As many of you may be aware, I have been walking the spiritual path of traditional Wicca for some 45 years. During most of that time, I have been a High Priestess, a teacher, and in recent years an Elder of that Path.
Groups in Wicca are called “Covens” and each Coven has no more than 13 people, headed by a High Priestess and a High Priest who are seen as the earthly representatives of the Goddess and God of our faith. Each Coven is also guided by a set of “laws” that help to keep things orderly and disciplined. These laws vary from Coven to Coven, as there is no central “church” or Coven, like that of the Catholic faith. Each Coven is independent of the others. Some Covens have none of these guiding laws at all.
The reason that I’m mentioning this is that there is one law in particular that I have always taken very seriously. It states, “And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess be that She recognizes that youth is necessary to be the representative of the Goddess.” This only makes sense when you recognize that, first of all, the High Priestess channels a lot of energy through herself during any type of ritual, as she is the equalizer or balancer of those energies inside the sacred Circle. Secondly, during many rites of worship and rites of passage she allows the spirit of the Goddess to embody her for what must be performed during that ritual. This is the gift of youth – being able to channel this energy and take on the persona of the Goddess with ease and without harm to the physical body.
“So will She gracefully retire in favor of a younger woman, should the Coven so decide in council.” If her tenet of humility is in tact, a High Priestess doesn’t wait for her Coven to make this decision, she begins the search for a younger woman to train and apprentice to her so that the Coven doesn’t suffer spiritually or magically from her waning youth. “For the true High Priestess realizes that gracefully surrendering the pride of place is one of the greatest virtues.”
I will be 71 this coming May. To me, the time has long since come that I should surrender my place in the center of the Circle in favor of that younger woman. I have trained a number of women who have gone on to become High Priestesses, but none have desired to take up the mantle of being High Priestess of this particular Temple. Why that is, I’m not sure, but what still remains is the fact that my search continues for someone to replace me.
I’ve had the thought pass through my mind that perhaps this particular tradition is meant to pass into nonexistence when I can no longer continue the responsibilities of being a High Priestess. That, however, makes little sense to me. Why would its existence have continued for over 40 years just to die away at the end of my term as its High Priestess? To me that borders on the egotistical to believe there is no one who can or will take my place.
Whether we’re talking mundane or spiritual, I do realize that there are some traditions in life that cease to exist after a certain number of years, but there are many others that have continued for centuries. It’s very difficult for me to wrap my head around any possibility that this particular tradition of Wicca is meant to die and disappear – especially at a time when so many young people are waking up and becoming interested in the spiritual and metaphysical sides of Life.
When I found the “Craft” in 1974, I was going on 26 years old and I was seeking a spiritual path that would encompass my beliefs in reincarnation, psychic phenomena, life after death, and even magick. Wicca fulfilled all of that and more, but I never saw myself as a leader. The Lady and Her Consort had other ideas and I knew I was meant to fulfill them. Not an easy job for an introvert who prefers to stay in the background. It’s taught me a lot and I am truly grateful.
So what does it take to truly stand in the center of that sacred Circle and be a High Priestess?
Youth, first of all. The prime age for beginning ones training to be a High Priestess is the mid-20s to very early 30s.
Being a serious spiritual seeker. Many come to Wicca and witchcraft for the “oohs” and “ahs”, for the magick, or even for the misconception that it’s about sex. What it is is a spiritual path of evolution. A place to find who you truly are and what your purpose is.
A willingness to serve. To become a High Priestess means to acknowledge that you are a teacher, a healer, a counselor, a guide, and a spiritual leader. That takes a willingness to give of your time, energy, talents, and compassion to others as they seek you out for help in their personal journeys.
The qualities of honesty, responsibility, and determination are needed to fulfill the tasks of being a good High Priestess. This is a 24/7/365 position, not just when it’s time for a ritual and all these traits are needed.
Finally, there needs to be a real thirst for knowledge but also a willingness to learn. If someone already thinks they know it all, there will be nothing they can be taught. Even once you earn the position of a High Priestess, the learning doesn’t stop, the growing doesn’t stop, because to do otherwise means to become stagnant and Wicca is about fertility and growth.