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PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
My First Course

by M. Macha NightMare - Back in an earlier incarnation of Cherry Hill Seminary, the late Judy Harrow and I were recruited to a new course offering called “Boundaries & Ethics in Pagan Pastoral Counseling” – yes, I dislike using the word ‘pastoral’ in a Pagan context because it’s a specifically Christian term relating to sheep and shepherds (“shepherds of men”; however, Judy convinced me that it was the term used for what she did as a member of professional counseling organizations).  Now Judy actually was a pastoral counselor by training, I, on the other hand, have never been one, nor do I have such aspirations.  This course is appropriate for anyone, Pagan or not, pastoral counselor or not.

I think this may have been CHS’s first online class, taught by the inestimable Cat Chapin-Bishop, Chair of the then-Pastoral Counseling Department.  This was during her previous career in counseling.  Our class had its own Yahoogroup for discussion, plus our weekly live online meeting held in a Yahoogroups chat.  This was prior to Moodle teaching programs.  As you can imagine, the chats were clunky and unreliable, with people getting bumped off and having to re-enter.

In any case, I found it to be really useful, addressing a topic that one doesn’t learn in the typical process of a Pagan training.  We discussed such issues as:

«    How much counsel coven or group leaders can reasonably provide (i.e., has adequate professional training);

«    Avoiding burnout;

«    Evaluating the counselee’s situation to determine if you (leader, HPs, whatever) can help or if and when to refer someone to professional therapists;

«    Researching local therapists, and even interviewing them, to see if they’d be sensitive to Pagan spiritualities (i.e., would they think it strange that anyone would consult the Tarot for guidance or do they think it’s is the work of the devil);

«    Researching and reviewing the ethics statements of various helping professions (i.e., American Counseling Association and the like);

«    Ultimately, writing our own personal statement of ethics, which may or may not be like others’ statements of ethics.

This last had the most value to me.  These things are not usually taught as part of Pagan religious training.  And it’s not essential for you to articulate a formal statement of ethics if you’re not the person whom troubled members consult.  However, it is important to review one’s own ethical principles once in a while.

In fact, one significant product engendered by that course is “Spiritual Counseling and Wiccan Clergy: not psychotherapy in disguise,” which remains available to the public among the archival treasures on the Proteus Coven website, founded by Judy Harrow and colleagues and thankfully still available to anyone online.

Cat’s solicitation to take this course recruited both Judy and me in the development of Cherry Hill [Pagan] Seminary.  Sadly, Judy is gone now, but I’m still kickin’.  Drop by to see how you can help and to see what’s being offered.

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  • Wes Isley
    Wes Isley says #
    I'll be taking an ethics course this summer at Cherry Hill and looking forward to it. I just completed a chaplaincy internship at

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
I Love the Doorposts of Your House

You're entering a sacred place. What do you do?

You can't just saunter in, doing nothing, as if it were (say) some big box store. It's a sacred place; going in means something.

So what do you do?

Some reach down and touch the ground. (If you're reading this, I probably don't need to tell you why you would do this.) In practice, this often means that you touch the threshold of the temple.

What comes next is up to you. Some people touch their hearts, some (with a kiss) their lips. Some touch their brows. I usually touch all three: In my heart, on my lips, in my thoughts.

Or some variation thereof. The deeply pious may bow down and kiss the Earth. Those of us who aren't as spry as we used to be may settle for kissing the doorposts of the temple. (I love the doorposts of your house, goes the old song.)

So much for entering. How do you leave a sacred place?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

[Today, we sit down for a quick interview with Jenn Campus. Along with her husband, illustrator Roberto Campus, Jenn has launched a kickstarter to fund the creation of Dreams of Ýdalir. Described as "Norse Mythology meets The Mists of Avalon," the novel centers on Ullr and Elen of the Ways. If you are inspired by what you read here, please look over their kickstarter page and consider funding Dreams of Ýdalir.]

 

...
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  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Rebecca, thanks for supporting Jenn and Roberto's project. They are personal friends of mine, so I can say with confidence they ar
  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    Thank you so much for your un-ending support, Francesca!
  • Jenn
    Jenn says #
    Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk to you about the project!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Lady Hawthorn

Damn that old lady Hawthorn.

There she goes, knocking my hat off.

Again.

I don't know how old she is. Being a Siberian hawthorn, it could be hundreds of years. Judging by how gnarled and ornery she is, I'd say probably pretty old. Older than me, anyway.

And did I say attitudinous? Old lady Hawthorn is the undisputed ruler of this lawn, and you'd better not forget it.

Before you mow, you'd better tip your hat to her. You'd just better. Likes that, she does.

Otherwise, she'll knock it clean off your head.

Like she just did.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Spring Is Making Its Way

When spring comes, like the creatures in the woods and fields, I feel as though I am beginning to wake up after a time of hibernation. I want to get out doors and spend more time in the light. Even though it also shows the accumulation of dust that is so easy to miss in the dimmer light of winter, I welcome the brightness that comes in through the windows. I get out of bed more eagerly, most likely because the sky is brighter in the morning. Spring also brings me memories of what it was like for me when I was a child and the seasons were more defined by what we ate as well as what we did.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Sharing Experiences

Just like other religious communities, Pagans experience births and deaths, pains and joys — the full range of human experience. Every week at Cherry Hill Seminary we hear comments like these:

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