Wiccan Ministry: Beyond the Handfast

March 19th, 2007

Many Wiccans are ordained by various churches each year. Unfortunately, many don’t understand that ordination truly is an offering of yourself to a life of service, both to the Gods and humanity.

When Wiccans think about becoming an ordained minister, they tend to think about offering handfasting to other Wiccans and Pagans. Handfasting is a non-legally binding contract between two people to live with and love each other. There is sometimes a specific end date set for the relationship, when it can be renewed. This is a lesser commitment than marriage and does not have legal strings attached, should the relationship dissolve. Since no states recognize handfasts, anyone can legally perform them, though ordained priests and priestesses tend to do this.

The next service most Wiccan ministers consider offering is legal marriage. This is a sacrament that can only be performed by an ordained minister that is recognized by the state. Marriage is a legally binding contract, so it requires a larger commitment between the bride and groom (or bride/bride or groom/groom in some jurisdictions). The allure of state recognition for their religious commitment and the power to perform legal marriages draws many people to become ordained ministers. Unfortunately, this is where many Wiccan ministers stop.

In other religions, marriage is one of the smaller aspects of ministry. To minister is to live a life of service to the Gods and to fellow humans. There is a lot more to serving the Gods and humanity than simply joining two people in marriage. There are many ways one can serve as a Wiccan minister. There are so many ways, that it is common and good for people to specialize in what calls them, rather than try to do everything.

My wife and I serve the Gods by offering Wiccan rituals and services to prison inmates. We have done this for over 2-1/2 years at four institutions. There is a great need for more Wiccans to serve in prisons. In Minnesota alone, we have been approached in various ways for three additional institutions that we could not fit into our schedule. If someone wishes to serve people who are among the lowest in society, prisons are a great place. At prison, we are able to help give inmates hope for the future. Hope that the Gods have not forgotten them and that though they have committed crimes, they can be forgiven and they can grow from their experience. Prison offers them a time and place to walk the path of the Hermit and the Monk to transcend their situation and develop spiritually. Unfortunately, most Wiccan inmates are not allowed to meet unless there is a religious volunteer present.

Another place Wiccans can serve is at hospitals. There are many Wiccans, Pagans, Heathens, etc. who go to the hospital who do not have anyone of their faith to talk with. Since Pagans are a smaller portion of the larger society, it is best to be on the “on-call list” of a number of hospitals. When someone requests a Wiccan or Pagan minister to visit them, the hospital will call people from their list. This can be a great way to serve people in their time of great need.

Homeless shelters and soup kitchens are also places Wiccan ministers can serve. Since these places are secular, it is best to not push that you are a Wiccan minister or people might mis-interpret you as prostylizing. They don’t understand that Wiccans are not allowed to prostylize. At shelters, you can help people in a very direct way who are without hope or luck. You offer a helping hand, a listening ear, and hope that things will improve for them.

As an ordained Wiccan minister, the level of service the Gods expect is much higher. At your ordination, you proclaimed magically that you are going to use your life to serve others. It is difficult at first to do this. Once you get your ordination, you enjoy the shining limelight and the warm glow it creates in your being. Shortly after, though, the Gods will tell you it’s time to grow and become the minister you said you would become.

Serving others in these and many other ways offers such joy that cannot come from anything else. Serving the prison inmates has taught me a lot about myself. It has shown me that many of the fears I have are shared by everyone. I have seen that even though someone has raped and killed another person, they are still human. They have a heart and a soul and wish forgiveness. I have also learned that it is not I or the Gods who can offer the forgiveness they seek, but it is them who need to forgive themselves.

As Wicca develops, the larger society will look closer at it. What will they see? Will they see a group of people who simply wish to run around in robes through the woods, singing songs of love and doing weddings for each other, but nothing else? Or will they see a dedicated group of people who offer themselves in service of their neighbors, helping those who cannot help themselves? Maybe they will see us as a bunch of people who enjoy running around the woods in robes while we serve the destitute, the sick or the incarcerated.

I invite any ordained Wiccan (or anyone who wishes to become an ordained Wiccan) to join me in serving the Gods and humanity in ways that force us to grow and push us beyond the Handfast.

11 Responses to “Wiccan Ministry: Beyond the Handfast”

  1. Lea Ann Nel Says:

    I would like to get married next year to my partner we have been together for three years and we have decided to tie the knot together. I am looking for an ordained wiccan in the U.K to marry us.please help.

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    Unfortunately, we are not in the U.K., but hopefully there is someone on that side of the pond who can help.

  3. Aunna Says:

    I getting married on the 22 of June this year and my soon to be husben is wanting to have a handfasting done but I can’t find anyone to do this for us could you help me , we live in peebles ohio

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone specifically in Ohio. I would suggest looking on Witchvox (http://www.witchvox.com), as they have a great directory of Wiccan/Pagan clergy.

    Good luck on your wedding and may the Gods bless your union.

  5. Dee Says:

    Thank you for this article. Shortly after I became ordained my mother got ill and I ended up spending a lot of time in the hospital with her. When other people would come in to visit her I found myself wandering the halls and wondering how many pagans were in need of someone visit with them and encourage them to have faith in their gods. When I return home I want to put my name on the list at my local hospital.

  6. Billigflug Says:

    I didn’t know a lot about Wiccans before, but I read your site with great interest. I think you are doing wonderful things and there should be more people who care about others like that.

  7. Morninghawk Says:

    Thanks for the kind comment. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get more time away from work to write more.

  8. celestial elf Says:

    Great Post 😀
    Thought you might like my Beltane Blessing machinima film which also has a sacred marriage, between the green man and the may queen
    bright blessings
    elf ~

  9. Shawn Pilgrim ( High Priest ) Says:

    I love this so much, i am a minister of the wicca faith and i was looking for just this statemet to pass on to of t he new minister friends of mine, when one is ready to be a minister of the Wicca faith one will know and can start his/her journey into doing so. I love it and just wanted you to know that 😀

  10. Nox Says:

    Well said, and not something we are hearing from other sources! Gives me something to think about.

  11. Morninghawk Says:

    I’m glad you like it. Thanks for the kind words.

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