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November 2023 Grey Matters

Grey Matters

November 2023



Table of Contents

1.) New GSW Class Site

2.) Updates to Majors/Minors

3.) Announcing vGSW Realms

4.) vGSW Engineers Wanted

5.) Winter Solstice Moot 2023

6.) November Candle Side Chat

7.) December Astrological Forecast

8.) Between the Covers

9.) GSW Mathemagicks Crossword

10.) Monthly Class Spotlight

11.) Dexter and Sinister in Heraldry

12.) The Way of the Bard

 

New GSW Class Site Coming January 1st

By Headmaster Kingsley



Well met, Wizards and Friends all!

I hope that the day finds everyone in good health and high spirits!


Today I am thrilled to highlight a monumental update with you. The Grey School of Wizardry is proud to announce the launch of a new class site, slated for Jan 1st, 2024!


This is a significant leap forward in our quest to deliver a dynamic and enriching educational experience at GSW. This new class site is designed to streamline your learning journey, deepen your engagement with our curriculum, and introduce greater flexibility for our Teachers while providing a curated learning experience to our pupils, accommodating the diverse needs of our most esteemed community.

Integrated Essay Section:

In our pursuit of continuous improvement at the Grey School of Wizardry, we have innovatively redesigned the structure of our online class pages by integrating the essay section directly into each lesson. Previously, our system had essays located in a separate tab, a feature which, albeit functional, created a disjointed experience for pupils. This earlier approach often interrupted the natural flow of learning and absorption of the material.

Now, with the essays positioned at the end of each lesson page, we have streamlined the educational process. This layout allows Apprentices and Magisters alike to engage with the lesson material in a more cohesive and immersive manner. As they reach the conclusion of each lesson, they can immediately begin to articulate their insights and understanding through the essay. This natural transition from learning to expression fosters a more effective and intuitive learning journey.


Furthermore, this new configuration promotes deeper reflection on the content covered in each lesson. Apprentices are now able to directly reference and reflect upon the material they have just studied while they write their essays.


This proximity to the source material enhances their ability to draw direct connections, integrate concepts, and express their interpretations more clearly and thoughtfully. The result is a more enriched and personal engagement with the disciplines being studied. Apprentices are not just learning and then separately applying their knowledge, but rather engaging in a continuous, integrated process of learning and reflection.

An Update to Lessons:

As a part of these updates at GSW, we've introduced a pivotal change in how Apprentices engage with their lessons. Now, the completion of an essay is a prerequisite for progressing to subsequent lessons. This policy is rooted in our commitment to deepening the educational experience, ensuring that every Apprentice not only engages with but also thoroughly understands and reflects upon each lesson's content.


By integrating this requirement, we encourage a methodical and thoughtful approach to learning. Apprentices are prompted to digest and interpret the lesson material, using the essay as a medium to express their comprehension and insights. This process is crucial in solidifying their grasp of the subject matter, allowing for a more meaningful and lasting understanding.


Previously, we observed a tendency among Apprentices to read through a whole class upon enrollment, then work on their assignments without frequently referring back to the lesson content. This approach, while having its merits, occasionally missed the essence of our carefully structured lessons. Our classes are designed not just to provide information but to take Apprentices on a journey of discovery and understanding, lesson by lesson.

Our new system encourages Apprentices to walk this intended journey--gaining knowledge from the lesson, developing that knowledge through their submission, and growing from their instructor's feedback before moving on to the next lesson. This approach ensures a more integrated and comprehensive learning experience, enhancing the overall educational journey at the Grey School of Wizardry.


Recognizing the diversity in teaching styles and learning preferences, we have granted our faculty the discretion to modify this requirement as they see fit. This flexibility allows our educators to adapt the course progression to better suit the dynamics and needs of their individual classes, ensuring the most effective and engaging learning environment for all our charges.


For our magisters, who are often more self-directed in their learning journey, this essay requirement is disabled by default. This acknowledges their unique stage of study and provides them with the autonomy to tailor their learning experience according to their individual goals and learning styles.

Video Integration in Classes:

The addition of video capabilities in our classes at the GSW marks a huge upgrade in our educational approach. This addition significantly enhances the learning experience by providing faculty the opportunity to make complex concepts more tangible and engaging. Videos serve as a dynamic tool to illustrate and animate the intricacies of wizardry, bringing theoretical lessons to life with visual and auditory richness.


This advancement seamlessly aligns with various learning styles, especially benefiting those who absorb information visually and audibly. It transforms the traditional teaching process, allowing faculty to present their expertise in a compelling, interactive manner. More than just aiding comprehension of challenging subjects, this integration injects enjoyment and engagement into the learning experience, making it more captivating and effective.

Bringing this feature into our classes really does signify our commitment to embracing innovative teaching methods while upholding the very foundational elements of our educational philosophy. It not only enhances the accessibility and appeal of our courses but also ensures that each pupil's educational journey can be informative as well as deeply immersive and engaging.

Managing Expectations:

As we unveil our new class site at the Grey School of Wizardry, it's important to acknowledge that while it marks a significant improvement, it is not without its limitations. You might encounter brief loading times, occasional glitches, or the need to refresh pages for full functionality. These issues, while minor, are part of the reality of transitioning to a new and more dynamic system.


Contrastingly, these inconveniences are minimal compared to the challenges of our old system. Previously, Apprentices faced instances of some fairly substantial hurdles, such as feedback not being received, lessons disappearing, prolonged load times of 30-40 seconds, site URLs redirecting incorrectly, and even lost assignments due to submission delays. These issues at times significantly hindered the learning experience and efficiency of our platform and, sadly, have caused a great many to Drop Out over the years.


The true strength of our new site lies not just in overcoming these obstacles but in its potential for growth and adaptability. Unlike the previous system, which required specialized technical expertise for modifications, the new platform empowers us to make changes directly and efficiently. This flexibility is invaluable, allowing us to continually evolve and improve our site to meet the changing needs of our most Wizardly community.

Updated Site Aesthetic:

In addition to the functional improvements, our new class site at the Grey School of Wizardry features an updated aesthetic that aligns seamlessly with the rest of our digital presence. This redesign embraces a visual style that reflects the unique character and ethos of GSW. The interface now boasts a more intuitive layout, with a harmonious color scheme and graphics that resonate with the mystical and scholarly aspects of our institution.

This visual update not only enhances the user experience but also creates a cohesive and immersive online environment that mirrors the magickal and academic spirit of GSW. It's a fusion of tradition and modernity, encapsulating our drive to providing a rich and engaging educational platform for our community.

Introducing "The Wizard's Grimoire":

Excitingly on that very note, along with our new class site, comes the launch of the "Wizard's Grimoire," a feature that will improve how Apprentices and Magisters interact with GSW's digital realm. Located in the lower left of the website and symbolized by a Green Journal icon, this space serves as a hub for our online learning environment.

The "Wizard's Grimoire" will provide pupils with an all-encompassing view of their educational journey. From tracking Lodge Competition standings and monitoring major/minor progress to accessing classes and reviewing completed work, this feature centralizes essential elements of the GSW experience. Additionally, it links to various GSW properties, offering a comprehensive nexus for resources and learning.


Major/Minor Overhaul at GSW:

In addition to everything else, We're excited to announce a comprehensive overhaul of the Major/Minor system at the Grey School of Wizardry, effective from January 1, 2024. Upon reaching level 2, Apprentices will choose their Major and Minor, each meticulously designed as an 80-credit and 30-credit program, respectively. This new structure ensures a focused, immersive educational experience, providing all necessary skills and knowledge in the chosen field. With this overhaul, we aim to nurture well-rounded wizards, proficient in their specialties and equipped for the evolving world of wizardry. This is a key step in our continuous effort to enhance and adapt our curriculum to the needs of our community. You can read a more detailed announcement on this Major/Minor Overhaul here - https://tinyurl.com/GSWMajorsMinorsOverhaul

To Sum Things Up:

As the Grey School of Wizardry embarks on a new era with the launch of our innovative class site, we reaffirm our commitment to providing unparalleled esoteric education. This platform, while a significant improvement, is part of a journey towards perfection. Its strengths lie in its enhanced functionality, enriched learning tools, and a foundation for future growth and innovation. We eagerly anticipate embarking on this journey with our community, both new enrollees and returning members, to explore and grow together in this dynamic educational landscape. Join us in embracing these exciting changes starting January 1, 2024, at the Grey School of Wizardry.

 

Update to the Major/Minor System

By Headmaster Kingsley


Why hello there Wizards one and All, I hope that the day finds you in high spirits and good health! As we continue on our quest to evolve and enhance the educational experience at the Grey School of Wizardry, we are excited to announce significant updates to our online learning platform. For the past 19 years, our existing system has been a cornerstone of esoteric education, supporting countless apprentices on their journey to mastery. However, as the realm of wizardry and the world at large change, so too must our methods of teaching and learning. To that effect, the Grey School of Wizardry has undergone a major Major/Minor overhaul. After reaching level 2 Apprentices will be prompted to select their Major and Minor from a list, each with a description of what that major/minor offers. While an Apprentice won't need to choose their Major/Minor right away, they will need to do so before they are able to advance to level three. In essence, this overhaul of the Major/Minor system at the Grey School of Wizardry is a testament to our commitment to providing a rich, flexible, yet focused educational experience. It is designed to nurture well-rounded, versatile, and deeply knowledgeable wizards, equipped to thrive and innovate in the ever-evolving magical world. Let's take a bit a of a closer look...


A New Era of Esoteric Education: In our new system, we've reimagined the structure of majors and minors to provide a more focused and comprehensive learning journey for our Apprentices. This change is an upgrade as well as a redefinition of how we impart esoteric knowledge and skills. By meticulously designing each major as an 80-credit program, we better ensure that the curriculum encompasses all the critical skills and knowledge that an Apprentice will need in their chosen field of wizardry to employ the trade with confidence. What's more, this approach allows us to provide a deeply immersive educational experience, where every course is carefully selected to build upon the last, ensuring a cohesive and progressive learning journey. Furthermore, the introduction of 30-credit minors offers Apprentices the opportunity to complement their major with additional skills and knowledge. This integration of majors and minors creates a well-rounded educational experience, equipping our apprentices with both specialized expertise and broad, supportive knowledge. The core classes, mandatory for every Apprentice, have been carefully curated to ensure that each pupil, regardless of their major, possesses a fundamental understanding of essential wizardry principles and practices. These core competencies are crucial in navigating the contemporary world and its myriad challenges and opportunities. Additionally, the inclusion of elective credits allows Apprentices to tailor their education further. These electives provide the freedom to explore diverse areas of interest, fostering a sense of discovery and personal growth that is vital in the ever-evolving field of wizardry. This holistic restructuring of our education system reflects our dedication to nurturing highly skilled, adaptable, and knowledgeable wizards. This approach ensures that each Apprentice is thoroughly prepared for the practical applications and ethical responsibilities of their trade in the contemporary world.


Majors and Minors: Each major within the Grey School of Wizardry has been thoughtfully crafted into an 80-credit program, meticulously designed to cover every aspect of the chosen field. This comprehensive approach is rooted in our commitment to excellence and depth in esoteric education. Each course within a major is not merely a separate lesson but a building block in an intricately structured educational edifice. This ensures that our Apprentices are not just learning isolated concepts, but developing a cohesive and profound understanding of their chosen area of wizardry. By the time of graduation, an Apprentice will have not only learned but mastered the intricacies of their field, equipped with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are immediately applicable in various real-world scenarios. The role of minors in our curriculum is equally crucial. Each minor is a 30-credit program, carefully designed to complement the major fields of study. They provide our Apprentices with the opportunity to gain additional expertise and broaden their horizons beyond their primary area of focus. This structure allows for a more holistic educational experience, where Apprentices can connect different areas of study, thereby enriching their overall understanding and practice of wizardry. By offering a diverse range of minors, we encourage our Apprentices to explore new territories, discover hidden interests, and develop skills that can synergize with their major, thereby preparing them for a more versatile and adaptive application of their knowledge.


Core Classes: The core classes at the Grey School of Wizardry, encompassing a total of 30 credits, are the bedrock upon which the edifice of a wizard's education is built. These courses are meticulously designed to cover the essential topics in wizardry, ensuring that every Apprentice, regardless of their specialized field of study, is well-grounded in the fundamental aspects of the Trade. These classes delve into the foundational principles of wizardry, offering Apprentices a comprehensive understanding of the theoretical, and practical aspects of the trade. They are crafted to not only impart knowledge but also to instill a deep appreciation and respect for the legacy and ethics of wizardry. In these core classes, Apprentices are introduced to the universal elements of wizardry that transcend specific disciplines. This includes learning about the ethical considerations of magickal practice, the basic principles of magickal theory, and other fundamental skills that every wizard should possess. The aim of these core classes is to ensure that upon graduation, every Apprentice is not only proficient in their chosen major and minor but also possesses a well-rounded understanding of the broader world. This comprehensive foundation is crucial, as it allows our graduates to approach their practice with a balanced perspective, equipped to handle the complexities and responsibilities that come with being a practitioner of wizardry in the modern world. By completing these core classes, Apprentices at the Grey School of Wizardry are assured of a robust and holistic education, one that prepares them to be versatile, knowledgeable, and ethical wizards, capable of contributing positively to the communities they call their own.


Elective Credits: In recognizing the unique interests and passions of each Apprentice, the Grey School of Wizardry's updated curriculum includes 28 elective credits, a vital component of our holistic educational approach. These elective credits are more than just a supplement to the structured majors and minors; they are a celebration of individual curiosity and a testament to our commitment to exploratory and personalized learning. Elective courses offer Apprentices the freedom to venture beyond the confines of their major and minor studies, allowing them to explore a diverse array of subjects that pique their interest. Whether it's delving into the obscure corners of magickal history, experimenting with advanced potion-making, or exploring the intricacies of our world's creatures, these electives provide a platform for Apprentices to tailor their education according to their unique interests and aspirations. This flexibility in choosing electives is not merely about broadening knowledge but is an essential part of fostering a more profound, personal connection with the trade of Wizardry. By engaging with topics that resonate on a personal level, Apprentices are more likely to develop a passion for learning that extends beyond their formal education. This enthusiasm often leads to innovative thinking and creative approaches in their primary fields of study. Furthermore, these electives serve as an opportunity for Apprentices to discover hidden talents or develop new skills that could complement their major or minor. For instance, an Apprentice specializing in Divination might find that a course in magical languages enhances their ability to interpret ancient texts, thereby deepening their understanding and practice of Divination. The elective credits are also a reflection of the Grey School of Wizardry's recognition that the field of wizardry is ever-evolving. By encouraging Apprentices to explore a variety of subjects, we are preparing them to adapt to the changing landscape of the contemporary world. The knowledge and experiences gained from these elective courses equip our apprentices to think critically, adapt to new challenges, and contribute innovatively to the field of wizardry. Total Credits for Graduation: At the Grey School of Wizardry, the journey to graduation is a comprehensive and enriching experience, embodied in the requirement of completing a total of 168 credits. This number is carefully chosen to reflect the depth and breadth of education we aim to provide to each of our Apprentices. These credits, encompassing core classes, a major, a minor, and elective courses, represent a well-rounded curriculum that prepares our Apprentices for the multifaceted nature of wizardry. The core classes, totaling 30 credits, lay the foundational knowledge and skills essential for any practitioner of wizardry. This foundation is crucial for building a solid understanding of the fundamental principles and ethical considerations of the Trade. The major, an in-depth 80-credit program, allows Apprentices to delve deeply into their chosen field of study. This extensive focus ensures that upon graduation, apprentices are not merely acquainted with their field but have achieved a level of mastery and expertise. This depth of knowledge is vital for those who wish to make significant contributions to their area of wizardry, whether in practice, research, or teaching. Complementing the major, a 30-credit minor provides Apprentices the opportunity to broaden their learning and gain insights into an additional field. This aspect of the curriculum is designed to provide a diverse perspective, enabling Apprentices to draw connections between different areas of wizardry and thus enrich their overall practice and understanding. Finally, the 28 elective credits offer a space for personal exploration and discovery. This portion of the curriculum allows Apprentices to pursue their unique interests and passions, further diversifying their skill set and knowledge base. Electives are an essential component in fostering a well-rounded education, encouraging Apprentices to explore beyond the boundaries of their major and minor, and to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the vast realm of wizardry. A Note on the Prismatic Major/Minor: After a thorough review and introspective analysis of our educational offerings over the past 19 years, the Grey School of Wizardry has made a significant decision regarding the Prismatic/Rainbow major/minor. With a deep commitment to the success and well-being of our Apprentices, we have decided to discontinue the structured Prismatic/Rainbow major/minor. We have noted that Apprentices undertaking the Prismatic/Rainbow major/minor often face unique challenges. While the idea of mastering a broad spectrum of disciplines is certainly appealing, it has become evident that this path can be exceptionally demanding. Many Apprentices have found themselves overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of study required, leading to instances of burnout, changes in major/minor, or, most regrettably, withdrawal from the school. Our primary goal at the Grey School of Wizardry is to guide every aspiring wizard to reach their full potential and achieve journeymanship. To this end, we must ensure that our programs are sustainable, manageable, and aligned with the long-term success of our charges. However, in recognition of the dedication and passion for those who aspire to a comprehensive understanding of all disciplines, we are introducing a special accolade. For those extraordinary individuals who complete all 16 of our majors, we will bestow upon them the honorary title "of Many Colors." This title is a testament to their exceptional commitment, versatility, and mastery across the entire spectrum of wizardry. In addition to this honorary title, these remarkable individuals will be commemorated with their names added to a physical plaque displayed prominently at our esteemed Highspire Campus. This plaque will serve as a lasting tribute to their dedication and as an inspiration to current and future Apprentices, symbolizing the heights of achievement and breadth of knowledge that are attainable in the world of wizardry. We believe this new approach honors the spirit of the Prismatic/Rainbow major/minor while providing a more attainable and structured path to mastery for our Apprentices. It celebrates the extraordinary commitment to learning and the pursuit of a broad and deep understanding of all branches of Wizardry, which is the essence of the Prismatic/Rainbow philosophy.


A Bright Future Ahead: As we continue our tradition of excellence in education, these changes are a testament to our commitment to evolving and adapting to meet the challenges, and opportunities, of the contemporary world. We understand that the field of wizardry is ever-changing, and our educational approach must be equally dynamic and forward-thinking. This update is a crucial step in ensuring that the Grey School of Wizardry remains at the forefront of esoteric education, providing our Apprentices with the skills, knowledge, and critical thinking necessary to navigate and shape the future of our world. We eagerly anticipate embarking on this exciting new chapter with our Apprentices and Faculty. Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of learning and discovery, exploring new frontiers in wizardry and expanding the horizons of what is possible in education. As we move forward, we do so with a sense of wonder, a commitment to excellence, and an unwavering dedication to nurturing the next generation of skilled, thoughtful, and innovative wizards. These changes will go into effect on January 1st. 2024.

 

Announcing vGSW Realms

By Headmaster Kingsley


Well met Wizards and friends all,

As always I hope that the day finds everyone in good health and high spirits!

As we continue to embrace the evolution of digital education, it is with great excitement that we introduce the concept of "Realms" -- a project designed to augment our existing use of Second Life. For years, our virtual campus has striven to be a hub for interaction and learning, with "Realms," we are poised to enrich that tradition by offering more immersive educational experiences on VGSW.


"Realms" are interactive virtual environments, each one a meticulously crafted slice of life from various corners of the globe and eras throughout history. These spaces will serve as dynamic classrooms where pupils can explore and learn in settings that replicate the flora, fauna, and cultures of the subject matter at hand.

As we are in the very early stages of planning, we are considering the vast potential of these "Realms" to enhance our curriculum. Our vision is to deliver a multifaceted learning experience where pupils can engage with the material in a more tangible way than traditional online methods allow.

The project is set to unfold in stages, with our first "Realm" expected to open in the early part of 2024. This initiative is not just about expanding our VGSW presence but also about enhancing the educational journey of our charges, and the tools of our teachers, by leveraging the unique possibilities that a platform like Second Life offers.

The Grey School of Wizardry proudly stands at the forefront of arcane learning, and we hope "Realms" will be another tool in our belts to offer the very best in esoteric education.

We are eager to embark on this new project with you and, as always, we remain committed to providing updates on our projects so be sure to keep an eye here and on our Discord for future announcements.

 

Help Wanted: vGSW Engineers

By Headmaster Kingsley


Well met Wizards one and all! I hope that the day finds you in good health and high spirits!

We are embarking on a new exciting journey in the virtual world of Second Life, and we need your expertise! We're introducing a new position – VGSW Engineer – dedicated to crafting and maintaining enchanting spaces for our school in Second Life.

What Are We Looking For?

  • Creativity & Skill: Individuals with a strong skill set in Second Life, capable of designing, developing, and maintaining immersive virtual environments.

  • Passion for Wizardry: A keen interest in integrating the mystical and educational aspects of our school into the virtual realm.

  • Team Players: Collaborative spirits who can work alongside faculty and students to bring our magical visions to life.

What's In It For You?

  • Working Scholarship: Successful applicants will receive a working scholarship, allowing them to attend the Grey School of Wizardry for free.

  • Creative Freedom: A chance to shape the virtual face of our school and leave your mark in the world of esoteric education.

  • Community Involvement: A unique opportunity to work closely with our community of wizards and witches, contributing significantly to their educational journey.

How to Apply:

  • Visit Help Wanted: VGSW Engineers | Grey School and, in the comments, share with us your experience in Second Life, including any relevant creations or projects. Feel free to include photos of your work! Also, tell us why this role excites you and how you see yourself contributing. Feel free to include initial ideas or visions for how you'd enhance our Second Life presence.

This is your chance to blend your talents in virtual world creation with your studies here at GSW. We can't wait to see what enchanting ideas you bring!

Applications are initially open exclusively to our school community before we consider external candidates.


Let's create something magical together, Ho the Megapode Wizards!

 

Winter Solstice Moot 2023

By Grey Matters Staff


The Winter Solstice Moot is in its planning stages, but feel free to mark your calendars for December 16th.



 

November Candle Side Chat

By Grey Matters Staff


If you missed the monthly candle side chat, you can catch up on the recording and be updated on the latest happenings at GSW.


 

December Astrological Forecast

By Grey Matters Staff


Greetings, dear readers!


December has graced us with its presence, marking the culmination of this eventful year. Buckle up, for this month holds a constellation of cosmic occurrences that promise to leave a lasting impression on our lives. Our journey begins with Mercury, the master of communication, stepping into the realm of Capricorn for an extended stay. Brace yourselves as Mercury prepares for its retrograde dance in Capricorn from December 13, with its pre-shadow effects felt in the first half of the month. This phase offers an opportune moment to reassess our agreements, fine-tune our financial strategies, and bring a sense of order to our daily routines.


Meanwhile, Venus, the celestial embodiment of love, glides into the enigmatic territory of Scorpio on December 4, gracing us with its presence until December 29. Prepare for heightened passion and sensitivity during this phase, a mix that might leave us both yearning for intimacy and, paradoxically, pushing it away. Under Venus's influence in Scorpio, our allure and allurements increase, yet our selectiveness in choosing our companions intensifies.


After a five-month cosmic retreat, Neptune, the harbinger of dreams and illusions, pivots direct in Pisces on December 6. This celestial shift illuminates our subconscious, offering clarity that aids in better expressing ourselves within relationships and through artistic endeavors. Brace yourself for December 12, as the new moon in Sagittarius encourages us to embrace new adventures, especially those long-held aspirations since the dawn of this decade. The conjunction of the new moon and Mercury's retrograde sparks our creative genius, helping us manifest our grandest visions into reality.


As Capricorn season commences on December 22, followed by Mercury retracing its steps back into Sagittarius on December 23, a call to simplify our actions beckons, allowing us to conclude the year on a more minimalistic note. The full moon in Cancer illuminates the skies on December 26, coinciding with Chiron concluding its retrograde journey in Aries. And as December draws to a close, Venus voyages into Sagittarius on the 29th, while Jupiter concludes its retrograde motion in Taurus on the 30th. This final week of December amplifies our intuitive prowess, urging us to align with our inner wisdom, paving the way for a harmonious farewell to 2023 and the dawn of a fresh beginning.

 

Between the Covers: The Grimoire Encylopedia Vol I & II by David Rankine

By Dean Meighen


Greetings, Apprentices and friends of the Grey School! Today, we will be reviewing a recent addition to the corpus of available texts in the field of ceremonial magick.


The Grimoire Encyclopedia, authored by David Rankine and published by Hadean Press in April of this year, is a redoubtable act of magickal scholarship and an invaluable resource for academic research and occult praxis alike. Published in two volumes, the Encyclopedia contains a wealth of information regarding roughly 100 grimoires, from the obscure to the well-known, tracing the complicated web of their history. The systematic examination catalogs the evolution of grimoire magic and unfolds the stories of which later grimoires were influenced by earlier ones, identifying shared similarities and differences alike. There are also more than a dozen extensive appendices that offer charts comparing and contrasting the use of crystals, metals, gems, inks, timing, and more across grimoires - these alone are worth the price of admission. In fact, Vol I contains an invaluable list of the names of the spirits as found in the grimoires, detailing alternate spellings and other considerations; I would have paid for that list alone given how useful it is for research!


It should be noted, however, that this is primarily a text for scholars and practitioners of grimoire magic. While some space is devoted to discussing the acts of ritual and magick involved, this is not primarily an instructive text or textbook. Readers looking for an introduction to the practice of the magick of the grimoires should look elsewhere, while those ready to more deeply engage with the history of the subject should waste no time in adding these volumes to their library.

 

GSW Mathemagicks Department Crossword

By Grey Matters Staff































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Monthly Class Spotlight: Introduction and Overview of the Chakra System

By Apprentice Fred



This article is part of a monthly series focusing on specific classes offered at Grey School of Wizardry. If you’re not sure what class to take next, or are looking for a little extra inspiration, you’ll want to pay attention to this section. Feel free to share your thoughts and insights with your fellow apprentices and magisters on the relevant department forums as you go through these classes. Collaboration leads to greater insight!


* * *


A common topic discussed in magick, and psychic arts specifically, is energy manipulation. Energy exists all around us, and we can tap into it for a wide variety of uses. However, energy is also present within the human body, and concentrates at specific foci called chakras. While different practices focus on different numbers of chakras, most detail the seven major chakras as going up the center of the body, in line with the spine. It is through the understanding and control over these points within ourselves that greater mastery of one’s self and wisdom gained from world experiences, can be acquired.


Introduction and Overview of the Chakra System is a level one class in the Psychic Arts department, though you’ll need to have finished both Core Energy classes as well as Wizardry 100. It will also help if you have a basic grasp of visualization, though you will have ample opportunity to work on this skill throughout the class.


In this class, the concept of Kundalini is introduced, followed by one lesson for each of the seven chakras. Each lecture and homework pair will encourage the apprentice to not just see or feel that particular chakra, but to truly understand what that chakra corresponds to and how to change the health of that chakra, in both positive and negative directions. However, each lesson is presented slightly differently from the others, and each unit stands out uniquely, while most of the homework assignments are extremely open-ended, allowing an apprentice the freedom to explore each topic however they can best resonate with it.


Each lesson repeats that the table of correspondence in the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard be referred to. This same table, along with others, is available within the Wizard’s Journal, which can be accessed at https://www.greyschool.net/forum and then by clicking the journal at the bottom left of the screen. For the apprentice taking classes on their mobile device, or simply those without room to open one more book at their desk, this tip may prove invaluable.


Introduction and Overview of the Chakra System is worth two credits, and will require a significant time commitment in order to complete. An apprentice can expect to spend a week or more exploring a single chakra and documenting their experiences. However, like with other classes at Grey School, you get out of the class what you put in: diligently exploring each topic, using a journal, and taking time to reflect upon one’s experiences will lead to a greater understanding of one’s chakras, and give one the power to work with them in one’s daily life. Through chakras, one can be more in tune with their needs and emotions throughout the day, have the power to bring their entire body back into balance, reduce stress and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of putting their energy into whatever passions and projects they may have.


As you progress through this class, I encourage you to share your findings and experiences with your peers in the Psychic Arts department forum or in Discord.

 

Understanding Dexter and Sinister in Heraldry

By Apprentice Dega


The art and discipline of Heraldry is indeed complex, especially when the terminology acts as a barrier to understanding. To understand, one must clarify the idea behind the terms Dexter and Sinister. Dexter and Sinister are words from the Latin language (Academic Accelerator), which at once gives us an idea to its original usage. Dexter translates as ‘right’ and Sinister translates as ‘left’ (Academic Accelerator). Therefore, if the attitude of the creature (in this case, dragon) is facing the left, this is the perspective of the viewer. From the Coat-of-Arms bearer’s perspective, the attitude of the creature is facing the bearer’s right side. While many websites have very good interpretations, this apprentice, through his training understands it stems originally from a combat necessity; this combat necessity draws from the methods and effectiveness of the ancient Roman Army tactics. However, before we jump to the concept of military tactics, let’s understand how history treats heraldry concerning the terms Dexter and Sinister.


Religion

There are many Biblical references about the right side being the side of God (Academic Accelerator) and the left side being the side of evil or the Devil. Thus, having a dragon or creature in the attitude of Dexter meant that they were right with God and His will (Hutcheson and McKay). We see this in chivalric knights fighting, and the winner is the one in God’s favor (Hutcheson and McKay).


Honor

As humankind has moved away from the use of more primitive weapons such as swords and shields, the ideas of a creature on a Coat-of-Arms facing Dexter takes on layered meaning. As recent as 1945, President Truman ordered the United States Coat-of-Arms attitude of the eagle to be facing Dexter, which is the direction for honor (Academic Accelerator). Drawing from ancient tradition, the most honored guest at a banquet sits on the right side of the host at the table (Academic Accelerator). In dueling and in other forms of combat, when one has a choice of which arm to strike that of an opponent, it is the right arm that is more honorable to strike (Academic Accelerator). Historians note further, “While dueling may seem barbaric to modern men, it was a ritual that made sense in a society in which the preservation of male honor was absolutely paramount. A man’s honor was the most central aspect of his identity, and thus its reputation had to be kept untarnished by any means necessary” (Hutcheson and McKay).


Thus, a Coat-of-Arms creature (such as a dragon) facing dexter would mean, to the viewer, that the opponent is of high honor (Academic Accelerator); having high honor would mean a certain acceptance of rules for fighting that accords to regional custom (Silver). According to Silver, when fencing, one must adhere to what is ‘right honorable’ (Silver). Silver argues that duelists in searching for a new strategy, the modern strategy is to be strange and different (Silver), such as the Spanish rapier fighting system (MacCrimmin). While today, modern people do not focus on honor as much as earlier generations, but the idea of doing what is right and honorable is a concept that many people hold today, but not so much in a personal way to evoke combat.


Strategy

As the topic of Heraldry and the terms Dexter and Sinister segue into combat strategy, this apprentice will direct the reader’s attention to a more recent cultural reference of boxing and ‘dirty fighting.’ One easy cultural reference, while not directly evoking the word honor, does highlight a particular style of fighting that is uncommon, that of the Southpaw fighter, the movie Rocky (Avildsen). In the movie, Rocky goes the distance with the World Champion Apollo Creed due to the champion’s unfamiliarity of fighting against the unorthodox Southpaw-style of Rocky (Avildsen). In terms of strategy, “ Fighting in a southpaw stance is believed to give the fighter a strategic advantage because of the tactical and cognitive difficulties of coping with a fighter who moves in a mirror-reverse of the norm. Left-handed fighters are often taught to fight in orthodox stance despite their dominant side being their left, either because of the overriding need to best counter a fighter who uses an orthodox stance, or because of the (real or perceived) limited number of trainers who specialize in training the southpaw stance. Moreover, the southpaw stance may leave fighters more vulnerable to blows to the liver” (Wikipedia). In the movie, Rocky relates to orthodox fighters having issues with Southpaw fighters, known as the ‘Southpaw Jinx” (Avildsen). It is here, from a modern cultural reference in the movie Rocky, we see ‘orthodoxy’ replacing the word ‘right honorable.’


This kind of tactical and cognitive difficulties are especially nice to learn when executing martial movements utilizing kicks, punches, grappling, blade craft, batons, swords, and combinational uses of sword and dagger; this apprentice has for over 33 years studied tactics to create tactical and cognitive difficulties in opponents in order to defeat them as suggested in the article (Wikipedia). However, ‘mirror-reverse of the norm’ doesn’t roll into the mind easily.


This apprentice suggests the terms open and closed stance configuration (Lewis). I originally learned this concept from Joe Lewis and his system of karate. A closed stance configuration is considered an ‘orthodox’ and ‘right honorable’ position for all forms of hand-to-hand combat, to include our topic of sword play, which informs heraldry. The closed stance configuration is where both opponents have their right-side forward. The open stance configuration is where one opponent has their right-side forward, and the opponent has their left-side forward, which some call the ‘mirror-reverse of the norm’ (Wikipedia).


When the opponents face off in a closed stance configuration, the right arm is exposed and the left arm is held back, suspiciously like in days of old, when we held shields; thus, the right arm is exposed which is considered the honorable hand to strike or cut (Academic Accelerator). When opponents face off in an open stance configuration, this can be confusing to the right facing fighter, as many of the ‘standard’ or ‘orthodox’ techniques taught are for closed stance configuration, just like in the movie Rocky (Avildsen). For a quick video on open and closed stance configurations, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE8r0dB3LgA (Howcast).


Romans’ Right-Handed Fighting

It is without question that the ancient Roman Army left their mark on many a culture, to include combat skills and strategies. For the Romans, regardless of whether they were left or right-handed, they fought with the right hand holding their swords (Salah). Due to the Roman combat strategy, soldiers had to fight with their right in order to cover a particular sector, and their shield formation would help protect not only the soldier, but the soldier to their left (Archie). A left-handed fighter holding a sword might cut into other soldiers in the formation (Salah). Here the right-handed fighting style was more for function over form, such as honor. Due to the tremendous impact of the Roman Army’s influence on the populations they conquered, the strategic orthodoxy in combat became the right or correct way to fight; this in turn, may have evolved, especially with the Christian influence dominating other indigenous religions, to a moral and ethical component of what is ‘right.’


Back to Heraldry

In heraldry, the main idea of the Coat-of-Arms was to be easily seen and identified (Elfwald). While many scholars and enthusiasts are confused as to why many Coat-of-Arms do not face Sinister (Aronson), it seems clear to this apprentice that the reason why a creature attitude may face Dexter is a mixture of reasons: religion, honor, strategy, and tactics ingrained from the Roman Army. For example, if we are talking about heraldry when the chivalric code was in place, the meaning, especially for a knight or king, such as King Arthur, might be to communicate he is the rightful king under God and that he stands for honor and justice. However, this idea of the attitude of the dragon or creature may have stemmed from tactics and strategy of the Roman Empire, converted into what is ‘right’ and what is ‘honorable.’ The important factor is communication; what is the Coat-of-Arms trying to convey about its bearer? Fierceness, honor, protection, etc.? It is in this light, along with the religion of the day, along with the regional civil code, along with the population as a whole (Hutcheson and McKay) looking and watching what these men of old did, as actions speak louder than words. In heraldry, sometimes pictures as in a Coat-of-Arms, speaks a thousand words!

Apprentice Dega


Works Cited

Academic Accelerator. "Dexter and Sinister." n.d. Academic Accelerator. 31 October 2023. <https://academic-accelerator.com/encyclopedia/dexter-and-sinister>.


Archie, Carl Richie. "Why Roman Soldiers wore their Swords on the Right." n.d. Quora. 31 October 2023. <https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-every-soldier-in-a-Roman-legion-had-to-be-right-handed>.


Aronson, Gabriel. "Facing dexter and left-handedness." 2021. Reddit. 31 October 2023. <https://www.reddit.com/r/heraldry/comments/s0q099/facing_dexter_and_lefthandedness/?rdt=61266>.


Elfwald, Eldred. "Blazoning of Creatures." n.d. Dragon Azure. 31 October 2023. <http://dragon_azure.tripod.com/UoA/AnimalBlazonry.html>.


How to do closed stance and open stance - Tae Kwon Do Training. Howcast. 2012. YouTube Video. 31 October 2023. <https://youtu.be/QE8r0dB3LgA?si=ofghl37Uf9xs1Te6>.


Hutcheson, Chris and Brett McKay. "Man Knowledge: An Affair of Honor - The Duel." 10 March 2010. Art of Manliness. 31 October 2023.

<https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/knowledge-of-men/man-knowledge-an-affair-of-honor-the-duel/>.


MacCrimmin, John James. "The Spanish Circle." 2000. Caidian Rapier Academy. 31 October 2023. <https://sjaqua.tripod.com/spanishc.htm>.


Rocky. Dir. John G. Avildsen. United Artists, 1976. Film. 31 October 2023.


Salah. "Why Roman Soldiers wore their Swords on the Right." 18 April 2010. Histrorum. 31 October 2023. <https://historum.com/t/why-roman-soldiers-wore-their-swords-on-the-right.13041/>.


Set Points. By Joe Lewis. Perf. Joe Lewis. 1993. VHS Video.


Silver, George. Paradoxes of Defense. London: George Bell and Sons, 1599.


Wikipedia. "Southpaw Stance." n.d. Wikipedia. 31 October 2023. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southpaw_stance>.

 

The Way of the Bard: Guardians of Celtic Tradition

By Apprentice Dega


Seven streams of wisdom flowed from that fountainhead, and when they had fed the world returned to it again. And all the art-makers of mankind, and of all arts, have drunk their waters.”

- Dr. Stopford A. Brooke commenting on the poetry of Ireland (Rolleston, 1910).


Introduction


Foreign perspectives denoting Ireland’s love of their language came in many forms. One ancient observer noted that the Irish were "intoxicated by the power of words." Due in part to the Irish oral tradition, everything was recorded of daily life orally by the bards, including genealogy, medical cures, music, and history. As the repository of information, the bardic profession was deemed valuable to all Irish chiefs. As the unfolding of history was written, the bardic profession reached a popular zenith to eventually become the most derided profession. Indeed, as the times of the Celtic people changed, so did their needs. This article seeks to present an overview of the origins of the Bardic tradition, the structure of Bardic ranks, and the role of Bards in the oral tradition.


Origins of Bardic Tradition


During the ancient pre-Christian and early medieval periods of Celtic society, the Bardic tradition laid its roots. As a preliterate society, the ranks of Bard, Fili, and Ollamh prospered to fill a need to present and record the life of the Celtic peoples. The duties of recording genealogies, developing poetry, and presenting myth, legend, and accolades were just a few of the tasks asked of the Bard. Depending upon one’s level of literacy and station in Celtic society, one might expand or specialize in a specific task. For example, Camden in 1586 denoted the Irish as having a variety of roles for the Bard, such as Brehons (judges), historians, physicians, poets, and harpers.


At this time, Celtic people were not always blessed with the ability or opportunity to read and write. This is where the Bard came in and presented the whole of Celtic Tradition not unlike a walking library. If the people wanted to know about their history, or the gods, or which province was ruled by a stingy king, the Bard talked about it. In those early days, the Bards were more than mere entertainers; they were the custodians of the soul of the Celts. As one source relates of the Bards, "Their voices resonated with the myths and legends of their people, echoing through time."


The Structure of the Bardic Ranks


The ranking structure of the Bards varied from region to region, but for the most part, scholars are clear that there was a distinct difference between the Bard and the Fili. According to William Flood (1906), the Fili was the "real poet." Furthermore, Flood described two classes of the Bard: Saor (a patrician class) and Daor (a plebian class); again, this classification was apart from the Fileas ranks and classification. Complicating the matter of Bardic ranks was time. As time went on, the needs of the Celtic people changed, and as such, the Bardic profession began to specialize. Additionally, musicians played a tremendous role in the presentation of the Celtic oral tradition. While English historians tended to group all the Bardic classifications into one, including the usage of musical instruments, this was possibly meant to deride the profession. To break down the three divisions of the Bardic ranks, let's examine in detail the Bards, Fileas, and Musicians.





In the above figure, the divisions of the Bardic ranks are divided into three separate divisions based on tasks: Bards, Fileas, and Musicians. While scholars used different words to categorize the Bardic ranks, making understanding across source material difficult, I have used 'division' to denote the separation of status that the Bardic professionals and scholars used; namely Bards for the lower division, Fileas for the higher division, and Musicians for those who accompanied the parties of both Bard and Fili divisions. I've used 'classes' to denote a further separation within a division noted by scholars like Flood (1906) and O'Looney (1879). Lastly, I have used 'grade' for the promotions within a class, such as the Bard classes or Fileas division. Let us examine the Bard division.


Bard Division


According to the scholar William Flood (1906), the Bards were divided into two separate classes: Saor and Daor. The Saor class was patrician, consisting of aristocrats and noblemen. Conversely, the Daor class was plebeian, consisting of common people. One way to look at this class division would be those Bards who owned land (patrician) and those who did not own land and had to rent (plebeian). However, regardless of which Bardic class, Flood notes that neither class were musicians.


For each class in this system, there were eight ranks to be achieved. As one might expect, the talent of the Bardic class may have depended on their economic and social status; the idea that a Bard who earned his money from land rent would have had more time to focus on Bardic poetry and other complementary skills, such as more concentrated literacy. Bards who came from families that rented land gained skills as they could acquire them or as finances allowed.


As previously mentioned, Camden (1586) denotes that the most prominent Bards from the Fileas division hailed from families with assigned lands and from distinct families or lineages of Fileas. While this is an oversimplification translated to the modern economic model, the Daor stem from the lower class, Saor from the middle class, and the Fili from the upper class. Again, this is simply a reference for modern people to mentally organize the division and class distinctions.


Fili Division


As the highest division of the Bardic profession, the Fileas division consisted of two classes: National and Provincial. Both classes encapsulated the Nemed, which the Celtic people considered noble and privileged: poets, the clergy, men of ecclesiastical learning, and the lordly grades, which included the king. In a future article, I will discuss the Nemed and things such as the Poetic Courts, which clearly highlight the divisions and classes of the Bardic profession.


To begin, the first class in the Fileas division is the National; in this case, my sources cite Ireland. According to the source, the island of Ireland was ruled by one king called the Tuath or "the most powerful one." The Tuath was over all the other chiefs or Ruiri in various other provinces. In like manner, a Chief-Ollamh called Ard Ollamh was the head over all the other Ollamhs in Ireland. The Ard Ollamh, also known as Ollamh Erenn, was appointed by the Tuath.


The second class in the Fileas division was the provincial, and each Ruiri who ruled over a province chose his Chief Ollamh for the province; this provincial Chief Ollamh oversaw the other Ollamhs in his individual provincial purview. Ollamh means the "most great," and the rank is the highest grade attainable in the Fileas division. This grade is the modern equivalent of the title of professor.


Next beneath the Ollamh grade is Anruth, which scholars describe as a "champion" or "nobleman." The following grade, Cainte, is an uncommon rank that scholars see as an intermediary between the upper grades in the Fileas division and the common people; if something needed to be presented on a broader scale, it was the task of the Cainte to accomplish.


Cli grade followed the Cainte, and it was generally translated as "support" or "pillar." Most descriptions of this grade included terms like "champion" and "high-status poet." The next descending rank was the Cano, typically referred to as the "whelp" or "puppy." Stepping down further in grade, there was the Doss, who specialized in Laid poetry.


From the Doss, the next lower grade was the Macfuirmid, commonly described as a "Son of Composition." Dropping down in grade, Foclucc was awarded to those who specialized in the Dian poetic meter. From here, scholars denoted three levels of apprenticeship with varying tasks to learn and master.


Musician Division


The Musician division, much like the other two divisions, can be broken down into two classes: patrician and plebeian. The patrician class could be seen in a royal poetic court in the presence of a Tuath or Ruiri. The plebeian class could be seen wandering the countryside, visiting provinces until they found patronage by a local chief to settle down. Many musicians accompanied members of the Bardic profession in places of patronage or journeyed with them to apply their musical talents. While the exploits of the musicians seemed historically muted when compared to the Bard and Fili, some interesting facts emerged.


At the top was the Cantor in the first class, a combination of talents of a singer and harper in one. Scholars contend that many poems or epic tales required singing and musical accompaniment. However, scholars also stated that Bards and Fileas were not musicians, and some pieces were passed on to either the Cantors or Harpers to help present the topic at hand.


In the next lower grade, there was the Clairseach, basically a harper. In some accounts, the Clairseach mastered a more ancient version of the harp said to "connect heaven and earth through its ethereal music." The Clairseach was followed by the Aois Dana known as the "Men of Song." Trailing behind in the first class was the simple Junior Harper.


In the second class, there was the Aois Dana, a male singer. In a very small footnote, scholars denoted a female ballad singer called the Mona Shull. This wandering female singer found work where she could find it, and overall was not well respected in many circles of the Bardic profession or otherwise.


Conclusion


As we journeyed through the annals of time, we witnessed the evolution of Bardic ranks and the multifaceted roles played by these guardians of Celtic culture. From the foundation of Ollamh to Anruth to the talents of the Cantor, Bards upheld the spirit and heritage of the Celts. Their legacy endures in the echoes of ancient songs and the verses of timeless poetry, serving as a testament to their enduring importance in the tapestry of Celtic history.


References

Auraicept Na N-Eces: The Scholar's Primer. (1917). (G. Calder, Trans.) Edinburgh: John Grant.


Bergin, O. (1984 (Original 1912-13)). Irish Bardic Poetry. Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.


Efnisien. (2023, August 24). Fochlucan. Retrieved from Dragon's Foot: www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=72881


Ellis, P. B. (1994). The Druids. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.


Flood, W. H. (1906). A History of Irish Music. Dublin: Brown and Noland Limited. Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=U2RFAQAAMAAJ&pg=GBS.PR16&hl=en


Freeman, P. (2006). The Philosopher and the Druids. New York: Simon & Schuster.


Irish Archeological and Celtic Society. (1868). Sanas Chormaic: Cormac's Glossary. Calcutta: Irish Archeological and Celtic Society.


Lets Learn Irish. (2023, April 30). The Bardic Schools and Auraicept na n-Eces. Retrieved August 24, 2023, from Let's Learn Irish: https://letslearnirish.com/articles/bardic-schools/#:~:text=The%20Bardic%20Schools%20were%20highly,middle%20of%20the%2017th%20century


New Order of Druids. (2006). Bardic Course. Online: Druidcircle.net.


O'Looney, B. (1879). On Ancient Historic Tales in the Irish Language (Vol. 1). Royal Irish Academy. Retrieved August 24, 2023, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/20489955


Rolleston, T. W. (1910). The High Deeds of Finn and other Bardic Romances of Ancient Ireland. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.


Spence, L. (1945). The Magic Arts in Celtic Britan. London: Rider & Company.


Spence, L. (1949). Druids: Their Origins and History. London: Rider & Company.


Trevarthen, G. A. (2003). Brightness of Brightness: Seeing Celtic Shamanism. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.


Unknown. (2005). The Ancient Irish Epic Tale: Tain Bo Gualnge (Vol. [Ebook#16464]). (J. Dunn, Trans.) Project Gutenberg.


Wikipedia. (2023, August 24). Ollamh Erenn. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ollamh_%C3%89renn

 

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