The Mystery School
Within the larger structure of The Rowan Tree Church, behind a veil of secrecy, is The Mystery School. Providing Initiatory training for students, The Mystery School follows the traditions of the classical mystery schools which existed during the Changing Times when we moved into the Age of Pisces and those of the Himalayas, in which training was serious and only for those with dedication.
The Mystery School is our Church’s very foundation. Our work is religious education: we train clergy to serve our Church’s future needs. Created in 1980 to provide the medium through which the Tradition of Lothloriën would be passed on to future generations, the next decade was spent developing the Pathworking, culminating in the publication of A Wiccan Bardo. The Mystery School is not a building. It is the Pathworking; it is both its students and teachers. An inner Circle of Initiates provides a core of dedicated workers, helping our Tradition both as volunteers and sustaining its spiritual energy. We always welcome new Initiates. In 1998 our Initiates had an average of seven years each working to further The Tradition of Lothloriën.
Training is individualized. Each student works with a Mentor. A Mentor is available by letters, telephone and, when possible, in person. The Mystery School is ideal for the self-motivated student enjoying solitary investigation combined with the advantages of peer contact, interaction and expert guidance. Within The Mystery School each student gains both the wisdom of the solitary and the joys of group experience.
“Why would anyone want to become involved with The Rowan Tree Church? I can only speak for myself, but I certainly know what attracted me. I had been doing some reading on Goddess religions and it sounded and felt comfortable – like home. I was ‘hooked’ on Wicca. I became associated with a Wiccan organization which offered information but no formal, structured training. Time passed and I acquired a copy of A Wiccan Bardo. Here, at last, was a well-established Church which offered in-depth, structured training for its Priest/esshood! I had no personal, intimate knowledge of any Tradition other than Lothloriën, but I knew that this was for me.
“The training and Tradition of Lothloriën and The Rowan Tree Church draw upon not only paganism and Witchcraft/Wicca but also the teachings and philosophy of the Eastern religions and Native American spirituality as well. It is an inclusive Wiccan Tradition. The training within the Church includes all the Mysteries and how they work together in our lives – not just one or two aspects. There is also a very high standard of ethics.
“I joined The Rowan Tree Church and entered The Mystery School in 1993. I have learned much, grown, found new perspectives on life. As an Initiated Priestess I can safely and with certainty say that I would not change any of this. Not only have I found a home but a also a beautiful, caring and loving family.”
—Ravenhawke, Initiated Priestess
Study within The Mystery School is not for everyone. Students must be self-motivated, accepting a Mystery Tradition style of training. To enter The Mystery School is to acknowledge a religious vocation, a desire to shape one’s life into a religious vocation and to offer one’s self as a tool in service to the Earth and to all Her peoples. Students might note the following penned by The Mystery School’s founder:
THE TAROT RITUAL
Beginning in 1982, the Tarot Ritual has been worked annually to coincide with the Full Scorpio Moon. It is during this working that the ritual, performed by a trained Elder, brings our inner circle into communion with the Oracle of Lothloriën.
Through careful preparation including daily ritual, fasting, contemplation and other spiritual disciplines, the Elder prepares to set aside the presence of personal ego and to be filled with the spirit of Lothloriën. In the days leading to the ritual, the Elder begins to bring her/his physical body into communion with an herbal elixir. Composed of a formula of sacred herbs, the devas (guardian spirits) of these herbs assist the Elder in transcending the restraints of ego and setting aside the interference which can be caused by the ego attempting to take control of the thinking process.
The Tarot Ritual’s elixir sits upon the altar in an elegant, art nouveau vase (ca. 1900) which Rev. Paul acquired about 1979, about the time of his third degree initiation. Sitting in a silver frame of flowers, the lunar-green glass is etched with botanical designs and signed by the artist.
PATHWORKING IN THE MYSTERY SCHOOL
A student begins working the Path to become Dedicated as a Novice. Secrecy is observed by all students, a classical discipline observed since ancient times by the mystery schools of many cultures. Secrecy is a tool for the student, teaching the conservation and use of one’s inner power; providing the student with “safe space” and control over that space. Secrecy teaches many of the Mysteries essential in communicating the larger Mysteries of Magick and of Wicca. We believe your Pathworking is personal and a process through which you learn to explore your own Mysteries.
The curriculum includes creating your personal copy of The Book of Shadows of Lothloriën and the completion of study guides (for comprehension and communication). The Book of Shadows of Lothloriën provides the written Tradition, but there are other works, such as A Wiccan Reader.
There are many resources available to Mystery School students, including the extensive Church library (fees included in the tuition) and limited use of the periodical library. Each New Moon is set aside for simultaneous ritual with communication by cassette tapes and letters. Students learn creative skills, contributing original work to the Church publications. To provided a well-rounded education (students are expected to develop knowledge in a variety of occult sciences, including astrology, tarot, herbal healing, etc.), Mystery School students are provided with memberships in The Hermit’s Grove. Students have an environment in which to begin developing skills to take into the Community of our Church. The quality of students and their research coupled with stimulating dialogue within The Mystery School creates an exciting environment. But this joy is found only when the student turns the key and opens the door.
THE PATH OF LOTHLORIËN
Our Church has been created to extend beyond this incarnation. We provide ritual forms which carry you through the passages of life. We see the major rituals of your life as forms of initiation. In A Wiccan Bardo both marriage and death are described as ways in which your astral self can be assisted along the spiritual path through the ritual forms.
The mystery schools of Himalayan and Mediterranean cultures shared important similarities. Students were trained in a variety of disciplines and cultures. We believe that our Wiccan clergy, those trusted with our spiritual lives, should be trained as carefully as are the clergy of mainstream religions. We believe that our religious community, which includes all Members of The Rowan Tree Church, deserves no less. Our High Priest/ess training includes the skills of counselling, teaching, divination, healing and many other skills. The roots of modern Wicca and neo-pagan practises found in the temples of India, Tibet, China and the stone Circles and ancient sites of Europe are considered part of our heritage and religious history is part of the student’s research. There have been Wise Ones in many cultures and many ages and through studying how they expressed the greatest of Mysteries do we grow in our own wisdom.
Students are taught how to make changes in their lives, in order to flow with the natural cycles of the Earth and the Universe. The Universe exists through its manifest nature of constant change. Students are taught to connect themselves with the Divine, manifesting change at the seasons, learning to channel that energy and make it available for the community. The Mystery School guides the student in learning to work both “above and below,” coming to understand the astral and its interrelationship with the manifest world. Through ritual, meditation, visualization and astral work, the student learns to become one with the Earth, the Moon and Sun as they dance their Circles. Students are trained in a variety of ritual forms, learning to craft their own rituals and balancing freedom with form. They learn to unfold their own creativity, opening it as the bud of a flower and bringing it to bloom. And above all, they are trained to pass on the Mysteries of Initiation, of Handfasting, of life and death.
An ordained Priestess or Priest is one who maintains individual style yet is able to keep our Tradition intact and instill it in future generations. There is no mold other than your Highest Ideals. The amount of time leading to Ordination can be as little as three years for a devoted student who consistently spends two to five hours a week, yet may take years longer for the ‘part-time’ student who juggles a full and busy lifestyle.
Upon completion of the Second Degree Initiation the new High Priest/ess receives credentials which may be filed in her/his state or province of residence. S/he is now an ordained minister, a representative of The Rowan Tree Church, working with the community in turning the Wheel of the Year, and a Mentor of The Mystery School. Our goal is to be one Church with many local Communities. The future is unknown, but much of it lies within the hands of those who will become the College of Mentors. More extensive information on the training of our clergy may be found in A Wiccan Bardo.
We are a unique Tradition, one which is not linked nor bound to a specific geographical culture. Through our work with the images of Lothloriën, we work through the astral and seek unity with all religions giving honour to the Earth.
WHO MAY APPLY FOR STUDY IN THE MYSTERY SCHOOL?
You must have been an active Member of our Church for at least six months, reading the RTNews, sending in your monthly forms and voting in the elections. You should also obtain a copy of the ‘Book of Legislation’ from the central office and examine it. Candidates must have carefully read A Wiccan Bardo and The Holy Books of the Devas. In addition you are asked to study the Church publication of ‘The Ritual of Lothloriën’ and to have begun performing this ritual as a solitary; ‘The Wheel of the Year,’ and begun reading ‘The Child of Light’ when the healing rituals are scheduled. Contact with the Galadhrim should be well-established with the intent of becoming an active member of this service organization.
Study within The Mystery School is much like pursuing a college degree at home. Be prepared for self-motivated home study and be reasonably certain that Lothloriën is the Path for you. Tuition is $25.00 per month (with some barter options). A student must be able to acquire the necessary tools and supplies for study and ritual, whether incense or cassette tapes. You must have a tape cassette player at hand. Interested Church Members may request an application form from the College of Mentors.
If reading this appeals to you and you wish to pursue this training, write Rev. Paul. The Mystery School accepts new students on one or more occasions each year. Pathworking is not easy, but the personal growth and satisfaction brings one to embrace the Highest of Ideals.
“Then you shall be taught to be wise, so in the fullness of time you shall count yourself among those who serve the Ancients…
“And you shall grow to love the music of the Woodlands, to dance to the sound of His pipes, in step with cloven hooves and the forest song…
“And you shall learn the Mystery of Rebirth, filling your heart with Her Moonlight, growing in harmony with the Earth, as Her child, protective of your Mother…”