Witch at Large: Ruminations from a Grey Perspective
Seeing Paganism in terms of being a movement, explorations of our history, societal context, comparisons to other religious movements, and general Pagan culture.
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – V
We Pagans, at least most of us, or at least most of us in our incipient forms, worked in small, intimate, closed circles. We had no concept of ‘ministry’ as such.
Taking the word ‘ministry’ in its Latin root meaning “servant,” I see this work as service to those in need of such services as I can provide. I do not view myself as being a clergyperson, since I think that term carries baggage from its use in the Christian context that implies that clergy people either know more, or are somehow more spiritually evolved than the rest of us plebians, or have some direct line to the divine that’s inaccessible to the rest of us. Of course, this blog is not for debating the use of the term clergy, or even ministry, in Pagan contexts. I mention these things to illustrate where I’m coming from.
Relationships, or Lack Thereof
The rules for prison volunteers bar personal relationships with inmates. Further, anyone working as a volunteer cannot correspond with inmates. So for anyone who wishes to help, you have to make a choice either to correspond with one or more prison pen pals, or to come in to conduct services. Again, the language is Christian-centric, in the sense that we don’t exactly ‘conduct services.’ At least that’s not my particular style. My style is to teach inmates to perform their own rites. Whether they are in their cells, meeting with the circle when I’m not there, in another facility, on parole, or totally free and out in society rebuilding their lives, I see my service is providing them with skills and knowledge they can use lifelong.
I am a Priestess & Witch, not technically Wiccan, as I consider that term to refer to British Traditional Witches who trace a lineage to Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders, or other clearly defined lineaged traditions of the Craft.
Further, I arose within the context of Second Wave Feminism. My primary work is eclectic (not a bad word in my book), goddess-oriented, and loosely structured. I’m accustomed to sharing what’s going on in the lives of each coven member. We hug. We share personal stories, sometimes called “check-ins.” We dance. And when circumstances are appropriate, say an initiation or a not-too-chilly day, we meet skyclad.
I now find myself working with all men. We cannot be too personal in our exchanges. We cannot have much physical contact, although we do hold hands in circle, and touch each other with the salt and water, fire and air. The men know little about me, and I have no idea what crime(s) they committed that landed them in prison. So I see those restrictions as challenges to overcome or work around.
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