School and Samhain ate October. I haven't seen a lot of people outside of my crew in awhile. I've been blessed in that one of our members, another daughter of Brid, has returned from FL and has been taking care of me and my home while she adjusts to living back in NYC. I've been absorbed in adjusting to school work, all the while holding up my day job, which has been the busiest it's ever been. I had the privilege of attending the Hekate Ritual at the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel's Autumn Magick Festival. Between that and my own Crew's Samhain celebration, in which we invoked both Hekate and San Miguel in a Wiccan version of a Misa, our Lady of the Crossroads swept a lot of crap I really, really needed to stop carrying out with Her and I am deeply thankful. With a little more clarity and a little more time, I can catch everyone up on Witch In Seminary!
I had a lot of curious glances and received many nervous questions in my first few weeks at Union. In fact, I felt like I had a neon sign over my head that said, "THAT'S THE WICCAN GIRL." It was to be expected. Most of my classmates are new to New York, many coming from tiny Bible schools in tiny parts of the country. They were adjusting to not only life in the city (which is MORE than enough to adjust to, as is...), but also rubbing elbows with classmates from other Christian denominations--many of which many were taught were "wrong." Suddenly, a Wiccan chick is in the mix. Hair blew back all over the place. However, I was pleasantly surprised at my reception. There were a lot of respectful questions about Wiccan practices. Many were quick to let me know that they knew the Pentacle wasn't attributed to Satan. Several asked how we were all faring during the Christine O'Donnell debacle. It was sweet.
The main question I get from people both inside the Seminary and in the Pagan community is "Why a Predominantly Christian Seminary?" So, here goes:
1.) The Wiccan/Pagan community does not yet have accredited seminary schools that I am aware of. We do have institutions run by very fine teachers, but I personally wanted to go to a place with accreditation.
2.) Most Wiccan schools and Colleges are solely online. I learn best in live, face-to-face interaction.
3.) Union, while predominately Christian, is officially non-denominational. Hell, if they accepted an out-of-the-broom-closet Wiccan, they must be. I'm learning alongside people of many faiths. It's fun.
4.) Union's focus on social justice was appealing. I want to learn how I can help, both inside and outside the Pagan community.
5.) The classes are awesome. I'm thoroughly engrossed with Depth Psychology.
6.) Union is right across the street from my day job. That's convenient.
7.) My job is paying for a portion of my tuition. That's also convenient.
Do I feel out of place at Union, alongside so many would-be Christian ministers? Surprisingly, no. I feel quite at home. In discussions about speaking in tongues and Pentacostalism, I had plenty of contributions from my experiences in ritual possession and Trance Prophecy. When my classmates talk about being saved by Jesus, I say, "Yes, I understand. I was saved by a Goddess named Brid." But most of all, I'm surrounded by renegades.
My classmates are deeply spiritual people who, frustrated with their denominations, left to go to Union in order to find answers that challenge the notions they were raised with. While I feel I'm there more to find tools than answers, I'm a renegade within the Wiccan community. I was trained by renegade teachers who taught me to break the same rules and guidelines they gave me. When presented with a new structure, I'm likely to try it out and then reshape it just to see if it works in a different fashion. Just like my classmates are doing in their own faiths.
I respect tradition. There is a place for tradition and structure, just as there is a place for the non-traditional and un-structured. In the forest, it is the diversity of the ecosystem that allows it to survive as a whole. The same is true with our spiritual and/or religious traditions. A Wiccan Priestess attending a Christian Seminary is about as non-traditional as any of these things are going to get. I guess I consider this my contribution to our own eco-diversity and helping our own survival and growth.
There are more stories to tell--of my classmates realizing their religion's Pagan roots, Harlem Ministers reflecting on the Goddess and Witches dancing on the Chapel Altar to a Ra Ra band. There may even be a book in here, somewhere. Stay tuned. :)