BECAUSE INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!
Q: What is the "tradition" of this school, or is it eclectic? What exactly would I be joining and eventually initiating into here, if I so choose? Is this a Coven, with bylaws and such?
A: All great questions! As far as a "tradition" goes, the Celtic Order of the Féth Fíada is a Celtic (Western) Mystery Tradition, as well as a Magickal and Mystical Order-based Tradition, rather than a Coven-, Grove-, or Temple-based Tradition. We believe that gives it a much broader and much more inclusive nature, which welcomes all those on the Path of the Wise.
Some other Orders with which you may be familiar are the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded by William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers; the Fraternity of Inner Light (now the Society of Inner Light), founded by Dion Fortune; the Illuminati, founded by Adam Weishaupt; the Builders of the Adytum, founded by Paul Foster Case; and various Orders of Knights (e.g., the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller, etc.)
Q: What is the difference between an Order, a Coven, a Grove, and a Temple?
A: In reality, according to many Pagan practitioners, there's very little difference between them, and the terms are often used interchangeably (although a Druid's definition of a Grove is definitely different from a Wiccan's definition of a Grove). The Golden Dawn (Order-based), Blue Star Wicca (Coven-based), Ár nDraíocht Féin (Grove-based), and the Temple of Witchcraft (Temple-based), all fall under the umbrella of Magickal and/or Mystical Orders, just as COFF does.
Q: But even so, if COFF is an Order, will I still learn about Druidry and/or Witchcraft? I want to cast Magick Circles and be a Witch!
A: Yes, you will learn about both Druidry and Witchcraft in depth here at COFF, and you can cast Magick Circles (and/or lay down Compass Rounds) and be a Witch, too. Druids, Druidcrafters, Shamans, Wiccans, Witches, and even Magicians and Wizards are all to be found at COFF. Here, we open the Gates to the Celtic Otherworlds for all Pagans.
Q: Do you study anybody besides the Celts at COFF?
A: Yes, actually, we do. Although we have a considerable amount of Celtic myth, legend, and folklore, as well as historical texts, to work with, the truth is that the Celtic Druids (advisors, lawgivers, lorekeepers, and spiritual leaders) simply never wrote anything down. There are those (including Celtic Reconstructionists) who reference a Celtic cosmology, for example. But as Irish writer, editor, and translator T. W. Rolleston so correctly observes:
It would be strange indeed if, alone among the races of the world, the Celts had no world-myth. The spectacle of the universe, with all its vast and mysterious phenomena in heaven and on earth has aroused, first the imagination, afterwards the speculative reason, in every people which is capable of either. The Celts had both in abundance, yet, except for that one phrase about the "indestructibility" of the world handed down to us by Strabo, we know nothing of their early imaginings or their reasonings on this subject...there is nothing in the most ancient legendary literature of the Irish Gaels, which is the oldest Celtic literature in existence, corresponding to the Babylonian conquest of Chaos, or the wild Norse myth of the making of Midgard out of the corpse of Ymir, or the Egyptian creation of the universe out of the primeval Water by Thoth, the Word of God, or even to the primitive folklore conceptions found in almost every savage tribe." ---T. W. Rolleston, Celtic Myths and Legends
Thus, whenever we reach such an impasse in our knowledge of the Celts, we turn elsewhere to seek potential illumination about their traditions and practices. We begin first with the ancient Proto-Indo-Europeans, from whom the Celts descended, followed by the Germanic tribes, who often lived and worked in such close proximity to the Celts that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. After that, if necessary, we search further afield. British historian Peter Berresford Ellis, for example, a much-recognized expert in Celtic Studies, has found various parallels between the Celtic and Vedic cultures, and information like this frequently proves quite enlightening.
Q: I want to learn about my Celtic ancestry/heritage. Is COFF's primary focus on the Irish or the Welsh?
A: Our primary focus is on the Celts, in general. We are a pan-Celtic Order and Tradition, and we work with the pantheons, languages, cultures, customs, and myths, legends, and folklore of all the ancient Celtic nations, including Brittany, Celtiberia (Gallaecia and Astures), Cornwall, Cumbria, Gaul, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, and Wales. That said, there are some areas of study that are more narrowly focused on one particular region. The Avalon Mysteries, for example, are largely Welsh, although the greater body of Arthurian literature encompasses many different regions.
Q: My ancestry/heritage is not Celtic. May I still join COFF?
A: Yes, of course you may. We welcome those from all walks of life here. You do not have to be descended from the Celts to be interested in learning about them. They were a fascinating people!
Q: I don't have any prior knowledge about the Celts, Druidcraft, Druidry, Celtic Shamanism and Celtic Witchcraft, Celtic Myth and Faery Lore, or the Arthurian and Avalon Mysteries. Does that matter?
A: No, you do not need to have any prior knowledge about these subjects. COFF's Online School of the Mysteries is here to teach you about them.
Q: I am an advanced seeker of the Mysteries. Do you teach advanced classes? Will you put me out of your school if I have too much knowledge already?
A: Yes, we teach advanced classes, beginner classes, and everything in between. No, we will not put you out of our school if you already have a great deal of knowledge (although we're well aware that might actually happen elsewhere). To the contrary, we welcome students with knowledge. It makes for informative, interesting, and lively discussions, and we're always happy to learn something new ourselves!
Q: What will I learn at COFF? How are COFF's lessons delivered? Will I have to do homework? Do I need to complete my lessons within a certain time frame? Who are my teachers, and what are their qualifications?
A: For answers to these and other curriculum-related questions, please see our Curriculum page for detailed information.
Q: Does COFF have a degree system structured like the Garderian Wicca Tradition system? Will I receive a title and an initiation at the end of each degree, or only at the end of the Third Degree? Will I receive a certificate once I complete my education/training?
A: Many, if not all, Orders, Covens, Groves, and Temples have a degree system. It is quite likely that these evolved from the three degrees found in some ancient and virtually all medieval guilds: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master (who had to create a "master piece" to achieve that rank); and yes, COFF, too, has this kind of a degree system.
Therefore, to be ordained as a High Priest or High Priestess of COFF, it is necessary that you successfully complete the First, Second, and Third Degrees of education/training here at our Mystery School, and also that following the attainment of your First Degree, you choose to be initiated into our Order and Tradition. You may not skip or fail degrees and still become a High Priest or High Priestess of COFF. You may not "test out" of COFF degrees. If you are ranked in another Tradition and COFF's Arch Priestess is familiar with your education/training there, she may agree that you are entitled to hold the same rank within COFF, but this is always at her discretion and on the advice of Leadership Councilors.
COFF's degrees are as follows:
NOVITIATE: When you first enroll in COFF, you will be ranked as a Novitiate. Being a Novitiate gives you access to both our Outer (Public) and Inner (Private) Courts, and enables you to begin your First Degree education/training here. Unlike many Mystery Schools and/or Traditions, we do not make you wait for this.
DEDICANT: Once you have successfully completed your First Degree of education/training here, you will be given the opportunity to initiate into the Celtic Order of the Féth Fíada. Should you choose not to do so, but still desire to remain a member of our Mystery School, you may do that by following the Path of the Dedicant instead. Not everyone is cut out for the clergy or even wants to be a Priest or Priestess, and we recognize, respect, and appreciate that. The rank of Dedicant is a laity (rather than a clergy) position and provides you with the opportunity to further your education/training here without ever initiating into COFF. If you wish, you may remain a Dedicant at COFF for as long as you are a member of our Mystery School. However, if at any time, you change your mind and decide that you do want to initiate into our Order and Tradition, you may do that, as well.
FIRST DEGREE: If, after successfully completing your First Degree, instead of choosing the Path of the Dedicant, you decide to initiate into COFF, then you will be ordained and welcomed as a First Priest or First Priestess of our Order and Tradition.
SECOND DEGREE: If you have chosen to intiate into COFF, then after successfully completing your Second Degree of education/training here, you will be elevated to the rank of a Second Priest or Second Priestess of our Order and Tradition (both Second and Third Degrees result in elevations, rather than in initiation, because of course, you will have already undergone initiation after finishing your First Degree).
THIRD DEGREE: Finally, after successfully completing your Third Degree, you will be elevated to the rank of a High Priest or High Priestess of our Order and Tradition.
ELDER & ARCH DEGREES: After that, if you choose to continue your studies, you may achieve the higher ranks of First Elder, Second Elder, and then High Elder. The ranks of Arch Priest and/or Arch Priestess are reserved for and identify our Founder and/or Tradition Head(s). Currently, COFF has an Arch Priestess, but no Arch Priest.
TITLES:We do not use the titles of "Lord" and "Lady" here; they're rarely or never employed by Traditions outside the U.S., so they're often seen as pretentious and an illegitimate use of otherwise genuine titles. The following are our abbreviations/titles:
AP/APs: Arch Priest/Arch Priestess
HEld: High Elder
SEld: Second Elder
FEld: First Elder
HP/HPs: High Priest/High Priestess
SP/SPs: Second Priest/Second Priestess
FP/FPs: First Priest/First Priestess
During each degree, you will be expected to undertake certain work, duties, responsibilities, community outreach, and introspection commensurate with that rank. Here at COFF, we take your education/training seriously, so we expect that you will, too --- and yes, at the completion of each degree (not just the Third Degree), you will be mailed a beautiful COFF degree certificate, printed on parchment and suitable for framing.
Last but not least, you should also understand that just like all other degree systems found within Magickal and/or Mystical Orders across the board, COFF's is only relevant to its own Order and Tradition, to mark your achievements herein. You cannot, for example, attain the rank of High Priest or High Priestess here at COFF and then expect to join a completely different Tradition, such as a Gardnerian Wicca Tradition, and hold the same rank there. Just as at COFF, once your knowledge and training are taken into account, you may be permitted to do so, but there are never any such guarantees. Instead, you may be expected to start at the beginning of that Tradition's degree system, just as though you were a complete novice and not a ranked Priest or Priestess of COFF.
Q: What if circumstances in my mundane life should at any time compel me to drop out of COFF's Online School of the Mysteries? If I am later able to return, will I have to start all over again?
A: That will depend entirely on how long you have been gone, as well as how many times, if any, that you have dropped out previously. COFF's Online School of the Mysteries does not possess a revolving door, but rather the Strong Door of Annwn's Fortress of the Four-Peaks. It might be that you could indeed come back and pick up right where you left off, and we expect that for most students, that would, in fact, prove the case. However, you should also recognize and understand that changes in the interim to COFF's expectations, lessons, praxes, etc., might well preclude that possibility, too. So each student's individual situation needs to be examined and dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and there are no guarantees.
Q: How much does COFF cost, and what type of payment do you accept?
A: For answers to these and other tuition-related questions, please see our Tuition page for detailed information.
Q: I'm currently enrolled in one or more other Mystery Schools. May I still join COFF?
A: Yes, you may. COFF does not require exclusivity. To the contrary, we actively encourage our students to research and study what interests them, wherever they may find it. This results in a much broader knowledge base and a much deeper understanding of the Mysteries. Each student has his or her own Path in life, and it is never COFF's intention to restrict that in any way, shape, or fashion. We are here to provide guideposts and other such assistance only --- not to dictate the course of your own private beliefs and personal spiritual practices. No one, single Mystery School has all the answers, and we would be exceedingly wary of any that claims it does.
Q: What are extension classes, and do you charge extra for them?
A: Extension classes are a series of bonus classes here at COFF, covering a wide variety of topics, from Astral Projection to the Runes, Candle Magick to Knot & Net Magick, Faeries to Ritual Tools, just to mention a few, and everything in between. These extension classes provide our students with the opportunity to delve even deeper into subjects that particularly interest them. All our extension classes are totally free for COFF students. You are not required to pay any additional fees beyond your tuition to enroll in them.
Q: What kind of forums do you offer? Bulletin-board formats are so organized, logical to navigate, and exciting to explore! On the other hand, streaming-view formats like social media move quickly, require relatively little interaction time, and are great venues for short-'n'-sweet comments!
A: Here at COFF, you can have it your way! Our forums allow you to run them in either bulletin-board format or in streaming-view format, depending on your own preferences. So never again get stuck at a Mystery School whose format you absolutely loathe!
Q: Who do I turn to if I have any questions about the classes and the forums? Are there discussion groups and active support?
A: We understand that, unfortunately, for several and varied reasons, it's often exceedingly difficult to obtain a response and/or assistance at many Mystery Schools. That can prove a very frustrating and upsetting experience, one we certainly sympathize with --- and that's precisely why COFF is different.
Here at our Mystery School, our Arch Priestess, Leadership Councilors, and Moderators and Facilitators are hands on, always available to provide prompt attention and timely help with lessons, extension classes, forums, etc. In addition, COFF has numerous discussion groups and other avenues of support for our students and other members. If you need answers and/or assistance, our goal is to see that you get that. It's a task we all take very seriously here, part of the Pagan way, of giving back to our community, and of teaching and mentoring effectively and responsibly. We want to hear you loud and clear! How can we help?
Q: Do you host live rituals on Zoom?
A: Yes, we host live rituals, seminars, workshops, study halls, group meetings, etc., on Zoom, and we also have a series of both public and private chat rooms here at COFF for the use of all our students and other members.
Q: Will you ever ask to see my Book of Shadows, my recipe and spellcasting records, and/or my journals?
A: No, your Book of Shadows, your recipe and spellcasting records, and your journals are all personal and private to you. COFF will never ask to see them, and we would seriously question why any other ethical Mystery School would, either.
Q: Do I really need a Craft or Magickal name?
A: No. That choice is entirely up to you. However, you do require a username here at COFF, so why not go ahead and make it a magickal one?
Choose one now --- and join us!