high priestess

SpellCrafting: Spells & Rituals

December, 2018

Yule Ritual

 

Merry meet.

Below is a Yule ritual written for a group, which can easily be modified to be done as a solitary. Read through, making note of what to gather and how to set it up.

The altar can be a candle on the floor, or raised up in the center on a small table.

Traditional colors for altar cloths are gold, silver, red, green and white.

SET UP:

Set up your altar with seasonal botanicals, directional candles.

Designate a place for guests to put coats and, if desired, shoes

Arrange so that before people enter the ritual space they can place their cares and woes in a burden basket or other receptacle (a lidded casserole dish or cookie jar, a purse that snaps shut, a box) and then step forward and be cleansed with smoke. (A cauldron can be placed where guests can waft the smoke themselves, or a person can be designated to smudge others after being smudged themselves)

Find a seat and listen to soft music

High Priestess:

We gather tonight in perfect love and perfect trust to celebrate the winter solstice. On this longest night of the year, let us accept Yule’s gifts of quiet and dark. For a long moment, everything pauses. There is a stillness that settles over the land. A stillness for which there are no words. Darkness rules. Tonight we will sit in this darkness that precedes the light’s rebirth.

Take a moment to get here, to feel the surroundings and the welcome with which this place greets you.

I’m going to ring chimes three times. As we all align ourselves with its vibrations, we will meld as a group.

Ring three times, letting each ring fade to silence before doing the next. High Priestess says:

Be here now.

As we cast our circle, see it as an equator, then see the ring flip up and over to become a sphere, pushing the energy to the exterior of this building.

With thumbs facing left, begin by using your left hand to take the right hand of the person to your left and say:

Hand to hand, I cast this circle

Each person does the same. When the circle is complete, the High Priestess says:

See our arms making a circle. With each breath, strengthen the circle. Now, imagine it to be like an equator, and spin the circle up, over and down so that it creates a sphere. Now push that sphere out to encompass this room. Keep breathing, and enlarge the sphere so that it fills this whole unit and extend outside the walls, and into the basement below. Now, see the outer skin of this sphere become soft and foggy, smoky, like a mist rising from a lake in the early morning. When we leave, we will walk though that foggy edge as we reenter the mundane world.

Take another three breaths … and know we are between the worlds. May all we do tonight be for the highest good and greatest joy of all.

Sing “There Is No Time” by Kellianna” three times.

There is no time but now, there is no place but here,
In the sacred we do stand, in a circle hand in hand.

High Priestess:

Let us summon the spirits of the four quarters. We’ll start facing north because winter begins with the quarter of the wheel associated with earth.

Person calling North:

Mother Earth, barren trees now decorate the land that has sustained us. In this restful moment, let us find safety and stability. Hail and welcome.

Place greens such as mistletoe, holly and pine boughs on the altar, on the north side of the candle.

Person calling East:

Brother Air, I listen for the cold winds from your winter wings, but tonight all is still. In this quiet darkness, help us find inspiration. Hail and welcome.

Light incense, or place a feather, bells or other representation of East on the altar.

Person calling South:

Father Sun, source of fire, here in the night, awaiting your
return, we ask that the memory of your warmth temper our spirit. Hail and welcome.

Place pieces of lava or other symbol of fire such as chili peppers or coffee beans on the south side of the altar.

Person calling West:

Sister Water, your snow and ice have covered our world.
Beneath this blanket, let our emotions find healing and renewal. Hail and welcome.

Place a container of water from melted snow, a Yule rain or other source, or a representation of water on the west side of the altar.

Person calling center:

We stand in the center, spirit in body and know we are divine. Spirit is a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, between body and soul. Guide us as we walk in both worlds. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of spirit, perhaps a crystal or a butterfly in the center.

Person calling the crones:

Queen of Winter Cailleach Bheur (kall yeck burr), Dark Mother Demeter (da meet her), Keeper of the Cauldron Cerridwen, Kali, Mother Holle (hell her), Nicneven (nick na vin), The Morrigan (more’ a gain) – we welcome you crones and ask you to help us transition as you transform to the maiden giving birth to the sun. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of crone – a bone, a cauldron, a crescent moon, owl, wolf, crow or raven. – in the center.

Person calling the sun:

Father Sun, Winter King, the Sage, Apollo, Ra, Horus, Ravi, Shamash – we welcome you to our circle. You are reborn tonight, bringing light, bringing life. You demonstrate the endless cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. Hail and welcome.

Place a symbol of the sun god – gold, a representation of the sun, a baby Oak King – in the center.

High Priestess, in her customary way, invites people to put their names in the circle. If desired, she allows people to put other names in the circle for blessings and energy.

There is a magic in all the seasons. Winter’s magic is the most concise, most dense. It is diamond magic, cold and brilliant, focused and precise.

Each season also has its own wisdom, but winter’s wisdom includes them all. Everything is clear. What is invisible in growing times becomes plain in the starkness of winter. From winter, you can remember spring, summer and fall by the patterns they’ve left behind.

There is not yet a call to begin again. Beginnings will come soon enough. This is the fallow time. This is the time of rest. The waiting brings both strength and vulnerability.

When winter comes, we withdraw into the deepest spaces of our inner selves. As the world sleeps, its energy, like yours, turns within. Your inner sight expands. There is much to see beyond appearances. It is bone time. Nothing is hidden. With your winter eyes, let yourself see everything.

This is a time of reflection, insight, visions and wisdom. In the velvet dark are the secrets we keep from ourselves … one of those secrets is who we really are. Find that you hidden in the darkness.

It may appear we are resting, but in winter we are creating a new universe within ourselves, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, secretly feeding that which needs to thrive. With calm deliberateness, we know what to save and bring into the next season.

When we blow out these candles, feel yourself in this deep, dark space, the place from which all is born. Feel the warmth and safety of this womb on this cold night. This place of darkness is the source of life. Feel that energy waiting, still, quiet, for life to begin. That is the energy of the dark. This is the time of before.

That energy is within you. Sit with it. Be the dark from which all things will come. Be the dark that holds the coiled sleeping snake, the crocus bulb frozen in the ground. All life has moved to the center, hidden in the darkness. In this space, feel the energy of all that is yet to be.

Winter is not all about death, it’s also about reflection and insight, and reconnecting to the source deep within the dark. One day in the not too distant future, the dance will begin again. Let that knowledge be a comfort to you, but do not call for it. For now is not its time.

We need the dark to balance the light. Honor its presence.
Offer gratitude for the power it gives us to dream our deep sleep awake.

I will signal when there are 5 minutes left in the meditation

Extinguish candle

Start timer

Give 5-minute notice with rattle, bell or drum

High Priestess:

Welcome back. Take a moment to get here.

We’re going to pass the talking stick so that all who wish may share their thoughts or experiences in sacred space.

High Priestess:

Grounding eliminates the excess energy you may have accumulated during a ritual or other working. Take time now to breath three slow, deep breaths as you imagine the energy you do not need draining out of your body, out of your fingers and your feet. Offer it to the earth below.

Food also helps us ground.

Present cakes and ale, speaking only to say

May you never hunger / Nor you

May you never thirst / Nor you

 

High Priestess:

We are drawing to the end. As we prepare to release the elements, I will light this candle from the spirit candle. We will pass out candles and a drip guard. You’ll take them both home with you.

I thank each of you for bringing the gift of yourself to this circle, for adding your energy to the magic of tonight. Let us bring a piece of this quiet calm with us as we return to our mundane lives that we may walk in peace.

After we light the candles, we’ll sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night” twice. Then, I ask that you to gather your things, attend to your needs and leave … all in silence … as we return to the mundane world.

Releasing the Crones

Crones we thank you for showing us how to die and be reborn. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Releasing the Sun

Father Sun, on this deepest dark night, we welcome back your light. Blessed Be.

Releasing Water

Sister Water, thank you for your presence, love and healing. Blessed Be.

Releasing Fire

Father Sun, source of fire, thank you for your warmth and passion. Blessed Be.

Releasing Air

Brother Air, thank you for your presence and your inspiration.
Blessed Be.

Releasing Earth

Mother Earth, thank you for your presence as we leave grounded and renewed. Blessed Be.

High Priestess: Begin by lighting the candle of the person to your left, saying:

May you embrace the return of the light.

Sing “Silent Night, Solstice Night”

And merry part. And merry meet again.

NOTE: This ritual draws heavily on the poem “The Winter Woman” from “Seasons of the Witch: poetry & Songs to the Goddess” by Patricia Monaghan and Arctic Siren Singers

***

About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Nikki Sleath’s Book Explains Witchcraft to the Unfamiliar, for PaganPagesOrg She Talks About Her Magick to the Familiar

November, 2017

 

 

Just in time for Halloween, Nikki Wardwell Sleath self-published “You Might Be a Witch.” It provides a simple overview of the Craft, defining what modern day witches think and what they practice, dispelling myths along the way.

In the first half of the 103-page book, she talks about her own life, going from a child with no magickal exposure to a woman in her 40s who is the founder and High Priestess of the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick.

The second half of the book covers such topics as the general belief systems of a witch, the ethics of magick and how to speak to skeptics. It ends with a twenty-question, multiple-choice quiz to see if you’re “Cautiously Curious,” “A Witchlet in the Making” or ready for a coven.

 

 

It’s totally just for fun; the questions are stereotypical,” she said.

Sleath hopes her book will increase public acceptance of earth-based spiritual practices and will help readers see the magick in themselves so they can be more accepting of it in others. Although she expected those who might be curious to purchase it, she said she’s also had many witches buy copies to give to their family and friends.

I think a lot of people are maybe a little more witchy than they think,” she said, noting that magick often exists in ways that may not be recognized.

For instance, when she was six and in the first grade, she wanted to win a raffle for the angel her teacher had made. It would go to the first student to guess the number the teacher had selected.

I knew the number was 11. I felt the same sense of disorientation that I would have when experiencing déjà vu, except that I also felt a surge of adrenaline, knowing I would win and that it somehow felt like cheating to have known the number ahead of time,” Sleath wrote in her book.

 

 

She did win, and 11 was to become a determining factor in many decisions and superstitions.

I still have to look away after seeing 11:11 on a clock out of superstition that if I look back again at it before it has changed to 11:12, that my wish will not come true,” she wrote.

Another form of divination she relied on as a child was to get the answer to a question by kicking off her shoe. If it landed face up, the answer was yes and if it landed facedown, the answer was no. If it landed on its side, she took it to mean there was continued uncertainty.

For a high school genealogy project, Sleath learned her eight-times great-grandfather was Samuel Wardwell, one of the “witches” hung in Salem. While she thought it was cool, that’s where it ended.

Prior to finding witchcraft, she said her big ah-ha moment was when she acted on psychic impulse.

I had been dating the same guy in college for three and a half years and I loved him. I thought we’d have a life together, I really did. But I didn’t know any better because I hadn’t had a higher quality relationship yet than that one. I didn’t know that all of these things that were weaknesses in it, I didn’t know them to be real problems.

 

 

Then, just one day, all of a sudden, the way that he spoke to me, I kind of realized it all and I made a snap decision: ‘You know, I think we’re done. I can’t do this any more.’ That was just an intuition in the moment. I wasn’t planning on breaking up with him that night,” she said.

The big moment came the next morning when she threw away his key.

I knew that once I did that, I would never go back to his apartment. As it’s going up in the air toward the giant hole of the Dumpster, I had images of myself, like flashes of myself forward through my life in various adult stages. Just me. No other people involved. And I saw myself confident. I saw myself professional. I saw myself rocking it out. I saw myself enjoying my life in all these different decades. And in my moment, I was at the age of 21, I was gifted with this big revelation that I am the one. I don’t need any guy for me to define happiness in my life. I knew I didn’t need a man for me to be happy. And I decided that I didn’t care at all. … It felt really incredible.”

It was only looking back that she realized how magickal that moment was.

As it turned out, the next day she was introduced to the man she later married.

That same year, she recognized a pattern that had been occurring. Each fall, she would become more psychic and have more instances of deja vu, “knowing exactly what someone was going to say before they say it, knowing what people’s thoughts were.” Then, come winter, she would go back to her normal intuitive level.

That started her researching.

I stumbled upon some good websites about the Craft and that hit me over the head. Everything I ever believed and didn’t know that it was all there as a practiced religious and spiritual way. When I was a kid going to a Protestant church, I just thought I wasn’t a spiritual person because I never had a spiritual experience there. And that couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

Sheath got her degree and became a physical therapist, but the structure of the healthcare system burned her out quickly. She started to study holistic practices beginning with meditation, yoga and Reiki and going on from there.

 

 

While practicing the Craft on her own, in 2012 she opened Nikki’s Nature, offering energy healing, aromatherapy, auriculotherapy and hypnotherapy. She did past life regressions and Reiki. She also began attracting students who wanted to learn witchcraft.

The coven in which she had trained moved back to New Orleans, so she began her own.

Then it just started snowballing, she said. “Since then I have been teaching the classes to an ever-increasing number of people.”

She moved her practice into a bright, airy space in an old ax factory in Canton, Connecticut.

When she had only a few students, lessons were individual. As more people came, she began groups that met weekly, together moving through her year and a day progressive curriculum. As one group completed its training, they were initiated. With night now open, she’d begin a new group.

 

 

It’s a magical religious practice and I take it very seriously as do all the people in my coven and my community. It’s a large community. Right now we have 41 active members in the coven and I have nine or ten new people starting in a couple of weeks, so it’s going to be 50 people. … It’s an awesome community. I keep it 100 percent drama free. I won’t allow anyone to stay if they make it ‘all about me’ or if they can’t hold themselves together.”

Of all she does, the magickal training is most in demand. The ninety-minute classes cost $20. Groups are about six to nine people – nearly all of whom are women.

It is really hard to find, and even sometimes when you do find it, it’s not great,” she said of training in the ways of the Craft. “It’s random. I have people in the coven who have been in other covens and a lot of them are more social and they don’t get organized, learning and deep magick done. They get together because they all identify as witches and they want to celebrate the full moon and do things like that, but I think there has to be structure in order to see routine, progressive growth,” Sleath said.

In my coven it is a true occult order. We teach ceremonial magick and so people have to learn the Golden Dawn style traditional ways of establishing sacred space, but then of course within that, the ritual varies depending on what it is. It’s different if it’s a moon or a sabbath – different things are done, but the whole casting and setting up of the space is very ceremonial in nature. It’s amazing because obviously, everyone can do whatever they want outside of the large group gathering that we have, if they want to experiment with other things. You do what you want, but by doing that routinely in a coven, they just wind up with such strong skills. They know that they can command energy and focus their words and their thoughts at a moment’s notice when they need to, and that’s an amazing thing that a lot of people can never get from a book. So that’s one of the big benefits of structured training and practices. The confidence in your skill set is just so much beyond anything that I could have achieved when I was a solitary, for sure.”

In their own practice, “what each individual person does can vary greatly depending on what their passions are, what their talents are, what makes them feel spiritually connected. And one of the cool things about witchcraft is there isn’t just one way of feeling connected to the divine. There’s so many ways and I think that’s one of the reasons people love it,” Sleath said.

Some people simply are into the nature and earth-based energy parts of magick in the Craft. Some witches find a lot of gratification in working with various deities, mythologies, spirits, angels. I do both of those things. I work with nature very closely, but I also have a lot of guides and deities that I have very personal relationships with. It’s intensely gratifying on many levels.”

After years of practice, dreamwork became a large part of Sleath’s magick.

 

 

Dreaming, I believe, is every person’s spiritual birthright, but … [it] is important for me as a witch. I get a lot of insight, a lot of precognitive information, a lot of direct energetic and communication experiences with the divine through my lucid dreaming practice that you would never be able to experience in waking.”

It was after about seven years into her dream work – journaling every day – before, she said, “my lucid dreaming ability blossomed to the point where the deepest magick I could ever imagine happens in that space. For me, that’s a big part of my practice.

A lot of times when I start talking about lucid dreaming, and some of the really deep magical stuff that has happened, people want to know if their dream was lucid. The thing is, if you have to ask that, it was not. Every lucid dream has a very intense tangible ah-ha moment when you go, ‘Oh my god, I’m dreaming,’ and your whole sensation changes and you’re aware that you’re in your bed. It’s not astral travel.”

In lucid dreaming, she said, you’re in a different reality, a dream reality but you’re aware of real time in ordinary reality while experiencing the dream. “In that state, because we’re not limited by the physics here and our physical body, you can practice magick in ways [you can’t in this plane]. You can actually shoot lightning out of your hands and make a banishing pentagram and watch it dissipate. You can do all of the things we do here symbolically and energetically, but see, as if you’re in Hogwarts, the effects. And it’s amazing. But the deep magick is not just that energy stuff and the flying and all of that, it’s how I’ve been able to actually experience goddesses directly and that’s something that I can’t even make someone believe. No one can ever really believe or know what I’m saying unless they experience it for themselves. … It’s unimaginable.”

By setting her intention in the dream time and then again in the morning, she feels “in the flow of what I want to get done in my life.” If there is something urgent, she’ll do a spell. However, she said, most of the spells she does are on behalf of others.

The hard part of doing spell work is really knowing what you want and understanding the underlying motivations and getting the statement and the vision in your mind super clear. Most people never get that far. They have a vague idea. And then it’s hard to manifest. Doing a spell for money is not a great idea. People do it all the time and it doesn’t usually work that well, and the reason is that money is an abstract concept. We don’t need the money. We need the things that money affords us in our lives,” Sleath said.

For that reason, she tells people, “If you can’t afford a new car, do a spell for a car, because you don’t know by what means that may end up becoming available to you.”

Spells must have a crisp vision and a clear understanding of the goal. Lining up the correspondences – colors, herbs, gems, astrological timing – give the spell energy.

 

 

I think many witches nowadays are very, very ethical. We talk about ethics all the time and how to appropriately point your thoughts and your goals so that it is always as well-intentioned as possible,” Sleath said. “I think many spells done by witches are actually much more ethical than a lot of prayers being done by good-intentioned Christians. For example, I don’t think it’s ethical to pray for an outcome for someone else. … You don’t even know that’s the best thing for that person. That would be the same as me doing a spell for someone without getting their permission.”

In addition to ethics, karma is another topic that comes up.

It’s a bone of contention with a lot of groups online right now; everyone’s arguing about it. I absolutely believe in karma. I absolutely believe that you will attract what you put out there. … I teach that to my students, that you have to be aware that your thoughts are very powerful and what you think about – and especially what you put out there magickally in sacred space – will also return to you, possibly in an amplified way.”

While some people may poo-poo karma, calling it an Eastern concept that does not fit with their tradition, she boils it down to energy and ethics, saying there’s a reason all religions subscribe to that.

You do attract what you give off. If you do magick at all, the things you put together are sympathetic magick; you’re operating under the assumption that like attracts like. Well, if you’re thinking about revenge, that attracts revenge. To me it’s that simple. Our thoughts absolutely draw circumstances to us.”

When crafting a ritual, she encourages an escape clause, explaining, “If you’re not positive that there won’t possibly be an ill effect on somebody or on yourself in the act of conducting this spell, then you need to have a statement in there such as, ‘As long as it be for the highest and best good of all involved.’”

Witches need to be able to work with both the light and the dark, she said.

Given that light and dark are balanced in the world. Everyone has light and darkness within themselves. … I never intend people harm and I make sure I’m super ethical in any magick that I do, but I teach people to do shadow work. I help people to not fear death and to understand the affect of their consciousness that exists on beyond the body so they don’t fear moving on. I’ve worked in hospice. … I work with a goddess who is very closely tied to death and so it’s actually been given to me as a mission, to help people not fear the dark [and how] to conduct themselves responsibly.”

Sleath intends to write a book about dreams.

 

 

People that have excellent dream recall often have magickal tendencies because – and I did my entire master’s thesis on this, on dream recall,” she said.

Her survey-based research correlated a person’s rate of dream recall to how well connected to nature they perceived themselves to be.
“It was off the charts, statistically significant,” she said. “People who rated themselves as feeling like they were very closely connected to nature have much higher dream recall than people who say that they’re not.

In the act of doing that project I read every study about dream recall that exists. All of the factors come down to mental clarity, so all of the things that make you better at remembering your dreams are things that increase your mental clarity [such as meditation]. … A lot of pharmaceuticals ruin your dream recall and it’s because they have an effect on your mental clarity.

If you have a general belief that dreams are worth remembering, you’ll remember more. Your open-mindedness to the metaphysical enhances your dream recall. There’s even political ones, like Republicans have worse dream recall than Democrats. People who exercise more recall dreams better. People who do creative stuff, like music or painting, they also have better dream recall.”

That book, however, will come after she complete the one she’s already started that puts together two different magickal approaches. Unlike her first book that was meant to be accessible to everyone with an open mind, this book will be for magickal practitioners to augment their own practice and their relationship with deities.

Her message to witches is: “You can’t just leave your magick for your gatherings, your moons and when you’re standing in front of your altar. You have to bring it with you into what you perceive as the mundane, otherwise, how is it really helping you? You’ve got to trail those sparkles with you through your work, through the things [you do]. … I think that’s where the depth of experience really comes from – when you can maintain and live in your enchanted world view all the time, even when you’re not literally standing in front of your altar or gathering together with your friends to do magick. That’s like immersion. That’s really your Craft. And there’s a lot of ways to do that.”

For more information, visit nikkisnature.com, email her at nikki@nikkisnature.com or call 860-212-0055.

For Amazon information, click image below.

 

***

About the Author:

 

 

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

Witches Soul Work

March, 2016

Witches Soul Work: The High Priestess is Not Your Girlfriend

Doreen

(Picture is Gardnerian HPS Doreen Valiente. For more about Doreen see: http://www.doreenvaliente.com/)

When I first met my High Priestess (HPS) Lady Rhiannon we were taking a course on-line together and sometimes got together for lunch. We became friends and later co-taught a class together. About a year later she invited me to join her Coven. I had studied Wicca for ten years at that point; a lot of reading and studying on line or by correspondence. I had also joined a Reclaiming women’s circle for a while and an Eclectic Witches Circle that was really a peer study group. I felt that studying under a ‘real’ HPS would be an important step for me and was very glad of the opportunity.

I remember my first Circle at her place in the forest, how exciting it was to drive into the country, park the car and walk to the sacred grove hidden within the trees. She greeted me warmly and my training in her Tradition started. She had already been a HPS for twenty years and I wanted to know what she knew! I noticed that within the Circle she seemed different; her energy was stronger and more vibrant and when she recited the Charge and called the Goddess her face shone and changed. She wasn’t just my friend anymore, she was my teacher.

This concept was easy for me to understand as a student of martial arts. My teacher in Ninjutsu was my friend until we stepped onto the mat. In the dojo he was the Sensei (Master) and we were attentive and respectful. What he was teaching us was precious and important as well as dangerous! So I knew how to switch my own hat from friend to student. In the Coven I had to do that as well but it was a little more difficult. A Coven is not a therapy or support group although we do support each other on our spiritual journeys. The friendships in Coven are not based on mundane parameters such as age, gender or hobbies but are connections at a soul level called in Gaelic ‘anam cara’ (soul friend). My HPS was now my spiritual guide, my soul friend, leading me deeper into the mysteries of my own spirituality. I couldn’t take off the Seeker hat outside the Circle because the training didn’t end when the Sabbat ended. My life had changed and so had my relationship with her.

One of the things my Sensei used to say is ‘don’t bring your stuff onto the mat’; in other words leave your ordinary problems outside and come onto the mat with a clear mind and ready to train. It was not always easy to do that! The same thing applies in Coven; we clear our minds and enter a level of consciousness that opens us to spiritual and magickal experiences. A true HPS brings the energy of the Goddess into the Circle, holds the energy and is able to feel where everyone is at during the ritual or magickal working. It’s not an easy task and takes many years of apprenticeship and practice with her own teacher. But I wanted what she had and I was willing to listen, be respectful and give up my friend hat for a while.

I have seen this become a problem in our Coven and other Covens especially when new Seekers meet the HPS before she becomes their priestess and teacher. They are attracted to her strength, wisdom, and spiritual glow; they want to be her friend! So they join the Coven and then find themselves in a different relationship. Some Seekers make the switch easily but others get angry; they want the HPS to treat them differently than the rest of the group like a teacher’s pet. They want to get together outside of Coven and hang out; they don’t want things to change. The HPS is not your girlfriend and understanding her role as teacher and spiritual mentor is also about giving up your ego. If you want to truly learn the Craft with a bona fide teacher you have to be humble. She doesn’t need to teach you! There are a lot of people who will never have the great fortune to study face to face with a trained Elder of the Craft.

Six years later when I was given Third Degree Initiation and become a HPS myself in her Tradition she said: “Now I am no longer your teacher, I am your sister!” I was very honoured to hear her say that but I responded: “You will always be my HPS.” In some ways she does feel like an older sister to me and I love her, but I never went back to just being her friend. Our relationship has become something much deeper at a soul level and I consider myself very lucky to have had that experience.

 

Rebel Rede

January, 2010

Who is a High Priestess?

Who is a high priestess? The literal answer is that she is someone is has received at least a third degree in a specific Pagan/Wiccan tradition and is the leader of a coven.  This definition is a brief and generic answer, because like most things in life there are gray areas. Someone can attend one public Pagan festival and have multiple women tell them they are a high priestess. Most likely each one of those “high priestesses” has a different definition of what that title means and they probably obtained their high priestess status differently as well. Is someone a high priestess just because she says she is? This is a tough question, and one that is not my place to answer. The real answer to “who is a priestess” is not found in someone’s credentials, but rather in their qualities.

A high priestess is a member of the clergy, just like in other religions. A clergyman is someone who the community looks up to, someone who people come to first in a crisis. Religious leaders not only lead their communities spiritually, but they are usually the ones running the local homeless shelter, the ones volunteering in their communities. A high priestess is first and foremost a leader. She is a leader in both her coven and in her community. A high priestess is someone who spiritually leads her coven and students. A high priestess takes care of her religious family spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially (when appropriate and possible) to the best of her ability. A spiritual leader is someone who puts others’ needs before their own. This means that being a high priestess is not necessarily a glamorous or easy job. The truth is that being a high priestess is a difficult job and is not for everyone. This is not true because only some are qualified to be a high priestess or because a high priestess is more special than other coven members, but because it takes hard work to be a true leader. Only some are meant to bare the burden of leadership. We are all priestesses of the Goddess, but not all of us take on a leadership role. Leadership takes effort and energy. A true leader is someone who inspires those they come into contact with. We all know these types of leaders, women who amaze and inspire us. Women like my mentor Angie or my high priestess Crystal. Women like Rosemary who not only organize multiple witches’ meetup groups, but who is starting the first eclectic Pagan church of Arizona. Women like Angie, Crystal, and Rosemary radiate the Divine through their actions and leadership. They spend endless amounts of energy guiding, coaching, and mentoring Pagans within their communities. Women like this inspire me to serve the Divine and my community better! Who is a high priestess? A high priestess is someone who looks in a mirror and sees the reflection of the Divine staring back at them. What do you see when you look in the mirror?