I became a priestess. I became a minister. I never relinquished one for the other.
And now I’m integrating the wealth of understanding I’ve gained from my preparation and experience of each of these roles into one whole, one identity.
To Grow Is Both to Lose and to Gain
Part of that integration has involved loss. Those of you who bless me by reading regularly, here or on Patheos, have seen me discuss the things I miss.
Some of what I miss is the joy of congregational leadership. I loved much of internship at the First Unitarian Church of Portland. I love preaching. Oh, do I love preaching! And I enjoyed creating Unitarian Universalist-appropriate ceremony. For example, I was privileged to contribute to the Winter Solstice ceremony in 2013. I still offer guest preaching every now and again, but it’s not nearly so often.
On the Wiccan side, I miss the power of in-person, psycho-emotive, transformative ritual. I miss ritual that is almost always multigenerational, involves more senses than just eyes and ears, and that truly changes how participants see themselves and the world.
And yet I would not trade my journey for another. If I hadn’t been initiated…if I hadn’t left my Wiccan home…if I hadn’t found All Souls…if I hadn’t gone to seminary and been ordained… well, I’d be someone else. Furthermore, I am coming to not even regret the health problems that have shaped my path since I came to Portland, Oregon.
Why? Why not regret life-threatening pulmonary emboli? Why not regret a staph infection that left me sedentary for months?
Because all of this together birthed The Way of the River. The blogs, the love letters, the classes, retreats, spiritual direction, everything. And The Way of the River is my Way, the way of both the minister and the priestess. It is more and more a part of who I am. It is the river fed by the tributaries of my spiritual life over the last 30 years.
Where Does the River Flow?
The clearest place you can see this process is in the way I spend my time in my ministry/service/work.
For example, I offer classes on the Four Elements/Directions, straight from the Stone Circle tradition of Wicca into which, after years of work, I was initiated as a priestess of the Third Degree. My class series began with Water, specifically that of sacred wells, and I’ll be teaching on Fire beginning in September. I also offer classes (like the one coming up in June, Growing Our Souls) that combine 19th-century Unitarian, Roman Catholic, and Pagan spiritual practices.
On the clearly UU minister side, I offer my own experience, support, and knowledge to UU ministerial candidates. Three to five months of tutoring, reading, listening, responding, and encouraging those who are preparing to see the Ministerial Fellowship Committee…well there’s nothing more Unitarian Universalist than that, and yet I do it from a multifaith perspective. That perspective can speak to the complexity of many of my clients’ backgrounds. A lifelong UU, a former Catholic, a current Muslim, current Pagans—all these have found help in my support.
I also offer spiritual direction, and I use techniques I have learned in Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, and Wiccan contexts. Silence, ritual, listening, reading, and friendly inquiry all make appearances in this ministry.
As you may see on the homepage, I also concern myself with the formal practice of discernment. In fact, beginning very soon (probably in mere days!), I will have a new free offer for anyone who signs up for Reflections. I have created a 21-installment package, The Days of Discernment. This gift will help you discern your way through a difficult question or conundrum. You’ll have 21 short lessons available to you that you can use at your own pace. Again, this process involves secular, Roman Catholic, Pagan, and my own creative techniques. It is the kind of thing that others would charge significant money for, and I am offering at no cost to you.
The retreats I offer are intimate, one-day affairs. They involve deep personal work. The experience I offer my retreatants is informed by my own psychological work; Wiccan ritual experience; ancestor veneration, and uniquely creative, seasonally-appropriate techniques.
So you can see I am working to bring together all that I am, all that I have, all that I am becoming. In service, in love, and in joy. May we continue to serve one another and the Sacred as we know It. Blessed be.