Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To Priest or not to Priest?

I've noticed over the years that there's a disconnect between expectations and actuality when it comes to daily life within a Pagan religion. Many of the varied faiths have little to no direct instruction for laity, and so newcomers take on activities and rituals that might not be meant for non-priests. And, when one adds in the "Once a week go to church" mentality that so many of us holdover from our days as Christians we end up befuddled and confused.

Kemeticism is a great example of the priestly practices phenomenon. Most of the documentation surrounding religious practices stems from the priesthood, but modern Kemetics incorporate the rituals, offerings, etc. into everyday life...and some do this without thinking about whether priesthood is what they ultimately want and, if not, what else they could be doing to apply the religion to their own daily life.

When I look at my former life as an Episcopalian, I'm struck by the fact that my job as a member of the laity involved belief and application only. We did not decorate with liturgical colors, we did not give offerings to God, we did not take Communion in our homes; we prayed, and read the Bible, and tried to apply the teachings of Jesus to the way we lived our lives. Ritual was saved for the priests - it was their job. The laity was involved in orthodoxy while the priesthood took on the responsibilities of orthopraxy.

I see so many new pagans get so bogged down in making certain they have the right offerings for the gods, and the right objects on the altar/shrine, and the right words...people assume that they have to act as their own priest or priestess, and that's just not the case. They simply cannot see the concept of applying belief to life without all the trappings, because no one is discussing it.

Really, if one isn't going to be a priest, do the trappings matter? If one isn't going to be a priest, how does taking on priestly duties help? Should a line be drawn and, if so, where? What's actually important here?

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