- FAQs About The OAB: Introduction. By Fr. Pneuma.
- Basic Questions To Ask (From Edain McCoy).
- Other Questions that have been asked.
- Questions To Asks after you have been involved in the group for a few months. (From Edain McCoy).
- For More Information About the OAB.
- To ask a specific question you may have.
We would like to welcome you to this version of the new publication, Frequently Asked Questions About the Society of The Astral Star This publication is a continuation of the publication, About The Society of The Astral Star. In this continued introductory issue we will attempt to answer the most commonly asked questions that readers have asked us over the years. To begin our discussion, we make use of questions from the book, Inside A Witches' Coven by noted Witch and Author, Edain McCoy [Publication: ISBN 1-56718-666-1, By Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383; 1997].
Paganism, Wicca, and Ceremonial/Ritual Magick are very different systems, however this particular book by Ms. McCoy does ask some very compelling questions and gave some valuable advise for individuals seeking to join a group. We are different in a number of ways and will attempt to point some of those differences out while answering the major questions and addressing the issues that she raises. All rights to the answers to the author's questions are reserved to the OAB, Inc., and shall be maintained by the Society's publishing house, The Augurian Press, Ltd. We recommend that individuals obtain a copy of her work and read it thoroughly. Note: Ms. Edain McCoy is *not* a member of The Society of The Astral Star nor affiliated in any way with our organization, affiliates, or general work. All persons are given the right to freely copy and distribute this (OAB) work, provided that: 1) it be distributed freely, 2) no changes are made to it, and 3) this introduction be included in all copies. We hope that this will help the reader become better aware of a number of positions regarding our Society and our work.
Again, on behalf of the Society of The Astral Star (aka The Order of The Star of Bethlehem), I would like to once again thank you for your interest in our organization. I extend to each of you my warmest regards and best wishes in your esoteric studies and continued spiritual exploration. As always, I continue to remain most sincerely,
Yours in The Light,
Frater Pneuma Asteros Bethlehem, (*+Michael W. Humphrey)
Chief Adept, Imperator, Supreme Magus & Society President,
Society of The Astral Star, Inc.; Order Of The Star Of Bethlehem, (OAB)
Georgetown, KY, USA
Autumnal Equinox Solstice - September 23rd, 2011
BASIC QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT ANY GROUP YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT JOINING:
Edain McCoy wrote in her book, From Inside A Witches' Coven [ISBN 1-56718-666-1, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383; 1997.] [Pages 55 - 58] as follows:
"The following is a list of basic questions you might want to ask the coven leaders. Feel free to include others when a situation demands more in-depth scrutiny. There are no right or wrong answers, just ones that feel right to you. Be sure to listen not just to the words of the answers, but note the attitude in which they are imparted and the type of language in which they are couched. For example, I recently ran across someone on the Internet who was looking for "dominions" for his coven, definitely language that starts my inner bells clanging a warning."
Q? : How long has the coven [Order/Temple] been in existence?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star (aka The Order of The Star Of Bethlehem) was formed in Georgetown-Scott Co. (in Central) Kentucky beginning summer of 1980. We were officially chartered and formed on Nov. 01st, 1980 as a group of five young members and quickly grew to ten within one year. Our second constitution was ratified Oct. 31st, 1981.
The Order is divided into Sees (Geographical Areas) and into individual semi-autonomous groups known as 1) Colonial Lodges and 2) Stellar Temples. Recognized study groups are referred to as Colonial Lodges and fully chartered groups are known as Stellar Temples. Each group is named after a star in the heavens. The oldest See of the Society is Central Kentucky and the oldest Stellar Temple is S.T. Polaris, which is located in Georgetown-Lexington, KY. S.T. Polaris claims it's roots from the original founding organization.
The History of each Stellar See, Colonial Lodge, and/or Stellar Temple within the OAB will have to be discussed at the local level.
Q? : How many members are in the coven [Order/Temple]?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star currently lists between 80 and 125 Active Members within three (3) Classes of Membership (Associate/Regular/Honorary) and within ten (10) of the thirteen (13) recognized grades of initiation and two sub-grades of initiation. (0, Aspirant/1, Adelphon/2, Neophyte/3, Zelator/4, Theoricus/5, Practicus/6, Philosophus/Portal Adeptus/7, Adeptus Minor/8, Adeptus Major/9, Adeptus Exemptus/Apprentice Magus/10, Magus/11, Magister Magus/12, Arch Magus - aka Magus Archon).
We have membership in KY, AL, MI, OH, TN, GA, VA, PA, MO, FL, TX, NM, CT and several other states. Stellar Temple Polaris (Georgetown-Lexington, KY) lists 16 Members on it's current membership roll. 
Q? : In general, how many years of Craft [Magickal/Mystical] experience do they have?
A! : Individual members have a wide variety of experience. Some members who have been with the Order from the beginning claim over thirty plus (30+) years of experience in various fields of occult arts and sciences. We have more Aspirants (Associate Members) than ever in the history of the Order, and their experience various from less than a year to three to five years of academic study and personal practice.
Q? : Are members of both genders?
A! : Yes. The Society of The Astral Star have both male and female members. The First Degree of Membership is the Grade of Adelphon, indicating that we are all equivalent sibling within the Order. Male members are regarded as Brothers (Fraters) and female members are regarded as Sisters (Sorors). Men and women are considered to be equivalent in status. Men and women may both advance to the highest grades offered within the Order and may be elected to any Office within a Temple, See, or General Office regardless of gender.
Q? : All sexual orientations?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star is *not* an organization with an aim or focus of/for sexual activity. We are an organization with aims of attaining personal and collecive spiritual experiences. As a rule, we care less about who sleeps with whom. It is not really our concern. People's sex lives are considered their private domain(s).
That being said, we do expect our members to be of high moral and ethical character and we do not condone an overtly promiscuous sexual lifestyle, as we feel that it is unhealthy. We regard sex as a sacred biological function. We regard sex as more than a means of biological reproduction - as it is an extraordinary expression of intimacy between souls. All people bring to a group all that they are, and that includes one's physical and psychological gender.
As a Society, the Order expects that regardless of how one chooses to label themselves (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or any other sexual label) and practice within their private lives they must be able to maintain enough balance within themselves that they are capable/able to relate physically, mentally, and emotionally to themselves and with others as their *physical* gender - especially for purposes of raising, maintaining, and conducting energy in ritual settings.
Ritual sex magick is covered in our fields of study in the grades of the Order, however by and large the information presented is in an academic setting. Individual members are not unknown to make use of such techniques within the confines of married/partnered loving couples. No group sex magickal practices are performed within the Order as a Society.
Q? : Diverse ethnic backgrounds?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star maintains no discrimination based on race or ethnic background(s) amongst it's members. Most of our members are Caucasian, however we do have members who are Hispanic, Native American, Negro, Oriental, and Bi Racial.
Q? : What is the average age of the members?
A! : Most Associate Members are in their late teens to early to mid twenties and thirties. Most Active Regular Members are in their mid twenties, mid thirties and mid forties. Most Honorary Members are in their mid fifties to early seventies. These are generalities.
Q? : How large do you expect to grow?
A! : We have no idea! We have a solid system in place that would allow for potentially unlimited growth as an Order / General Society. We will take our growth one step at a time - generally developing geographic areas one area at a time as genuine interest develops.
Q? : Do you provide for hiving off when the group reaches a certain size? (Note: 'Hiving Off' is splitting into more than one coven. Thirteen is a traditional number for members, but this is hard to achieve and maintain. The number has been said to represent the number of lunar months in a solar year.)
A! : As a general rule, we like to keep our Colonial Lodges and Stellar Temples fairly small - no more than fifteen (15). We usually recommend to split groups when they reach twenty (20) or so. Those decisions are usually discussed by the Order's Executive Council and General Synod as well as the local Temple itself when the members of those bodies feel led to do so.
Q? : What is the coven's [Order's] traditional focus, if any?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star focuses on developing psychic abilities within it's General Grades and applying them to spiritual development and use. Our esoteric/magickal system is founded on the principles and techniques of high ritual and ceremonial magick within a general framework of esoteric Christian Mysticism. We view magick as a means of practical personal mysticism and as a means of spiritual and human development. We include traditional Christian and Gnostical Christian perspectives, as well as others. Our philosophical focus includes Kabbalah, Alchemy, Hermeticism, Astrology, Numerology , and Enochian, within what has been called the Western Esoteric Tradition..
Q? : If eclectic, what leanings do you have (i.e. Celtic, Dianic, Northern, et cetera)?
A! : We are eclectic only from the standpoint that we use what works - regardless of where the technique comes from. Obviously, some traditions are more compatible with our system than others. We hold that all religious and spiritual traditions contain some validity in and of themselves within them. For us, at best the term 'eclectic' indicates or implies that an individual is self taught, having little or no formal group training. At worst the term indicates or implies that the individual has not applied themselves to anything esoterically speaking with any real discipline. They have studied topics in no particular order and have wandered from topic to topic and subject to subject as they can and/are able to.
We prefer the formal discipline of an actual curriculum within an Order, i.e. a Mystery School of instruction, to the often haphazard student. Most such students become jacks of all trades but masters of none. Furthermore, we feel that it is safer, more thorough, and in the end more effectual.
Q? : Is there an outer circle?
A! : Sort of. The first year and a day an individual is accepted into membership of the Order they become 'Associate Members'. All Associate Members are within the general grade of 'Aspirant'. That grade is intended to allow individuals to explore themselves, their own abilities, and the Order itself as well as their relationship to their fellow sibling and with Divinity. Not all individuals complete the Aspirant's course of study within the one year and a day time frame. In fact, most people take a little longer. Some individuals petition to remain as an Associate Member indefinitely, however such individuals usually either become Honorary Members or Friends of The Order within three years or are released (demitted) from membership by the General Synod. A lot goes into those decisions, and all such decisions and actions are based on an individual case by case basis.
Q? : Do you teach others?
A! : Yes! We certainly hope so at any rate. The Order is a Western 'style' Mystery School. We are not opposed to working with other groups of like mind. We teach others and learn from others.
Q? : Do you ever host open circle'?
A! : We have not done so in the classical sense. We have publicly performed our Order's first vision (Called V1), which is a 'Pre-Initiation' ritual for the Grade of Aspirant. Usually this ritual is performed to make the Candidate think about several important things prior to formally becoming an Aspirant of the Order (i.e. undergoing the Aspirant Initiation). That particular ritual was well received in St. Louis, MO in the late 1980¹s at a (now defunct) gathering called 'Magickal Weekend' hosted by Uraeus Coven of St. Louis, MO. We may host an open circle again one day. If we do, it is possible that we may perform V1 publicly again if circumstances and conditions are right, and the membership supports the decision.
Q? : Does the group adhere to the Wiccan/Pagan Rede?
A! : No, not exactly. The Society of The Astral Star is *NOT* Wiccan *NOR* Pagan. We believe that the Rede basically is a good philosophy and code of ethics when properly applied to one's life. The Rede, ('If it harm *none*, do what thou *will*) has a number of different interpretations. We feel that it is important that a person should include *themselves* in with the *none* of the Rede. To not do so would be purely existentialist philosophically speaking - which as a Society, we generally are not supportive of.
Additionally, we feel that it is important to define the term 'Will'. In High Ritual and Ceremonial Magick, the 'Will' refers to the 'True Will' which is also the same as the 'Divine Will', i.e. the 'Will' of God/dess. It does not mean or imply to us, '...do what thou want (or wish)' The true goal should be to come to knowledge and perception of what Deity would have you do - and then *DO* it!
Q? : Is there a coven [Order/Temple] compact you can read? (See later in this chapter for more about the importance of compact)
A! : There is a Constitution of the Society of The Astral Star. Each Colonial Lodge and Stellar Temple has internal By-Laws, which is the equivalent document that Ms. McCoy calls a 'Compact'.
Q? : What is the coven's [Order/Temple] internal structure?
A! : The Society of the Astral Star is formal and hiearchal in nature. All officers are elected and/or appointed on a regular schedule. The General Synod's Officers are referred to as the Executive Council. The College of Cardinal Adepti is elected every five (5) years by the membership of the whole society. Other Administrative Officers of the Executive Council are appointed every two years. Local Temple Officers are elected and/or appointed every year to two years as well.
Q? : What is the ritual dress..?
A! : Formal ritual attire/dress is fairly involved within the Order. Associate Members of the Order wear formal black robes with hoods and mantles, and tabards all trimmed in a golden yellow. The symbol of an Aspirant is on the tabard and/or mantle. The symbol of the General Order is usually on the mantle over the left breast. A black cincture is worn at the waist (encircled three times).
Regular and Honorary Members of the Order wear formal ritual white robes with purple trim and a tabard with a device (A Crux Mystica above an Astral Star (Octagram) indicating full membership. Initiates wear their personal Grade Sashes under the tabard and mantle. The symbol of the General Order is usually on the mantle over the left breast. A purple cincture is worn at the waist (encircled three times).
Officers wear different regalia appropriate to their office and the ritual being performed. The Chief Adept/President/Imperator is in red robes, hood and mantle, and tabard with his office insignia. The Second Adept/Vice President/Praemonstrator is in blue robes, hood and mantle, and tabard with his office insignia. The Third Adept/Chancellor/Cancellarious is in yellow robes, hood and mantle, and tabard with his office insignia. Other Officers of the Executive Council wear green robes, hood and mantle, and tabard with their respective office insignia. Cardinal Adepti wear purple robes with red hoods and mantles and tabards. Arch Bishops and Bishops wear purple robes, hoods and mantles, and tabards.
Q? : Does it vary on occasion?
A! : It is not uncommon to wear more simple regalia in ritual. We save formal ritual robes and regalia for more formal circumstances and high holidays. Most members wear clean but regular shirts, pants, and their hoods and mantles for routine ritual. Officers may wear their tabards of office if more imagery is needed.
Q? : Who prepares the rituals?
A! : That depends on the ritual / working.
Generally speaking, all rituals are prepared by the presiding officer: the Hierophant in local Stellar Temple; the Bishop or Arch Bishop in a specific stellar see; and the Chief Adept/President for the General Order. Some Officers are more involved than others in the training and inspection of ritual teams. The Second Adept/Vice President generally inspects and approves ritual teams overall within the OAB.
Some rituals (workings) are researched, prepared, and executed by the members themselves under supervision for various projects to qualify for various grades within the OAB.
Q? : Are they memorized or read out loud in the circle?
A! : Most of the standard ritual is memorized and is divided into several different parts. These include the LBRP, LBRH, RCR, YSR, Circle and Calling of the Quarters, etc. Some parts of the standard ritual is read - especially those parts of the ritual which is either seasonal in nature or is complicated. Some Initiation Rituals and more complicated magickal workings may be either memorized or read - depending on the member's experience and the decision of the group's officers.
Q? : Who decides how, when, and for whom magick is enacted?
A! : The Presiding Officer of the group involved with council and majority consent of the other members present makes that determination. Any member in good standing may request workings for healing, for general aid, for divine guidance, and for rites of passage (Christening/Baptism/Marriage/Funeral-Memorial/Etc.). Furthermore any member may apply for initiation into the next degree with recommendation of their sponsor.
Any member may research, plan, and execute their own individual working(s) / ritual(s) on their own behalf or for others without group consent, involvement, supervision, or approval. This providing that same are not antagonistic or detrimental to the general beliefs, practices, and workings (i.e. the general 'current') of the general order, it's members, or officers.
Q? : How often does the coven [Order/Temple] meet?
A! : The General Synod of the Order is scheduled to meet every 2.5 years, with Officer Elections every 5 years. The Executive Council of the Order is scheduled to meet every six months (at or near the equinoxes) but has usually met every Summer Solstice in person; Stellar Sees meet as needed; Stellar Temples usually meet at least monthly. They sometimes meet more often and sometimes meet less. The local meeting and ritual schedule is planned every year, usually just prior to Advent.
Q? : What happens if you must miss a meeting?
A! : We recognize that people's lives can get complicated. Some absences are expected. Attending the meetings are the responsibility of the Candidate/Associate/Member.
Regular meetings are like any other church service in any other exoteric mainstream religious denomination or sect. Some people attend every week while others attend seasonally. This is not a great problem once an individual member attains the grade of Adelphon.
Our educational curriculum is pretty much 'self paced'. There are minimum times in various grades, however it is not uncommon for individuals to take longer than the minimum time required. A Regular Member may be demitted for not making progress on the next grade unless they seek and obtain a waiver for cause or personal choice to remain in a specified grade from the Executive Council. The Council of the Local Stellar Temple should submit their approval or disapproval and provide reasons for their decision. The standard requirement is that individuals seeking to join the Order progress from Aspirant to Adelphon within three years.
Q? : Aside from these times, what other coven meetings will you be expected to attend?
A! : There may be special or emergency meetings called with as much advance notice as possible. If a member is unable to attend such meetings at such short notice no penalty applies to the member.
Q? : What level of participation is expected?
A! : Active membership implies just that, 'active membership'. We expect Associates and Members to attend 'regular meetings' regularly. Unless unforeseen circumstances occur, it is standard for all Associates and Members to attend two-thirds of all scheduled meetings in a calendar year. Officers are expected to attend all meetings, however attendance at three-fourths of all scheduled meetings is viewed as minimal to remain in good standing.
Q? : Where does the coven [Order/Temple] meet?
A! : Stellar Temples primarily meet in the private residences of it's officers and active members. Stellar Sees and meetings of the General Synod and Executive Council may meet in a private residence or at a conference/convention center as appropriate and pre-determined. All meeting dates, times, and locations are approved on a yearly schedule by the body in question.
Q? : Will you be expected to provide a meeting place occasionally?
A! : Associate members are not required or expected to provide a meeting place for the Local Stellar Temple at any time. Regular members may volunteer to host the occasional meeting if they have the means. Officers of the Stellar Temple are generally expected to either provide a meeting place on a rotational basis or help obtain a location where regular meetings may occur.
Q? : Who are the coven's [Order's/Temple's] leaders?
A! : The Officers serving on the Executive Council of the Society of The Astral Star are listed on the Order's General Synod Page. The current (2006-2010) Chief Adept & President of the Order is our GHFr. Pneuma Asteros Bethlehem , OAB (aka Michael) who resides in Georgetown, KY. The current 2nd Adept & Vice President is our GHSr. Alethia Asteros Bethlehem, OAB of Plymouth, MI. The current 3rd Adept & Chancellor of the Order is our GHSr. Ad Majorem Dei Glorium, OAB, also of Plymouth, MI.
The Officers serving on the various Stellar Temple's Councils are listed on the Affilate Page.
Q? : How did they get these positions?
A! : The Principle Officers of the General Society serve in the College of Cardinal Adepti. These include the Chief Adept/President, 2nd Adept/Vice President, 3rd Adept/Chancellor, & all Vice Chancellors. These Officers are elected by the general membership. Members who serve as other Officers on the Executive Council are appointed by the Chief Adept with the consent of the College of Cardinal Adepti.
At the State/Commonwealth level the Arch Bishop and other Bishops serve as the Board of Regents. At the Local level, within a Stellar Temple the Hierophant, Hiereus, and Hegemon are elected by the membership.
Q? : How long will they hold them? i.e. How long are their terms of office?
A! : The Chief Adept/President, 2nd Adept/Vice President, and 3rd Adept/Chancellor, serve for a five (5) year term. Elections are held every year ending in a zero (0) or a five (5). Vice Chancellors may be nominated at any meeting of the Executive Council or the General Synod. Cardinal Adepti serve for life or until they resign or retire. Other Officers who serve on the Executive Council serve a two (2) year term with odd numbered Adepti (re)appointed and (re)confirmed in odd years and even numbered Adepti (re)appointed and (re)confirmed in even years.
State/Commonwealth Bishops and Vicars are elected and serve for life or until they resign or retire. Administrative Curia Officers are (re)appointed every two (2) years. Local elected leadership serve for two (2) years. Other local officers are appointed by the Hierophant/Hierophantria with council of the Hiereus/Hieria and the Hegamon/Hegamone for a period of six (6) months.
Q? : What other coven [Order/Temple] officers might there be?
A! : The Executive Council of the Order may have the following additional officers:
1) 4th Adept/Secretary; 2) 5th Adept/Treasurer; 3) 6th Adept/Reporter; 4) 7th Adept/Librarian; 5) 8th Adept/Parliamentarian; 6) 9th Adept/Historian; 7) 10th Adept/Vizier; 8) 11th Adept/Chaplain; 9) 12th Adept/Marshal.
Local Councils may have the following additional officers:
1) Kerux; 2) Dadouchos; 3) Stolistes; 4) Sentinel; 5) Past Hierophant.
Q? : How are they chosen?
A! : Officers serving on the Executive Council of the General Order are appointed by the Chief Adept with council of the College of Cardinal Adepti.
Officers serving a Council for a local Stellar Temple are appointed by the Hierophant with council from the current Hierieus, Hegamon and the fellow Adepti of that Stellar Temple.
Q? : What are their duties?
A! : The duties of Officers serving on the Executive Council are stated in full in the Order's Constitution in Article 4, Section 2, Paragraphs 1-14.
The duties of Officers serving on a State/Commonwealth/Territorial See Curia are stated in full in the Order's Constitution in Article 5, Section 2, Paragraphs 1-6.
The duties of Officers serving on the Council of a Local Stellar Temple are stated in full in the Order's Constitution in Article 6 Section 3, Paragraphs 1-8.EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL RULES AND GUIDELINES FOR GOVERNANCE OF THE SOCIETY OF THE ASTRAL STAR CAN BE FOUND IN THE ORDER'S CONSTITUTION AVAILABLE ON-LINE.
Q? : Does the coven [Order/Temple] ever network with other covens or groups?
A! : Yes. We have no problem working with other groups nationally, regionally, or locally on projects and regarding concerns of mutual interest.
Q? : What, if any, ties to national or international Pagan/Wiccan organizations are maintained by the coven [Order/Temple]?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star has been affiliated formally with AMER (The Alliance for Magical and Earth Religions) headquartered in St. Louis, MO in the mid 1980s through the mid 1990s. We were also affiliated with the WPPA (Wiccan Pagan Press Alliance) in the mid 1990s operated by Silver Ravenwolf. Our Journal, The Crux Mystica was in good standing with that organization of publishers. We currently are not affiliated with any other national or international Pagan/Wiccan/Esoteric organizations. Stellar Sees and Temples are not allowed to formally join any such organization independently, as the General Society maintains that right unto itself.
Q? : Are dues charged by the coven [Order/Temple]? And if so, how much?
A! : Regarding the General Order: As of 2011, Active Members pay $50.00 a year which are due by the Vernal Equinox of each year. Associate Members (Aspirants) and Honorary Members are not required to pay dues. Furthermore, Inactive Members pay no dues. It should be noted that If a Regular Active Member is financially unable to pay dues, they may apply for a waiver year by year until their financial conditions stabilize. At no time is anyone refused admittance or standing because of a financial in ability to pay dues.
Stellar Sees currently have no dues, as the General Society pays for their activity.
Local Stellar Temples pay minor dues or fees for services and activities. Those amounts vary from Temple to Temple based on their activity and individual needs. All members vote on changes in dues locally.
Q? : What sort of things are covered by this money?
A! : Membership dues are used to pay for the legal fees to maintain the Society's incorporation with the Secretary of State in all Commonwealths, States, and Territories where we are incorporated as a non profit corporation. Additionally, membership dues are used to pay for the general administration costs of the Society, including fees for our Post Office Box and for maintaining web hosting services for the Order's Web Site and e-mail accounts. For larger gatherings and meetings of members and official bodies we rent appropriate halls for those meetings. Some funding is issued for liturgical supplies, including ritual consumables. Additional funding is set aside in Savings and some for specific projects approved of by the General Synod on behalf of the General Order at Large. The details of our financial budget is available on-line to members of the Order.
Q? : If you join this coven [Order/Temple], what will be your place in the group?
A! : In most instances, [ninety-five (95%) percent] of the time, new members will begin as Associate Members as 0ro Degree Aspirants. Aspirants study a general course of instruction which includes topics including general psychic development and academic disciplines including basic astrology and numerology. Studies in the Grade of Aspirant last a minimum of one (1) year.
and Q? : what is the program for advancement?
A! : Advancement within the Order takes time and serious work. There are four (4) classes of Grades within the Order, including 1) General, 2) Elemental, 3) Adept, and 4) Mage.
Within the General Grades, a minimum of one (1) year of study and practical exercises is required to progress in the Grade of Aspirant (Associate Member); followed by a minimum of six (6) months in the Grade of Adelphon (Regular Members); followed by a minimum of six (6) months of study in the Grade of Neophyte.
Within the Elemental Grades, a minimum of six (6) months in the Grade of Zelator (Earth); followed by a minimum of six (6) months of study in the Grade of Theoricus (Water); followed by a minimum of six (6) months of study in the Grade of Practicus (Air); followed by a minimum of six (6) months of study in the Grade of Philosophus (Fire) is required. A Sub-grade of known as Portal Adeptus (Spirit) follows Philosophus and precedes Adeptus Minor. That Sub-grade requires a minimum of one (1) year of work before advancing.
Within the Adept Grades, a minimum of two (2) years of study in the Grade of Adeptus Minor is required before advancing. A minimum of three (3) years of study in the Grade of Adeptus Major is required before advancing. A minimum of five (5) years of study in the Grade of Adeptus Exemtptus is required before advancing. A Sub-grade of Apprentice Magus follows Adeptus Exemptus and requires a minimum of two (2) years of work before advancing.
There are three (3) grades above the Adept Grades, and these are referred to as the Mage Grades. These include: Magus, Magister Magus, and Arch Magus, also known as Magus Archon.
Honorary Members are inducted (i.e. initiated) into a particular Grade/Degree of the Order with authorization of Order's Chief Adept/President with consent of the Cardinal Adepti. Honorary Members *may* work through the curriculum of the Order and *may* advance in Grade, however it is not required.
A complete account of requirements and a step by step guide to our Order's curriculum is available in print and on-line in the Order's journal, The Crux Mystica, Volume #0, Issue #2, and is available Grade by Grade. The Aspirants curriculum is available to the general public for those interested.
Q? : Are identities of members kept confidential?
A! : The Order respects the privacy of it's membership at large and as such we do not divulge the names of individual members to the general public or to curious bystanders. A member is free to identify themselves as a member of the Order to whomever they wish - as long as they do not make any claim(s) to represent the Order unless duly authorized by higher authority to do so.
Members within the general Order make use of official Order Mottoes when referring to themselves or other members. Sometimes abbreviations of mottoes are also used.
Q? : Does the coven [Order] have a special policy on the use of Craft names?
A! : Individual Order Mottoes are the equivalent of Craft and/or Magickal Names for most High Ritual/Ceremonial Magickians and organizations of same. Order Mottoes are chosen by the individual member and is usually a word or phrase that represents their highest spiritual ideas and/or aspirations or something they hold dear and true. Most Order Mottoes are in either Latin, Greek, or Hebrew. There are exceptions to the rule. A lot of flexibility is allowed for an individual motto.
The abbreviation *Fr.* is placed before a male member's name and comes from the Latin word, *Frater* which means, *Brother*. The abbreviation *Sr.* is placed before a female member's name and comes from the Latin word, *Soror* which means *Sister*.
The Order reserves the Greek phrase *Asteros Bethlehem* for individual members who were either original and/or founding members of the Order, or for individuals who have been granted the right to use that phrase within their motto as an honorific for special services to the Order which has been considered by their peers as having been above and beyond the call of duty on the Order's behalf.
Q? : Does the coven [Order/Temple] maintain a high profile in the local Pagan community?
A! : We are known to a number of individuals and organizations within different Pagan and Wiccan traditions locally, attending numerous local psychic fairs and seasonal celebrational gatherings and festivals.
Q? : The national Pagan community?
A! : We are also known to a number of individuals and organizations within different Pagan and Wiccan traditions both regionally and nationally, attending numerous psychic fairs and seasonal celebrational gatherings and festivals across the country (USA). Our Order and it's work has been featured in numerous publications and written works by several known Pagan and Wiccan authors. At least three individuals have made use of our materials and/or interviewed and quoted our Chief Adept/President GHFr. Pneuma in their own Doctoral Dissertations for advanced degrees from accredited institutions of higher education.
Q? : In the secular community?
A! : No, we have very little involvement within the Secular Community as an Order. It is true that we have a couple of members who are in law enforcement that have consulted in numerous cases involving alleged occult and/or esoteric group involvement. But again, that work has been done by individual members with informed consent of the General Synod of the Order.
Q? : Is anyone in the coven [Order] a licensed/ordained member of the clergy?
A! : Yes. We have individuals ordained and recognized in the titles and offices of Deacon/Deaconess; Priest/Priestess; High Priest/High Priestess; Presbyter (Elder); Vicar; Bishop; Arch Bishop; and Cardinal within the Order. Additionally, we have male and female members who are ordained within mainstream Christian denominational churches including Presbyterian and Episcopalian.
Q? : Is anyone in the group well known in the Pagan community?
A! : The Order's Chief Adept/President is fairly well known. GHFr. Pneuma Asteros has served on the National Advisory Board of AMER (The Alliance for Magical and Earth Religions) headquartered in St. Louis, MO. Additionally he is a fairly well known author - primarily known for his essays on various esoteric subjects but also for his editing of The OAB Dictionary of Terminology. He has either written or edited major works for the Order, including the Introductory Publications. GHFr. Pneuma has been interviewed for at least three doctoral dissertations and one book published by Llewellyn Publications in Feb. 2009 by River & Joyce Higgenbotham of St. Louis, MO entitled, ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path.
Q? : In the secular community?
A! : We have a couple of individuals who are professionally well known in their professional occupational fields, however they have requested that we not list them publicly.
Q? : How are inner group "conflicts" dealt with and resolved?
A! : Like all conflicts, it depends on the nature of the conflict. Members are encouraged to try to work out personal conflicts between themselves. If they need a mediator then a member of clergy or a Temple Officer may assist to resolve issues. Serious conflicts may be referred to the appropriate Vicar or Bishop for mediation and/or resolution. Even more serious conflicts may be referred to a Cardinal Adept and/or taken to the floor of the next session of the Executive Council or General Synod.
Q? : How many people have left the coven since inception?
A! : We are like any other spiritual congregation. People come and people go. Of the ten Founding Members of the Order in 1980, to date  three have resigned, one has been demitted, four have requested and granted inactive status, and two remain active.
Statistically, we have actually had few members formally resign their membership from the Order. Perhaps ten percent have resigned. Historically speaking, of this ten percent, we have had about thirty-five percent demitted for lack of progress or lack of communication from them over a three year period of time. We have had about twenty-five percent request and be granted inactive status. We have had three percent die while in an active membership status.
Q? : Why did they leave?
A! : There are a number of reasons. In the mid 1980s while in our college years, we had two founding members leave due to semi-public scandal being associated with an occult order - primarily due to their fiancees and other family members either not happy with our perceived activity or for not being allowed to join the Order themselves for one reason or another.
One major reason in recent times has been the fact that people move away from an active geographical area where they were involved with the Order to a geographical area where the Order is not currently active. This seems to be a major issue for us to resolve.
Three people resigned because of miscommunication and feeling unhappy with the scheduled meeting times (or lack there of) for a local Stellar Temple and/or they just did not fit into our particular system.
A number of people went inactive or resigned due to getting involved in other activities. Some got married or had children, or changed jobs, or as one person put it, "life happened with a vengeance".
Q? : Could you speak with them?
A! : The Order would have no problem with anyone speaking to any individual past member who chose to leave regarding their experiences with the Order. However, we would have difficulty in locating a number of them - especially those who were demitted or resigned. The individuals who resigned and with whom we have remained in contact with could have messages forwarded to them. We can not guarantee that such inquiries would receive a reply from them.
Q? : Has the coven [Order/Temple] ever had to banish a member (see Chapter II)?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star has *never* had to banish an active or honorary member from its ranks. We have had to refuse to admit to membership and/or blackball a number of Candidates and Associate Members. They were deemed to be mentally or emotionally unstable by a committee of the Order. There are a lot of individuals who participate in various occult activities who are - to be blunt - completely nuts.
Q? : For what offense?
A! : We have had no Banishments in our Order's History.
We have had to refuse to admit and/or blackball five individuals who were deemed mentally unsound.
Q? : Without divulging any coven [Order/Temple] secrets, how was the banishment handled?
A! : We have had no banishments in our Order's History.
A ranking Adept was chosen to inform the individual that the Order could not accept their membership as we felt that they had other issues which needed to be addressed. We encouraged them to seek psychological counseling.
Q? : Are there any prohibitions against your being a part of other covens or networking groups while you are a member of this coven [Order/Temple]?
A! : The Society of The Astral Star does not require an individual to abstain from other courses of study or spiritual expression while involved within the OAB. Members of the Society of The Astral Star may be members in good standing of many different and diverse esoteric organizations.
We encourage Associate Members to make their OAB Aspirant studies their first priority for the duration that they are either admitted to first degree Adelphon or until they resign their Associate Membership. It is possible for an individual to over extend themselves.
Q? : Are there vows of secrecy to be taken?
A! : Members of the Order of the Astral Star take no vows of secrecy. In fact, we take no vows at all. We *do* however pledge our word (and our word is our bond) to use discretion and not to reveal the names and identities of other OAB Members, their Degrees or Titles of Office nor the specific activities at our meetings.
Q? : If you have been initiated before, or have done a self-initiation, is this acceptable to them?
A! : The Order accepts as valid all Christenings, Baptisms, Confirmations, Communions, Weddings, Ordinations, and other sacraments from other ecclesiastical organizations (i.e. churches) of the mainstream Christian religious faiths.
Furthermore, we accept the validity of initiations from other esoterical organizations and self initiations (which we refer to as self dedications). This being stated, the Society requires that all members go through the appropriate ceremony/ceremonies of admission into the degree(s)/grade(s) which they are acknowledged and accepted.
Q? : Do you have to be reinitiated as a Witch, or just initiated into the specific tradition that is followed by the coven? (All of the above? None of the above?)
A! : As we are not Witches in the Wiccan sense, this question has no real meaning for us. We do require individuals who become members of the Order to adhere to the general curriculum of study for membership and for each grade and participate in the appropriate rite(s), ritual(s), and ceremony/ceremonies of admission into the corresponding grade(s). Once a member is initiated into the Order they do not have to be reinitiated into any previous grade that they have already attained in the event that they transfer into another Curia, Temple, or Lodge.
Q? : Without expecting anyone to divulge coven or tradition secrets, what can you expect from an initiation rite?
A! : Within a generally Christian context, individuals are made to experience events that make them think for themselves and have direct personal experience with ideas and spiritual events. Each grade and thus each ceremony is focused on one or a couple of basic concepts.
Q? : A rite of passage?
A! : Basic rites of passage are acknowledgments of significant events in the lives of the member. They are open to the public and are taken from The Book of Common Prayer, with a few minor changes. Some changes can be subtle and some may be more overt, depending on the will of the member who requests the rite(s). There is little that would occur at an Order rite of passage that would freak esoterically uninvolved persons (i.e. cowans) out.
Q? : A magickal working?
A! : Magickal workings are closed events and are conducted for (a) specific purpose(s) including official training. Such workings vary greatly in complexity depending on the particular rite or ritual. Generally the framework for magickal workings within the Order are set within the OAB Standard Circle. We perform low, middle, and high magickal workings within the Order.
Q? : What is the policy on minors at rituals?
A! : Minors may attend general liturgical rites and rituals with a consenting parent or legal guardian. These rites include general mass, Christenings, Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, Ordinations, and other sacraments. No minor may participate in rites, rituals, or ceremonies of admission (i.e. initiation) for themselves or others until they have reached the age of majority on their own (i.e. 18 years of age) or until they reach the age of 14 if they are considered an Order legacy - that is that their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) are active participating members of the Order.
Q? : What are the procedures for inviting guests?
A! : We very seldom invite guests to regular Order mass or other Order Rites, Rituals, and Ceremonies. When it is done, the members of the Order directly involved in the ritual(s) vote in secret with a single no vote not allowing the guest to attend. Guests who have stated an interest in our organization or in esoteric topics in general are invited to meet with members of the Order at social functions to make introductions. Depending on how those events turn out, a guest may be invited to join the members in ritual for standard mass or for a general training session.
Q? : Are alcohol, tobacco, or drugs used in rituals?
A! : The Order does not use illegal drugs in *any* of it's rituals or rites. Tobacco may be used as one ingredient in an incense used to contact the Sephiroth Geburah and magickal/mystical workings that involve the planet Mars. No one *smokes* the incense however. ;->
The Order makes use of alcohol, particularly in the form of red wine, in all of it's general masses. The red wine is used to represent the blood of our Messiah Yeshuah (Jesus) the Christ in our communion services.
Q? : How?
A! : Regarding alcohol consumption, in the Order, communion is offered by shared common cup. Regarding the use of incense we burn incense in a thurible/censer and/or other incense burner.
Q? : How often?
A! : The rite of Communion occurs at every general mass. We burn one form of incense or another at every service. The vast majority of incenses the Order makes use of does not have tobacco in it.
Q? : How would they feel if you abstained?
A! : Communion is the central part of our ritual experience within the Order. We have in the past used grape juice when a member had a legitimate reason to abstain from alcohol. Those needs should be brought to the attention of the Sponsoring Member and/or Temple Hierophant as soon as possible so that the matter may be discussed and viable alternative(s) found.
Q? : What is the coven's [Order's/Temple's] view on sexual imagery in rituals
A! : Sexual imagery has a place in magickal workings. Those workings are generally confined to the work between spouses and loving partners. No sex magick is worked in open Stellar Temples of the Order. Sexual energy *is* made use of within Stellar Temples in their rites and rituals, as we feel that every member participating brings with them their own sexual polarity with them as a part of who and what they are. We meet in circle male to female to male to female around our circle whenever possible to tap into this current of energy within our rites/rituals. Such polarity is viewed to be natural and healthy.
Q? : How do they handle personal relationships among members?
A! : The Order allows members to build and maintain relationships with and between each other privately. The Order maintains that relationships between teachers of the Order system and students, especially in the 0ro Degree/Grade of Aspirant should be professional in nature. Overtly personal unprofessional relationships generally result in reassignment of a student to a different teacher or sponsor.
Q? : How do they view the circle space?
A! : We hold circle as *sacred* space. A formal circle is regarded as being beyond time, space, and place. As the casting of our formal ritual circle states in part, "We Stand outside of time, in a place not of earth. As our ancestors before us bade, we join together and are One. By the blessed apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; by all Thy Holy Angels; by all the Powers of Light and Shadow, we call Thee to guard and defend us from all perils, O Most High. Thus it is and has ever been, thus it shall be for all time to come." [Sing/Vibrate:] "Per omnia saecula saeculorum."
Q? : As safe space, or a place where some have power over others?
A! : Again, we hold circle as *sacred* space, hence it is a safe space. All within the Order who have attained the 1st Degree of Adelphon are viewed as *sibling* and are regarded as being equivalent kindred souls. 0ro Degree Aspirants are also regarded as being equivalent kindred souls, however they have not made the same commitment(s) to the Order's precepts, principles, and ideals as those who have received the accolade. It is fitting that within a circle there is no *head* of the table. All are considered to be of the same value. Leadership within the circle is established to maintain order. Leadership within a Temple changes and each individual is offered an officer role when that individual is ready for that responsibility. This process is a part of the individual member's training as an initiate.
Q? : Do any rituals involve bondage, fear tactics, or belittling of members?
A! : Without revealing our Order's Initiation Rituals, we can affirm that there are no actions of fear tactics or belittling of Members or Associate Members. In the pre-initiation rituals of the Order in the 0ro Degree/Grade of Aspirant, there is symbolism used to include the use of a blind fold, bondage in the form of the Candidate's hands bound at the wrist in *front* of the Member, and it is not uncommon for the Candidate to enter the Order as they entered the world - that is naked. Not all Candidates are taken in to those rituals naked, but may wear underwear or similar garb. All of these actions are taken to represent a symbolic state as the Candidate enters the Order and in the ritual(s) they receive their sight, cut the bonds that hold them back from spiritual growth, and receive their ritual regalia (robe/hood & mantle/tabard/cincture/etc.).
OTHER QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN ASKED:
Q? : On Thu, Jul. 31, 1997 @ 22:58 (CDT) we received an inquiry from A. J. Reichow inquiring as follows: I've noticed that you both claim not to discriminate on basis of age, but you require applying Aspirants to be of 18 years of age or older. Is this a legal thing, or just an attempt at weeding out the immature? If it is the second, I am curious if there is any way to discern on a more personal basis.
A! : The Society would like to advise that the age restriction requiring Candidates to be of not less than eighteen (18) years of age to apply for formal Membership into the Order is strictly for legal reasons. Working with minors is very restrictive unless parental approval is obtained. Other organizations have been successfully sued in courts of law who have *not* adhered to a policy such as this. We have no problem with an individual making use of our published material as found on our public web site, especially in the *General Grades*.
Formal affiliation with the Order must wait until an individual is of legal age (i.e. eighteen). Due to people applying for membership in remote geographical areas, the Society requires individuals to send to a photo copy of their local government's vehicle operators license or legal photo identification along with their application forms.
The Order has no organized *Youth Groups* per se, however individuals who are under the age of eighteen and whose parents and/or legal guardians allow may participate in general services (i.e. mass and various rites of passage, etc.). Such participation may be allowed on a regular basis at age fourteen (14) when accompanied by their parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s). All children of the Order are referred to as *Legacies*, and may attend rites of passage including marriages, funerals, Christenings, Baptisms, etc. on a case by case basis after consultation with the celebrating member of clergy. Legacies may begin working the Aspirant's curriculum on their own at age sixteen with parental/guardianship written consent.
QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT THE GROUP AFTER YOU HAVE JOINED:
Edain McCoy further wrote in her book, From Inside A Witches' Coven [ISBN 1-56718-666-1, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383; 1997.] [Pages 58 - 60] as follows:
If you do join an existing coven, it is a wise idea to look over the answers you got to these questions in another few months to make sure that the group is living up to the assurances it gave to you. You might ask yourself the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers, but an honest examination should tell you pretty quickly whether or not you should remain in this coven.
Q?: Does the group seem to have a solid future, or are they wandering aimlessly in some pseudo spiritual wilderness?
Q?: Is the group meeting my spiritual needs?
Q?: Am I going to be able to grow spiritually in this group, or will I be better off as a solitary?
Q?: Do I feel a part of the coven on the deepest level?
Q?: Do I like the rituals?
Q?: How much input have I had in their creation?
Q?: Have all of the ritual words, symbols, and gestures been explained to me, or am I always left to wonder?
Q?: Do I like the members of the coven (temple/order) as people?
Q?: Do I like them as Witches (Magickians / Mystics)?
Q?: Do they seem too anxious to please me or to keep me a part of the group?
Q?: Do they seem indifferent to my presence and contributions?
Q?: Are the leaders too dictatorial?
Q?: Do coven (temple / order) members seem to fear the leaders?
Q?: Am I afraid of anyone in the group?
Q?: Can I build an environment of love and trust with these people?
Q?: Is the atmosphere coercive at any time?
Q?: Have I been asked or cajoled into doing things I do not want to do?
Q?: What happens when I refuse?
Q?: If I have not refused, what has held me back?
Q?: Have I been asked to witness events and situations that I think are wrong, dangerous, or against the Rede (law of the land)?
Q?: What would I change about the coven (temple / order) if I could?
Q?: What would I not change?
Q?: Have there been any magickal practices or rituals with which I was uncomfortable?
Q?: Did anyone note my discomfort?
Q?: If so, did anyone try to put me at ease?
Q?: Am I permitted to speak my mind about making positive changes?
Q?: What happens when I ask questions?
Q?: Do I get honest and direct answers?
Q?: Do the more experienced people help me out, or do they belittle my search for knowledge?
Q?: Do they answer in non-answers, as if maybe they really don't know but want to pretend that they do?
Q?: Do the members get along with one another?
Q?: Is there a high degree of useless gossip and backstabbing?
Q?: Am I frequently asked to utter words, the meaning of which has not been explained to me?
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For more information, an application for membership, and an Aspirant's (0=0) pledge form, send letters of requests with a large S.A.S.E. and personal information (including legal name, DOB, home address, phone number, etc.,) to:
Office of The 4th Adept / Secretary
P.O. Box 1482
Georgetown, KY 40324
Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Or e-Mail requests to: the 4th Adept/Secretary.Or to: the General Order.
And visit our web site at: http://www.astralstar.org/
TO ASK ADDITIONAL QUESTONS:
If you have other questions that have not been covered by the Introductory Publications About The Society of The Astral Star and FAQs About The Society of The Astral Star, readers are encouraged to read the Constitution of The Society of The Astral Star. Additionally, feel free to write to us and your question either by U.S. Post at:
Office of The Chief Adept/President
P.O. Box 1482
Georgetown, KY 40324
Please allow two weeks for response.
Or e-Mail requests to: the Chief Adept/President.Or to: the General Order.
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