This series explores what it is like to be a spiritual seeker and Priestess in the 21st century.
Is there more empowerment & direct access to the Divine in the world now?
I’m interviewing women from my Priestess Training Program to find out!
I have a flip calendar on my desk Calm Days: 365 A peaceful thought for every day by Helen Exley, and today’s is this:
Truly, I’ve been searching for ‘a Purpose’ (with a capital P) my whole adult life!
At university, I was sure I’d be an academic. I was on track for a First in Theology, then endometriosis struck, and I ended up with an OK second-class honours degree (an Oxford failure L), an insufficient qualification to get on their PhD programme.
So, I decided to train to be a primary school teacher as I love kids, but it was SO not my calling!
Then, I was given the opportunity to volunteer in a Kenyan Bible College – I raised the cash, and set out in 1987 for THE best 365 days of my life! It was fulfilling in every sense of the word – AND I met my future husband (a guy from California volunteering for a water project).
After we married, we lived in Pasadena for 3 years so I could do a Masters at Fuller Seminary part-time, while being a Teaching Assistant and a leader for our church’s adult Sunday School. It was exciting and fulfilling work, but I encountered the first hints of misogyny that plagues the Church worldwide.
When we returned to the UK, I trained to be a lay Reader in the Anglican Church – assisting the vicar of the parish where we lived, leading home groups and preaching regularly. It was demanding, but rewarding work, so I asked to be put forward to train for the ministry. (In the Anglican Church it’s a multi-stage process – you must first have the vicar’s backing, then the church congregation’s, then the bishop’s, and only then can you begin the training!)
Well, I passed the first two stages, then I spent a weekend with other candidates being assessed by the bishop, the archdeacon and other diocesan dignitaries (the Church does love its hierarchy!) It did not go well… The bishop was known to be against women in the ministry, and as I had young children at the time, he told me (not in so many words), I should be dedicating myself to them exclusively. That was in 2001, and within a couple of years, I had left the Church for good.
And so began my Wilderness Years. Wandering around, looking for a Tribe, for a community to which I could belong…
As a family we had moved to a neighbouring county, which had much better schools, but the place to which we moved was a cultural black-hole, a failing market-town, a broken place in so many ways… Great schools, but no community to speak of.
Then, in May 2007, I suffered a serious stroke (aged 43 at the time). It left my right side totally paralyzed and me without speech and comprehension and on medication for the rest of my life. I was in hospital for 4 months learning to sit up, to eat without choking, to walk, to speak, then began the l-o-n-g, slow road to recovery…
Eight years later, I can do most things with my left hand (yes, I was right-handed before the stroke), I can peck at keyboard, I can blog, and most importantly for me I can read again (the 2 years after the stroke when I couldn’t were THE darkest, longest time), and I can write left-handed (I used to journal all the time, and knew something was wrong when I dropped my pen as the stroke hit…)
Sadly, I had to give up my work as a freelance academic copyeditor (the best job for a stay-at-home mama!) as I cannot work to such tight deadlines anymore, and nowadays I miss typos and errors too often to do such precise and exacting work. I still miss it…
But, I CAN study again, and the few months I’ve spent on Vanessa’s amazing course has expanded my Soul in ways I could never have imagined!
No hint of misogyny here, only celebration for the multi-faceted Goddess and my part in acknowledging and serving her in the world.
This training is drawing disparate strands together:
- Two years ago I started making moonboards each New and Full Moon, marking my rediscovered childhood fascination with the Moon and my deep love of Nature in easy-to-make collages.
- Around the same time, I began to observe the festivals of the Wheel of the Year, to honour Elen of the Ways on my altar (I connect deeply with reindeer and have recently ‘adopted’ one J).
- And now, through Vanessa’s materials I’m feeding my Soul by encountering Tara, and Demeter, and Cerridwen, and…
And most importantly, I’ve found my Tribe who are scattered all over the globe! We connect monthly by the wonders of the internet – we are deeply present to each other whether it’s the afternoon in Canada, midnight in Europe or early morning in Australia. Wow, what a gift!
And it’s all facilitated graciously and lovingly by Vanessa, a precious Soul-Sister, and a gifted Wise Woman and Teacher.
I’m on a wild journey of discovery!
As yet, I’m not sure how to describe who or what I am. The Christian Church was the touchstone for my life for so long – a safe sanctuary as a child, and an exciting workplace as an adult. Yet, it defined and ultimately confined, so much of my spirituality that I had to leave to freely express who I am.
All I do know is I’m ‘growing a purpose’ and this amazing group of women are honouring and witnessing it.
And in the amended words of a favourite hymn:
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Goddess, unto Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Goddess, unto Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!
Claire Sauer is a keen blogger http://womanofartandmind.blogspot.co.uk/
A less enthusiastic Facebooker https://www.facebook.com/bloomsburygirl28
And an occasional Pinner https://www.pinterest.com/bloomsburygirl/
A lifelong Seeker of Truth, a passionate Lover of Art (human and Nature-made). Her degrees are in Theology, and she was a lay minister in the Anglican Church for many years, till she left over a decade ago after much soul-searching…
Since then, she has embraced all spiritual paths and was a student in Sage Priestess Training among other courses and programs that feed her soul.
This post originally appeared on vanessasage.com in 2015