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Thread: Pagan Clergy

  1. #1
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    Pagan Clergy

    What do you think about "Pagan Clergy". Is or should there be such a thing. If there is such a thing, what are their duties. What studies should they have undertaken in order to reach that position?

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    There are as many forms of Pagan clergy as there are Pagan paths. Some are even legally ordained.

    Speaking from a Kemetic standpoint, in the Kemetic faith (well, at least the Orthodox version), there are several levels of clergy and they are recognized as such with the same acceptance (by the government, anyway) as a Roman Catholic priest or some such.

    **edited to add** You can poke around on http://www.kemet.org/kemexp4.html to find out more. Or else, there's also http://www.per-ankh.org/ethics/code.html for a non-Orthodox clergy duties and requirements page.
    Last edited by Ahautenites; October 25th, 2003 at 11:56 AM.
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    Oh, never mind, I was thinking counselors ~ Good morning!

    I'll try to reply ~ in my professional field (social work/psychology), there are people with masters degrees and Ph.D's who are complete idiots, even to the point of doing serious damage to people's lives. There are others with little or no college but vast life experience and/or who are simply brilliant, perceptive people and make the most effective workers.

    In my local pagan community, we seem to be growing a crop of self-appointed priests and priestesses - some good, some not.

    Of course, as with any field where your actions or decisions could involve impacting people's lives, there should be some requirements as to experience and education - but how much impact that will have on the ethics, abilities and effectiveness of the individual is questionable.
    Last edited by Flar's Freyja; October 25th, 2003 at 11:58 AM.
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    I think it's nice to have ordained pagan clergy for those peole that want to have a legal wedding and such.
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    Keeping in mind Freyja's point...I think what is also needed is some clear understanding of the role in question. A backgound in the helping professions is surely helpful for those who wish to provide counseling in a Pagan context, but it is sometimes only required that a person have enough common sense to know when they are in over their heads and then provide a referral to a pro who can take over.

    Clergy also teach. the skills in group dynamics can sometimes make for a successful ritual.

    Why not look to the mundane background profession of the candidate? Many fields provide a foundation that can function with a thourogh knowledge of the Path in question to create qualified clergy.

    It's probably all about people skills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Autumn
    ......but it is sometimes only required that a person have enough common sense to know when they are in over their heads and then provide a referral to a pro who can take over.

    Clergy also teach. the skills in group dynamics can sometimes make for a successful ritual.

    Why not look to the mundane background profession of the candidate? Many fields provide a foundation that can function with a thourogh knowledge of the Path in question to create qualified clergy.

    It's probably all about people skills.
    I agree completely! Another pet peeve of mine is the counseling that is given in churches (I deal with this in my profession as well) by pastors and ministers. The training that they receive toward this end is not always sound professional training and many have no knowledge or background in mental health or sociology. While there is nothing wrong with this for clients with everyday problems, there are some who need far more than these folks are capable of. I've had several cases where the church tried to get involved in court proceedings without knowing the full story and/or having no knowledge of procedures and laws. And they have even done some damage by failing to understand that a mentally retarded woman who has lost her children to the state might stand in front of a judge and claim that she can beat her kids because the Bible tells her so.........Someone without some exposure to the professional fields or an understanding of mental health issues could make serious errors in judgement.

    One of the local pagan groups I've been a member of has actually incorporated as a federally recognized church. One of the discussions I've had with the "minister" (high priest) is that it's not a bad idea to have a professional consultant.
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    Your comments on counselling are extremely important. I have some excellent notes from a workshop last weekend including a short list of "how to tell if you're in over your head" and I'll see if I can get permission to share them.

    Cherry Hill Seminary http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/ offers a counselling class and Judy Harrow, who teaches that class also has a very good self-teaching document on line at http://members.aol.com/JehanaS/c_basics/index.html which I highly recomend

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Cat
    Your comments on counselling are extremely important. I have some excellent notes from a workshop last weekend including a short list of "how to tell if you're in over your head" and I'll see if I can get permission to share them.

    Cherry Hill Seminary http://www.cherryhillseminary.org/ offers a counselling class and Judy Harrow, who teaches that class also has a very good self-teaching document on line at http://members.aol.com/JehanaS/c_basics/index.html which I highly recomend
    I'm so glad to hear that you're researching this, and I'm assuming that you're planning to write about it. Thanks for those links, I'll check them out.

    I am a master level social worker but not a licensed counselor. Where I live, an ordained minister can provide counseling and I am an ordained minister through ULC - I need to hurry up and register with the county before they decide not to accept it. I have been seriously considering offering affordable counseling services to pagans and although I have a professional degree and years of experience, continuing education never hurts.

    Most states, if not all, have informed consent laws. This means that the professional or clergy should be informing people they serve up front that if they make any threat to hurt themselves or others the professional is required by law to report it. In my state, this includes that a person admitting to child abuse can be reported without it being considered a breach of confidentiality.

    You also asked about the duties of pagan clergy. Counseling, of course, would be one - and I think that they should be capable of offering both spiritual counseling and counseling in regard to mundane matters.

    They should be legally able to perform handfastings, funerals and the like along with facilitating sabbat and moon rituals. They should be available to assist with additional spiritual work on a one one one basis. They should be capable of offering ministerial services to those in hospitals and prisons just as Christian clergy do. Persons in the role of pagan clergy should be able to organize their group and delegate duties and responsibilities. Another very important duty would be for the individual in this role to represent pagans in a positive manner to the rest of the community. This would also include organizing activities such as charity work and public service events.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freyja
    I'm so glad to hear that you're researching this, and I'm assuming that you're planning to write about it. Thanks for those links, I'll check them out.
    Nope. I am NOT a trained therapist and Judy can do a MUCH better job than I can. I plan to try to get the "over your head" notes on my website but I'm leaving the teaching part of counselling to those who are qualified.

    Also, following Judy's suggestions, if it's going to take more than 2 or 3 sessions, they need to go to and pay a professional.


    Quote Originally Posted by Freyja
    You also asked about the duties of pagan clergy. Counseling, of course, would be one - and I think that they should be capable of offering both spiritual counseling and counseling in regard to mundane matters.
    What are you thinking about when you say "mundane matters"? I've decided that it's NOT my job to teach them how to boil water or clean the bathroom!

    Quote Originally Posted by Freyja
    They should be legally able to perform handfastings, funerals and the like along with facilitating sabbat and moon rituals. They should be available to assist with additional spiritual work on a one one one basis. They should be capable of offering ministerial services to those in hospitals and prisons just as Christian clergy do. Persons in the role of pagan clergy should be able to organize their group and delegate duties and responsibilities. Another very important duty would be for the individual in this role to represent pagans in a positive manner to the rest of the community. This would also include organizing activities such as charity work and public service events.
    Because our clergy isn't paid, I feel we should be ready to ease up a bit on this. One person simply can't do all that in a busy "congregation". And while ideally there are two clergy in most groups, that often doesn't really work out to two "working" clergy!

    Grey Cat

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Cat
    Nope. I am NOT a trained therapist and Judy can do a MUCH better job than I can. I plan to try to get the "over your head" notes on my website but I'm leaving the teaching part of counselling to those who are qualified.

    Also, following Judy's suggestions, if it's going to take more than 2 or 3 sessions, they need to go to and pay a professional.
    Yes, that is an excellent stance to take and a good guideline.


    What are you thinking about when you say "mundane matters"? I've decided that it's NOT my job to teach them how to boil water or clean the bathroom!
    LOL, in my field, it is......that would come in if you were trying to help someone get their children back or similar issues, but you could also refer them out to a community agency. But that might be something you want to re-think - and you might have someone in your 'congregation' who wouldn't mind doing something like that. Of course, my thinking as a social worker would be, "why isn't it your job?" I'm into the whole "it takes a village" thing.

    What I meant was in relationship/marriage or job issues, etc. It wouldn't hurt for clergy to have some background in mediation. There's a book called "Getting to Yes" that is used in training that may be helpful.


    Because our clergy isn't paid, I feel we should be ready to ease up a bit on this. One person simply can't do all that in a busy "congregation". And while ideally there are two clergy in most groups, that often doesn't really work out to two "working" clergy!

    Grey Cat
    That's why I mentioned "delegate!" Tasks like that could be delegated out to 'congregation' members. I feel it's very important to put forth a positive image to the community and this should be a team effort.
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