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/
So here it is. I was in bed, well past bedtime, and I was a little upset by something superman said. (I’d asked him a question and the answer wasn’t romantic enough, so I felt all put out in that weird I-should-be-offended way you get sometimes.) So I was sitting there, knackard as no-ones business (workin hard-lotta late nights) and suddenly my brain, stewing over my slight says;
It doesn’t matter, it happened out there, not in here.
And I felt super aware of my me-ness in my mind, in my body, and felt this wonderful sense of peace throughout the whole soft, sleepy space of my body, because what happened outside my mind and body didn’t have any control of who and what I am and what i feel inside it. It was like body-knowing a truth rather than mind-knowing it.
And I was like: woah! Stealth Buddha brain! And I popped off to sleep quite happily.
I always think of life changing books as something that other people read that COMPLETELY changed my life – for example, before I read this book I was totally addicted to sniffing alsations, I sat at home all day every day finding dogs on the internet and sniffing my lovely pet alsation till I was outta my head, I lost my boyfriend, my job etc, BUT, after reading this book, I am dog-sniffing sober, started a six figure business and wake up at 6am every day to do 45 mins of yoga! Hooray!
These ain’t those kinda books. I think one in a million people have that kind of reaction to just reading a book.
I thought about it and realised that life changing doesn’t just mean insane-drama-death-or-cake life change, it can be smaller and saner than that. So here’s the list of books (and their friends) that this year have changed my life.
1. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
This book, which is chocka full of swear words by the way, reminded my why I’ve always felt like a veggie on the inside, and inspired me to go, you know what? I choose not to eat meat any more. Not dramatic, not full of desperate gut wrenching indecision, just an, Ok, lets eat some more veggies and less lamb burgers. Boom. Life changed.
2. Freebie exerpt of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen book
This freebie exerpt (which you can go here and download) got me making green smoothies. I’d tried making them before, but they tasted like crap, and I felt that there wasn’t any point because to be a health nut juice head I had to get a juicer, and those bad boys cost a frikkin fortune. There’s a Green Goddess smootie in this exerpt which is delish, and gave me the freedom to improvise and create my own mega vitamin C and iron smoothie a while later. I chug down about 3 green smoothies a week now. Yes I am very smug about it too.
3. Martha Beck’s Finding Your Way in a Wild New World
This life coachy book is glorious – because it’s not like real life coaching, and the woman can’t stop telling us animal stories all the time. Seriously full of animal stories, it’s great.
Anyway, her business coaching manifesto revolves around Wordlessness (which is Ekhart-Tolle-style mindfulness meditation) and having a great time. Work should be play, she says, and when it starts feeling like work, you need to take a nap and come back to it later. and oh, she says, listen to this animal story while you are at it. Genius. She’s interested in getting us to operate our brains a bit more like animals do – in the moment, unstressed, and bereft of all that human neroses nonsense. Check it out.
4. Rose Cole’s Free High Priestess Training Audio Series
On my birthday this year I had a sort-of nap by the fire and listened to the first one of these, and it make me think – fuck this. I am 25 now and more than old enough to live the life I want. And I am totally able to. So I am gonna do it. So I am working on it, and I’m more comitted to my vision of how I want my life to be than every before.
And you can go listen to these for yourself right here – you have to sign up for it.
That’s it, peeps. We can totally have life changing experiences without having to hit rock bottom first or live in drama town.
I’ve been spectacularly quiet this month because my old wrist injury’s flared up again and typing hurts it, so no typing for fun generally speaking.
That said, I wanted to share my 5 favourite, day-changing affirmations from May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein, which I worked through earlier this year (and it rocked!).
I suck at making up affirmations, so I like to pick them up off other people. Literally, pick a short one, and say it lots to yourself in the day, whenever you remember.
Take ’em and use ’em, my monkey children. All the day all the time. Especially number 1.
1. I am grateful for this moment.
2. Today I am a miracle worker. I choose to see love in all.
3. I could see love instead of this.
4. I choose to believe in abundance and accept this belief as my reality.
5. I forgive myself for having that thought. I choose love instead.
I look forward to meeting you in more teeny tiny posts in the future.
On a wonderful adventure in Devon last weekend I picked this book up in a bookshop on discount. £4.99! Get in.
It’s Goddess Bless: Divine Affirmations, Prayers and Blessings by Sirona Knight.
I’ve seen it online before, but never bought it because my other adventure with this kinda book – Be Blessed by Denise Dumars – really left me cold. I didn’t like the tone (really conversational, which is usually win – didn’t work on me this time though), or the way it jumped pantheons exclusively and non-stop, or the stuff in it really. I just didn’t find it useful, or beautiful, or steeped in the divine, which is what I’d want from a devotional book. I gave it away in the end.
So I was really put off the idea of buying another devotional book.
This one rocks though. It’s just full of prayers, beautiful prayers, to goddess, and some pantheon goddesses too – Anu pops up a lot (She’s a fave), Aphroditie too, a bunch of Nordic goddesses, but mostly the prayers and affirmations are just addressed to the Great Goddess. It’s wonderful, especially since I suck at writing poetry and beautiful divine things. The prayers are wonderful, and the affirmations are really really great and uplifting, and there are some lovely ideas in here of how to use prayers in your life, and what to use them for. And there are prayers and devotionals in here for everything, dude.
It feels like how you’d imagine a prayerbook ought to feel.
So huge thumbs up for this purchase. Recommended!
Woah, hold on a minute, Time.
The other week I turned 25. I feel like I have graduated into grown-up-hood, because of this:
– A dance classmate asked me my age at the weekend, and when I said I was 25, she said she thought I was 16, and I WASN’T OFFENDED. In fact, I was a little bit pleased.
– I could get preggo and have a baby with Superman now, and people wouldn’t go “But you are so young to be having kids!” and secretly be thinking stuff like Haven’t you heard of condoms? or Slut! Keep it in your pants! They’d just think, yeah, all right then, that seems appropriate.
– 25’s the time when you are a teenager/early 20’ser you think you will have a good job, a steady income, maybe saving up for a house, be engaged or married, and know exactly where you are going in life. You think, ah, that’s a grown up thing to do. I’ll do that when I’m 25 or so. BUT I AM 25 AND NONE OF THAT STUFF HAPPENED!
– My friends my age own a £1000 sofa. The other ones own a house. A couple more are getting married. I know people younger than me who are divorced.
Also, 30 in five years guys. There is so much I want to have done by the time I am 30. Have watched the craft again for one thing. Own a dog. Go to tropical paradise. Swim in a coral reef. Y’know, have a successful career at my weird-ass jobs.
So it’s time to pull my finger out of wherever it’s supposed to be in that analogy and get a move on I think. If I just continue being worried and afraid and procrastinaty, I’ll end up an old lady who wishes she’d spent more time having fun and less time on Facebook.
Here’s an interesting thought. I lifted this from the Pagan Restoration column by Sam Webster on Pantheos:
“I focus on worship in this discussion because worship is the living act of religion. Belief is just thinking about religion, and in healthy persons it changes with their development. Only in Christianity is belief central. If you are focused on what you believe, not what you do, you are thinking like a Christian.”
I’m not a Christian, and I never have been one, so my experience there is pretty limited I’ll admit. And I’m in England, home of the Church of England, which is a very laid back and plain kinda sect, so I don’t know how it works in the more flamboyant ones. But from every pamphlet I have ever read (and I read them, all of them) and books I’ve picked up at the library, a big focus is admitting that Jesus is Awesome and God is the Bestest, having that belief and attitude in your head, and being nice to people, and that’s basically what the religion seems to want from you most. Praying is good too, but you don’t have to do much more if you don’t want to – I know plenty of nice people who identify as Christians, and just pop along to church twice a year at Christmas and Easter. And a couple who even don’t do that.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with that really. Not everyone wants to spend ages doing practical religious stuff. Some people just like having a safe place to operate from, and want to feel a part of something. And I think if you believe in something, it’s going to affect how you operate in the world, which means there’s a kinda greater meaning behind what you do, which is nice.
I feel you can be pagan and not do a lot of practical stuff based on what I have said above – I feel it’s a given you will be into recycling whatever you can, picking up crisp packets and supporting environmental causes. And that’s enough. It’s about how you see the world, which influences how you are gonna interact with it. You are gonna take at least a little action, spesh if you are a pagan, because it’s obvious what actions you take. Nature good. Treat nature good.
I think the idea of belonging to a religion but not personally doing much action about it does come from the Christian idea of the important thing being about believing, not action, because in Christianity, you’ve got more people taking action for you – ministers and priests and of course, the big J himself – and you just have to go around having your beliefs influence your actions. But being a Witch is more like being a minister or a priest than a believer – it’s about taking that action, whether you are a spiritual witch or a practical witch. That’s the whole point.
So I’m banging my Witches Have To Do Stuff drum again. There is nothing wrong with not doing stuff, and making a difference in the world through your eco attitude, but if you are a witch, you have to do at least a little witchcraft regularly. Thems the rules.