I am a Priest. Whether I care one whit about the term, I AM a Priest. I have spoken on and off about my on again/off again perspective of being just this. I tried to push away the concept from myself. I have grudgingly accepted the point. I have struggled with terminology, perspective, and the entire concept of being thus – all thanks to my schooling in Catholic schools. Yes, my schooling. Since the 7th grade, I have exclusively gone to Catholic schools, courtesy of my parents. As a short sidebar, my parents were wanting to provide me with a more structured and disciplined education than public schools in Alabama and Louisiana had to offer. They wanted the best advantages they could provide for their children. I understand all of that. I did not thrive in my parochial education. While my test scores for college acceptance (my SAT and ACT test scores) were very good, my high school grades were not. I was not a fan of being spoon fed doctrine for a religious belief system that my parents were not members of. All of that feeds into my personal dislike of the term “Priest.”
So, with that early background, along with a handful of posts here on the blog, and you have a fair assessment over how I’ve struggled with the term being applied to me. Slowly, I’ve come to grips with the term, but not with the concept behind the terminology. All of that, I’ve had very few issues with. Me performing a handfasting? I’ve never done it, but I know I’m capable of doing it. Plus, I can always run screaming and crying to Cat for tips and a better understanding. She’s the tops in my book, so that’s where I would head for help, advice, and comforting over my feelings of inadequacy. But if someone truly wanted that, I could do it. Being on hand to help with the funeral of someone? I could do that too. I’d likely contact Kristoffer Hughes for help and advice. Plus, I have his book “The Journey Into Spirit” for even more source material and assistance. I already have provided advice and assistance to new Pagans seeking direction in their own Spiritual Paths and will continue along that pathway. Honestly, I’m not the most skilled Priest in the world, but that’s due to a lack of experience – not a lack of knowledge or drive.
So yesterday, I rolled across a descriptive of a Priest that kicked up a lot of the red flags that brought my consternation over the term.
You are a Priest. You speak for the Gods. You are a holy man. You teach people how to build relationships with the Gods. Your work IS holy.
Teaching people to build relationships with the Gods. Ok, I can grok this point. It’s akin to helping people find their way to the Spiritual Path that they wish to explore. I’m not a Wiccan, but I know enough Wiccans to either find an appropriate avenue for a Seeker to travel or initiate contact between the Seeker and the Wiccan. So I can understand that part of what I can do is help those who are trying to make that connection to the Gods, but always with the caveat that the Gods call who They call. Having any of the Gods leaning over your shoulder and whispering in your ear doesn’t happen for everyone. But I understand how this is the duty of a Priest. It’s the rest of the statement that I take umbrage with.
As I’ve said, I am a Priest. I am a Druid. I work with Crow, Coyote, and Abnoba. None of that means that I speak FOR the Gods. I work WITH my two Gods and my singular Goddess. I’m not an Oracular aspect for any of Them. As far as I can remember, which doesn’t mean that its canon or some holy writ, Oracles are not Priests – and vice versa. But I wouldn’t rule it out completely. As I have commented so many times before – I’m only an expert on me. I don’t create holy writ or canon for anyone. But I can, without the shadow of a doubt, proclaim that as a Priest, I speak for NONE of the Gods.
Nor am I a “holy man.” Describing a Priest in this fashion falls far too close to Catholic perspective for me. The work I do is not “holy work” and never would be. The work I do WITH my Gods is not some holy manifestation of Them on this earth. I know that THEY are capable of handling that without my assistance or compliance. Laying a descriptive of “holy” at my feet simply because I accept the descriptive term of “Priest” being applied towards me is just not what I see. HOWEVER…..
Working as a Priest to handfast a couple is a moment that might be described as “holy.” Being there to witness a couple (or a poly triad or what have you) pledge their undying love and compassion to the Universe…that’s a “holy” privilege. The same can hold true for funeral rites, rites of passage, and even leading a ritual celebrating the turning of the Wheel of the Year. So I could say that some work that a Priest does can be considered “holy” in its nature. But I do submit that performing in these roles (and others that would equally apply) do not make me a “holy man.”
Others will disagree with me on that, but it’s the one area that I am firmly taking my stand. I am not a holy man. I am a Pagan. I am a Druid. I am capable of performing the functions of a Priest. I am a Teacher. I am just me. A simple, humble Pagan – trying to live my life one day at a time. Sometimes just one hour at a time. Sometimes even smaller time increments than that.