Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Becoming Hellenic and Pagan Clergy - Modern Problems and Pathways

Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism or Greek Paganism has no shortage of priests and priestesses, and it's a good thing to obtain such an honor, but I also think the modern Pagan and Polytheistic communities sometimes have too many leaders and not enough followers. Too many people consider it a priority to assume some form of authority, some of them without even having any real expertise. I don't agree with organizations that ordain by simple request, because they are raising people to positions of knowledge and authority without requiring credentials. This is bad for both the ordained and the people they will teach and influence. It's also bad for the credibility of the organization itself. Just as you wouldn't fly on a plane with a pilot who has their license simply because they walked in yesterday and asked for them, you should want someone guiding and leading your community who has knowledge and experience.

There are many ways to become clergy in Hellenism, of which I will describe, but however one enters the clergy, they should consider it a priority to gain at least a basic knowledge of the religion and the duties of the clergy beforehand, and to understand that such a pursuit never ends. You are always learning, you are never an expert. I am the Head Priest of my own temple, and have been for the past 7 years, but I have always been a student of ancient Greek religion and history, and knew the Gods well before I even opened the organization.

As Hellenic clergy, we do not act as dictators of members of our organizations, nor of fellow Hellenists in general. We do not act as central authorities, and we do not act as people who speak for or represent the Gods. Rather, we are caretakers of temples and sacred areas, leaders of festivals and rites, teachers and protectors of knowledge, and who see that religious sacrifices and functions are properly carried out. In short, we are well-respected servants of the Gods and our people.

There are many ways one can become a Hellenic priest or priestess. The easiest is to open your own temple or religious organization, and have it legally incorporated into your state as such. As the founder, you will have to lead the establishment, and with it being a religious order, that title would naturally be the head clergy. Your state would probably also officially recognize you as the natural leader.

Another way would be to achieve ordination through a legally recognized Hellenic organization. Or, one could be elected by the members of their religious community. For example, if you have a group of Hellenic or Pagan practitioners in your community with whom you are involved, and they elect you to be the clergy for their organization and area of activity. Sometimes, clergy positions can also be inherited. If you are close with a priest, for example, and they die and pass their roles and responsibilities onto you. 

Ultimately, if one seeks, they are bound to find. I simply, once again, implore patience and the attainment of religious knowledge. We need to be taken seriously as a religious movement. There will be plenty of time for prestige. For now, take time to learn and grow.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris.

2 comments:

  1. We lack a good term for someone dedicated to a pantheon/deity, so Priest and Priestess often get used, unfortunately. And if everyone claims to be clergy on their first day it's saying that there isn't anything to learn or do in that religion. Maybe it's time to reclaim the term 'cultist' in the anthropological sense, for non-clergy.

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    1. You may have a point there. Priest or Priestess has really become a buzz term in the Pagan and Polytheistic community sometimes; I don't think it always means what people think it does. I very much appreciate you taking time to comment on my blog. I am sorry I didn't approve your comment earlier, but for some reason, it sent the notification for approval to my old email address. Thankfully, I happened to check it.

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