The Return of the Priestess

by Sharon Fallon Shreve
I’m often asked, “What is a priestess and what does she do?”

A simple explanation is to offer Webster’s definition: a priestess is a woman who officiates in sacred rites. While this is quite accurate, in truth, a priestess is and does so much more. She serves the spiritual needs of the community.

Long ago the priestesses in communities carefully observed the patterns and rhythms of Nature. Attuning to earth’s cycles, they honored the Great Mother by performing sacred seasonal rituals. Women, seen as an embodiment of the Great Mother, were deeply revered, honored and celebrated for, like the earth, a woman too was able to grow life within her. Later in history, Roman, Greek, and Egyptian priestesses lived in holy temples. They, too, worshiped the Great Mother, the Goddess in Her many forms. They served the spiritual needs of the community as well and were also held in high esteem. Numerous hierarchies and historical events ensued. Soon, men began to fear the power of priestesses. The natural spiritual and mystical practices of priestesses were viewed as evil. Their power, greatly misunderstood, was thought to be a dark force that needed to be annihilated. Thousands of priestesses were persecuted, put to death for their beliefs and spiritual practices. Those managing to escape death fled their holy temples and went underground into hiding.

Today, in the midst of a two-thousand-year period of patriarchy, a modern-day priestess is emerging. She brings to present times richly-steeped ancient wisdom, integrating past spiritual teachings with a few spins of her own. In addition to her work as Priestess, she may also have a family and hold a conventional job as well. She holds within a deep moon-water essence, and her mission is to help bring into fruition the vital life-force energy of the almost forgotten Divine Feminine. Intuitively, she knows a conversion to a matriarchy isn’t what’s currently needed. A modern-day priestess instead directs her energy to restoring a natural, harmonious balance between the genders and All That Is. Weaving her fluid moon-water essence with the energies of the fixed sun-fire masculine, she helps re-birth Sacred Union.

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.

With courage and grace, a modern-day priestess journeys the continuous ascents and descents of life’s spiral. Constant deep inner work is a must. Confronting, clearing, healing past wounds energetically empties her of what no longer serves use or purpose. Going into the inner realms…quiet times of reflection, prayer, meditation…enables her to better “see” and “sense” her truth more clearly. Hard work and perseverance bring rewards. Soon she begins to recognize herself as a unique expression of the face of the Divine Mother. She learns to value and deeply honor her own femininity. She becomes a holy vessel, better able to hold sacred space for all humankind.

A priestess is dedicated to serving the beauty, love, and spirit in all life. She learns how to attune to and work sacredly with all energies, particularly those of Nature and the elements. Like a fluid dance of ebb and flow, a priestess works passionately to raise the vibration of our physical world, infusing it with sacredness. Illuminating all that she is and does a priestess experiences great joy when performing divinely-inspired ceremony and ritual. Often compared to a Shaman, she is able to position herself between the visible and invisible worlds, residing in the valley of enriched tension lying between the two dimensions. A High Priestess works with even finer, more subtle energy frequencies. Archetypically speaking, she is a direct emissary of the Divine Feminine represented here on Earth.

A Magdalene (another name for a High Priestess), is the trademark used for a lineage of present-day priestesses first birthed by Nicole Christine in Tuscan, Arizona in 1994. Differing from priestesses who adhere to particular religious or earth-based practices, a Magdalene is non-sectarian, wholly sovereign unto herself.

And So It Is. Blessed Be!

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© 2006 by Sharon Fallon Shreve