What It Means To Be A Priest/ess

As a beloved group of my advanced students finishes their course of Pries/tess training in our order, the Society of Witchcraft and Old Magick, and undergo their special ceremonial rite of passage into the priesthood officially, I get a little sentimental and contemplative.  Watching others work hard and truly elevate themselves magickally to a new level of spiritual competence and awareness is so very rewarding.  It reminds me of how I, myself have evolved in my own role of Priestess, and it highlights for me some very important things that I’ve learned along the way that I feel are overlooked by the general magickal public.  To understand what it really means to hold this title, you have to look at what our society holds as an archetypal definition for the word “priest”.  A priest is someone who is trained to pass on their religious and spiritual arts, who holds important ceremonies and teachings for others, and who ministers to others.  It saddens me a bit to see people referring to themselves as Priest/esses when they don’t actually do any of the above mentioned things.  In the past I’ve seen too many people get excited about Priest/ess training as an option in my order, and I realize that many times that excitement was not properly motivated.  Attaining the title of Priest/ess should not be done solely to advance one’s own skill, or to feel elite or more empowered.  Does it result in these things?  Yes, of course.  The thing is, to truly minister to others in a way that is effective and high in integrity, you need to be humble.  You often need to give an exhausting amount of yourself to people-  and not just the people you like or want to be around, necessarily.  To me being a real Priest/ess involves helping people work through things even when you don’t really jive energetically with that person, or you feel like they don’t see things the same way you do.  It truly involves an amount of compassion, humility and patience that is rare.  I am not saying that I always have this.  Sometimes, at the end of the day I know that I have really supported others in the best way I can, and sometimes I’m not so sure.  I am human of course, even though as a Priestess I strive to walk the most divine part of myself through this world.  But I think the thing that matters is that I WANT to be in that role-  the role of giving selflessly whenever I can, the role of spreading ritual, and spiritual and magickal inspiration in the world as much as possible.  So, when someone calls themselves a Priest/ess because they feel they are a divine and advanced practitioner of the Craft but they have no responsibility for others, I can’t help but to question it a little.  I am in no way badmouthing those who have formally earned this title and don’t happen to be in practice, by the way, and I am also not badmouthing those who have simply fallen into the role of ministering to others in a caring way and wish to entitle themselves Priest/ess…what I am frowning upon is self-appointed titling of Priest/ess when there is no ministering of any sort being done.  In our order a person who ascends to the title of Priest/ess is not obligated to teach and run a congregation, but they are expected to be generally helpful, good examples in the coven community at the very least.  To sum up, the title Priest/ess reflects what your role is to other people and should not be used as a status symbol.  If you feel like you don’t want to deal with people who irritate you, you probably should not become a Priest/ess.  If you feel you are so empathic that being around others frequently is too much, you also probably should not become a Priest/ess.  Magickal students considering training in a priesthood, therefore, should think about whether they feel they can generally be there for other people or not.  I don’t think I truly understood the extent of this when I first trained to become a Priestess, but I certainly know it now, and thankfully have found that I can step up to the challenge enough to feel rewarded by it.   And of course, for all of those who are using their advanced skills to help others, you know that all of that effort DOES in fact pay off-  you end up gaining unanticipated levels of skill, confidence and connections to deity and Spirit that you would have never dreamed of.  The key is that the payoff doesn’t happen without the generous giving and sacrificing.  To all of those true Priest/esses that I know (and you know who you are), thank you for your service.  To all of you who are walking the walk and holding true, safe space for others in the magickal world, thank you.  Blessed Be.

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