One of the four magickal goals of a Witch is "to be silent." I've been feeling my silence on these pages over the last few months especially, as my own inner monologue has turned up and as I've been increasingly called to both give voice and hold silence in my day to day and spiritual lives. When I chose the word "Priestess" as my power word for 2016, I don't think I fully realized what that would do -- the things it would shift, the ways it would test me so early, the ways in which I would need to grow and stretch all while holding space for others to do the same.
In many ways 2015 was the beginning of my Priestess year. I actually chose the word "Emerge" as my power word for last year, and even now I am realizing the ways in which I both emerged and am still emerging. The past 8 years for me had been something of an Underworld journey, as I navigated the exit from an abusive marriage, an acrimonious divorce, living on my own as an adult woman for the first time, a increasingly difficult and toxic academic job market, and all the change and growth and pain that comes when you essentially shake the Etch-a-Sketch of your life and start anew. It's also found me sailing the uncharted and exhilarating waters of new and healthy love, a career change, deepening spirituality, and stepping into a calling I've resisted for the better part of my adult life.
It seems a common topic of conversation these days that the world is pretty chaotic. We find so many things hard to understand - from violence in the name of peaceful religion, to laws which seem to increase suffering for some in the 'best interests' of others, or just decisions to which we can only stammer 'But... but... that's just wrong!' At heartfelt level, become intellect and rationality, we know this and are flummoxed that the other person cannot even grasp the possibility
The craziness of 'everyday' life is brought home to me often, largely because of my work as a Professional Priest. This brings two worlds colliding in a very real sense. The secular, normal, nuts-and-bolts life that generally allows for the concept of spirituality but with an undercurrent of nervousness, unsure how to engage with it for fear of offending - and the spiritual, soul-deep understanding that we are actually all humans muddling through some greater journey together, albeit with a similar suspicion that the 9-5 family-and-day-job is mad in its own way. Is one more important than another? Is one more real than another?
“The journey to become a priestess…(even of the urban variety) remains a grueling task, not something capable of being conferred by a few weekend workshops or sweat lodges. The glibness with which such terms are used can be infuriating…” –Vivienne Vernon-Jones in Voices of the Goddess by Caitlin Matthews
“The Goddess is not only for the temple, she must be carried out into the world to wherever she is needed…” –Vivianne Crowley (in Voices of the Goddess edited by Caitlin Matthews)
I recently finished writing a paper for my The Role of the Priestess course at Ocean Seminary College. This course explores the three roles of a priestess in depth: counselor (mentor), ritualist, and teacher. The first paper was designed to explore the role of priestess as counselor and I found it very difficult to write. After some reflection, I realized the difficulty was due to three personal reasons: doubt that I “deserve” to call myself a priestess, doubt about my own ability to fulfill the counselor part of the role, and fear of not being “good enough” or “perfect” enough to fulfill this piece of the priestess role. I am fairly comfortable with the roles of ritualist-ceremonialist and of teacher and I also feel good about how well I already fulfill those roles. The Counselor though. She’s scary. Am I good enough? Can I really do this? Who do I think I am?