Black Forest Clan Circle & Seminary
Who is Silver RavenWolf ?
Gerald Gardner to Raymond Buckland, Buckland to Michae Ragan (Seax-Wicca), Ragan to Lord Serphant, Serphant to Silver RavenWolf. Caledonii lineage can be found on their site.
First Initiation - Lady Breid FoxSong of Buffalo, NY.
Second Initiation, Lord Ariel Morgan of the Caledonii and Lord Serphant of the Family of Serpent Stone.
Third elevation, Lord Ariel Morgan of the Caledonii and Lord Serphant of the Family of Serpent Stone.
Eldering - Lord Serphant. Approximately two months before his death, Lord Serphant performed her final elevation ceremony.
First and Second Elevations in the Druidic Order of the Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove - Arizona, performed by Lady Jeanette Copeland and Lord Kalman Mannis.
Additional training in southern folk magick - received from Ray Malbrough, Llewellyn Author, initiated by Raymond Buckland.
Silver's organization, The Black Forest Family, is considered Euro-Wiccan, drawing from Silver's German heritage, Seax-Wicca lineage, Gardnerian training, Caledonii lessons, and Pow-Wow instruction by way of the excellent teachings she received from her Old Guard Wiccan magickal teachers, as listed above
The Black Forest Clan, was founded in 1993. These covens are specifically designed to train Pagan Clergy. The ranks of Black Forest Witches are made of nearly all walks of life. Teachers, medical professionals, students, bluecollar workers, college professors, law enforcement, writers, actors, business owners - many personally selected by Silver and her husband during their travels around the country.
Silver is now the Director of the Black Forest Circle and Seminary
While writing for Llewellyn World Wide, Silver RavenWolf became fascinated with a unique Pennsylvania healing tradition called "Pow-Wow." Pow-Wow magick is not related to Native American Indian studies, spirituality, or lineage, but is a historically accurate magickal system devised by the German settlers of rural Pennsylvania. While conducting intensive study of this system of healing, she received direct training from Preston Zerbe, who was himself personally trained by the legendary Gertie Guise, who, at the age of 17, was taught the art by Eli Guide, her father-in-law who lived between Gardner's and Aspers in Adams County. This Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-Wow magick is a unique element of the Black Forest Clan. Third degree initiates and elders of Black Forest are also considered "Pow-Wow Artists" and are the only Witches in the United States to hold this particular lineage.
Born on September 11, 1956, (Virgo, Gemini rising, Sagittarius moon) Silver's organizational abilities in combining practical and spiritual methods have helped her rise above Craft politics to offer a flexible path of religious study.
She and her husband of more than thirty years, Mick, are both involved in Wiccan studies and conduct the Black Forest Family from their home in Pennsylvania. Silver teaches magick, Witchcraft, Pow-Wow, astrology, Tarot, hypnosis and other alternative endeavors. Not a stranger to community service, Silver organized and ran the first summer playground activities in her town for elementary school children and served as an assistant Girl Scout Leader for several years.
Silver's group, The Black Forest Family, is considered Euro-Wiccan, drawing from Silver's German heritage and Pow-Wow training, and the excellent training she received from her Old Guard Wiccan magickal teachers.
The Black Forest Witches -- Who Are They?
There are currently about 100 Black Forest Covens in the United States , Canada and Italy. The Black Forest is not a social organization and does not charge an initiation or elevation fee. Although there are some fees that the organization voted on as a whole to help cover some costs such as printing and mailing for lessons and the final exam. These decisions have been made over the years coinciding with discovering how many costs were coming out of some individuals pockets. Money incurred does not go to Silver, rather it stays within the individual clans or goes to whomever has been tasked with a costly job for the running of our organization. These fees were decided upon and voted in by the BFC initiates as a whole during our annual gatherings.
The Black Forest training program is designed specifically to train Wiccan Clergy, and therefore does not train individuals new to the Craft. Only Silver RavenWolf and her husband, MindWalker, have access to the temple rolls. Most Black Forest Witches are over the age of thirty-five. All Black Forest Witches are family oriented. Many of The Black Forest Witches have been chosen by Silver RavenWolf and MindWalker on their travels across the United States, giving the organization a unique blend of culture and expertise so that students can enjoy training in many areas of Craft knowledge and lore. Covens do not hive from the Black Forest Family. Each member has an equal vote in administrative decisions in a Grand Coven meeting held once a year.
All Black Forest members are expected to attend so that they may cast their vote on important Clan issues. Individuals may receive their third elevations only after they have completed the required lessons, performed 100 hours of community service and taken a monitored six hour written examination.
Black Forest members are not elitist, but they do stick together, just like a real family. They come from all walks of life. They are teachers, librarians, computer science, writers, poets, musicians, factory workers, professors, salespeople, publishers, hairdressers, shop owners, mechanics, lawyers, insurance, private detectives, police officers and others.
Occasionally, we've had a problem with individuals claiming to have been trained by Silver, or indicating they are members of BFC, and this isn't true. If someone is claiming to be BFC and you are uncertain of the veracity of this claim, please e-mail Silver indicating who and why you are questioning an individual's lineage. Please make sure your question is based on a reasonable concern, not on local politicking.
A Brief History:
The Black Forest Clan is linked, both by lineage and practice, to several other branches of Wiccan thought and philosophy, including the Caledonii Tradition of Druidic Wicca, Gardnerian, general Celtic Wicca, and German Witchcraft. Taken together, these meld smoothly into what is called "Euro-Witchcraft." BFC's initiatory line includes Gerald Gardner, Raymond Buckland, and Lord Serphant as well as Pow-Wow healing practitioners Gertie Guise and Preston Zerbe.
The Black Forest Clan was established in South Central Pennsylvania, the home of Pennsylvania Dutch magickal traditions brought from Germany. Over time those early Pennsylvania Dutch settlers melded their magick with that of the Native Americans they encountered, and the result is what became known as Pow-Wow. The central energy lines of our Tradition's hearthstone, as well as the Initiation of its founders, include those German/Native American magickal healing practices which are over 200 years old.
Not one of those earlier BFC Witches could have imagined just how things were going to advance and progress over the years to follow. The Black Forest Clan's original members were native to York, Cumberland, Perry and Dauphin Counties. Going back to the very beginning, the Black Forest was actually born around Silver RavenWolf's dining room table, where she and others gathered to study the mysteries and learn all they could about the Craft of the Wise. Black Forest, in the beginning, was an all woman's group. They would hold healing circles and study groups that welcomed all faiths and worked in a joined effort towards a common goal. From there it has grown and surpassed what was started so many years ago. BFC, has become a way of life for many who are chosen to walk this Path. Unfortunately BFC is not for everyone.
The Black Forest Hearthstone, under the guidance of Silver RavenWolf and her husband MindWalker, was sanctioned in 1993 by Lord Serphant, head of the Serpent Stone Family, and by Lord Ariel Morgan. At the Puff Gathering in North Carolina in the summer of 1996, Lord Serphant transferred the Eldering ceremony to Silver, forever cementing Black Forest's association with him. In 1998 Black Forest formed an alliance with the Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove, Druid Organization.
The Heart of BFC:
The Black Forest Clan is multi-faceted system.
Part of its teachings are Celtic Witchcraft, and part are Germanic Witchcraft. Magick is made and our rituals are performed in worship and in service of the Mighty Ones, the Lord and the Lady, that the land and the people may prosper. We believe, however, that all the Gods are one God, that all the Goddesses are one Goddess, and that even the God and the Goddess are truly one. Therefore we insist our members never denigrate or disrespect the forms of Divinity worshiped by others. To do so would be to insult and dishonor our own Lord and Lady. We teach our members that they are responsible for their own actions, and their own lives, that what we put out comes back to us, and that we create our own reality.
Black Forest Witches are taught through a series of 10 written lessons created by Silver RavenWolf and the actual performance of other services to the community they live in. We strive to teach what it means to be a proper person and to not only talk the talk but to walk the walk as well.
We Are A Clergy Training System not a Social Club:
It is pointed out to all seekers right from the beginning, that a 5 year commitment to extensive training is required. For some it may take a bit longer depending on how devout they are to the lessons they must complete. Upon completion of the required lessons and scoring a passing mark on the 8 hour test, The Ceremony of the Third Degree Elevation will be preformed. At this time Black Forest members are conferred legal ordination certificate and charter verifying their clergy status in the State of Pennsylvania. It is up to each member to obtain Legal Clergy Status in their own State by filing the appropriate forms as well as any fees required after receiving the Charter and BFCCS certificate of Ordination
The responsibilities of Clergy are not taken lightly and must be weighed by each individual requesting entry into Black Forest. As Clergy, we solemnize marriages as well as Handfasting, we officiate at Funerals, and at Wiccanings. We do hospital visits and some home visits. Basically BFCCS Clergy performs the same duties as any other Clergy representative actively working within the community
Dynamics of BFC Organization of Training Groups:
Dedication is the first step on the Black Forest path.
Most that consider BFC as their path are usually around the age of 30/40 when they enter.
First Degree Members may begin to teach Black Forest Dedicants in informal study groups. Some study groups develop into new Covens. Covens are led by a High Priest, High Priestess, or by both as Co-Facilitators.
Members who have achieved Second Degree Elevation, passed the instructor's examination, or have petitioned the Clan Head to form a new coven may obtain the teaching/training status at Silvers approval. Remember Black Forest Covens do not hive, We multiply.
BFC covens consist of both male and female members holding some or all of the following levels:
Dedicants, or "Gutuaters."
First Degree, or "Vates."
Second Degree, or "Fildhe."
Third Degree, or "Druidh."
Clan Heads- this is not a 'degree' that is obtained or sought after, rather a designation by Lady Silver. Due to the expanding size of our tradition, the organization was reconfigured into a collection of Clans.
Each of these levels are regulated by a complete list of guidelines, responsibilities, and goals to accomplish before moving into the next sector of training. The work is hard but the end result is worth the effort.
Sabbats and Esbats:
We Honor the Lady and Lord in the Traditional ways that govern our Training. Like most Pagans we celebrate the Spring and Autumn Equinox, Winter and Summer Solstice. As well as Imbolc, Bealtainne, Lughnassadh, and Samhain. There are also several "BFC" Holidays that we celebrate as part of our tradition and heritage.
Standards of Conduct:
We do not allow alcohol, illegal or non-prescribed drugs, or controlled substances at Black Forest functions. We have a zero tolerance policy regarding violence or abuse. Black Forest is a clergy training organization, and because of that we hold our members to the highest standards. We expect them to obey the laws of the land, to support themselves and their families to the best of their ability, to be honest, loyal, and to keep their word. We do not like whiners or people with issues. We do not tolerate the theft of BFC materials, or the teaching of them to uninitiated individuals. We aggressively protect the names of our members and are bound by an oath not to reveal their names or whereabouts to anyone for any reason without the express consent of that member.
Because we are a Clergy training group, new members must have a minimum of a year's prior experience in the Craft, actively practicing, training, and community involvement before Dedication into the Black Forest Clan. Black Forest offers one chance at membership and if you leave or are separated, you will not be brought back in at another point in this lifetime.
A Black Forest Witch shall observe the following:
* Reverence for the God and the Goddess
* Respect for the religions of other people
*Acceptance of the laws of karma and personal responsibility
* Respect for other people and tolerance of their differences
*Respect for just laws and honest governments within the BFC as well as in the
mundane world we live in.
*Honesty with others as well as ones self. "A witch is only as good as their word."
* Loyalty to their coven, its Facilitators, High Priestess, High Priest, and to Silver
RavenWolf, Founder and Clan Head of the Black Forest Tradition
* Always remember that "Honor is The Law and Love is The Bond"
*Honor the succession of teachers.
Members worship Divinity in the particular aspects of the Goddess Morrigan and the God Horne during the dark half of the year, Brigit and Lugh in light half, in our Celtic format. In the Germanic format, the aspects are The Veiled Lady and the Hooded Lord, though we pay respect to Divinity in all forms.
At ceremonies such as Dedications, Degree Initiations or Elevations our traditional ritual wear consists of black robes and Tradition cords designating the elevation of the member. The cords of the Black Forest Clan are silver, gold and black designating fidelity to the goddess, the god, and loyalty to the Tradition respectively.
Our altar devotion, circle casting, quarter calls, totem animals, and initiation/elevation rituals are uniform throughout the United States and Canada.
Gathering of The Clan:
Once a year, all members of BFC are required to gather as one for our annual Grand Coven Meeting. A meeting of the tribes where many important issues are discussed and Clan decisions are voted upon. Through the year each Facilitator can present to a designated chairperson any topics or issues they wish to bring out in the open for consideration. A Clan Vote is taken and the verdict is officially recorded then put into action. If one does not attend then they cannot exercise their right to cast their vote. They forfeit their say in any Clan Business for that year.
Besides being a time for Clan business, this is the one occasion that the entire Family joins as a unified group mind. Grand Coven is mandatory.
It is an experience difficult to find the appropriate words to express the love, unity, kinship, and bond that is a big part of BFC. Bittersweet tears are always present when the gathering is over and we all go back to our own states. Cherishing the memories to carry us until the next year.
All information in this article describing The Black Forest Clan Circle and Seminary is the property of BFC and Silver RavenWolf.