“Routes Along the Pagan Path” by: Jared Hughes (Xerxes Obere)

Written by Mimosa
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Many of the wiccans and neo/meso -pagans out there are, from what I see, mostly solitary. They have a private practice, one that they can morph and mold into the best practice for the self. They do this with the dedication that they feel to the craft and to the old gods. Being a solitary practitioner doesn’t mean that you must work by yourself, as might have been the case in the old days. You can work with others more often now, as an increasing number of people practice pagan faiths. Wicca1

However, you needn’t always work with a group, as some enjoy practicing alone, on their own terms. If you decide to work with others, you can always do this and still be solitary and work with a group. In this case you would be a celebratory or congregational member of a group instead of an initiated member. This means you celebrate and work with other members, but are not an initiated member of any tradition. Many people would prefer to stay out of the dogmatic or hierarchic aspects of traditions that are out there. This could mean working with a small family group or a larger temple/organized group from a tradition. This could include simple weekly meetings, devotionals, counseling or whatnot, as well as the sabbats/esbats and the like. Whatever it is that you are looking for is what you should set your mind to and look for within the local groups. Find out if they are well enough for you to be a part of in any aspect, even if the celebratory/congregation.

Now the last portion would be for those who want to be a part of either a national/world or regional group that has its set rituals and ceremonies and a full calendar of sabbats and esbats along with any other rites of passage. Most traditions have you start off your training as a dedicant, meaning that you have dedicated yourself to the path that you have chosen and opened your life up to the old gods. When you of start your training you are considered a neophyte, which is the lowest member of training. For all purposes, you would be considered a member while you are going through the training process for the first circle of the tradition or sect you plan to join. This training is standard, and you can use this training as information only, or go on to become a member of the coven/group. As I said, this is your own decision and you are the only one who will know if you are really ready for the path. Your training will usually take a year and a day. This isn’t always how it will go—while it will seldom be shorter, it can often be longer if your mentor/teacher thinks that you need more time. Some people already know much of the information, so your mentor/teacher will give you other assignments to make sure you understand and know the information that will be needed.

After your standard time you may go to the elders of the group and request that you get your initiation. Usually, at that point, they will give it some thought and either give you a final test and decided, or decline and have you train longer. I will not say anything on the actual process of initiation, as it is different for all people; the feeling you should get is one of rebirth and growth spiritually and any other aspects.

The first degree is only the starting portion of the clergy/priestly aspects, not the end but the beginning–that is, if you wish to go further within the process of the priesthood. The second degree within most traditions is the full-priest aspect. The one who is more adept and knowledgeable within the craft will now to be able to lead groups and help mentor take more active role within the temple and start leading more so then the first degrees. The second degree I find to be more of a calling, and many do not have the call to become more leaders and teachers within the craft, and also within the wider pagan community. This aspect of the craft can take anywhere from another year and a day to five years of additional training, depending on the structure of learning that your mentor and tradition call for. With the second degree you are more able to begin gathering students and others who may wish to hive off from the original coven and start a new one within the original group, of course with the blessing of your high priestess and council of elders.

The last of the degrees is the third degree. This is for the people who have the calling to really be the face of the neopagan community as a whole, and to be out in the wider community helping others and guiding pagans and non pagans together. The third degrees are the high priesthood, the ones that are looked up to and regarded as the ones who all others within the groups should look up too.

Third degree is definitely not for everyone. This is the priestly path for people who have the calling to go above and beyond just the normal grouping of pagans, to do anything and everything to help teach and guide, and to promote the acceptance of the community to the worldwide community. If this is your vocation, be ready for a long haul of learning and growth. In all, the standard learning process can take three years and three days or longer, depending on how you learn as well if the teachers/mentors or high priest/ess give the consent going up the ranks in the group.

This is not, by any means, for everyone within the neopagan community. Many are happy staying solitary, or working with a home group with close friends and family. Many out there may be quite fine with combining all three together, or be happy doing private work. You may want to work with a group privately, or a tradition’s group and go through initiation, to help the community along with your spiritual growth yourself. The decision is always yours and should never be a decision that has been made because of opinions of others.

Anyone can self-initiate, as there are many books out there with appropriate ceremonies. A private self initiation giving your life over to the old gods and celebrating them is how the original pagans did it, and it works/worked for the new pagan elders that started the re-emergence of the pagan way.

Blessed be!

Click Here to Visit Jared Hughes’ (Xerxes Obere) Website.

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