Walking the Winding Road in the Light of the Goddess is its own reward.
It has been a true honor to have been selected to provide clergy services as a volunteer for the Ohio Reformatory for Women. In March of 2017, I was officially offered a contract position within the Ohio Reformatory for Women as the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s first contractor Chaplain for Wicca/Pagan Services. In July of 2018, I was awarded another contractor Chaplain for Wicca/Pagan Services position within the Marion Correctional Institution and began providing services to it’s male inmate populace. Insofar as provided information suggests, I am the first Chaplain of my kind for the entire State of Ohio. This is historical in its own way. All thanks and appreciation are given to the Lady Hecate`, who in her benevolence facilitated this.
It is estimated that some 300 or more women are currently incarcerated at ORW, and who have declared their religious beliefs to be Wiccan, Pagan, Druid, or that they are witches. Marion Correctional’s Pagan Male populace is somewhat smaller and coming in at around 50 or more people. Agreeing to become a religious services provider for the State of Ohio has become one of the best personal and spiritual decisions I could have ever made.
My passion for what I do religiously has led me to perform the majority of the work at my own expense. I am always concerned at the bad examples of greed from the pulpit to even consider donations from others to help afford what is needed to continue this work. Unfortunately money is always a concern. Matters of spirit, spirituality, seeking enlightenment and changing the direction of a persons life is a gift one can give which is priceless. Doing so from a place of love and respect for the divine has always been my motivation. Still, monetary issues arise at times for travel expenses, purchasing supplies, text books, or other. The growing opinion of the other Chaplains within Corrections is that the Ohio Pagan Community “needs to step up”. I can only humbly submit that covens are not mega-churches. Many when approached and asked for donations to purchase books or to even donate books simply decline to follow through and for their personal reasons. It is, however, urgent that assistance in helping out these inmates be provided. The other faiths declared within Corrections receive wide-ranges of support in the form of book purchases and book donations. The State of Ohio is currently restricted from purchasing religious supplies and religious texts for inmate religious services. As a result, all faiths are currently reliant upon outside source donations.
To that end, The Wiccan and Pagan Community within ORW and MCI are in need of book donations to refresh their occult library, but to also replenish that which has been lost or stolen. Book donations can be received and taken to ORW or MCI during my normal trips. If you would like to donate a book or many books, please contact me by email at email@example.com or by telephone at 614-398-0019.
From the love that is light, Blessed Be.
CLICK TO SEE SLIDESHOW:
Winding Road Coven & Ohio Pagan Community Celebrate
Brian Edwards, March 2017, for becoming a Contractor Chaplain for Pagan Services within The Ohio Department of Corrections!!!
While visiting the Ohio Reformatory For Women and providing services I was asked if I would agree to be interviewed by a Photo Journalism Researcher. After some careful consideration, I agreed and was introduced to the multi-talented Lauren Pond, whose incredible work includes A TEST OF FAITH, which captures quite beautifully and emotionally her time among a Snake Handling Church. Below is a link to her article which was published on the Revealer. Lauren captures the growth of the Pagan Community within the Ohio Department of Corrections, its growing popularity and it CHALLENGES. Please click the link below to see this article in it’s entirety. Blessed Be!!
PICKING UP THE MANTLE. THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET.
After reading this entreaty, please copy it and share it as far and wide as you can. The word MUST get out. Please.
Good afternoon (it is a little after 1 pm, as I sit and write this). Let me state that I have never written an article posted in online magazines, and I certainly have never written something to be viewed as a public service announcement for the pagan community. I find myself in a position of needing to do just that- with the hopes that a seed is planted in the heart’s of readers. That something positive comes to fruition as a result. That something is: the need for Pagan Clergy.
By way of introduction, my name is Brian Edwards. I realize that most people provide their craft names almost immediately, but I prefer to address the public by my given name and reserve my craft name for rituals and for my coven. I humbly submit that I have been practicing witchcraft for 27 years, and I am high priest of coven called Winding Road which has been in existence for 12 years. I experienced / received elevation (which you will know of or understand if you have experienced this) from deity 11 years ago, and I have been ordained by man for 8 years. Throughout the entirety of this experience in learning the hidden secrets of the occult, I have allowed myself to be used as a messenger, teacher, healer, and servant of the Lady. It is through being utilized in this manner that I received instructions first from spirit to widen the scope of my services for my fellow man, that I then began volunteering within the Department of Corrections and at (now) two prison facilities. Until now, with the exception of Christianity at large, the majority of religious services have been conducted by “volunteers” who have been willing to give up personal time to facilitate religious services. Typically, prison facilities have employed paid Christian Chaplains as service providers for the Christian population because they have typically been the largest populace incarcerated. This, however, is changing. In small numbers, a multitude of other faiths have been declared by inmates within corrections, and the needs of these persons had typically been met by finding volunteers. The change I mentioned? Increasingly large numbers of persons are making their way into the prison systems and large sums of these persons are being listed as various religions and “other than Christian”. This has made the need to service these populaces great, as supply and demand of the needed religious services comes into play. While I am not the first person to have ever volunteered within the prison facilities, it is my humble honor to submit that I am the first Chaplain for Pagan Services contractor within the Ohio Department of Corrections. According to them, this is the first time this has ever happened in the State of Ohio and nationally as it was stated they checked in order to find a model for how to design my being paid for services. It was further stated that nationally, the need for pagan clergy providers has reached crisis levels.
Wicca, Witchcraft, Ceremonial Magic, Asatru, Druid and other such religions are the largest growing populaces within prisons throughout the United States. Numerous times, officials and employees of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections have stated that people within the pagan community in particular need to “step up and start contributing to the spiritual rehabilitation of inmates”. My only response up to now has been that a person can be ordained High Priest, High Priestess, Priest or Priestess within my faith and not be considered clergy. Among the High Priestesses and Priests to be met, very few work to obtain the necessary skills to be considered clergy for their sect of paganism. But then, is this really true? There are those who use their skills of divination (and for profit) within the community to provide spiritual counsel and advisement. This is a part of being clergy. There are those who espouse the virtues of their developing relationship with deity and communication therein had, and this too is a part of being clergy. There are those who use their gifts to heal their fellow man, and this too is a part being clergy. There are those who embrace wholeheartedly the concept of “an it harm none; do what ye will”; this means that they teach morals and values as part of their duties as clergy. There are those who use their abilities freely for their fellow man: a necessary clerical attribute. These same practitioners also sacrifice so that the magic be brought to fruition – a sacrifice offered to the gods which most definitely fits within the scope of sacerdotal tasks. I could continue, but the point is this: perhaps many are clergy who do not recognize this in themselves. Perhaps they are on the path of “becoming” and they merely need the encouragement to take the next step.
The purpose of my writing this is to impress upon the pagan community that the need for clergy- outreach itself- is on the rise. So much so, that the validity of the need for these services has created a circumstance where I am now a paid contract Pagan Services Chaplain within a government agency, and while this is such an honor to be able to say that I am the first, the truth is – this isn’t about me. It is about something greater than me. The truth is, it is about something greater than you – the reader – as well. It is about the return of old religions to the world. The surging and growing need for persons who are qualified to educate others in a structured environment, and to help those who wish to celebrate in the ways our ancient ancestors once did, the unseen forces which govern us all (according to my faith). In the benevolence of the Lady Hecate`, I pray for thee – the reader – to hear my words. Grow. Prepare. Commit. Contribute. The world is admitting they have need of you. I see this every time I am out assisting my fellow humans by doing as the Lady commands me to do. To help others, for the betterment of all and in accordance with free will.
I will not be able to speak to the necessary credentials to be a volunteer in other states, or to later be considered for contractor, permanent contractor or fulltime paid staff. I can merely speak to the State of Ohio. To be considered as a viable candidate, you must have the following:
1. An established coven with membership. It must have existed for 2 or more years.
2. A letter of recommendation from 2 or more members of your coven who can verify you have the necessary skills to be considered a (High)Priest or (High)Priestess.
3. A professional resume indicating your credentials. To elaborate – if your coven is in fact a 501c3, you have a Church and this validates you- your organization provides your credentials. I have a coven, but it is not a 501c3 at this time. To establish the legitimacy of my being a reverend - I received legal credentials, letter of recommendation and good standing from the Universal Life Church. This, in addition to my coven letters, establishes my credentials.
4. I am registered within the State of Ohio to Solemnize Marriages, perform Last Rites (Wiccan or Witchcraft related, of course) and to perform Christenings (Wiccanings). A necessary license to further establish my credentials.
5. A background or study of human psychology. Not as a clinician, but for basic understandings of the emotional and mental makeup of human beings on the whole. This will prove invaluable. Intuitive counseling provided in conjunction with this is KEY.
6. A background in religion or religiosity from other faiths. It will prove valuable to have been in the seminary, to have received an ordained minister’s card from a differing faith, to have received training in public speaking, and to have previous experience in seeing modeled curriculum so as to prepare your OWN.
7. An openness to work towards an atmosphere of Interfaith. Wars of religion and condoning language that lends to this atmosphere is discouraged. For many pagans, this is uniquely challenging. Many detest Christians and while I support the feeling, it is, more than likely, the person you object to and not Christ. Keep this in mind if you are to undertake the mantle of such a task.
I once sat in a room filled with 15 or more large tables. At each table sat what appeared to be persons who were older than me. After introductions were made, it turned out that my table was the only table with a Priest, a Summoner, and followers/seekers searching for a deeper knowledge of the occult. I state this, because the other tables were strictly populated by Priests, Priestesses, High Priests and High Priestesses. No followers. No Students. None being mentored. None being guided. I encourage all who occupy these high levels of experience and knowledge to open yourselves up and to demand something better of “self”. Not for your own need, but for something greater than yourself. I assure you: the rewards are abundant and endless, a state of being that verges on euphoria at times. The blessings received (at least in my experience) are too numerous to count, enough so that my personal dreams are truly becoming reality. I often used to say: “If I could find a way to use my powers for my fellow man- without charging them for their use, but somehow keep a roof over my head and survive - that would be my dream job and life.” In her benevolence, and as exemplified by what I have written, the Lady Hecate` has deemed me worthy to receive such an honor.
I share this to encourage you. The world needs you. I leave you with the following comment stated by an inmate, to me personally, the first day I ever entered into The Ohio Reformatory for Women: “I am so glad that you are here. I…We… have wanted this for so long! Please promise me you will continue to come.” With the emotion I felt from her, and her honest sincerity, how could I not? You have no idea how much these inmates will appreciate you and the time you sacrifice for them and the Gods.
FORMER OHIO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS INMATES
If you are in a housing/shelter crisis:
24/7 intake for single men and single women is done over the phone by HandsOn Central Ohio. Call 888.474.3587 for intake.
Intake for families and children is done over the phone by HandsOn Central Ohio. Call 888.474.3587 for intake.
Long-term housing for those on low or limited income who need subsidies to assist with rent payments.
Further info about programs serving those experiencing homelessness, local plans for services, and statistics about programs serving Columbus and Franklin County are available at www.csb.org or 614.221.9195.
The Community Shelter Board provides an up-to-date Street Outreach Programs list. The list is available by following this link and clicking "How to connect a homeless person to help"
You may be eligible for assistance through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. To see if you qualify, contact the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services online or by phone at 614.233.2000, or the Ohio Benefit Bank.
Contacted via HandsOn at 888-474-3587
Contacted via HandsOn at 888-474-3587
YWCA Family Center
Location: 900 Harvey Ct.
Supportive & Transitional Housing
Permanent Supportive Housing for single men
Location: 40 W. Long St.
Transitional rooms for single women
Location: 65 S. 4th St.
Friends of the Homeless/New Horizons
Location: 371 Carpenter St.
Southeast, Inc / Friends of the Homeless
Location: 16 W Long St.
Community Housing Network
ADAMH supportive housing with multiple locations in central Ohio
National Church Residences
Permanent supportive housing with multiple locations in central Ohio
NISRE, Inc. - The EXIT Program
Provide short and long term housing options for homeless offenders in Franklin County
Location: 1791 Alum Creek