Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Lay Pagans vs. Clergy?

In traditional Wicca, all practitioners are priests and priestesses. Since there is a general assumption that all Pagans are Wiccan, there is also a general assumption that all Pagans are clergy. This, of course, is not true.

So, my question for everyone is: what makes someone clergy vs. a "lay" pagan?

Is it one's relationship to the community? Is it one's level of involvement or leadership? What if you practice on a deserted island and there is no community? Does anything distinguish you as clergy vs. lay Pagan in that case?

Is it the type of rites you do, or the frequency with which you do them?

Is it an initiation? Can you perform that initiation on yourself? I believe most Neowiccans would say "yes", but what about other traditions?

Is it relationship to a particular deity? If one performs rites every day to honor Kali, are they her priest or priestess? What if they feel Kali "chose" them?

Do you have to be part of a specific tradition or lineage to be clergy? Personally, I think the answer is "no", but you've got to admit that it's hard to know when you're a priestess if there's no guidelines for how you're supposed to do it.

I'm sure the answers to these questions will differ depending on everyone's tradition and personal experience.

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