Admission for Rituals, Really?
Why We Want To Talk About Money
by Aylah Hallel © July 26, 2017

Pagans are a wonderfully divers group of folks. In any area in the world you can find a wide variety of Pagan practitioners from all walks of life from many different Pagan paths. We know better then any other religious group that if you really want to connect to your gods all you have to do is go sit under a tree, walk through the forest, drink from a stream, bird watch or climb a mountain just to name a few. No fuss, no muss and it doesn’t cost a thing.

This essay is about connecting to divinity in a different way – through community. I personally believe that all matter – trees, rocks, mountains, streams, animal and people are made of energy, Source Energy or God Goo as I like to think of it, and that this thing we call “worship” is the action of coming into relationship with a person, place or thing. By this definition, “community” would be a form of worship where we recognize each other as an aspect of the divine and we seek to come into relationship in this manner – through community. The activities mentioned above – sitting under a tree or going for a nature hike is one form of Pagan worship in which we connect to the God Goo of nature and nature entities, gods and goddesses. Community is a form of worship by where we come into communion with the aspect of God Goo that is us, you and me, each other. I believe that you are god, made from Source Energy, we all are. So this form of worship is profound.

Community worship is a completely different creature however then the personal worship of sitting under a tree. Not more important, but more involved. There are many things to consider with an organization such as Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries, one of those considerations is that of money. Any organization that is going to grow, any organization that is going to offer valuable programs to its celebrants, any organization that is going to be the heart of a community – must support itself.

Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries is recognized both in the State of Oregon and Federally as a religious nonprofit organization.

There are two types of religious, nonprofits – those with members and those without. Both plans have everything to do with how the organization is going to support itself and how much money the organization will make every year. The IRS is the one asking these questions for the purpose of tracking the organization’s income and keeping an eye on financial fraud.

A religious nonprofit with members is a relationship agreement, a devoted, committed agreement actually, between the organization and it’s members that outlines what it takes to become a member, usually a yearly membership fee and in return what the organization gives the member for their yearly dues, things such as the right to vote in matters of direction, growth and expansion concerning the organization, discounts on classes and counseling, access to minister’s contact information and/or the right to attend meetings of the board of directors. Basically, the member is part owner in the organization. Which is a wonderful communal idea – we all own it, so we all support it.

A religious nonprofit with out members carries with it, no agreement and there are no “owners.” The exchange of “membership dues in exchange for rights and privileges” disappears. So, the first thing the feds want to know is if the organization has no members, how is it going to support itself, because the organization still has to support itself?

In the first fourteen years of the existence of this organization, RTPM had a membership system written into our bylaws. In fourteen years of operation, two people purchased memberships which meant, for the most part, the ministry was unsupported and the ministers were paying for everything.

And let me be clear here – when I talk about the organization supporting itself, I am talking about just that, I am not talking about the money that the organization makes going to support its ministers. The work the ministers do for the organization is of voluntary nature with two exceptions; one, when the minister provides a service such as handfasting or counseling – the minister will charge a fee. A percentage of that fee is theirs to keep as reimbursement for their time and energy; two, in the event that the organization should ever own a business, the ministers would be paid for their time spent overseeing the running of that business. But for their work with the ministry – teaching magic school, running rituals etc. their time and energy is donated to the organization.

RTPM no longer offers yearly memberships.

If a celebrant purchases a yearly membership and is only able to attend four out of the eight rituals offered that year – they lose money, but if you pay admission to each ritual you attend to help pay for supplies – you pay for only what you are using.

Here is what you are helping pay for –
~Cakes and ale – $5 – $40
Depending on the ritual. For some rituals we make our cakes and make an inexpensive drink such as herbal tea. For other holidays we purchase more costly items such as mead.
~Printed Materials – $5 – $10
We want every celebrant to be able to follow along in the ritual, therefor we provide binders which contain the songs and ritual liturgy for that ritual.
~Alter Decorations – $5 – $20
Depending on the holiday. Decorations might include a sun wheel wreath for Litha or gourds and pumpkins for Samhain.
~Candles – $5 – $10
Depending on the ritual. Most of the time we use inexpensive tea lights that come in a package of 200 for three or four bucks. Other times the ritual calls for something different.
~Incense – $5 – $10
Incense includes sage, incense sticks or resin/charcoal, depending on what seems to fit the ritual.
~Picnic Supplies – $5 – $10
RTPM supplies all picnic supplies which include, flatware; cups; plates and napkins.
~Rent – $50 per ritual.
It may be necessary from time to time to rent ritual space, particularly in the cold weather.
~Other – $5 – ???
All “left over” money from ritual admissions will go into the “other” fund.
This fund will cover lost items and ritual tools that need to be replaced and any other needed item.
Currently we are purchasing fabric and making alter cloths in colors corresponding to the holidays and eventually we would like to purchase chairs for the circle to be used by the celebrants during ritual.

Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries charges an admission fee for rituals on a sliding scale from $3 to $5.