The Hermetic Fellowship of Chicago is a non-denominational organization created for the purpose of educating individuals in the Magical Arts & Sciences and serving the spiritual needs of the community both within and around it. The dedicated Initiates of this magical order attempt to fulfill these needs by facilitating rituals and workshops, conducting ‘womb to tomb’ rites of passage, providing pastoral counseling for those in need, and educating both children and adults in the Hermetic pathway and methodologies for living that provide tools for self-development and illumination. The Fellowship also nurtures a community of faith that is open to a broad spectrum of religious ideals and encourages like-minded individuals to evolve, prosper, grow, and celebrate their spiritual lives together.

The initiatory lineage of the group can be traced back to both the Golden Dawn magical tradition and modern Gardnerian Wicca, although the Fellowship considers itself to be broad enough in it’s philosophy to embrace members of any main world religion without conflict. The group can best be described as ‘semi-private’ attributing to the fact that most rituals are attended by Initiates only, or by invited guests or family members of Initiates. Open events include the Solstices, Equinoxes and any New Moon observance that falls between Candlemas (Feb. 1st) and Samhain (Oct. 31st). Full moon observances are always reserved for initiates only. The Fellowship usually does not advertise its rituals but will publicize classes of various types offered by its members. Many of the group’s activities take place on a privately owned eighty acre hardwood forest near Culver, Indiana. This land, affectionately named ‘Glastonbury,’ has a ritual labyrinth, various designated meditation and ceremonial areas, a nature trail, and facilities for private recreation and camping.

Entry into the group can be accomplished in several ways. The most common is to complete two years as an active member in good standing in the Sacred Steps Mystery School. Upon two years of successful study an individual may petition any member of the clergy for initiation into the group. After a petition has been formally made it is brought to the other ordained members of the group for a vote. If the candidate receives a unanimous approval an initiation ritual is scheduled then conducted. A petition for initiation can only be vetoed on legitimate grounds based on provable facts; dislike of the candidate or receiving a ‘bad vibe’ from them does not constitute legitimate grounds. Legitimate grounds for refusal of entry would include, but are not limited to, such serious matters as; mental instability, a dangerous lack of impulse control, pathological lying, an active substance abuse habit, or involvement in a criminal enterprise. Another way to join the group is by directly petitioning the Spiritual Director based on previous experience and already acquired knowledge. If the Spiritual Director assesses the individual to have adequate knowledge and experience to function in the group without disruption then the petition will be brought to the clergy for a vote with the same conditions stated above concerning approval applying. In rare cases an Initiate of a common lineage may be introduced to the group and seek formal membership. In such an instance an informal inquiry confirming the legitimacy of the preexisting initiation will be made and upon confirmation a vote of the clergy will be taken. If the vote is unanimous the candidate will be welcomed into the group and immediately recognized as an initiate of the Fellowship.

The Fellowship maintains a graded degree system which makes available an ordination track for those desiring to eventually serve as priests or priestesses. The degree system is loosely based upon the classical elements of the ancient Greek philosophers; Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Aether (or Spirit as it is referred to within the structure of the Fellowship). At the Earth degree level emphasis is stressed on sound living practices; diet, exercise, and health. Students also further their knowledge and understanding of basic rituals and daily spiritual practices. Towards the end of this period elemental magic is taught and various forms of mind/body disciplines are studied. After adequate time at the Earth level (time spent between levels cannot be predetermined as each student’s individual make-up and needs vary from person to person) students enter the Water level where they are introduced to the principles of divination and knowledge of the Hermetic methods for working with the unconscious. At this point all students are required to enter some form of psychotherapy to assist in the process of exploring and integrating the shadow side of the personality. This can be pursued with a formal psychotherapist, a counseling group, various types of self-help groups, a shaman, or other means; what matters most is that there is a systematic inquiry into one’s inner self. When the Fire level is reached students are expected to achieve a certain level of mastery in focusing the will and channeling personal energy. They will also begin to construct and conduct rituals and are eligible to enter an ordination tract that leads to becoming a recognized clergy member within the group. At the Air level teaching becomes the dominate focus. Spirit degree is imparted to those rare individuals who choose to dedicate their lives to serving a community after having successfully integrated the previous four degrees.

Although the Hermetic Fellowship is geographically based in Chicago it offers the option of establishing a one-on-one mentorship arrangement with a member of our clergy. These unique relationships allow motivated students to pursue an initiatory tract without requiring relocation to Chicago. Teaching materials are distributed on-line, through the mail, or are shared mouth to ear over the phone. After a student has successfully completed the curriculum they travel to our Chicago location to receive their initiatory charge and are welcomed into the group in person.