The word ‘Clergy’ has the potential to evoke a variety of different images, feelings and associations for each person whose interacted with the ‘people’ element of spirituality. There are some spiritual parishioners that will instantly conjure the image of priests draped in boring, androgynist robes expelling a litany of curses, political views and fear-based damnation upon an expressionless crowd or individuals who have experienced the wilder variety of Pagan Clergy who extol the deeds of Gods and Goddesses and howl guttural warcries around a spirited bonfire of entranced onlookers. I’ve often found myself trying to mimic these behaviors in my own life in an attempt to find self-balance. Of all of the folks to best learn from, I have until recently, found that Clergy can be the best ones to emulate because of their connection to the physical and spiritual world. On my path, I’ve encountered every imaginable kind of Clergy that one could be searching for when they are on a spiritual journey and often I’ve found myself rarely finding an individual who did not cater to the crowd of individuals that they were responsible for so that they could further push their agenda.
After this year, I found myself questioning why I was pursuing Clergy with a hunger I had never felt before. There was no longer the constant questioning mental voice asking me, “Why are you doing this? Why is this important to you? Do you really think you’re ‘good’ enough to even be trained?” I realized that the perception of all sorts of Clergy having different agendas was not something that I had imagined during one of those boring sermons from my youth. There really were people out there that would use spirituality as a platform to carry out their sinister plans however I also encountered, during this realization, that there was Clergy with an agenda that wasn’t so dastardly in nature. I realized, upon lots of self-awareness meditations, that all people have an agenda even if they seem like they are giving you something for your benefit. Not all Clergy uses their platform as a way to control people, I discovered through observations. Some Clergy empower people by placing them in situations that make them rise and shine in the face of the adversity that befalls all of us whether it’s from another source or the constant battle raging on in all our heads. That’s when I discovered that’s the kind of Clergy I want to be and not someone standing in front of a crowd telling people how they should live their lives.
The approach of trying to get people to listen to you and not to what’s best for themselves doesn’t work because people will always self-sabotage unless they have a reason to change. Providing the right environment to inspire that change and being a support for those people as they change seems to be one of the most effective methods of building a tribe and keeping it peaceful most of the time. The best thing that Clergy can do is cultivate their own patience and allow people to grow and explore their spiritual path and let the guides, deities and individual energies work upon them. This means that Clergy can’t always have their own identity if it means that it will impede that effort. Most of the time, in a situation that the person who is Clergy would react in a way that’s true to their own personality, they have to reign it back or make a personality change to benefit the larger picture.
This is perhaps where I saw so many Clergy-folk before fail and lose the influence they had over their group. Instead of helping these people to become more than they knew they could be by being an example of sacrifice, they greedily took for themselves and their own agendas that did not involve empowering folks. Eventually, people catch on to the idea that they are being manipulated or controlled and stray away. That’s where the real loss comes in because as Clergy, you should be a vessel of whatever ideas, Gods or concepts that you wish to embody. If you lose that, there’s no legacy and no purpose for putting on the robs and standing before a large crowd. It’s empty and unfulfilling and therefore a giant waste of time and energy. Clergy should be working the land, giving themselves and their time to others and also taking time for themselves to help nourish a state of mind that is productive to the greater whole of the Tribe. The concept of sacrifice and what that really meant to me as a future member of Clergy hit me quite unexpectedly when I was blogging, drawing and working on shrines this summer. In the effort of healing myself and discovering what my agenda or purpose was at Deeply Rooted, I discovered that I could inspire folks to come out of their shells and show a piece of themselves. That’s the Clergy I always want to be and over time, will develop new skills to get those folks who need the most help to finally find a legacy and peace for themselves in the process.
I can’t say that being Clergy, in reality, is something that anyone in their right mind should pursue. It might take a bit of crazy to build the kind of momentum in service that will emanate from your effort years after you’ve left the planet. You lose a lot in the process of building your own legacy and sacrificing whatever it takes to accomplish your end goal. Pieces of yourself that slough off and die because they no longer serve you. The real reward in that process, no matter how painful or hard it is, should be looking around the room during an event and seeing people that were once trapped in their minds coming out of their shells and sharing pieces of their sacred spirituality or their sense of humor where there was once silence and awkwardness. Clergy work can be reciprocal if your agenda is understanding others better by taking a long, hard look at yourself and making the kind of changes in your life that benefit more than just the moment-to-moment goals. So many people are unwitting slaves to their own desires for reasons they are conditioned to believe are right for themselves and it takes someone strong, courageous and honest to stand up and be an example of a life lead without conditioning or slavery. Clergy provides that service with the sole agenda of fostering strength in others for when they are no longer physically present to make that kind of impact.