Well, time to go into the Temple and proceed with night rites. I got ” beeped” by my Illustrious Mother, the “Great Mistress of Magick” The Great Goddess Aset. No clocks, no alarms needed.
This is a typical daily scenario, a two and sometimes a four times per day one. I tend the fires and the waters , the air and earth. Never mind if I am tired and want a night off or that I would rather be outdoors enjoying some sunshine. I am reminded of my obligations by my Divine Mother and hold to them just as I am reminded to finish up lessons for students in my Temple over the next couple weeks well despite my shoulder still healing from surgery, being busy looking for a new “day job”, and starting to prepare for Fall Equinox activities. Time stops for no one. Least of all for yours truly.
THIS is an example what it means to be a Priestess. It is not just some title. In fact it is often a verb. It is someone you DO and are fully engaged in day in, day out. I have heard plenty of my spiritual sisters call it “Priestessing” when they are serving in a certain capacity, such as in a ritual. This is another way to express the verb of Priestess. I believe the role to be so much more encompassing than that.
So what is a Priestess?
” A woman who functions in a mode of Service both to the Divine and as a conduit for the Divine. She shares that Energy with other people in a Spiritual and/or Religious Community, no matter how big or small.”
A Priestess is typically one or more of these: a Minister, female Bishop, Hierophantria, Magician, Mystagogue, and/or Witch.
It is not uncommon for a Priestess to be some or all of these simultaneously. All of these roles require an understanding of the unseen energies and all are a conduit for Divine Forces. A Priestess is a link between the divine and the chthonic. Through her, they become unified.
Her service is considered an offering in service to the Divine, often in a specific aspect such as a God or Goddess. A Priestess also tends to have specific gifts she shares with the world, a “platform” of a wider form of service and creativity. This can be one or many things both vocational or volunteer in nature. Here are some examples:
Being a volunteer for a cause, a healer/caretaker such as in a medical field, a protectress of the vulnerable such as children or the elderly, animals, the Natural environment, Or other areas such as: A musician, songstress, artist, writer, or poet. She may be a teacher of some type, usually of her own Tradition she serves in, and in the lore of her Matron or Patron. But she may also be a mentor in other areas as well. Some Priestesses deal more with that which is unseen, helping as mediums, psychics and there are those that help people to transition from life into death and beyond.
A Priestess is also receptive and is able to receive and in turn transmit, translate and transform the energies of the Divine Feminine in any myriad of forms for others as well as for herself. She is a consummate Alchemist! She shares that energy with the community and it matters not whether this is done in a private or public ritual. It really is selfless work. Devotion to the Divine, often to a Goddess (or God) is also a big part of it, but what separates the Priestess’s work from that of a devotee, is that aspect of being of service to a community in some manner of spiritual or religious leadership.
A devotee can tend a shrine and make offerings in ritual to a God or Goddess and even make their day to day job an offering as well. It is a very beautiful thing, yet the work of a Priestess is much more involved. That of a High Priestess even more so. Some people are called to do this work, but not all. Not many actually. And I assure you, it is WORK, but very rewarding to the heart and spirit.
I do not even think of it as some ordained title that is temporal to just lead a ritual, although creating, leading and functioning in ritual is definitely part of it.
Admittedly, I get irritated by the notion that in order to be a Priestess, one has to be given that title by someone else in one, specific religion to lead a group to a traditional form of worship, despite performing every other function known of a Priestess and living one’s life as a Priestess both in other organizations and personally. “Oh, but she is not a Priestess despite DOING all the work and BEING what a Priestess IS.” I have known of Priestesses with a title they received via on-line ordination and do basically nothing with it. In that case, it is an empty title. To me, being a “real” Priestess means so much more than that. Those that answer the clarion call of the Divine Feminine, or more appropriately a nice profound shove on the tush into this work, tend to make the most of it. If it seems lackluster or ridiculous then it is the wrong area for you.
Those that snub their noses at a Priestess who serves the Divine Feminine and a community in a spiritual way as well as in private, every day, has no notion of what it really means to be one!
We are all Priestesses if we DO the work of a Priestess after being pinged by the Divine to do so. After all, titles mean nothing unless we EARN them. Right? The WORK means more than the ordained title. For earnest results and sacrifice for others is never a superficial thing. A title can however, be purely superficial, unless of course it is backed up with the work of the Priestess.
Being a true Priestess is a much deeper experience. It is a much more holistic role which encompasses one’s entire life, not just for a few hours once a week or a month. She is Priestess in Temple, church, or circle and in her life. She makes the world a better place through her selflessness, love, beauty and hard work, It is not just some hat a woman puts on for ritual, then takes it off until the next run. She wears that hat all the time, including to bed. This is my opinion only however. I do know that there are plenty of Priestesses who would probably disagree. Mainly those who treat it only as a part-time profession by itself and not as a life purpose.
Let me make this abundantly clear: It is not that filling that role temporarily isn’t valid. It is. Same for those having strictly religious-only authority. For example:
If one is in a church, temple or coven and a Priestess is leading a ceremony in your religion, she is recognized as a Priestess no matter what else she does in her life, whether she is exemplary in that role or not, nor her attitude or if she even can successfully be a conduit for Divine energies. Not all Priestesses ordained with the title are good at it.
You do not have to like her, certainly not love her, but as she has been granted that title in that organization and you are also part of it, therefore you cannot deny her existence as such. In private however you can choose to see her as a role model or not. I have been exposed to this type and it was an extremely uncomfortable situation. I got nothing out of the rituals, more than once, and only when a particular Priestess was conducting them. They were flat energetically. Just flat, and I was very confused. I am hyper-sensitive to the arcane energies as well as those of my environment and people, and the lack thereof was very odd. If anything, I tend to get overwhelmed and need to channel off some of my own excess. Priestessing and being a Maga tends to serve this purpose in ritual. So, I was confounded by the lack thereof.
I also could not help but wonder how that particular person even got past the vetting process to ordination with such dis-enthusiasm, mistakes, dismissive attitude, not to mention downright nastiness with gossip when “out of her performance” mode. But, I still had to be respectful. I knew the negative effect it had to be due to that person, since the same rites done by other women carried quite a different import and they displayed none of the same arrogance and pettiness. I knew they were genuine, not by their titles, but by the energy raised and how before the rites were even though I was seeing my Divine Mother come through them! I was left in awe and happiness They were just so very beautiful! So Divinely arrayed to the point I had tears in my eyes and a pang in my solar plexus chakra…
You would most likely meet one of those latter types. I am of the belief there are more good than bad. So, respecting a “professional” title is valid from a certain standpoint, but I happen to see it as just that… a certain viewpoint. But it is NOT the only one.
I have to mention that I am currently being trained in a religious organization, the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica to serve as Priestess in that “official” and eventual ordained capacity, by one of THE most remarkable Priestesses I have ever met. She is a sister, a Priestess, a dear friend and I would do just about anything for her as well as my other sisters! Every time she does a Mass, she channels the Divine Feminine energies so very well and yet every single time, there is something different! The facets of the Divine Feminine are so varied and complex. She is also a musician in her day to day career, bringing beauty and song into the world. This is an exemplary Priestess. Yet, she is not officially ordained yet. I hope she gets ordained soon. She more than deserves it and has all my love and support!
It is worth it to emphasize those women who have a zillion secrets of the Mysteries of the Divine Feminine behind their eyes, and unconditional love for all. Those extraordinary women who function every day in their lives to be of service to the Divine and a community in a spiritual or religious tradition in some way, regardless of whether someone ordained them that title on them or not. Priestess is in their very heartbeats, their souls, and they have such a charismatic combination of humility and omnipresent sovereignty, that it tends to set them apart from the general public. Others are drawn to them sometimes without knowing why.
They are Priestesses and High Priestesses by both Divine mandate AND earning it. Eventually those already doing the job tend to pursue formal ordainment for the sake of wanting to bestow religious sacraments and perform marriages. And have the “official” title on a certificate from a church.
For example: I am one such Priestess. I have other ordained titles and functions that actually do correspond to all but the function of religious sacrament, to that of the High Priestess, albeit in an occult Mystery School. In order to encapsulate the sum total of my work in a daily basis in Temple, my Administrative supervisory roles I have been formally ordained into, combined with my teaching, writing, personal worship, and expounder of the Mysteries of Isis and rites unto to my holy Mother, I have claimed that title with a nice big shove from my Divine Mother and from others calling me such. Yes, I am Priestess! I am also High Priestess with the responsibilities that entails as prefaced.
I serve in the names of my Matron, Aset (Isis), Isis-Nuit, and Aset-Serqet. You better believe I know all about her in these forms, from cultural, historical lore and gnosis perspectives. I know Her energy and there are even times where She imparts oracles as the climax of certain rituals. I literally let go of my own Ego consciousness in order that Hers can infiltrate. I don’t even always remember these sessions and have to have someone with me to remind afterwards. The range of emotions after such a “possession” is so vast I end up in tears. To BE a vessel for one’s Matron or Patron is an unparalleled experience. Aspecting, or taking on the “god-form” of one’s Matron or Patron during rites are less intense, yet still amazingly profound! This is another area where some so-called Priestesses fall short. It is a sad state of affairs, but it can be improved upon. We all are in a state of flux, a state of improvement. Aren’t we?
Ladies, get your Goddess groove on! Leave that Ego at the Temple door, or at the boundaries of the circle and just BECOME!
If you are clueless about your aspect of Deity, and cannot educate others, nor aspect or channel, then you have no business being a Priestess. And sure not attempting to be a High Priestess. You will only get laughed at. A High Priestess has to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk!
Call yourself this title of responsibility and you’d better be prepared to teach others in a group about your Goddess/God or Temple Matron or Patron! Expect lots of questions and be able to answer them from all different angles and in different contexts.
In order to serve as a High Priestess consider these qualifications:
A woman who leads a spiritual or religious organization, movement, church, coven or temple that has administrative duties and teaches/ mentors others within that organization, movement, church, coven, or temple.
She is considered a seasoned Priestess herself. Also, a High Priestess needs to be able to create rites, lead rituals, arrange events, supervise the efforts of other Priestesses and/or initiates, Administrate and/or found a church, temple or coven, and be adept at conflict resolution among members. You also become a role model for others, so “just letting it all hang out” is inappropriate behavior for the High Priestess.
Poise, creativity, resourcefulness, self-control, balance, wisdom, experience, education, creativity, love, spiritual power, balance, being inspirational and selflessness are hallmarks of the High Priestess!
Expect to be able to do any number of functions in a circle, church or temple because as a High Priestess, you have become adept at all of them over a number of years and rigorous training! Right? You should be able to put in the time, the sacrifice that others are not required to do. And this means doing some real at times boring stuff: Set up Temple, clean Temple, stock Temple and charge Temple. Also be prepared to schedule, develop and teach rituals, events, classes, and workshops. Be prepared to take the blame if something goes wrong and apologize, no matter how bad it hurts your Ego. Remember, you are in charge of a group. With great power comes great responsibility!
Remember also that you are a High Priestess and although a certain about of healthy self-confidence is necessary to lead, being arrogant is NOT a trait that a true High Priestess displays. Please revert to that attitude of the Priestess earlier in this article. You may care to delegate duties to someone else and being able to delegate is also part of being a High Priestess as well as being able to do everything. Well then make sure you delegate because you are really busy with priorities that makes sense to others in your community or ritual group. Not because you want to do your nails!
My beloved Priestess Sistren are recognized on my behalf right away and those who live the life of a Priestess are the ones I both respect and hold so very dear in my heart! Others that do not do the work just have empty titles given to them that they may enjoy flaunting. I do not give a damned that those are ordained or not. They could be ordained over the internet, the mail, or by someone else who claims authority on their own when they have none, or even by some authentic one, yet behave in a manner begotten of a little girl who refuses to share her new tricycle.
Women that behave that way are not Priestesses nor High Priestesses to me. I actually knew someone like that once….Sadly two “someones”. One was ordained and the other I had no idea if she actually was or not. They had snobby attitudes of self-entitlement, had skipped critical steps of the self-development and service necessary to being a “real” Priestess. A real Priestess is about LOVE, not competition and entitlement! I will diverge for a time to explain a certain harrowing experience that I had.
There was once a woman I knew who was a self-entitled “High Priestesses of Isis”. Or, more appropriately given that title by her “husband” who had long wanted to fill a High Priestess of Isis “mold”. I had actually rejected his inappropriate proposals just two years previously, so he chose someone else. Luckily as I was already betrothed to someone else also, my Wondrous Mage & Priest of the Sun! .
The poor woman he ended up with (or perhaps not so poor) was absolutely clueless about the aspect of the Divine Feminine known as the Goddess Isis (or Aset) and asked me if I could help her. She did not know any Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) or Greek language/terms, no Hebrew ( despite this being a cornerstone of the magickal Tradition) , nor what the Goddess Isis “liked” for offerings and really wanted to know what personal rituals that I called the “Isinian Rites” I performed for Her in my own Temple dedicated to an aspect of Her. This woman needed material to be able teach since she had no experience with Isis and was claiming a title and role she had not yet earned. OH REALLY? Ha! I had a real good laugh there !
But, I did mention a few things to her anyways as well as showed her pictures of my shrines, Temple etc. I had love for her. Yes I certainly did, big love in fact…
I had considered how it was not all her fault being shoved into a role she was not qualified for, by the man who was her bread and butter as she did not hold an income generating job. Then she started with the “holier than thou attitude” as time went on and what little love I did have for her, ended up going sour. It was truly heartbreaking for me since I had an instant bond with her that clearly was from a past life. If it had not been for all the obstacles I think we could have been good friends.
Hopefully by now, years later, she has learned more now about what Ancient Egyptians did other than how to burn temple incense and sport Goddess Isis costumes in public. I found out that she actually planted a bunch of date trees on their property right after I told her Isis loved dates and that it was a traditional Ancient Egyptian food offering. Glad I could be of assistance. Right? Sure. No problem.
But there was no way I could in my right mind that I could respect her as a spiritual authority on my own Matron and in an organization I had at the time, a good 8 years of earned seniority beyond her just 1 and half years. It made no sense at all and I was not about to pretend I was ignorant. She was also automatically advanced by her husband to a certain degree without doing the Work, which had taken the rest of us senior members in the organization a good 5-8 years to finish. More unfairness. But… what can one do? Nepotism was alive and well. The issues became ever thicker and my heart, ever sicker, by the entire scenario of which there were many other issues I shall not mention here.
Needless to say, I did not stick around in that organization to see how all would turn out. I had gotten enough of what I needed and literally burned myself out with all the service I was doing for them, sometimes up to 30 hours a week assisting in a sub-leadership capacity for the entire organization ! It was made abundantly clear to me that there was not room for TWO High Priestesses of Isis and that I was going to end up getting outed regardless of all the years of service and work I had done in that organization, including co-founding my own Temple and then assisting in the creation of two other Temples….Politics were bad news in that case. It has no place in any spiritual organization whatsoever.
This was years and years ago from now though. The water is under the bridge…..But, I feel absolutely zero remorse regarding posting examples as proper embellishment to the point I am trying to make. Names are omitted of course, out of a modicum of respect.
Anyways, my original point is this. A Priestess does not have to be such in an exact religion. A spiritual Tradition also qualifies.
Here is my personal account as an example:
I have other “titles” in a specific spiritual Tradition as well as both administrative and ritual functions that are actually the equivalent of a High Priestess, so others have called me that. Probably out of convenience, so finally therefore, I call myself that also to summarize my spiritual Work.
It is understood that it may sound like a significant amount of hubris at first glance, fine, but I just find that most correct way to reference my function is in this manner as it includes everything I do. This is better than rattling off at least 4 long-winded Latinized titles, exactly under each one what my responsibilities are, plus about 3 to 4 other areas of Priestess functionality across multiple spiritual organizations, and my own Temple.
…..Not to mention, perhaps carrying even LESS hubris than all that stuff. And I am not even using my actual ordained titles here. Now that REALLY would set some folks off thinking I am really hung up on titles, which defies the point of this entire article. Wouldn’t you agree?
This article is about function, ability, and eligibility to be a Priestess or even a High Priestess for the curious. It is to be inspirational to those on the Path of the Priestess with, or without ordination. It is meant to say “ It’s ok that you are not ordained. People recognize the work you do anyhow and the Goddess certainly does!” After all, the Divine Feminine does not bestow titles, She bestows opportunity for the chosen ones! And there is plenty of those opportunities to go around!
Ordination formally as a Priestess does have it’s benefits though. Aside from being recognized as a Priestess in a certain religion, one with this entitlement can perform sacraments such as marriages. Some don’t care about serving in this way, some love it.
As I am not ordained yet in an official religious way, I cannot as of yet perform marriages. This is something my very heart yearns for as well as doing public Masses, so I am currently in training in a Gnostic church over the past year or so to serve as a novitiate first, then once other requirements are fulfilled, becoming ordained. From the way things are looking and how it is in the particular area of the church I am serving in, this could easily be several years from now. I do not expect it overnight. They do not consider other experience as a Priestess/High Priestess, life experience and being already of service for years elsewhere, valid to their particular work as they have a separate training program. But if I just wanted to speed up the process and get ordained elsewhere, I could just do an on-line church course. These are a dime a dozen…I cannot say this is not tempting.
It would be a lie to tell you I have not been tempted, if for no other reason than to put a muzzle on those who would scoff at my use of terminology. I would not feel guilty about it either since I have been doing the Work for so very long already. So what is the hold-up? Because, I just do not want to be compared to those that go this route as often enough, they don’t do the Work of the Priestess/High Priestess as I have mentioned…There is a stigma. I don’t need more of those as I am already subjected to enough of those.
I am devoted to the Matron of my Temple personally and do rites a number of times a day to strengthen that Divine connection in the Temple 24/7 so that it remains a charged, sacred space even when others are not present. I do rites on behalf of others as well as personal ones, create lead group rituals in a rotation, and my function is in the area of ritual & teaching. I serve as a vessel for my Matron Goddess and have a strict corpus of daily Temple rites devoted to Her and for the benefit of it’s members. This did not happen overnight at all. It took over 12 years of doing the Work both on an inner and an outward manner be entrusted with the responsibility. I was a devotee first, an initiate second, then Priestess and after being able to demonstrate I could handle it, then a High Priestess in the work that I do..Just because some of it is in a Mystery School context, rather than a religion, does not make it any less valid nor that my ordained title is different thus.
So, what is a Priestess?
She is, above all titles, ordinations and functions, a holy vessel for Divine energies of Divine Feminine in various aspects. She was chosen by the Mother of us all into service. She was born to do this work and in her selflessness others are able to experience energies that perhaps they otherwise may not. Just by her presence, she acts as a Karmic Catalyst, activating response energetically in all she comes in contact with. She is sacrosanct. She is Priestess!
Copyright © 2016 LeighAnn Rose Grace. All Rights Reserved.
Artwork is credited to the artists. Susan Seddon Boulet, John Waterhouse and unknown.