Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...
In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”
Practical Priestessing: The Divine Hum
"The priestess is worn within the soul, not donned for occasion or kept in a bowl." (http://schoolofsacredscience.com/Priestess_Training.html)
I rest on rock
Surrounded by trees
Carried by wind
Loved by Her
My body in contact
With the world around me
Restores my soul
This is my place
I belong here
Here I am held
I am surrounded
I am nurtured
I am free
I have come to be in this place
With my soul at the ready
My heart open
My hands wide
My mind prepared
Ready to priestess myself
To priestess my family
And to priestess those around me
I am committed to this path
With courage, may I walk
With patience, may I love
With strength, may I serve…
In Klara Adalena’s article, Are you a priestess, she touches on the richness of one’s own soul connection to the word itself as well as the need to “justify” the adoption of the priestess title:
“Still, this question often throws me. Identifying as a priestess for over twenty years and training priestesses now for over 8 years I get this question often, and no amount of elevator pitch training has helped. There is so much beauty, power and colour to the word priestess. Each time I hear it or speak it my soul begin to gently hum. But when the question is asked to me directly, it throws me.
For my mind thinks I have to explain and justify. Explaining and justifying are two killers. Working as priestess and training priestesses hasn’t changed much to that, interestingly enough. What is changing it right now, is social media. Is seeing there are literally hundreds of thousands of women from all over the world connecting in priestess circles, in wild woman sisterhoods, and so forth. We are finding each other and we are all totally thrilled. We are discovering in our bones that we all hear the same call, share the same knowing, and are doing the same joyful work. For me, I feel the need to explain or justify is falling away. I can be. I can say what I feel and know…
Being a priestess means taking sacred time with women, to nourish this feminine power in me, and to become all that I can be. It means creating amazing life giving rituals. Aligning with nature and her cycles. Being a priestess means learning how every meeting, every love making, every dinner, every moment can be turned into a divine moment. Being a priestess means doing my inner work to clear all in me that is still obstructing this flow, becoming more and more a channel for the Sacred Wild Feminine.
Being a priestess means dancing at every opportunity ♥
Do you resonate with this priestess? Can you feel that deep down, covered under dust and mud, is your inner priestess and she is rising?..." (www.klaraadalena.com/?p=451)
I identify with this soul hum connection she references, as well as the necessity of doing continual inner work and development. I also strive, as Klara mentions, to bring my whole life into alignment with my priestess path---first being priestess of my own hearth and home and then extending my service to the larger community.
Sharon Fallon Shreve explains:
"Women choosing to walk the path of the priestess have answered a deep inner calling. Hearing within and resonating passionately to the ancient call of the Great Mother, a time came when each heart knew with absolute certainty... yes, this is it... Hers is the work I am to do...the very reason I've incarnated at this time! For me personally, the actual word “priestess” whenever spoken created an ecstatic internal hum, a familiar vibration that was/is one of pure bliss. How blessed to be so crystal clear regarding one's life purpose! This being said, I also feel compelled to share the path of the priestess, though richly rewarding, is not an easy one. It is a path requiring deep integrity and tremendous dedication…"
This is a lot more involved or invested than "officiating at sacred rites." It is a sacred responsibility. A life’s work. I identify with the notion of the “hum” of resonance we hear as our hearts connect with the Priestess and her responsibilities. A Priestess is a channel for this divine hum, this sacred responsibility, this calling, this purpose, this craft. In the priestess anthology, Voices of the Goddess edited by Caitlin Matthews, Naomi Ozaniec explains:
“…the priestess opens a channel within herself that enables a power to flow through her and out into the assembly. The priestess is fully conscious of herself, of the power entering and later departing and of the surroundings, and there is no loss of consciousness, even if the priestess speaks as a channel. I can best describe the whole process as a moment of transfiguration—the priestess becomes a ‘garment of Isis’ and she may seem to alter very subtly in appearance and can seem to be suffused with a radiating energy. It is perhaps this personal contact with energies of a very high vibration that gives a functioning priestess an extraordinary quality of validity…I became involved in ritual workings for the first time and once again this seemed like the most natural things in the world. Ritual work cannot be taught, it can only be experienced. It is an extraordinary meeting place of trained minds, heightened sensitivities and patterns of force. Each ritual creates its own ripples, sometimes even shock waves, as inner plane dynamics emanate into the outer world.” –Naomi Ozaniec
A ritual priestess is also tasked with remaining open and present to what is unfolding in front of her. While an effective ceremonialist is a skillful planner, she must also be open to the energetic mood of the circle in front of her, to the task at hand, and be flexible enough to respond to what is right there, now, versus sticking rigidly to her pre-planned ideas. I experienced this very directly during the last women’s retreat I priestessed at my home early this month. Early in the week, I settled down with my books and notes and spent about three hours working out the ritual details, reading, and plans and I was struck by how much work it is to prepare a ritual. It is a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, and I enjoy it, but it is also a significant expenditure of energy! (This three hours was after having outlined the ritual already on a different day.) It occurred to me that it is very much like putting together a puzzle, to design a ritual---I move pieces around, try different places, take sections apart and rebuild. I also noticed how much visualization is involved in the process and the puzzle-building. For each step, I would imagine the group actually carrying it out and when something didn't "work" in my imagination, I then knew to move it somewhere else or remove that element altogether. As I worked on the ritual, I also felt the knowing: I am good at this.
During the retreat itself, despite all my plans, there were two significant moments in which my intuition called me to do something different than what I had planned/written. I followed both calls, without letting on that I was doing so, and both impulses worked magically! It was quite rewarding and was a good learning experience for me as well---not everything has to be planned in advance to "work" and spontaneous moments can actually hold the most power. The first moment of intuition was during a guided meditation for each woman to meet their inner Rainbow Warrior. The meditation ended somewhat abruptly and I spontaneously added a more developed ending in which the Rainbow Warrior offered a message to the women.
Later, I was reflecting on how as the facilitator of these events, I don’t necessarily get to experience them myself---for example, I didn’t get to get a message from my Rainbow Warrior, because I was helping everyone else to get her message instead. But, then I thought about the hum and I realized I got the message after all.
*For women interested in sharing dialogue about the sacred responsibility of priestessing and the practical work of a Priestess, please join me on my Facebook group: Priestess Path.
Goddess sarong pictured from Goddess Garb.
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