Yes, I am a priestess. (And four other things you just had to know about.)

Thank you, reader dears, for all the lovely birthday questions. I’m having such fun answering them. Here’s the first installment. Feel free to ask, and ask, and ask away. And don’t forget to offer your two bits on things that make you go “Hmmmm.” Cheers!

Florencia asks: are you a priestess or have I been reading too distractedly?

I’ve been trying on the term ‘priestess’ for the last few years. I think it looks good on me!

In official terms, I do have a degree in theology; and I have been ordained. (Although I’ve allowed that to lapse since moving to Europe.) I served as an ordained minister at a church and as the abbess at a neo-monastic community. I don’t have an official title now, but I enjoy offering people spiritual direction on line, and I write regularly about spirituality. I like the term ‘priestess’ because priests, ideally, usher people into a place of transcendence and beauty—which is something I try to do with my writing and my practices. I chose to use the feminine version of the word ‘priest’ because it helps me embrace my quest for uncovering the feminine face of God –the Feminine Divine—which I believe has been buried by the patriarchal models which are predominate in religious institutions.

Josh asks: Compare ten years ago to now, what would you say are the major beliefs that have changed and how has that change changed you?

At 30 I was a happy little evangelical minister gleeful to be accepted into the big-boys club of church ministry. I was very concerned with making sure people were developing an ‘orthodox’ faith, and the myth of personal holiness (i.e. being good) was very important to me. Art was hovering patiently at my door, waiting for me to be ready for our date, and ideas about a new kind of leadership were knocking around my head, but all of that was in embryonic form.

Since then I have completely let go of evangelical doctrine. I don’t believe Christianity is the only way to God. I don’t believe in hell. I still love the transformational theology – that is, I think we can all continue to become more in-the-image-of-God by transforming more deeply into our truest selves—but moral ‘rightness’ and acquiescence to some religious standard (i.e. personal holiness) is no longer a tantamount for me.

How has this shift changed me? My primary language is no longer one of debate and critique, but one of dialogue and curiosity. I’m considerably less uptight and worried. Fear does not dominate my life as it once did. I can see truth in a lot more places now. I’m now live in a place of generosity and abundance, and not in a metaphysical land of judgement and lack. I have a less secure sense of place, and I sometimes miss the way having a clearly delineated religion provides security. But overall, my life has more beauty, ease, and compassion than it once did.

Elaine asks: If you could live one day of your life as another being (animal, vegetable or mineral but it must be non-human), what would you be and why?

I’d probably be a tree. I’m really into the spirit of trees. There was a fig tree near my house in Seattle that I called Mother Fig. I used to stop sometime on my pre-dawn walks and put my hand on her trunk and say encouraging things to her. (She was very overgrown and neglected. Poor baby.) Here in CPH there is a tree in the Univeristy Havn that might be magical. When the Winter sunset strikes it it glows like someone has uplit it with sophisticated stage lighting. Right now its leaves are so beautiful. Trees represent wisdom to me…wisdom and resilience.

Elaine again: If you could meet an inspirational leader from the past or present, who would that be and what one question would you ask him or her?

I can’t really think of anyone from the past right now. I’d like a pow wow with some of my current personal leaders though. Jen Lee could coach me on how to get a journal project and a collection of audio essays ready for distribution. I’m really admiring her work lately. And Sharon Benton could keep advising me how to not squander my so called (cushy) life. Oh, and Leonie could teach me how to be less of an Eyeore and more of a goddess. That would be good!

Four more Q’s with their A’s coming up tomorrow….

Tess October 31, 2008 at 5:17 am

So interesting to read your answers to these questions. I liked what you said about the myth of personal holiness. And thanks for the nudge to Leonie, I just signed up for her Creative Goddess e-course.

Sue October 31, 2008 at 6:16 am

These answers were so cool! Especially the one about being a tree. Me too. I’d be a tree, definitely. A giant Entish oak :)

Janet Roper October 31, 2008 at 8:50 am

Holy Crow ~ and I mean that literally ~ what an awesome post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, your life experience.

Kristin T. October 31, 2008 at 9:08 am

This is a great post. I especially agree with what you said about “transformational theology” and the “myth of personal holiness.”

One of the biggest, most important challenges I have as a mother is figuring out where and how my own childhood understandings of God went askew, and then attempting in consistent small ways to better share and explain my faith now to my children. Reading the thoughts and perspectives of people like you really helps me sort it all out. Thanks for your openness.

Silvia October 31, 2008 at 10:10 am

Oh i loved reading this!

Eliacin October 31, 2008 at 11:03 am

Hey Priestess, I wish I had made it to Seattle when you were still around. Thanks for answering these questions and allow us to see deeper in your soul.

Paz y esperanza,

Florencia October 31, 2008 at 6:18 pm

Thank you for your inspiring answer to my question. I think it is so brave of you to tell all this and to be conscious of your belief evolution.
Some of us raised Christians dwell for years in guilt and feelings of being sinful for not being able to believe what we are told and taught.
Anf even if we were to break free from those communities, there is always that look from people who think you have gone astray rather than found your own personal path…
I do feel a bit jealous because I don’t live in a broad-minded society and will probably never have the chance to build a community like the one you had in Seattle.
Still, it is refreshing to read that others think and believe things similar to the ones I believe in.

Thanks again!

Jen Lee November 1, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Your response to Josh’s question is one of the most succint summations of this strange journey we’re on that I’ve come across so far. I could ditto it completely. And for the record, I would be most happy to pow wow with you anytime, on any subject. :)

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