Our Story

The Ara Tradition is a shamanic Wiccan spiritual tradition devoted to experiencing the divinity that dwells within the world and in ourselves. It is a spiritual path and an international community that is rediscovering the wisdom of our ancestors and creating a new relationship with our Mother Earth and with one another. Our central spiritual and ethical precept is that we live in a sacred world and so we seek to live in a sacred manner. Our tradition is devoted to experiencing, rejoicing in and being guided by that immanent divinity.

Founded in 1983 by H.Ps. Phyllis Curott, the Temple of Ara began in New York City as the Circle of Ara. At the same time that she was training in the Minoan Tradition to become a Wiccan Priestess, Phyllis was practicing core shamanism with the Brooklyn Group, the first drumming circle based on the work of Dr. Michael Harner. Uncomfortable with dogmatic and patriarchal remnants within traditional Wiccan teachings, she began to deconstruct elements to distill a system of core principles and practices. Weaving core shamanic techniques into these essential Wiccan practices, the Ara Tradition was born.  It is a spiritual path that empowers its practitioners to directly experience the Sacred.

Since Phyllis published her first book in 1998, Temple Elders have been sought out to teach in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.  The Temple of Ara was subsequently created to formalize and support the active and growing Ara communities across the globe. Legally recognized as religious organization, Ara is one of the oldest and longest running Wiccan congregations in the United States and one of the first to return to Europe.

The Temple of Ara has been active on the behalf of our broader Wiccan, Pagan and indigenous community since its inception. Seeking to dispel the false and negative stereotypes attributed to Paganism for hundreds of years, Ara was one of the first traditions to “go public” in the early 80’s, welcoming the public to many of its celebratory rites which were often held in parks and progressive churches, and it has been frequently profiled in national and international media. As attorneys, founder Phyllis Curott and Elder Kirsten Rostedt have championed our community’s religious rights, including Wiccan clergy seeking to perform legally binding marriages, Wiccan and Pagan congregations wishing to hold rituals in public parks, Wiccan and Pagan students wearing the symbols of their religion, Wiccan parents to raise their children, and for grave markers of Wiccan and Pagan soldiers to include the symbol of their faith.

In it goals to eradicate religious bias, strengthen community and further the dialogue between traditions and religions, the Temple has supported Ara’s founder as she has taken on leadership positions in such inter-tradition organizations as the Covenant of the Goddess and interfaith organizations including the prestigious Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Harvard University Religious Pluralism Project, the Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization, the Indigenous Institute of the Americas and Women of Faith and Spirit. And the Ara Tradition has consistently opened new theological and cosmological frontiers, seeking to contribute to the philosophical growth and maturity of this important spiritual movement.

Individuals interested in learning and practicing in the Ara Tradition are encouraged to practice individually, to form peer and study groups, join existing circles, attend public rituals and Sabbats. Guidance is provided by Temple Elders, Priestesses, Priests, and Initiates who conduct circles, public rituals, workshops, lectures and online classes. Guidance is also available in Phyllis’ books and through this website. The Ara Tradition is an open and welcoming community in which clergy, initiates, students, volunteers and all those practicing in the Ara Tradition contribute to the Temple’s vitality and growth.

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