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The Wiccan Minister's Manual, A Guide For Priests and Priestesses |
Author: Kevin Gardner
Category: Wiccan Clergy Level: Advanced
"The Wiccan Minister's Manual, A Guide For Priests and Priestesses, " was inspired as a training aid for those who would like to become Wiccan Ministers, as well as an aid for Wiccan/Pagan Priests and Priestesses. The Craft is evolving, becoming more and more accepted by society, and there is beginning to be a definite distinction between Wiccan Laity and Wiccan Clergy. Part One - Guidance - Making the spiritual connection to personal deity through love, prayer, meditation, ritual, and myth and how to guide others to create their own personal connections. Part Two - Wiccan religious philosophy and guidance - How to live a spiritual life in the modern world. Part Three - various methods of healing mind, body and spirit - Including some legal pit-falls to avoid, plus chapter eleven presents an extensive discourse on Pastoral Counseling. Part Four deals with psychic self-defense and rituals of protection. Including House Clearings, Banishings, and Exorcism. Additionally, the author explains what to look for and what to look out for while determining if an exorcism is really needed or if the client is suffering from psychosis and is in need of a professional therapist. Part Five focuses upon the spiritual support roles. It covers, dealing with death and dying, Funerals, Prison Ministry, Legal requirements of doing Handfastings in all 50 states, plus a discourse on whether or not to incorporate. This work begins to fill yet another gap in this area of the Wiccan religious structure as it brings back much of the older knowledge and philosophy that seems to be waning from the collective Wiccan memory.
Reviewed by Edain McCoy; "Kevin, I received my copy of "Wiccan Minister's Manual” It’s terrific! You cover everything... Personally, I think you did a great job at making your book useful to all trads."
Author's Notes: FREE PREVIEW
HEALTHY MIND – HEALTHY SPIRIT
The power inherent in the human mind is phenomenal. No one has as yet been able to tap into the full potential of the mind. However, I believe that most Witches have probably learned to use a greater portion of their minds than has the average person. It is because of this that I can say that healing begins in the mind. All experienced Witches know from personal observation that the mind has both the power and the ability to heal the body and to make it sick. However, what is sometimes not realized is that the mind also has the ability to heal itself.
Very often when a person’s life becomes out of balance, or there is some sort of very distasteful task that must be done which the person really wishes to avoid, that person becomes sick. The illness becomes a way to avoid the task without being at fault or labeled as lazy. Psychic healers have made many dramatic and successful physical cures, but a lot of these cures are short-lived. This is because the client needs the illness, and the cure can never be completed until the real problem is dealt with. Once this problem is identified and steps are made to rectify it, the disease quite often goes away and doesn’t return. This is what is termed as a psychosomatic illness, and the main thrust of the treatment should be towards the client’s mind and emotional condition.
Spiritual or pastoral counseling is a great deal like psychotherapy in many respects as it is an exploration into the mind of the troubled individual. However, unlike a psychotherapist, the pastoral counselor is not licensed and accredited by the state. And just as in other forms of healing, this will leave you vulnerable to prosecution if you begin accepting clients outside of your religious faith. I know that I covered this in the previous chapter, but it needs to be touched upon again. You, as a pastoral counselor, are only immune from prosecution for practicing without a license if you are only providing spiritual guidance or healing within the scope of your religious tradition. Doing otherwise can land you in all sorts of legal difficulties. Additionally, even if a client is of your same religious faith, you can still be prosecuted for practicing without a license if you are “diagnosing” an illness or representing yourself as providing “treatment” or a “cure” for an illness. So you have to be aware that there are some individuals of your same religious faith for whom you are not legally recognized as being qualified to help. You need to be able to recognize this and refer those clients to a professional. You, as a pastoral counselor, are not considered as being a professional in psychology, so it would behoove you to take that to heart. To be on the safe side, you should accept only those of your own faith who do not require professional care as clients.
Other than that, the pastoral counselor has a bit more latitude to incorporate a combination of methods and techniques than does the mental health professional. For instance, you can recommend herbal preparations, relaxation, grounding and shielding exercises, guided meditations, lead the client through prayer, explore past lives and help your clients connect with their inner divine self. Generally, the people a pastoral counselor will work with are those who are having difficulty making sense of life’s problems, those who are constantly plagued with bad luck or negative life situations, those who are encountering relationship problems and those who have become disconnected from their spiritual centers.
Those who should be referred to a mental health professional are those who have suffered severe emotional trauma, those who have severe addiction problems and those who are suffering from a psychosis or any severe psychological or emotional symptoms. A “psychosis” is generally defined as when someone is becoming disconnected from reality. This is evidenced by the person experiencing either hallucinations or delusions. However, in a magickal person, it can sometimes become a very difficult task to differentiate between illumination, or “real” psychic impressions and phenomenon, and the hallucinatory expressions of psychosis. Even after years of work in this area, the subtle differences between reality and non-reality are sometimes difficult to separate.
So where exactly do you draw the line? That is a very difficult question to answer because it also depends greatly upon the minister’s level of skill and experience. As a pastoral counselor, you must be able to recognize and admit your own limitations and never be afraid to encourage a patient to seek help from a mental health professional. These people have techniques and procedures that work quite well in most cases, and they can see that a patient who needs medication gets it. Generally speaking, the pastoral counselor should focus upon issues related to the spiritual health and well being of those who come to him/her for counseling.
However, I must say that the more personal experience you can acquire while remaining firmly grounded in reality, the more discerning you can become. The most common form of emerging psychic abilities is when the neophyte begins to see shapes moving at the periphery of his/her vision. These are usually perceived as gray fuzzy shapes, often referred to as “fuzz-balls.” They can, however, be black and white as well, although black is generally an indication of negative energies. As the person advances, he or she may begin to see energy fields or auras around both animate and inanimate objects. Or she/he may begin to see humanoid shapes begin to form, as if out of a mist. Sometimes the person will even see something like a portal opening up and beings stepping through into this realm. Some of these beings may even speak to the person, who will hear the voice inside their heads.
Psychotic people see and hear this stuff too, though for them, the voices seem to be coming from the outside. But the main difference is that the person whose psychic abilities are developing remains grounded in reality and may even question what she/he is seeing and/or hearing. As a general guide to help the counselor make a distinction, if the experiences somehow benefit, enrich, or improve the client’s life, they are NOT psychotic. However, if the experiences tend to disorganize, profoundly disturb, incapacitate, or make the client dysfunctional in some way, then they are very likely psychotic. Additionally, I would also like to point out that no valuable spiritual experience will guide one to violate one’s personal values, whereas psychotic hallucinations often tempt or command one to do so. At first, psychic experiences may cause the rational person to feel frightened and even to question their sanity. The psychotic accepts these images and auditory stimuli more easily as being real, no matter how surreal they may be, and will be more prone to allowing him/herself to blindly follow the direction of the hallucinations.
To complicate things, the psychotic may indeed be hearing and seeing disincarnate or non-corporal beings. So, many times it comes down to what choices the client makes when you have to split hairs. The sane and rational mind with developing psychic abilities will question the impressions and make her/his own choices based upon common sense, personal experiences and values. The psychotic mind will not always do this, preferring instead to accept the guidance from the hallucination/manifestation. Whenever there’s even a slight bit of doubt, err on the side of caution and refer the person to a professional for an evaluation, ideally someone with an occult background.
Pastoral counseling is a valuable skill for any spiritual leader to acquire, and it is a necessary skill for anyone seeking to become a Wiccan minister. Probably the most important attribute a counselor can nurture is to become a skilled and patient listener. This is not the same as being a good conversationalist. In fact, the skills required to be a good conversationalist are the very skills that are detrimental to becoming a good counselor. I often hear people say that listening is easy. It really is not. The natural tendency is to provide feedback when the client reaches a pause while searching inside of himself and reformulating his thoughts or trying to summon up the courage to continue expanding upon the subject of discussion. A patient and expectant silence will encourage another wave of revelation, whereas jumping in to provide feedback at that point will cut off the flow, and you may even cause the troubled person to put up some defenses which makes it more difficult to breach this topic again. So, I must stress that the most valuable tool for a counselor to practice is the ability to remain attentively silent.
You must allow the client to talk. Indeed, you may even need to resort to asking some open-ended questions of your client in order to initiate a flow the words. A person with a troubled mind is a person who is experiencing mental, emotional and spiritual pain. That pain, however, is just a symptom of the presence of some mental, emotional and/or spiritual toxin at work inside the individual.
Think of this as being like a boil, as it works in a similar fashion. The root cause, bacteria, enters an opening in the skin. A plug forms and the bacterial infection builds up and begins attacking the area of the invasion. The immune system gets activated, and white corpuscles are sent to destroy the infection. However, they initially fail and become food for the bacterial infection, which now is creating toxic waste residue, and increasing its numbers. Swelling begins and increasing pain is felt as the pressure builds rapidly. If the boil is lanced and the core removed, it may be initially painful, but the pressure is relieved, the swelling is halted, the toxin is flushed away, the pain decreases, and healing begins. If the boil is not lanced the pressure continues to build, the pain continues to increase, and the infection spreads until it affects the entire system. Eventually, the boil will come to a head and burst, spraying its poisonous toxins into the environment and onto anyone who happens to be near by.
Getting a person to discuss what may be troubling them, though not always easy, is like lancing the boil. It can only be lanced when it is ready, and it will hurt when that is done. As the client begins to talk about the problem, he/she is relieving the pressure by allowing the toxins to flow out of themselves. If the counselor allows the client to purge him/herself of the toxic build-up, then the core or root of the problem can be seen and, with the client’s help, it can be excised.
Good listening skills encourage the client to open up and get all of that emotional and spiritual gunk out of the way. The skills of a good conversationalist do not allow this to take place because, as soon as you begin to jump in and offer feedback, you will stop the toxic flow. It will then quickly harden, and the poisons will internalize, creating all sorts of other problems. Eventually, if those toxins are not released, the person may explode, and that could be dangerous to anyone nearby. So in order to become a good pastoral counselor, you need to learn to be quiet and to listen, and you should always be prepared to ask some pointed questions to encourage the patient to continue the monologue.
As Wiccan ministers, we can also use a divination tool, such as the Tarot or a scrying glass, to get the client to focus on the real issues. Bookshelves remain filled with Tarot information and most of the readers will be very familiar with at least one form of divination already, so I see no need to delve into that with any depth. The difference in doing this type of reading would be in the thrust of the reading. In this case, have the client concentrate on what is eating him/her up inside. In the case of the scrying mirror or crystal ball, have the client gaze into the ball or mirror and then begin looking within. Then you can begin interpreting the images that surface. After the divination session, you can use the images as points of discussion to uncover more of the emotional poison.
Where To Buy: This book will soon become available through Amazon.com, Borders, Barns & Noble, Target & several other places online, as well as at Authorhouse at a discount. Autographed copies will be available through the author's website on the clergy books page.
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