This week I am feeding my priestess obsession by talking to the lovely Kelley Sheppard, a Priestess of the Goddess living in Washington, US. Unlike the other Priestesses I’ve been chatting to so far in my Priestess Series, Kelley has not undergone formal training, but has forged a way to become a priestess mostly on her lonesome. Badass, right?
Here’s a bit about Kelley: Kelley is a publically active priestess who runs workshops and ceremonies in Bothwell, Washington, and offers many priestessley services such as dream interpretation, energy healing and space cleansing through her website, the Crystal Grotto. Her site is also to be a go-to place for priestesses-to-be to learn more about becoming a priestess. My kinda gal. She runs a great newsletter called the Grotto Gazette and digs Dragons something fierce.
Tell me, how did you discover and take on the role/title of Priestess?
I first began to think of the idea of Priestess as a young girl who was raised a Catholic. It was super uncool only a man could be a Priest. I loved the ceremony of the church, the little steps and things that had to happen in order for it to be a proper mass. I never paid much attention to anything the Priest said, I was distracted by the symbology of it all and in my mind felt I had to do this kind of work, like it was my duty.
In my teens I devoured the sliver of books in the New Age section at our only bookstore. No internet back then, so it was all I had available to me. I had to discover what it was my soul was telling me and the New Age section was my only source for expansion. In those books I began to discover what a Priestess did. This, combined with my awesome imagination, fueled the desire to learn more.
I began to create little ceremonies for myself and then, when I was older, my family. I wanted to take training badly, but I lived in Alaska and resources for this path are scarce/non-existant up there. However, I was blessed with 2 mentors, Roxanne and April, who helped me heal fears and move forward with confidence, but there wasn’t specifically Priestess training.
It has been this past two years that my Guides have really pushed me into creating bigger ceremonies, and facilitating as Priestess for larger groups. I had to deal with my internal doubts that since I didn’t have formal training I couldn’t do Priestess work. That gremlin ego voice was keeping me in a procrastination state of being. My Guides had enough of this and 30 days before December 12, 2012 they told me it was time to move through! With their guidance, and the help of Grandmother Spider, I created a Divine Feminine ceremony and on 12-12-12 I kicked that little gremlin’s butt, and emerged fully as a Priestess connected with the balanced Divine Feminine and Masculine.
What do you feel the role of a Priestess is in the modern world, and how do you fulfill that role?
I feel like I could write a whole book on this! I’ll try to keep it short.
A Priestess of this modern world helps herself, and other beings, transform and/or expand. She is a symbol of empowerment and compassion. She is a warrior when necessary. She understands her creation power and that wisdom from within is her greatest teacher. She is a pure expression of Truth, Love and Trust. She has achieved Feminine and Masculine balance and maintains this balance. She connects with the Divine for herself and does so on the behalf of others until they learn how to for themselves.
A modern Priestess is fluid and adaptable; willing to change during her life as she expands her wisdom and awareness. She has the strength to speak and live in the Truth of who she is, her unique path and how she is being called to serve. She accepts her power and keeps it free from Ego. A Priestess observes, respecting the cycle of life for all beings, and adapts to changes in her environment. She is a patient guide and a loving friend. She is all this and more.
The first part of fulfilling the role of Priestess was to answer the call of the Goddess. I do my best to stay Spiritually fit and by connecting to Gaia and the Divine daily. I maintain a high level of ethics. I heal the fears that arise in me, and I am willing to do the shadow work so I can then help others work through such things. I heal myself and I am working on doing a better job to be physically fit, as I believe we are Spiritual Beings in a physical body and we need to maintain our bodies.
I think one of the most important ways I fulfill the role is by listening. Listening to what people want or need, and listening to the Guides and other beings offering assistance. It was difficult for me, but over the years I let go of trying to “rescue” people. Everyone has free will and being of service to others doesn’t mean I try to mold them into what I think they “should” be, I don’t “should” on anyone. No judgement. I do this by honoring and admiring the soul fire in everyone.
Is there a particular Goddess you associate with as a Priestess?
I do not have a Patron Godess at this time. I have more exploring to do. Over the years I have worked with Brigid, Mother Mary, Isis, Kali, Susitna, Diana, Artemis, White Calf Buffalo Woman, and others. I involve Gaia in pretty much everything I do and I am always conversing with her.
Brigid seems to be with me always. I really connect with her and love working with her and right now she is encouraging me to learn Irish Gaelic (It’s not easy!). Mother Mary is always with me, too. She was the first Goddess I ever knew (AND the inspiration behind the 12-12-12 ceremony).
I have recently begun working with the Morrigan. On the New Moon of June 8, 2013 I held a ceremony for women ready to connect with the Divine Feminine and it was my first time evoking the Morrigan. AMAZING! I am really drawn to them and the Avalon mysteries right now.
What have been your biggest inspirations along your priestess journey?
This may sound silly, but as a young child it started with movies: The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, Never Ending Story, etc. Now I imagine it would be Eragon, Harry Potter, or Beautiful Creatures. I had such a vivid imagination and could not be convinced that magic wasn’t real. I believed that a woman could do wonderful things and help people magically. Seeing those movies, and reading books is where it all started for me.
Actually, being raised a Catholic was a huge inspiration. I am grateful I was raised a Catholic as I think it helped awaken the ancient wisdom within me. But, I had to heal a lot of anger to come to being grateful. So glad I did!
The mountains! I grew up in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley which is surrounded by gorgeous mountains. I love to hike and be up high with an Eagle’s view of the world. Mountains talk and it was on them I began to open up, listen, and explore who I truly am and my soul purpose.
My Dreams were a huge nudging component. It was in my late teens – early twenties my dreams began to show me the need to grow and expand spiritually. I couldn’t ignore the repetitive nature and themes and as I began to excavate the Priestess within my dreams confirmed I was on the right track.
Tell me about your work with dragons.
My work with Dragon has two parts. They are a Guardian like a Guardian Angel and they are a partner in helping and healing Gaia and the Universe.
As Guardian they protect me from negative energies and they also guide me. Working with Dragon also has the fantastic benefit of living and speaking your truth. I used to not speak up much, and now I find I have to! I also can’t live in denial. The truth is illuminated and I can always choose to ignore it but that just puts cement shoes on me and I don’t move so freely through life.
The other part is the Earth/Universe work we do together. Dragon helps Gaia heal, change her face (like Earthquakes and such) and protects her creations – life. This work results in significant decrease in death toll during natural disasters, for example. What is really awesome is finding more and more people who work with Dragons. It is acceptable to work with Angels, Faeries and some of those well established light beings, but Dragons have had a bad reputation for us Westerners. It is nice to see others embracing the good they do.
What would you say to the idea that spiritual beings, like angels and faeries and dragons and such, get whitewashed to appeal to a new age, lightworker-type audience?
This feels like a way to help people to change their perspective, have a more open mind towards new information and the vast unexplored spiritual wealth available to us. Us lightworkers who have been around a while know to only work with what we are comfortable working with and not judge others for being different. Personally, I don’t allow low vibration energy into anything I do. So even if there are dark Dragons, Mermaids, Angels or Faeries I will not entertain their presence or accept their assistance. I think each of us determines what is dark and what is light and where along that scale we want to work.
Leonard Cohen sings, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I believe anything can be transmuted into Love and Light and it is not humanity’s natural state to be a fear based race.
I hope that answers your question!
You say on your website that you identify with being a Lightworker: please do tell me more about what that term means to you and how it impacts your life.
Lightworker was a term that simplified things for me. I have seen some really interesting labels, long complex ones. I think labels are difficult because we often can’t find the words to convey what it is we feel and know we are to share with the world. It is a brain strain for sure. For me, Lightworker is an umbrella term, like the word Pagan which covers many paths.
I picked up the label Lightworker from Doreen Virtue. It is becoming well known and the ethics behind it are in alignment with how I believe and practice. It is my opinion that anyone who works to serve the highest good of Gaia, her creations, humanity, overall the highest good for anything, are Lightworkers. I would even go as far as to say it is a reinvention of the word Witch, but that might ruffle some people’s feathers.
Thanks so much Kelley!
Thank you FaerieD for inviting me to do this interview! It was great fun! Also, I am being guided to say this so someone must need to read it: If you are a woman in a male body and know you are being called by the Goddess to be a Priestess, Go For It! You are needed!
Today I am interviewing Priestess of Avalon, Elin Hejll Guest, as a part of my AWESOME priestess interview series (check out the others here). She’s from Sweeden and in addition to being a Priestess of Avalon she is a trained counsellor, coach and offers ceremonies, workshops and women’s circles as a part of her priestess services. Lets dive in!
My name is Elin Hejll Guest. I am 38 years old and Swedish. I have been living abroad for quite a few years. First I lived in Australia for 3 years studying at Uni in Newcastle. Then I moved to the UK and stayed there for 8 years! It was while I was living in London that I started the Priestess training in Glastonbury and also trained to become a counsellor.
I moved back to Sweden about four years ago and am now a mother to my little girl Tuva who is almost 2!
How did you end up following the path of becoming a priestess? What about it called to you, how did you discover it?
I remember being at a New Age fair back when I was around 18 years old or something. There were some Aztec Indians there and they were doing a ceremony and talking about how we needed to take care of Mother Earth. Something clicked in me. I did not understand what, but somehow something felt right, but I did not know where to go or where it would lead me.
When I lived in London working as an Au Pair when I was 20 I went into Watkins Esoteric bookshop (a wonderful place!!!) and there was a whole shelf full of books about Paganism!!
I just stood there looking at it! I had no idea there were others out there like me! So I saved up and bought my first book on the subject “Earth Magic” by Margaret McArthur. It was perfect for me because it told me to go out an explore! Feel the elements. Talk to the Goddess. See what happens. So many of these books have prayers and ceremonies written out with instructions on what to say when, but not this one. This one taught me how to open up and feel it!
From that moment I kept reading more, experiencing and exploring.
When I moved to Australia I had come far enough to know that this was my life path. So I made my first tattoo to mark that. It is a crescent moon in a triple Goddess sign on my ankle.
I started feeling that I had come as far as I could on my own. I felt like I wanted help, a teacher, someone to help me go deeper.
But only when the student is ready does the teacher appear…
Tell me about your Priestess training in Glastonbury. How did that change you? Was it what you expected?
About three years later I was living briefly in Scotland and happened to walk into a bookshop in Edinburgh where I found a book called “In the nature of Avalon” by Kathy Jones. It was a book with guided Goddess-centred walks in Glastonbury. I started feeling a stong longing to go there. I also read in the back of the book that Kathy arranged a Goddess conference every year and also a Priestess training.
I went down to Glastonbury and participated for a couple of days in the conference, I met Kathy and applied for the training. And I was accepted.
I had no idea what to expect when the training started, I just knew that it was right.
And the person who stepped into the room on that first day was not the same that stepped out three years later! Well, I was the same, but it was a me that was more me! I found my core. It was a me who had left behind a lot of fears and a me that was more grounded and open. Of course it was still only the beginning of a journey of personal development that is ever ongoing. And I love that!
The training consisted of 8 weekends of circles in Glastonbury. We met every six weeks and learned by experience about the season, the Goddess associated with it. We walked the sacred land, did ceremony and shared our personal journeys. It was deep, deep work and I am so grateful for having been able to take that journey with my sisters.
I learned so much about myself, life, Goddess, and especially the Lady of Avalon and her energies. The Lady of Avalon is the Goddess of Avalon and Her energies are very strong in Glastonbury.
(To read more about Kathy Jones and her work see www.kathyjones.co.uk)
How do you weave being a Priestess and serving the Goddess into your everyday life?
I try to be aware and awake and present everyday. In that way I see Goddess in all aspects of life. In nature, in other people and in myself. I talk to Her. I do ceremonies with other people and by myself. I do visualisations and meditations, I create art, I run workshops and healing circles.
I also run the Stockholm Goddess Temple which I open up for weekends of workshops, dancing, sharing and ceremony.
It is a wonderful space, because everyone who enters help create it by their presence.
I always try to work on myself and my personal development so that I can become even more true to myself and my core being.
What to you is the most important aspect of being a Priestess?
For me it is being the change I want to see in the world! I aim to live a life in love and presence. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes not, but that is OK, that is human!
I share my story and experience when people ask, but do not go out and preach.
Tell me about your real-world work as a priestess. Do you incorporate your priestess-ness into your coaching and counselling?
Because I am a Priestess and aim to live in love I feel that I bring that into the counselling and coaching. I bring myself and do not hide or pretend to be all-knowing
Some clients come to me because of my spiritual side because they feel they can share things with me that they would not feel comfortable talking about with a “normal” counsellor.
What would be your advice for anyone seeking a deeper connection to Goddess?
Explore and feel! Go outside and feel the elements. Talk to the trees, hug them! Lie on the earth and see what it feels like.
Do meditations or visualisations where you journey to meet the Goddess and see what she says.
Do things that help you get to know yourself better. It can be reading books, meditating, joining a women´s circle or whatever.
I know that by knowing myself better I also know the Goddess. She is found within.
Read books that inspire you and if you feel that you want help to go deeper then find someone who can help. It can be a teacher nearby, or you can do courses online.
I think it is important to point out that not everyone needs a teacher to go deeper, many people can do it on their own. And I also feel that one does not need to do a training with someone to become a Priestess. I felt that I did, but it is all individual.
Go with your heart.
Thanks Elin for your wonderful interview! Visit Elin on the interwebs here at http://www.elinhejllguest.com/
You all know how crazy about Priestessing I am. Today we are starting the new calendar year off with an interview with Priestess of Avalon Elle Hull, in which she answers all your (well, mine really) burning priestess questions. Woohoo!!!
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed!
Hi Faeriedaughter! Thank you for asking! I’ve always loved your blog and it’s great to be featured here!
What does being devoted to the goddess mean to you?
To me, it means living my life in service to Goddess, but then I say that coming from the perspective of a priestess. Of course one can be devoted to Goddess but not be serving as a priestess or priest. Devotion can come in many forms, but for me, it’s about service to Goddess and co-creating that service with Her. Co-creation is an interesting aspect of devotion because it means taking notice of what might not be obvious and tapping into intuition. Goddess is always communicating with us though. We just have to have the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the heart that trusts.
How do you serve the goddess in your everyday life?
I’m a big proponent of keeping things simple and it isn’t always something considered spiritual. Simple practises such as lighting a candle or burning incense are things I do daily, but then also mundane things such as keeping my home clean. My home is my temple and therefore keeping it clean is important to me. That’s a little frustrating sometimes with a husband and a teenager who don’t view “home” in quite the same way! Serving also comes from shining Goddess’ light and love in the world. There are so many ways to do that, but really it comes down to one’s actions and words.
How did you discover the Lady of Avalon, and why did you undertake the Priestess Training in Glastonbury?
My journey with Avalon is quite personal and complex, with no easy or short explanations really. But I shall try to keep it to less than a novel! I don’t really recall a time when I didn’t know what Avalon was. It’s as if Avalon and its name were buried in my sub-conscious and little by little, bit by bit, as I would hear about it, I would become more aware of it in my conscious mind and remember it. Unlike many, I was not drawn to Avalon by Arthurian legend nor was I drawn to Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. It was Avalon itself that drew me ever closer until I eventually found myself in England. It was only after I moved here that the Lady of Avalon became known to me and that was through experiencing Her in the landscape, mainly in Glastonbury, but in my own local landscape in London.
I found the Goddess Temple’s priestess training shortly after I moved to the UK in 2002. I saw an ad for it in a Pagan magazine and as soon as I saw it, something inside me said, “This is your path.” I was inexplicably drawn to it. Something in my soul awoke in that moment. So I knew one day I would undertake that training. When one is drawn to any path of spiritual service, they will tell you it’s because they felt called upon, compelled, driven to it by whatever name they call their Divine. I am no exception to this. It wasn’t just a longing in my heart, but a deep seated knowing in my soul that Goddess was asking me to come to Her in service as Her priestess. I didn’t have to, but I wanted to and it became a need in me that I wished to fulfil. So I did.
I know you underwent a 3 year Priestess training in Glastonbury. What did you find the most difficult about training to be a priestess, and was it what you expected?
It took me 4 years from the time I found that ad until I began the training. As much as impulse wanted me to do it RIGHT NOW, I also knew it was a huge commitment of time, energy and money and I was not in a position to be throwing any of those things about lightly. So I waited. I’m glad I took those 4 years though because it gave me the opportunity to read and learn, to attend rituals, to experience for myself just what it was all about without making commitments and vows. Although not an “official” part of my training, I do consider that it was as much a part of the journey as the training was.
I’m not sure I really had any expectations when I finally decided to do the training. Just prior to starting the training, I felt simultaneously excited and nervous and scared. I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for! And I’m not sure I could name one particular thing that was most difficult about it all. There were certainly challenges. This training is transformational and that transformation often comes about in strange ways. Sometimes it’s someone who is mirroring back a part of yourself you don’t like or need to work on or an old problem you thought you had dealt with comes up again or something happens that brings you up against your own beliefs or boundaries. I think I had all of those things happen and then some and I wasn’t alone as others in my training group experienced many of the same things. I cottoned on to the fact though that it was all about how I moved through these challenges. If I approached them differently, I learned new ways of overcoming those challenges and learned more about myself. I grew as a person and as a priestess. This said, I embraced everything about the experience of training and wouldn’t change one iota of any of it. My own experience of it was exactly what I needed it to be.
How has your life changed since becoming a priestess?
Yea, life changed quite a lot. When I started the training, I was a non-custodial mother working as a lawyer. When I finished the training I was a stay-at-home mother to two teenage daughters. It was a pretty radical transition! My priorities changed on an internal level and that created changes on an external level. Pursuit of a vocation as a priestess became more important than the pursuit of a legal career. Time, energy and focus on my family became more important than charging for my time, energy and focus on my cases at work. Re-discovering my creativity became more important than cramming more legal knowledge into my brain. Shifting what was important to me has shifted my life and the way it is now. It hasn’t always been easy, still isn’t always easy, but I know I’m being true to myself and my priestess path.
Tell us about your love of the Lady of Avalon and your priestessing for Aphroditie – how do you serve two goddesses?
The story that I often tell also comes from experience in the training. When I came to the training, my own path up to that point had largely been eclectic Wiccan style Pagan. During the first half year of the training, I often struggled with this idea that I was following two separate paths and I felt pulled in two separate directions. How would I meld these paths together? For our Beltane training weekend, we went out on to the slopes of Glastonbury Tor where we laid on the grass and went on a guided journey to Avalon to meet with Rhiannon. In that meditational journey, Rhiannon told me that there was only one path and I was the only one who was making it two separate paths. It was a really simple message but it packed a really powerful punch. I came out of that meditation with a new understanding that really changed my perceptions.
The two paths idea did come up again though during my third year of training. The third year focuses solely on Lady of Avalon and deepening that connection with Her and Avalon. It was during that year that Aphrodite began to start wanting my attention again and She often popped up in my daily meditations in Avalon. I began to wonder how I could possibly serve two Goddesses. Up to that point, my relationship with Aphrodite had been like that of a mother who comes and goes. At times She was there and I focused on Her a lot and then other times She wasn’t there so much, fading into the background although still in my heart and consciousness, just not actively, as I was pursuing other things and other relationships with other Goddesses.
I sought advice from my tutor and mentor Kathy Jones, who basically reiterated what Rhiannon said. Thereafter, I had some conversations with Aphrodite about it all and She finally said, “If you’re serving Avalon then you’re serving Me.” When I thought about it, I began to see some of the great similarities between Aphrodite and the Lady of Avalon. They’re still two distinct personalities on their own, but there is a great deal in common there. So I made my peace with it. I do not serve Aphrodite as publicly as I do Lady of Avalon. Much of the public service I do in respect of Aphrodite is in spreading Her light and love in the world through sharing Aphrodite’s Flame. Mostly, though, my journey with Aphrodite remains personal and private.
And what would be your top tip for creating a relationship with the Goddess?
One creates a relationship with Goddess the same way one creates a relationship with anyone – start turning up and spending time with Her. Talk to Her, listen to Her, read about Her, spend time with Her regularly. It seems many have this idea that in order to cultivate a relationship with Goddess it requires performing complex daily rituals and hours in meditation. If that truly calls to you then great! Go for it! But it really doesn’t require that much. Just open your heart to Her. A small simple altar where you light a candle every day, recite a simple prayer, a few minutes praying to Her, walking the land where you live with an open heart and mind and paying attention when things happen or cross your path. Really, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complex. Keep an open heart, an open mind and above all else – keep it simple!
Please could you write a bit about your services and how peeps can contact you if they want to work with you.
Online I offer my services as a tarot reader. I’ve just recently added annual readings to the readings I offer and I’m offering 10% off all readings until 7th January 2013. Clicky here.
Offline I host a regular Lady of Avalon meditation group at my home in north east London. Details are usually posted on my Facebook page. www.facebook.com/AvalonBlessings
I’m also available for talks and workshops on the Wheel of Ana and the Goddesses of that Wheel. Details of those available are on my website at www.avalonblessings.co.uk
I’m in the process of planning my 2013, and I hope to have many interesting things to offer next year, so keep checking my website and Facebook for details!
Yay!!! Thanks so much Elle!!!