To individuals outside of the magical community, schools for witches and wizards learning the magical arts are a thing of fiction. While not located in some faraway medieval castle that takes an invitation from an owl and a train ride to get to, The Grey School of Wizardry makes magical learning available to the world through its online platform. The headmaster of the school, who is a real-life practicing wizard is Oberon Zell-Ravenheart an elder in the magical community runs a successful academy of arcane learning. He has been involved in numerous interfaith projects and organizations in the Pagan community. As a member of the school’s hand-selected faculty they provide access to over 480 classes over 16 departments divided into categories inspired by the organization of Classical Education. The student has access to professionals who are well-versed in their department of study as well as a virtual community to engage with other students and attend group events. Nicholas Kingsley, one of the instructors at the school reached out to tell us more about the school and the classes he teaches. More detailed information about the school in general can be found here.
Nicholas Kingsley, greyschool.org
Instructor of Performance Magic and Wizardry
Mr. Kingsley is a modern Wizard and practitioner of the bardic arts, he is well versed in the magic of Germanic and Norse Traditions. He has been a student of magic and wizardry for over 15 years and is passionate about sharing his craft with others. I was given the opportunity to ask him some questions about his own brand of magic, how he defines wizardry and the courses he teaches at the school. His personal bio can be found on the school’s faculty webpage here.
Here is our interview!
1) It looks like the school has been around since 2004, how long have to been working as a lecturer at the school? What was it that first inspired you to teach these topics?
” I have been a teacher at the grey school since 8/17/17. As for what it was that first inspired me? When i was but you spry young lad I was given the Grimoire for the apprentice wizard. I’ve grown up with it and I dare say it’s had a lasting impact on my life and what I do.”
2) Is there a certain kind of training or screening process that the instructors at the school goes through? How does one choose their specific area of expertise?
“there is a pretty lengthy interview process and a vote by our council before new faculty are admitted. As for how one chooses their department, we work with what know best. The grey School has sixteen departments and one of them is sure to encompass what it is you know”
3) Your profile says that you are a teacher of Performance Magic, can you elaborate on what that is, and how you go about teaching that to your students. Are you able to structure your lessons any way that you want to or is there a set of parameters that everyone must follow, such as standardized topics and methods of presentation?
“Of course! I teach performance magic, which can be card tricks and the like, though it can also be so much more. It is the presence we hold in conversation, and the knowledge of the various masks we must wear throughout our lives. Some look down upon the subject of performance as not real magic and should they only be talking about card tricks and slight of hand I could see where it is that they are coming from. Though when we look at the department as a whole, and how it helps to build onto the other fifteen departments I think it becomes clear how important it really is. For example, lets say you are at a ritual. The person leading it has a monotone and could not be more boring to save their life. Well, this takes people out of the moment, it allows their minds to wonder, “Did I leave the cauldron on at home..?” Their minds are not focused on the task at hand because the task at hand had bored them to tears. However lets say that ritual leader now is more expressive, more tones, and more engaging over all, well now you’re paying attention! That’s Performance Magic.
As for the creation of my classes The process is pretty comfortable. When writing a class it has to pass a few checks by the dean of the department, then our Dean of Curriculum and the Writer of the class look over it and work together to really refine it into something that will really enrich the lives of the students that take it.”
4) What kind of personal training and experience have you gone through that has helped to add to your skills as a teacher of the arcane arts
” I have been a practicing wizard for fifteen years now and it has been an exciting journey thus far. I learned a great deal from my Grandfather as well as other mentors and guides I have met along the path. When it comes to training I regret to say that I have never spent a year in silence to better understand the sound of a whisper nor have I undergone some ancient right of the fae to endow me with great power. Wizardry is an old concept, though we in the 21st century are really only just rediscovering it. As a result it could at times be frustrating as there were not a lot of people I could turn to for advice while I was growing up. Even with-in the Grey School I am the only member of our staff that started off as a Wizard and did not come to it from another path. Lucky for Wizards-to-be there is now a resource available for them through the Grey School of Wizardry to really learn what it is to be a Wizard and have all the council they seek.”
Pixabay Creative Commons. Mont St. Michel Normandy
5) Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the courses you are teaching?
“Certainly. Presently I teach mainly in two departments, those being Performance Magic, and Wizardry. In the Wizardry department we cover things like the very foundations of Magic, Oaths and pledges, magical tasks and a myriad of other things key to the core of what our school is about. In Performance we explore our innate magic through classes like “The Wizard’s Voice” and “Introduction to masks” Each class is different and builds upon what it is to be a Wizard in it’s own way.”
6) Is there a certain time frame that students must work in to complete each class or can work be completed at the student’s discretion? How long does it take to complete the entire program?
“Students of the Grey School can complete work at their own pace, we believe this allows our students an opportunity to do their best. It also helps to reinforce some of the traits of a Wizard, that being self motivation and accountability. As for how long it could take you to finish the entire school? Well that is up to you! The fastest I think it can be done is about two and a half years.”
7) In addition to the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, are there any other foundational texts that the curriculum is based on or are individual instructors able to pick their own resource materials?
“The Companion for the Apprentice Wizard, the second book in the series, is also a required textbook for the school. While some classes after the second year do require other books, these two are the key to getting started.”
8) How do you differentiate Wizardry from other forms of magic, specifically Witchcraft and practices based in Pagan Spirituality?
“This is honestly one of my favorite questions to be asked. Wizardry, unlike many approaches to magic, is not a religious point of view but is actually secular in nature. Wizard literally means “Wise one.” We have Christian Wizards, and Muslim Wizards, Pagan Wizards and even Wizard Wizards! Another key difference is that Wizards seek to serve others above all else. Wizardry is about service and the creation of lasting positive change to not only the communities we serve but also to the world around us as a whole. “
9) Can you elaborate more on the Grey Council, the extensive list of elders that have various affiliations with the school, what is there involvement in the program? Are there any forthcoming topics of importance or changes that are being worked on?
” The Grey Council are the founding members of the Grey School of Wizardry. Venerated Sages and Mages from all across the world and from many different backgrounds of faith and thoughts. The Vision of the Grey Council was to create a place where magic could be studied and learned without pushing a religious view onto the students. Our Headmaster, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, leads the council and last I heard he is currently writing the Grimoire for the Journeymen Wizard, which will help to expand upon the set.”
10) How did you become involved with the school? What was it that made you want to become a teacher of magic, and where do you hope to see this going in the future?
” I believe that we all have callings in this world. Each of us are pulled one way or another towards the path where we will do our best. It can at times be hard to see this path, though I am lucky to have found mine. Since the age of nine I have worked my hardest to become a teacher at the Grey School. It is my calling to be a Wizard, and so a Wizard I am. I am inspired every day by my students and their passion for what it is they are learning, and the drive they show in doing so. I think deep down if I had to choose one thing which really made me pursue this course is that I believe magic is powerful, and I also believe the world needs more wise people to help others through the dark. As for where I hope it will go? I would like to see a physical school built. In the same way that there are Christian colleges I would like to see one of Wizardry come along. For me personally I hope to be with the Grey School until I retire, Headmaster Kingsley has a nice sound to it! “
“Presently I am working on writing my own book on the topic of Wizardry called “The Wizard’s Walk” which will take a deeper look into what it means to be a wizard in the world today, and how to better aid the people around you. I hope to have it done by the end of summer or early September 2018. I would also strongly encourage those interested in the Wizardly path to look into the Grey School. We would be happy to have you!”
It was inspiring to do this interview and see such a large and successful online academy for magic. I respect the fact that they take a secular approach to the practice of magic, treating it as one of the arts or sciences of classical learning. The variety of courses available would be attractive to both new and more experienced individuals looking to take a different approach to the study of magic while having a supportive community and reputable resources to turn to. You can purchase The Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard
by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart the formative text for the curriculum here.