The Proteus Curriculum:
an overview

When we redesigned our training program in the spring of 1995, we were working from two basic premises. 

  • First: our Pagan religion is geocentric, Earth-oriented. Although we are polytheists, honoring many different manifestations of the Sacred, our primary devotion is given to our Mother the Earth, Who birthed us, feeds us, and will eventually take us back into Herself. 

  • Second: In our view, Wicca is not simply a religion, but a dedicated Pagan religious order. Witches are intensely involved with their own magical and spiritual development and dedicate ourselves to rebuilding Pagan religion, culture and community. We create and conduct rituals, counsel, produce religious art and scholarship, do whatever our own talents and temperaments -- and the Goddess' leading -- call us to do. 

  • We asked ourselves what sort of training would best prepare our students to serve the Ancient Ones, the community and the Earth as priest/esses should. For now, we have identified six core areas of competency that we feel are important. The next step was to create a series of training tasks or experiences that we think will nurture a student's learning and growth in each of those six areas. These tasks are likely to change as we gain experience working within this new framework. 

    The first three areas are about our inner lives, our magical and spiritual development, without which we could not presume to act as priest/esses for others. They are: 

    1.  personal psycho-spiritual growth - general self-development, and especially deepening our conscious contact with the Ancient Ones.

    3. geocentricity - this is one of our major innovations. The idea is that, if we are acting as priest/esses of an Earth religion, we should not just sort of vaguely love the Earth, but know and serve Her. So this sequence is about understanding our personal and community values, and about understanding the environment and how we live symbiotically within it.

    5. fluency with trance and other altered states of consciousness: hypnosis, pathworking, and Deity assumption. Any priest/ess should know how to relate to it, how to do it, how to guide it, and how to teach it. We believe that Witchcraft is a reconstruction of the lost European manifestation of a worldwide tradition of ecstatic contact with the Otherworld, sometimes called "Shamanism." Shamans have been referred to as the "Technicians of the Sacred." Trancework, in all its complexity, is our technique, our "craft."

    The second three areas are more outward-oriented, more about skill and service: 

    1. creative service to the community, the culture, the Gods and/or the Earth, exploring what you want to do as a priest/ess and building skills towards whatever that is. This is another major innovation: at the point of taking Second, you will be asked to "choose a major," i.e. state what you anticipate will be your major contribution to the Pagan renascence. (up to this point, most people have automatically assumed they were preparing to be coven leaders. That's still a perfectly valid option, but it isn't the only one and should not be assumed). Between Second and Third, you will be doing whatever you need to develop competence and confidence in your chosen field.

    3. basic competence with ritual performance and design. Not just by rote out of the book, but at least the ability to adapt (and hopefully to create) rituals to meet the immediate needs of the participants. We would also hope that our students will become comfortable in ritual to be spontaneous when the occasion warrants it, not always dependent on a script.

    5. familiarity with the Gardnerian/Wiccan/Pagan symbolic structure and vocabulary, which informs our thealogy and enables us to worship and work together and to communicate about our religion, its practices and its core values. 

    Check-offs are a possibility. If you can demonstrate that you have actually done some work that is equivalent to a particular task, we may exempt you from it. However, you also might want to think about re-visiting the experience, bringing to it all you have learned since the last time you did it. It may have more yet to teach you. We're always willing to talk this kind of question through with you. The only way to check off on an entire sequence is to check off individually on each included task. 

    We know that most of our students are not actually beginners. They bring to our group a wide variety of previous experience, reading, sometimes even prior membership in other covens. Still, it does no harm to review the basics. This way each of us can learn what the others know, since we all have different pieces of the puzzle. Also, in our experience, whenever we go over one of the basic topics again, the other things we've learned since we last did so only serve to deepen our understanding. Wiccan lore is a densely woven web. 

    So, we currently anticipate spending the first year looking at the basic building blocks of the Craft: the Gods, the Circle, the elements and tools, the basic skills. During the second year, we will put it all together for a year's intense study of the Wheel of the Year and the various life issues it addresses. The third year will be devoted to leadership skills, and largely determined by what our students anticipate their future priestly service to be. 

    We welcome you to an adventure!

    by Judy Harrow
    updated: June 8, 2001 © 1998, 2000, 2001by Judy Harrow
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