The Mohsian Tradition - Arizona Line
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Article ID: 12740
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lord Joshu
Posted: December 28th. 2008
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The Mohsian Tradition – Arizona Line
The History of the Mohsian Tradition
The Mohsian Tradition began in the mid to late 60’s in Southern California and was originally known as the American Eclectic Tradition. A small group of people representing several distinct Traditions decided to take the best aspects of their respective Traditions and form something uniquely suited to the American temperament. The core Traditions were; Gardnerian, Alexandrian, 1734, Plant Bran and Beread. Over the years bits and pieces of other Traditions have been incorporated into the practice as well, which tends to give the Mohsian Tradition a rich diversity and lends to a healthy vibrant expression of spiritual practice.
In the mid 70’s the Tradition became more commonly known as Mohsian after two of the founding members whose last name was Mohs. This name became common usage since, at the time, there were other Traditions springing up that had “American” in their title and it was felt that Mohsian would be less confusing.
The Mohsian Tradition has always been a small and somewhat obscure Tradition. The majority of the growth in the Tradition has probably occurred within the past 10 to 15 years.
The History of the Arizona Mohsian Line
In the late 70’s a Priest of the Mohsian Tradition moved to Arizona and met a Priestess of the Majestic and Gwyddonic Traditions. They began working together and decided to found a coven based upon the Mohsian material. On Yule of 1981 they ritually ‘birthed’ the Coven of Danu and, in the course of time, began taking on students. In November of 1984 the Coven of Danu was turned over to its current Priestess and Priest, who have continued the Coven to this day.
In the mid to late 80’s the Coven of Danu began to make contact with others in the Mohsian community, including some who had been present at the founding of the Tradition, and had gained additional insight into the reasoning behind the founding of the Tradition. This led to a sharing of information that was a further impetus to growth and development within the Arizona branch of the Tradition.
From the Coven of Danu there has been a steady succession of working covens and study groups over the years, as well as initiates. Currently there are former members and initiates of the Coven of Danu scattered across the United States and in several foreign countries.
The Core Beliefs of the Mohsian Tradition
The core beliefs of the Mohsian Tradition are similar in many respects to other British Traditional Wiccan Traditions: There is an equal emphasis on the Goddess and God in the worship. Central to the practice is what is known as the Mysteries, and each initiate comes to the experience of those Mysteries in her or his own time, and to full extent of which each is capable. The Tradition is also initiatory, with three degrees, and Oathbound.
Although most of the written material that comprises the Book of Shadows has found its way into publication, in one form or another, the Book of Shadows itself is still considered to be Oathbound. Also considered to be Oathbound are the identities of the individual coven members who may wish to keep their affiliations private. What the Coven of Danu originally received as its Book of Shadows was very small and was obviously part of a larger whole. Over the years, as a part of on-going research into the history of the Mohsian Tradition, contacts were made with other Mohsians and additional material was received. Currently it is felt that the Book of Shadows is complete, in its original context, and the various sources sufficiently documented.
The basis of practice stems primarily from the Gardnerian and Alexandrian components; someone from either of those Traditions would be comfortable in a Mohsian ritual. The 1734 material adds a distinctive European shamanic-style feel and the Plant Bran material adds a Bardic flavor to make it different enough from the basic Traditions where it is recognized as a separate Tradition. The magickal training materials found in the Tradition also stem from Hermetic practice that had been adapted for Craft use.
The Role of Clergy in the Mohsian Tradition
In accordance with British Traditional practice the Mohsian Tradition follows a three degree initiatory system. At first degree a person is considered to be a proper witch and will begin to take on certain roles and responsibilities within the coven. A first degree initiate is considered to be in Service to the Self, meaning that the initiate has the responsibility to become the best person she or he can be, to become empowered and to work through any personal issues that need to be taken care of.
At second degree the initiate begins to move into the role of clergy as a Priestess or Priest and will have added responsibilities. A second degree is considered to be in Service to the Community. Community, in this sense, can mean the coven, but can also mean the larger community as well. The nature of the Service can also vary, depending upon the area the Priestess or Priest chooses to work in. Therefore a Second Degree can be involved in healing work, teaching, ecology or any area that serves the greater need and provides a focus for spiritual growth.
For third degrees the initiate again takes on more responsibilities and becomes, in a sense, the “carrier of the Tradition”. A third degree is in Service to the Gods and will often be lead by Them into whatever work or area deemed most appropriate. Even at third degree the Services to the Self, to grow and develop, and to the Community, never go away – it is an on-going process.
Group Structure and Organization
Covens within the Mohsian Tradition are typically led by a Priestess and Priest, with duties shared equally. This reflects the balance of the Goddess and God in worship. A coven led by a third degree Priestess and/or Priest is considered to be wholly autonomous and may have its own distinct structure and organization.
Because of the diversity of the Traditions that went into the formation of the Mohsian Tradition it is not uncommon for individual covens to follow a different approach while working within a general framework. Each coven may also choose a particular focus, such as healing, teaching, self-development or any other number of areas of common interest. This can be summed up in the idea of “there is no One, True Way” of doing things.
The coven structure is also a reflection of the diversity of the underlying Traditions. A coven can be hierarchal with defined roles and duties, or it can be very free-form, depending upon the wants and needs of the coven. A major determinant in such matters is the age of the coven. Typically newer covens, with a majority of beginners, will start out as more hierarchal in order to provide a degree of consistency in the development of new people. In the course of time, when the coven becomes more mature with seasoned practitioners, it is common to have the coven evolve into a more egalitarian structure, with input coming in from all members.
The Mohsian Tradition follows the standard Eight Sabbats practiced within the British Traditional Craft. The Full Moons are celebrated as well, and some may choose to celebrate the Dark Moons in addition.
Generally speaking, the Sabbats are more for celebration and will not include any forms of magick – with the possible exception of scrying done on Samhain. Magickal work is reserved for esbats. Each coven may, if they choose, open up the Sabbat celebration to outsiders, usually relatives and close friends of the coven, but esbats are generally reserved for coven members only.
Covens may also hold special occasions, such as camping trips and drumming circles, just for social purposes.
Standards of Conduct
The guiding principles of conduct within the Mohsian Tradition are the Wiccan Rede and the Three-fold Law. People who are considered for membership in the Tradition go through a screening process to determine if they meet the standards of the Craft. Criteria such as emotional maturity, personal integrity, depth of spirituality and commitment are used to determine whether or not someone is what is known as a “proper person”. Another determining factor is that all members of a coven have to be in agreement on any prospective members; if one person does not feel the candidate is viable, then the candidate is turned down.
The expectations for someone in a leadership position are somewhat higher. A Priestess or Priest serves the coven and is expected to put the coven’s needs before her or his own. It is also seen as a distinct calling and, as such, may not be suitable for all people. Typically a Priestess or Priest in the Mohsian Tradition will serve an apprenticeship under a working Priestess or Priest until she or he is ready to assume a leadership role.
Formal worship is done within a cast Circle, and the working tools used can be as simple or as complex as the coven desires. The Mohsian Tradition is also unique in that it has two Circles it uses as part of its worship; the first is called the Basic Circle and is used primarily for esbats. The second is called the Great Circle and is used for Sabbats and special occasions, such as initiations. The difference between the two is that the Great Circle is more formal and complex, and the Basic Circle is simpler, but effective nonetheless, in its approach.
Another distinctive approach is that members of the Arizona line of Mohsian covens may – when they are ready – be asked to serve as an acting Priestess or Priest in a rotation schedule of Circles. The reason for this is two-fold: First of all, it gives each person within the coven valuable experience in leading the worship and, secondly, it empowers the individual to develop to the best of her or his capabilities.
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