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Silver Ravenwolf 

And the Black Forest Circle and Seminary 

    

Circa 1990  -  2010

 

Written and compiled by George Knowles 

Silver Ravenwolf is the founder and leader of the Black Forest Circle and Seminary, a pagan organization of Clans (covens) located across the United States and Canada.  A prominent American author of numerous neo-pagan books and novels, and founder of the Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance (WPPA), her books have been reviewed in such prestigious publications as the New York Times, Newsweek Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  As a teacher and lecturer she travels widely with her husband Mike (Mindwalker) and presents workshops at major events and festivals across the United States.

Born Jenine E. Trayer on the 11th September 1956, and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Ravenwolf received her formal education from Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Cumberland County, and later in 1976 attended the Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC).  According to one of her websites, Ravenwolf’s German ancestry can be traced to Black Forest area of Germany before the first of her family members, a George Becker, immigrated to America and settled in the Township of Paradise, Pennsylvania, in the 1700’s.  George was a millwright by trade and fathered seven children, who later dispersed and settled in the areas of York, Adams, and Cumberland counties of Pennsylvania.

At the age of five, she claims to remember wondering why God was not a woman, or why he didn’t have a wife, and so began to question traditional Church beliefs.  In her early teens she was given a deck of Tarot cards, a present from an older cousin, and some time later was accused of being a Witch by fundamentalist neighbours.  Later at the age of seventeen her mother died of leukemia, and this together with the lack of support they received from the religious establishment, caused her to reject traditional religion and turn to studying metaphysics and alternative religions. 

During the late 1970’s however, Pagan publishing was still in its infancy, and the market for real books about Paganism and Witchcraft was limited.  One of the few books she found was “Diary of a Witch” (1969) by Sybil Leek.  Through the early 1980’s and despite being an army mom raising four children (she married in 1981, and by 1986 had two daughters Falcon and Echo, and two sons Dragon and ????), she continued her researches and became directly involved in the Craft. 

Circa 1982 

By 1983 as New Age Witchcraft and Paganism spread across the USA, there was a proliferation of poorly written amateur newsletters and magazines all focusing on similar aspects of the Craft.  This was just before the popularity of home computers and Internet publishing changed the way we communicated.  Seeing a need for writers, authors, editors and publishers to communicate with each other and share information, Ravenwolf founded the Wiccan/Pagan Press Alliance (WPPA) with a quarterly newsletter The Midnight Drive  (later re-named Of Writers and Witches) as a networking vehicle to support it.  In it she featured articles not just about Witchcraft, Paganism and current events, but focused on tips about writing, publishing and marketing, how to work with mainstream publishers and the media, and where and what publications were still available.  In this way she was directly responsible for inspiring many of today’s top Pagan authors. 

Craft Training 

Eventually in 1989 she took her formal First Degree initiation with Lady Bried Foxsong of the Sacred Hart and completed her Third Degree in November of 1991.  She is listed on the Rolls of the International Red Garters, and holds Third Degree status in the Temple of Hecate Triskele of the Caledonii Tradition.  In 1996 she was elevated to Elder by Lord Serphant (deceased) of the Family of Serphant Stone at the Puff Gathering in North Carolina.  She received a Second Elevation in the Druidic Order of the Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove in Arizona from Lady Jeanette Copeland and Lord Kalman Mannis, and was trained in Houngon Hoodoo by Ray Malbrough (an Author and initiate of Raymond Buckland).  She has also received training from Preston Zerbe (deceased) in the Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-Wow Tradition.  On the 17th March 2002 she earned a Coronation in Spiritualism and also holds Master Certificates in Reiki and Karuna-Ki.  Her hearthstone coven is known as the Coven of the Omega Wolf, and she now also leads the Black Forest Circle and Seminary. 

Ray Malbrough, Mike MindWalker, Ravenwolf and Raymond Buckland.

 

The Black Forest Circle 

According to one of their websites, the Black Forest Circle, founded in 1993, is considered Euro-Wiccan and draws from her German heritage and training in the Gardnerian, Caledonii and Pow-Wow traditions.  It also states that the Black Forest is not a social organization and that their training program is designed specifically for Wiccan Clergy; therefore it is not suitable for newcomers to the Craft.  New members must have a minimum of one year’s prior experience in the Craft and be active in their local communities before being dedicated into a Black Forest Clan.  Most Black Forest members are over the age of thirty-five and all are family-oriented.  Many have been chosen by RavenWolf or her husband MindWalker during their travels across the United States. 

Each Clan consists of both male and female members holding various grades or levels of experience: 

Dedicants, or Gutuaters (new members).

First Degree, or Vates.

Second Degree, or Fildhe.

Third Degree, or Druidh.

Elder, or Arc Druidth

State "Clan Mother or Father" 

Training for Dedicants is taught through a series of ten written lessons created by RavenWolf, with each level regulated by a list of guidelines, responsibilities and set goals to be accomplished before moving into the next level.  First Degree members are allowed to teach Dedicants in informal study groups.  Some study groups develop into new Clans, which are led by a High Priest, High Priestess or by both.  Members who have achieved their Second Degree and passed an instructor’s examination, can petitioned the Clan Head to form a new Coven, but this needs to be approved by Ravenwolf.  The Third Degree is only bequeathed to those who have completed all lessons, performed 100 hours of community service, and passed a monitored six-hour written examination.  Successful Third Degree members are then bestowed with a legal Ordination Certificate and a Charter verifying their Clergy status in the State of Pennsylvania.  To reach Ordination normally takes four to five years of intensive study. 

Celebrations and Meetings 

The Black Forest, like most Pagans, celebrates the seasonal changes of the year, the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, the Winter and Summer Solstices, as well as Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh and Samhain.  At ceremonies such as Dedications, Initiations and Elevations, their traditional dress is a black robe tied with a coloured cord (silver, gold or black) designating the status of the member.  All ritual aspects of ceremonies such as altar devotions, circle casting and quarter calls etc., are uniform throughout all Clans.  A mandatory annual Grand Coven meeting is held during which each member has an equal vote in administrative decisions and important Clan issues. 

The Black Forest Circle has a motto  -  We don’t hive -- we multiply! 

Books and Criticism 

Ravenwolf has written 28 books:  20 non-fiction, 4 with Spanish titles, and another 4 as mystery novels.  Her first book To Ride A Silver Broomstick (1993) was an instant best seller, selling over 300,000 copies, and today continues to be referenced by new and experienced practitioners.  Her other best selling books include To Stir a Magick Cauldron (1995, sold 100,000 copies), Teen Witch (1998, sold 200,000 copies), and Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows (2003, sold 200,000 copies).  Her latest book HedgeWitch (2008) also seems set to become a bestseller, but time will tell.

Sadly it needs to be mentioned that a couple of her books have engendered some serious criticism, namely To Ride a Silver Broomstick and Teen Witch.  In both these books her writing style is variously described as arrogant, patronizing and condescending, while her historical content is condemned as inaccurate.  She is also accused of rampant religious bigotry and a serious lack of morality (see sources below).  Well if so, with accumulative sales of over 500,000 between them, many readers may not share this opinion. 

Personally I only have a couple of her books in my own library, and most probably I shall not buy any more, for quite simply I have outgrown their basic level of teaching.  Nevertheless after a review, I do find most of these criticisms to be trifling.  Yes I have found a few historical inaccuracies, but then she is not an acclaimed academic, and I was not expecting to read a doctoral thesis.  Yes, I find her tone is sometimes arrogant, patronizing and condescending, but then I deal with similar people each day, and it doesn’t mean I cannot learn from them.  That she has a bias against Christianity is apparent, but such is her prerogative, and her comments causing into question morality, seem to me to have been made tongue-in-cheek. 

How sad is it that someone who has dedicated her life to revealing the basic inner working of the Craft, as she percieves it, should have to suffer such snide criticisms when the sheer volume of useful information available through her books far outweigh such pettiness.  Nobody is perfect, so to the critics I say - “grow up and behave” - there are much worse books to be had deserving such criticism and not the least as useful or as informative as those written by Ravenwolf. 

Today with all her children grown up, Ravenwolf’s main interests include:  Classical Astrology, Alternative Healing, Pow-Wow (Braucherei), History, Genealogy, Tai Chi, Photography, Acrylic painting, making candles, fine jewellery, oils, incense, knitting and crafty-crafts, for which she maintains an Ebay auction store at:  http://www.stores.ebay.com/silverravenwolfdesigns  She currently resides in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, from where she leads the Black Forest Circle and Seminary. 

                

Bibliography

Non-fiction 

To Ride a Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1993.

Beneath a Mountain Moon (novel), Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1995.

To Stir a Magick Cauldron: A Witch's Guide to Casting and Conjuring, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1995.

HexCraft: Dutch Country Pow-Wow Magick, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1995.

The Rune Mysteries, (With Nigel Jackson) Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1996, second edition, 1999.

Angels: Companions in Magick, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1996.

American Folk Magick: Charms, Spells, and Herbals, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1998.

Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation (young adult nonfiction), Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1998.

To Light a Sacred Flame: Practical Witchcraft for the Millennium, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1999.

Silver’s Spells for Prosperity, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1999.

Halloween: Customs, Recipes, Spells, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 1999.

Silver’s Spells for Protection, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.

Silver RavenWolf’s Teen Witch Kit: Everything You Need to Make Magick! (illustrated by Natasha Melhuish), Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.

Murder at Witches’ Bluff: A Novel of Suspense and Magick, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.

Silver’s Spells for Love, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2001.

Solitary Witch: The Ultimate Book of Shadows for the New Generation (young adult nonfiction), Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2003.

Silver's Spells for Abundance, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN) 2004.

A Witch’s Notebook: Lessons in Witchcraft, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN) 2005 

Mindlight: Secrets of Energy, Magick & Manifestation, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN) 2006 

HedgeWitch: Spells, Crafts & Rituals For Natural Magick, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN) 2008 

Spanish titles

Hechizos Para El Amor

Hechizos Para la Prosperidad

Hechizos Para la Proteccion

Jovenes y Brujas: Un Manual Practico de Brujeria Para Jovenes 

Fiction

(The Witches Chiller Series)

Witches' Night Out, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2000.

Witches' Key to Terror, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2001.

Witches' Night of Fear, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2001.

Witches' Voodoo Moon, Llewellyn (St. Paul, MN), 2003.

 

Sources 

http://www.silverravenwolf.com/About_Silver.html

http://www.braucherei.com/About_Me.html

http://whitestagseminary.homestead.com/index.html

http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1743

(Celebrating Silver RavenWolf)

http://wicca.cnbeyer.com/ravenwolf.shtml

(Why We Despise Silver Ravenwolf)

http://www.fortunecity.com/roswell/vanthal/608/id57.htm

(The Problem With Silver Ravenwolf)

 Plus others too many to mention.

Written and compiled on the 09th April 2011 © George Knowles

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

Site Contents - Links to all Pages

 

Home Page

 

A Universal Message:

 

Let there be peace in the world  -   Where have all the flowers gone?

 

About me:

 

My Personal Page My Place in England, UK / My Family Tree (Ancestry)

 

 

Wicca & Witchcraft

 

Wicca/Witchcraft /  What is WiccaWhat is Magick

 

 

Traditional Writings:

 

 Wiccan RedeCharge of the GoddessCharge of the God  /  The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) /  The Witches ChantThe Witches CreedDescent of the GoddessDrawing Down the MoonThe Great Rite InvocationInvocation of the Horned GodThe 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief /  The Witches Rede of ChivalryA Pledge to Pagan Spirituality

 

Correspondence Tables:

 

IncenseCandlesColoursMagickal DaysStones and GemsElements and Elementals

 

Traditions:

 

Traditions Part 1  -  Alexandrian Wicca /  Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) /  Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) /  Blue Star Wicca /  British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) /  Celtic Wicca /  Ceremonial Magic /  Chaos Magic /  Church and School of Wicca /  Circle Sanctuary /  Covenant of the Goddess (COG) /  Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) /  Cyber Wicca /  Dianic Wicca /  Eclectic Wicca /  Feri Wicca /

 

Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology)Esbats & Full MoonsLinks to Personal Friends & ResourcesWicca/Witchcraft ResourcesWhat's a spell?Circle Casting and Sacred Space /  Pentagram - PentacleMarks of a WitchThe Witches PowerThe Witches HatAn esoteric guide to visiting LondonSatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  /  Part 2 Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /  The History of ThanksgivingI have a Dream, the 1963 speach by civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King /  Auras by Graham Furnell - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

Sabbats and Rituals:

 

Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:  Samhain / YuleImbolcOstara /  BeltaneLithaLammasMabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron MagickMirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrowFoxFrog and ToadsGoat / HoneybeeKangarooLionOwlPhoenixRabbits and HaresRavenRobin RedbreastSheep SpiderSquirrelSwansWild Boar /  Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow /  Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  ElderAlso see:  The Willow Tree (Folk Music)

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

 Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:   / Apophyllite  / Amber AmethystAquamarineAragoniteAventurineBlack TourmalineBloodstoneCalciteCarnelianCelestiteCitrineChrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / FluoriteGarnet /  Hematite Herkimer DiamondLabradoriteLapis LazuliMalachiteMoonstoneObsidianOpalPyriteQuartz (Rock Crystal)Rose QuartzRubySeleniteSeraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodaliteSunstoneThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakeningThe Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murder by WitchcraftThe Fairy Witch of ClonmelA Battleship, U-boat, and a WitchThe Troll-Tear (A story for Children)Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-LanternThe Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the MageAgrippaAidan A. KellyAlbertus Magnus “Albert the Great”Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” Alison HarlowAmber KAnna Franklin /  Anodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey  / Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite Austin Osman SpareBiddy EarlyBridget ClearyCarl Llewellyn WeschckeCecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey LelandCharles Walton /  Christina Oakley Harrington /  Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) /   Dion FortuneDolores Aschroft-NowickiDorothy MorrisonDoreen ValienteEdward FitchEleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” /  Dr. John Dee and Edward KellyDr. Leo Louis Martello /  Eliphas LeviErnest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry /  Fiona Horne /  Friedrich von SpeeFrancis Barrett /  Gerald B. GardnerGavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gwydion PendderwenHans Holzer /  Helen DuncanHerman Slater "Horrible Herman" /  Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" MurrellJanet Farrar & Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne John George Hohman /  John GerardJohn Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJohannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg /  Joseph John Campbell /  Karl von EckartshausenLaurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis Spence /  Margaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General”Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata /  Monique Wilson the “Queen of the WitchesMontague SummersNicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellersMrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-RavenheartOld Dorothy ClutterbuckOld George Pickingill /   Paddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsusPatricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip Emmons Isaac Bonewits Philip HeseltonRaymond BucklandReginald ScotRobert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /  Rudolf Steiner /  Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & DruidsSabrina - The Ink WitchScott CunninghamSelena FoxSilver Ravenwolf /  Sir Francis DashwoodSir James George FrazerS.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  StarhawkStewart FarrarSybil LeekTed AndrewsThe Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather /  Thomas AdyVera Chapman /  Victor Henry AndersonVivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest

 

 

Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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