weeks in before she had to stop. That’s why she joined our class. I got six out of eight, but still hadn’t memorized them all. This was counted as a missed question, because it was one of the most important things we would learn, and we all really had to know it.
The questions kept coming. I was pleased with myself as I wrote down the answers given by Aries and Diana. I had gotten most of the questions they asked, and quite a few more beyond that. I remembered the answers to almost everything, and made a point of having my hand raised on every single question. For the most part we did well. Jet, and a couple other folks in the class however, did not. It was clear that they were either out of practice at studying, or hadn’t bothered to try. Maybe they didn’t really think that they would have to know that much, maybe they didn’t care. I don’t know. What I do know is that we failed our introduction chapter. It wasn’t unusual, almost every class did, after all if you’ve never had the class before how are you supposed to know what they’re going to think is important, and what they’re not. Aries glanced toward Diana at the last question he gave us that night, and she shook her head. He closed the book and looked us over.
“Now you know what we expect. Do better next week.” And the question and answer portion of class was over. We had our break and we took the opportunity to chat with each other or to wander the store and make any last minute purchases. We all rooted in the fridge for sodas or made ourselves a cup of coffee, and eventually settled ourselves back on our cushions. Just in time too, as Allistar was ringing the bell again. The deep sound of a copper bowl being struck with a small wooden handheld clapper resonated through the temple room, bringing us all to order. “BONG, BONG, BONG”
The second half of the class had begun, and it was time to talk. The upcoming fundraiser was discussed, and since it was mid-May, we also had very little time to prepare for the upcoming Midsummer Sabbat. Midsummer is also known as the Summer Solstice, and occurs around June 22nd each year. As this was our first Sabbat, our major job would be learning the Witches Rune, a chant that would be sung by the entire temple while clasping hands and half jogging half dancing in a vast circle. Then we were given our first spell. A money attracting spell, because everyone wants some spare cash, whether they need it or not. Most of us purchased our spell ingredients that night before we left the store. Three green jar candles. A tube of charcoal if we didn’t already have some. A packet of dark green powdered incense, a vial of light green money oil, and a packet of light green money bath salts. Diana read out the instructions for the spell, and we all dutifully copied them down in our notebooks.
Shower first to remove the dirt from yourself. Bathe in the bath salts, with or without some of the incense burning. Cleanse the candle, physically and psychically. Annoint the candle with the oil. Put more incense on the burner, and light the candle, while focusing on opening the doors to bring wealth to you. Sometimes we used a piece of parchment with what we were praying for written on it. I always burned those. I don’t think I was ever told what to do with them, but it seemed the most appropriate way to send my message to the Heavens.
Magic, we learned, is all about focus. You have to put yourself in the right frame of mind, the energies you put out should be vibrating to your purpose. Any little distraction could cause varying differences in the effect of the spell.
Finally, our hands cramping with the information we’d written down, the class ended. We all packed up our bags, changed out of our robes, and headed out. There was so much to do, so much to remember, so very much to work on.
I loved every moment.