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Author Topic: Clergy (& others) as Intercessors  (Read 8497 times)
joshuatenpenny
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« Topic Start: September 21, 2007, 07:09:40 pm »

In the What is clergy? thread, an idea that came up a few times is the rejection of the role of "clergy as intercessor" and affirmation that we can talk to and experience the gods ourselves, without need of a "priest" of any kind.

However, traditional cultures often have a place for spiritual professionals (shamans and so forth) whose job is very much intercessory, relaying messages from the spirits and interacting with the spirits on behalf of others. In the pagan community, people often consult respected diviners for guidance and assistance in determining what course of action is likely to be most spiritually appropriate or rewarding. While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

-- Joshua
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« Reply #1: September 21, 2007, 09:24:12 pm »


I think there's a point for specialists in any field.  I call an expert when my computer goes bugfuck .. I see no reason to NOT call an expert if there's a spiritual problem I can get help with.

However, I do see a difference between an expert I can call if I need one and someone I HAVE to call .. after all, I can turn on and USE my computer by myself.  I only need an expert for non-normal issues.  I can deal with the gods directly myself .. I would only seek an expert if I found myself in a situation I couldn't handle for some reason.
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« Reply #2: September 21, 2007, 09:54:46 pm »

In the What is clergy? thread, an idea that came up a few times is the rejection of the role of "clergy as intercessor" and affirmation that we can talk to and experience the gods ourselves, without need of a "priest" of any kind.
However, traditional cultures often have a place for spiritual professionals (shamans and so forth) whose job is very much intercessory, relaying messages from the spirits and interacting with the spirits on behalf of others. In the pagan community, people often consult respected diviners for guidance and assistance in determining what course of action is likely to be most spiritually appropriate or rewarding. While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

Well, I suppose it would depend on the Pagan tradition you were talking about. But even within a tradition there would be those who might like that and others who wouldn't. I am one who doesn't think it is necessary, for me anyway.   If I can speak to the Deities myself, why do I need a middle-man?
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« Reply #3: September 21, 2007, 09:57:02 pm »

While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

There is really little role for "priests as intercessors" in Hellenic Paganism. In ancient Greece, priests and priestesses were basically temple-keepers. They kept the house of their God and preformed rites associated with the temple and (in some cases) with city-wide festivals.  In some cases, the priests were not even professionals (but were elected or appointed or serveed out f civic duty). Actual worship was usually led by the head of the family.  There were always exceptions, of course (especially priests as diviners -- like at the Oracle at Delphi). However, in general, one did not need a priest to approach a God for you.
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« Reply #4: September 21, 2007, 10:06:47 pm »

While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

Pathway of the Gods *revolves* around the idea that each individual can build personal relationships with the gods. The elders in the path are just that...elders. They aren't necessary intercessors, however they can act as such if the need arises. The whole idea is that you don't *need* an intercessor.
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« Reply #5: September 21, 2007, 11:37:28 pm »

While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

I see a difference and distinction between "someone who speaks to the Gods on my behalf" and "someone who helps me speak to the Gods on my behalf". Both are quite arguably intercessory, but they have very different outcomes.

I use both. I do lots of work with my own deities on my own behalf (and with deities relating to group work, etc.) But I've also certainly been a part of various places someone else has done the intercession, or heavily facilitated it. (What else does one call a Drawing Down where the deity speaks through the priest or priestess? Yes, you're speaking for yourself, but there's also another body involved in the process, and another person's intention making the communication much simpler (in some ways: more complex in others, sometimes.)

I've also certainly been part of situations where someone else's comments, advice, or actions have been seriously helpful for me in establishing my own better communication with a particular deity.

There's also the issue of ... I'm a polytheist. There's a whole *lot* of deities out there. Some of them, I have a better time attracting the ear of than others. If I really want to get Brigid's attention (because I seem to completely fall off her radar, even in rituals focused on her. It's a totally amicable thing, just ... I'm not the one she wants to talk to.) If I had reason to go talk to her in specific though, I would absolutely be calling up one of the people I know who *does* work with her closely, and asking for their help.

I can definitely see it also being relevant with helping someone establish a relationship with a particular deity. Someone was very helpful in doing that for me with M'Lady - a single ritual evening helped me, as far as I can tell, set up a far more useful translation so I was far more sure that what I was getting impressions of was actually the right track (and where I'd been on the wrong track.) It solidified a lot of things in a way that I am quite sure would have taken far longer without that help.

(I'd been trying to improve the communications technology, so to speak, for about 2 years at that point, without a lot of progress, even when I'd done work on my own as far as aspecting/Drawing Down. I got a lot of stuff that makes sense in hindsight, but that was like mirror shards or puzzle pieces; I wasn't getting how things connected. The single invocation session with another priestess showed me how things fit together, basically.)
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« Reply #6: September 26, 2007, 09:07:35 pm »

What is your take on this?

-- Joshua


In my tradition, once you are initiated, you are a priest or priestess and need no intercessor to work with the Gods. Students are expected to be building those crucial relationships, so while they may need them at the beginning, our teachers aren't going to allow their students to lean on them as a crutch very often.

In Wicca and Wicca-derived Witchcraft traditions, clergy is there more to provide duties for the community. We're all priests, but we can't marry ourselves - we need someone else who is trained to do that. We may also need someone else to help us bury our dead. Or to provide spiritual counselling. I may be my own priestess, but I can't counsel myself, and my therapist isn't pagan, much less of my specific tradition.

So to me, it all depends on your specific tradition. I can see a great need to have clergy in an intercessory role for traditions where everyone isn't going to develop an intimate relationship with deity, though I can't think of any right now. But then again, even in Christianity one can develop a personal relationship with God - that's one of the basics of Protestant Christianity.

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« Reply #7: September 27, 2007, 02:15:30 pm »

In my tradition, once you are initiated, you are a priest or priestess and need no intercessor to work with the Gods. Students are expected to be building those crucial relationships, so while they may need them at the beginning, our teachers aren't going to allow their students to lean on them as a crutch very often.

In Wicca and Wicca-derived Witchcraft traditions, clergy is there more to provide duties for the community. We're all priests, but we can't marry ourselves - we need someone else who is trained to do that. We may also need someone else to help us bury our dead. Or to provide spiritual counselling. I may be my own priestess, but I can't counsel myself, and my therapist isn't pagan, much less of my specific tradition.

This is pretty much *exactly* how I see it as well. Smiley
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« Reply #8: October 30, 2007, 03:19:20 pm »

While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

I see the priests/intercessors as, more than anything, intermediary mentors.  With a religion that is widely accepted enough to have "laity," they certainly become a necessity, as you can't necessarily have a more experienced mentor for every new member of the belief system, so you have a clergy in place for these neophytes.

Some members of a faith are content to remain neophytes forever, for all intents and purposes, while others are interested in enriching their knowledge, studying, and sometimes even surpassing the average clergy member.  I certainly saw both types enough in my time as a Christian.  In both of these cases, clergy are necessary, as guidance for the neophytes and as a "goal" for the experts.

Obviously, a faith with clergy is not for everyone, and people on solitary paths are likely to shun the idea of clergy.  In my case, at least, the hypocrisy of most of my former faith's clergy is what drove me to my solitary path.  There are plenty of communal paths where the individual's enlightenment is given a higher priority than the clergy's word, too, and I may eventually gravitate to one of those paths
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« Reply #9: October 30, 2007, 03:33:39 pm »

I see the priests/intercessors as, more than anything, intermediary mentors.  With a religion that is widely accepted enough to have "laity," they certainly become a necessity, as you can't necessarily have a more experienced mentor for every new member of the belief system, so you have a clergy in place for these neophytes.

Some members of a faith are content to remain neophytes forever, for all intents and purposes, while others are interested in enriching their knowledge, studying, and sometimes even surpassing the average clergy member.  I certainly saw both types enough in my time as a Christian.  In both of these cases, clergy are necessary, as guidance for the neophytes and as a "goal" for the experts.

That's pretty much how I see it. The clergy are the guides, the teachers, the counselors, and the organizers.
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« Reply #10: November 04, 2007, 04:33:43 pm »

In the What is clergy? thread, an idea that came up a few times is the rejection of the role of "clergy as intercessor" and affirmation that we can talk to and experience the gods ourselves, without need of a "priest" of any kind.

However, traditional cultures often have a place for spiritual professionals (shamans and so forth) whose job is very much intercessory, relaying messages from the spirits and interacting with the spirits on behalf of others. In the pagan community, people often consult respected diviners for guidance and assistance in determining what course of action is likely to be most spiritually appropriate or rewarding. While an intercessor isn't seen as necessary in the Pagan community, it seems it is often desired and perceived as useful. What is your take on this?

-- Joshua


I feel that no matter how personal and deep your relationship with a particular deity is, there may come a time when you lack perspective.  Basically what I'm saying is we all see things from inside our own heads.  If you really hit a roadblock, sometimes the only way to get around it is to ask someone else to look at the block from another angle.  I see one of the most important functions of clergy/diviners/counselors as providing us with this outside perspective so we can make more informed personal decisions. 

I also agree with comments to the effect that clergy can provide us with standardized rights of passage for events such as weddings, funerals, births, and major life changes.

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« Reply #11: November 04, 2007, 04:54:47 pm »

I feel that no matter how personal and deep your relationship with a particular deity is, there may come a time when you lack perspective.  Basically what I'm saying is we all see things from inside our own heads.  If you really hit a roadblock, sometimes the only way to get around it is to ask someone else to look at the block from another angle.  I see one of the most important functions of clergy/diviners/counselors as providing us with this outside perspective so we can make more informed personal decisions. 

True. But they don't necessarily have to be clergy to do that, though. Just someone trustworthy and with a brain in their head...
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« Reply #12: November 04, 2007, 05:31:58 pm »

True. But they don't necessarily have to be clergy to do that, though. Just someone trustworthy and with a brain in their head...

I understand that, but the post was also about intercession.  I tried to list a couple types of "interceding figures" in my post, I'm sorry if I didn't make it clear that I wasn't referring only to clergy.  The argument seemed to be that some people feel *nobody else* is needed in their religious practice.  I was just trying to point out that everybody needs somebody sometimes.  (Forgive the lyrical reference please.) 

And we generally do need Clergy for the passages/rituals I was talking about, if only because it gives people a sense of continuance in their lives and the life of their community. 
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« Reply #13: November 04, 2007, 05:56:21 pm »

  I also agree with comments to the effect that clergy can provide us with standardized rights of passage for events such as weddings, funerals, births, and major life changes.

In some religions some or all of those events are not religious events.
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« Reply #14: November 04, 2007, 07:08:28 pm »

In some religions some or all of those events are not religious events.

They aren't for us.
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