text provided by The Church of Iron Oak
The Church of Iron Oak , ATC (www.ironoak.org ) is a Wiccan church located in the Melbourne , Florida area. It is composed of several covens and groves under an administrative High Priest and High Priestess. Iron Oak was formed in 1992 as a church affiliated with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Index, Washington.
The Wiccans are Neo-pagans, who see the world as a temple for worship. As such, the term “church” refers not to a building, but to an organization. Pagans are those of the many faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Islamic. On the other hand, neo-pagan refers to the pagan movement that began its rapid growth during mid-last century as it spread to the United States. The largest group within neo-paganism is Wicca. Included within the Wiccan belief is that our ancestors of years ago still teach us the lessons of life and death and that we are all interconnected with nature. That is, all men and women, all humankind, animals and plants are one in spiritual unity.
Iron Oak is English Traditional Wicca with an additional philosophical leaning called the “Smith Path”. English Traditional Wicca is the tradition followed by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (http://aquatabch.org) led by Pete Pathfinder Davis. Wiccans have a faith in Goddess and God and the sanctity of all living things. Wiccans are their own priests and priestesses, for they believe that each person has Goddess and God within them and each person may make their own communion and bond with deity. Since Wiccans are pagans, they neither believe in, nor worship Satan since it reflects a concept that exists only in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This is true for other pagan religions such as Hinduism and Native American paths. Wiccans see the universe governed by cause and effect and are a part of that universe, not to own it or control it, but to respect it and sanctify it. Wiccans also believe in magic, the power of faith.
The Smith Path refers to the principal that each person can reach their goals in life by their attitude and their work. This may seem like a simple truism were it not for the fact that many are not successful. For this, the founders of Iron Oak observed that the ancient ironsmiths combined their work with their religious practice making the work itself part of the connection with divinity. This was a concept later adopted by the alchemists with their quest for the sacred work.
The Iron in the name ‘Iron Oak’ refers to the sacred metal of the ancient ironsmiths. These smiths were accepted as shamans and magicians because they used the metal from the sky god given to them in the form of meteoric iron. In Babylonia , for example, the name for iron was anbar, or God’s metal, sometimes translated as sky-metal. An was the god of the sky. The smiths regarded their use of iron as a sacred work often performing rituals while undertaking certain activities such as setting up a forge. Because they used extremely hot fires and were able to create powerful tools and weapons, they were regarded as powerful magicians by their countrymen.
Because of the respect shown to the smiths by their countrymen, the smiths themselves were transformed in the way they regarded themselves. They regarded their work as sacred and the care and devotion to quality became part of their spiritual connection to deity.
The Oak relates to the tree that was held in high regard by the ancient Druids. The name “druid” itself is translated as “oak-wise” and it included people who had high specialization and high status in ancient Celtic society. The tree is known for its magnificence and strength. It is strong not by rigidity but by bending in the wind without breaking. Together, the iron and the oak represent the combining of strength through flexibility and the transformation of the sacred work.
Iron Oak Activities
Iron Oak has many programs for community outreach and for training. The church is a regular supporter of Project Response, a local AIDS victim support group. Members who attend workshops and rituals are asked to bring donations for Project Response.
We celebrate the eight sabbats of the year and are open to guests outside as well as inside the church. We also conduct a number of workshops including the widely-known Athame Maker’s Workshop. The latter provides attendees an opportunity to make metal ritual implements by casting or forging under the watchful eye of the members of the Guild of Govannan. This is an organization of smiths within Iron Oak who are trained in the operation of the equipment and a variety of metal and wood working techniques.
As others in the Neo-pagan world, Iron Oak teaches members to have a high regard for nature. Humankind and the rest of nature are part of the whole fabric of divinity. All living things share the divine spark of life. For that reason, members are asked to do the common sense things of conserving our resources and avoiding polluting our lands and waters.
Iron Oak has a number of training programs. One is the Outer Court, the general entry point for membership. The Outer Court is a class to introduce interested people to both Iron Oak and to Wicca. It is composed of a series of meetings held on the first and third Thursday of the month. This format gives an opportunity for those to both meet Iron Oak priests and priestesses and provide each student with a comprehensive study of Wicca and its practices. To join this class, just call (321) 722-0291.
Once a person graduates the series of classes, they may affirm to the church and attend workshops and other special events. They may also join one of the Iron Oak covens for more advanced training. The advanced training is part of a clergy program that can lead to full ordination in the internationally known Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Ordination at Iron Oak is accepted by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church and at ATC churches throughout the world.
Iron Oak church leaders are encouraged to participate in outreach and social programs. This includes providing teachers to local colleges as part of world religions study and participating in DEOMI, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute located at Patrick Air Force Base near Satellite Beach, Florida. The mission of DEOMI is to provide training in the administration of military, EO, EEO, and human relations.
Iron Oak was also the founder of the Florida Pagan Gathering (http://www.flapagan.org ), currently the largest pagan festival in Florida with more than 500 attendees twice a year. This festival grew from the Iron Oak Freedom Fest and was renamed when the festival was spun-off from Iron Oak to become a separate entity.
Iron Oak can be reached by the following:
The Church of Iron Oak, ATC
PO Box 060672
Palm Bay, FL 32906-0672
Phone: (321) 722-0291
Web : http://www.ironoak.org