Wiccan Ordination and Ministry

January 6th, 2008

Alex SandersWiccan ministry is a controversial subject. It is expected to be so in non-Wiccan circles, where long-established religions prefer to maintain their oligopoly on the Divine. Unfortunately, the controversy also rages within the Wiccan community. Hopefully, this article can shed a different light on the nature of ordained ministry, along with information about becoming an ordained Wiccan minister.

Wicca is a new religion, only existing as such since 1954. As a result, the structures and organizations that other religions have developed over thousands of years are still newborn or unborn in Wicca. The most developed structures are still in their infancy. This causes some challenges with Wiccans who wish to serve as ministers that ministers of other religions don’t have.

At this point, there is still strong debate about the role of Wiccan ministers and whether there should even be such a position. Many Wiccans see ordination as a rite performed by organized religions, which they left to come to Wicca. They are concerned that formal ordination and clergy will impinge on their right to experience the divine directly and unmediated.

Wicca is a mystical religion, emphasizing direct experience and unity of the worshiper with the divine. This leads to the commonly held idea that each practitioner is a priest or priestess, resulting in an inherent absence of a laity. People who hold this view see the presence and growth of ordained Wiccan clergy to be an undermining of its mystical nature.

I disagree with this view. Instead, I see the presence of ordained clergy to be important to the religion for many reasons. Many Wiccans practice alone and can sometimes become spiritually stuck or worse, caught in a crisis they cannot resolve on their own. They need to know who they can count on to help them. There needs to be people who are dedicated to serving the Gods enough that they will offer assistance in the middle of the night if needed. This level of dedication can, in rare cases, preempt other activities such as the minister’s day job.

Many Wiccans wish to remain private about their religion, but wish for there to be greater tolerance toward them. Ministers are needed to act as a public face for Wicca, voicing the needs and opinions of the Wiccan community to the larger world. Ministers speak publicly for those who wish to only speak privately. They also explain the nature of Wicca to the non-Wiccan/Pagan society to promote an interfaith ecumenical understanding.

Wiccan ministers are also needed to teach others. Priests and priestesses are excellent at serving in this capacity within their coven or circle, but do not generally work outside of their group. Ministers aid those who are not members of any group, either by choice or circumstance. They serve in prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters and many other places where people are frequently ignored and feel the need for spiritual comfort and solace.

Ordination is not required to offer such service. Many people serve the Gods in this capacity without such formality. Unfortunately, many cannot allow their service to prevent them from going to work on time or making dinner for their kids. They offer their service willingly, but are not held to the level of obligation of an ordained minister.

Being an ordained minister is a higher level of service and obligation than being a priest or priestess. A priest/priestess can focus purely on their circle, coven or church. They can focus their service to those in their particular faith. A minister serves the world at large, instead of just their religious organization. They offer aid to those of other religions, without any agenda of conversion or proselytizing. They see that serving their Gods is done through serving other people. Those people are frequently outside of their organization.

When one is ordained, one takes an oath of service to helping other people. The Gods hold the minister to that oath and there is karma accumulated for this service (or the non-performing of this service) . This is something that must be understood by people who are interested in ordination. They are not just given a title. The title is meaningless unless it is backed up with actions. These ministerial actions need to be more than the occasional handfasting and wedding. Each ministry is different and there are endless ways to serve fellow humans and the Gods. The minister needs to decide how they will serve and follow through with action with the help of their Gods.

Some organizations offer “free” ordinations, with no strings attached. The Universal Life Church (ULC) is the largest, but by far not the only one. Unfortunately, these ordinations are frequently not recognized by states or other people. There is no training offered with the ordination, which puts the minister at an enormous disadvantage. They are not prepared for the demands of the service. As a result, the new minister is left to learn the ropes of their service on their own, which can be a daunting task.

People interested in serving the Gods and humans through ordained ministry should work with a Wiccan church or seminary for this, instead of simply printing off a certificate online or paying money for the paper. Most Wiccan churches don’t have a formal seminary program yet, but some are developing them. Others offer training through apprenticeship programs instead of formal seminary, similar to how many Baptist churches train clergy. Either way is valid and effective.

Reputable Wiccan churches that offer training and ordination include the Aquarian Tabernacle Church and Cherry Hill Seminary, among others.

As Wicca develops, it is important that it come to terms with the need for ordained clergy. Without clergy, the religion will have great difficulty growing in membership and recognition as a valid religion by others. Ministers provide an important service to their fellow Wiccans, non-Wiccans and the Gods.

Also read: Wiccan Ordination and Ministry Revisited


20 Responses to “Wiccan Ordination and Ministry”

  1. Amber Signs Says:

    I have a great desire to become Wiccan clergy, to offer support to all those who are in need and to serve the Gods by devoting to the care and cousel of others

  2. Morninghawk Says:

    That is great. Are you a member of a group? If not, I suggest looking for one that does ministry. There are a lot of listings on http://www.witchvox.com, but I also suggest attending any meet-ups or meet-n-greet type events to learn about groups that are not advertised.

  3. Crow Meadows Says:

    I have a problem with the current avenues available for becoming wiccan clergy. In my opinion religion should not cost any amount of money. that is not to say that pagan clergy don’t need to make a living. I think they should be supported by the community. but what of those potential pagan ministers who don’t have any extra money to spare from putting food on their families table. they could have all the spiritual wealth in the world without a dime to their name and we would not know of their wisdom simply because they could not afford a tithe?
    I am sorry to rant a little here. But I feel it is unfair for someone who truly wants to help to be left out of any accepted “loop” as it were simply because of a lack of monetary gains.
    I submit to you that we should maintain a money free religion with our leaders merits being based upon their actions. It is not ones own decision that we be called priest or priestess,that is a title that can only be given by the admissions of others. It is the tenant of saying “blessed be.”
    when we say this we are recognizing the priest or priestess in the other. As a sign of respect and acceptance.
    Being Wiccan clergy is more than a title. It means more than going to school. It means making a commitment to serve the greater pagan community. And all of us would benefit most by sharing the knowledge that we gain, free of charge. Spiritual knowledge is gained for the purpose of sharing it with others. Any other reason is an act of selfishness.
    I am sorry if this sounds harsh. And I certainly am not tying to point fingers. And I am certainly not saying that we ordain without being certain that the person in question is committed. All I am saying is that there has to be another way. A way that is “FREE” Like Goddess and God have taught us to be.
    To all my Brothers and Sisters of the Craft……
    “Blessed Be!”

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    Thanks for bringing this up. It is definitely an ongoing debate in the Pagan community.

    I’m on the side of letting each minister determine their own response to this question that they all face. Some will give it away for free. They have decided that it is a part-time calling and that they wish to continue working their full-time job to pay their own Earthly obligations. Doing ministry part-time does not diminish it in any way, as the vast majority of ministers of many religions operate in this capacity.

    For those who wish to serve full-time, they will need to make a living from their ministry. In the Pagan community, there are not enough people in any group to truly support full-time clergy through regular donations.

    I personally don’t know of any ministers who will turn anyone away for lack of funds, but there should be an exchange of some sort. Though the Gods have infinite resources, especially time, humans, including clergy, do not. Many will charge money for their services to compensate for their time. Since they need to make a living in some way, their limited time can be spent in helping people with their spiritual development or in working at a mundane job.

    The ministers I know who charge for their services normally operate on a sliding scale to make the exchange fair to both parties.

    If someone truly wishes to receive free spiritual guidance on an ongoing basis, one can always consult directly with the Gods. They are always available and have infinite resources for personal aid. This is where I recommend everyone get the bulk of their spiritual aid since we all need it daily. Human ministers are an important part of a religious community, but they are not a substitute for direct interaction with the Gods.

    Hope this helps.
    Blessed be.

  5. Crow Meadows Says:

    Thank you for your response to my post though I do have to admit that he point you brought up was not exactly what I was trying to approach. I to believe that ministers of any faith should be allowed to charge for their services and that each one has the right to choose what that entails for themselves.
    The point I was trying to make was that the ways for becoming that minister should not involve spending money.
    I must admit that I was frustrated at the time I wrote the previous post. Having tried to find a way of becoming an accredited Wiccan Minister for a considerable amount of time and constantly running into the fact that I could not afford any of the ,what I considered to be accredited institutions and or groups.
    I have since come to the conclusion that it does not matter where you get the ordination from, what matters is what you do with it once you’ve got it.
    That in mind I am now an ordained minister of the ULC. What comes next will happen as it happens. I will be registered with the state and become involved with ministering to the wiccans and pagans in the near by correctional institutions and hospitals. That I feel is a good start.
    The best advice I can give to anyone is to do what it is in your heart to do. And you will be happy.

  6. Morninghawk Says:

    I agree, it’s not nearly as important where you get ordained as what you do with it after you receive it.

    There is no such thing as “accreditation” when it comes to ordination because of the separation of church and state. The state cannot pick and choose which ordaining bodies it will accept.

    In fact, many states don’t register ministers at all, with South Dakota and California being two examples I have personal experience with.

    The difference, to me, in ordaining bodies is the training one can receive. I don’t think the training is absolutely necessary, since the Gods help and one can do “on-the-job training.” I find it can help, though. It is for this training that one should be paying for, if they choose to go that path.

    If your heart is in the right place, wishing to help others and serve the Gods, then don’t let formalities get in the way. Many of the best ministers I’ve known were not formally trained, but apprenticed under someone else and/or were guided by the Gods.

    Blessed be in your new journey of service.

  7. Caden Says:

    I too am ordained with the ULC. Living in the state of Missouri at the time I learned real fast, how it may or may not be recognized. Regardless of where any of us with a spiritual calling may seek ordination, there will be times of negative recogintion in the community! If you ARE dedicated, it will not matter. Dedication will prevail in the end. Fight for what you stand for wether it be helping others in daily life, or performing hanfasting/weddings! Even in Missouri where I was not in their eyes a leagal minister, I stood up and let them know what my calling means to me. It wasnt until almost 3 months later, the county recoginized my rights as a minister of the local community, and now even after my recent move back to California, I continue to serve alll around me in need… (Whenever they need me)

    Good luck, and blessed be the way of your path.

  8. Morgaine Says:

    I am very interested in becoming an ordained minister.I have been actively searching this avenue out though for years. I am the mother of 3 children with very limited resources, and while I have no intention of charging for my services, for I believe the love of the Gods is payment enough, I have no money to spare to pay to become ordained. if you know of any way I can do this I would appreciate the help. Goddess bless you all.

  9. Morninghawk Says:

    Depending on where you are, there are ATC (Aquarian Tabernacle Church) congregations around the country (and a few in other countries than the US too).

    If there isn’t any local congregation that can ordain, then another option is to self-train by reading a lot of good books, leading local groups, etc. and get your formal ordination through a group like the ULC (Universal Life Church).

    Many states do not track or verify any minister, so ministerial credentials are not needed in those states for presiding over weddings, etc. (though ministry is much more than that). Such states that I know first-hand about are South Dakota and California. I’m sure there are many others as well. You would have to check with your state government.

    May the Gods light your way on your journey.

  10. Nikki Says:

    Hi, I’m really glad that I found this. I have been seriously considering ordination. I did accually do the ULC thing once. Printed out the piece of paper and was ready to get that wheel rolling…. Then I researched Missouri Ordination laws. If you can tell me, in this state, what is the process I should begin to become recognized if there is no organization in the area from which I can recieve a letter of good standing? And if there were, I would do whatever it took!

  11. Morninghawk Says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in Missouri. Do they require a local, in-state organization, or can it be an out-of-state organization? If it can be out-of-state, then ULC should be able to help or another similar organization like the Church of Seven Planes. For a small fee, ULC can make you a hand-signature certificate, etc. A lot of it depends on the wording of the laws and procedures in Missouri, of which I’m not familiar.

    If you have questions, one great resource for information can be the local government clerk. If you ask very nicely and politely, they might give you information, such as how to do it with ULC, etc. I’ve found some clerks are very willing to help while others are not, so if you get one who doesn’t want to help, just call back or visit another time to get someone else.

    Hope that helps.

  12. Edward Anderson Says:

    I was wondering if you could send me some information on how to become an ordained minister in the wiccan religion. and if there if a charge for such an ordination. Thanks

  13. Morninghawk Says:

    There is generally no charge for ordinations. Be highly skeptical of any groups that do charge for the ordination itself. Some groups give the ordination for free, but charge a small, nominal amount for a physical certificate (other than one you print yourself), which is ok.

    As far as where to get the ordination, I suggest reading the post you just read (there are links to the Aquarian Tabernacle Church and Cherry Hill Seminary).

    I also suggest reading my other article on ordination: Wiccan Ordination and Ministry Revisited. There is a link to the Universal Life Church there, along with more information.

    Blessed be.

  14. Dave Says:

    Father God, in the name of Jesus Christ, we bind and break all witchcraft, curses, spells, and powers – and through the Blood of the Lamb – destroy the works of every witch, warlock, wizard, sorcerer and all other powers of darkness.
    Through the Blood of Jesus Christ we break all their powers – including the influences of witchcraft, evil powers, spells, hexes, vexes, voodoo, hoodoo, roots, potions or any such things – off every person who will read this. For them also we invoke Psalm 80:18, “so we will not go back from thee: quicken us and we will call upon thy name” so that those who read this will understand, remember and apply consistently what they read.
    Through the Blood of Jesus Christ we also bind up and destroy all their spirit-guides, helps, and shields of these workers of evil, and leave them without any strength – stripped of their evil power and influence.
    In the name of Jesus Christ, and by the Blood of the Lamb, we now seal up their powers within themselves, so that they cannot use them on anyone, and that their works might be destroyed, in the hope that their souls might be saved for the glory of God. AMEN.

  15. Morninghawk Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful contribution, Dave. I’d like to clear something up for you which you seem to not understand. Wicca sees the deliberate injury and killing of sacrificial animals (including lambs and human martyrs) as being evil, as we believe in not harming others, including other humans and animals. Though I disagree with you, I respect your belief in sacrificing lambs and humans. In turn, I ask that you respect our beliefs in self-empowering magic that doesn’t harm others as well. May your God bless you.

  16. Rusty Shaver Says:

    I am interested in becoming a clergy of the Wiccan religion in order to as you said “be a voice for the the Wiccan/Pagan people”. I am in NC and do not know of any Wiccan churches here who may be able to help with this. can u make a suggestion. Thanks and Blessed Be Brother

  17. Halloolay Says:

    there are no Wiccan churches, there are covens, and then you must be initiated into one. if its not initiatory and coven based, its not Wicca.

  18. Halloolay Says:

    for the purposes of ministry and prison chaplaincy there are Pagan – not Wiccan – chaplains, or a persons own High Priest or High Priestess if they are initiated or affiliated with a coven.

  19. Morninghawk Says:

    I have to disagree. The Wiccan religion is but a mere 60 years old and its core institutional structures are still very much in flux. As a comparison, it took about 200 years before Christianity stabilized its institution (admittedly through suppression of dissent and destruction of competing ideas) and that stability broke down centuries later.

    There are many self-initiated Wiccans and solitary Wiccans. There are also as many varieties of structure as there are Wiccan groups (or covens, churches, circles, etc.). All of the forms and titles are valid in the eyes of the Gods, the measuring stick I use.

    I also have to disagree with your statement that prison chaplains cannot be labeled as Wiccan, but are merely Pagan. The US Government, along with all the states I’m familiar with, recognize Wicca as a religion. This is in the prisons, military and other institutions. They do not recognize Paganism as a religion, since it is a group of related religions and not a religion unto itself.

  20. Dave Says:

    I just found this page and thought I’d addd to it, just a little.

    I am an Ordained Wiccan Minister through Circle Sanctuary.

    I am a Minister to the community at large and not to just a circled few. I am on call 24/7.

    In addition, my ministries include prison, hospital and homeless.

    If you are considering ordination contact Circle Sanctuary at http://www.circlesanctuary.org or give them a call at (608)924-2216.

    Bright Blessings,

    Rev.Dave

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