I'm writing today about Pagan monasticism, for a couple of reasons, one being that a colleague in my study group asked about how you can tell whether you’re called to clergy as a monastic, particularly as opposed to being a priest or priestess. The other reason I'm writing about it is because many Pagans are not aware that monasticism is a vocation in our faith, and certainly even fewer people outside Paganism.
“While in common usage the terms "nun" and "Sister" are often used interchangeably (the same title of "Sister" for the individual member of both forms), they are considered different ways of life, with a "nun" being a religious woman who lives a contemplative and cloistered life of meditation and prayer for the salvation of others, while a "Religious Sister", in religious institutes like Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, lives an active vocation of both prayer and service, often to the needy, sick, poor, and uneducated.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nun
I can’t find the same sort of reference for the difference between “priest” and “monk,” although I suspect it’s somewhat similar. It’s been a long time since I formally studied Catholic doctrine. However, I’d also say that in Paganism, the lines are a bit fuzzier in terms of monasticism. If we were using the strict Catholic definitions, I’m somewhere between a nun and a Sister – I have a large amount of most of my days dedicated to contemplative study, prayer, and meditation, but I also do a lot of community work online and in person. This is why I have “free-range nun” listed as my occupation. It’s sort of tongue-in-cheek, but it’s accurate.
In regards to partners, celibacy and monastic practice – celibacy can be a choice or it can be asked for by a deity. For the record, I don’t consider myself celibate, and Loki has said to me that if I desire a mortal partner or physical affection, all I have to do is ask and He’ll arrange someone appropriate for us. I think that if I were not demisexual and monogamous, He would be a-okay with me having a mortal partner, but this is not really of interest to me right now. All that said, Loki is not a God of many prohibitions. I know some people define or conflate monasticism with asceticism, but in my experience, it’s not about having things or not having things, but about removing what you don’t need to be attached to any longer, which is also a Lokean value in general....