In ancient times Priestesses had roles to fill. They were temple keepers, they dressed the deities within those temples; an act of dressing the Goddess herself. They were healers, seers and oracles, passing on inspiration and insight from the deity they served and acting as their earthly representatives. The most famous of these Oracles was the Pythia, the name given to the Delphic Oracle at the temple of Apollo in Greece.
Today’s Priestesses aren't so different. We still fulfil all of the roles mentioned above and much more. Today we are also mothers, teachers, partners, bread-winners, political activists and champions of women’s rights. As chameleon mistresses of change and adaptation the modern Priestess, like the Goddess, has many names and many faces.
A Priestess serves the Goddess. But how do we qualify our service, and what is the Goddess? The Goddess is the Feminine Divine. In esoteric lore She is the mater side of the spirit/mater dual nature we call reality. The Goddess is nature’s soul, or creation made manifest. All of humanity is a part of that creation, as is human evolution. So to be in service to the Goddess is to be in service to humanity.Service does not mean subservience, or to be lower than that which we serve. Service is to act in a selfless manner, to think of others before we think of ourselves, and to be as ever-giving as the Goddess Herself. Service is to embody your own highest good and to truly live as a Priestess every day of our lives, “walking our talk”.
The roles of a Priestess take many forms. She acts as celebrant at ceremonies and rituals, witnesses the passage of life from birth to death and beyond. She teaches about the nature of the Goddess, provides healing and embodies the Goddess as her oracle or vessel. A Priestess offers wise counsel and helps us to see beyond the veils.
Considering this description of what makes a Priestess, how many women out there are actually fulfilling these roles? Is it not so that many of us could legitimately call ourselves Priestess? Whether we know it or not, surely each healer, spiritual teacher, women’s rights activist etc is acting in service to humanity? So why do so many of us still remain hidden in our societies?
Showing our faces
It takes great courage to declare and stand up for one's spiritual beliefs, especially when those beliefs are not in the mainstream. I remember the first time I mentioned the Goddess to my mother, a dedicated Roman Catholic. She replied with “there’s no such thing as a Goddess, only God”. I am sure many of you have come across such resistance. Unfortunately many of the old stereotypes surrounding women’s spirituality and power still exist. I can recall the sheer horror on a colleague's face when I told him I classed myself as a Witch!
In Goddess spirituality we have no creed or scripture to follow. We have no orthodox beliefs or ceremonies or Mother church. We have nature and myths, the remnants of a spiritual culture that stretches back into the aeon we are living out. We have fragments of memory and ancestral remembrances glimpsed in half light. We have pantheons of familiar and foreign Gods and Goddesses.
We do not truly know how the Goddess was venerated before She became many names and faces. And yet in all of this we have the opportunity to write our own story. We have the very fabric of the Goddess’s creative energy to draw upon so that we can construct our own spirituality for future generations. It’s how we validate this through our experience and make it practical that counts today.
We can build up the energy of Goddess in our own minds and bring that thought-form into reality. But as Priestesses we must remember that that which we create in Her image is reflected in us. Goddess is non-separate, Goddess is not transcendent but immanent, within us, in each cell that makes up our being.
Have you ever considered yourself as “already there” when it come to Goddess Spirituality? Or do you still search for Her outside of your own reality and outside of yourself? Unless we can be honest with ourselves about our own power, love and intelligence, our true Priestess cannot come forward. Part of this honesty is about openness when it comes to our beliefs and acknowledgement when it comes to our offerings of service.
Many of us who have been brought up within a patriarchal religion must gently remind ourselves that just because we met God first doesn’t mean we have to simply erase the memory and supplant Him with a supreme female deity.
For me there is no such thing as God or Goddess separate. No one deity watching over my life or steering the rudder, that’s my job. The freedom this knowledge gives me allows me to choose the path of the Divine Feminine to come to know myself. It makes sense, I am a woman and when I see my own divinity I see the Goddess.
I always say the first act of service should be a selfish one, as each woman Priestesses her own re-birth into her own power through the energy of the Goddess. As each woman takes on the role of Priestess of herself, we can move women’s spirituality forward. The angry phase of the 1960s and 70s when the movement was being born out of feminism is passing by. The new generations are no longer angry; we have our mothers and grandmothers to thank for that and their ceaseless pursuit of equality. I know there is still much work to do, especially in terms of the world view of women, but those power struggles have shifted.
These days our power struggles are becoming more internalised. We seek the truth buried within our intuition. We desire to overcome our emotional whims and are becoming more discerning. We are deciding what choices need to be made in this age of multitudinous choice and learning to take risks, and even daring to fail. These are the difficulties facing our daughters.
I can see that the Goddess needs to move on in our minds and in our hearts now. The anger our mothers and grandmothers expressed for us broke the eggshell and now the chick has fledged. So isn’t it time we really mastered our flight, acknowledged every woman a Priestess and flew home to the Goddess within ourselves?