About Blue Star

by Cat Castells and Amy Douglass


Introduction
Blue Star Wicca is a centuries old Pagan tradition founded in the mid-1970s. Originally established as a single coven in Pennsylvania, Blue Star evolved over the next decade or two into a collection of more than a dozen covens all across the U.S., all working in what is essentially the same framework and therefore recognizable as a tradition.

History
The ancestral coven of Blue Star was founded by a fellow named Frank Duffner in 1975 and many of the folks who entered the tradition in those early days are still practicing. It would be Frank's future wife and Priestess, Tzipora Katz, and her second husband, Kenny Klein, who would have the most influence on spreading the tradition to students across the country.

In the course of their career as traveling folk musicians, Kenny and Tzipora established small Blue Star study groups all over the country, teaching students during their brief visits once or twice during the year and later continuing to train via audiocassette, phone and mail. These days, the number of trained Blue Star initiates who live scattered across the country makes such long-distance learning largely unnecessary.

While Kenny and Tzipora subsequently left the tradition, the Blue Star students and covens they left behind continue to dot the US landscape from coast to coast, though certain areas of the country may have higher populations than others. Examples of heavily populated Blue Star strongholds include Minneapolis, New Jersey and the Boston metro area.

Organization of Groups
Blue Star practices mostly as a hierarchical, mystery-based tradition with its roots in Alexandrian Craft. Most covens operate on a Grove system, in which uninitiated members and students comprise an Outer Court, and Initiates make up an Inner Court. Traditionally, a Coven (or circle) would include both Inner and Outer court members and would be presided over by a Third Degree High Priest and High Priestess. Obviously while this may be the traditional ideal, the actual operation of Blue Star covens varies greatly from group to group. Smaller covens may have only one (or occasionally no) Initiates, while large, extended covens may have three or more Third Degree Initiates.

There are three degrees of Initiation in Blue Star, as is common to many Wicca traditions. Prior to Initiation, Blue Star offers two other degrees, Dedication and Neophyte. Dedicants may remain Dedicants forever if they choose, while Neophyte is given specifically to prepare a student for Initiation and is not meant to be an end-point on anyone's path.

Core Beliefs
You may have detected a theme so far in this description: no two Blue Star groups are exactly the same. We are almost as much a collection of rabid individualists as we are a Wiccan tradition. We do, however, tend to share certain fundamental characteristics:

  • A round altar stands in the center of the circle with tools placed in specific locations
  • Liturgical songs are used for many actions of the circle
  • Children are welcome at most Blue Star Circles
  • We celebrate the 8 Wiccan Sabbats, as well as 26 Esbats of the year
  • We acknowledge a number of Paths of Power corresponding to the Wheel of the Year
  • We tend to emphasize worship of the Gods over the working of magick, and often refer to ourselves as a "teaching tradition"
  • We acknowledge and respect the entirety of the Wiccan Rede
  • We acknowledge and respect Tenets of Faith as cornerstones of our living philosophy
  • We acknowledge some gender specificity, in that our Priests are male and our Priestesses are female. We consider neither the Goddess nor the God to be pre-eminent, and likewise, we see neither men nor women as being superior. Rather, we seek to balance ourselves with regards to gender and deity.
  • Most groups operate in a hierarchical structure
  • Each group is autonomous, though most of us seek to maintain a connection among various members of the tradition
There may be other interesting similarities or differences between Blue Star groups, but this list encompasses most of the fundamentals.

Holidays
Blue Star recognizes and celebrates the 8 common Wiccan Sabbats (Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Bealtaine, Litha, Lammas, and Mabon), and most groups meet on each of the 26 New and Full Moons (or Esbats) of the year.

Standards of Conduct
Blue Star asks its members to live their lives according to the precepts laid down in the Wiccan Rede and in the Tenets of Faith. We tend to respect the law of Three-Fold Return and attempt to live our lives in a manner respectful of the Gods, the Earth and other people. Many people believe a Blue Star education is significantly more strenuous than an education in some other traditions, and Blue Star has historically admitted to demanding a fairly high level of dedication and commitment from its students.

Role of Clergy
Blue Star often defines itself as a "teaching tradition, " and part of this teaching involves instructing students on their path to initiation and Clergy status. According to Blue Star tradition, Priests and Priestesses of Second Degree are considered clergy and may minister and teach to students, while Third Degree Initiates may receive ordination and may actually perform Initiations themselves. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule, and students at Neophyte level have occasionally run groves, while First and Second Degree Initiates have performed Initiations. Blue Star is nothing if not pragmatic, and the elastic role of our clergy tends to demonstrate this characteristic rather well.

Ways of Worship
Most Blue Star groups observe the Esbats with a Circle ritual, for which there is a common liturgical format. The exact execution of the circle may vary depending on the group, but most follow along a similar line. As stated before, Blue Star emphasizes worship heavily over the working of magick, though groups may perform magick in circle if they feel a need or desire to do so. Many Blue Star groups also teach the idea of living a magical life, and in so doing, encourage their members to worship the Gods throughout the course of their everyday lives.

Reading and Other References
Blue Star has no formal written record of its tradition. Instead, most of the tradition is passed on orally from teacher to student. We do, however, have a deep appreciation for research and knowledge, and we encourage our students and Initiates to read a variety of materials encompassing areas as diverse as mythology and folklore, history and anthropology, divination and psychology. The best way to find out more about Blue Star is to seek out and talk to a Blue Star person in your area.

Who the Heck Are These People?
Cat Castells is a Third Degree Initiate and Priestess in Blue Star who runs an occasionally overwhelming teaching coven. Amy Douglass is a Third Degree Initiate and Priestess in Blue Star. Both live on the East Coast, where they worship, teach and live Blue Star.

Photo Credits:
The photo was shot by Scott. Pictured are, (left to right, standing in the back), Padraig, Maggie, Turok, Mario, Liam, Paul, Skyefyr, Sheev, George, Kim, Renee. In front are Michael, Trent, John, Cailin, Cat, Stacey, J.