High Priestess

“High Priestess is an office held by a woman who, in most Witchcraft/Wiccan traditions, has reached the third degree level. The concept of a female Witch being also a priestess appears in the ancient greek tale of the witch Medea (written in the eighth century B.C) where she is a priestess of the goddess Hecate. In this story we find perhaps the earliest reference to Witches in a religious context.

The initiation ritual that bestows the rank of the high priestess is called the great rite. Most Witchcraft/Wiccan traditions are matriarchal in structure and the role of high priestess is the highest ‘authority’ with these Craft systems. In many Witchcraft/Wiccan traditions, the high priestess has ultimate rule within the ritual circle, where it is said her word is law.

The customary role of the high priestess is to train other Witches/Wiccans snf to serve as a counsellor and mediator. In ritual settings the high priestess represents the Great Goddess. In the rite known as ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ her body becomes a vessel for the Goddess to manifest her consciousness within.”

R. Grimassi, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT, 2nd Ed, 2003, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota

The high priestess is an initiate who tends to be the head of a coven. She also initiates others into the coven. The high priestess is the director of the path of a tradition. She is also expected to have a continual relationship with the divine (a connection to the divine that she honours at all times). She’s considered the handmaiden of the divine.

In our coven we’re a little more open than that. None of us were ‘initiated’ into Wicca, however we started our coven of five with a binding ritual. None of us need to initiate because we are the first who have formed our circle, only people joining from now on really need to be initiated. Also, our coven is not strictly Wiccan. We are a mixed bunch of different kind of spiritualists.

Splitting the role of the High Priestess

The high priestess has a mentoring role as well. She takes others under her wing in order to teach, guide and initiate them into the coven. Traditionally, this was very easy with people living rather close to each other but nowadays we can live much further apart and still be close enough to form a coven. This means that sometimes responsibilities as a teacher will devolve to someone else in the coven in some cases. In many covens the structure is more informal and the high priestess changes from ritual to ritual.

 Becoming a High Priestess

In most cases the High Priestess is voted on and agreed on. There are training courses that offer guidance as to being a High Priestess but the most valid qualification is being able to prove you have the right knowledge and qualities to be a High Priestess. You must have good leadership skills and charisma, be prepared to resolve disputes (and some of these disputes might overlap into out of coven issues as these may interfere in the cohesion of the coven) and have experience in the craft.

Rowan

x~x

Heya, comments are very very very welcome on this as I wasn’t sure quite how to write this. 🙂 Anything you think I should have said, please say because I can always edit. 🙂

Aside

Cremating the Cat

Teel was alpha male, and boy he was hell of a lot of cat. He used to go off to one of his other harems for a while and then come back after a couple of weeks only this time he came back seriously underweight with breathing problems. We tried to get him to eat and before we even had a chance to phone the vet up he’d found himself a comfortable sot in the shed and kicked the bucket.

We got a bonfire going and put him on it, covering him over then with would and bark. Dad said a few words. My Dad’s also pagan so he said (in welsh) that we were grateful for his presence and the light he’d brought in our lives but now as his body was consumed by the flames his spirit was free of Earthly bonds and it was time for him to fly high with the smoke. There was a lot more than that, but we kinda just make it up as we go along and it’s hard to remember the exact words. We sit for a long time. Evening falls and the chill hugs our little circle, where we surround the bonfire. I head back into the house first. Everyone else follows soon.

After a cleansing bath (cleansing sage soap) I get my garb and collect my things for my own little ritual.

I light a candle and some incense (which is put inside a small metal cat statue), pick up a big swirly shell and a black granite rock and head outside all wrapped up and warm.

I stand in the Northern most point and say

“Ceidwad y Daear, Croesawn yma” (Guardian of the Earth, we welcome you here)

I place the granite here

In the East I place the burning incense

“Ceidwad y Gwyntoedd, Croesawn yma” (Guardian of the Winds, we welcome you here)

In the South I place the lantern with the candle in it

“Ceidwad y Tannoedd, Croesawn yma” (Guardian of the Fires, we welcome you here)

In the West I place the shell

“Ceidwad y Moroedd, Croesawn yma” (Guardian of the Seas, we welcome you here)

I stand almost in the middle (avoiding stepping on the bonfire) and shout up at the sky

“Yn enw’r Ferch, A oes Awen!” (In the name of the Maiden, let there be Awen)

“Yn enw’r Fam, A oes Awen!” (In the name of the Mother, let there be Awen)

“Yn enw’r Wrach, A oes Awen!” (In the name of the Witch – substituted for Crone -, let there be Awen)

After each time, if I was leading a ceremony with more than one person the other people would shout out ‘Awen’.

After this I sat and meditated next to the fire a long time, while still feeding it. Then I closed the circle by going around the elements again and instead of saying “Croesawn yma” I would say “Dwy’n eich rhyddhai! Ewch!” (I release you! Go!)

The next day I woke up to more. My job doesn’t end there, you see. When Teel was a kitten he and his sibs went missing, the other two showed up very quickly but he was still gone. I threatened a spirit that I would forever blind them if they didn’t return him and wiped my tears and mud over their eyes. (I get very emotional over cats haha )

Half an hour later Teel came bounding over the hedges ecstatic to see me and so I cleaned the spirit’s eyes and thanked them since for protecting him. Now he’s dead, the deal is done.

So I awoke to the sound of the wind challenging the roof to a dual (the roof always wins but there might be that one day… ) and torrential rain on the window. Only, when I went outside I discovered what I thought was rain was halestones. Every time I pushed my hood over one side of my face the wind would change and attack the other! Anyway, I got to the bonfire and embers still glowed and the ashes were all dry… In fact it didn’t seem to even rain anywhere within the circle! I collected some ashes and carried them up to the spirit and scattered them. I called out the Spirit’s name three times and thanked them for their protection of my cat. I released them.

Rowan

x~x

The Weather Witch

Right now the weather is beautiful. By that I mean it is profound and gorgeous and furious and Divine. Blistering winds, searing cold and rain that could slash the skin off your bones. It is beautiful. This is the kind of weather that drives me mad – not angry mad but mad mad. 🙂

We have flooding problems and in storms as beautiful as this (up on the unsheltered mountains) we have to go out and dig drains to make sure our home isn’t washed away by the merciless torrents that stampede down our drive way.

I just thought I’d blog this moment, the moment where wind and water are so combined and energetic and powerful just so that I could remind you that the elements are part of your life every day!

Dad and I venture out to make a gap in the small embankment that lines our larger field, in order to save our cottage from the ravages of a river that has formed down our little road. Yes, I think I’m quite mad right now because I can’t draw my mind from the beauty and the sheer power of something so destructive.

We get our gass capes out (originally designed for the military while gass bombs were dropped) and Dad exclaims “uh! They’re the british ones!” (I couldn’t find our german ones so we had do cope with substandard gass capes XD)

We rush out, he grabs a spade and a pick axe and I grab a shovel. We head up and I hear a loud cackle. At this point I know I’m mad because I’ve lost the ability to tell whether it’s my voice I hear, Dads voice or something completely different but it must be mine because I’m weak with laughter!… Although my mouth isn’t open? Hahaha!

We fight the wind as we walk up towards the drive (I actually though Dad was going to dig out the little bit that lets the water pass into the back lane, which is a 200yo path that used to lead up to our house). Instead of letting the water fly right past the cottage we’re determined to stopping it reaching that far.

We reach a pool which lies at the bottom of our drive. It’s where a sort of dip perpetually appears every year despite our repeated efforts to fill it! Dad starts to dig a little to the side. You see there’s a field next to the drive and a deep pool of tanned brown water lies there now, near the fence. There’s a large trench there usually and now just a matt dusty bark colour. Dad digs a path for the water and almost instantaneously the water disappears into the field. He keeps digging while I head around the other side of the pool and try to dig an escape route for the water there.

This only leads to another debilitating fit of giggles as I’m almost blown by the winds into the pool itself! (I can’t tell through its opacity but only by memory as usually this little pit of water is an empty whole with dry earth and rock exposed, but it’s three or four feet deep!) With my shovel I could barely do a thing, but I felt the water flooding and swirling around my feet (inside my rather damaged boots) and crashing against my legs, soaking my jeens.

When Dad is done we take the shovel, pickaxe and spade and lean them against a nearby wall because we know in about half an hour from now they’ll be in action again. Tigger, one of our cats, is sitting so close to the fire as I write this she may as well be in there!

All I can say is the weather is beautiful here.

Enjoy.

In love and light

Blessed be all of you!

Rowan

x~x

Hedgewitch

“Hedge Witch is a term for a Witch who practices in a solitary fashion and does not belong to a coven or tradition; typically such an individual does not claim to have been initiated. He or she relies upon self-study, personal discernment, and intuition. In many ways a hedge Witch is like the old village Witch who lived a solitary life but was called upon for spells and healing potions by the local folks.

The Hedge Witch commonly works with his or her familiar spirit, and incorporates the use of herbs, trance, and shamanic techniques such as drumming to induce altered states of consciousness. The hedge Witch is usually very involved with working for the ecology of the planet, and tries to use only natural objects and materials for ritual magickal purposes.”

R. Grimiassi, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WICCA AND WITCHCRAFT, 2nd Ed, 2003, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota

“Kitchen Wiccans and hedge Witches … rely heavily on pragmatic, uncomplicated magick, much of which originates in folklore and superstition. Hedge Witches traditionally do not belong to a coven. Solitary practitioners, they depend on self-study, insight, creativity and intuition as their main guideposts. Hedge Witches may be self-dedicated, but they are rarely publicly initiated. Similar to village shamans and cunning folk in past generations, they provide spells and potions for daily needs.”

M. Singer, EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… WITCHCRAFT, UK Edition, 2005, David & Charles, Devon

I’m a hedge witch and as suggested in the above extracts I’ve typically been a solitary witch – working on my lonesome. As a hedge witch a lot of the things I do require being close to nature.

One thing that I do is I go on walks… yes everyone goes for a walk, but this is similar to a Medicine Walk. On these walks I will visit a place that is spiritual and close to nature and spend time with nature. I might meditate in a special place or I might dance. Doing these walks has sometimes awoken something in me or brought my mind somewhere else. I remember a couple of times coming back and my parents thinking I’d been taking weed or something because I was so far off this planet and so unbelievably ecstatic wherever my mind was that it could only be because of drugs (XD).

I have been a solitary witch most of the time but I’ve fleeted from coven to coven, seeing what I can learn and seeing how I can help others. I’m not a very accomplished Hedge Witch, I won’t say I’ve done great amount of healing work or anything like that.

Anyway, in practical terms a hedge witch is a witch who is close to nature and learns his/her most valuable insights not from other wiccans/witches but from her/himself and from nature, folklore and experience.

(Sorry most of this is from books but I wanted to explain what a Hedgewitch is without delving too much into ‘what it means to me’. This way I know you’ve got the actual definition and not a load of anecdotes about pink lightning, faery visits and eating magic apples which then led to me getting lost in a pine forest only a mile from my house, nearly breaking my leg on a stonewall I climbed over to escape and accidentally putting a spell on an innocent stranger who my paranoid mind thought was taking pictures of me!… besides, he was evesdropping on me talking to myself XD )

Rowan

x~x

Tarot – A form of Divination

Silversuns Tarot

I use The Labyrinth deck designed by Luis Royo, they are a dark deck and should only be used by wiccans who have used tarot before. I guess I should explain how to find your perfect deck first. You can’t simply cruise the internet until you find a deck you like the look of because you have no way of ‘feeling’ the cards, you’re better off going around and finding a shop that sells them. When you do find a shop that has a good selection without even looking at them place your hand on top of each one, pick them up does one seem to fit perfectly in your hand? Give off a strange heat or cold? These are all signs that the deck is calling to you. When you take your deck home be sure to cleanse them first before you use them I find that giving them a sharp tap on a wooden table of tree is best. Keep your deck in a black silk cloth to be sure that they stay cleansed. My Tarot bag

When you do your first spread it’s best to do a 3 card spread this symbolises the past, present and future. When you turn over the first card this tells you what happened in the past. If you’re an advanced reader then you’ll know that there can be multiple diffrent meanings but can usually be summarised, as a beginner stick to summarising it. The second card is what’s happening in the present and third is what’s to come in the future!

Cursing – our opinions

Rowan’s views on cursing people

I may as well explain, before it is put into question, my views on the ‘what you do will return to you’ law. I believe that all spells should harm none, yes, to the extent to which you can live like that. I do not believe that cursing someone will backfire on you (unless you mess up or they protect themselves from the curse) because of personal experience. According to the Rede all you do will return to you, but I’ve seen people who’ve caused great amount of pain to others live happy happy lives and I’ve seen the best people I know suffer greatly in their lives. The universe is as fair as you make it. This is a personal philosophy, that not everyone in my coven shares and I respect what they believe. Just thought I’d clear that up, in case I say something and the questions start. I’ve never cursed anyone deliberately (you can give someone the Evil Eye accidentally, but I don’t think I ever have). Anyway, I think, if the only reason you do not curse someone is that it might harm you, this makes you very selfish. The primary thing that you should consider is that it will hurt the person you curse. Yes you may be angry at this person, but before you curse them you might want to consider resolving the reason why you feel like this towards them. If they are an individual you dislike, the problem might be with you. If they are an organisation who is doing you wrong, you might be able to resolve it through local government.

Divine Women (Rowan Recommends)

I thought I’d kick off the review section with recommending a documentary series I’ve been watching on i-player, it’s ‘Divine Women’ on BBC 2.

I recommend this series to anyone interested in wicca, the role of females in religion and anyone interested in theology. I’ve found it very interesting. The first episode explored some of the changes in religion as society changed, with relation to the gender of Gods. The second was about priestesshood, which was really fascinating for me. I thought anyone considering being a high priestess or priestess of any coven should take a look at least, as it is interesting just how roles have changed for women.

It doesn’t seem that hard to follow and though most of it is about history the examples of early priestesshood are quite inspiring.

That is all I have to say, really. If it sounds interesting to you then search ‘Divine Women’ into i-player and it should be quite easy to find. 🙂

Rowan

x~x

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