Wiccan Ordination and Ministry Revisited

April 2nd, 2010

Sample Wiccan Ordination certificateA couple years ago, I wrote an article on Wiccan Ordination and Ministry. It is an important topic (as you can see by the number of comments) that deserves revisiting, elaborating, and some revising.

Over the last two years since that post, I have learned a lot about ministry from my Gods. I still see much of what I previously wrote as being still relevant and important, so I suggest you take a look at it if you haven’t already.

I grew up spiritually in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a very spiritually open and developed area that has earned the nickname “Paganistan,” and with good reason. Since moving to Aberdeen, SD and the Los  Angeles area, I have had the opportunity to experience living in less Pagan-friendly areas.

Through that experience, I’ve seen how much more dire the situation is for a lack of ordained Wiccan and Pagan ministers. There are literally millions of people interested or practicing Wiccan or Pagan religions who are in need of ministerial services and unable to obtain them locally. This ranges from spiritual counseling, bereavement assistance, spiritual guidance and instruction, leading groups, and just being a spiritual friend.

A number of Wiccan and Pagan organizations and churches have folded in the last few years, making it more difficult for people who are called to obtain their ordinations locally, or receive any local ministerial training.

It is because of this that I have changed my views on online ordinations and related ways of getting ministerial credentials. I previously wrote that free online ordinations like those issued from the Universal Life Church offered no training or preparation and are not recognized by all states. As such, I recommended against using that method because it was what I considered to be inadequate.

The Gods have been telling me, though, that I need to be more open and flexible in my thinking. Even though I received ministerial training thorough an apprenticeship program, I’ve since learned that I still had much to learn that can only be taught by experience and the Gods. There is nothing that will replace the teaching methods used in the School of Hard Knocks.

As a result, if you have a desire to serve others in a ministerial capacity, don’t let the lack of a local organization prevent you. It is the Gods who offer True Ordination. People (and organizations created by people) cannot do this for you, regardless of your religion. The obtaining of ministerial credentials is just a human legal procedure used to give the State power over its subjects. If the Gods call you to ministry and give you ordination, then look into the laws of your area to see if you need to file ordinations to get state recognition. Many states have no such requirement, so you don’t need to do anything.

If they do require this step and you don’t have a Wiccan organization in your area that offers this, then by all means file with the Universal Life Church. They are very familiar with the filing requirements of every state and can provide whatever paperwork you need, including hand-signed original documents. Though they charge a fee for some services, it takes them time and resources to do this, so I think it’s appropriate to pay for that.

Also remember that you can act as a minister even without filing. The only restrictions in states that require filing generally relate to officiating legal marriages. You can do everything else without filing.

As far as receiving ministerial training, my suggestion is to perform daily practices (you can find some suggestions on this blog and elsewhere), open your heart, pray, and listen to your Gods and spirit guides. It is the School of Hard Knocks, but it is an excellent school if you remain open, loving and persevere though the challenges of ministry.

The Wiccan and Pagan communities need more ministers, and the Gods are calling more and more to serving them in ministry. Don’t let the rules of human-run state prevent you from answering the call you received from the Gods to serve.

6 Responses to “Wiccan Ordination and Ministry Revisited”

  1. Stregalibby Says:

    Ministerial credentials are important for Pagans. For me, it was so I would be able to walk into a hospital as clergy without any difficulties, to assist Pagans who needed spiritual counseling. And this was my only reason. I obtained my ordination from a non-denominational program – to avoid issues with anti-Paganism. My point is to assist Pagans in need. I keep up private studies to help me develop skills, but really, I am there to pray, hold a hand, offer Reiki and other energy healing. Without those credentials marking me as “valid” clergy, I wouldn’t get anywhere in that setting. In some places the only way to achieve this is on-line. Hopefully, down the line, things will change and there will be more programs for Pagans interested in this work.

  2. Patrick M Says:

    I also agree that credentials are important. Currently I am in a training program with Family Wiccan Traditions International, that will end in official status.
    But I have to disagree that simply because there is a need that that makes getting an online mailorder degree is the road to take. If one is going to be responsible (even partly) for the spiritual growth of another then they need to have some kind of support group and training in that field.

  3. Kat Weaver Says:

    I have a gift of healing and a love of people. It sounds pompous to say I have a gift of healing but it’s true. I also see things in dreams…always about friends and family and always to warn them or help them.

    I have studied Wicca for 10 years (my chosen Spiritual Path) and I want to be an Ordained Minister so I can visit hospitals and prisons…and offer any help I have to give.

    I am 52 years old, a positive and compassionate person with above average intelligence (I’m a retired nurse, wife, mother and grandmother.)

    I respect what I have read on your site. Where do you recommend I go to study for/receive my Ministers’ credentials?

    Thank you and Blessings…Kat

  4. Morninghawk Says:

    Stregalibby: I agree that hospitals are very picky about filed credentials in many states, especially states that have filing requirements. I commend your resourcefulness in going through a Christian non-denominational program to get them. I don’t see anything wrong with taking that path, as it is good to have a firm understanding of other faiths. I’m sure the practical training they gave was good too.

    I believe that there is no one-correct-way to do things, so if an approach works to achieve your goal, go for it. For some, that is in-person Pagan-ministry training. For others, it might be to take non-denominational Christian training. And for some, especially those in rural areas or who are not open to non-Pagan training programs, there is the online option and receiving your practical training from books and the Gods.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Morninghawk Says:

    Patrick: While I fully agree that it is not ideal to receive credentials online or to receive one’s training via long-distance, there are many who don’t have the more ideal options available.

    If you have in-person or formal training options available to them, I do suggest using them. It will help, especially when you’re getting started. From my experience, after one has done ministry and counseling for a while, you get situations that are not covered in the training, where you need to talk to the Gods for help or find someone experienced in that kind of situation.

    If someone doesn’t have people available locally to train with, I do suggest doing some self-education before diving in. There is a fairly new book out that is very good called The Pagan Clergy’s Guide for Counseling and Crisis Intervention that I suggest as a starting point to independent study. (The link I gave for the book is direct to publisher, who is a great Pagan publisher and I suggest buying it directly through them to help support Pagan businesses.)

    The Family Wiccan Traditions International organization is also a great group that provides training, both in-person and long-distance.

    The point I was trying to make is to not disparage ministerial training programs that are available, or the people who follow them. I also was not intending to say they do not help and serve no purpose.

    My point is to not allow barriers like a lack of access to good resources to prevent someone from answering their call.

    One thing I do have to respectfully disagree with you on, though, is the idea that the minister is responsible for another person’s spiritual growth. Each person is responsible for their own growth. Even if I, as a minister, suggest that someone do something does not mean they have to do what I say. They have their own free will and can choose to ignore my suggestion. My responsibility is to offer suggestions that I believe will help. If they are bad suggestions (which everyone makes at times), then there are karmic repercussions for me. But the ultimate responsibility is on the person because they can choose for themselves what to do and what not to do.

    I hope this helps clarify my position a bit.

    Thanks for the comment. I always enjoy hearing from you, Patrick.

  6. Morninghawk Says:

    Kat: You should first see what requirements your state has for filing. Some states don’t have any filing and some do. The ones that do have different requirements, so I suggest finding out what those are.

    From my experience, hospitals are the most picky about paperwork. This makes sense, since they deal with vulnerable patients and they have a multitude of patient-privacy regulations to follow, like HIPAA. If a patient specifically asks for you (such as someone in your group), the hospital will let you visit them, even with no credentials. The credentials come into play when you want to be on staff or as a regular volunteer at the hospital.

    My experience with hospitals has also shown me that they tend to want very specific training with hospital ministering. They generally want you to have completed at least 100 hours (or more, based on the local hospital requirements) of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) specifically in a hospital environment, which is provided by accredited seminary schools. I expect that different hospitals have different requirements, so I suggest calling the hospital you want to volunteer at to see what their requirements are. Unfortunately, I have not heard of any Pagan institution that offers Clinical Pastoral Education, though I’ve heard that Cherry Hill Seminary is trying to add that.

    Prison ministry is different than hospital ministry. Prisons are much more open to lay people and do not generally require any Clinical Pastoral Education. Most prisons have a short (4-hour) training program that is required annually by all volunteers that covers the rules of that institution and very basic information about how to handle certain situations. The prison chaplain is also available to answer questions about situations and inmates.

    There are a number of different resources that are available, either in-person or through distance-learning. It seems that you have a good grasp of the spiritual development you need to help others, so it’s a matter of how you want to approach the practical training. I think your choice of training would depend on what method calls to you and what the requirements of your prospective institution(s) are.

    Hope this helps.

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