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Welcome to the Grey School of Wizardry: real life Dumbledore's Harry Potter haven

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Many of us were left crestfallen when the much vied for Hogwarts letter never dropped into our letter box at age eleven. But for empty handed Potter fanatics Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, the real life Dumbledore, offers an alternative: a place at the Grey School of Wizardry!

The Grey School was incorporated as a non-profit educational institution in the State of California in 2005 has since opened its doors to wannabe wizards from across the globe. Currently The Grey School takes even the most far flung sorcerers and has pupils in 42 countries—including 43 in the UK.

After delving into the enchanting world of Harry Potter, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart alongside his wife Morning Glory and a team of skilled sages and mages decided to make our Hogwarts dreams a reality.

We sat down with Oberon to find out more about the Grey’s School of Wizardry.

What first inspired you to create the Grey School of Wizardry?

Well, I was actually inspired to create such a school clear back in 1962, when the “X-Men” comics first premiered! The idea of a “School for Gifted Youngsters”—especially those gifted with psychic abilities, etc — appealed to me greatly. So much so that I studied all the experimental theories of the time and later earned a teaching certificate and taught in public school for several years.

And then came Harry Potter. I hadn’t noticed the books early on, but in Dec. of 2001 my wife and I were invited to give a presentation about real-life Witchcraft and Wizardry. After the talk, we all went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Morning Glory and I still were in our full magickal regalia, but many of the kids were also wearing cloaks and pointy hats.

The first thing that came to me was that many of the kids in this audience are going to be inspired to become Witches and Wizards themselves. And I thought, how can I, as a practicing Wizard, offer something to help?

You see, throughout the venture, I have had in the back of my mind the image of Merlin teaching young Arthur what he needed to know to become High King of England. Somewhere out there, I know there are new generations of Arthurs, Lukes, and “X-Men” who, with the right mentoring, will be able to realize their destiny towards shaping the world into a better place.

In your essay Esoteric Education: Restoring the Wonder you talk about how many students feel disenchanted with education. Why do you think this is, and what do you think can be done to counter this trend?

Well, as I said in that essay, education was once considered a rare privilege to be earned or granted, a dream to fulfill, a goal to achieve. Schools were seen as repositories of esoteric knowledge that would unlock the keys to the universe, and the secrets to success.

Whereas now, in an era of universal education, 60% of American high school graduates cannot find their own country on an unmarked globe of the world! Pop Culture has supported disdain for education; consider that a terminally depressing song — “The Wall,” by Pink Floyd, with the dismal refrain, “We don’t need no education” — became the hit of a decade, and the theme song of an entire generation!

I believe that the entirely laudable demand and trend towards a universal education diluted the mystique of learning itself. When a thing is available to everyone and mandated by law, it ceases to be regarded as something special; it becomes “common.”

What is needed today, I believe, is to restore the wonder and mystique that once surrounded the very idea of education. And that’s what we’ve done with the Grey School of Wizardry.

Why do you feel that Harry Potter has had such a hold over cultural imagination and is so enticing to both children and adults alike? What personally attracted you to the story?

It’s all about the mystique. Every kid (and many adults as well!) who reads Harry Potter wishes that they could attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The very fact of its exclusivity makes it irresistible, to say nothing of the lure and wonder of forbidden and arcane knowledge it promises. Magic and mysteries, spellcraft and sorcery, secret societies, wands and wortcunning …everything that the mundane (“muggle,” in Rowling’s parlance) world doesn’t know about, or believe in. Hogwarts epitomizes all the reasons why Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are the most popular holidays of the year for kids (and many grown-ups!). Embracing the dark, rather than fearing it, is exhilarating and liberating!

What personally attracted me to the Harry Potter saga? It was Hogwarts—that’s the school I wish I could have attended as a kid, and I would love to teach there! And so, in a manner of speaking, I do.

You have mentioned in the past that you feel a connection to Dumbledore; what endears you to his character?

Well, of course, there’s the obvious. As Headmaster of the Grey School, and a well-known Wizard for over 30 years, I have often been referred to as “the real-life Albus Dumbledore,” which I don’t mind at all, as Dumbledore is a most admirable character to be compared to. He is wise, kind, compassionate, capable, competent, committed, smart, witty, powerful, soft-spoken, and utterly devoted to his Mission. I like him, and I would like to think that these are my traits as well.

When Dumbledore died at the end of The Half-Blood Prince, I was despondent for weeks; I simply couldn’t accept that he was really dead, and I expected him to be somehow resurrected like the Phoenix in the next book. But alas, that was not to be. And so I had to make peace with it: Dumbledore is dead, but I yet live! And I have work to do…

What makes a good wizard and why should someone consider becoming one? What skills are needed to be a successful wizard?

More than anything the purpose of a Wizard is to serve. Every single Wizard in history and fiction was all about serving — primarily in tutoring/mentoring the young hero, and being a wise counselor to the True King. That’s one of the most wonderful things about Wizardry — you can read all about it in all the stories, and what they all say about Wizards is essentially true!

“Wizardry” literally means “wisdom,” just as “philosophy” means “love of wisdom.” So a Wizard is a “wise one.” And wisdom is essentially all about considering the consequences. Virtually everything that wise people feel is wrong with contemporary society stems from an endemic failure to consider the consequences. Modern Wizards are needed to address these issues in every arena possible.

What is the draw of the Grey School of Wizardry over more traditional methods of education?

Young people find the lure of secret societies and esoteric associations irresistible. They yearn to be on the “inside” of an exclusive group, to access forbidden knowledge unknown to their parents and their contemporaries. They identify with Harry Potter; Frodo Baggins; Luke Skywalker; Dorothy Gale of Kansas and Oz —and every other young hero and heroine of every story, as they discover who they truly are, and what they are truly here for.

The appeal of the real-life Grey School of Wizardry is precisely the appeal of the fictional Hogwarts in J.K. Rowling’s delightful Harry Potter novels. And every Hero’s Quest story begins with a wise mentor figure — the “Wizard” — imparting crucial knowledge to the young hero that he or she must know in order to fulfill their destiny. And this is where the idea of a very special and exclusive school of mystical knowledge and arcane wisdom enters the picture.

Ideally, where do you see the Grey School of Wizardry in 10 years’ time?

Well, of course I’d like to see it become wildly successful, and well-funded (perhaps by a major educational grant…). The present Grey School offers a seven-year Apprenticeship program, culminating in certification as a Journeyman Wizard (with a nifty frameable Journeyman Letter). Now that we have our first crop of graduates, I am envisioning the next phase of the Grey School: a four-year college-level program of Journeyman studies that will culminate in a degree of Master Wizard. After that, we are envisioning a higher program of university-level studies to culminate in a degree of Adeptus. I also envision an eventual physical campus for a future manifestation of the Grey School.#

Visit the Grey School of Wizardry here.

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