by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle
When co-creating the Temple of Witchcraft’s paradigm and structure, we tried to create an esoteric pattern that would serve it well into the future. We have a service-oriented “ministerial church” at the foundation of the Temple, divided into the twelve astrology signs, each with three major areas of focus, like the three decans of each zodiac sign. Each of the twelve lead ministers is encouraged to have three deputies to help oversee the work of the Temple, so our council of twelve lead ministers is aided by potentially thirty-six deputies. Our mission is to provide support for students and ministers in seeking and manifesting their own ministerial mission. While many seek the teacher and sabbat leader roles you might find in a traditional coven structure, we have a wider mission in terms of both public ministry and ministry within our Witchcraft community.
During the spring leadership retreat of 2019, Alix Wright—President of our Board of Directors and our Pisces Lead Minister, as well as being an active teacher in our mystery school—brought up a few things, including how there is not a place in the Temple for those who wish to work magickally and socially on the problems of homelessness, for example. Then the issue of working with abused women and where that mission would fit in the Temple was also brought up.
While not specifically written into any by-laws or current policy documents, when a minister has a desire to do something, we encourage them to look at the astrological mandala and think, “where would this issue fit in?” Then they should seek out support and work in that ministry. Even though we can’t do massive campaigns for all issues all at once, we can find places to build support for ideas, actions, and future policy. For instance, these two examples would both would fit under the Ministry of Cancer. Cancer’s archetype is the great Mother, and Cancer oversees both Goddess Spirituality specifically and women’s issues in general, including our Women’s Mysteries monthly group. In astrology, Cancer rules the Fourth House, the House of “Home,” so homelessness or instability of home would fall under Cancer/4th House. From there, volunteers can be recruited and a ministry can be built.
While not currently active, we have a contingency for those who truly fall outside the twelve, a ministry specifically for inter-faith work as we get more ministers who might be interested in that. It is semi-jokingly referred to as Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, as the thirteenth sign that astronomers (not astrologers) seek to jam into the zodiac without quite understanding astrology. We decided long ago that if anything doesn’t fit the twelve, it could possibly find a home in Ophiuchus. As Ophiuchus has no elemental or modality associations, it can be anything we desire it to be, the mystery of the serpent.
When we have students who wish to volunteer or ministers seeking to find their ministry in community, their first task is to think about their will, their passion, and to identify what ministry it would fall under. We encourage them to start volunteering and being active there as a way to introduce their own visions into the ministry. Sometimes there will be support. Sometimes we will be stretched too thin or otherwise unable to accommodate a specific vision, but the key to eventual success is discovering where one’s work fits in with the mandala of the zodiac. This is how we change, adapt, and grow, while keeping to our structural foundation. Each lead minister brings a new vision and purpose to the ministry, and someday that might be you!