WHAT I LEARNED AT PRIESTESS SCHOOL

Seeking to reawaken her innate magic, Ani Ferlise enrolled in Priestess School. She shares how you can embody this ancient vocation …

Graell Corsini and The Goddess Temple of Ashland

Four years ago, I was feeling alone and unfulfilled. I was dissatisfied with the way I’d spent my college years, and I was frustrated with what was expected of me. And so, seeking more of the magic I had always felt in my heart, I left New York and moved to small, magical, Ashland, in Oregon—and it was here I first heard the word “Priestess.”

I had found my way to Graell Corsini, a loving, fiery, pixie Priestess, and founder of the Goddess Temple of Ashland. The Temple itself, a beautiful dome, is surrounded by gardens, flowing mineral springs, beehives, and tall oak trees. Inside, you are greeted by a wood stove and an altar, decked with Samhain decorations and offerings. Immediately on arriving here, I felt something nostalgic and familiar awaken inside of me.

I began my working for Graell at temple “melissae,” cleaning the temple, organizing, sprucing up the altars, and clearing the space. One year later, I asked Graell if she would be willing to do a one-on-one apprenticeship with me and teach me how to Priestess for myself. Over the course of a few short weeks, I immersed myself completely in this ancient vocation.

What I learned totally blew me open, while new insights continue to unfold every day. This is what I have learned so far about the Priestess way …

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A Priestess brings magic to the mundane
Graell told me how part of her practice was to make places more beautiful than when she arrived. If she goes into a bathroom that’s dirty, she cleans it. Graell sees this act alone as a living prayer, bringing the sacred to something so everyday. That’s just one example. Taking a shower can become an energetic cleanse, with lavender or rosemary soap, as you visualize the heaviness of the day going down the drain. Cooking can become kitchen witchery when you say, “Thank you for nourishing me,” as you stir intention into your split pea soup with a wooden spoon. The way you Priestess will be as unique as your fingerprints.

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A Priestess honors the darkness along with the light
Focusing only on the light is a major imbalance in the spiritual world—for we are made of love, light, AND a deep, deep darkness. We are all born from the darkness. The womb-space, the unknown, the place of rebirth. We confront our darkness every day, and to deny this is to deny yourself of your humanity. The deep, dark unknown must not only be looked at but loved. To honor the darkness, the unknown, the places that scare us in ourselves and in life, is sacred.

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A Priestess does not have to be perfect to be in service
We are all capable of manipulation, of stretching the truth a little too much, of judgements, of ignorance, and more. We are always going to be exploring our motivations. Being of service doesn’t require ridding yourself of these human parts. The Priestess approach is to muster up your strength, vulnerability, and courage, and instead of trying to rid yourself of imperfections, to nourish and be gentle with yourself, so that you are overflowing with love. Everything that is not in alignment will then flow out of you naturally.

The Temple

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A Priestess creates sacred space
Holding sacred space is a beautiful opportunity with a lot of responsibility. This space can be energetic or physical. You can push your cart into the cereal aisle at the supermarket while a toddler is throwing a tantrum, and you can ask the mother how she’s doing. Or you can be in ceremony, looking each person in the eye, letting them know that you hear them. You never know when the opportunity to hold space will show up!

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A Priestess nurtures self always
Being a Priestess means creating a (literal) sacred space for you, too. This space is used to pray and to nurture yourself—a place, when something is too big for you, to give it over to the Higher. Natural disasters, terrorism, and societal injustice, are impossible to take on by yourself, nor are you supposed to. You are here to do your part, and whatever is beyond you needs to have a place to go. So create that space. Organize, clean, and beautify it, so you can show up AND feel held.

Whether it is a home altar, a spare room, dresser drawer, or even your car dashboard, use whatever is accessible. My altar has each of the elements represented, and I use the Wheel of the Year for my inspiration. I keep it beautiful and divinely scented with flowers and plants based on the season, with candles and oils to match, and with crystals and incense to set the tone.

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A Priestess celebrates life with ceremony
Every life event can have a ceremony or ritual. Going through a breakup? Moving into a new home? Feeling grateful? Needing to cut ties from a person? Yearning to honor a loss? Ceremony is key to bringing the mythic to the seemingly mundane. Ritual is an invitation for the sacred to come in. While there’s nothing like having a trained guide for major life gateways, there are many opportunities to support yourself during times of transition. For example, if you just experienced a break up, take a cleansing bath with rose quartz, and drink a heart-opening and nourishing tea like Damiana.

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A Priestess is a part of nature
When you begin to pay attention to the transitions of the seasons, the shifting of the Sun from sign to sign, and the phases of the Moon, it’s hard to understand how we are supposed to operate separately from nature. Like the Moon and the tides she turns, our lives ebb and flow. From socializing to solitude, from sadness to joy, from confusion to certainty, and from giving to receiving—a Priestess understands that we too are constantly cycling. Be gentle with your tides.

My life has changed significantly since becoming initiated as a Priestess. I came to Graell searching for meaning, and what she taught me is that we find this in making the world better than when we find it, in ways big and small.

Ani at Priestess School

Embracing the magic in the mundane lights a fire in my heart like nothing else has. Turn toward those who have walked this path before you, for more guidance on living a sacred life. If you have any questions, you can find me at kozmicryder.com or @kozmicryder on Instagram, and Graell Corsini at the Ashland Goddess Temple and at priestessgraell.com.

HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: A TOTAL GUIDE

Tap into the wisdom of the animal kingdom by learning how to work with your spirit animal, says Wolf SisterArtwork: Erin Petson

 

A spirit animal is a reflection of you, and is there to remind you of your inherent wisdom. They represent archetypal energies, typical traits that are personified by a specific creature. Acting as our allies, teachers, guides and protectors, if a spirit animal is showing up in your life, it has a message for you and wants to work with you.

Think, what are this animal’s strengths and how does it act? This is the message for you.

To work with your spirit animal is to step into the power you need most in any moment. This can help you feel more grounded, give you the confidence for a job interview, make you feel more alluring for a hot date or give you the strength to ask for help when you need it. Above all, it can help you to feel more confident, proactive and supported.

:: WHO IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL? ::

Spirit animals have an energy you will resonate with and feel drawn to, sometimes inexplicably. This doesn’t have to be specific to an animal either, it could also be a deity, super hero or even a celebrity! Yes, you could count Beyonce or Mary Magdalene as your “spirit animal.” There will be something familiar about your animal, and they’re there to teach and guide you in a direction that supports you.

Maybe you already have a strong affinity with a particular spirit animal, but if you don’t feel like have the connection yet here are some tips to help you to activate your connection.

A Vision Quest
In the morning, take some time to meditate and invoke your spirit animal to show itself. Create a presence of awareness throughout the day and look out for signs that could represent your animal. Your spirit animal is likely appear to you in a series of synchronicities, where you may literally see it everywhere—on street art, the internet, magazines, books, posters, gifts you receive from friends, dreams or even a chance encounter with the animal itself.

When your animal wants to be seen, it’ll make sure you notice it so keep your eyes wide open. Journal your encounters as these encounters are all insights into what is being revealed to you. You may come into contact with more than one animal, but the animal you see most often is the most prominent message. Think of the additional animals as the supporting acts.

Meditate
You can connect with your spirit animal through meditation, while a guided shamanic journey will lead you to your animal and hold space for you to communicate more deeply with them. There are guided meditations available online (search: “spirit animal guided meditation”) and workshops that hold space for you to meet your spirit animal. Check event listings for sessions in your area.

Dreamtime
Before you go to sleep, ask your spirit animal to reveal themselves to you in your dream. Your intention could be, ” Spirit animal, who serves my highest and best good, please come to me in my dreams tonight. I am open to your wisdom. Thank you for your protection and guidance. You will be remembered in the morning.”

Repeat this invocation as you fall asleep. Make sure that you have a pen and paper by your bed for when you wake up in the morning, and write down what you remember as soon as you wake up and the memory of the dream is still fresh.

Oracle Cards
One of the quickest ways to connect with your spirit animal is to use an animal oracle deck (we love the Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck). Connect with the deck and draw a card (or a few cards) to represent what serves you. You can take guidance from the reference book that accompanies the deck but I would also recommend journalling how this card makes you feel, use your intuition to find the meaning. Meditate on the card and see what messages come through to you from the unseen realm.

If you draw an animal that makes you feel uncomfortable, brings up a phobia or a feeling of dislike, this animal can represent your shadow side. This could symbolize something in the animal’s character that you’re avoiding in your life. Take this as an opportunity to tune in to what may need healing in your life. Remember, if this animal is showing up for you, it is there to be seen, and it’s because you are ready. Even if you don’t think you are…

:: HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL ::

Act Like Your Animal
Use the animal’s instinct as a guide for what action you need to take. How does your animal think and act?

Here are a few examples: Stand strong and committed like the bear. Be sensual and independent like the cat. Do some Vinyasa yoga to connect with your flexibility like the snake. Howl at the moon to embody the wolf. Share your wisdom as a teacher like the owl. Seize an opportunity like the magpie.

Check out youtube or some David Attenborough documentaries to study the characteristics of your animal. Have fun with how you embody your animal, no-one else needs to know, and watch to see how people respond to you after you’ve been channeling the ways of your animal.

Dress Like Your Animal
Wear the colors and patterns of your animal to connect with their spirit. This can be a subtle act, for example wearing leopard print underwear to honor your inner wild cat. Let your hair loose to unleash the lion in you. Think of black as the color of mystery and transformation. If your animal is colorful then it’s a sure sign that you need to been seen.

Eat Like Your Animal
Food nourishes us and gives us energy. Animals use food to do this in the purest way, no fad-diets! They forage or hunt for what their body needs and eat specifically to adapt to their environment. Use the dietary habits of your animal as a guide for what will nourish you at the moment. If your animal is a herbivore, try a plant-based diet and see how your body feels. Birds have a very fast metabolism to enable them to stay light so that they can fly, eating little and often. Maybe the message is simply that you take time to slow down to eat.

Meditate With Your Animal
Using a guided meditation, journey to connect with your spirit animal. Ground yourself and when you’ve connected with your animal, visualize the animal’s energy merging with yours. Feel yourself integrating its strength and wisdom. Set the intention to embody the animal’s empowerment for the day ahead. Working with animals is very grounding, so know that your energy will be protected by the animal as it serves you.

Animals are wise and gentle guides. They haven’t forgotten their connection with earth and with us, and they need our help to protect and heal our planet. As always, the healing journey begins with us. This is an invitation to call on your natural superpowers and work with animal instinct to create the change in your life that you’ve been waiting for.