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Author Topic: can one be a Priest in private practice but an HPS in a Wiccan coven?  (Read 3312 times)

Phouka

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So here's my dilemma, I ordained myself and became a Priest of Macha 4 years ago. Macha chose the term Priest, which at the time I thought odd. Did research and found that Saigert in old Irish is the only term for it. Modern Irish does use the term ban Saigert but that's current.

Now, here's the problem I'm having, I was asked by a modern Wiccan HPS (modern is her term) how I could have a private practice that although uses some Wiccan trappings is not Wiccan in spirit, but can be an HPS and teacher of an Eclectic Wiccan coven. I don't see a problem as what I teach is what I learned back in 1979 when I started, and have built on as I've grown.

Do any on the fora have an idea how I could answer this? Some of the things I teach, such as the rede and rule of three are not true Wicca although I give the standard explanation, then how I personally interpret it, and then how each person needs to decide what it means for them.

It's just bothering me that some people feel that I can't be both, and I can't seem to explain it in a way for them to understand. Thank y'all for reading.

Phouka

RecycledBenedict

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Quote from: Phouka;193929
So here's my dilemma, I ordained myself and became a Priest of Macha 4 years ago.


This part of what you describe sounds strange to my ears, at least if you are a Celtic Reconstructionist. It is like proclaiming oneself mayor, without asking anyone concerned.

On the other hand, religious freedom means that anyone has the right to call themselves whatever they like - though not anyone else has to accept their claims. All Discordians  (and everybody else) are Authorized Popes, for instance, in the sight of Discordians.

Redfaery

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Quote from: Phouka;193929

It's just bothering me that some people feel that I can't be both, and I can't seem to explain it in a way for them to understand. Thank y'all for reading.

Phouka

To me, this sounds like you just have two different jobs at the same time. Sure, that's harder than having only one job. But plenty of people do it.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Phouka

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Quote from: FraterBenedict;193931
This part of what you describe sounds strange to my ears, at least if you are a Celtic Reconstructionist. It is like proclaiming oneself mayor, without asking anyone concerned.

On the other hand, religious freedom means that anyone has the right to call themselves whatever they like - though not anyone else has to accept their claims. All Discordians  (and everybody else) are Authorized Popes, for instance, in the sight of Discordians.

 
Actually, Frater, I did publicly acknowledge Macha's called for me to be Her Priest. I used the wrong word. It was She, who told me that I had to become an HPS in a Wiccan tradition. Because in my ate, most groups are Wiccan. What She wants is for me to have the 'authority' of being a Third degree in this community. I never felt the need or inclination for a Third, and especially did not want to be a leader in either my coven or the community.

Phouka

Phouka

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Quote from: Redfaery;193933
To me, this sounds like you just have two different jobs at the same time. Sure, that's harder than having only one job. But plenty of people do it.

 
That is what I was trying to explain but the person said that if I wasn't fully Wiccan in my private practice how could I lead an Eclectic Wiccan coven. I just couldn't get her to understand. I believe in many Wiccan tenants, but also have my own interpretations, morals and ethics in regards to some of them. I am not reconstructionist at all, I just have found I need as much scholarly information on the Irish Gods as possible (not much actually) as possible to base my private practice on.

Phouka

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Quote from: Phouka;193929

Now, here's the problem I'm having, I was asked by a modern Wiccan HPS (modern is her term) how I could have a private practice that although uses some Wiccan trappings is not Wiccan in spirit, but can be an HPS and teacher of an Eclectic Wiccan coven.

 
Plenty of people have spiritual practices that include things from multiple different traditions, and a number of those practice them separately.

(And actually, in my tradition, it's pretty much *expected* that you have a personal practice that may not look a lot like group tradition practice. If the only stuff you do looks solely like the group practice, you're probably not doing sufficient personal spiritual work to sustain yourself and your personal relationships with deity.)

I also think of it a lot like "I am the same person whether I'm at home or at work, and my work matters a lot to me (being partly religious vocation these days, I just am lucky enough to be able to get paid for it too), but my projects at home and religion matter a lot to me too."

Some weeks, it's all work and a lot of watching TV series at home and not much else because I'm exhausted and out of focus by the time I get home. Other weeks, I stay up late for a religious reason, and get less done at work for a couple of days because I'm tired.) Some weeks my body is particularly annoying, and I don't get much done anywhere. Balance, y'know? Usually there's not a conflict, or the ones that there are, I can work out so it's not an overwhelming one.

The things to look at, in my experience:

1) Are there any direct conflicts?
For example, a deity commitment that precluded working with any other deity would be a problem in many Wiccan-derived contexts, and perhaps especially anything with a teaching component or public community activity.

(For example: I know people with geasa against being in ritual with other deities than the ones they're committed to. Which is fine on one hand, but that means they can't take students to a public ritual and make sure the experience went reasonably well. It would be a problem if one of the tradition requirements were for the students to design and perform a ritual and that student chose to focus on a different deity than the one that is agreed on. And it definitely can complicate participating in festivals or other community Pagan events, which certainly aren't mandatory, but can also have a lot of useful things in them.)

Other things may be more subtle conflicts - foods to consume or avoid, etc. There are obviously specific deity combinations that may be a problematic. Values and ethics are an area of possible conflict, but not necessarily.

(I do think that an ethical approach to multiple paths involves sitting down at some point early in the process of realising you have multiple things going and going through things in a thorough way, looking for possible conflicts or points that might be a concern.)

2) How are you, as an individual, at maintaining multiple relationships in your life (not necessarily romantic! But multiple kinds of interactions, with different people you're close to?)
Some people really aren't good at that - they have the One Person or One Thing they do, and everything else revolves around that. For those people, multiple practices will be a problem, because one of them is going to get more attention and energy, and the others will be slighted.

The Gods can speak for themselves (and often do, in this kind of case, in my experience) and aren't really the primary concern here unless there are signs they're upset. But on a human level, it can also result in slighting coven members, teaching, etc. if someone isn't good at balancing multiple interactions. Which is not good.

Other people are much more comfortable with moving between different commitments, and able to balance the emotional and practical aspects with a little attention.

My experience with this one is that it's important to know whether you're being 'urgent need driven'. It's hard to have a balanced personal life if the coven part is in constant low-grade crisis and someone always seems to need your time or energy: it's a lot easier if you get an occasional urgent need due to an actual accident or illness or emergency, but most of the time if people need your time and attention, it's either scheduled or can be negotiated to a time that works for everyone. High Drama groups devour everyone in them, but especially the people who are leading them.

Note that balance doesn't need to be equal all the time: some practices or commitments might get a lot more time at some points in the year, and others at other times. Or it might be more time consuming for a year, and then the group trains in someone who can do large chunks of a task, and you can hand it over.

3) Are you being honest with other people involved?
It's certainly possible to keep things private - but there's a big difference between private and 'out of the blue'. I would be fine working closely with someone who said "My group practice is X, but I also do Y and Z privately." (without many details on the private, other than the basic existence). I'd be a lot less fine if I worked with someone for a year, and then discovered that Y and Z were part of the picture and had been possibly influencing things I wasn't aware of.

I can actually see that happening with deity stuff, fwiw: M'Lady is very explicitly English (or pre-English) but So Not Celtic in derivation, no matter how one defines that.

I'm okay being in ritual where Celtic deities are honoured, but on the whole, those rituals are unlikely to be deep intense major epiphany rituals for me. (There's no hostility there, I am just clearly not for those Gods, and there's a lot of polite "You are not one of mine, hi, nice to have you." in the ritual energy for me as long as I'm polite and respectful back.)

So if I were looking for a group at this stage in my practice, the fact that you are so heavily committed to Macha is a thing I'd want to factor in - because it's something I know would limit some options for me in terms of ritual in case of need or emergency, and might also include a worldview that might or might not be compatible with M'Lady. At the very least, I'd want to ask some more detailed questions, first.

And that's okay, y'know? No given practice, group, teacher, or priest/ess is going to be the right fit for everyone, and anyone who claims it is is someone I want to stay far away from.

Anyway, I have a lot more respect for people who are up front about it with people who are taking on significant commitments (about the point at which someone is making a commitment to be a student with a group, or anything more involved is the point at which I'd want to have this discussion.) Sort of like how there's some stuff you don't necessarily tell on a first date or a job interview, but you do tell someone once you start spending time together, or once you're hired so you can do your best work.

4) More subtle things to look at
So, the last thing is more subtle, but worth mentioning: if we believe that our honouring the Gods shapes us (as I hope people who identify as priests and priestesses usually do, for some values of that sentence), then there may be ways in which a given deity relationship is going to force changes.

I am fairly sure that aspects of my tradition induced me to pick up my life in 1998 and decide to move to Minnesota from Massachusetts. I'm about as certain that increasing differences between my feeling of what I needed to do (in the Great Work life task sense) lead to me feeling increasingly distanced over time from some of the specific practices in the group I trained in, and to my making a series of choices that lead to moving back to the East Coast.

(I also believe very strongly that M'Lady was explicitly involved in several of the major ones, starting with my going back to finish my MLIS degree in a way that actually worked for me, and then both the first job hunt that got me to Maine, and then to Massachusetts.)

Anyway, my point here is that honouring specific deities, or making specific choices for your focus and time, *may* eventually move you in a direction where you are increasingly outside the egregore or group mind for a given tradition, coven, or other group.

But that's not about different religious practices alone: that's a part of being human. (It could also happen because of a romantic relationship, or a health crisis, or a personal experience, or work or career issues, or lots of other things. Religion or magical practice is not a special case here, is what I'm saying.)

My neighborhood of the Craft is fond of the line "Energy flows where attention goes", in the sense that anything you pay attention to is going to draw your energy, and change may happen. That being the thing about magic. You can know there's change, but not always how it's going to manifest.
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Phouka

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Quote from: Jenett;193939


1) Are there any direct conflicts?
For example, a deity commitment that precluded working with any other deity would be a problem in many Wiccan-derived contexts, and perhaps especially anything with a teaching component or public community activity.

For me there is no conflict as Macha and Morrigna pushed me to the public Wiccan component of my practice. The community here is extremely fractured and  divided. They, along with some otherr leaders and elders of the community are trying now to heal and bring together the various groups, covens, and solitaries in a bound, community that really supports each other.

Quote
(I do think that an ethical approach to multiple paths involves sitting down at some point early in the process of realising you have multiple things going and going through things in a thorough way, looking for possible conflicts or points that might be a concern.)

That I have been doing. I have been pretty much solitary until 4 years ago, when I finally began listening and began in-depth work with my Ladies and worked out my morality and ethicss in regards to my community and the larger community.

Quote
2) How are you, as an individual, at maintaining multiple relationships in your life (not necessarily romantic! But multiple kinds of interactions, with different people you're close to?)
Some people really aren't good at that - they have the One Person or One Thing they do, and everything else revolves around that. For those people, multiple practices will be a problem, because one of them is going to get more attention and energy, and the others will be slighted.

That I'm very good at. I am lucky to have truly diverse friends and we consider each other family of choice. I'm blessed in my friends.

Quote
My experience with this one is that it's important to know whether you're being 'urgent need driven'. It's hard to have a balanced personal life if the coven part is in constant low-grade crisis and someone always seems to need your time or energy: it's a lot easier if you get an occasional urgent need due to an actual accident or illness or emergency, but most of the time if people need your time and attention, it's either scheduled or can be negotiated to a time that works for everyone. High Drama groups devour everyone in them, but especially the people who are leading them.[

Note that balance doesn't need to be equal all the time: some practices or commitments might get a lot more time at some points in the year, and others at other times. Or it might be more time consuming for a year, and then the group trains in someone who can do large chunks of a task, and you can hand it over.

Again, I seem to be able to balance this. I have four one on one students that have chosen our coven due to its Eclectic nature. (On a side note, Jennet, your essay on Eclectic covens, was extremely helpful.)

Quote
3) Are you being honest with other people involved?
It's certainly possible to keep things private - but there's a big difference between private and 'out of the blue'. I would be fine working closely with someone who said "My group practice is X, but I also do Y and Z privately." (without many details on the private, other than the basic existence). I'd be a lot less fine if I worked with someone for a year, and then discovered that Y and Z were part of the picture and had been possibly influencing things I wasn't aware of.

I have always been upfront about my private practice and how it differs from public and what.i teach. Some students are interested in learning more about that in future. I even in classes explain how my interpretation are different from the more accepted explanations of the Wiccan path.

Quote
I can actually see that happening with deity stuff, fwiw: M'Lady is very explicitly English (or pre-English) but So Not Celtic in derivation, no matter how one defines that.

I'm okay being in ritual where Celtic deities are honoured, but on the whole, those rituals are unlikely to be deep intense major epiphany rituals for me. (There's no hostility there, I am just clearly not for those Gods, and there's a lot of polite "You are not one of mine, hi, nice to have you." in the ritual energy for me as long as I'm polite and respectful back.)

So if I were looking for a group at this stage in my practice, the fact that you are so heavily committed to Macha is a thing I'd want to factor in - because it's something I know would limit some options for me in terms of ritual in case of need or emergency, and might also include a worldview that might or might not be compatible with M'Lady. At the very least, I'd want to ask some more detailed questions, first.

I understand that and am surprised when students don't ask and I have to prompt them. I'm suprised when other dedicated of the Morrighan do  not ask why I use Morrigna as Her title and name.

Quote
4) More subtle things to look at
So, the last thing is more subtle, but worth mentioning: if we believe that our honouring the Gods shapes us (as I hope people who identify as priests and priestesses usually do, for some values of that sentence), then there may be ways in which a given deity relationship is going to force change.

This had been happening to me in the last two and a half years. I was told at the start of this journey that I would become a warrior in the emotional, spiritual world rather than in the physical sense. I have done so much work on healing my own wounds, with the help of a wonderful therapist andy friends, that I can actually see me resolving the last of my issuess and being whole. This, I think is what my Ladies meant, that I would help and guide others in their paths of healing themselves.

Quote
My neighborhood of the Craft is fond of the line "Energy flows where attention goes", in the sense that anything you pay attention to is going to draw your energy, and change may happen. That being the thing about magic. You can know there's change, but not always how it's going to manifest.


Thank you Jennet for you always thoughtful and informative reply.

Phouka

PS, couldn't figure out the broken quote thing, so I did the best I could.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 10:41:34 pm by Jenett »

Jenett

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Fixed the quotes! (You want something that says at the beginning of each one with something that says at the end of each quoted segment but with square brackets [ ] rather than the angle ones I used here so you could see what it looks like.

(And the first one should have the identifying info of the post you're quoting, that creates the link back to the post: that part was fine, but I'm mentioning for anyone else.)

For people using the web to access the forum, there's a button in the editor (it looks like a little speech bubble) that helps with any later quote codes: highlight what you want to quote, click the button, and it will do the tags for you. There are others for links and other uses, too.

Quote from: Phouka;193945

It's late here, and there's a couple of pieces I want to think about - but it sounds like you've given a reasonable amount of thought to things, and the problem is really how to explain it.

When I was working on my 3rd degree, my high priest sat me down and said "Ok, so being a 3rd sort of paints a target on your back in the community, sometimes. What things do you think might come up for you with that, and what can you do about them?"

I'd actually already been thinking about it, and I had a nice numbered list of things I thought people might have differing opinions about (based on what I knew about the local community, my tradition, other interactions, etc.) and handed it over to him. He read it, said "Ok, guess you don't need that lecture." and we got on with dinner and other conversation.

Anyway, the reason I was able to do that is that I think all communities have politics, and that it's a lot easier to ignore the politics and get on with what I want to be doing (and can do well!) if I have some idea what the major objections are likely to be, and have something I've thought about so I can say it, and not let it take over my life.

It sounds like having a few of those things prepared (like "Oh, I'm very clear with students in advance - several times, in fact, before we make any commitments. My current students have said they really like being able to get multiple perspectives on ways to approach a situation." or "I haven't found any major conflicts so far, but if I do, I've got people who understand my paths and commitments to talk it through with.") might help you out.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2016, 10:54:55 pm by Jenett »
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Quote from: Phouka;193929
It's just bothering me that some people feel that I can't be both, and I can't seem to explain it in a way for them to understand.

 
I guess I'm kind of at, "You know, if someone can't understand how you might like to have both cheeseburgers and cheddar in your life, I don't know how to explain it to them."

I mean, people believe that sort of daft thing, and it's just... they're missing some basic concept about how people work.  It makes me wonder if they ask people "How can you be an engineer and a parent at the same time?"  Or "How can you say you like to go out to restaurants and still cook at home?" or... you know.  People are so weird.

... damnit, now I want a nice loaf of soft bread and some sharp cheddar.
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Phouka

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Quote from: Darkhawk;193949
I guess I'm kind of at, "You know, if someone can't understand how you might like to have both cheeseburgers and cheddar in your life, I don't know how to explain it to them."

I mean, people believe that sort of daft thing, and it's just... they're missing some basic concept about how people work.  It makes me wonder if they ask people "How can you be an engineer and a parent at the same time?"  Or "How can you say you like to go out to restaurants and still cook at home?" or... you know.  People are so weird.

... damnit, now I want a nice loaf of soft bread and some sharp cheddar.


I'll get my roommate to bake you some peasant bread and send a block of extra sharp NY cheddar. Addy please? LOL

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Re: can one be a Priest in private practice but an HPS in a Wiccan coven?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2016, 07:26:17 pm »
Quote from: Phouka;193938
That is what I was trying to explain but the person said that if I wasn't fully Wiccan in my private practice how could I lead an Eclectic Wiccan coven. I just couldn't get her to understand.

 
I suspect that's at least partly because she's missing a lot of the background info necessary to understanding it. (You might be missing a fair bit of it yourself, but not in a way that interferes with sound practice; just in a way that means you are at a loss for how to figure out where her gaps are, much less fill them in.)

First, fully what kind of Wiccan?

Not BTW (she might think so, but if so, it's based on exoteric information and the frequently-inaccurate assumptions non-BTW often make about BTW); BTW initiates of my e-quaintance are pretty much in agreement that BTW is inherently a group practice, and that their personal practices (generally strongly encouraged in BTW) cannot be 'fully Wiccan'.

Not BTW-derived-but-not-BTW oathbound initiatory traditions, partly because they too are usually inherently group practices (that being one of the BTW-derived aspects of many of them), and partly because their standards can apply only to their particular tradition. What's expected of, f'ex, a Georgian Wiccan in their personal practice, is an expectation by Georgians for Georgians, not anyone else.

From there it gets even more Eclectic, and more nebulous; if there's a specific tradition, or an initiatory lineage even if it's not part of a cohesive trad, its teachings and expectations can apply only to its members. If there's not, what of the many, many different perspectives is being applied here, and why would her perspective have any authority over you?

(I'll note that the 'applies only to its members' angle goes for BTW as well - while many BTW use the narrowest definition of 'Wicca', in which only the BTW traditions are Wicca, they aren't claiming any sort of authority over anyone else's practices; quite the opposite, they're saying, 'This has nothing to do with us, and should not operate under our name.' Likewise, BTW who are less rigid about the name don't claim any authority over non-BTW - or for that matter over other BTW trads, or other lines or covens in their own trad.)

She might be under the impression that there is a singular thing that Wicca is, that one can 'fully' be in private practice. But she'd be wrong; there's not.

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Phouka

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Re: can one be a Priest in private practice but an HPS in a Wiccan coven?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2016, 09:59:40 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;193977
I suspect that's at least partly because she's missing a lot of the background info necessary to understanding it. (You might be missing a fair bit of it yourself, but not in a way that interferes with sound practice; just in a way that means you are at a loss for how to figure out where her gaps are, much less fill them in.)

First, fully what kind of Wiccan?

Not BTW (she might think so, but if so, it's based on exoteric information and the frequently-inaccurate assumptions non-BTW often make about BTW); BTW initiates of my e-quaintance are pretty much in agreement that BTW is inherently a group practice, and that their personal practices (generally strongly encouraged in BTW) cannot be 'fully Wiccan'.

Not BTW-derived-but-not-BTW oathbound initiatory traditions, partly because they too are usually inherently group practices (that being one of the BTW-derived aspects of many of them), and partly because their standards can apply only to their particular tradition. What's expected of, f'ex, a Georgian Wiccan in their personal practice, is an expectation by Georgians for Georgians, not anyone else.

From there it gets even more Eclectic, and more nebulous; if there's a specific tradition, or an initiatory lineage even if it's not part of a cohesive trad, its teachings and expectations can apply only to its members. If there's not, what of the many, many different perspectives is being applied here, and why would her perspective have any authority over you?

(I'll note that the 'applies only to its members' angle goes for BTW as well - while many BTW use the narrowest definition of 'Wicca', in which only the BTW traditions are Wicca, they aren't claiming any sort of authority over anyone else's practices; quite the opposite, they're saying, 'This has nothing to do with us, and should not operate under our name.' Likewise, BTW who are less rigid about the name don't claim any authority over non-BTW - or for that matter over other BTW trads, or other lines or covens in their own trad.)

She might be under the impression that there is a singular thing that Wicca is, that one can 'fully' be in private practice. But she'd be wrong; there's not.

Sunflower


I think she's very confused as to what Eclectic Wicca is, and what Wicca is in many respects. What I was taught 43 years ago isn't what is taught now, according to her. And she is very rigid as to what she considers Wicca. Eclectic covens are not able to exist. Only Eclectic solitaries. The rede can only be interpreted ONE way, there is no room for personal morals. For her morals and ethics are exactly the sameor should be. She is very dogmatic and rigid in her ideation of Wicca. She separated from our coven because we weren't Wiccan enough..or in her mind not at all.

I appreciate all the advice, which I knew I could depend on. I've decided that she and I will agree to disagree. She is a close friend and beating my head against her beliefs isn't constructive. I get annoyed and she's confused and annoyed.

Thank you all again for helping me figure out that her inability to understand is not my circus.

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