When we were married, my husband and I found no acceptable alternative other than getting married in a Christian Church, as we were then deep in the broomcloset, and did not wish to ruin the joyous occasion with the deep family rift that would have occurred had we forced knowledge of our beliefs on our deeply religious Christian families at the time.
We were also seriously disturbed by the idea of having to separate the ceremony that joined us spiritually from the one that joined us legally, and we knew of no way to get legally married in a pagan ceremony at that time, as we knew of no legally ordained pagan priests, priestesses, shamans, witches, (or whatever term their path might prefer), in our local area.
This has never fully satisfied us, and we had always intended to renew our vows within the context of our real beliefs, instead of through carefully altered wording whose true meaning was veiled to most of those present. We also felt an increasingly strong and growing need to reach out to our community, and offer the option that we did not have.
As a result, we had long intended to seek legal ordination, and began investigating the Universal Life Church, the source of ordination for much of the pagan priest(ess)hood. When we found them online, we were able to ascertain for ourselves that their official beliefs are not incompatible with our own, though they extend their umbrella to include many faiths other than pagan ones, with a heavy emphasis among the membership on Christian sects. When we found that we could become ordained through an on-line service, we debated hard, eventually deciding, after ritual consideration, that the time had come for us to take on this role and responsibility. We completed the necessary forms, and became ordained pagan "ministers" of the Universal Life Church.
We encourage all pagans who are comfortable designing and celebrating deeply meaningful group rituals to consider obtaining legal ordination, so that you, like we, can offer the option of legal pagan wedding ceremonies to your local pagan community, a right held by every other religion, and all too rare in our own. Ordination through the Universal Life Church is one option that is available to anyone, for free, though it is by no means the only route to a legal ordination for a member of a pagan religious organization. Whatever path you follow, I encourage you to give due thought to taking on this responsibility, if you feel competent to do so, so that every member of the pagan community can have the same options to celebrate the important milestones of life within the context of their religion, without losing legal recognition by doing so.
A word of caution, however: please don't take on the role of ordained pagan priest or priestess just for the title, to make light of it, or if you are not comfortable with the role, for you will indeed be called upon by your community to exercise your responsibilities, and it goes hard all the way around if you are not prepared to follow through on your commitment to this part of your life.
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