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Author Topic: Wicca a religion of clergy? Something I don't get...  (Read 8099 times)
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Last Login:June 20, 2022, 04:12:33 pm
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Religion: Priestess in initiatory religious witchcraft tradition
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« Reply #10: March 09, 2008, 07:48:40 pm »

So you have a female Highpriest or did I misinterpret your post? I know not all covens work with gender polarity in the materialistic way, but, ahem, does that mean your female Highpriest embodies a male Highpriest or why isn't she called Co-Highpriestess or Vize-Highpriestess... Huh

Good question, and let me try and break it down. (Note that I usually identify the trad I work in as 'Wiccan influenced' because we're not British Traditional Wiccan, and this is one of the reasons why, but a bit more explanation when we get there.)

The tradition I work in uses the term "High priestess" for a particular set of energetic roles, and "High priest" for another set. Comfort with and general preference for these roles *tends* to run along gender lines (whether that's because of internal factors or social training is not as clear) - hence, the HPS tends to be more energetically receptive, and the HP role tends to be more energetically projective. These roles cover things in circle (managing the energy of the circle, deity calls, roles in the Great Rite), but also cover (as in this case, where there's an ongoing group) roles outside of the circle - particular kinds of group maintainance work, keeping things running, etc.

As part of our training, we have to learn all four roles (HPS, HP, and Handmaiden and Summoner, which are also traditionally gender linked - partly because they're seen as 'apprentice' roles for the HPS and HP). But for most of us, there's one or the other role set we feel much more comfortable with.

I am very much over on the HPS side. I'm a capable Handmaiden and an adequate Summoner. I struggle the most with the HP role: it feels very foreign to me, like I'm speaking in a language I've only studied briefly. While this would probably get better if I did more with it, it's pretty clear it will never get as comfortable for me as HPSing, which is my 'native' language in a lot of ways.

My covenmate, on the other hand, runs the other way: she has HPSed, and been HM - but she's also far more comfortable with the projective energy work than I am.

Now, we're a coven of two right now. We certainly intend to expand, and my hope and desire is to get actual men in the group. (Unlike many of the coven I'm hiving from, my covenmate and I are somewhat more interested in exploring explicitly gender polarity, but as one option among others.) My covenmate is not interested in long-term running a group - she is interested in helping me put things together, and try things out. She's happy to step aside should another appropriate candidate appear. (Divination from multiple sources suggests this is fairly likely, so while we aren't relying on that, we are making sure our plans accomodate it.)

(There's also the purely practical argument here: I'm a 3rd degree with the right to form an autonomous coven in the tradition, and certain obligations. She's a 2nd degree, and doesn't have some of those obligations yet, and any coven she ran would formally be under someone else's light supervision.)

There is a tradition in traditional Wicca that you can have a coven with a high priestess (who handles running the coven, and who borrows a HP when needed for rituals where one is actually required), but you can't work the other way around (a HP with no priestess.) There's all sorts of theories about this - some arguments have to do with the potential for fertility and creation and nuturing, the sense of creating a 'home' on multiple levels that is often part of the HPS's role, and so on. (And I've got a whole theory that ties back to the development of the courtly love concept and the idealised roles of the lady and lord.)

But in the meantime, there are some practical things: we want to include the Great Rite in symbol so that I, especially, get more comfortable with running the energy for it. It's really silly (and otherwise problematic) to have a circle with one person doing all the invocations and work, and the other person standing there, and having her in the HP role means we have a clear way to split that up. So, instead of us saying "We have an HPS, and an initiate" we have designated her as HP, with the roles/responsibilities/etc. that come with that. It's an easier shorthand.

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