What Exactly Does Being In The Clergy Entail?

So one morning, I was greeted with this message about clergy as I was preparing to start my day…

Good morning. Quick question when you get a chance. I mentioned on the questionnaire that I might possibly look at the priesthood and initiation for your tradition. What exactly does the priesthood entail as far as duties, participation and the such. If you can message back or email that would be great. Thanks and Blessed Be!

See, it’s those “quick” questions that will get you nearly every time. Because there is no “quick” way to answer such a question when the querent requests an exact answer for an ambiguously defined role. It’s sort of akin to asking, what exactly a parent does or what exactly a doctor does, or what are the duties, participation and such expected of a member of a marching band. Well, it depends on which instrument they choose to play for one thing. It might depend on what specialty the doctor chooses to practice in or the subject and grade level the teacher is teaching. What’s your parenting style? There are a myriad of ways to approach such broad subjects and especially within an open and eclectic framework such as we employ within Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition. Because, you see, when Arachne Crowsinger, Sera Freya, and myself joined to form this tradition, even though we had all separated from the same previous tradition, we also had other backgrounds in various Pagan and other spiritual thoughts which we wanted to be free to explore and pass on with other seekers. So we purposefully, left a lot of things open to each, individual, member group to pursue as they saw fit so long as the path of study and practice remained true to the tradition vision statement:

An organization that welcomes any pagan spiritual path that brings its members to be in balance and harmony with the universe.

Therefore, what Temple Of the Standing Stones does might not necessarily be what Mystic Willow Coven does when it comes to cultural focus, esbat styles or concepts of the divine. We celebrate the diversity of thoughts and beliefs and focus primarily on our practices. Orthopraxy. We do the things together. You may take one thing from the experience and I may take something completely different from it. But we experience it together and grow from it. Clergy has the role of facilitating experiences for the seekers. If you initiate into the priesthood you will be undertaking the role of a person who is there to support seekers on their path in whatever capacity you may. If you are a 1st degree, help the initiates prepare to advance by teaching them about altar set up, tools, the elements, basic ritual format, roles. If you are 2nd degree then help the 1st, and so on. There are some basic expectations at each degree level and we don’t typically publish these publicly but I will share a piece from our initiate to first degree requirements for advancement at the tradition level:

From Initiate to 1st DEGREE – ANY QUESTIONS , PLEASE SEE YOUR HP &/OR HPS

_____ ENERGY WORK – Know how to focus, center and ground your energy; shielding yourself from others influence; also proper energy work within a circle. This is a taught form and is somewhat subjective. Questions will be asked regarding knowledge of what this is and how to do it. Student may be asked to lead a meditation for the group to demonstrate one’s knowledge regarding a technique to ground energy.
_____ Write or give an oral presentation report about Wicca/Paganism 101. Discuss with your groups Elder for approval and/or guidance before beginning your research. If a written report is give it shall be no less than 2 pages. The specs of what is required will be in another handout.
_____ Start to explore meditation. Start with once a week for the 1st month, twice a week the 2nd month, and increasing 1 day every week, every month until it is ultimately daily. Write or give an oral presentation on what you learned/experienced from meditating. If a written report is given, it shall be no less than 1 page. The specs of what is required will be in another handout.
_____ Explore divination. Find a method that works for you with some degree of accuracy. There are various methods out there, tarot, runes, I Ching, Ogham sticks, Lithomancy, Dream craft, Scrying, Pyromancy, Radiesthesia etc. Discuss with your groups Elder for approval and/or guidance before beginning your research. An Elder may ask you to perform a reading for them or ask you to explain the technique. This is to determine if you have done this assignment or not.
_____ Be able to do a quarter call or equivalent. You may be asked to perform a quarter call or your path’s equivalent on the spot by one of the Elders, at any time. This request may not occur in circle, so make sure you have a least one of them memorized. The style of the call is up to the student.
_____ Leadership skill awareness. Start asking yourself what skills are needed to lead a group and are you meant to do this. Provide feedback about ritual to group members and the Elder(s) about what you felt worked and didn’t work during the ritual. Make sure the Elder is aware of the feedback, i.e., send it in writing or make sure that an Elder is present and hears you giving the feedback to the people acting ritual leaders.
_____ Have and know what we call “elevator speeches.” This is a quick summation of what the subject is about. You are expected to have these prepared for at least the following subjects, maybe more depending on group:
_____ 1) Vision Statement of Spirit of the Sycamore Tradition. “Spirit of the Sycamore tradition is an organization that welcomes any group on a pagan spiritual path that brings its members to be in balance and harmony with the Universe.”
_____ 2) What is Wicca
_____ 3) What is Druidism
_____ 4) What is Paganism
_____ 5) What is your personal spiritual path.
An Elder(s) will spontaneously ask you these questions and you are expected to be able to give a coherent answer.
_____ The Initate will pick a ritual style type (Wiccan, Druid, Sumerian, etc.) and tell us about the various roles within the ritual and what these roles entail doing. Write or give an oral presentation on what you learned/experienced from meditating. If a written report is given, it shall be no less than 1 page. The specs of what is required will be in another handout.

You will be presented with a similar set of expectations at each level of clergy advancement and will have plenty of time to work through these and become proficient by the time you choose (yes, you choose) to come forward and ask to advance to the next level. There is a traditional minimum of a year and a day for each level along the clergy path but if life gets in the way and you have to put your spiritual studies on hold then you are not held to a certain timeline. If it takes you 3, or 4 or more years then that is okay. We’ll be here when you’re ready. But there will not be accelerated advancements or short cuts in our clergy training program. We are also, very much a participatory tradition. If one wishes to advance, one must be present at our functions. We have a requirement of 70% attendance by clergy within a calendar year before one is considered to be eligible for advancement. With 8 Sabbats, 13 Esbats and other various function it’s not difficult to make enough to be eligible. Being there is a big part of everything really. We didn’t set out to establish another correspondence course or online witch school. We are a participatory tradition and expect participation. A lot of what we pass on is done in person, orally and learned by doing, not by reading about it. We need to see you doing it. What ever it is, in order to evaluate your proficiency for clergy advancement.

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