In an effort to create a higher standard of Clergy training for those who follow the Wiccan belief system, the American Spiritual Alliance has researched the educational standards and criteria of many Religious organizations offering Clergy status. To date, these standards have been adopted and are in use by Northern Lakes Temple Inc. and Flowing Waters Shrine.
What we found ran from what we consider "selling" the title to very strict and rigorous training practices. Our goal when compiling our internal criteria was to change what has become a mainstream view of our belief system, that being granting ordination to anyone willing to pay for the title.
We feel that we have accomplished this with a somewhat intensive four year program. This program encompasses a three degree system which is commonly found within the Wiccan belief, however the resemblance ends there. Training to obtain Clergy credentials begins with an application process which includes a basic background check. This is done in an effort to eliminate the potential of someone with a criminal history that includes violent or sexually related convictions. The A.S.A. at no time allow anyone not of legal age to enroll into the Clergy training program. Once the application has been accepted, the applicant must be interviewed by our standards council, during this process, the applicant must successfully demonstrate that this path is one being undertaken seriously. If the applicant successfully passes the standards, they are assigned a Mentor. This Mentor will be a fully Ordained Wiccan Priest with an in depth background on the educational material provided.
The student will be required to pass a written (closed book) final exam at the end of each phase of training as well as an oral interview which will be conducted after receiving a passing grade of at least seventy percent on the final exam.
If at any time the student fails to receive a passing grade on a final exam, they will be given one opportunity to retake the test, but only after refresher training from their assigned Mentor.
The following is a list of A.S.A. standards of training for each of the three degrees used in Wicca:
Clergy Training Standards
Initiate: An initiate is an individual who has successfully been accepted into the Clergy training program and is currently studying the First Degree material.
This position carries with it no Clerical status and is purely the first phase of Clerical education. It requires a minimum of one year and one day to move to the next level of training.
First Degree: A learning position, much like the Acolyte position which is found in many belief systems.
The minimum length of study to receive First Degree status will be one year and one day. The initiate must have also passed all training criteria. Training time may run concurrently with Initiate status.
Although carrying Clerical status the 1st Degree would not actively participate in standing Ritual. They would be assigned as needed to act as entrance guardian, assisting with the placement and arrangement of the Altar (under the guidance of a 2nd Degree or above), leading Ritual attendees into the Circle.
They would also be continuing studies for 2nd Degree. As a 1st Degree, they would not yet be permitted to stand Handfasting, “Wiccaning”, Life passages or Funerals.
Second Degree: Although still a learning position, the 2nd Degree would actively participate in Ritual. Duties would include: cleansing the sacred space, Arrangement of the Altar, if asked, participation in the Ritual itself (although in a limited capacity). They would be permitted to assist a 3rd Degree with Handfastings, etc. They would also continue in studies for 3rd Degree.
The minimum length of study for Second Degree shall be one year and one day. The student will be required to successfully pass all study requirements as well as complete a community based service project which will be discussed with and approved by the students Mentor prior to receiving this Status.
This level does not carry full Clerical status and is still considered a student classification.
Third Degree: Attaining third Degree would constitute the ability to be raised to full Clergy status and as such would have all the rights and duties of a full Priest. This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over Ritual, Handfastings, etc.
One year and one day coupled with successful completion of all related study material is the minimum standard for receiving Third Degree status.
Full Clergy or High Priest/Priestess: To receive full Clerical status an individual would be required to complete all training as laid out above. This would include a minimum of three years and three days (aggregate) to be considered.
The individual would be required to Pass a Clerical exam as well as an interview process with the Educational Standards Council and their Temple head. Having obtained Third Degree status in no way infers elevation to full Clerical status.
Once the final testing phase is concluded, and it is agreed by the board that all work has been satisfactorily completed, then and only then would the candidate be ordained and elevated to full Clergy status.