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!
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!!!
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!
Leading on from my It’s Ok post, I always thought I wanted to be a Priestess. Not in a public preistessy way, as an undercover priestess. I knew Goddess was super important and she’s always been around in my life for the past decade, sometimes without me seeing a point in having her around, sometimes liking having her around, sometimes feeling bad about having her around. Anything to do with priestessing, and I was on it like a rash. I love the word – clear minded, happy, connected with goddess, doing important work. Even though I have a bit of a funny relationship with spirituality, it’s one of those things that really has never gone away so I think it will probably stay. I want to have a close relationship with god, though for the life of me I couldn’t tell you why. Mmmm Priestess.
Like many other people, I prefer guidance and guidelines to figuring it all out alone. Maybe it’s the school mindset. So with Kathy Jones’ book Priestess of Avalon, I was hooked, because here was a priestessing guide! Hooray! But being a priestess seems to involve a whole lot of stuff that I don’t seem to get round to making time for, like planing big ceremonies, praying every day, explaining it all to my housemate/SuperMan (my boyfriend), going for walks when its really cold, writing poetry and worshipping. Maybe I just don’t want it enough, and this could be true. I am often conflicted because, as much as I want to be a priestess, there are other things I want to do more, for example, be a world class dancer/paint stuff with lots of gold in it/hang out with SuperMan. I’m not very good at time management (…yet! watch out!) and I do seem to spend a lot of my free time either doing dance practice, hoovering, or sitting in a bath. I have been of the opinion that either you are A Priestess By Definition Of Your Life’s Work As It’s All About The Priestess or, simply, you are not. All or nothing baby.
As I said, I don’t want to be a Priestess that badly.
A while ago, I performed a ritual by the Incredible Francesca de Grandis called Eagle Birth, which helps you see when you are chasing up the wrong tree. She said it can be a really hard ritual to come to terms with. Of course, my tree was Priestess of Avalon course, and according to the ritual, dude, I was not meant to be in it.
Say Wha??!!! I was so convinced that Priestess of Avalon was My Thing, I loved the book, I wanted to do it so bad and the thought of becoming a Priestess of Avalon had been running in my mind for years. What you playing at, ritual!
This really confused me at the time, but months later, I think I am finally beginning to listen. I am beginning to face up to the fact that it’s probably NEVER going to work that way alone. Dude, does that suck.
I was so sure!
Facing up to crap truths is rubbish. But it stops you chasing your tail and gets you thinking how you can make your life better.
Well, as I talked about in my Resonance post all those many many moons ago, I did jump into the scary Priestess of Avalon book-program thing, and so far it’s been not so scary. Worked my way from Samhain up to Beltaine prep and, while I will freely admit I am rubbish at keeping a spiritual practice and doing what the book tells me to, I have done a lot of the gist of it.
The bit I am having a go at following is about attuning with the goddesses of the brittish isles through the seasons. So at Samhain, you look at crone archetypes and samhainy stuff, at Yule you focus of calm, stillness and spiritual connection, Imbolg is freshness, maiden goddesses and change, and so on. My only problem is that I keep changing my mind on how I chose to experience God. Is she a feminine force? Do I see and experience her/it through anthropomorphic goddesses like Bride and Brigid, do I see them as actual, distinct, living manifestations of the divine, or projections of a certain energy, or simply archetypes to work with using divine energy? Is God just another dimension to our reality, an incredibly mundane energy at the heart of it all, or some great grand-ass force that swoops in and does stuff? I just can’t decide. Doh!
I’m not so bothered about it right now. I can work with Her one way, then in a different way ten minutes later if I want, and this doesn’t phase me: it’s the same energy, I am still working with God. I think the point of her is that we’ll never get what it’s “true” expression is and what’s really going on, just like we have absolutely no idea how our consciousness works. We don’t understand it, but we use it anyway.
Stuff I am learning includes knowing I have to be a lot easier on myself. If I don’t get everything in the month done, it doesn’t mean I need to beat myself up about it. I am learning that change is slooooooowww and stuff doesn’t happen instantly and, actually, that’s not a problem. Stuff slowly building up is good, as then you are ready for it when it happens. And life is always pretty sweet anyway. I Have also been so much more aware of the change of the seasons this year than I am normally and I decide with each change of the wheel “Oooh! That’s my favorite season!”
With an update to my fear of scary change, so far the only changes that have happened have been good stuff. Hurrah! However, I have been on fairy hiatus for quite a while. I’ve been attemptive priestessing.