Why do we need “consecrated” clergy?
If Everywoman is by birthright a priestess of the Goddess, and Everyman a priest of the God, then why do we need to set apart some people as “special”?
The faces of Divinity include every deity who has ever been envisioned, and every person in the world. Therefore, to serve Them requires no confirmation from outside, but only the internal recognition of that relationship. In personal work or within the confines of our circles we each may serve at some time to reflect the face of Divinity to others, and so it should be.
The public priest/esshood serves another function, however.not superior, but different in purpose, and, above all, in responsibility. The publicly recognized (that is to say, “ordained/consecrated”) priest/ess is responsible to self and to the Gods (as we all are), but also bears a responsibility to the religious body from whence comes the recognition, to the State by whose laws the recognition is empowered, and to the community in whose service the recognition is granted.
The purpose of consecrated clergy differs from the innate priest/esshood which all of us share, in that the publicly recognized priest/ess has the job of manifesting the God/dess in the world, serving those who are not being served by conventional religions, and functioning as a public and legally recognized/responsible representative of her/his faith.
What is Consecration?
The Consecration ritual is a rite of passage, which, like any such ritual, marks a profound change in the course and conduct of one’s life. The express purpose of this rite is to expose the candidate for priest/esshood (to the extent we as mortals are able) to the awesome and immediate presence of Divinity, in order to enable the consummation of a solemn bonding between mortal priest/ess and immortal God/dess.
The ritual also permits the community which the new priest/ess will serve to bear witness to this bonding, to do public honor to her/his commitment, and to offer her/him support and love in the endeavor.
Is Consecration like initiation into a circle?
Although the ritual is initiatory in nature (“to initiate” = to begin something new) Consecration must not be equated with an initiation to Spiral (there ain’t no such creature), nor with membership in any given circle. “To consecrate” is “to make sacred”; the act of consecration in effect makes of the committed life a sacred tool for the god/desses to use as They will.
Consecration is a giving, not a getting.
We don’t want to scare you (well, maybe just a little bit; anyone who doesn’t find the idea of Consecration just a bit terrifying doesn’t understand what s/he’s getting into!)
If you were asked:
Do you therefore willingly consent to serve the Gods, not according to your own desires, but according to Theirs? Do you enter into this service in full understanding of and commitment to what you do?
Could you, with all your heart, respond:
I consent, understanding that if I betray this pledge the Gods will judge me, and there will be no escape in this life or another until the obligation is fulfilled.
That is the vow of the consecrated priest/ess.
The role of consecrated clergy is not a role that can be picked up and set down again at will. Once the Priest/ess has pledged her/himself to serve the Gods, the Gods Themselves will require that service to continue. The braided cord is not a merit badge; it is the “outward and visible symbol” of an internal and profound commitment. Therefore the rite of Consecration is not to be undertaken lightly.
So you see, consecration is not about being a “better” priest/ess
or a “higher-ranking” priest/ess,
or a “more powerful” priest/ess.
It’s about acknowledging your vocation
and “checking your ego at the door”
and “putting your money where your mouth is”
and being willing to “go to the wall” for what you believe
and ultimately, it’s about giving the use of your life over to the Gods.