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!
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!
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.