Lately, I've heard more Pagan leaders talk about furthering their education and often looking to seminaries. I can't recommend it enough. The fact that there is a sudden spike in interest indicates that we do have work to be done and further education will be a necessity.
If you are a Pagan and are considering Seminary, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Here are just a few of the things I did not expect:
* The Generosity of my Professors and Classmates
When I told members of the community that I was going into the Seminary, many asked how I would "spin" or "cloak" things, in regards to being Wiccan. I did not spin or cloak anything. They would either take me as a loud and crazy Witch, or not take me at all. They took me. :) And it's been great! Many of my professors have said they'd heard about Wicca but had never met a Wiccan. All of my classmates who have asked about my background have been curious for information.
* The progressive attitudes of the Christians that surround me.
Gay rights, women's rights, environmental activism, social justice, poverty initiatives--these people are WORKING for change in all of the areas that are important to me and to the vast majority of Pagans that I know.
* Pagans for the most part are doing pretty well.
When I applied to Union, I went in begging for tools to help my community. But the more time I've spent in the school and the more stories I've heard about my classmates' congregations and backgrounds, we're actually doing pretty well! The focus on the growth of the individual is something many mainstream traditions have either lost or never had in the first place. Even in our most dogmatic traditions, the focus is generally on the individual's personal progress and development. While I still think we have quite a bit of room to grow in a community outreach sense, we have a core of developing empowerment on a base level that many mainstream ministers long to be able to impart. Yay for us!!! Also, our "laity" (as my classmates would call it) are generally better read and educated than the average layperson of a mainstream faith. Pagans read. They read about their rituals, their myths, their religion's history and they generally understand their own ritual components and processes far better than their mainstream counterparts. Serious "yay" for us. :)
* Meeting former (and burned...) Pagans
It was a sad day for me to discover that we have "refugees" of our own. I was jokingly talking about "Bitchcraft" (the nasty habit Witches have of personally decimating each other) with a classmate of mine, having no idea of her background. She smiled and shook her head and said, "That's why I'm no longer Pagan." It's a real shame that we lost her. She's a very cool person.
* Testing my Coven's patience
...with my fatigue and absent mindedness. They have been unceasingly supportive of this insane thing I'm trying to do. It's hard for me to not be as available for them as I was before the program started. I want to do my ultimate best at everything--especially leading a Coven. I just am not able to devote as much brain space to anything as I did a few months ago. It takes me longer to respond to emails and phone calls and I can't plan as far ahead for our curriculum as I'd like. I'm learning to accept my limitations, which is a bitter lesson to accept.
* Missing my social life.
A few years ago, I was out at every show on the Lower East Side, every night. I thought I was ready to leave that behind for a time and dig into the books. Guess what? I miss it. A LOT!!!!! It's worth it, but I do miss the cool shit I used to do.
* The Fatigue
I wonder if I'll ever be not-tired again. Even when I'm well-rested, I'm exhausted by 9:00 p.m. On Mondays, when I work 8-4 and then have class from 4:10-8:30, there is no hope for me to do anything but stare at the wall.
* How much I'd love writing papers
I LOVE writing papers. But exams still scare me.
* Not playing guitar.
I was just starting to get back into it. Now it just sits there at the foot of my bed. When I'm done with homework, all I have the energy to do is stare at the wall. (Please see above).
* MISSING FESTIVALS!!!!
Between the Tarot deck and the classes I've developed, things were just starting to roll in regards to teaching at festivals!!! Now, I'm finding myself saying no to all the things I used to jump all over. If I've turned down a chance to lecture at your store or festival...know that it's killing me!!! How I crave the drums, the bonfires and sleeping in the mud!!!!
* Having an awesome boyfriend.
My boyfriend is awesome. :) He has been my rock and my guiding light throughout all of this.
I guess that's it for now. I'm burdened by blessings and I don't forget that. But I've made some sacrifices and sometimes, I wish I had all the cake while eating all of it, on both sides of the lawn where it's all sooooo green, studying and writing and teaching and partying all at the same time. Yes. It's impossible. But I do enjoy a pre-breakfast imagination session....
See you all in 2013. :)