I do a lot of thinking on this topic, being that I am following two priestess-centred books, the spectacularly awesome Goddess Initation by the stupendous and incredible Francesca de Grandis, who is so inspiring and spot on that I would just have to snog her if I met her, and Kathy Jones’ Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess.
If you say Priestess, what do you think of? Generally, it’s a little bit like the picture to the right. Lots of contemplating on spiritual matters, sitting around in some kind of crazy altered state holding bits of tree, speaking only wisdom, telling the future, fixing the really bad stuff by getting God to help out on another’s behalf, wearing long flowy robes of course and generally being a bit away with the faeries. (It’s all that connection with God, it makes you notice things like toast burning less.) A priestess is calm and wise, she’s all together and stuff does not phase her.
I am not any of the above. I am a bit hyperactive, I’m not very good at sitting around mooning after deities, wearing hippy renaissance wear or being particularly together. I do not emanate an aura of calm. Any wisdom I utter is always accompanied by a hefty helping of nonsense.
De Grandis’ definition of priestessing is the one I, of course, resonate with the best, being that I am seemingly a total Third Roader. (Third Road is Francesca’s faery witchery tradition). Priestessing isn’t just relegated to the aforementioned mooning around, it’s a part of every day life. One’s priestesshood can be caring for your kids, or creating dresses, or organizing weddings, or cutting people up and putting them back together (surgeon!). Priestesshood covers your life’s work, whatever that is, and a major tenet of the Third Road is to be your authentic self and live life the way you want to, and to connect with goddess to live your life and help serve others. There is a certain amount of mooning around involved, but it’s not very formal mooning around. This suits me because, spiritual as I apparantly am, I’m not that
spiritual and there are loads of things that are higher on my priorities than priestessing and praying and ritualising and stuff. Magic and ritual and divinity that can help me in my every day life and bring me in closer connection to goddess kicks the ass of magic and ritual and stuff that will take me out of my everyday life all the time. As I said, way too much stuff to be done.
Kathy Jones teaches a more traditional priestess training, and often when I am getting down with it I wonder why the bum I am because I am so completely not Traditional Priestess material. Her training is more of a deep connection with Goddess, with I am down with, as that is something I would like very much, serving the goddess and giving your life in her service. Now, lets just mention that I am the ultimate commitment phobe, which means I both take commitment pretty seriously and I like to always have an escape route. I also am not so good at finishing stuff, so I don’t really trust my commitment skills either. Giving my life over to serving goddess and doing her will, while very nice in principle, is terrifying. What if her will doesn’t link with my will? What if it means I have to end up being a public priestess, which is high on my list of Not Wants? What if I can’t deliver on this listening to and performing her will stuff? I also have issues giving over control of the direction of my life to anyone but myself. Her course both builds deep connection with Goddess and teaches archytypical priestess skills such as ceremony creation and a bit of prophecy and stuff. Thing is, you will NEVER find me preaching goddess to a group of goddessy peeps, I am a purely private pagan and I’d like it to stay that way.
I have no idea what priestess actually get up to in real life nowadays. Do they all lead spiritual circles and say deep and meaningful things, or do some of them just try to be nice people while attempting to pay off the mortgage? If I could any kind of priestess I wanted, I’d be one who knew Goddess was always there to help me out, one who recycled and did nice things for the environment, and one who was living her life to the fullest doing everything she wanted to make her happy and through this spreading love and happiness and laughter and faith around by just living happily and being nice to people. Does that count as a viable priestess, or do I have to be all mystical and spiritually obsessed all the time?