Way back in 1989 when I began to practice Wicca, I didn’t really know anyone else who worshipped in the same way that I did. Even after becoming aware of a few Pagans in my area, there were very few who offered legal pastoral services. If you wanted to get handfasted (married), you might be able to find another Priest or Priestess who could perform the ceremony, but it was difficult, at best, to find one that was ordained by the State of Ohio to do it. Not many people who practiced alternative religion knew how or bothered, to get an official ordination from the state.
As my original group, the Temple of the Lord and the Lady grew, certain members decided to take this step in certifying themselves as wedding officiants with the state, a process which I encouraged and even signed off on. In time, the intention was that I would get mine as well. But as luck or timing would have it, this never occurred. One of those originally ordinated from my group is still recognized by the State and performs legal marriage ceremonies when called upon.
A couple of things have kept me from taking this step since that time. One thing that kept me from declaring myself worthy of this responsibility is that I felt that wasn’t educated in theology. Lots of people have spent the better part of their lives studying religions, including theirs most primarily. This had given them degrees and experience that I didn’t possess. I felt it was a disservice to them to name myself a pastor, spiritual counselor, or any other title that lifted me above the average seeker in any way whatsoever. I was just another person on the path to enlightenment and certainly didn’t deserve such an honor!
The other thing that chiefly turned me off to the title was the crazy amount of people who actually became ordinated after the internet exploded. Two people I know, in an irreverent and drunken state, had themselves ordinated as Ministers of the Universal Church of Light for $50 online. This seemed to me kick in the teeth of respectable clergy for whom I have the utmost respect.
Thus, time went on. During my stay with my last employer, I had the opportunity to teach a class on service. My first task was to define service, or more accurately the term service so that I could share it with my students.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word service thusly:
- The occupation or function of serving
- Contribution to the welfare of others
- To dispose for use, as in I am at your service
- A form followed for worship, as in the burial service
- A meeting for worship, as in held a church service
- To meet the needs of others, as in public service or military service
All of these seem to be pretty important jobs, not ones that should be made light of, taken in a less than sober manner, or marginalized in any way. So, I opted out until I felt I could give in the respect that it deserved.
That time has finally come. I am a Priestess of my faith and as such, I feel confident that I can offer myself in the true spirit of the term ‘service’. Today I received my ordination certificate from the State of Ohio. I will be offering all the traditional services that a minister of any faith does: marriages, baby blessings, funerary services, and spiritual counseling. I will be working with individuals and families to offer the best service I can to each of them, in full truth about who I am and who I worship, and in a space full of respect and non-judgment for those who trust me with their most treasured moments. I know now that I can do this with the seriousness, the courage, and the faith of my Gods beside and within me.
Tomorrow, may you be aware of the ways in which you serve others, and may you show gratitude to those who are in service to you!