General Code of Ethics


People have long sought to enrich their lives and to awaken to their full natures through spiritual practices including prayer, meditation, mind-body disciplines, service, ritual, community liturgy, holy-day and seasonal observances, and rites of passage. These practices are as varied as the human race itself, and as such each individual practice should, in their own right, be tolerated, if not celebrated, for the intrinsic beauty that they carry in design and ability to nurture and educate a community.

In any community, there will be people that are set against anything that clashes with their idea of moral ethics and their way of living. These are the people that we seek to provide healthy, and helpful information to concerning the earth-based religions that are all part of the umbrella titled “Paganism”. With this knowledge and information that is true and healthy, we can, as a society, bridge the gap between moral standards and how we are truly living life.

We operate under a code of ethics that reflects this desire to promote tolerance through education.

[Intention]

We practice and serve our communities in ways that cultivate awareness, empathy, tolerance, and wisdom.

[Serving Society]

We provide educational information and services to the community that are designed and conducted in ways that respect the common good, with due regard for public safety, health, and order. Because of the increased awareness gained from this education within the community, we can catalyze a desire for personal and social change, and shall use special care to help direct the energies of those that we serve, as well as our own, in responsible ways that reflect a loving regard for all life.

[Serving Individuals]

We respect and seek to preserve the autonomy and dignity of each person. Participation in any religious practice must be voluntary and based on good information and free of intolerant attitudes, abuses, and practices which may do more damage than good in the community at large.

[Competence]

We shall provide the community at large with only the information and knowledge that we have found to be truthful, and based in tolerance towards others. To do anything less would be a dishonor to the community as an entity of life.

[Integrity]

Members shall strive to be aware of how their own belief systems, values, needs, and limitations affect their thought processes and whether or not these processes are creating a morally acceptable tolerant attitude towards others.

[Quiet Presence]

We shall not advertise as a commercial entity, for we believe that we are better allowed to grow through attraction, as well we shall not provide for commercial advertisement for commercial entities either.

[Not for Profit]

We shall conduct our educational endeavors in the spirit of service. We shall strive to accommodate all individuals, communities, organizations, or other participants without regard to their ability to pay or make donations.

[Tolerance]

We require and practice openness and respect towards people whose beliefs are in apparent contradiction to our own.

[Peer Review]

We shall seek the counsel of other communities and elders within the pagan umbrella to help ensure the wholesomeness of our information and educational practices and shall offer counsel when there is need.

Clergy Ethics:

 

A TREATISE FOR PAGAN CLERGY


PART I
With the founding of group initially as a coven and then growing into a fully fledged group in it’s own right namely „Order of the Circle of Stones“, the need was realized to create a document that will serve as a guide for those individuals entering into the role of clergy. (For ease of reading Order of the Circle of Stones will be referred to as COS within this document)

This document forming part of a larger manual relating to the traditions and method of operation of the group stands as an individual document and is not dependant on the rest of the larger document in context.

The content is intended as a guide to clergy of COS and is not to be seen as a instructive manual for any other group or coven outside of the COS group.

For the succesfull operations of the group and expected services to be rendered to the communty by the group and the Clergy members of the group there is a need for a document such as this in order to gain a guideline that should be adhered to in order to sustain COS as an organization of integrity and commitment to the chosen path.

Paganism is far from being an organized religion and most of us want it to remain exactly that way. Paganism is more a spiritual movement, formed of autonomous individuals, small and large groups who interact and commune within what is regarded sacred. COS is simply adopting this document in respect to the clergy members, office bearers and affiliated covens to the groups tructure.

Who can be regarded as COS clergy?

If you are a High Priestess or High Priest, an Elder or a Teacher within your autonomous COS community or afiliated community you may regard yourself as part of the COS Pagan Clergy. This manual is being written for your use.
This handbook is also intended for those who wish to become clergy members of the group. It is not an attempt to remove individuality in group or personal autonomy, but is merely the bouquet of standards and guidelines of COS expectaions as well as knowing how to cope with the various situations, personalities and situations which are bound to arise.
I would like you to embrace this treatise in the very same manner that it was written. In a spirit of autonomy and with the ideal of freedom at heart.
Let the God/Goddess within You guide you to EXCELLENCE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CLERGY?

A Pagan Priestess / Priestess is more than just a person who presides over religious rites, more than one who is a charismatic leader; they are the Spiritual Mother and Father of many. A person of strength and morals, who leads by example and who is in control and capable of comforting, advising and blessing, capable of compassion, of acting out in truth and righteousness. There is no moral depravity in a Priestess / Priest of the Goddess for through their lives they honour the Lord and Lady, as well as every sentient being on Earth, the Seasons, the Cosmos and the Tradition.
Their roles is one of support, guidance, teaching, of healing and of building up character.  Responsible adults who leads by example and who enhances the inner strengths of their spiritual family and each and every individual therein.
A true dedicated servant of the Goddess, a representative of the Gods and our Pagan Path to the public at large. Their lives is public but shrouded in mystery. They know well every heart, the past, the present and future all rolled into one and sees it all as one inseparable manifestation of life, embracing it without prejudice or judgement.
In the roles of spiritual authority vested in them by the group they lead/teach, clergy are called upon to counsel group members in times of crisis, to preside over significant rites of passage, to bless and consecrate people, things and places, to settle disputes, help folk with addictions, contribute towards resolving situations, assist people dealing with trouble and pain, even to intervene in group politics and take the Pagan voice to the public at large.


It is imperative that clergy serving our very diverse Pagan community know how to conduct rites and rituals in a manner that portrays the level of wisdom and knowledge expected and that is conducive to tof passage in an interdenominational manner and we would very muce upliftment of the community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3 of the Treatise for Pagan Clergy

SUGGESTED CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PAGAN CLERGY

I) Preamble


Pagan Clergy should ideally uphold Pagan values and principles. COS’s Code of Conduct is a set of standards for conduct for Clergy which should be applied in certain determined situations in order to protect group members as well as clergy members themselves.
This Code of Conduct is not prescriptive or restrictive. It applies to all clergy and laity that serve their autonomous communities and who desire to use it as a guideline and as a set of acceptable norms and standards of conduct within the Pagan Community as well as the community at large.

II) Responsibility


The public and private conduct of Pagan Clergy can inspire and motivate people, but conversely it could also undermine their trust and faith in the Organization, Clans, Trads or Covens. Pagan Clergy have the sacrosanct duty to respect their noble calling and to be aware of their words and actions and how these can and will affect other Pagans who look up to them for advice, guidance and for an example to follow.
Pagan Clergy, who are members of COS, should responsibly adhere to a set of personal principles which are not in contradiction with the COS’s code of Principles, which respect its aims and its vision and which comply with the Law of our Country.

III) Confidentiality


Under NO circumstances should there be any disclosure of information (direct or indirect) divulged in confidence to a member of the COS Clergy by another member of the Council, their own Clans or Traditions as well as the public at large. We uphold the value of Honour.

IV) Clerical Standards


This is the Code of Conduct for COS Clergy when acting as Counselors and Spiritual Mentors:


1 In acting as Counselors and Spiritual Advisors Clergy must not display prejudice or bias, respecting the rights of community members whilst being focused on advancing the welfare of every person involved in the matter at hand.


1.1 COS Clergy should not venture beyond their personal competence in counseling but should rather refer the troubled individual to a competent professional.


1.2 Clergy should ideally not enter a counseling relationship with a member of the community with whom they have had a pre-existing relationship (lover, estranged friend, ex-wife, etc.)

 


1.3 Clergy should not record (audiotape or videotape) the counseling sessions. This is not deemed to be an ethical practice.


1.4 Clergy should never become sexually intimate with those whom they counsel. This includes consensual and nonconsensual contact as well as inappropriate sexual commentaries that could eventually lead to misunderstandings and more serious accusations being leveled at the Member of Clergy.


1.5 Clergy should establish and maintain clear, appropriate boundaries in all mentoring, counseling and counseling-related relationships. Setting healthy boundaries reinforces the definition of the roles and does not encourage spilling over into undesired modes of behaviour.


1.6 Clergy should ideally avoid all physical contact (i.e., touching, hugging, holding, slapping, prodding, etc.) as these gestures can easily be misconstrued as romantic or sexual overtures. A brief hug at greeting and parting times is the accepted norm, but anything outside of that should be avoided for the sake of correctness.


1.7 Counseling sessions should be conducted in an appropriate place and at an appropriate time.


1.7.1 No sessions should be conducted in private living quarters. A room designated for this purpose, a quiet corner in the garden, sitting across one another around a living room table would all be viewed as acceptable environs for mentoring or counseling sessions.


1.7.2 Sessions should not be held at places or times that would tend to cause confusion about the nature of the relationship for the person being counseled or for the observers. We might not give “a rats arse” (importance) to the “wagging tongues”, but unfortunately gossip affects even those not directly involved in the “vicenda”. Run things by the book to avoid upsets.


1.8 Clergy should maintain log book records of the times, places and persons counseled as well as a brief detail of matters discussed or taught. Responsibility, accountability and professionalism should be the goals of every spiritual leader and teacher.

2. Confidentiality


Clergy Members should remember that information disclosed during counseling or spiritual advising sessions should be held in the strictest confidence possible.


2.1 Information transpiring from the session is strictly confidential, except if it be of a compromising nature and required by the authorities/law to solve a crime or shed light in some legal situation. This obviously refers to incidents where criminal implications are the reality you have to deal with.


2.1.1. If there is clear and imminent danger to the counseled person or those around him/her the Clergy member should then only disclose the information pertinent to the matter at hand and which is considered vital for the protection of the parties affected as well as to prevent further harm from happening. Clergy should also refrain from giving advice which involves breeching of the Law of our Country.


2.1.2. In the rare event that disclosure is required, and where feasible, Clergy members should inform and warn the person being counseled about the need for disclosure and the potential consequences of this disclosure.


2.2. Clergy Members should discuss the nature of confidentiality and its limits with each person before counseling them. This gives the individual the freedom to go ahead with the counseling or to opt for not discussing matters with anyone.


2.3 While counseling a minor, if a Clergy Member discovers that there is a serious threat to the welfare of the minor and that communication of confidential information to a parent or legal guardian is essential to the child’s health and wellbeing, the Counselor or Spiritual Director should:
• Attempt to secure written consent from the minor for the specific disclosure.
• If consent is not given, disclose only the information necessary to protect the health and well being of the minor and nothing more. Remember, your word is your bond.

3. Sexual Conduct


Clergy Members should never take the liberty of exploiting those who have placed their trust and faith in them, for sexual gain or any form of services and/or intimacy. Avoid any actions that could be interpreted as "taking advantage of" others.


3.1 Clergy Members should not allow any of their group members to exploit another person for sexual purposes or any other purpose at all.


3.2 Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct should always be taken seriously and reported to the appropriate person and to civil authorities if the situation involves a minor or dependent individual.

4. No Harassment


Members of the Clergy should not engage in physical, psychological, written, or verbal harassment of members of the Pagan Community over which they preside. They should create a professional environment which is free from any form of abuse whatsoever. COS members will not be verbally, psychologically, sexually, financially or physically intimidated or harassed.


4.1 Allegations of any form of harassment and or abuse should be regarded as a serious matter and be reported immediately to the authorities. If you are experiencing difficulty you may contact the COS council for advice on how to address the matter and what authority to contact. Please remember, the COS’s Executive, may be called upon for advice, but they cannot and will not be able to take the place of the correct legal entity. All Members should also remember that false accusations and cases of libel and crimen injuria are punishable by Law.

5 Community/Organizational Records


5.1 The COS’s Community/Organizational Records and personal information contained in the Organization’s records will be kept confidential in order to preserve the anonymity of the individuals.


5.2 Only members who are authorized to access the records and supervise their use shall handle the said records. The Members privacy is of paramount importance and will be protected at all times.


5.3 The bank statements and financial records of the Organization will be controlled by the Fiduciary Members, be audited by an independent Chartered Accountant and be submitted to SARS. A resume will be publicly disclosed at the Annual General Meeting of COS.


5.4 Individual contribution records of the organization shall be regarded as private and shall be maintained in strictest confidence. A mention of their sponsorship, unless otherwise requested, will be made on the Sponsors page on the COS site.

6. Reporting Ethical or Professional Misconduct


Members of organizations ordinarily give themselves the duty to report their own ethical or professional misconduct and the misconduct of others. Given the mercenary side of human nature and the dispersed nature of the Council Members themselves, the inability to investigate with accuracy or validity of the allegations, the Council will not interfere with the sacrosanct right to autonomy of groups. The Council serves primarily as an advisory body. Where hard evidence is provided, the Council may address the matter by writing to the person(s) who stand accused of abuse or misconduct or to address the Community involved in order to offer its assistance and guidance in finding an amiable solution to the matter at hand or suggest how they can go about reporting the matter to the relevant authorities.


6.1 The COS Executive suggests that its Members must hold each other accountable for maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards.


6.2 Where uncertainty and doubt arise upon investigating a situation of misconduct and in the case of failure to determine whether a situation or course of conduct violates the Code of Conduct or moral and ethical principles, consult with (in this order):


• Your Community Elders
• The COS Executive

 

6.3When it is evident that a member has violated the Code of Conduct report the issue immediately. Bear in mind that the rule of confidentiality applies here too.

7. Administration


The Executive Elders of COS shall administer the day to day operations of the group.


7.1 No Member of the Executive or Clergy is to use his or her position to exercise unreasonable or inappropriate power and authority and thereby take advantage of people who have placed their trust and spiritual well-being in their hands.

8. Member’s Well-being


COS Clergy Members have the duty to be responsible for their own spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health.


8.1 Members should be aware of warning signs that indicate potential problems with their own spiritual, physical, mental, and/or emotional health and take the necessary steps to address the problem at hand.


8.2 Members should seek help immediately whenever they notice behavioral or emotional warning signs in their own professional and/or personal lives. A withdrawal period may be in order if this be the case.


8.3 Members must address their own spiritual needs. Support from a Spiritual Director is highly recommended.


8.4 Inappropriate or illegal use of alcohol and drugs is ill advised.

9. Guidelines for Pagan Clergy


• Treat everyone with dignity and respect, patience, understanding, courtesy and consideration. Refrain from publicly engaging in actions which will afford you the reputation of someone who takes advantage, discriminates, bullies or abuses others.


• Do not abuse alcohol or any form of medication or do community work whilst under the influence


• Do not use, possess, or be under the influence of illegal substances or drugs.


• Avoid ambiguous situations, for example being alone with a child or teenager.


• Use positive reinforcement rather than criticism, competition, or comparison when working with children and/or less mature members of your communities.


• Do not employ corporal punishment of any sorts, humiliate, use profanities, pressure, or frighten a member of the Pagan Community.


• Refuse to accept expensive gifts or large sums of money from anyone.


• Cooperate fully in any investigation in case of alleged misconduct.


• Do not humiliate or ridicule another member of the Community.


• Keep close watch over your own mental, emotional and psychological well-being and take timeous action if you start “falling apart” due to stress or pressures of the position in which you’ve chosen to serve. Be responsible. Get help, get yourself together and then return to the line of duty.


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