Pagan writer Julia Kilmer has posted a rather damning three-part (part 1, part 2, part 3) critique of Rev. Ed Hubbard’s WitchSchool. WitchSchool.com is one of the more popular online schools of religious Witchcraft (and is a branch of The Correllian Nativist Church) and brags that over 166,000 people have registered as students. Kilmer, who has taken their first degree training course in addition to several other classes exposes what she believes to be the school’s ethical and quality issues.
“This is not to say that their program is entirely devoid of useful material for all people everywhere. What I am suggesting is that given the reservations that I have for their program and material, I cannot in good conscience recommend this as worth time or effort given the availability of quality material and teaching opportunities that are available in the world today. In addition, given the troubling nature of statements made by individuals in authority within the organization, I cannot ethically recommend affiliation with the WitchSchool organization or the Correllian tradition.”
Some of the key issues seem to be the general lack of quality and oversight in the first degree program (including a pronounced lack of actual religious material), the lack of tolerance towards other religious Witchcraft groups (Hubbard calls COG “the biggest of all Witch Judging Organizations in the world”) and an apocalyptic vision of eventual war between Wiccans and Christians. These sins may seem small when compared to the extremes of more established faiths, but media-friendly (perhaps to the point of media-hounding) groups like WitchSchool get more press and as a consequence help define what the religion is to the general populace (not to mention young students).
One immediate solution would be for the more Pagan groups to take media coverage seriously. Pagan groups need to respond directly (and often) to the press on issues and events of importance to our community. Selena Fox has done a pretty good job doing that with the Pagan Vet Pentacle story, but that needs to continue and grow. If our more respected leaders and organizations drag their feet on interacting with the media then we may end up with the loudest voices instead of the best voices representing us.