And Now We Start All Over Again

I know that I just announced my elevation to second degree all of four posts ago, and that I’ve only been a second for five months now, but with all the big life changes that come with starting a new career and moving 2300 miles away comes another one magically.

In a couple of months, I’m going back to first degree.

Opportunities for Growth Abound!

Opportunities for Growth Abound!

Obviously, one does not simply wake up one day and say “you know, I don’t think that elevation really took…I’m going to pretend that never happened and say that I’m still a first.”  And that is certainly not what I am doing here.  Instead, I’m jumping lines (or perhaps traditions, depending on one’s view of the California line).

See, when I realized that moving to Indiana was a sure thing, I worried about how that would impact my growth in Wicca.  I didn’t jump into this new career lightly; I knew it would involve incredibly long hours consume most of my ‘free’ time.  I also knew that even if I lucked into some incredible flight prices, I would not be able to fly back to Washington frequently enough to continue with my coven.  I discussed the matter over with my HP and HPS, and we developed a few options.  One was that I use my new elevation to start a daughter coven in Indianapolis with my HP flying in for important events until I “raised up” a local gentleman to priest.  Another was to travel to Washington a couple times a year for week-long intensive trainings.  And of course, there was attempting to join an existing local group.

Long story short, I knew I wouldn’t have time or energy to put into starting a daughter coven while also learning to teach more effectively.  (Truth be told, I’m struggling just to find time to pray.)  Long intensives were out as I desperately need to invest more in my familial relationships and my school breaks are going to be almost exclusively claimed by them.  That, of course, left joining a local group.  Luckily for me, I found a great forming coven run by people I adore and with students who feel like siblings.  There was just one minor catch.  While this new group is Gardnerian, they are from different lines than what I am.  To be adopted into their line, I would return to first degree and then work my way up through their teachings.

My new teachers have checked in with me several times to make sure my ego can handle this.  And it definitely can.  After all, I’ve only been a second for a few months and really have no true “second” experience teaching or even really leading a circle.  In a lot of respects, I don’t feel like a second, and I don’t really have the ego that would go with it.  I also think I have a few gaps in my first-degree training, and–having given this group’s teaching materials a look through–I think that the opportunity to go through first again will fill those and make me a much better witch and priestess.  Over all, I’m really excited about going through a new training process and think it a terrific opportunity.

And, as I alluded to earlier, my mindset going into this new group has served me well.  This week I received some sad news from the high priestess of my Washington coven.  Ever since I met her, she has maintained that she was Gardnerian with dual-lineage in Long Island and California.  However, as an outcome of conversations held at the Portland Gather last month, she learned that the adoption of her California teachers into the Long Island line does not carry over to herself.  As she and the High Priest she trained were my initiators and elevators, this means that the only lineage I can legitimately claim at this time is California line.

Because the majority of the Gardnerian community (at least in America) holds that the California line is not a legitimate Gardnerian line, this also means that until my own adoption/initiation into this new group is finalized, I cannot in good conscience claim to be Gardnerian.  The fix?  To completely re-do my training with another line…which, as you know, is exactly what was in the works already.  So I suppose that all these huge life changes this year have been fated after all.

I’m really looking forward to working more with my new teaching grove and especially to meeting with even more new family members later this year.  I think there will be lots of positive aspects to all this change.

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9 thoughts on “And Now We Start All Over Again

    • Ultimately, I rather think degree is unimportant. It’s all the knowledge you put behind it. I’ve met total novices who are better witches than I’ll ever be, and I’ve met third degrees I could run laps around.

      I like to think of the degree systems in various witchcraft traditions as being different colleges. A bachelor’s degree from Harvard is tooooootally different from a bachelor’s degree from DeVry, even if they are both bachelor’s degrees. I’m not saying a tradition is better than another–you can definitely have a “DeVry” Gardnerian training from one coven and get a “Harvard” Gardnerian training from another. I’m just saying degrees aren’t a be all end all.

      That being said, within a tradition it is a pretty good idea to have some sort of objective system that describes various bars of skill, and a pretty clear outline of what constitutes the skills required and the proficiency with which they must be practiced. I’d like to make sure a priest or priestess knows what they’re talking about!

  1. Wow… I’ve been following your posts for about a month now and it’s always somewhat dreaded when these scenarios take place. I have heard horror stories about spending years with a coven that revealed to be in time non-lineaged. I have to applaud you for being totally accepting of starting over. Not everyone has the courage to drop the titles and do what it takes to make these kinds of changes. Good for you.

    • Thanks! I really don’t feel like I’m being courageous…it was already in the works for me to be adopted into another line and return to first when this all got revealed, so it’s sort of been anticlimactic for me.

      And honestly, if you do switch covens you almost always re-do training to some extent to ensure that you understand the nuances of that particular coven. Different lines have different guidelines on that.

      What with modern social media and more networking of witches than ever before, I can’t see that revelations like this will be common place going forward. It’s not exactly common now. 🙂

  2. I was wondering what would happen to your relationship with your coven when you moved! You’d mentioned a while back that your HP had moved across the country, but I can understand it being easier to commute to a coven as a Third rather than a Second or First, as from what I understand of BTW hierarchy Thirds are more autonomous, and I wasn’t sure whether that would work for you as a Second.

    I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found a local coven to work and train with, and I look forward to hearing about your progress in your new lineage. I’m assuming that you’d be able to join in with your old coven if you happened to be in Washington, unless you have to leave one coven to be able to join another? Overall though, it sounds like you’ve landed on your feet in all respects – dream job, good school, shiny flat, and now a coven for you to continue to grow spiritually and give you another circle of friends in Indiana as well.

    I was sorry to hear about the revelation of yours and your HPS’ lineage, I can imagine that that news would be incredibly disappointing, if not devastating, especially if, as you say, the California lineage isn’t considered Gardnerian. Is there any particular reason why this is? I’ve only got an outsider’s view of BTW lineages, but I always throught that if one followed the practices of BTW and was able to trace initiators back to Gardner, it counted as a Gardnerian line?

    • The reason the California line isn’t considered part of Gardnerian craft has to do with the conditions surrounding its founding HPS’s initiations and elevations. In short, the matter cannot be determined to the satisfaction of all at this point whether or not she received legitimate Is and Es according to the Long Island line’s praxis.

      No one is disputing the fact that the founding HPS was a talented witch, and no one is denying she had access to Gardnerian materials and that her downline practices closely to Gardnerian craft. Conservatively, though, it is considered an independent British Traditional Witchcraft tradition in its own right. Rather like Alexandrian Wicca is.

      • Ah I see. And I’m guessing as time passes that it becomes more unlikely that the issue will be resolved one way or the other. Still, reaching Second in a BTW tradition along with all the work you did on 366 will make you a very well-rounded and well-educated witch. 🙂

  3. It hurts to read it put thus. “…maintained…” that I was dual-lineaged? I was informed by my initiator that it was *fact.*

    I am now dual-lineaged in my own direct right, as a point of fact, made so by an LI line HPS who nonethless recognizes the California line as Gardnerian, full stop.

    I am of the Wica just as you are. I congratulate you on your new lineage and trust that no further such upheavals of your Craft journey impede you. Blessed be!

    • I apologize that the word ‘maintained’ hurt. It was not my intention to do so. I thought, and still think, that this sentence is emotionally neutral. The verb ‘to maintain’ has no pejorative connotation and in this case only means “to state something is the case.” As I understand it, you presented yourself with the lineage you believe you received, as any other reasonable person would have done. When you concretely learned otherwise, you promptly informed everyone else who would be affected by it and sought re-initiation, as any other reasonable person would have done. I don’t think that there is anything untoward in this sequence of events.

      I am very glad that you’ve undergone re-intitiation, and even happier that some in the LI line are accepting of the California line.

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