Posts Tagged With: Priestess

Signs of a True Elder, Master or Priest

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:

  1. Reclaims ancient knowledge, tradition, and powers, keeping them alive for future generations
  2. Safeguards magical history so that we can learn from the past in building the future
  3. Personally accepts the responsibility implied by gaining and using mystical knowledge and skill
  4. Honors the earth as a sacred space and use its resources wisely
  5. Acknowledges that life is an act of worship, and strives to keep his or her words and actions in accord
  6. Respects individual diversity, knowing there are many paths to enlightenment and that each person is a sacred space unto themselves.
  7. Embraces creativity and change as a fundamental necessity in keeping magic vital
  8. Encourages balance in all things, especially in his or her own life
  9. Teaches others the ways of magic in simple, understandable steps (no “instant enlightenment” no fluffy bunny magick).
  10. Offers metaphysical aid, consultation, and insights freely to those in need, without personal expectations of gain
  11. Gives back something to their art, or those who practice it
  12. 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!

Patricia Telesco,

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Signs of a True Elder, Master or Priest

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:

  1. Reclaims ancient knowledge, tradition, and powers, keeping them alive for future generations
  2. Safeguards magical history so that we can learn from the past in building the future
  3. Personally accepts the responsibility implied by gaining and using mystical knowledge and skill
  4. Honors the earth as a sacred space and use its resources wisely
  5. Acknowledges that life is an act of worship, and strives to keep his or her words and actions in accord
  6. Respects individual diversity, knowing there are many paths to enlightenment and that each person is a sacred space unto themselves.
  7. Embraces creativity and change as a fundamental necessity in keeping magic vital
  8. Encourages balance in all things, especially in his or her own life
  9. Teaches others the ways of magic in simple, understandable steps (no “instant enlightenment” no fluffy bunny magick).
  10. Offers metaphysical aid, consultation, and insights freely to those in need, without personal expectations of gain
  11. Gives back something to their art, or those who practice it
  12. 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!

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.5. The Warning (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.5. The Warning (1953)

B.5. The Warning (1953)
Keep this book in your own hand of write.  Let brothers and Sisters copy what they will, but never let this book out of your hands, and never keep the writings of another, for if it be found in their hand of write, they may well be taken and tortured.  Each should guard his own writings and destroy them whenever danger threatens. Learn as much as you may by heart, and when the danger is past, rewrite your book.  For this reason, if any die, destroy their book if they have not been able to, for, if it be found, ’tis clear proof against them.  “Ye may not be a Witch alone”;  so all their friends be in danger of the torture.  So destroy everything not necessary.
If your book be found on you, ’tis clear proof against you.  You may be tortured.  Keep all thought of the cult from your mind.  Say you had bad dreams, that a Devil caused you to write this without your knowledge. Think to yourself,  “I Know Nothing.  I Remember nothing. I have forgotten all.”  Drive this into your mind. If the torture be too great to bear, say, “I will confess.  I cannot bear this torment.  What do you want me to say?  Tell me and I will say it.”  If they try to make you talk of the brotherhood, do not, but if they try to make you speak of impossibilities, such as flying through the air, consorting with the Devis, sacrificing children, or eating men’s flesh, say, “I had an evil dream.  I was not myself.  I was crazed.”
Not all Magistrates are bad.  If there be an excuse, they may show you mercy.  If you have confessed aught, deny it afterwards.  Say you babbled under the torture; you knew not what you did or said.  If you be condemned, fear not.  The Brotherhood is powerful.  They may help you to escape if you are steadfast.  If you betray aught, there is no hope for you, in this life, or in that which is to come. But, ’tis sure, that if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will reach you.  You will feel naught, and you go but to Death and what lies beyond, the ecstasy of the Goddess.
The same with the working Tools.  Let them be as ordinary things that anyone may have in their homes.  The Pentacles shall be of wax that they may be melted or broken at once.  Have no sword unless your rank allows you one.  Have no names or signs on anything.  Write them on in ink before consecrating them and wash it off at once when finished.
Never boast, never threaten, never say you wish ill to anyone.  If any speak of the craft, say, “Speak not to me of such, it frightens me, ’tis evil luck to speak of it.”

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)

B.4. The Priestess and the Sword (1953)
It is said, “When a woman takes the main part in worship of the Male God, she must be girt with a sword.”
Note.  This hath been explained as meaning that a man should be Magus representing the God, but if no one of sufficient rank and knowledge be present, a woman armed as a man may take his place.  The sheath should be worn in a belt.  She should carry the sword in hand, but if she has to use her hands, she should sheath the sword.  Any other woman in the circle while this worship is performed shall be sword in hand.  Those outside the circle only have the athame.
A woman may impersonate either the God or the Goddess, but a man may only impersonate the God.

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.6. The Sabbat Rituals (1949)

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft – A.6. The Sabbat Rituals (1949)

A.6. The Sabbat Rituals (1949)
November Eve
Walk or slow dance, Magus leading High Priestess, both carrying Phallic wand or broom, people with torches or candles.  Witch chant or song:

“Eko, eko, Azarak Eko, eko, Zomelak Bazabi lacha bachabe Lamac cahi achababe Karrellyos  Lamac lamac Bachalyas cabahagy sabalyos Baryolos Lagoz atha cabyolas Samahac atha famolas Hurrahya!”

Form circle.
High Priestess assumes Goddess position.
Magus gives her Fivefold Kiss and is scourged.
All are purified [that is, bound and scourged with forty strokes, as in the initiation rituals].
Magus assumes God position.
High Priestess invokes with Athame:  “Dread Lord of the shadows, god of life and the giver of life. Yet is the knowledge of thee the knowledge of death. Open wide, I pray thee, thy gates through which all must pass.  Let our dear ones who have gone before, return this night to make merry with us.  And when our time comes, as it must, O thou the comforter, the consoler, the giver of peace and rest, we will enter thy realms gladly and unafraid, for we know that when rested and refreshed among our dear ones, we shall be born again by thy grace and the grace of the Great Mother.  Let it be in the same place and the same time as our beloved ones, and may we meet and know, and love them again.  Descend, we pray thee, upon thy servant and Priest (name).”
High Priestess gives Fivefold Kiss to Magus.
Initiations if any; all others are purified.
(Note: Couples may purify each other if they will.)
Cakes and Wine.
The Great Rite if possible, either in token or truly.
Dismiss [the guardians, and close down the magic circle; the people then stay to] feast and dance.

February Eve
After usual opening, all are doubly purified [that is, with eighty strokes].
Dance round outside circle, High Priestess with sword girded on and drawn, Phallic wand in left hand.
Enter circle.
Magus assumes God position.
High Priestess gives Fivefold Kiss, invokes: “Dread Lord of death and Resurrection, life and the giver of life, Lord within ourselves, whose name is Mystery of Mysteries, encourage our hearts. Let the light crystalize in our blood, fulfilling us of resurrection, for there is no part of us that is not of the gods. Descend, we pray thee, upon this thy servant and Priest (name).”
All should be purified in sacrifice before him.  He then purifies the High Priestess with his own hands, and others if he will.
Cakes and wine.
Great Rite if possible, in token or real.
Games and dance as the people will.
Dismiss [the guardians, and close down the magic circle; the people then stay to] feast and dance.
May Eve
If possible ride poles, brooms, etc. High Priestess leading, quick dance step, singing

“O do not tell the priests of our arts.For they would call it sin,
For we will be in the woods all nightA conjuring summer in.

And we bring you good news by word of mouthFor women, cattle, and corn:
The sun is coming up from the south,With oak and ash, and thorn.”

Meeting dance if possible.
Form circle as usual, and purify.
High Priestess assumes Goddess position; officers all give her the fivefold kiss.
She purifies all.
High Priestess again assumes Goddess position.
Magus invokes, draws down moon, “I invoke thee and call upon thee, O mighty Mother of us all, bringer of all fruitfulness, By seed and root, by stem and bud, by leaf and flower and fruit, by life and love, do we invoke thee, to descend upon the body of thy servant and Priestess here.”
Magus gives Fivefold Kiss to High Priestess.
All should be purified in sacrifice before her, and she should purify Magus and some others with her own hands.
Cakes and wine.
Games.
Great Rite if possible, in token or truly.
Dismiss [the guardians, and close down the magic circle; the people then stay to] feast and dance.

August Eve
If possible, ride poles, broomsticks, etc.
Meeting Dance if possible [the double-spiral dance described in Witchcraft Today, p. 167].
Form circle.
Purify.
High Priestess stands in pentacle position.
Magus invokes her: “O mighty Mother of us all, Mother of all fruitfulness, give us fruit and grain, flocks and herds and children to the tribe that we be mighty, by thy rosy love, do thou descend upon thy servant and Priestess (name) here.”
Magus gives Fivefold Kiss to High Priestess.
Candle game:  Seated, the men form a circle, passing a lighted candle from hand to hand “deosil”.  The women form circle outside, trying to blow it out over their shoulders.  Whoever’s hand it is in when it is blown out is 3 times purified by whoever blew it out, giving fivefold Kiss in return.  This game may go on as long as the people like.
Cakes and wine, and any other games you like.
Dismiss [the guardians, and close down the magic circle; the people then stay to] feast and dance.

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[Third Degree]

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[Third Degree]

[Third Degree]
Magus: “Ere we proceed with this sublime degree, I must beg purification at thy hands.”
High Priestess binds Magus and ties him down to the altar.  She circumambulates three times, and scourges Magus with three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes.  She then unbinds him and helps him to his feet.
Magus now binds the High Priestess and ties her down to the altar. He circumambulates, proclaiming to the four quarters, “Hear, ye mighty Ones, the twice consecrate and Holy (name), High Priestess and Witch Queen, is properly prepared and will now proceed to erect the Sacred Altar.”
Magus scourges High Priestess with three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes.
Cakes and wine may now be taken [see section A.5].
Magus: “Now I must reveal to you a great Mystery.” [kiss].
Note: if High Priestess has performed this rite before, omit these words.
High Priestess assumes Osiris position.
Magus: “Assist me to erect the Ancient Altar, at which in days past all worshipped, the Great Altar of all things.  For in the old times a woman was the Altar.  Thus was the altar made and so placed [Priestess lies down in such a way that her vagina is approximately at the center of the circle], and the sacred place was the point within the center of the circle, as we of old times have been taught, that the point within the center is the origin of all things.  Therefore should we adore it.” [kiss]
“Therefore, whom we adore, we also invoke, by the power of the lifted lance.”  Invokes.
“O circle of stars [kiss], whereof our Father is but the younger brother [kiss],
“Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space, before whom time is ashamed, the mind bewildered and understanding dark, not unto thee may we attain unless thine image be of love [kiss].
“Therefore, by seed and root, and stem and bud and leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke thee, O, Queen of space, O dew of light, O continuous one of the Heavens [kiss].
“Let it be ever thus, that men speak not of Thee as one, but as none, and let them not speak of thee at all, since thou art continuous, for thou art the point within the circle [kiss], which we adore [kiss], the fount of life without which we would not be [kiss].
“And in this way truly are erected the Holy Twin Pillars Boaz and Jachin [kisses breasts].  In beauty and strength were they erected, to the wonder and glory of all men.”
(Eightfold Kiss: 3 points, Lips, 2 Breasts and back to lips; 5 points)
“O Secrets of secrets that art hidden in the being of all lives.  Not thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also thou.  Thou art that and That am I [kiss].
“I am the flame that burns in every man, and in the core of every star [kiss].
“I am Life and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the Knowledge of Death [kiss].
“I am alone, the Lord within ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mysteries [kiss].
“Make open the path of intelligence between us.  For these truly are the 5 points of fellowship [on the right appears an illuminated diagram of the point-up triangle above the pentacle, the symbol for the third degree], feet to feet, knee to knee, groin to groin, breast to breast, arms around back, lips to lips, by the Great and Holy Names Abracadabra, Aradia, and Cernunnos.
Magus and High Priestess: “Encourage our hearts, Let thy Light crystallize itself in our blood, fulfilling us of Resurrection, for there is no part of us that is not of the Gods.”
(Exchange Names.)

Closing the Circle
High Priestess Circumambulates, proclaiming, “The twice consecrate High Priestess greets ye Mighty Ones, and dismisseth ye to your pleasant abodes. Hail and Farewell.” She draws the banishing pentacle at each quarter.

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Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[First Degree]

Gardnerian Traditional Witchcraft -A.4. The Initiation (1949)[First Degree]

A.4. The Initiation (1949)
[First Degree]
Magus leaves circle by the doorway, goes to Postulant, and says, “Since there is no other brother here, I must be thy sponsor, as well as priest.  I am about to give you a warning.  If you are still of the same mind, answer it with these words: `Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.’”
Placing the point of the sword to the Postulant’s breast, he says, “O thou who standeth on the threshold between the pleasant world of men and the domains of the Dread Lords of the Outer Spaces, hast thou the courage to make the Assay?  For I tell thee verily, it were better to rush on my weapon and perish miserably than to make the attempt with fear in thy heart.”
Postulant: “I have two Passwords: Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.”
Magus drops the sword point, saying, “All who approach with perfect love and perfect trust are doubly welcome.”
Going around behind her, he blindfolds her, then putting his left arm around her waist and his right arm around her neck, he pulls her head back, says, “I give you the 3rd password, a Kiss to pass through this dread Door,” and pushes her forward with his body, through the doorway and into the circle.  Once inside, he releases her saying, “This is the way all are first brought into the circle.”
Magus closes the doorway by drawing the point of the sword across it three times, joining all three circles, saying, “Agla, Azoth, Adonai,” then drawing three pentacles to seal it.
Magus guides Postulant to south of altar, and whispers, “Now there is the Ordeal.” Taking a short piece of cord from the altar, he ties it around her right ankle, saying, “Feet neither bound nor free.”  Taking a longer cord, he ties her hands together behind her back, then pulls them up, so that the arms form a triangle, and ties the cord around her neck, leaving the end dangling down in front as a Cable Tow.
With the Cable Tow in his left hand and the sword in his right hand, the Magus leads her sunwise around the circle to the east, where he salutes with the sword and proclaims, “Take heed, O Lords of the Watchtowers of the East, (name), properly prepared, will be made a Priestess and a Witch.”
Magus leads her similarly to the south, west, and north, making the proclamation at each quarter.
Next, clasping Postulant around the waist with his left arm, and holding the sword erect in his right hand, he makes her circumambulate three times around the circle with a half-running, half-dancing step.
He halts her at the south of the altar, and strikes eleven knells on the bell.  He then kneels at her feet, saying, “In other religions the postulant kneels, as the Priests claim supreme power, but in the Art Magical, we are taught to be humble, so we kneel to welcome them and say:
“Blessed be thy feet that have brought thee in these ways.” (He kisses her feet.)
“Blessed be thy knees that shall kneel at the sacred altar.” (He kisses her knees.)
“Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.” (He kisses her Organ of Generation.)
“Blessed by thy breasts, formed in beauty and in strength.” (He kisses her breasts.)
“Blessed be thy lips, which shall utter the sacred names.” (He kisses her lips.)
Take measure thus: height, around forehead, across the heart, and across the genitals.
Magus says, “Be pleased to kneel,” and helps her kneel before the altar.  He ties the end of the Cable Tow to a ring in the altar, so that the postulant is bent sharply forward, with her head almost touching the floor.  He also ties her feet together with the short cord.
Magus strikes three knells on the bell and says, “Art ready to swear that thou wilt always be true to the Art?”
Witch: “I am.”
Magus strikes seven knells on the bell and says, “Before ye are sworn, art willing to pass the ordeal and be purified?”
Witch: “I am.”
Magus strikes eleven knells on the bell, takes the scourge from the altar, and gives a series of three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes with the scourge across the postulant’s buttocks.
Magus says, “Ye have bravely passed the test.  Art always ready to help, protect, and defend thy Brothers and Sisters of the Art?”
Witch: “I am.”
Magus: “Art armed?”
Witch: “With a knife in my hair.”
Magus: “Then on that knife wilt thou swear absolute secrecy?”
Witch: “I will.”
Magus: “Then say after me. `I, (name), in the presence of the Mighty Ones, do of my own will and accord, most solemnly swear that I will ever keep secret and never reveal the secrets of the Art, except it be to a proper person, properly prepared, within a circle such as I am now in.  All this I swear by my hopes of a future life, mindful that my measure has been taken, and may my weapons turn against me if I break this my solemn oath.’”
Magus now unbinds her feet, unties the Cable Tow from the altar, removes the blindfold, and helps her up to her feet.
Magus says, “I hereby sign thee with the triple sign.
“I consecrate thee with oil.”  (He anoints her with oil on the womb, the right breast, the left breast, and the womb again.)
“I consecrate thee with wine.” (He anoints her with wine in the same pattern.)
“I consecrate thee with my lips” (he kisses her in the same pattern), “Priestess and Witch.”
Magus now unbinds her hands and removes the last cord, saying,  “Now I Present to thee the Working Tools of a Witch.
“First the Magic Sword.  With this, as with the Athame, thou canst form all Magic Circles, dominate, subdue, and punish all rebellious Spirits and Demons, and even persuade the Angels and Geniuses.  With this in your hand you are the ruler of the Circle. [Here "kiss" means that the initiate kisses the tool, and the Magus then kisses the Witch being initiated.]
“Next I present the Athame.  This is the true Witch’s weapon and has all the powers of the Magic Sword [kiss].
“Next I present the White-Handled Knife. Its use is to form all instruments used in the Art.  It can only be properly used within a Magic Circle [Kiss].
“Next I present the Wand. Its use is to call up and control certain Angels and geniuses, to whom it would not be mete to use the Magic Sword [Kiss].
“Next I present the pentacles.  These are for the purpose of calling up appropriate Spirits [Kiss].
“Next I present the Censer of Incense. This is used to encourage and welcome Good Spirits and to banish Evil Spirits.[kiss]
“Next I present the scourge. This is a sign of power and domination. It is also to cause suffering and purification, for it is written, to learn you must suffer and be purified. Art willing to suffer to learn?”
Witch: “I am.”[Kiss]
Magus: “Next, and lastly I present the Cords.  They are of use to bind the sigils in the Art, the material basis, and to enforce thy will. Also they are necessary in the oath.  I Salute thee in the name of Aradia and Cernunnos, Newly made Priestess and Witch.”
Magus strikes seven knells on the bell and kisses Witch again, then circumambulates with her, proclaiming to the four quarters, “Hear, ye Mighty Ones, (name) hath been consecrated Priestess and Witch of the Gods.”
(Note, if ceremony ends here, close circle with “I thank ye for attending, and I dismiss ye to your pleasant abodes.  Hail and farewell.” If not, go to next degree.)

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Today’s Tarot Card for December 9th is The High Priestess

The High Priestess

Monday, Dec 9th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditionally called the High Priestess, this major arcana, or trump, card represents human wisdom. She can be viewed as a kind of female Pope, the ancient Egyptian Priestess of Isis, the even older snake and bird Goddesses, the Greek Goddess Persephone, or the Eve of Genesis before the Fall.

For the accused heretics who were burnt at the stake for revering her in the 14th and 15th century, she symbolized the prophecy of the return of the Holy Spirit, which was perceived as the female aspect of the Holy Trinity.

In the sequence of cards in the major arcana, the High Priestess appears as soon as the Fool decides he wants to develop his innate powers, making a move toward becoming a Magus. The High Priestess is his first teacher, representing the Inner Life and the method for contacting it, as well as the contemplative study of Nature and the Holy Mysteries.

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