Reflections on my Freshman year at WSTS
As some of you know, last year I began my journey in earning my Associates Degree in Wiccan Ministry! Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary is the official Seminary School for Wiccan Clergy with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. The Aquarian Tabernacle Church (The ATC) is a federally recognized Church of Wicca with affiliated churches and circles across the United States, Canada, France, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa. Founded in 1979 the ATC has been providing places of worship for Wiccans and Pagans; as well as creating ministry programs such as Spiral Scouts International, Hospital and Military chaplaincy programs, Festivals, and more.
Wicca and Neo-Paganism are quickly growing in popularity across the world - perhaps as we near the Age of Aquarius people are seeking again to find balance and harmony with mother nature and are therefore drawn to religions and spiritual belief systems centered on Earth based practices. Whatever the reason, people are searching for ways to connect with the Divine and many are looking to Paganism and Wicca to find that connection. Some of us are called beyond that - to enter into leadership and ministry! I've heard that call for quite some time, starting when I lived in a place with no local circles to join and I found myself leading small study groups and Sabbat celebrations with friends in my home.
Last summer (2018) I learned about Woolston-Steen and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Should I attend? I had been involved with an ATC affiliate church not far from my home for a few years, and had attended Spring Mysteries Festival earlier in 2018. I was still leading small community circles in my home and finding a lot of people were interested in attending. In meditation, I asked Goddess about going to the school. My answer was this feeling of warmth and joy and a gentle, "Yes, you're already on the path of the Priestess. Take your learning to the next level!"
So I began my journey, not really knowing what to expect beyond what I had read on the website and heard from some friends from the ATC. From the school website: "Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary offers the finest possible education to pagans of all belief systems. It is dedicated serving those who seek to learn the Craft of the Wise, and minister in the ways of the Old Gods. At Woolston-Steen, we are devoted to bringing you traditional, formal magical training, blended with modern day concepts that support a practitioner ministering in today’s multi-cultural world. Woolston-Steen is a state recognized Wiccan College, and was also the first to gain such recognition. The State of Washington’s Higher Education Coordinating Board has granted us the ability to grant degrees and certifications in Wicca Theology. We are proud to say that it is the quality of our curriculum that leads the way in bringing you the best possible Wiccan Clerical training available. WSTS uses every resource at our disposal to promote well educated Wiccan clergy."
Freshman Year curriculum exceeded my expectations as it included both academic study and personal growth. With a combination of assignments designed to help you explore your personal relationship with Divinity while also deepening your understanding of Wiccan faith and ritual construction; the Freshman courses take you on a journey of transformation. I've outlined the courses below.
Accelerated Wicca (Wicca 101, 102, 103)
Through this course you explore the Theology of Wicca with meditations and exercises exploring personal responsibility, Relative Truth, Manifestation, Law of Attraction, and our relationship with the Gods and Goddesses. You learn grounding techniques, basic energy work, how to Invoke Deity, and more.
This course explores in depth the basics of Ritual construction. You deepen your understanding of how and why we cast circle, use certain tools and incantations, and apply these skills through personal rituals and meditations.
Wheel of The Year (Wicca 106)
Explore the changing of the seasons through rituals and meditations for each of the eight Sabbats of the Wheel of The Year.
History of Wicca (Wicca 110)
Develop an understanding of the history of Wicca and modern Pagan practices. Starting with exploration of early Goddess Worship in ancient times and the era of the Inquisition and Burning Times, to the creation of Wicca in the 1950's by Gerald Gardner. Then understand how Wicca has grown and changed over the past 70 years, and who has influenced it up to current times.
Wiccan Law (Wicca 130)
Study and understand the Moral and Ethical guidelines of Wicca as written in the book, "The New Book of The Laws" by Lady Galadriel
There are also optional electives that can be taken during Freshman Year. Freshman year is mostly self-paced and can be started at any time during the year. Live classes are available to join through Skype to meet with the teachers and discuss current topics. However, live sessions are recorded for those who have conflicting schedules. Wheel of The Year classes and assignments are only available depending on the current season, as you will learn about the energy of the season while it is currently unfolding for you. If you join later in the calendar year like I did, you need only complete Accelerated Wicca and Ritual 101 in order to move on to Sophomore Year, but you will still need to complete all the Freshman courses to get your degree. I suggest giving yourself plenty of time, as this course work can be intense - but with commitment and hard work some people can get it done in a short period of time.
I really enjoyed all these classes and found them challenging yet enriching! Through my studies I expanded my knowledge, deepened my personal spiritual path, made new friends, learned new meditations, and found my connection to Wicca growing and solidifying. I am so grateful for this school, my teachers, and the ATC and look forward to continuing my studies through my Sophomore year. I'm already so much more confident in creating and leading small community ritual gatherings as well as more devoted to my personal spiritual path. If you are called to go deeper in your Spiritual practice and potentially become a leader in the Pagan or Wiccan community, I highly recommend looking into Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary! This community is so welcoming and supportive they are sure to become your spiritual family if you choose to follow this path!
~ Hestia's Muse / Lilliana Blackstar