Witch School was founded online (as witchschool.com) in 2001 by the Correllian Nativist Tradition, which was founded in 1879. Originally a family tradition, in 1979 the decision was made to open the tradition to the public via a series of correspondence lessons, created (in part) by the Rev, Don Lewis. These lessons took seven years to create, but revisions and upheavals within the tradition (including the passing of several Elders) delayed their presentation to the outside world until 1999.
In my opinion, it is important to see the Correllian Nativist Tradition and Witchschool.com as two entirely separate entities because although the Tradition founded the School, the latter has almost nothing to do with the Tradition but instead provides an easily accessible, inexpensive and extremely general (and often shallow) look at a variety of occult topics. Witchschool is, however, very popular. The School boasts of having more than 200,000 students, making it (to my knowledge) the largest occult organization in the history of modern paganism. The generality of the majority of the lessons and the large size of the student body are two things that have generated a great deal of controversy in the witch community.
So it is important to separate the two. Although this series of four books are labeled ‘WitchSchool’ it would be more accurate to say they are ‘Correllian Nativist’ as the lessons and structure are the public documentation of this Tradition’s teachings.
Third Degree is in some ways the toughest to review. It is written for those readers who are dedicated to being a leader, have done all of the work found in the first two books, and are interested in becoming Correllians. Moreover, the information presented here is for believers and some of the beliefs presented herein push the boundaries of accepted practice.
However, Third Degree does very well at introducing the larger community to the standards and expectations its clergy are held to when interacting with those outside the community.
The three core responsibilities of a Correllian Third Degree are teaching, transformative energy work, and oracular work. At the same time, Third Degrees form the moral backbone of the Tradition. The first two chapters -- Standards & Behavior and Appearance & Presentation – are so valuable as to be darn near required reading for anyone considering leading a group. Lesson XI, Problems and Solutions in Group Working and Temple Management is also valuable for any reader considering doing those things. Other generally useful chapters include Astral Traveling and Remote Viewing.
The other chapters differed from my own beliefs and teachings (and experience) to enough of a degree that I can only say that the Tradition is consistent in its belief and viewpoint and offers an unusual perspective on several esoteric topics.
One of the highlights of this series is the deeper look into this little-known Tradition. There are few mentions of their beliefs in general circulation and fewer well-known public personalities. Moreover, their Wicca is distinctly different from that practiced by Gardner and his descendents, making this a rich resource for newcomers to witchcraft.
The lessons presented are solid and well-designed. As with all learning, if the student truly ‘works’ the exercises s/he will develop a rich esoteric practice and experience spiritual transformation. All the more so if s/he supplements the lessons by reading what others have said and – of course – testing it all out through personal experience.
The God/dess gave us brains, we don’t need to drop them on the floor.
~review by Lisa Mc Sherry
Author: Rev. Donald Lewis-Highcorrell
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008