Interview on Haunted Voices Radio

On April 8th, 2011 I was invited to be a guest on a radio program called Haunted Voices to discuss what made me a believer in paranormal phenomena and what turned me into a skeptic.  Before I was interviewed, James “The Amazing” Randi was also on the program, so I left it all in for your listening pleasure.   

You can listen directly by going to: or you can right click the link and save as.

Well It Isn’t Hogwarts

Meet Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, a 68 year old self proclaimed Wizard who has dedicated his life to understanding the nature of the Dark Arts…Sort of like Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series, except nowhere near as cool.  Of course a Harry Potter joke seems appropriate; however Oberon is actually banking on this very concept.  You see Oberon isn’t your ordinary self diluted crazy old Wizard who always seems to be wearing his Gandalf getup.  No, Oberon has started the world’s first registered school of wizardry.

Grey School of Wizardy teaches 16 departments, and I must say that the curriculum is a bigger joke than seeing this wizard shopping at the grocery store.

Students will have to take serious studies in the following (some of this information is taken verbatim from the school’s website):

Wizardry – This Department provides an introduction to Magick and Wizardry. It is the mission of this Department to help students acquire an essential understanding of what it means to be a Wizard, including the requisite basic skills.

Nature Studies – Students will study the aspects of metaphysics and mysticism that relate to Nature and Her Mysteries. This Department also covers practical works and adventures in Nature—such as Camping and Woodcraft.

Magical Practices – This Department includes the practical foundational basics and magickal hardware: theory, tools, regalia, your sanctum sanctorum, principles of correspondences, signs, symbols, spells and charms.

Psychic Arts – This department is designed to help students develop their ability in “mind magicks.” Meditation is crucial for the Western Wizard who wishes to learn to master and focus the power of the Will. The power of the Will is the force behind effective magick.

Healing – Healing refers to all forms of magickal arts and practices devoted to curing diseases, relieving aches and pains, promoting tissue regeneration, restoring vitality and fertility, etc. Throughout history, healers have been the folk doctors, nurses and midwives—especially in rural and “primitive” communities without access to officially licensed physicians and pharmacists.

Wortcunning – This is the old word used for the knowledge of the secret properties of herbs, and this has always been a particular study of the Wise. Wortcunning includes all aspects of herbal lore and plant magicks. This Department also covers practical work—such as Gardening and Kitchen Witchery.

Divination – This is the art of foretelling or predicting the future; or discovering things that are lost, hidden or secret. Although not all seers were Wizards, all Wizards are expected to be seers. Many ancient peoples were completely obsessed with divination, and would hardly make a move without consulting diviners, seers, oracles or prophets. Unusual occurrences, such as disturbing dreams and omens, were also given divinatory meanings—this is where we get our word ominous. Over the ages, seers have devised many techniques of divination—called the Mantic Arts (from mantis, meaning “diviner”).

Performance Magick – Also called conjury or stage magic, performance magic deals with “miraculous” illusions and special effects, which have been used in enhancing the theater of ritual since the first campfire was lit. Various types of performance, such as magic acts, acrobatics, juggling, puppetry, and fire-eating all came from such rituals. This Department also includes the Bardic Arts of music, chants, poetry, singing, and storytelling.

Alchemy & Magickal Sciences – This Department concerns the science of magic and the magic of science, especially transmutation and transformation. The forerunner of modern chemistry, Alchemy has roots in Egypt, Greek, and the Middle East. Historically, alchemists sought to turn base metals into gold, to formulate an Elixer of Life which would grant immortality, and to create an artificial man called a homunculus. The inner Mysteries of Alchemy concerned the transformation and perfection of the soul. Contemporary aspects of these studies include metallurgy and philosophy, life extension studies, robotics and artificial intelligence. Other topics include soapmaking, home brewing, technomagicks, nonmedicinal aspects of aromatherapy, chemistry, and additional areas where magic and science overlap through the manipulation of substances or objects.

Lifeways – this Department to orchestrate the highest degree of personal growth and self-directed learning toward becoming a productive member of humanity. Such learned skills and knowledge are essential to any level of wizardry, measured in the positive results the apprentice has on others, and in the development of personal awareness and presence. Special knowledge and skills include goal setting, research, organization, record keeping, scheduling, commitment, communications and critical analysis (I find that hard to believe).

Beast Mastery – This Department concerns everything to do with animals of all kinds—especially animal communication. Beast Masters include “horse whisperers,” animal trainers, pet psychics, and all people who seem to have an uncanny ability to communicate and work with animals. Beast Mastery includes knowledge of zoology and the lore of Totems. Beast Masters seek to know the names of all animals, as well as how they evolved, what they eat, their behaviors, lifestyles, mating rituals, and languages. The Lore of Magickal animals—such as Unicorns and Dragons—is also included in this Department.

Cosmology – In this Department we will explore no less than the wonders of the Universe.
The great bowl of the night sky—the celestial sphere—that surrounds our tiny globe has always been a subject of magickal and Wizardly studies. The movements of the Sun, Moon and planets through the signs of the Zodiac gave us our calendar, our first way of keeping time, and our earliest form of effective divination. Cosmology is also concerned with the larger questions: How did everything begin? Where are we going? Is there anyone else out there?

Mathemagicks – In this Department to help students acquire the essential skills, both practical and theoretical, to understand and use number and form in their magickal work, and to comprehend the esoteric mathematical foundations of the universe. Our class topics will include Pythagoreanism, the archetypal numbers, numerology, gematria, sacred geometry, esoteric mathematics (elementary and advanced), the I Ching, chaos magick, and the esoteric Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy).

Ceremonial Magick – In this Department to help the student acquire the essential skills, both practical and theoretical, to conduct effective Ceremonial Magick and to achieve the personal spiritual development afforded by these magickal systems. Classes in this department depend on many of the concepts and techniques taught in other Grey School Departments, and the Ceremonial Magick Department, in return, teaches the lore and art of the great magickal orders. Our class topics will include the Hermetica, Qabalah, Neo-Platonism, theurgy, medieval grimoires, Renaissance magick, angelic operations, ceremonial technique, magickal tools, the Golden Dawn and other magickal orders, and invocation, evocation & banishing.

Lore – In this Department to help the student develop the ability to access, synthesize, and critically evaluate arcane knowledge from a variety of magickal cultures. Such knowledge is crucial to the Wizard in practice as well as development and includes, but is not limited to: world mythology, world history, hidden realms, wizardly fiction, and cultural pantheons.

Dark Arts – The Department of Dark Arts in the Grey School of Wizardry is a community of teaching Wizards dedicated to providing the apprentice with the highest quality education in occult knowledge appropriate to their level of development. We accomplish this task through the most effective online pedagogic methods available. It is the mission of this Department to inform and equip the student in three main areas: understanding the basics of low magick, or sorcery, and its applications; learning the history and traits of creatures and beings traditionally considered “dark,” in cooperation with the Departments of Beast Mastery and Lore; and warding the wizardly safety of hirself and others through Defense Against the Dark Arts as well as the understanding of other potential hazards of our practices and community. All of these are presented at levels deemed safe and appropriate for minors by our Faculty and Administration.

Now it is certainly not a surprise to know that this school in not accredited in any state in the USA, however I find it quite disturbing that they do equate the knowledge they teach with that of a public school education, hiding it behind fancy wording such as “Many merit-worthy activities can include things done in mainstream school,” or “all learning begets more learning and makes more learning easier more fun and more inevitable so yes, studying at GSW adds to a student’s mainstream education.”  Funny, I didn’t need an education in witchcraft in order to enjoy science class; actually I would love to see what a REAL science teacher would think about a course in “Alchemy & Magickal Sciences”.

Also the Grey School of Wizardy isn’t just a school for children (though it is highly promoted for kids ages between the ages of 11-17) they do offer classes for adults who haven’t given up their love for role playing and Dungeons and Dragons.

Most of this school is taught online, however you can go to the direct headquarters in Sonoma County, California.  Here children from 11-17 are split into four ancient houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin Winds, Undines, Gnomes and Salamanders. 

The Grey School claims to have 735 students and Oberon claims that 100 are under-18.  For now, it is an online college with regular physical wizard camps and workshops, where muggles students can study seven years to graduate with a journeyman degree in Wizardry aka a piece of paper printed off at Oberon’s house.

“Other so-called wizard schools are rip-offs and they don’t allow children,” says Oberon. “I want to help the next breed of Harry Potters learn wizardry.” Membership is around 30 dollars and Oberon promises he can teach anyone the basics of Wizardry.