Ordination, as its Latin roots imply, is the weaving together of the inner and outer worlds into one seamless life. It is the continued deepening of one’s spiritual practice while simultaneously increasing one’s service to the greater community. In this sense, ordination reflects the very nature of Tantra itself; namely, the work that one does within fosters transformation in the external realm and vice versa. Of course, one need not be ordained to do this, but the conferral of clergy is the formalized process of this work and includes the public commitment to putting Sha’can’s teachings and values into action.

On the Path to Ordination

I cannot recall the precise moment when I first encountered Kali Maa but She had been in my periphery for many years before being “formally” introduced to Her though SHARANYA. I have studied various forms of Hinduism throughout the years and She certainly came up but usually as a goddess to avoid. Epithets such as…

The Final Steps

ApprenticeAfter 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.

Application

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.

Maa Batakali 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 the organization, 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.

The minimum time commitment for ordination is three and a half years, but will usually be longer. Applicants should expect at least a four year commitment. Ordination is a formal and public commitment to the path and to the community. It is never undertaken lightly. Here is a summary of the entire process:

Kali Yantra

    { Sitting in Circle and Initiation: 1 year
    { Yogini Chakra: 1 year
    { Matrika Chakra: 1 year
    { Apprentice & Ordination: 1 year

Becoming Kali’s priest as Rashani has meant that I have consciously invited the process of birthing my soul. And whether in Kolkata or San Francisco, this goddess has both represented and simultaneously been more than personification, metaphor or archetype of my transformation.

Today, after annual pilgrimages to her homeland and over thirteen years of public pujas offered in her name, I am much more comfortable with my role and responsibilities relative to Her teachings in the flesh. The learning continues as I plunge more deeply with community into the realms She inhabits and seek to know more intimately the gateways She guards. Her gifts, sometimes even the passwords that open the gateways, have been largely earned on the path of practice and service.

Chandra Alexandre