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Purpose and Ethics: Judy's personal statement

I am a Witch, a priestess, a coven leader and a counselor. All these titles are aspects of one whole, one work, which is helping people grow into their own fullness. I intend to do this work with knowledge, wisdom, skill, creativity and honor, in service to the Gods, the People and the Earth. At the heart of my work, and of my life, is a triple relationship, between myself, the Old Gods of Nature, and the Pagan community. Community, an abstract and shorthand term, becomes real person by person. These guidelines concern my interactions with persons and groups who seek guidance, teaching or counsel from me as priestess, coven leader and counselor.

1. The only part of this relationship I own is me.

  • I will do what I can to sustain, clarify and deepen my own conscious contact with the Gods of Nature, and to live from the understandings that arise from this contact. I will also stay in contact with others, elders and peers, who support, challenge, nurture and instruct me as together we re-discover this long-neglected sacred Path.
  • I will stay aware of my own motivations and the inner needs that drive me to this work. Some of these are healthy and appropriate, others are displaced, and can become disordered. I will not try to fulfill through this work those needs that are better served in other ways.
  • I will be mindful of my own levels of energy and enthusiasm. I will take time to rest and play, nurture myself and accept nurturance from others. When I feel depleted, I will actively seek replenishment, so that I may serve well for years to come.
  • I will seek the guidance of my elders and the support of my peers, especially in times of perplexity. I will learn from the experiences of others, and share my own experiences with others so that we may learn together.
  • I will explore all the relevant worlds of knowledge: Classical religion, indigenous religion, ethics, ritual arts, consciousness studies, and more. I will read and I will experiment. I will stay aware of the new discoveries and creative contributions of my colleagues, as I share my own discoveries with them.
  • As a professionally trained counselor, I will make it my special task to follow new developments in the fields of counseling and psychology, always looking for insights and techniques useful for Pagan clergy. To the best of my ability, I will adapt these insights and techniques to our values, our vocabulary and our felt needs, and share them with other priest/esses.
  • 2. I will treat all people as fairly as I can.

  • I will be honest with all those who merit my trust. I feel no obligation to, by my honesty, make myself vulnerable to coercion or oppression. Within the community of trust and respect, if people seek my guidance, teaching or counsel, I will be honest about my competence and its limits, and also about the amount of time and energy I can feasibly devote to their requests.
  • I will respect the privacy of those who seek my aid or instruction. I will keep their confidences except where there is overriding reason to reveal information. I will inform people of what such circumstances might be before receiving their confidences, so that they may choose what they will reveal or withhold.
  • I will respect the right of all people to make and implement decisions about their own lives. As I do not wish to be manipulated or coerced, so I will not manipulate or coerce others.
  • 3. As priestess and coven leader, I conduct rituals, instruct coveners in the values, symbols and ways of our religion, nurture and guide their spiritual and magical growth.

  • It is my abiding responsibility to keep our coven a safe and nurturing place, under all circumstances. When another covener is conducting a ritual or teaching a class, I still bear final responsibility for ethics and safety in the coven.
  • It is my abiding responsibility to ensure that the teaching of ethics and the fostering of wisdom precede any instruction in magical skills within my coven and lineage, and that magical empowerment is always secondary to spiritual growth.
  • I will work with my coven and its daughter covens for love and joy, not for any ulterior purpose or extrinsic reward.
  • As a coven leader I facilitate primary religious experiences and exploration of altered states of consciousness.
    • I will always remember that my proper role is to help each person make their own direct and conscious connection with the Ancient Gods, and never to mediate between Deity and other humans.
    • I will seek knowledge and skill concerning spiritual practices and altered states of consciousness, and continue to follow new discoveries and developments, integrating them into our work as appropriate.
    • I will do my utmost to protect each participant's health and safety during magical and spiritual practices and in the vulnerable periods that may follow.
    • I will not manipulate people who are in altered states of consciousness, nor use their openness to suggestion for any ulterior or exploitive purpose.
    • I will warn people who are exploring within through altered states of consciousness that these experiences can be difficult and dramatically transformative, sometimes resulting in "spiritual emergencies." I will be aware of the issues around spiritual emergency and make sure that those I train are similarly aware.
    • Unless I am willing to assist people in working through any changes wrought by their magical and spiritual explorations, I will not encourage such exploration or facilitate such practices with them.
  • As a coven leader within a lineage and a degree system, I bear a responsibility to the community as a whole for training and vouching for future coven leaders. I am mindful of the inevitable role conflict between the functions of mentor/counselor and evaluator/gatekeeper.
    • I will strive to give my students access to the cumulative heritage of our Tradition while empowering them to adapt this heritage to their own best understandings and values and to make their own creative contributions to the Tradition's ongoing development.
    • I will seek the guidance of the Ancient Gods in all decisions about Initiation and Elevation. I will also consult with, at minimum, the elders of my coven. If there is any ambiguity, I will seek independent evaluation of the candidate from the elders of other related covens. I recognize that outside consultation is always of value, even when there is no apparent ambiguity.
    • If I need to delay or deny an Initiation or Elevation, I will inform the candidate as gently and objectively as possible. I will do what I can to help them either do what still needs to be done, or find another group or Path.
    • As gatekeeper, I will only Elevate to Third Degree persons whom I believe to be knowledgeable, skilled, wise and ethical enough to be trusted with the guidance of vulnerable beginners.
    • When someone I have trained and/or for whom I have vouched becomes a coven leader, I recognize a lifelong responsibility to be available to them as an elder consultant.
      • I will be as accessible and responsive as possible to those who lead "daughter groups." I will help them explore perplexing issues, sharing any relevant experience I may have. I will be honest about the limits of my knowledge or my energy.
      • I will share any new discoveries I make with them, and expect them to share their discoveries with me and with each other.
      • I acknowledge the difficult responsibility of sharing any problems that I perceive concerning their teaching or practice within their group.
      • In rare and extreme cases, when a "daughter group" has become seriously dysfunctional or corrupt, I acknowledge that, after due warning, I may face the painful obligation to publicly withdraw my vouch.

    4. I also offer my skills as a professionally trained counselor to the Pagan community

    Counselors assist people in understanding various situations in their lives and in making and implementing their own decisions about those situations. People who seek counsel with their clergy expect to work within a shared context of guiding values, thealogical understandings, symbolic vocabulary and techniques for inner exploration and the implementation of willed change. Our religion, as I understand it, does not include detailed rules for behavior. So, as a Pagan counselor, my role is to assist clients to develop their own understanding of the values and teachings of our religion, and of the implications of those values and teachings for their own current life situations, religious and secular.
  • I understand that the impetus and direction for clients' healing and growth comes from them, and perhaps from the Ancient Gods, but never from me. I am simply a skilled facilitator.
  • I will always remember that I am not a lawgiver or decision maker over the lives of others, even those in my own coven. They will find what they seek within themselves, or not at all.
  • However, I am under no obligation to continue a relationship with any person whose values are in severe conflict with my own.
  • I will strive to develop the skills of active listening and empathy, for these empower the inner exploration of the client. I will support and challenge coveners and clients in their own unique process of personal growth.
  • I may share with clients specific techniques for exploring their issues or implementing their decisions. If I do, I am obligated to assist these clients in any way I can to integrate the insights and changes that these techniques bring about.
  • I am not trained or qualified to treat actual mental illness. I will learn to recognize the probable symptoms of mental illness and develop resources for Pagan-friendly referrals within my local area.
  • I will make myself available as a resource for non-Pagan counselors and therapists who feel the need to know more about our religion in order to be of better service to Pagan clients.

  • by Judy Harrow
    2001, by Judy Harrow
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