Priestess is a Verb

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It’s been almost a year since I chose the word “Priestess” as my power word for the year — or rather, since it chose me. And over the last turn of the Wheel the work — because above all, being a priestess is work — has found me in the most unexpected places. For a long time I resisted applying the word priestess to myself, at least when I wasn’t actively in a circle and leading a ritual, because it seemed too loaded, too pretentious. As a Goddess woman who is completely self-taught — or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, whose training has been completely self-directed, as I have had wonderful mentors — rather than having been trained up through a formal coven system, I have balked at using the term for myself in any but the most basic of senses.

Part of that is because I believe that priestess is fundamentally a verb — it is something we do, and no amount of titles and public recognition and fancy rituals can make you a Priestess if you’re not out there doing the work.

Well, now I find myself, sometimes unexpectedly, out there doing the work. A monthly women’s full moon circle. A private new moon circle. Workshops. Retreats. Labyrinth walks. Somehow I have become someone who is priestessing as often as she is not. And even more, I find myself priestessing in the most everyday of activities, having to walk my walk and stand up for the values and politics that underpin my spirituality, in the most mundane of settings.

Except for that they’re not mundane, because it’s all sacred.

That’s perhaps been one of the major lessons of my Priestess Year thus far. I found that my priestess work extends far beyond what many people might recognize as spiritual work or service. And I’ve found that it’s nigh impossible for me to do that work without it being supported by my fundamental values, the beliefs and principles that drive my priestessing — equality, justice, inclusion, collaboration. This has meant I’ve had to turn down some opportunities, say good-bye to some groups and relationships, and stand up and say NO even when it would have been the easier path to say YES. (And, conversely, I’ve had to say YES even when the easier path would have been to say NO. Funny how that works.)

I’ve had to say good-bye to aspects of my Goddess community because they would not say NO to exclusionary, bigoted, reductionist beliefs about what it means to be a woman.

But that means I’ve gotten to say YES to a host of new relationships with people of all genders who are working to create a Goddess Movement that is liberatory for all.

I’ve had to say NO to burlesque performing opportunities when it became clear that people involved with the show in question held racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, transphobic — or even worse, “all of the above” — beliefs.

But that means I’ve gotten to say YES to performing in some great shows, and to making my burlesque performances truly a part of the work of priestessing.

I’ve had to say NO to gatherings and festivals where I knew there wouldn’t be respect for boundaries and consent, or where people I loved would not be welcome because of who they are.

But that means I’ve gotten to say YES to new spaces and new relationships.

Most of all, saying NO has freed me up to really do this work, to step into it fully. It’s allowed me to say YES to my Priestess Year.

That made me think of this poem, which I’ve taught in an Intro to Women’s Studies class and love so much, by Kaylin Haught:

God Says Yes To Me

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

 

 

This post is mirrored at my PaganSquare blog, Third Wave Witch

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About dreamingpriestess

Susan Harper, Ph.D., aka The Dreaming Priestess, is an educator, activist, advocate, and ritual specialist living and working in the Dallas, Texas area.
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