Ritual wear

This last week I attend Estrella War which is a annual SCA event. If you dont know what the SCA is you can find information at www.sca.org in short it is a Medieval reenactment society. Like any group there are ups and downs. One thing that is particularly good is their obsession with creating period clothing or "garb" I have been for sometimes thinking about ritual robes. We circle with the usual hooded bag (or T-tunic) that most Wiccan and Pagans use. It is simple, affordable and easy to make. Several of my students brought up the point that they were "ugly" I  never really thought of them like that, but if you think about it, they kind of are. I chose this robe originally for several reasons. 1) This is how I was taught, and I agreed with it at the time. 2) All of my students could afford them.

So while I was at this event I saw so many beautiful dresses, in so many different styles. Many were over the top but others were flattering and functional. Now I believe that we will be keeping them for the Wicca course, it makes sense and I don't believe that one shouldn't be able to practice because they cant sew or afford the robes. Since my girls are unhappy, and I am looking for something different for the Cauldron of Avalon, we will be working with more historically accurate ritual wear. I am working hard and researching as deeply as I can all aspects of the per-christian Priestess in the British Isles. Unfortunately there isn't much information on these things. So I am left to look at other cultures, and mundane women of the time. To the left is a 12c gown. I really love this style but there was so much christian influence by this time that it is most likely not what the Priestess wore. The 2nd picture is a Viking Apron dress. We do know that the Anglo Saxon influence was very strong in the area during the 5th-9th c. Many of my girls like to veil for ritual as well. So with the help of some knowledgeable Scadians I have come up with 2 options. I do believe we will have a winter and summer "ritual wear"  both consisting of the same under tunic most likely in linen. The linen fabric is a natural fiber made from the flax plant, and is very durable. The winter will consist of the last photo a looser and longer sleeved robe, and the summer will be the viking apron dress. Now you might be thinking but these are Viking dresses, well yes you are right, but since there is little to no information on what the Cornish and Welsh were wearing at this time. This is our best guess, not only that they are flattering, functional, and I think that my girls will be happier!

There is something deeply touching about the layered look. Especially our summer look. The path of the Priestess though is one of power, is one of servitude. It is a modest path, that comes with hard work. These dresses (soon to be ritual robes) express this perfectly.

What is a Priestess?

I am a Priestess. This is something that I earned, something that I have literally put blood, sweat, and many tears into. If you are wondering if my training required these things the answer is no. My training demanded academic and spiritual work. The training from Goddesses demands blood, sweat, tears, time, and complete surrender.

It was when I had started to teach my students in the craft that the reality of what a Priestess really was came to me. It wasn't a light bulb moment, but a series of light bulbs, that got me thinking. The first thought was "not everyone is a Priestess" No, not everyone has the time, or will to become a Priestess. Many do want to learn, but not serve in the way a Priestess does. This led me to make a change in my own curriculum. Traditionally it is a 1 year and 1 day program for a student to become a Witch and Preistess in many Tradidtional Wicca covens/traditions. I have seen students who genuinely want to learn, drop out because the work was too much, too hard. This creates discouragement for the student and teacher. So I decided to make it easier. Get my students the information they need, without setting them up for failure.

This brought me to the next thought, this work is too easy for a Priestess in training. The work of a Priestess is filled with constant self examination, constant checking, and constant training. As soon as you have figured it out, there is something new, for you to learn, understand, or face. It is almost like walking a balance beam. Always on the verge of falling too far in one direction. It is about finding balance in the self, and then turning around and helping others do the same.

As you have seen in previous blogs, you have read that I know and fully understand my purpose. I am here to be a Priestess. At first you might think that this is a glamorous thing. No, it is not. There is nothing glamorous about it, other than the title. A Priestess in training must first find self balance. This can be a hard and daunting task. Added to that are rigorous academics so that the Priestess understands the laws of human nature, magic, the natural world, and the spirit world.

A Priestess's job is to help others, to preside over sacred ceremonies, rituals and rites. Her job is to be a steward of the land, a right hand to her Goddess. A shining upstanding example of a Woman, a leader, and servant to her Goddess. To achieve this she must be in balance. Balance is hard, to far to the right and you become righteous, too far to the left and you loose your mind. It requires daily self work. There is no time for low self-esteem (though YES we are human and do suffer from this, but there is simply no time for it) No time to wallow in self pity, no our work requires that we walk with confidence. To become a good Priestess you must be physically well, in shape and healthy. This doesn't mean that there is no room for weakness, sickness, or injury. It means that, in order for our work to continue we must maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Beyond making sure our mundane lives are in order, we must be able to flow with the cycles of the moon, the wheel of the year, the seasons of Goddesses. We must learn flexibility without sacrifice. Now is the time of Goddesses, Now is the time for the Priestess to come and lead us home to the mother. Those that have been called, dont just hear the call, there is something that vibrates through their very being, pulls them towards the path, something that says THIS is more important that "I". I am the vessel that does the work of my Goddesses. There is no time for self pity, drama, and bickering. No, the Priestess must rise above it. How can the Priestess serve the Goddess, the community, and her students/family if she is wraped up in petty worries, drama, and other things that do not serve our spirit?

Beautiful is the woman who hears the call and chooses to follow, Brave is the woman who kneels before her Goddess ready to accept the mantle of the Priestess. Strong is the woman who chooses the Path of the Priestess despite the weight the position brings. Smart is the woman who understands that this is not a path of status, but of servitude. Now is the time of the Priestess.

There is not much information on Priestess of old, as much had been destroyed, and demonised by the church. With the rise of Neo-Paganism, Roman and Greek resurgence and Celtic reconstructionism, as well as influence from other cultures, we can look back at their work, what they did, how they dressed, how they served. We can begin to make educated guesses, as to how they conducted themselfs. We can see that these women were of GREAT strength, great power, and great love, but that they did not abuse these things.

Today a good Priestess is one who loves with all her heart, takes no crap, is educated in the ways of the world, knowledge herbs, and esoteric subjects. She is a healer, a spirtual leader, keeper of the flame. She has the ability to lead and serve at the same time. She flows with her cycle, the cycle of the moon, and seasons. She understands the elements and has a deep relationship with them. She can cradle a baby, but yet move a mountian. She is self aware, and aware of what is going on around her. Many are psychic or diviners. They can access the "otherside" with ease, and walks with one foot in each world. She is the maker of magic, and life, but yet she understand death, rebirth, and the deep dark crevices of the shadow. She understands how to work with the darker energies, but walks in the light. She can bind, but wont curse (unless there is no other choice). She is the creatrix and the destroyer. She holds "her" world in the palm of her hand and can nurture it, but knows one wrong move and it can be destroyed. She learned to think for herself, but not put herself first. She can manuipulate energy, and chooses to use it for good. She can heal herself, and others. She trusts in herself, her decisions, and actions because she has surrendered to her Goddess and understands her actions are a reflection of her Goddess. She is trustworthy, and truthful, she has integrity, balance and dedication to the path. Ultimately she must be wise, years of self work, and consulting her Goddess is the only key to finding deep wisdom. She must find time to spend in prayer, ritual, and meditation with her Goddess, but also create opportunities for others. She is the Holy Grail. The vessel of her Goddess, the key to life. 

Many women take the title, but are not living this way. Many live this way but do not take the title. Not every one is cut out of the Priestess cloth, think hard and long before you accept this path. It is not an easy road, but the work we do is so wonderful, and so powerfully trans-formative that the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears are worth every hard moment. Especially when you see someone you have helped, go forth into the world, with balance and beauty. We make a difference, we make an impact, but you wont find us picketing, you wont find us screaming about a cause, no because the work we do is one person at a time. A small ripple in the pond, that may, one day change the world.