Blog changes

In an effort to get this blog back on track I have simplified it, deleted some of the attached one-topic blogs
and focused on Sabbats and Esbats, which was the original intent.
Other writings will be in 'stumbling upon the path of the goddess'
and the Borrowed Book of Charms is still active.
Links in the right hand column.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

pagan clergy

I have been sitting on the fence on the subject of pagan 'clergy.'
I have been swayed in both directions. To me paganism is all about finding your own personal path to divinity, whatever that is.
You can't tell me how to connect to the goddess, I can't tell you. All the research and education in the world is only one small tool along that path. A good tool, a necessary tool, but still just a tool.

OTOH, the arguments for presenting a public face that doesn't speak of Buffy or teenage Goths has great pull. We all want to be respected in our beliefs, in our lives. We all get tired of saying "I'm-pagan,-no-it-is-not-satanism" as if it were all one word.
Having someone ELSE front and center to make explanations and create good will is very very tempting these days.

My mind was made up this week in a gigantic leap, a vivid light bulb moment. I sincerely wish that I could credit the person who caused this, but I have been unable to. Instead I will relate how this happened.

Driving to work, listening to an NPR story about the Pope in Africa. Someone from one of the many health organizations trying desperately to stop the relentless advance of disease in Africa was being interviewed. I started listening at the very end of the interview, which is why I don't know who this was.
The questions and answers turned to the Pope's remarks against the use of condoms and the interviewee said:

"...he cares more for his dogma than for his people's lives."

Raised Catholic, I think I had always known this, but never said it outloud. Yes, he does.
And I realized that we must NEVER EVER fall into the trap of believing that my way or your way or
anyone's way of approaching the gods must look a certain way or feel a certain way or contain certain words. The moment that we anoint people to step forward and say that they represent Pagans, we are heading for the slippery slope of caring more for dogma (and for appearances) than for connection and knowledge.

Most of us are so indoctrinated, more honestly we are brainwashed, into thinking that 'religion' must look a certain way and act a certain way. Even when we think we have thrown off the shackles and started down a path of freedom and knowledge, those old beliefs start to tug at us.
Clergy, temples, sacred texts tipping into dogma. We are conditioned to it, we must resist it or this path can just become another way to control other people.

double posted, here and 'stumbling upon the path of the goddess'


  1. What a balancing act!
    I think we are sorely in need of knowledgeable people within the community, people that can relate experiential data as it applies to ritual, gods, and spell craft. I'm not entirely certain that this should be a vested profession. Frankly, I've seen too many people that wouldn't listen to anyone who didn't have their 3rd degree cord wrapped around their waist :P And seen too many so-called HP/S's that recommend using sage against heavy spiritual possessions, be it house or person, because that's what the books recommend. The "it should work" attitude is extremely dangerous, and has bridged on the dogmatic, just as you speak of in this well-timed and beautifully written post.
    The only people that can serve in the capacity of clergy are those that have been there, done that, failed miserably,studied, tried again, did better, tried something new, succeeded, etc. Unfortunately, we don't have a word for that, and it involves getting to know the people within the community, and these people building a consistent reputation. Difficult to know these things in an era of flash-in-the-pan, especially because many of these "experiential" Pagans live right in your hometown, and don't actively seek praise, adoration, etc., but serve quietly when and where they can. It's so much easier to hear the ones that scream the loudest, and I fear that these will be the ones seeking official clergy status. We MUST get to know the practitioners in our immediate community to combat this. I hope that as each of us are drawn to doing what we love most, and what we are called to do, our community will unfold as naturally as a rose, instead of having to design and engineer such things.
    While we may be safer split up into cells, without a central temple(s) and a paid or recognized clergy, there comes a time when each of us must leave the womb, singly or collectively, and face the dangers and the joys that the world offers. rocks may be thrown, our efforts may be taunted, protested, and defaced, but I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't all be worth it. Growing pains suck, huh? ;D

    Still with you in sisterhood (on the fence)

  2. I completely agree. As much as I wish there were beautiful temples strung across the world where we could meet and worship I feel it's just the flowered path to another evil institution that seeks dominance over peoples minds and worldly power.

  3. Yes and no - Ok, that response pretty much sums up where you are coming from. I still don't see why representatives would have to speak on behalf of the whole belief system. What I see is needed is education in order to breed tolerance and that is a message to be spread in itself. It's when the representatives come out and say, 'this is The Way' that it becomes the problem. You can still have representatives that say, 'this is how I apply my beliefs to my life'. It's hard to get the balance in the personalities of the types of people who have enough of an ego to stand up and be a representative without it becoming all about their ego though...



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