Signs of a True Elder, Master or Priest
Author: Patricia Telesco
I have been very disturbed by the increase in the use of titles like Priest, Priestess, Elder, Teacher, Shaman, Lady, and Lord in our community, specifically by those who really do not have the training to claim such honorable terms. You would not see anyone in the Christian church calling themselves by such a title without ordination and schooling, yet among neo-pagans it seems that nearly anyone who wishes to can take up a title and wield it for boon or bane.
Now, I realize that at the heart of things we are our own Priest and Priestess, but that’s far different than being the spiritual guide for many people (not to mention the difference in Karmic implications). To use a title without having earned it in the eyes of others, through training, or by calling is to dishonor all those who have earned their place as our teachers, elders, priests and priestesses. It also doesn’t present the most positive, responsible image of neo-paganism to outsiders who view such antics as manipulative power trips (often rightly so).
Reading one book does not make anyone an expert. Attending a year’s worth or rituals does not qualify a person for eldership or priesthood! In a world of seemingly shake-and-bake shamanism and instant priesthood, the route to true magical mastery isn’t traversed quickly or without sacrifice, and it can’t be found in the yellow pages. And it certainly has very little to do with a fancy or powerful sounding title. At its pinnacle, adepthood isn’t about impressing people; it’s a way of living and being. In other words, the focus is not on “talking the talk,” but on “walking the walk.” What are some of the signs of a true elder, master or priest?
How about someone who:
- Reclaims ancient knowledge, tradition, and powers, keeping them alive for future generations
- Safeguards magical history so that we can learn from the past in building the future
- Personally accepts the responsibility implied by gaining and using mystical knowledge and skill
- Honors the earth as a sacred space and use its resources wisely
- Acknowledges that life is an act of worship, and strives to keep his or her words and actions in accord
- Respects individual diversity, knowing there are many paths to enlightenment and that each person is a sacred space unto themselves.
- Embraces creativity and change as a fundamental necessity in keeping magic vital
- Encourages balance in all things, especially in his or her own life
- Teaches others the ways of magic in simple, understandable steps (no “instant enlightenment” no fluffy bunny magick).
- Offers metaphysical aid, consultation, and insights freely to those in need, without personal expectations of gain
- Gives back something to their art, or those who practice it
- Realizes that tools are only helpmates to magic. Real power comes from the mind, heart, and will working in harmony with earth and Spirit.
In some ways a priest or elder doesn’t ever “arrive” — we are always getting there, realizing that the more we know, the more we realize how LITTLE we know (smile). When we finally reach this understanding, we’re often ready to teach and lead with both heart and head; in balance is spiritual wisdom. In fact, I would hazard to guess that most people who are truly our priests, priestesses, elders and teachers are those who don’t have to say so – we just know it by the example of their lives!
Bio: Patricia Telesco is the mother of three, wife, chief human to 5 pets, and a full-time professional author with more than 30 metaphysical books on the market. These include Goddess in my Pocket, the Futuretelling, The Herbal Arts, Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook, Little Book of Love Magic, Your Book of Shadows, Dancing with Devas and other diverse titles, each of which represents a different area of spiritual interest for her and her readers.
Trish consideres herself a down-to-earth, militant Kitchen Witch whose love of folklore and world-wide customs flavor every spell and ritual. While her actual Wiccan education was originally self trained and self initiated, she later received initiation into the Strega tradition of Italy, which gives form and fullness to the folk magic Trish practices. Her strongest beliefs lie in following personal vision, being tolerant of other traditions, making life an act of worship, and being creative so that magic grows with you.
Her latest project is hosting Goddess oriented tours for both men and women to Hawaii in 2001 and Italy in 2002. Additionally, Trish travels minimally once a month to give lectures and workshops around the country. She has appeared on several television segments including one for Sightings on muli-cultural divination systems, and one for the Debra Duncan Show on modern Wicca. Besides this, Trish maintains a strong, visible presence in metaphysical journals including Circle Network News, Silver Chalice, Wiccan Times, and Aquarius, and on the internet through her home page of www.loresinger.com, her yahoo club , and various appearances on internet chats and bbs boards. Her hobbies include gardening, herbalism, brewing, singing, hand crafts, antique restoration, and landscaping.