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 …

///

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.

///

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.

 ///

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

///

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!

///

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.

///

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.

///

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.

COMING HOME TO MY HOODOO ROOTS

Growing up British but with her family history in Mauritius, it was reconnecting to her Hoodoo roots that helped Stephanie Victoire finally feel at home …

My grandmother always said that bad luck could never follow you across water, the oceans would purify you anew. That the ocean could take away spirits who wanted to join you for the ride, and you’d land on the other side of water, cleansed and blessed.

Flying every few months back and forth from England to Mauritius as a child, I was always set to start anew. On hot tarmac I’d step with tiny feet in jelly sandals, my hand in my Nana’s, and my English tongue would immediately be lost, Creole nestling itself into my small canon of words. Crossing the Indian Ocean back, somewhere over the Sahara desert I’d leave that language behind again, which at the time had no dictionary—no official place in the world. And, just like that, I’d become English again.

I acquired a nickname with my Mauritian relatives: Ti Anglaise, “Little English One.” With English-born island friends at school, we’d laugh that I was a “coconut”—brown on the outside, white on the inside. But I also remember how confused and disconnected from myself this made me feel. I was two different things, rather than one whole. I was being mocked for my Englishness, while being called out as somebody who looked like she had roots elsewhere, but was actually clueless as to what they were. From a very young age, I had no idea who or what I was—something I would grapple with well into my adult years.

///

My parents are both Mauritian, my mother white with green eyes, my father dark-skinned with brown eyes. It was hard to explain to people that I wasn’t ‘mixed-raced’ as they classed me. The simple fact was, the French somewhere in our lineage had milked our tea-colored skin and heavily creamed my mother’s. I wanted to look like her, to be her child in the eyes of strangers as we walked down the street together.

But there’s no denying I was birthed of my grandmother’s line. Even though her skin is also pale—more European-looking than Mauritian—there’s no question that she is Creole. It’s a glint in her eye as she bites into her chilies, the way she fries up salt-fish, kneads flour for roti. Her Creole is in her accent; thick, warm, and wise. She is full of phrases and double-entendres that only hold meaning in the language they were first created in. There is magick in everything she does and says, in the way she speaks to God under her breath.

Mauritius humbly hosts a multi-religious population. A Hindu temple is built next to an Islamic mosque that’s built next to a church. Be them Hindu, Muslim or Catholic, all will tell you that they are Mauritian. I learned very early on that I was not Indian-Mauritian or Chinese-Mauritian, or of any other Asian heritage. We were Creole people, descendants of African slaves, the first people to inhabit the island when it was colonized. We had grown with the sugar cane fields from the ground up, with the papaya and lychee trees. We were the ones who sang sega songs to feel some small piece of freedom in our voices, beating our cries into the Ravanne drum.

///

I was sent to Catholic school in London, with my very English packed-lunch of ham sandwiches, crisps and yoghurt. But Mauritian Catholics are not exclusively Catholic. Sure, they feel connected to saints and enjoy the ritual of prayer and church service—but they also believe in hexes, ghosts, omens and witchcraft. And I had all this knowledge with me, too.

But I had no translation for what I witnessed growing up, playing in the tropical gardens of my Mauritian kin: the incessant sweeping, the lighting of candles at the mini mausoleums, which to an outsider seemed like a prayer space. I did not know back then that these shrines were for keeping the garden protector spirit, Gardien Lakour, appeased, with offerings and prayers in exchange for keeping ‘evil’ spirits away from the house.

I also learned that if you sweep a bachelorette’s feet with a balyé—a makeshift broom traditionally made of twigs and vegetable matter—the single lady will never be married. If you throw salt under the chair on which an unwanted guest is sat, they will not return to your home; another handful on the doorstep after they leave will ensure they’ll never darken your door or your life again. If I had a rupee for every time I heard such superstitions from my grandmother, I’d have enough to buy myself a villa on the beautiful Northeast coast. Except these were not superstitions but traditions, brought from Africa, the same way they arrived in Haiti or New Orleans or anywhere else the magick found itself.

Stephanie with her grandmother, Giselle, in Mauritius

Rebelling against everything I was taught in my teens, I left my ‘Mauritianess’ alone, confused about whether I’d really had it anyway, and certain I didn’t want to be Catholic. But after a brief spiritual hiatus, witchcraft found me. Just as Mauritius is a patchwork of different nations and different religions, I developed my own blend of spiritual truths, mixing in Pagan, Hermetic, Native American, and Eastern ideas and practices. Along the way, I’ve worked on healing my confusion around my identity. But I’ve still never felt fully in my skin—more one with the cosmos than with life here on Mother Earth.

Mother. The very word can knock me unsteady, see me crying on my knees. I’ve wanted so much to feel I belong here, I’ve dug my hands into cold, loose soil just to see if I could feel a heartbeat. I’ve travelled the world to try to make the whole planet my home. And it was during a trip to New Orleans last summer, I discovered there was something I’d overlooked.

The Creole words, the Creole faces. Similar to those of my family’s island, but not quite, still I was asked to explore it. I felt it in puddles of rum, the worn wooden doors, the whispers of ghosts. Something was being recalled in my blood, and I warmed to the sensation of ancestral spirits drawing close. It was powerful and overwhelming, a feeling that I was being called back to something I’d find depth and beauty in—the depth and beauty of where I truly came from, that was the makeup of me.

///

I started to read books on Hoodoo, and as I read through conjures and fixings, I heard these stories in my grandmother’s voice. Because of course there was Hoodoo in Mauritius. We had come from the same place as the Creoles of New Orleans. Brought our magick down generations with the teachings of the tongue, the ways of the elders, and my grandmother was no different. Old tales told under the moon on a balmy island night; the properties of herbs explained in the kitchen; candles lit for prayers; curses broken with salt, heart and will.

She is a witch, a priestess; a spirit woman, just as I am growing to be. As I recovered memories of the magick in my family, something in me shifted. I had found the roots I was looking for. I stepped further into my power, shedding from myself a fragmented identity, and in its place claiming one that feels like the entire Universe itself. Each star, each planet, each galaxy is a piece of me—a complex and powerful harmony I can feel as I walk the land of this great mother we call Earth.

All of it is mine to belong to, and all of it is me. This magick that Mauritius possesses so quietly finds its voice in me. A witch, a priestess and a spirit woman. This has been my birthright to claim all along. I feel blessed to have been born in England, to speak a language that can share with the world the stories I have stored in my Creole blood. I will tell them with pride.

///

Stephanie Victoire is a London-based writer and author. You can discover more of her writing HERE, and follow her on Instagram @petalandmossapothecary for more about her HEALING WORK.

PERIOD PRIDE: IT’S TIME TO LOVE YOUR LADY LANDSCAPE

Lisa Lister is the British witch and all around goddess at the forefront of the period pride movement. Ruby Warrington hears all about her new book, Love Your Lady LandscapeArtwork: Merakilabbe

The Numinous: Love Your Lady Landscape is a call to action for Now Age women. Tell us about it…
Lisa Lister: Well there was a time, roughly 5000 years ago, when the space between a woman’s thighs was considered a power portal with a direct hook up to Source. But for over 2,000 years now, the potent powers of our wombs, our cyclic nature and our menstrual cycles have been disregarded, and we’ve lost our daily connection to mumma earth, to the Moon, to the seasons and their cycles.

As a result, we often ignore our deepest needs as women because we no longer trust ourselves and our own body wisdom. We apologize for our tears, suppress our anger, and self-medicate with whatever will numb the pain of not being heard or telling our truth.

Worst of all, we have an epidemic of ‘down there’ pain and dis-ease—PMT, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, fibroids. Overwhelm, anxiety and infertility are at an all-time high and we manage our menstrual bleed with synthetic hormones, denying ourselves the experience of living fully in our power.

So, Love Your Lady Landscape is about exploring, navigating and loving your lady parts. It’s about how to care for them, how to trust them and how to reclaim them.

TN: What is the number one thing a woman needs to understand about her period?
LL: That we are cyclic, not linear. Each month we try to maintain the same level of energy and productivity as our male counterparts throughout our whole cycle, so we can ‘compete’ and ‘keep up.’ But our energy, hormone levels and sex drive ebb and flow each month as we cycle through the four phases of the menstrual cycle—pre-ovulation, ovulation, pre-menstruation and menstruation.

Each of these phases hold super powers and hot spots and when we understand that we show up differently in each phase of our cycle, we are then able to use our menstrual cycle as a map to understanding ourselves better each and every month.

TN: Your previous book, Code Red was all about periods too. Why is this your pet subject?
LL: My entire 20’s were ruled by my menstrual cycle. I bled more days than I didn’t every cycle, I had to cancel social engagements ALL the time because I was too scared to bleed through my clothes, the pain was debilitating at times.

I also got myself a reputation as a total flake, because I was too embarrassed to say: ‘I can’t come out/to work/to the meeting because I’m bleeding through industrial super-size pads and my bed looks like a scene from the movie Carrie.’

So, when at 25 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, there was a moment of relief. I had a name for it. Except in the very next breath the doctor said: ‘Endometriosis means that babies are no longer an option, so it makes sense that we whip out your womb and ovaries so you can function normally again.’

What???

For a moment I considered it, but, and I didn’t know the incredible power that we hold in our womb space at the time, this woke a fierce rage in me that meant I simply wasn’t going to let this happen. Instead, I read about other women who have endometriosis – each case was different – and most importantly, discovered that it didn’t necessarily mean I couldn’t have children. I then got extra mad at modern medicine’s quick fix ‘whip it out’ mentality, and for the last ten years I’ve been on an adventure to explore, navigate and most importantly, love my lady landscape.

And that work starts with the most powerful game-changer of all—knowing ourselves through our cycle.

 

TN: Why are periods a feminine ‘super power’?
LL: Our blood is GOLD. The actual act of bleeding used to be considered sacred and it was honoured by both men and women, from the first day you bleed through to the day you stop bleeding, you are a witch, a sorceress, an all powerful woman. You are a lightening rod for the divine, your womb is an oracle.

And when we work WITH our cycle and not against it, we have access to a series of feminine super powers all month, all of which can be leveraged and used to create a bloody amazing business, relationship and life. A concept I go into in detail in Love Your Lady Landscape!

Book

TN: So many women have irregular cycles. Why do you think this is?
LL: Many reasons, but some of the top ones are:

– As I said previously, when we try to do life in a linear way, we work against our cyclic nature and we suffer for it. Sometimes that will manifest instantly in the form of PMS, irregular cycles, cramps, heavy bleeding (all of which are our body’s way of trying to slow us down and pay attention) or over time in the form of anxiety, stress, depression and ‘lady-parts’ dis-eases like Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids.
– We’re not listening to the wisdom of our bodies and our monthly cycle because we’re medicating her with synthetic hormones—the pill, implants, coils.
– We’ve not been taught what a ‘regular’ flow looks and feels like because menstruation is still seen as taboo subject. It’s spoken about in hushed tones and advertising teaches us to ‘stuff up’ our bleed with tampons so we can ‘carry on as usual’ partying, riding on boats and rollerskating in white jeans – this is shown as ‘normal’ when it’s anything but for most women.

TN: I love your term ‘called girl’ for a woman who’s in touch with her cycle—can you give an example of how this looks from your life?
LL: The Called Girl experiences life moment-to-moment. She’s in tune with the feminine cycles, rhythms and seasons that allow her to fully own her divine power. She works in, not out. She trusts herself and thoroughly enjoys inhabiting a female body.

A Called Girl doesn’t hold on too tight to a defined and specific outcome. Instead she shows up, roots into mumma earth, listens to her pussy, trusts her gut, raises her heart and boobs to the sun and remains open to the infinite possibilities that occur when you collaborate with what I call SHE.

I trust my body’s wisdom and the way that SHE (divine/source/goddess) uses my cycle to work through me. Each and every month in each and every phase, I unravel and unfold more and more understanding about the woman that I am.

This means I can grow strong and powerful roots in the truth of why I’m here, what I need to learn, who I’m here to serve and how I’m meant to do it—meaning I can fully rise as a woman who trusts herself and is fiercely in her SHE power. Rarrrr!

Crowned ‘the defender of female awesomeness’ by Cooler magazine, Lisa Lister is the author of Love Your Lady Landscape and Code Red. She’s a menstrual, fertility and reproductive health practitioner and founder of the SHE Flow system; a personal invite to celebrate the fiercely feminine, sensual pleasure of being a woman through movement, massage, mysteries and magic. Discover more at www.thesassyshe.com

 

NEW YEAR, NU YOU: A WORKOUT WITH WINGS

On a mission to shape up? Forget blood type diets and fitness for your body type – work out what otherworldly realm you’ve incarnated from, and find a sweat session that truly feeds your soul says Madeline Giles.

A few years ago, a psychic told me I am an incarnated mermaid. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I obviously wanted to learn more. Were there more incarnated mermaids – or was I the only one on earth? How come I decided to leave merworld? Was it possible to develop a relationship with the mermaids in current space and time?

I somewhat obsessively Googled these thoughts for weeks, but at the time there wasn’t much information on the Internet about this. A few months later, however, I discovered Doreen Virtue’s book Realms of the Earth Angels, which pretty much changed my life. I learned that the realm we come from shapes our personality traits, physical characteristics, likes and dislikes, career, the people we hang out with and beyond.

To my surprise, I also found out there are multiple realms people come from, including incarnated angels, incarnated elementals, incarnated starpeople, the wise one’s (reincarnated witches, wizards, etc.) and various hybrids of the aforementioned. Needless to say, it seemed I had accidentally discovered my passion – and thus have been studying, writing and teaching about realms ever since.

In the spirit of our collective New Year leaning towards personal transformation, I got to thinking what workout with wings would be most motivating based on the unique magical flavor of each specific realm.

But first, find out what realm you’re from by taking the free quiz here.

INCARNATED ANGELS
Pure-hearted incarnated angels tend to be total givers, and thus need a workout that encourages both self-care and, let’s say it together now, RECEIVING! Cue Qoya, which integrates yoga, dance and sensual movement in one magical session. Thanks to free online classes, over-giving incarnated angels can clear stuck energy by hip swaying through all their troubles, their friends’ troubles, their family’s troubles, their neighbor’s troubles, and yes – even the world’s troubles in the comfort of their own home. Incarnated angels who make Qoya a regular priority will find it much easier to give those in need proof of heaven on earth.

 

Image: Anja Verdugo

INCARNATED ELEMENTALS (includes incarnated fairies, pixies, brownies, elves, tree spirits, crystals, etc.)
Earth-loving elementals are happiest while outdoors. Since getting you to follow the rules is near impossible, you’ll have the most fun making your own plans, which will invariably include lots of fresh air and play. You’d enjoy outdoor sports and regular hikes in the woods – just make sure to bring a recyclable bag so you can pick up trash along the way! Your elemental family will be seriously stoked and might even reward you with a gift or wish. If, however, the weather really isn’t conducive to play outdoors, plan to attend a high-vibe freeform dance class (such as 5 Rhythms or Journey Dance). You’ll definitely meet fellow fairy friends who will be so down to go hug some trees with you after class.

 

INCARNATED STARPEOPLE
Earth life can be awkward for you, sweet starperson, but you’ll feel right at home at a Kundalini yoga class– where otherworldy experiences are not only encouraged, they’re expected. Chanting, chakra cleansing, and meditations that sync you with the planets may sound woo woo to some, but to you it feels peculiarly familiar. After you get the hang of Kundalini kriyas, don’t be surprised if you spontaneously start receiving cosmic messages from your galactic family.

 

Image: Daniele & Iango

THE WISE ONES (incarnated sorcerers, high priests/priestesses, witches, wizards, etc.)
Been there, done that is your mantra, oh wise one. You’ve lived on earth so many times, it seems nothing can surprise you. Though some may mistake your wisdom for cynicism, you are the true wayshowers of our world and thus really don’t want (or need) anyone telling you how to best work your muscles, or live your life for that matter. But in case you’re open to suggestions (hold the eye rolls please), a combination of high-intensity classes like kickboxing balanced with routine walking meditations will keep you connected to your powerful healing energy.

 

MERMAIDS
Darling…isn’t it better down where it’s wetter? Mermaids LOVE water and feel most connected to their true essence while swimming (with wild dolphins), surfing, – or my personal favorite – mermaiding! Many mermaids are quite sensitive to the chemicals in chlorine, so whenever possible, choose natural water sources over swimming in pools. Since you tend to get cold easily, be sure to heat up a sea salt bath post-swim to relax and recharge with the magic of your element.

 

 

ATLANTEANS
As an Atlantean, you thrive in like-minded communities where conversations about crystals, pyramids and sacred geometry are the norm. You love your tribe and want to work and play together as often as possible, so starting a belly dancing troop or taking a class with synchronized routines will leave you feeling fulfilled. While tightening your tummy and strengthening your spine, you’ll also get connected to the primal healing energy of Atlantis, which is so what the earth needs right now. Get to it!

 

ALADDINS / GENIES
Nomadic Aladdin, you love all things fire. The desert is your playground, sunsets make you melt and super spicy sauce is a must at every meal. In other words, Bikram yoga was pretty much made for you. You might even consider becoming a teacher, so you can squeeze in serendipitous storytelling (one of your realm gifts) during the 20-second savasanas.

 

SHAPESHIFTERS
We know, dear shapeshifter, you’ll have one of everything! Since the thought of doing the same exercise everyday (or every week, for that matter) makes you cringe, you’d fare best by joining a gym that offers a variety of classes. That way you can aerobicize in the pool, lift weights, flow into Vinyasa, chant affirmations at intenSati, and sweat through spin class all in one day if you really wanted to!

www.mermadeline.com
@mermadeline