Everything posted by Maracat
Often, particularly during public memorial services but also at weddings, we must create a sacred space without "Scaring the Mundanes". Ideally, they should be included if their subconscious allows their energy to interact. But sometimes it's just impractical to traditionally Cast a Circle, cut a door no one will cross, etc, before everyone arrives. I encountered this first at a memorial for my first teacher along the Pagan path. I knew she would want certain things invoked in her send-off. But I had to drive three hours to get to the memorial itself, so getting to the site before everyone else couldn't be counted upon. As I was looking at templates for handouts (had worked with her sons and sister to identify and scan photos, and was going to organize the scanned photos in the program), I saw a gorgeous one with three lit candles for the cover photo -- green, yellow, and red. What's missing? Water, of course. But that brought to mind the "Sword and Staff" emergency Casting -- the element of water is represented and controlled by the practitioner when creating sacred space and invoking that one-person Circle for emergency woods healing. It helped, of course, that her sons wanted the memorial to take place in a state park. Nature is already our Temple. The earth was all around us, there was a steady breeze, and there was a fire in the firepit because it was slightly chilly. Water was represented by the people coming together to remember her. So, I used that template for the handout, and included as part of the wording for the invitation for the potluck after w simple phrase we often used in thanking the Elemental Spirits -- "Go if you must, but stay if you will!" I did arrive after some guests, and as they started handing out the handouts, I held my breath. And I felt their energies, at least those who were invested in the ceremony itself, coming together. The emotions seeing the pictures of this wonderful lady throughout her life set the focus for their energies, and after I briefly spoke then invited people to share stories about her life (primed a few people to know what was coming to give others time to gather their thoughts) the feeling continued. Certain people were obviously not "in the Circle", but they were relatives not approving of her but there because they were expected to be. They had little desire to celebrate her life, so they essentially "weren't there" spiritually. As people departed, their energies left as well, and the nature of the celebration changed among those still present -- the energy of the sacred space, powered and controlled by the emotions of those participating, changed to the celebratory feeling after Cakes and Ale. And as we cleaned up the pavilion, the energies did seem to go where they came from. I don't know if this idea will be helpful to others -- the handout inspired me and let me place a ritual phrase with meaning in her Tradition, but the principles we relied on were duplicated in the location as well. But here in the South, sometimes we still need to go crypto. This worked well, and her family was very satisfied with her sendoff being what she would have wanted. Her sister hugged me, crying, and that made up for all my trepidation in trying to do my first teacher justice.
I definitely think it's a matter of state law, and how they interpret this term on the form: https://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/documents/policy/AD0342_Attachment_A.pdf "A person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to perform a marriage". Do they mean a corporate officer in an incorporated church? If you feel dedicated enough to the prison ministry, I know headquarters licenses congregations, in which you could incorporate and be an officer in the incorporated licenced congregation. Do they mean simply a person officially given a role in that organization who is also ordained? ULCHQ will print out a title certificate naming you officially whatever Texas requires. Or they may simply require a notarized Letter of Good Standing. I would probably call the Texas DCJ and ask them exactly what they mean about this provision for "non-Christian, non-Jewish" clergy, by requiring them to state they are "officers in a religious organization". Explain you take perjury seriously, and you want to know if they're essentially requiring you to incorporate. Just what I would do in your situation from dealing with bureaucracy, all not-lawyer and not-Texan disclaimers apply. --- Now, as far as ethics, potential in prison ministry for you to be contacted later or asked to speak about things said to you... If you decide what you feel your role should be based on your own core ethical principles and make those things clear to those who accept your services, I think you will limit your legal liability by setting up your ethics up-front. For example, I probably would tell any person that I wasn't a Catholic priest or their attorney and there should be no expectation of privilege if I were ever subpoenaed to speak about our conversations -- because my faith holds personal responsibility highly, yet doesn't require confession as a sacrament for forgiveness of wrongs. Along those lines, I'd also explain things that my personal convictions would demand me encourage them to admit themselves but if I couldn't be sure they had/would I would feel a duty to report -- credible confession to a crime for which an innocent person is serving prison time, a crime against a child, or a crime against a vulnerable adult. I would probably also state up-front that I would reject outright any request to speak at a parole hearing -- if I felt called to do so I would offer, but I could only do that if I felt Called to do so. That would definitely reduce people seeking my guidance just for testimony later. And finally, I would do as I do with traditional couples -- aside from circumstances demanding expedience and demonstrating commitment (marriage so that a child due to be born in prison or to a parent in prison would be born in matrimony, terminal illness, imminent execution) I would require either a betrothal period (Y&D handfasting) or evidence that prior to prison they had such an established relationship before officiating marriage. I would explain that I felt officiating a marriage was recognizing a bond that already existed, not creating one, and as such I wouldn't just marry anyone who asked -- but we could do a Year and Day handfasting if they wanted. Oh, and I wouldn't accept money, because I don't for people on the outside. Of course, those are the ethical guidelines I feel are correct for my own actions as clergy, in accordance with my beliefs and training. Yours likely will differ at least somewhere. I think that in most cases beyond signing papers without being certain of the language meant in your checkoff box in official papers, etc, and verifying with perhaps other prison ministries in your state the usual allowed duties and looking at your state's law regarding mandated reporting and circumstances under which privilege may be asserted, having a strong ethical code and following it in your activities during your ministry will protect you from liability, legal and spiritual.
I received my ordination in 1997, and was definitely confused by all the multiple sites out there now that I've moved to another state and was asked to officiate for some friends. Certainly none of the sites could find my old ordination information. All were offering "free" ordination, then charging for the piece of paper -- which in the old ULC I remember was not done (if you wanted to support the church you could by purchasing a calligraphic certificate, etc, but there was no official charge for anything actually required to register with states). I finally looked up the address on the credentials of a friend ordained at the same time, and saw that we held ours through the Modesto ULC, and Googling that gave me the real site, and a real human being on the phone. He quickly located my original ordination, verifying the date and the my old city/state, and is processing the re-issuance of my original credentials. Being of a faith tradition that eschews even "donations" for doing my duty as clergy, I appreciate holding ordination through a church that also does not require payment for ordination credentials. I plan to support the real ULC by buying materials, but it's a core value for me that no sacrament should require the exchange of money. Both sacraments I perform for others, and those given to me. Thank you for being you!