Over ten years ago, just a few years into my journey I felt the calling to become a Pagan Priestess. That impulse is still as strong today as it was then. It led me to self dedicate to my Gods, to focus and study harder, to reach out and join in my local Pagan community and to start a web page which in turn has led to this blog. But I did not become a Pagan Priestess; not in the sense of being clergy. I am not Pagan Clergy. I am instead a Pagan Blogger and perhaps this is the true form of my calling.
I don’t assume that I am different from other Pagans who have felt a calling to become clergy. I was excited and in love with what I was learning and experiencing. My enthusiasm was overflowing. I wanted to share this wonderful thing I had with everyone. “What better way is there to do that, than to become clergy and live a life in service to the Gods?” Actually there are other ways but that’s beside the point of this article. My search on what being a Priestess means had begun.
Ten years ago and perhaps a bit longer than that it was a common argument than anyone could become a Pagan Priest or Priestess and that declaring oneself as such was sufficient. Hot debates started on whether or not this is true or should even be true. Enough disagreement was raised that self declared clergy was eyed with suspicion, accused of being scam artists, accused of being phony, derided for a lack of education and the inability to receive legal recognition as clergy. This environment had a major impact on how I chose to answer that extremely personal call. I didn’t feel I had enough stuff not to mention experience to become a Priestess so I decided to focus more on my Pagan education. As a virtue, education is the foundation for clergy. But there were no clear cut requirements for what should be known or what was needed beyond the basic creation of a coven.
I noticed as a religious movement Paganism don’t have many common elements of agreement to what makes our clergy; clergy. It’s a calling, a sacred duty and a whole lot of work. There are still long debates on the subject hammering out the need for a standard in what makes our clergy what they are. And yet there isn’t a lot of people most would be recognise as bona fide clergy. The Elders are often the closest to what could be considered clergy. They did not become honoured Elders by attending a seminary. Most have worked within the community; some founding churches and traditions, others writing books and giving lectures. They are held in high esteem by the community and are well know to either their local community or the greater community of Pagans.
Is service to the community the first prerequisite or the first test or a little of both? I feel this is the first qualifier for who should become clergy. Without passion for the Gods and community, without love for both, motives and actions are suspect for anyone seeking a powerful status that has often been abused across all religions and cultures. Paganism is not immune to human nature.