There are two distinct evolutions of my priestess path, and I want to share them both with you. I don’t generally talk much about my priestess path, because it’s so interwoven with who I am. I’m seeing quite a rise in conversations about the path of the priestess as the sacred feminine energies on the planet expand and deepen, so it feels like the right time to tell my stories.
If you’ve been following my work, you’ll probably know that my childhood sexual abuse led to adult sexual addiction and that I acted out sexually for over 20 years before I chose to face the pain that my addiction was covering up. When I was finally ready to heal, there was no turning back. It was just a matter of finding the right kind of help and support.
What is a modern-day priestess?
Before we dive into the stories, let’s talk about what it means to be a modern-day priestess. Does she wear robes and special jewelry? Will you find her in sacred temples and at sacred sites? Has she taken vows?
The modern priestess is as diverse and individual as today’s women are. She’s a leader who upholds and honors the feminine aspect of divinity. She may call herself a ceremonialist or ritualist. She has done and continues to do her own personal work, including her shadow work, and holds herself accountable for the reality she creates. Her priestess work may be intertwined with her work in the world or it may be completely separate. She may be out in the public eye as a priestess or she may keep it completely private. While some priestesses choose to take vows, they are generally commitments to be true to her soul rather than the old-school vows that were dictated by a religious order, such as chastity, poverty, and obedience. She knows how to navigate mythical realms and work with archetypal energies. She’s a powerful force for awakening consciousness on the planet.
Being a priestess is a calling, often from deep within the soul. Many modern-day priestesses feel they have lived previous lifetimes as priestesses and have been persecuted in some of those past lives for their beliefs and practices. This comes as no surprise considering the systematic persecution of medicine women, healers, midwives, and herbalists that took place from the 14th to 18th centuries. When I began my priestess path in the late 1990’s, we were still hidden and secretive. And that’s where my story begins… in the year 1998. Let’s go back and see what’s happening.
The element of fire
Today, I’m going to a women’s firewalk and sweat lodge weekend. It’s way out in the country, about an hour’s drive from home. I’ve never been here before, and I have no idea why I’m doing this. What I do know is that I’m choosing to heal myself from a lifetime of stuffing away and ignoring the pain of my childhood sexual wounding. I just can’t run from it anymore… and I’m ready to face whatever I need to face. Therapy isn’t enough, and I need something that goes deeper than talking.
I arrive and park near one of the garden areas lying dormant for the winter behind deer fences. Two large buildings are visible on the property. I head for the building that looks like a house and my host, Johanna, greets me at the door and says, “Welcome, I’m so glad you came!” I smile shyly and go inside. I don’t know anyone here. Fifteen or so women gather in the living room, some of us sitting on the floor. I feel fearful and excited and eager. We sit in a circle and we each introduce ourselves.
The other large building on the property houses the temple. Walking through the door, I see a kitchen that opens onto an office space with another room beyond. The temple doors are hinged wooden shutters, like saloon doors, which are being opened from the inside by another host. She beckons us inside.
Entering the temple
The heady scent of sage smoke fills the air as I step down the three stairs into the temple. The carpet is light blue and very soft on my bare feet. A beautiful soapstone wood stove on the opposite wall gently heats the room. Along the walls of the high-ceilinged and open room are shelves filled with sculptures and images of the female form in all shapes and sizes. Animal carvings and feathers sit among the sculptures and an owl’s wing hangs from the ceiling on fishing line. Drums and other instruments reside in a corner. On some level I understand that this is a temple dedicated to the Goddess, although I have never seen such a thing before. I feel safe here, held in the arms of the ethereal feminine sacredness that permeates the room.
It’s an amazing weekend, filled with new experiences and bonding with new women friends. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before, and it’s exhilarating to have my eyes opened to a whole new world. The certified firewalk instructor is a High Priestess, and I have no idea what that means, but I’m intrigued and I want to know more. I go home and start doing research online.
I turn up words like Wicca, pagan, and witch, and those words scare me at first. Aren’t witches evil? That’s what christianity has told us. Though I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious home, I did go to church at various times in my life and had christian beliefs instilled in me by the society at large.
And yet… I feel such a strong resonance. After doing quite a bit of research, I ask Johanna if she will train me as a priestess and she replies that she’s not ready at this time to begin a priestess circle. I continue my online research with an increasingly ravenous appetite for information and pester Johanna for months on end. Finally, one day, she hands me an invitation. At the top it says, Priestess 2000, and it will be a 6-month journey to becoming an initiated priestess. This is what I’ve been waiting for. I am 100% in. I give her a check the same day and commit to the monthly circles.
The power of 13
There are 13 of us in the circle and I learn the significance of the the number 13 and how it’s been vilified by those who have sought to suppress the goddess religions. We learn about the Wheel of the Year and how to create ceremonies around the themes of the high holy days… the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days, aligned with the cycles of the seasons. We learn about the goddesses that are associated with different holy days. We learn to safely evoke natural altered states of consciousness through ceremony and to call forth elemental energies. It’s incredibly exciting and I’m diving deep into each teaching and each ceremony.
There’s something about working with mythological themes that are as ancient as the earth herself that bring up powerful reflections in me. I’m doing deep inner work in these circles, and it’s just what I was hoping for. I’m am well and truly on my healing path. I learn about the underworld and feel a strong resonance with it, having three planets in Scorpio in my astrological birth chart. I’ve got some deep underworld work to do. Let the excavation begin.
Our February 2nd Imbolc priestess initiation weekend is powerful. We get to choose a new name, a priestess name, to be initiated with. I choose Lilith, a powerful goddess with talons for feet who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. We work with themes of ego death and rebirth in a new form. We work with portals of energy and ceremonial processes that have deep meaning. Our celebration dinner is spectacular beyond words, all made by the hand of our High Priestess, Johanna, and served to us with an incredible depth of love and honoring.
I know I want to be ordained. While many are initiated as priestesses, only a few choose the path of ordination. Joanna says it’s too soon, that it’s not like collecting a title. I must practice my path as an initiate for period of time. Three years later, I am ordained Lady Gaea in a beautiful ceremony with my closest friends around me. I make a flower crown and decorate my hands and feet with henna for the occasion. I find a ceremonial dress that I still have to this day. I receive gifts and as a special surprise for my guests, give gifts to them. I am a High Priestess of the Goddess and Johanna encourages me to go forth and initiate women as priestesses.
Death and rebirth
I am also going through a divorce with my second husband. I’ve been on my recovery path for a few years, but my alcoholic husband refuses to recover. I can’t stay in a codependent relationship any longer. It’s a messy and painful breakup and he simply cannot understand why I’m leaving.
This healing path of the priestess is very supportive and helpful, but I find that my sexuality still feels like it has a long way to go. I’ve continued with therapy over the course of several years, and it doesn’t seem to be touching the deeper issues of my uncontained sexual energy. I can tell that I’m not fully in integrity with my sexual energy, but I don’t know what to do about it. It’s frustrating.
When the earth tilts
Have you ever had one of those moments when you know your entire life is about to shift? It’s like the world kind of tilts, and doesn’t quite land back in the same configuration it was in before. I have a moment like this at Harbin Hot Springs. I see there’s a free class being offered called “The Sacred Art of the Striptease” by Diane Greenberg, and I take the class. At the end of the class, I ask her if I can use this teaching in the divine feminine classes I’m offering. She replies, “Have you heard of the Divine Feminine Mystery School?” I say, “No, I haven’t, please tell me more!”
The Divine Feminine Mystery School, which will later be known as Divine Feminine Institute, is a certification program that teaches people how to be sexual healing teachers and practitioners. I know this is exactly what I need. I go to a sexual healing weekend workshop with Caroline Muir and Joan Heartfield and at the end, they offer up the 2-year certification program that’s just getting started. I have no idea how I’m going to pay for it, but I commit to the entire program. The trajectory of my life is about to change considerably.
The second priestess emerges
The school is based on Maui, and after taking one of the 10-day intensives, I know this is where I’m supposed to live. I am called to live there by the island herself. I want to be close to the school, to be part of it. I find ways to be more involved beyond the role of the student. My priestess path shifts on its axis when I move to Maui. I no longer conduct ceremonies for the high holy days. I no longer gather in circle with other priestesses. I no longer initiate women as priestesses. I have a new focus now, and that is to heal my sexuality so that I can, for the first time in my life, have a relationship that is loving, supportive, passionate, and healthy.
The Divine Feminine Institute puts me to work as an office assistant. While my outer priestess morphs into an administrator, my inner priestess continues to have initiations and give birth to the next level of her priestess arts. My priestess path becomes more practical and less esoteric for a time.
I’m bringing a powerful aspect of my priestess path to my sexual healing training, the aspect of empty presence. As a priestess, I’ve learned to be a conduit of divine energy, an empty chalice for the Goddess to flow though. To be a clear vessel, I must be fully present with myself and with others. Holding powerful space comes quite naturally to me. This is somewhat different from what I’m being taught, which is more in the line of tantric teachings about exchanging energy. What feels best to me is to simply BE with another when facilitating a healing session as they do their inner work without interference from me… without me steering the session energetically or projecting any energies toward them.
The cauldron of the unknown
Empty presence becomes the key to taking the sexual healing work I learn to the next level. The Divine Feminine Mystery School comes to a close with me at the helm just after my 50th birthday, and my breast cancer diagnosis soon follows. I release my sexual healing work to attend to this fork in the road. Another level of my priestess path is being called forth from me. Though my physical healing from breast cancer is speedy and joyful, I find myself in a space of not-knowing. A cauldron or womb space, where what is gestating has not yet been born. My previous work has fallen away, and what’s next has not revealed itself. I write my second book, Dancing with Breast Cancer-The Sacred Feminine Path to Wholeness, a journey through breast cancer that flows around the wheel of the year.
I’m grateful to have some work to do in this interim time, and my commitment to myself is to be with and in this state of not-knowing without pushing for answers or imposing my will. This is my greatest takeaway from my breast cancer experience: I trust that all will be revealed and that I will be perfectly guided.
In the year after breast cancer, I answer a call to the depths of my priestess being to attend a very special gathering in Scotland at the Callanish Standing Stone complex. It’s an incredibly powerful experience.
It’s become clear that teaching sexual healing truly is my sacred work, and I’m drawn back into teaching it after a 5-year hiatus. What unfolds from there is nothing less than the revelation of a Global Vision to create a new school, The Sacred Feminine Mystery School, to train and certify facilitators in the feminine presence-based evolution of the sexual healing work. I get started right away.
This vision leads me to Glastonbury and the Chalice Well, to the South of France and the temples and places sacred to Mary Magdalene, all guided by Mary Herself. I find my priestess heart’s home in the Chalice Well Gardens. Mary assures me that the work I’m doing is Her work. The priestess work, the sexual healing work, all of it. She calls me to bring the priestess work and the sexual healing work together in Avalon and to include private initiations in the Chalice Well Gardens and the White Spring.
Then covid hits and everything gets postponed for a year. The story is still unfolding and you have an opportunity to be part of it. The Sacred Feminine Sexual Mysteries of Avalon for women is set for June 7-11, 2021. With initiations in the Chalice Well Gardens and sexual healing and awakening practices in the Goddess Hall in Glastonbury.
Having walked through some of the darkest of underworlds, I have gained the capacity to hold exponentially more brilliant light than ever before. Through the alchemy of transformation, I have separated and continue to separate the gold from the dross in the crucible of my body, my emotions, and my heart. This is what it means to be a priestess.
To take full responsibility for the life I am creating… every relationship, every circumstance, every situation. To show up as a sovereign, autonomous woman of immense compassion, power, and discernment. To use my capacity to channel the sacred feminine mysteries through my being and ground them on the planet. And to continuously upgrade my consciousness and raise my frequency with fearless courage and fierce commitment.
Are you a priestess?
I chose a path of initiation and ordination, but the path I took is not required. You have within you a latent potential to claim your priestesshood if this is what resonates for you. All kinds of formal initiations, trainings, and ceremonies are available in myriad forms by a wide range of teachers and leaders, but they are not required.
What is required is commitment, courage, and consistency in clearing out your wounding, embracing and integrating your shadows, and stepping fully into a soul-guided empowered feminine leadership role. Robes and special jewelry are optional!
Sexual healing and the priestesshood go hand in hand, as sexual healing is the most overlooked aspect of returning to wholeness. If you are ready to take your first steps on the path of sexual healing, I created this just for you: The Sacred Feminine Path to Sexual Wholeness-The Alchemy of Abundance, a unique 6-module self-guided online course. I will take your hand (metaphorically) and guide you gently, safely, and gracefully to begin this important healing process. Please enjoy a 50% off coupon on me: amrita50
Blessed be, Amrita