This month saw the completion of fifteen months of study, reflection, and a great deal of writing. Months filled with familiar and unfamiliar material, new ideas and tools, self-evaluation, and a deepening of my work as Priestess and Pagan Clergy.
A little background: In late 2021 I submitted my application materials to Cherry Hill Seminary as I wanted to enroll in their Community ministry certificate program. My intention had been to deepen my knowledge and bring new resources to my community. First step completed, and now to explore how to share new information with the community.
I’ve explored the commonalities amongst faith-traditions, my own and that of others. I’ve deepened and clarified my ethics, values, and personal theology, been given some very helpful tools to utilize with people seeking my services, and have been asked to consider such opportunities as professional mentoring and Board membership.
During the last four decades, I’ve seen the Maine Pagan community go through many changes. Some good, and some not so good. While we, as a community, remain fiercely independent as to whether we’re Solitary or gather with others, one thing is consistent: we all have a need, at some point, for someone to offer us support.
Support can look like many things: the facilitator of an event or ritual, workshops and presentations, someone to offer supportive counseling during a time of need, or someone to officiate such things as weddings and funerals. While I see a post-pandemic resurgence of requests for all of the above, there remains a growing need to support those who offer these resources. Care for the caregivers. Resources, trainings, and peer-related support to help them avoid burnout. My colleagues are community as well.
While some Pagan leaders have elders to reach out to, we’re increasingly discovering that many are without that support. This may be due to their elders having died, becoming unavailable for whatever reason, or the fact that Paganism doesn’t utilize the models of other faith-traditions, such as Councils and advisory boards. This is changing, as community needs continue to evolve, and leaders are tackling increasingly challenging issues. Communication options have greatly improved our ability to reach out to each other, access resources for addressing deficits, and opened up opportunities for education and support.
The Community Ministry program addressed numerous questions and concerns, provided a number of resources, and validated my sense of having been well prepared by years of previous experiences: the early days with Far Flung Coven, Gardnerian training with Judy Harrow, and years of practice, mistakes, and an ongoing effort to improve and address the needs of self and others.
As I step into spring, I’m reflecting on new beginnings and how best to move forward. To grow, evolve, and thrive 🙂