Centuries ago, before the rise of patriarchal religion, an earth-based religion, centered around the divine feminine was widely practiced. There was indeed a time when God was “a woman.” Or at least, contained a strong aspect of the Divine Feminine. Women were the connection to the divine mother. Women were the ones who connected the cycles of the earth and people - and it was the feminine that was the Creatress of life.
In ancient times, people lived in harmony with nature and honored women, as they were seen as mirrors of nature's cycles and seasons. Priestesses were those who straddled the divide between the physical realm and the otherworld, they honored the aspects of the Goddess, and would observe the earth’s rhythms, the lunar cycles, and other patterns in nature to guide life. These women were holding many roles within society, healers, teachers, elders, seers, and oracles, and were highly regarded within society.
However, over time, their power was diminished and the patriarchy squashed their spiritual practices (and in many cases framed them as evil - think about Friday the 13th as a deeply feminine day) — this led to the persecution of practicing priestesses during the witch hunts, but long before that, many practicing priestesses were sentenced to death for their beliefs and healing abilities. Today, we see many of the temples which were sacred to the Goddess destroyed or transformed into places of worship to a “male God”.
While many lost their lives over thousands of years, some kept the teachings alive by going into hiding. Today, the legacy of these priestesses lives on in our lineage, and so too does the collective trauma.
At this time on the planet, it is more important than ever for women to embrace their inner power and reclaim their role as Priestess. Today, we see more and more women coming into their powers and sharing their gifts with the world. The more women become aware of their gifts and start to practice and hone them, the stronger the resurgence of the divine feminine will be.
There are many different types of priestesses that have existed throughout history. Here is just a short list of some of the more well-known lines.
These priestesses were believed to have the ability to communicate with the gods/goddesses and predict the future. The most famous example of an oracle priestess is Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. She would deliver prophecies while in a state of trance, which was then interpreted by the priests.
These priestesses were associated with a specific temple or shrine and were responsible for performing rituals and offering ceremonies. They were also responsible for the upkeep of the temple and its artifacts. In ancient Egypt, for example, temple priestesses were responsible for the maintenance of the temple of Amun-Re and the performance of rituals.
These priestesses were believed to possess magical powers and were associated with witchcraft and divination. They were often the target of persecution in societies that rejected the idea of women having any kind of spiritual authority.
These priestesses were believed to be able to communicate with spirits and the afterlife and were often involved in healing rituals and ceremonies. They were also associated with the natural world and were believed to be able to control the elements.
These priestesses were associated with the worship of mother goddesses, such as the Greek goddess Demeter or the Roman goddess Ceres. They were responsible for performing rituals related to fertility and childbirth and were often associated with the protection of women and children.
These priestesses were associated with the worship of the moon and were responsible for performing rituals related to the lunar cycle. They were often associated with the goddesses of the moon, such as the Greek goddess Artemis and the Roman goddess Diana.
It is important to note that the above-mentioned types of priestesses are not exhaustive and many societies have had different roles for women in these types of healing roles. A priestess’s role varied greatly depending on the culture and time period in which they lived. Even within a single culture, the role of a priestess could vary depending on the specific temple or shrine where she served.
A modern-day priestess may have a variety of practices and beliefs, but generally, she sees herself as a spiritual guide toward healing and transformation. Priestesses today may work with rituals, divination, and other spiritual tools to help individuals and communities connect with their inner wisdom, intuition, and power. Many also focus on earth-based spirituality and honoring the divine feminine, while others have a more eclectic approach that draws from various spiritual and cultural traditions. And while the specific role of a modern-day priestess may depend on her training, personal beliefs, and the community she serves, what is consistent is her dedication to serving others on their healing path.
A modern-day priestess can perform a variety of functions and activities, depending on her individual beliefs and practices. Some common activities that a modern-day priestess may engage in include:
This list is of course not exhaustive but does give you an idea of how the priestess is expressed in the modern day.
Would you like to learn how to walk the path of a priestess? You can start by joining our community ceremonies, where we practice following the seasons. Find details on our events page.