As a Gatekeeper, I welcome many and turn away a few. The role of a priest is to preside at passages for individuals and community. Such priestly function might also be performed by someone who is not clergy. It could be by a political leader, an employer, or a parent.
And I do priest! I preside at Sabbats, hand fastings, hand partings, quickenings, arrivings, departings, and other passages.
Sometimes I see myself as "Father Whitehead," working a room. I greet, I affirm, I listen, I offer connection, and I acknowledge everyone who is there. This is a form of web weaving. Some roles are the same in all religions.
As a priest, I am part of a community. And what is a priest without a community? When I push community to the people around me, I build common values that enable them to think more about something other than themselves.
When I inspire, encourage, and guide but not control, more people seem to come to do what I teach than when I manage everyone myself.
I see another role is to be on the lookout for the next generation of clergy. I have gone before them. I should know what they look like. I can recognize, seek out and encourage. I will not be around for ever.
Some ask how to be a "spiritual leader" in such a mixed environment. Spirituality is about my relationship between self and other. A good first step is to be less self-centered than those around me. Then there is the maxim, "Do not lie to people." I can treat others with respect, even though as a leader I must occasionally kick butt.
As priest, I might see myself as center stage. At a wedding or hand fasting, it is the bride and groom who are the focus of attention. I am there merely to officiate.
Part of being a leader is to set an example, to set a mood. Perhaps when I show a warm and positive attitude, it will rub off on those around me. Part of being a leader is to take responsibility for my own behavior. Taking responsibility for the behavior of the people I direct will also earn me respect.
It is helpful to weave a personal web extending to all involved people, inviting each of them to give something of themselves: something they value and also something they do not value.
Some traditions associate the priesthood with service. Some expect service to the point of sacrifice. Me, I prefer balance over martyrdom.
Perhaps as priest I serve best by helping another towards the next step in their journey. Here is one of the delights of my ministry. It is not likely that I get to "save" anybody.
I take comfort and draw strength from the other Elders in the community as they work with me.
Some of the new people wonder how they can connect with the inner circle of a community such as ours. I would suggest that they show up early and leave late.
As a leader in a Pagan community, I see that my challenge is to draw in the gifts and talents of individuals, without destroying either the community or myself.
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