A commitment to the Divine within the Sha'can tradition takes many forms, but none as formal as our initiation and ordination process. Outlined here are the guidelines for a faith-based practice that can lead to initiation and the ministerial path if one so desires.
To Our Community
While we welcome all serious inquiries, we recognize that the commitment and dedication necessary for initiation, and most especially for the process of ordination as clergy, is not possible or practical for everyone. No matter what your inclination at this moment, however, we welcome you to familiarize yourself with this document and our temple, to ask questions of our community members and/or initiates and ministry, and after all, to determine what the best path for you will be.
Please note that what is outlined here is a path of commitment and dedication. For religious governance purposes, SHARANYA-MBCM runs by consensus among clergy, and we otherwise seek to maintain a relatively flat organizational structure in order to promote fresh ideas and open avenues of communication among all members, initiates and clergy.
Sitting in Circle
Those interested in becoming practicing members of the tradition, and possibly initiates, are encouraged to sit in circle. This means that in addition to attending worship ceremonies, individuals are encouraged to follow a course of regular devotion and practice, learning some of the history, symbolism, ritual formats, and prayer methodologies of Sha'can.
Participation in regular circle work for a year and a day is typically done within the Daughters of Kali program, under the supervision and mentoring of an initiate (one serving at least within a Yogini Chakra). This can prepare one for and lead to initiation within the tradition, as agreed upon by the individual and the circle members, with final recommendation and approval granted by the presiding initiate.
For those choosing to be initiated within the tradition, taking of a name and making a Statement of Faith are the hallmarks of this next passage. Individuals are encouraged to enter into contemplation and meditation on the spiritual significance that initiation will have, making the choice to do so in full confidence of their decision. Initiates carry a chosen name as a sign of their commitment, devotion, and willingness to work on their spiritual path. The ceremony culminates with the initiate being presented to at least three witnesses (one of whom must also be an initiate), before whom the Statement of Faith is affirmed. With this, initiates willingly carry responsibility for the preservation of the tradition, and for promoting the aims and objectives of SHARANYA to the utmost of their abilities.
Although this responsibility is not codified, the responsibility is real and fully based upon the needs, interests, and objectives of both the initiate and the guiding community spirit. Potential initiates have an opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills working within Daughters of Kali, a worship and study circle that facilitates rites of passage and encourages community work, especially with teenagers and young girls. After initiation, individuals have further opportunities within the faith for developing their commitment to the Divine according to our beliefs and practices.
After initiation, individuals may request admittance to the Yogini Chakra. This circle is a manifest expression of deeper commitment to the tradition and faith. It is considered the first step towards pursuing ordination, a much longer and more involved process to which initiates must dedicate themselves over the course of, at a minimum, three years.
Application for membership requires that in addition to expressing an earnest desire to further spiritual practice with demonstrable dedication to the path, an individual must obtain the support of another initiate willing to act as mentor. This requires that the supporting mentor already be within the Matrika Chakra, or at a more advanced degree within SHARANYA's ordination structure. All membership requests are reviewed by committee and either accepted or denied based in large part upon the following criteria:
- Applicant must be initiated in the Sha'can tradition.
- Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
- Applicant must hold at least a high-school diploma.
- Demonstrable commitment to the work of SHARANYA and the faith.
- Demonstrable aptitude in and knowledge of the tradition.
- Recognized and demonstrable leadership abilities.
- Letter of recommendation from mentor or other initiate.
Denied membership applications may be augmented or otherwise altered to meet committee requirements and resubmitted on appeal within three months. Those accepted into the Yogini Chakra make a commitment in formal ceremony marking the passage to regular and disciplined practice, deepened instruction in religious ceremonies, study, dedicated attendance at monthly meetings, participation in community worship services, and assistance at high holy day public events. This assistance encompasses the logistical details of public funcations as well as the spiritual guidance aspects of ritual. The primary work of this circle is to further familiarize initiates with all levels of ministerial duties, provide opportunities for leadership, and create a container for work on and practice of invocations, prayers, and other ritual elements. Participation within the Yogini Chakra for a year and a day (or after six months with special application to committee) entitles one to seek membership within the next circle.
Entry to the Matrika Chakra is predicated upon successful completion of tenure within the Yogini Chakra and based upon application and approval by committee. In addition to a Certification of Completion by the Yogini Chakra committee, applicants are required to submit, in writing, details of their religious/spiritual work to date within the tradition, a statement called Explanation of Involvement (this details how they have served in community), and a proposal for project work as application. Once the application is received and reviewed, an interview with the candidate will be arranged as the final step before determination is given. As above, denied membership applications may be augmented or otherwise altered to meet committee requirements and resubmitted on appeal within three months.
When approved, individuals are accepted and granted status within this circle at the Ceremony of Elders. They must complete, at a minimum, one year of service and fulfillment of their project before requesting Apprenticeship. The primary work of the Matrika Chakra is to augment deepening ritual knowledge with mentoring responsibilities and ministerial assistance, including learning to lead and taking responsiblity for public monthly puja ceremonies. Individuals within this circle must also complete a community service project based on SHARANYA's aims and objectives as approved by committee, prove proficiency in ritual work that includes the creation of a commitment or rite of passage ceremony for submission to the tradition's Twilight Book of Ritual and Prayer, mastery of devanagari script (reading and writing only; translation is not required), and commitment to memory of the Kali Gayatri, at least 50 of Maa Kali's sacred names, and other important mantras for use in worship (puja) services.
After a minimum of two and a half years, those whose inclination takes them to seek ordination are required to submit application for Apprenticeship. Apprentices work under the direct supervision of a Rashani (the title of ordained clergy within Sha'can), with responsibility for ministerial activities (including community outreach and support, liturgical enhancements as permitted, and ritual preparation and assistance), as well as service within the structure of initiation and ordination, and dedication to the service project of one's choice; among other things.
Application for Apprenticeship is made to committee, with a request for supervision by particular clergy possible. If no request is made, then the successful applicant will be assigned to the Rashani deemed most suitable to fulfilling their needs as expressed in the application essay. Revoked applications may be resubmitted after a waiting period of at least six months, within no more than a year from the original application date.
Applications must include the following:
- The applicant's religious curriculum vitae detailing work within the tradition and length of service under each degree held
- Statement of Intent to Ordain
- An essay describing the applicant's vision of their ministerial work in the world (not to exceed 2,500 words)
- Certificate of Completion
- A letter of recommendation by a Matrika Chakra committee member
- A letter of recommendation by someone outside the tradition who knows the applicant well
Additional material may be provided or requested by the reviewing committee. A survey regarding the applicant's spiritual leadership abilities and work to date will be made to community by the applicant. Responses will be received and synthesized by the responsible Rashani and offered to the applicant. A response to the feedback is required within no more than three (3) weeks. Acceptance as an Apprentice by committee then requires the successful applicant to undergo the Claiming Ceremony, in which they avow to uphold the Creed of Kali. The ceremony is facilitated in two parts, on separate occasions usually within three (3) months of one another. This provides time for a deepening of personal work and reflection on the process. Service as an Apprentice is for one year without exception, making the minimum time before ordination three and a half years. The entire application process for approval as Apprentice is at least six (6) months and can take longer.
Rashani is the title of ordained clergy within Sha'can. A Rashani is a fully-fledged minister of the faith, with the power to initiate community members, perform rites of passage, solemnize life event ceremonies, certify as meeting required criteria all articles for submission and possible addition to the Twilight Book of Ritual and Prayer pending Liturgical Oversight Committee review and approval, serve as officiant at all rites and rituals, perform puja ceremonies, participate on ordination committees, and otherwise carry out the religious function of SHARANYA.
Additionally, a Rashani may participate in the activities of the Inner Council, serving on committees related to the administrative functioning of the corporation, and may be nominated for membership within the Inner Council. A Rashani is expected to promote fully the aims and objectives of MBCM, including but not limited to service and community work, spiritual and educational projects, and the overall growth of community.
To be ordained, an Apprentice must satisfy the time and commitment requirements of that position, acting in good faith as a spiritual leader commensurate with the expectations of SHARANYA's Inner Council, Ordination Committee, and other ordained clergy. Petition for Ordination after these requirements are met is made by the supervising Rashani to the Ordination Committee. After review of the applicant's file, an interview is set up for the candidate to elaborate upon their experience and expectations, summarize qualifications, and otherwise support the petition made on their behalf. Approval of the Ordination Committee means that the applicant is considered Advanced to Ordination, which sets in motion the process for final conferral of the title of Rashani.
Final conferral is made in a ceremony at which the individual advanced to Ordination takes the Oath of Spiritual Service. After this ceremony, the individual conferred is an equal having the same status, responsibilities, and powers as any other Rashani ordained within the Sha'can tradition.
Summary of Ordination Process
As stated above, the minimum time commitment for ordination is three and a half years, but will usually be longer. Here is a summary of the process:
- Sitting in Circle/Daughters of Kali/Initiation: 1 year
- Yogini Chakra: 1 year
- Matrika Chakra: 1 year
- Apprentice & Ordination: 1 year
Applicants should expect at least a four year commitment. Ordination is a formal and public commitment to the path and to the community, and is never taken lightly.
For additional information, queries or to express your interest, please contact us.