Thursday, 28 February 2013 14:29

Do-it-yourself Priesthood

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I grew up in a Catholic church.  Every Sunday, we'd get all dressed up and go sit for an hour while some man I didn't know, but apparently who had the right credentials, would tell us all about what God thought, did, and wanted from us.  He would then magickally transform some wine and crackers into human blood and flesh, we'd all have a nibble and a sip, and then it was off to the hell that was called "Sunday School" for me.  Sunday School was pretty much the same - more telling us what God wanted from us and what he thought, only I had to fill out worksheets to prove I was listening.  By age 14, I had enough of that crap.  I hated that church for a number of reasons.

I hated being told what to think. 

I hated someone else saying, "I know what God thinks, but you do not.  Listen up."

Mostly, I hated someone else being a gatekeeper between humans and divinity.

I've always felt very in touch with the mystical mindset. As a child, I frequently pondered the divine, spending long nights staring at the stars, but it made no sense with what the Catholic church was saying. If this is so joyful, then why am I looking upon the face of a bloodied, tortured man every time I walk into his home on earth?  I hated that crucifix above the church door.  If it's the true story of how things are in heaven and earth, then what about those pesky fossil records? 

When I was 14, I became an atheist.  At that age, in my very limited scope of understanding of the world, I thought, "If this is crap, it's probably all crap, so I reject it all."  Yet, atheism never quite fit me.  There was always this part of me that said, "God is the bang that made the Big Bang bang.  God is the force of nature." My heart's not in any sort of atheism; my heart yearns to know the mysteries of the stars.

When I discovered the Craft, there were many things that appealed to me the most were the fact that scientific inquiry was not only respected, but lauded.  Could this be true in a religion?  In a society where religion means that we're forced to hide scientific evidence in lieu of a completely useless paradigm of "God did it, it's out of our hands." What good does that do me? Nothing. I can't learn much from it, can't build much on it.  Personally, it's important to me to understand and respect those physical rules and laws, and understand that they likewise have a spiritual component that applies on the metaphysical levels - as a witch, I work with both. The Pagan world view does not need to separate spirit from matter for it to work.

And that can very harmoniously co-exist with a magickal world view, which accepts so many other things above and beyond what the physical world shows us.  (It takes a little mental flexibility, of course.)  That was one of the other things that I liked so much about the Craft. There's magick to be had here - actual, real, hands on magick that, in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, can have consistant, tangible results.

Oh, and this whole bit about God not only being female as well, but being here, with us, everywhere - what more could I have dreamt of?

Alongside these delightful paradigmal preferences came the wonderous bit I'd heard over and over in all the right places: you are your own priest, first and foremost.  There are no gatekeepers unless you choose them for yourself.  There are good reasons to choose traditions that have gatekeepers: those who offer initiation and exploration into their mysteries. There is great value in finding these people who can train you, and offer you new experiences and knowledge; but know that their particular gate is one of many that will get you to the mysteries.  They are not the only ones who hold the knowledge of the God and Goddess.

If you were alone at a base in Antarctica, you'd still be able to access the Divine as readily as you could in a city of millions, with dozens of Pagan priests and priestesses.  If you couldn't find anyone in your town who is a suitable spiritual guide or teacher, you could still celebrate, attune with the Divine, and live a spiritually fulfilling life.  

With a spiritual path that recognizes that Divinity is inherent in all things, do it yourself priesthood is not only entirely possible, it's preferable.  By listening with your own ears, touching with your own hands, and seeing with your own eyes, the Goddess will reveal Herself to you in ways that are more personal and more profound than any bit of handed down wisdom.  The direct experience of the Divine is entirely within your hands; there is no need for any priest, any church, or any dogma.  Just sit, quiet yourself, and listen; She will speak to you.