Monday, August 11, 2008
So how many people do you know that are trying to get into prison?
Counting myself there are four of us in working within the California Department of Correction & Rehabilitation, *CDCR.
I am a Volunteer Wiccan Chaplain for some of the local state prisons here in Central California. Originally I got started working with Rev. Patrick McClollum because I was interested in a military chaplaincy.
Patrick said enroll in the Seminary and come work with him at the prisons. At the start I didn't think this was a good idea. My experiences with the military was that you go whine the chaplain when your chain of command doesn't give you want you want. It seemed that the most popular way to get out of doing work in the Army and still get paid was through Medical of Religious issues.
Much of my time as a Sergeant was spent thwarting fraudulent attempts to skip out on the mission at hand, so I didn't think I was going to be the most compassionate person when it came to inmate complaints. But I wanted the training and personally hold a higher value on practical experience.
What happened was incredible. The first Wiccan service I participated in was a life changing experience. It was a Samhain holiday service conducted by Patrick. The way he acknowledged the sabbath and applied the lore of the season into a spiritual activity that everyone participated in was to become and remain my standard.
As it happens, my family tradition has a very personal connection with Autumn and Samhain. I shared our story, our tradition and myself. I listened as everyone took their turn to say a few words and making their offering to the spirit Cauldron. I saw the effect the ceremony had on them, spiritual therapy. I saw the need, and I never looked back.
Now I have my own prison ministry program *Carcer Via and I found a permanent home at a local prison where I provide regularly scheduled services for minority faith inmates.
I had previously written "The path of a Wiccan Prison Chaplain is a mine field of social politics..." and it rings true inside the walls and out. With the staff just as much if not more than the inmates. I will *Journal* the highlights of these experiences as we go. Changing the names to protect the innocent and the guilty. Go make more popcorn. I'll wait for you.