RESPONSIBLITITIES OF A HIGH PRIEST/ESS This article was a response to another group leader

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RESPONSIBLITITIES OF A HIGH PRIEST/ESS This article was a response to another group leader who was about to lead a workshop with the above title * * * The subject of leadership can be a vast one, and a workshop on leadership could cover many aspects of that vast subject. Many questions could be asked, each valid and important, each with many answers. Because we are, however, pagan/Craft folk, I will assume the questions would be asked in a Craft concept: What does it mean to be a High Priest/ess? What does it involve? How can we be the best High Priest/esses possible? What word, what key word best describes what it means to be a High Priest/ess? We all have our opinions on that one, but in order for me to give my opinion, I first have to describe what a coven is to me, because a High Priest/ess is the leader of a coven. Before I begin, let me admit right away that there are those who will not only disagree with me, but may even take offense at what I am about to say. I cannot, however, say anything meaningful if I worry about that, so I'll say this...I do not set out to offend anyone. If my words do make you angry, I'm sorry...for the anger, not for what I'm about to say. What is a coven? An encounter group? A study group? A support group? Absolutely...and absolutely not. It is no one of these things, but it is all of them, and more. A coven that views itself as only one of these things is missing the mark. It can serve the purposes of all of these things, but if these are the only things it does, it is not, to my mind, a coven. A coven is a religious organization (funny word to use for anything pagan...organization, that is), not a social one, not a political one. It has but one purpose, though it may accomplish many other objectives. It may well provide support, information, comfort, nurturing, teaching, but those are not the foremost purpose of a coven. The purpose of a coven is to serve the Gods. Each coven finds its own way to do that, each serves in its own individual way. Our coven does this by learning, studying, striving to grow, building our personal relationships with the Gods, and trying to become the best "us" it is possible to become. Yours may concentrate in other areas, although I would hope your work would include what is described in the last phrase. Now, with that in mind, let's go back to our discussion of being a High Priest/ess. I think by answering the last question, I can give you an idea of what my answers might be to the earlier ones. What key word best describes what it means to be a High Priest/ess? There are many, but I choose "Responsibility." That's a horrible word to some people, but if you are one of them, do us all a favor and go away. Whatever you do don't become a High Priest/ess, and if you are already one, Goddess help us! A High Priest/ess is responsible for making it possible for his/her coveners to grow, to learn, to serve, and to become the best possible "them" they can become. A High Priestess is responsible for seeing that rituals are performed, that the students are trained well, that the group functions well, that the coven serves its purpose by serving the Gods. A High Priest/ess is responsible for setting an example, for showing the coveners that our religion can be lived, our principles put in to practice, our laws obeyed. A High Priest/ess is responsible for seeing that the students are taught that which, according to the coven's tradition, they should learn. A High Priest/ess is responsible for seeing that the coveners are given spiritual guidance. A High Priest/ess is responsible for helping them come closer to the Gods. What? I'm leaving things out? How about "Facilitating?" Yes, you do some of that, too, in discussions. "Conflict resolution?" Yes, that, too." But let's go back to my definition of a coven..a religious organization, not a political one, not a social one. If you will think of the responsibilities of a coven leader from that point of view, you might find that "facilitation" and "conflict resolution" are a very small part of those responsibilities. A High Priest/ess is responsible for deserving the trust of the members of the coven. This means no power trips, no lying, no cheating, no taking advantage of the students. The responsibilities of being a High Priest/ess include serving the Gods by serving as the best group leader you are capable of being. Taking on the responsibilities of a High Priest/ess means effort, and time, and sacrifice, and disappointment, and heartbreak...and going on in spite of the heartbreak. It means striving to grow as hard as you encourage your students to try...striving harder. It means being aware that you have been given these students to guide and lead the best you can. You can take seminars in conflict resolution, or facilitating or psychology or whatever, and it will not make you a High Priest/ess. Only the willingness to take on the responsibilities of this office, and to do all you can to fulfill them with all your heart's love and spirit's strength--only that will make you a High Priest/ess. Ellen Cannon Reed

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