Rev. Terry Riley

Rev. Terry Riley
Keeping the Faith in the Biblebelt

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Out of the Closet"

  It takes a culture or society an average of seventy years to accept a new idea. Wicca/Paganism has only been in the public's eye in my neck of the woods for about twenty years. There is still a lot of misconceptions about the religion and it's practices out there today. An example of this occurred just the other day. A young man brought one of his friends, (a Cowen) over to the Church to introduce us to him. As they approached the door, his friend stopped, and with definite concern, asked, "They aren't going to hurt me, are they?" He had a real fear because he only knew what he had heard about, "Witches." And this was a seventeen year old boy.
  I have been dealing with this kind of "Bad PR" in our area, since I became a wiccan over twenty years ago. Oh, it's a lot better now than it was twenty years ago; but we still have a long way to go. We're going to get there; however the only way to accomplish it is for us to be "Public" I have been criticized, by some pagans, over the years for being TOO Public. It seems I have the reputation of "stirring up shit" LOL  I have lost jobs, fought with DHS, public school officials, and even organized a protest March back in 93, because I was tired of hiding in the closet.  I was in the closet back in 92, when my five year old daughter, Amberly, came up to me after Full Moon Ritual and said, "I can't wait to tell all the kids at school tomorrow about our ritual." I told her, she probably shouldn't do that. She look up at me with those innocence eyes and asked, "Why Daddy, is what we're doing wrong?" Well guess how that made me feel? I decided at that moment that I needed to something to promote Wicca as the beautiful life affirming religion it is. So I began my journey out of the closet.
  Now I'm not saying, or expecting every Pagan to "Come out of the Closet." I realize because of personal views, situations, etc. they can't at this time; but wouldn't be wonderful if someday Wicca/Paganism was accepted and respected in equality a long with the other major Faiths of the world? Then no one would have to hide.
  My point is this: There have been a lot of brave pagans and wiccans over the past 50 years who have had the same dream and risk their, livelihood, families, and even their lives for what they believe. It's disheartening sometimes for these people, who work so hard for the Faith, to not have the support of the the very ones their working to help. So if you can't be public about your Path at least support,(even behind the scenes) the people who are out on the front lines, taking the hits, and working for the betterment of Wicca and Paganism.
Blessed Be! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leadership in Paganism

A Leader: "A person who is willing to do what others aren't willing to do."

I have been training students in the SDCW - ATC to become leaders for the past twenty years. One of the biggest obstacles they face is understanding Transference Reactions. That is when people transfer and carry over, to leaders, their own habits, perceptions, interpretations, emotional responses, and interactions that they formed from experiences in earlier times.
Every leader, especially Coven leaders, (High Priest/Priestess) Pagan Clergy, become convenient targets for Transference Reactions. The difficulty here is for the leader to keep their ego in check. To not take things to personally and understand that most of these reactions are growth experiences and psychological transference. Psychologically speaking, the "Leader" is the "Big Person:" the parent, teacher, the authority figure, and they are the standard against which the congregation judge themselves. "They will resent that you are not perfect and subconsciously they are terrified you are not." At times some will even be rebellious, finding reasons to fight with you, this is when the leader has the stay grounded and centered. For the anger maybe directed at you, it is not about you. It is merely a psychological transference reaction.
The old axiom, "If you got enemies: good, that means your doing something" especially applies to people in leadership roles. Clergy Therapists are idealized. If your are in a dual wisdom role, both the all-powerful Priest/Priestess and the all-compassionate counselor, you're on the pedestal before you ever begin your work.
Therefore it takes a while to train someone to be a leader, unless their a natural. In paganism a leader needs a good working knowledge of Philosophy and Theology, knowledge of human behavior, personalities, ethics, practices and customs, motivation, emotional disorders, coordination of people and methods, administration and business, social skills, and self control.
One of the most important qualities that I feel a Pagan Clergy leader should possess is the ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. I have found over the years that, "People don't care how much you know; until they first know how much you care."
I conclude on a quote of one definition of Clergy: "One who has a religious mission. A task which is destined in life, that is divinely inspired." To me it is a "Calling."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Article from Aquarian Tabernacle Church

This is an old article from our Mother Church, ATC, in Index, Washington. It is the Panegyria Magazine published by the ATC. I am proud to a member of the ATC since 1993, when Rev. Pete (Pathfinder) Davis ordained me.
Back then when we were having so much trouble with the local Christian community, here in Jonesboro, trying to establish a public Wiccan presence, Pete was there, offering help, counseling, advice, and the opportunity to legalize our Church.
We now have four ATC affiliated Pagan Churches in our tri-state area and we are family. We work together very closely with the same goal in mind: "To make Wicca and Paganism more accessible to the general public." and serve the larger Pagan community. Our dream is that someday Wicca and Paganism will attain the same equality and respect as the other major Faiths of the world and we shall continue to promote them as the beautiful, life confirming religious and spiritual paths that there are.