Posted by: Nyxks | May 7, 2008

The Witch School Second Degree

The Witch School Second Degree
by Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell © 2008
Llewellyn
EAN 978-0-7387-1302-1
480 pages
Paperback
$24.95 (U.S.) $28.95 (Canada)
Reviewed by: Mike Gleason

This book is a little different from the first one in the series, as is to be expected. It is designed to follow the same basic pattern, but has variations because of the subject matter. It constitutes a “Wicca 201” book, as opposed to the more familiar, and basic, “101” books so commonly available in the market today. I am still not really impressed by the use of their own dating system, but I accept it as a given when it comes to internal events. Its use for dating mundane events seems unnecessary, in my opinion.

Once again, the book contains 12 lessons, based on the assumption that the average student will take “a year and a day” to complete each level (“degree”) of training. Each chapter is composed of the lesson itself, some exercises intended to help you expand your comprehension of the material, a spell to impart practical experience in the use of the information, and a short glossary of unfamiliar terms. Unlike the first book, however, there are no questions at the end of each chapter.

The topics covered in this book are very different from those in the first book. They cover everything from divinatory methods (the tarot, Astrology, and Runes among others) to Sex Magic to Group Dynamics. This is in keeping with the Correllian position that by the time an individual has completed First Degree training, the basics should be well integrated and understood and he or she should be ready for more complex concepts.

In the Correllian Tradition Second Degree initiates are expected to be competent ritualists and should be able to answer questions on most topics. They should be able to function as temple or shrine leaders with occasional assistance from the High Priest/esshood. Therefore the information in this book is aimed at developing those abilities as well as expanding the individual’s general knowledge. The information is extensive, even if it is not comprehensive. It gives a good foundation for further exploration.

Obviously, as a text book, it is not intended to be read straight through. There are exercises to do and spells to perform on your way through this book. Nonetheless, I would recommend skimming through it and reading the first page or so of each chapter, just to familiarize yourself with what will be covered. Then go back and work through each chapter, taking as much time as is needed to make the information contained within it a part of your world. Do not rush this process. Allow at least a month per chapter. And don’t assume that a single reading is enough (especially if a topic is unfamiliar). Don’t hesitate to re-read a paragraph (or an entire chapter) if needed.

The lesson on chakras is the longest in the book and is far more extensive than any treatment I have seen outside of a book devoted specifically to the topic. Most authors treat chakras in a rudimentary manner, if at all, but by the time you work through this chapter, you will have a significant grounding in chakra lore.

The more effort you put into the exercises and spells, the more benefits you will gain. Your goal should be to become competent in the various areas covered in this book, to expand your knowledge, so as to be able to help others along the path.

Some of the beliefs and attitudes expressed by this series of books will offend people, and not just those outside the umbrella of paganism. While some of their statements may come across as dogmatic, it is necessary to remember that being non-judgmental is stressed in the early lessons. The reader is intended to make what use they may of the information provided. It should also be remembered that these works are intended to present the “official” position of the tradition. Your understanding and position may vary.

The chapter on Group Dynamics is almost worth the price of the book in itself. It is well worth taking this book off the shelf and reading this section at least once a year.

At the end of the book is an appendix which discusses many non-Wiccan Pagan religions. Some get a short background and some are more extensively covered. All of these religions are ones which are either currently a part of the Pagan mindset, or are major components of current Pagan religions. While I don’t completely agree with everything that the author has written, it is useful as a jumping-off point for further, personal, research.

There are two more books to come in this series (Witch School Third Degree and Witch School Ritual, Theory and Practice) and they will address topics (I am sure) which will benefit the entire Pagan community. You don’t need to plan to join the Correllian tradition to make use of the information they are presenting in these books. Unless you are fortunate enough to live near a major training group or seminary, you will find these books an invaluable resource even if (or especially if) you disagree with some of what is said.

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