This post has been a long time coming. Mostly born out of frustration with the many individuals who feel a need to slam back against the idea of pagan clergy. And as someone whom is about to be ordained (in just 3 weeks y’all!), I have an opinion on the subject. Naturally.
The first thing I want to mention is the pre-conceived notions of pagan clergy that are brought about our pre-pagan roots and experiences with the Christian Church. Not having that background I can only suspect how it feels to have had a bad experience with any Christian Church. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of the ickies but not on the level that many of you have had. The glory I found in my pagan path was that it’s NOT like Christianity. And that any pre-conceived notions about anything should be left at the door. Pagan clergy is NOT like the Priest in the pulpit at the local Catholic church. Granted there are similarities but overall they are very different. Let it go. Drop it. Get to know some pagan clergy (more than one individual for the Gods’ sakes!) before you decide how you feel about the idea of pagan clergy.
The reality of most pagan clergy is that they are ordained online with no official training and they use their skill set to perform Handfastings and Baby Blessings (or Wiccanings). Many pagan clergy don’t have physical space to take care of like we do at Mother Grove or the folks at Circle Sanctuary. Many pagan clergy don’t even have any sort of education because they have no physical space. Some do through their specific paths, but a great number of people I run into simply filled out the online form and boom they are now clergy. There is Cherry Hill Seminary to get the much education on a life of clergy work but that weeds out the people who can afford the education. And all of this is changing as we go. We hear of more Temples and Pagan Churches opening across the US. As that happens, we will see more clergy actually trained. Whether anyone approves of that training is another problem all together. But honestly, it’s no worse than being able to go online and fill out a form in 5 minutes to become Reverend.
The other argument that I often read is “I don’t want/need representation by Pagan Clergy”. Guess what? It’s not about you. For that matter if you don’t want someone else representing you, you could step up and gladly take on the work of standing with other interfaith groups to make sure that pagans are understood. You could stand in front of a crowd of a couple hundred to talk about your path. The reality? Most of the people who complain about pagan clergy also won’t stand up and do the work that the minority of us do. Most of those people who complain demand that pagans be more transparent but wait for someone else to do it and then when it’s done they want to complain on how it was done. Leave it to someone else and you can’t exactly complain about it. Trust me, there is so much work to be done that many of us would be happy if more of y’all would step up and take on a press conference or meet with various social justice issues and tackle those head on. If you wish to remain solitary and private, by all means have at it. That’s your choice and I won’t make any judgments on you for choosing that life. But don’t knock pagan clergy who choose to be out in the open and making us “normal”.
The final thing that chaps my nerves…..Pagan Clergy shouldn’t be paid. Now before I go further with this issue I want to disclose that I will not be paid for quite some time by Mother Grove, if ever. It’s simply not in Temple budget at this time. I chose to take this on because I am passionate about what I am called to do and I am creating something new in which clergy coming in later will reap the benefits from (such as getting paid). Having said that, Pagan Clergy SHOULD get paid. It’s a full time job. Because the work isn’t just Handfastings and Baby Blessings. But even if it was, it’s a skill set that one should be compensated for their time. The problem is, too many newer pagans have gotten so much for free that they have come to expect everything is free. And the reality is, if it takes time away from my family….I deserve compensation for that time. Just like how my employment takes me away from my family. What this also means is that any individual seeking Clergy out for a specific skill set (tarot readings, blessings, etc) should also research the individual. Something that a lot of pagans don’t do (or at least not ones I have come across). I know I have probably chapped a few asses on this subject but then I have to ask those people “Would you demand that you not be compensated by your boss?”. Some pagans are anti-money and the reality of that is another blog post. I just cannot even get into that subject right now.
The reality is, we have Pagan Clergy. You can like it or not like it, that’s all on you. You can spend a good amount of time blasting me online about this very topic. It’s okay. But when you are lying in a hospital bed learning about your inevitable fate, will you want the resident Catholic Chaplain or would you want the ability to have Pagan Clergy at your side helping you transition the way you want to?
P.S. I will be kicking off a new blog about the things I do as Clergy come next week. It’s time more people saw what it is pagan clergy can/should do with their label.