Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Paganism and Wiccan Studies

Dear Amy,
At the bottom of each of my lessons there is a note encouraging me to share my thoughts and, of course, my assignments with others on the forums (or to send them to you and you will see them delivered). I am still learning to navigate the forums and I want to make sure that the teachers actually receive my assignments. So I hope you will not mind passing them on to the teachers in the Master of Paganism Course and the Master of Wiccan Studies Course.

This would be a great help to me and I thank you sincerely in advance.

Blessed Be,

Cassandra Kenneally
Assignment A: Beginning to discover one's personal spirit guide: Master Of Paganism Lesson 4
I lay down on my bed, late at night when the house and indeed the world has gone still and quiet; I lit candles and incense that would aid with relaxation, focus, and spiritual awareness. (Sandalwood and Frankincense)

I went through a grounding and oneness exercise and then I focused on being with the all, when it felt right I made it known that I was ready to receive my guide in my life and that signs and mystical communications were most welcome.

Then I was still and waited to see what would come through. I began to feel energized, almost jumpy, also there was a strong sense of sensuality and an image of, and the word TREES. So what I got from this was active energy, sensuality and nature. Perhaps my first guide will be possessed of these qualities in some way?

I am still learning meditation and internal focus, so I started slow. I will gladly relay more as I discover more down the road.

Thank you,
Cassandra Kenneally
Assignment B: Setting up an Altar and Choosing Designations: Master of Wiccan Studies Lesson 4
I have an Altar here at home, which I've been planning for some time. We have only just moved into our home from another state and so it was actually this assignment that lit a fire under me to see it done at last. :)

I chose to have the Altar itself face North, as I am seeking a fertile mind and prosperity in my life, my studies and the ministry I hope to one day build.
My altar is a black wooden table from Ikea. It is beautiful, functional, inexpensive and the right size for the space I have to work with.
I use the traditional or at least most common directional designations. North: Earth (stability, stillness, fertility and bounty or prosperity), South: Fire (Force of will, passion, strength), East: Air (spiritual awareness, insight and inspiration) and West: Water (adaptability and a fluid mind and spirit) From all of them together comes creativity and at their center is Spirit; or so it seems to me. I have put an agate cup filled with blessed salt at the top of the altar, in the north. A blue glass chalice filled with blessed water in the west, a spirit candle and incense in the east and both my Athame and my wand in the south for the careful direction of the fire and force of will and power. I have also included a photo for you. I have others if you wish to see them.

I have not chosen a specific pantheon as of yet, although in personal moments I do tend to lean toward viewing the divine as Goddess (Sacred/Divine Feminine), God (Sacred/Divine Masculine) and All (Sacred/Divine Nature or Cosmos).

This is a difficult area for me. My personal beliefs in this area tend to differ greatly from most other pagans. I believe that the divine seeks us out, so long as we seek it out. It will interact with us in whatever fashion we believe it should or wish it to. It will come to any name; wear any face for these are our inventions. Its desire is to be known, to commune and to be recognized, respected and loved. I suppose I believe it sees faith as the important thing and the rest as, "...A rose by any other name ..." because of this I have not felt the need to tie it down to a specific shape, face or name. It is also my wish to one day open an inter-faith temple where all may come to worship and have their rites performed without fear or prejudice or censure. I am unsure how my choosing such specifics might affect that goal. I am quite interested in any thoughts you have on that topic.

Thank you,
Cassandra Kenneally

Assignment C: The Afterlife: Master Of Paganism Lessons 5
This was a fascinating lesson and an interesting task for me to try to get my thoughts on the afterlife down cohesively on virtual paper. I am currently also taking Master of Wiccan Studies and we've been discussing the choosing of a specific Pantheon and patron deities. Doing so is difficult for me due to my personal belief that divinity wishes us to seek it and is less concerned with the specifics of the path than it is with what is within our hearts, minds and souls. Earnest faith is what I feel it is interested in. Therefore it will interact with us (Take on the names, faces, shapes and rules) in whichever pattern we desire it to.

This then would suggest that likewise the afterlife is individual. It is tailor made for you by the divine to your personal belief system specifications, so to speak. For myself, I believe that when I pass through the veil I will experience a transformation of understanding and connectedness. I will exist in a purer, more enlightened form and I will then choose what is next for myself. There will be others there, guides or gods to give me advice and options. Will I choose to be reincarnated? To move on to another plane or existence and learning? Will I seek life in another reality or as another species? It will depend upon what I come to understand once I have passed the veil. When I am connected to the all and can recall what I have already done, lived and who I have already been, and just how it really does all work anyway? Then I will know what is right for me and I will move on from there. Eventually, when I have gone and done and been all that I can and learned all that can be learned in this way, I will go on to a higher plane and begin again and then eventually my being will become enlightened enough to return home to that from whence it came, the divine itself and I will meld and become truly one with it again for all time.

This is my view of the afterlife.
Thank you,
Cassandra Kenneally

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