The work of a clergy-person takes three distinct forms. Clergy members counsel their friends, neighbors and colleagues in times of need and crisis, and at significant life passages. They teach about religion and spirituality, to children and to adults. Thirdly (and most evident to the public eye), they conduct rituals of worship, consecration and passage. It is primarily with rituals of passage that these notes are concerned, although the other two functions do come into play.

As Witches, we understand the word 'Wicca' to refer to one particular order of neo-Pagan clergy. In our opinion, all Witches are, broadly speaking, Pagans, but not all Pagans are Witches. Any Pagan clergy-person might be called upon to conduct rites of passage, both for people of their own denomination and for those of other faiths. 

About this book

These notes are intended for use by Pagan Elders and by those who are in active training to become Elders. They present some of what we have learned up until now, but they are hardly the final word on the subject. They are not intended to become the basis for the next Pagan fad, nor do they replace what you learn from your own Tradition, your Elders, and your Circle.

As you might expect from Wiccan High Priestesses, our primary religious vocabulary is Wiccan. But these notes are intended for Pagans of all Paths, and for anybody else who may find them useful. We hope that our Druid, Heathen, and Reconstructionist (and anybody else we may have missed) readers will not feel left out, and will make any translation that is necessary to suit their own Paths.

As usual with this series, this is a work in progress. We hope to receive advice, corrections, inspirations, great ideas, criticisms and manifestos concerning this notebook from its readers. Please email Judy to let us know what you think should be different in the next version. We appreciate your feedback!

We dedicate these notes to all those who seek to learn how to better serve their Gods, their People, and their Earth.

About the authors

Judy is High Priestess of Proteus Coven, a liberal Gardnerian Wiccan congregation in northeastern New Jersey. She is chair-emerita of the Pastoral Counseling Program at Cherry Hill Seminary, having retired from an earlier career in civil service. Judy holds an M.S. degree in Counseling from City University of New York. In her copious spare time, Judy conducts rites of passage for Pagans and their friends, and she also writes for various venues.

Gwyneth commutes between the very westernmost West Coast and Massachusetts. She holds an advanced degree in an utterly unrelated field from an obscure provincial university. For fun, she edits religious texts, including little books like this.

Judy and Gwyneth were formerly married. During their marriage, they were also working partners, and collaborated on various writing projects with as this one.  They were never able to agree upon the superiority of English or American spelling rules - therefore you will find words spelled in both fashions within these pages.


Thanks are due to our colleagues who shared their work with us: Eleanor for her croning script, Spellweaver for her pre-marriage questionnaire, Elsa for her handfasting script and good advice about the responsibilities of clergy. We also honor the creative work of the late Herman Enderle of the Pagan Way.

For their wise advice we thank Donna, S., Moose, and Rich. We also owe thanks to the people who, over the years, have paid us the honor of having us officiate at their handfastings, child blessings, and memorials.

Translator's note

This book was originally published as a handbook to accompany an elders' intensive workshop. In translating the text of this book for publication on the Web, some adaptations and amendments have been made in order to address copyright issues, changes in format and readability, and the constraints inherent in broader distribution. The wise reader will, we trust, understand the need for such changes. Translation into HTML 3 format was done at Wobbly Raven Webworks.


All authors, as identified in these notes, retain copyright of their work. We claim right of authorship and copyright on our work only. The works of other authors have been quoted and excerpted in these notes with due permission, for purposes of private study and teaching, subject to the fair use provisions of Canadian and American copyright legislation. You may not incorporate these notes or portions thereof in a work for commercial sale or distribution via any means electronic or otherwise.

This notebook, like all the other notebooks in this series, are our free gift to the Pagan community, and we hope you will pay this gift forward. Accordingly, you may use these notes only for not-for-profit purposes of teaching and study. You may freely distribute copies of these notes for such purposes, provided that the authors are clearly identified and that the text is not altered. No further permission is required for copies made for such purposes.

These notes may not be reproduced for commercial gain.

You may not incorporate these notes or portions

Thank you!

Further readings

Rather than give you one great big heap of references to wade through at the end of these notes, we've sorted them out by topic at appropriate places within the notes.

Most of these books and articles came from our personal libraries. We also made use of the Library of Congress' wonderful on-line catalog to do searches by subject.

We have noted International standard book numbers (ISBN's) for your convenience in ordering books through your favorite bookseller. Cataloging-in-publication (CIP) numbers given are those under which the book might be found in the collections of libraries that, like most larger research libraries, use the Library of Congress classification system.

Cautions to the reader

Rituals can induce psychological changes within their practitioners. As a clergy-person, you are obliged to consider the well-being of the people that you are working with, as well as your own.

The responsibility for wise conduct of these rites is yours.

Only those who already have healthy ego boundaries should voluntarily suspend such boundaries. The condition of having weak or absent boundaries is schizophrenia, not mysticism. When guiding other people through rites of passage, do not direct them to open any personal cans of worms unless you are ready, willing and able to help them work through the issues that may arise.

Opinions expressed within these notes are solely those of the authors and are not to be construed as being the opinions or positions of our covens, the organizations to which we belong, or any particular Tradition of our Craft.

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