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UU Minister and Wiccan Priestess: Initiations

UU Minister and Wiccan Priestess: Initiations

I am being ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry on April 19 of this year. If all goes well, the congregation of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC will confer ordination upon me, and many people will come from many parts of the United States (and possibly beyond) to witness and join in the celebration.

I am also an initiated priestess of the Third Degree in Stone Circle Wicca. Coming to that initiation took at least as long as my seminary and other preparation for UU ordination. Yet they are different rites of passage, different Mysteries into which I am being inducted.

In point of fact, I won’t know much of anything about the Mystery of UU ordination until I enter into it.

But I do know some things about initiation, and what it is to receive a transmission of history, power, love, and responsibility from the hands of others who share those qualities. I know what it is to oblige oneself to the cardinal virtues of Authenticity, Integrity, Compassion, and Wisdom, and to teach, counsel, and make liturgy/ritual to support those virtues in my community.

Still, this ordination thing, this Big Ol’ Ritual (I swear, it really is like planning a wedding, only with more people in more parts of the ceremony!), is quite something,

It’s very different from my previous initiations—for one thing, it happens inside! And inside a church, to boot.

It will happen in daylight.

It will happen in public.

It will be witnessed by people who have not been through any kind of similar initiation—but who I am bound to serve as members of my religious community.

These conditions are different from my Wiccan initiations.

But still, there are similarities, some of which I may not share.

I will receive the prayers and blessings of other clergy who have gone through the priest/essly initiations of their traditions.

I will ask for the blessings of the Mighty Dead, the limitless ancestors.

I will move from one identity through a doorway, into a new identity in my community.

I am thinking often of these similarities and differences of late. I am thinking of music and promises; what is hidden and what is shown; the communities to whom I owe my allegiance, affection, and work; and the power of the gathered assemblies.

I would love each and every one of you to be at All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St. NW at 4:00 on Sunday 19 April to witness this event, to affirm my ministry by your presence and spoken word. You are more than welcome.

There will be ministers coming to offer their words, creativity, energy, and time to the event. Some are coming from the West Coast and it is customary that I defray the costs of the travel and lodging of those who come to speak for me in the ritual.

Not only that, and perhaps more pertinent to YOU is that we hope to have a wonderful reception afterward. The ceremony will end around 5:30, and I know folks will be both hungry and thirsty, as well as (I most sincerely hope) energized and happy to share in the festivity.

I’d be so grateful if you are willing to give even a small amount to support the event—especially if you’re not able to come, but would like to. I want to celebrate the gathered community with plenty of food and drink, and I very much hope to share the wisdom and presence of my mentors from the West Coast.

If this idea resonates with you, if you’d like to read more, or if you’re ready to make a donation to the cost of the event, please go to

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/catharine-clarenbach-s-ordination/x/9166610#home

and see what you think.

I’ll be writing about this ordination more as time gets closer. I can’t believe it’s only about three months away! The Indiegogo campaign ends in a month—on Valentine’s Day!—and I’m hoping to have all our funds raised by then.

More important that the fundraising, though, is the ways that this initiation will affect me as well as the communities of which I am a part.

What does clergy initiation mean to you? What do you look for in an ordained or initiated clergy member that’s different from what you expect from others? I’d love to know!

Blessings on you and on your house!

~~Catharine~~

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