(picture by Kam Abbott: Krystalynne O’Hagan and Yoseff Samchuk leading a Thelma ritual at Nanaimo Pagan Pride day)
So you want to be a Priest/ Priestess/Shaman?
Here’s some things to know before you stand up before a circle of people. Usually when people feel the need to become a priest or priestess or shaman it takes a lot of work and study, one simply does not pick up a book and read that one book and declare themselves a spiritual figure of import. I’ve studied both shamanism and witchcraft for over twenty-five years and still I refuse to give my self the label of priestess or shaman the closest I’ve come is calling myself a medicine woman or a witch.
Taking on the spiritual well-being of an individual or a group of people is a really big responsibility and not something to be taken lightly. I’m not going to lie and say that leading a group isn’t fun or that you don’t get a lot out of doing it but one of the big questions you should ask yourself is ‘do I want to do this because I need to feel important?’ if the answer to your question is Yes then perhaps leadership isn’t for you, if your answer is yes then that’s your ego talking, working with spirit from a place of ego will not get you far in fact the people around you will call you out on your BS.
Do you genuinely want to help people on their path with spirit and you are feeling that call? then perhaps that is a goal to set yourself and begin a very important task of working on one’s self by healing the wounds of the past, if this is the path you have set for your self then it’s going to be a lot of hard work.
I knew a girl once, we’ll call her Sally, Sally felt the call of spirit and she desperately wanted to help people to bring together a community of like people to do ritual and form a coven of witches. Now Sally’s heart was definitely in the right place however she had some personal issues; issues of abandonment, rejection, inferiority and that’s just to name a few. Sally had a few problems but then again who doesn’t? Problems started to arise when Sally, who had only read a few books on the subject decided she was ready to be priestess of her group. She approached the position from a place of ego instead of a place of compassion, empathy and understanding, what followed was the disbanding of her small coven as Sally used her position as “priestess” trying to control the members of her coven, a common phrase that was uttered was “you have to listen to me, I’m your priestess”
Others of her circle had either severe depression,anxiety as well as issues of their own; which because Sally had approached her position from a place of ego she overlooked the needs of the others placing her problems before theirs.
This is the kind of thing that can be avoided with proper study and time before one goes into being a leader in a spiritual aspect, in religions such as christianity, priests study for upwards of ten years before they are able to lead their church. In pagan spirituality situations like Sally’s are all too common, there are no checks and balances to ensure that your spiritual leader has the knowledge they need to guide a circle properly or offer advice of any sort.
I recommend that if you feel that call and you want to lead a pagan circle or do any sort of shamanistic work that you put in an ample amount of study, work through your own issues and release them, I find that if you are holding on to anger or sadness or whatever from your past, even if you don’t know what it is or where it came from. seek a teacher, there are plenty of online resources both pagan and shamanic schools that can teach you how to live from a healed self.
As for myself not only was I taught how to be one with spirit and how to let go the anger and pain that was holding me back but I also learned a few things from taking peer counseling courses online as well, this gave me the ability to do spiritual counseling when I was ready. Now don’t let your own fears hold you back and certainly don’t let other people deter you from your path but do everything you can to be that whole and healthy person spiritually, mentally and physically and allow spirit to guide you on your path.