Should Pagan Clergy Be Paid?
Article ID: 13445
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Posted: July 19th. 2009
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Lately there have been a lot of articles and discussions floating around on whether or not Pagan Clergy should be paid. I am an individual who went through the long process to become a Pagan Clergy member (not through the web) but both in my own coven and also as certified by the state. As a Clergy member I have mixed feelings on this paid issue.
In the past, older covens and tribes or communities were run in a way where people in some way supported the group by supporting each other as a mini-community.
In looking at large Pagan events, I do not see a problem with charging for the camps and programs to cover costs of the whole camp. If the group hosting the camp is trying to raise funds for an event or to support greater pagan causes or say even charities for the betterment of humankind all the better. But charging just for the sake of money takes it into murky waters, because one never knows what the driver is. Is it money or the true cause?
After meeting all of the pagan people I have met, as we all know or will learn, they are just like any others and I wouldn't necessarily trust them just because they are pagan.
Much of Pagan and Witchcraft issues reside in the lack of context. I have yet to read anything that addresses this. ‘Pagan Clergy’ is another shadowy subject because we have no set hard and fast guidelines or recourse when something goes awry.
In ancient times so called ‘clergy’ proved themselves. That isn't necessarily so now. I think Clergy should be paid for doing special ceremonies that are above and beyond the call of regular work and maybe more so when it is for people outside of a coven or immediate group, because those individuals have not lent energy to the mini-community. ‘’
As for building churches and given money to Covens and clergy I think that is once again a conflict of interest.
Covens and spiritual groups are usually kept small for a reason. The problem with giving money to groups and covens is that people are just as money hungry and power hungry in the craft as anywhere else. Paganism and Witchcraft are of nature and therefore practiced in nature when at all possible.
In the PNW, most people hold meetings in their homes during the winter or at times when outside isn't always an option. All of the accoutrements that money is spent on are gathered in that home, and while technically are property of the coven, really belong to the person that lives in the home along with all of the other stuff that is gathered over the years. The person living in that home gets the most out of it and I feel that balances some of the things out.
While churches and clergy provide a service, it is usually to the really large crowd that gathers. In a coven, the group is smaller and part of that premise is that everyone provides the energy so that one person is not drawn upon and depleted. It is the HP/Pess responsibility to be healthy physically, spiritually and emotionally and trained in a way that it can be utilized so they don't become depleted.
When a group is small less is usually more. It takes less energy to concentrate, unify and focus a group mind. With more people, more props are usually needed. When money is involved clergy has to be trusted to spend money on what the group really needs.
How many altar cloths and different candles sticks or props are really needed for the group vs. what is personally filling that persons void? Are funds being utilized properly?
It is much different having a gathering place that is open to all versus one that also serves as a home. I don't feel that a group should necessarily be responsible for a person’s home.
The time of temples and schools seems to have passed because, once again, of context. I have seen and heard people mentioning the words church and cost. It makes me feel a bit icky to be honest.
If someone is a spiritual leader, it is a calling. One chooses to answer that call. When one starts setting oneself up as a leader of a church, so to speak, there is a direct conflict of interest because part of the pagan path is that we build on those who have gone before.
Knowledge is passed on so that each person stands empowered in his or her own spiritual path and there is no in-between. If there are ‘leaders’, it is in their best interest to maintain those roles so they continue to get paid and stay in a position of power. It's organizing spirituality instead of a religion.
I find that distasteful.
I see no problem in organizing the umbrella aspect such has been done with the accords set forth in the '70's and laws set down to protect everyone. But paganism has become so commercial and any self-important person can set him or herself up and convince others that he/she are more knowledgeable than anyone else in the room.
This sends us down a path of controlling behaviors. I have heard it said that the biggest problem facing Wicca today is the inability to pool resources. I think it's more that Paganism has such a diversity of people and many are not paying their share because they think to be pagan is to live off the land or the system and not work. Well, people who used to live off the land also had a skill that made money or enabled them to trade. That isn't so for the majority anymore.
I think the tithing idea is a bit much. However, I do think that spiritual priorities should be better addressed. I think Covens and spiritual communities would be better served if costs were openly scrutinized. There are some costs that a person would be incurring no matter what. Heat, water, and electricity would most likely be on and used whether people were meeting or not.
When I first came to my covenstead over eleven years ago, there was no money passing hands. The High Priestess did the main dish for the Sabbats. I encouraged them to share the costs so that it wasn't all on a few, such as $1 donation, alternating makers of main dishes, and bringing paper items that are used by the entire group. When our High Priest got sick, I suggested the group get together to do a bit of work outside until he got back on his feet.
Another issue is the cost of classes. In my spiritual group, we have made it part of our curriculum that those climbing the ranks through our mystery degrees are responsible for planning and leading one or multiple classes. One learns what they really know and need to flesh out in order to teach a group. The only time there is a cost is if a special item is needed, but never for a class.
Maybe our group is a bit different than others in our mini-community support. In our current times, it is impossible to have or expect people to respond and live as in times past. We live further apart, work more hours, live in a faster paced society, and have many responsibilities, all of which can only partially be circumvented by choices to live differently.
However, we still must be a part of society if we are to affect some sort of change. In looking at belonging to a spiritual community, there is the question of commitment. If we have agreed to be part of a particular group or association, do we plan ahead? Are we planning financially so that we have our paper and money donations for the month?
Do we make our food with intent that we have some to bring to Sabbats? Do we cut our flowers or bring an altar offering with intent? Do we do the work at home so that we "bring it" to our meetings, groups or covensteads when gather?
It's not going to be perfect all of the time, but what is?
On TV, I saw a couple that had set themselves up leaders of the group. Their group did the couple’s housework, yard work and paid for much of their bills. I didn't see anything the leaders were providing to their coven or to the greater community that warranted that. I've yet to meet anyone with that much ability!
I don't think I would belong to a group that considered themselves a church and became so organized and big that money was such an issue. If one is the paid head of a congregation numbering many, one is setting him/herself up to be a go-between and guide. This creates spiritual dependency and steers us in the direction of ‘organized religion’.
That just doesn’t sit right or ring true to Paganism in my Book of Shadows.
Copyright: Holly King
Location: Winlock, Washington
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