Anyaa McAndrewIt’s widely acknowledged by those attuned to the energies of the Earth that much more balance is needed. The Divine Feminine, once a powerful force on the planet, has been overshadowed by a patriarchy that diminishes the presence of the feminine. The result: few women in the role of spiritual leader and a culture lacking in compassion and nurturance of all. Cries can be heard, if one listens carefully, for the sacred feminine to be restored as an equal player in the consciousness of this planet. One who has listened and responded is Nicole Christine, author of Temple of the Living Earth and creatrix of Celestial Earth Center in Tucson, Ariz. She has created and nurtured a lineage of women who have set the intention to “fully awaken, enliven and integrate the inner priestess” through a process known as Awakening the New Millennium Priestess. Anyaa McAndrew, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, has worked for 25 years in the sacred work of emotional healing and leads women through the Priestess Processâ„¢.
Tell me about the role of the Priestess in past cultures.

Anyaa McAndrew: There’s a lot of new information coming forth that indicates that the Goddess probably ruled on the planet for maybe up to 25,000 years before patriarchy. Women played the major role in those times and, even after patriarchy came in about 5,000 years ago, there was still the Priestess and the Priest. They co-facilitated and mediated between the Divine and what happened with the people on the earth. The Priestess’s role was that of a mediator, like the Priest or Pope in the Catholic Church. In ancient times, she facilitated puberty rights of passage, marriage ceremonies and served as an intercessional between the celestial realms and the earth realms. Right now we don’t need that. We don’t need Priestesses to be an intercession for us. The point now is not to reinstate the temples or reinstate Priestesses alongside of Priests and Ministers, but to really find those archetypes within ourselves.

That’s a major shift in the role from the past to the present.

McAndrew: Yes. Those roles that are spiritually better than or inferior to the rest are just not effective, because we are moving into a time period when it’s important for all of us to connect to the Divine within ourselves and to have a clear channel. It’s about the role of the Priestess to create what we call Celestial Earth on earth now – to create heaven on earth. The function of awakening the Priestess now is to help women claim their own spiritual authority. It has been very difficult for women to relate to a white, male God, because that’s so different from who they are, so there’s an automatic disconnect that happens when women try to relate to God the Father. They may not even know they are feeling this until they are in their later years, and they disconnected with their own spirituality.

Because there hasn’t been a strong feminine role model in the spiritual life of the church in terms of doing ceremony and ritual. There is a movement in that direction.

McAndrew: The concept of God has been a male God and there hasn’t been much evidence in most religions of feminine Deities. There are very few religions or denominations that allow women to have equal status with men. It’s time to allow women to be side-by-side with men to perform the rituals in the various religions, and it is time to recognize that there is a feminine face of God, as well as a masculine face of God. The Priestess movement is intended to awaken that divine feminine within each of us.

And to bring it all into balance.

McAndrew: Yes, to bring balance to it all. It’s not about establishing another matriarchy, and it’s not about creating another imbalance, but really to bring balance into what is already here.

What do you think is sparking the Priestess movement? Some people indicate that there is a greater feminine energy that’s coming into the earth realm. Do you think that’s part of it, or is there something else?

McAndrew: I think it’s recognizing the planet as being feminine. We’ve seen the awakening of the concept of Gaia, the Goddess that represents earth. I think the bottom line is our connection to earth. That’s where we’re sourcing this new feminine energy. We’re saying that the earth is so important and that she is our mother and that we need to respect her – and in respecting her, we begin to very naturally connect with the feminine energy in all of us. I do think the women’s movement was somewhat effective in reawakening the feminine, but there was so much reactivity that there needed to be some space between the women’s movement and what is happening now so we all could heal from that and not go back into reactivity again about the idea of the divine feminine. I think it’s happening very organically.

Is there any connection between the Priestess Processâ„¢ that you facilitate with the earth-based Wiccan path?

McAndrew: They are different in the sense that Wicca and some of the other earth-based paths have prescribed belief systems. The Priestess Processâ„¢ calls upon the spiritual authority of each woman who participates. You could be Christian or Jewish or Native American in spiritual orientation and still be working to awaken the inner Priestess without in any way discounting those other belief systems. All we really ask is that each woman step into her own spiritual authority from whatever framework she comes. There are no prescribed rituals or dogmas or even beliefs that we ask the women to embrace. The centerpiece of this work is something called “living ceremony.” It’s something we do to help awaken the concept of doing ritual and ceremony in a present tense – not coming to it with any preconceived notions but really connecting with oneself and connecting with the what we call the Priestess oversoul to see what wants to be expressed in the moment. In every circle, we have some forms we work with – such as celebrating the different stages of life – but every circle takes those concepts and works with them in different ways. The women in each circle co-create the ceremony together in a way that works for them.

It’s a self-empowerment process rather than a belief system.

McAndrew: Right. It’s not a teaching; it’s not a workshop. It’s an actual process, and the process itself is the energy and the priestess oversoul. Calling in that ancient archetype is what allows the women to step into their own personal power.

Is there a role for men to awaken the Divine Feminine in this process?

McAndrew: There is. In this particular process, there are women and men who do Priest-Priestess circles and who also do just Priest circles. I decided not to work with the Priest archetype, finding that my calling is to work with the Priestess archetype. In Atlanta, several men are going through a Priestess circle with another facilitator, and in Tucson, Nicole Christine has ordained several Priests – and some of those Priests then have later facilitated Priest circles, and some of the women there have co-created with a partner Priest in these processes.

When did the Priestess Processâ„¢ begin and how widespread is the teaching now across the country?

McAndrew: It started really taking off around 1994. There are about 300 Priestesses and Priests – mostly Priestesses.

You have written about an experience you had in 1997 when you were in the Highlands of Scotland and you reconnected with the Priestess energy. What did you experience at that time?

McAndrew: What I experienced was a real connection with the land. My own land of my soul is Scotland and Ireland. I feel Celtic in my soul nature. So my experience was a journey to several stone circles in the Highland area of Scotland and my experience was the ancientness of the stones and the incredible legacy of ceremony that had taken place in those stone circles all over Scotland. We probably visited 25 to 30 different circles – and we found on the stones the markings of the astronomical data that the ancients had recorded on the stones, either the eclipse cycles, the new moon or the full moon, the rising sun. The stone circles were very much, in every case, aligned with some astronomical phenomena, and they carried the energy of the ceremonies and the intentionality that had gone before in each of those sites. Being with this group of other people – men and women – and doing living ceremonies at several of those sites was a quickening for me. It felt very much as if something was awakening in me, something that wanted to be felt, wanted to be seen, wanted to be expressed. I think I had gone to the place of my soul, a place I had spent many lifetimes. It was after that that I knew that I needed to do this process.

What commitment is required from people who participate?

McAndrew: It is a nine-month commitment, and we meet about every seven weeks. We meet six times, and each of those six weekends build upon one another. The first weekend is to give women a taste of the Priestess consciousness, encouraging them to call that in and to experience it themselves. The second weekend is the initiation weekend. We spend a day remembering the ancient Priestess consciousness and how it was for each one of us and the path that each one of us has taken to get to this point now. Many, many women, when they really allow themselves to connect with the idea of the Priestess, have a place of remembering inside them that happens almost immediately. They can connect with that energy, either through the Geisha, through the sexual Priestess, through the idea of perhaps being the healer or herbalist or midwife. Some women connect with ancient Egypt. Then we spend nother day working with the shadow between women and how we project our shadows onto each other. What kind of judgment do we project based on the culture standards of who we should be as women? We talk about the concept of the inner patriarch as a sub-personality that we need to work with – and then we really work to take back those projections from each other and to heal that shadow.

The third weekend is about telling the stories of our spiritual journeys. During the fourth weekend, we work with the archetypes of our inner male and our Priestess archetype – and we use the vehicle of shamanic astrology. Nicole Christine and Daniel Giamario co-created some of that work together. I am a shamanic astrologer and I have taken it and added my own flavor. On Sunday of that weekend we do the sacred marriage ceremony. After having worked with the masculine, then we do the ceremony of marrying or merging the masculine and the feminine. The fifth weekend is the conscious death and sacred rebirth weekend. Saturday we die to our old selves and to the old earth. We do some breathwork, we make death masks, we do a death walk and we write our own obituaries. We do some other processes that facilitate us in letting go of the old. Saturday night we spend “In Between the Worlds,” and on Sunday we co-create a rebirth ceremony for the circle. Constantly evolving, constantly changing, each circle brings it to another level and does something different with it. The last weekend is the emergence and ordination. We create a portal, – a threshold for the women to come through, to emerge. We create a whole beautiful ceremony and invite all of the people who have held space for us for the past nine months. As soon as we step into that ordination process, we’re actually stepping into another initiation process because the ordination activates another level or layer – and a lot of amazing things happen.

After the ordination, do you reconnect with the women in the circle?

McAndrew: The circles are empowered to be autonomous, so we encourage the women to continue their work together. There are five transitional gatherings between the weekends. We give them a theme and ask them to create ceremony during those five transitional gatherings. I am not there for those. These gatherings help to strengthen the circle. My job is to hold space and to facilitate and call in the energy until the circle is able to hold that energy on its own. I begin to pull back as the circle gets stronger. We have a Priestess community in Atlanta now of about 60 to 65 Priestesses and a few Priests and somebody is usually hosting a new moon or full moon gathering or and equinox or solstice gathering. There is usually something going on, so the women will participate in those gatherings and then they create their own gatherings for the larger community.

Reprinted by permission from the July edition of The EDGE. Tim Miejan is
editor of The EDGE: Exploring the Evolution of Consciousness. Contact him at
1 (888) 776-5687 or e-mail Tim.Copyright © 2001 Tim Miejan

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