Don’t Forget Y’all! Faeriedaughter is moving to a new home at www.priestesstraining.com – go there from Mabon 2013 to keep up with all the priestess training, interviews and witchy goodness!
Last year I bought a book by Stephanie Woodfield called the Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan. I wrote a little review of it here and I loved it. Loved it loved it loved it. You should totally get a copy.
Recently Kelley Sheppard (one of my lovely priestess interviewees – read hers here) alerted me to the fact that Stephanie runs a website community for people who love the Morrigan and would like to learn more of her. I was really excited to join, and I was super excited to learn that Stephanie is running a priestess of the Morrigan class over the next year as a part of this site! Freaking awesome or what!
So I am excitedly taking this class and looking forward to learning about the different faces of the Morrigan throughout the next year. Woohoo!
Anyway I just wanted to let you guys do just in case any of you love the Morrigan too and would love to be a part of an online sisterhood dedicated to her, or are hearing the call to become a priestess of the Morrigan and wish to join Stephanie’s most excellent class. It’s called Morrigu’s Daughters, and you can apply for sisterhoodship here.
I’m loving this online community, and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences of the Priestess Class with you all!
This year I am crazy excited.
I am beginning the Priestess of Avalon training course in Glastonbury this year, starting this October.
I’ve wanted to do this course for six years, fallen in and out of love with the idea a bit along the way, and finally I’m putting on my big girl panties and doing it. It’s a side effect of the turning-25 thing. Time to stop wasting time lady.
And yes, I am paying for it. With money. As nice as as the idea of doing everything inexpensively by my self is, I can’t do everything on my own. I’m not a super person! To get to where I want, I need outside support, structure and accountability. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I think it could only have happened now, as its only in the last couple of years that I’ve begun to properly honour the spiritually obsessed part of myself and come to terms with that. It took a while to get here (… Erm, 10 years *cough*), but I am now cool with the fact that witchy spirituality is and always will be very important to me.
Woohoo! Onward to living the dream!
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!!!
I admit it, I am addicted to reading priestess programs.
Avalon Within by Jhenah Telyndru is a really really different kind of priestess training manual to my beloved Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess textbook by Kathy Jones. Really different.
Being a Priestess in Jhenah’s Avalonian tradition is about finding your own inner Goddess, your inner truth and following your own deepest desires to claim sovereignty over your own life. She’s all about unlocking the layers of wounding and hurt that prevent you from living your own truth fully and completely.
Sovereignty has been a personal watchword to me that has kept popping up in my own spiritual practice, telling me what life is meant to be about, and baby, it’s all about finding your truth and living it.
Goddess has not given us this life so that we can play safe and all try to be the same and normal. She doesn’t want us to be ordinary because she made us all to be extraordinary.
We all have something unique and special, and usually it’s the thing that’s so easy and simple to us that we don’t recognize it as special. We freak out because in a world of 6 billion people, there are others with similar talents and visions and businesses, and we assume we don’t need any more of them. We create these beliefs where our innate gifts and talents being inferior and not important, because they aren’t big enough, or because we all know that anything worthwhile and valuable should never, ever be easy. To be valuable it should be difficult, and it should also cost a lot of money. Our society is very cleverly programmed to keep us too terrified to follow our truth so we will stay nice and orderly and manageable and spend lots of money instead.
Ultimately, it’s crazy to live through life running away from what you really want to do just because you are scared.
To me, spirituality has always been both about discovering Goddess and discovering who I really am, and gradually, merging these two things together until I see that my dream for me is the same as Her dream for me.
As I strip away the layers of blankets covering my deepest self, I find Goddess shining radiantly in the middle.
And she says, Don’t be scared. Be Brave. This is who you are. Live me.
And as soon as I start to live her wisdom, I smile.
I’ve been soulsearching – it’s how I spend the long dark nights.
Way back at Samhain, I did my almost-yearly releasing ritual, where I burn stuff with purpose. I asked the Crone Goddess which aspect of myself She wanted me to work on this season (as trying to sort out everything at once never works) and she told me I needed to work on obstacles stopping me from walking my priestess pathway. (I’m not clairvoyant or anything – my methods of hearing stuff from the divine either come as a second of instant intuition, or through working with the tarot and trusting my intuition to interpret it properly. I used the tarot option this time. I think it’s decidedly unmystical.)
I’m quite keen on the idea of doing one ritual, and then the issue being resolved. Wouldn’t that be awesome? But, no. It usually doesn’t work that way. Sigh!
A month after Samhain I noticed that a lot of my issues were still there with bells on. I was really un-motivated to get a-priestessing and a-witching, and I still felt afraid, scared of judgement from others and down on myself. So I pulled out my sexy new witchy-journal and did some work.
Turns out, my major issue is that I do not believe I deserve to be a priestess. Who am I to have a connection with Goddess? Who am I to even want that? What makes me so special?
Elle Hull, a Priestess of Avalon, wrote a fantastic post on the myth of the priestess on her blog, Avalon Blessings (the post is called Perceptions, written on 06/12/11). We think that a Priestess should be a whole set of things that we really are not (calm, organised, patient, loving, forgiving, peaceful, super-disciplined, uber-compassionate and all of this ALL THE TIME) and feel that it is a standard completely out of reach for us super regular, hyperactive, scattered human beings, and we get really disillusioned and down on ourselves about it.
So I am putting pressure on myself to conform to this real personality-type-specific description of what it’s like to be a spiritual person. They would enjoy gardening, long walks and quiet conversations, be calm and level headed and loving to everyone no-matter what, and move in some kind of permanent blissy serenity achieved through connection with Goddess. They would be up to welcome the sun every morning and spend lots of time in prayer in meditation. They would be a morning person.
Hoo mama, that is totally never going to be me.
If the colour of the priestess described above is soft lavender, I am a bright orange – I am energetic, must exercise regularly, excitable, can really travel up and down on the moodometer and my brain is often in a big stressed mess. I’m more like a puppy than a priestess.
And also, I am so not a morning person I don’t start seeing properly until an hour after I wake.
But, the thing is, my spiritual path isn’t really about living perpetually in light and mornings. It’s about embracing into the dark, exploring death, sex, jealousy and ecstacy, and celebrating every aspect of human existence. My deepest inspiration is the Mermaid archetype, who embraces, celebrates and owns all aspects of herself, dark and light, and treats them all as sacred and important. Goddess spirituality is not about subliminating the unsavoury aspects of humanness. She is about everything.
If i actually settle down and use my brain a bit, rather than sink into the god-is-only-for-special-people-who-pray-non-stop-and-have-no-money trap, my idea of being a priestess is totally not floating about floating on serenity clouds in god-land all the time. On an obvious note it’s about developing a strong connection with God, but it’s equally about getting to know yourself as well as you can and living the life your deepest divine-self wants you to, living your divine mission, with support and love from Her. This divine mission could be becoming a mother or a women’s circle facilitator, or a chef or stripper or a car mechanic. And it means decending into a lot of crap to re-claim the gorgeousness and strength hiding under your fear, your jealousy, your insecurity, to get you on that mission. And then diving into new piles of crap to reclaim the next nugget to propel you further on your Goddess Mission. Really, it’s full of piles of crap and fear-facing to get you growing, moving and experiencing, and Goddess is there by your side to help you through it so you can bring Her light into the world, in whatever form she needs you to. It’s full of spiritual work, not only in the world of prayer and devotion but mostly in living your life serving Her by being the best that you can be.
Who am I to become a Priestess? Well, I am to be a Priestess of the Goddess, living out her joy and creativity in the ways she has most mundanely given me. I’m not a monk, and I am not a nun – I am an adventurer, I am she-who-dares and I live fully in this existence and this life the Goddess has gifted me with – through bliss and rage, through love and fear, through hard work and joyful living. She has given me a reason and a purpose, and even if it’s not being a coven leader or a minister or a spiritual teacher or a Jesus, my purpose is no less sacred than those purposes, my being no less special than those beings.
The thing I forget is that I’m not trying to become a nun. I forget that I am all about Goddess instead.
I’ve been a-making a new witchy journal for Samhain. (This is admittedly fueled by my stationary-buying addiction.) So I have been reading through my old witchy journal for any nuggets of gold that can inspire my new one.
Earlier this year, I was hunting for spiritual direction, some way to to work towards my concept of Priestessfullness. The idea of being a priestess has always been very alluring to me, however, no priestess training programs that I have read quite resonate with me in the way I feel they should. I figured that the best way to work out what being a priestess would mean to me would be to really think about and put to paper what a priestess would be like. So this is what I wrote.
What does being a priestess mean? What would a priestess be like?
She would be a visionary. She would start every day at her altar, blessing herself and the day ahead. She would pour love and light into her day. She would ask God and Goddess for help, and center herself in their love. She would give offerings to them.
A priestess would accept herself as she was. She wouldn’t take on too much work and she would leave herself lots of time to be unstressed in. A priestess would create in honour of the Goddess. A priestess would honour herself. She would feed herself good food and look after her body. A priestess would do very regular rituals of self love, devotion to gods, self-honour and purification. Like one a week of each.
A priestess listens to the Goddess’ voice in her heart, and does her work fearlessly. A priestess surrenders to Goddess and her will and wished for her, and she is happy about it.
A priestess meditates every day, and takes time to listen to Goddess.
She recycles and spends lots of time outside, she has a full and happy life. She is a lovely person. She is strong and soft and fearless and compassionate. She brings her whole priestess self into everything, and spends her life doing what her deepest Goddess self tells her to do.
I am so glad I re-discovered this. I find it so inspiring. The key thing I feel about my priestess description is that she loves and supports herself no matter what and doesn’t get angry at herself for not doing x amount of things today. She goes easy on herself, and shows herself great love and tenderness always. I remember being surprised when I wrote this originally that self love was such a huge point for my inner priestess self. I had no idea.
I now see that isn’t about guilting yourself into doing spiritual things. It’s ok not to be taking overt spiritual action all the time.
I feel like I have direction again in my spirituality. Using my priestess ideal, I’ve been able to write a list of actionables to take me closer to my priestess self, and to give me stuff to do when I feel the spiritual urge but am unsure of what to do about it. I know what I am aiming for now, and because it’s priestessery according to me, it feels good and right.
I’m following Kathy Jones’ Priestess of Avalon course this year, and around Imbolg time we are encouraged to think about the attire of a priestess. Her ceremonial togs, if you will.
There’s a whole witchy-person trend towards Renaissance wear, cloaks and Harry-Potter robes. The idea behind a lot of this stuff is practicality and equality – if everyone wears a black robe with a silver belt, no-one has higher status than the other, and sticking on some witchy clothes gets you into the witchy vibe, man. However, I am ever sticking to my guns to be a normal (ha!) witch, therefore I SHUN the robes and the renaissance.
With priestess robes, it’s all a bit of a show – proper priestess robes would be used to officiate ceremonies for people, so they clothes would most definatly have to say “I am a priestess!”. I’ve been a doodling, and would dream of a long golden lace empire line dress with a grey lilac overdress fastening under the bust, with a pre-raphaelite esque hood. I’d get some tumbling red mermaid hair to go with it. However, realistically, I would feel a bit of a prat in it unless I was wondering around in the fog at dawn on a spring hillside. This I shall not be doing.
I am thinking, the best witchy robe/clothing option would be a kaftan. It has sleeves, so you are not cold, it’s practical, it can just skim your bum and no more, it’s Working Goddess rather than Princess Goddess, happy-cup-of-tea-with-the-gods rather than courtly-pagentry-in-front-of-said-gods, and it can be pimped up with pretty ribbons and beads and sequins no end. It’s more special than a t-shirt, less flashy than a gown, and considering I am sitting on the floor for most of my rituals, it should crease less. Hurrah!