In this day and age of social media and the internet, one can call themselves anything without it holding much weight. Too often, people promote self made titles, without much merit. So what is a High Priestess? What role do they play in a coven and in witchcraft in general?
The High Priestess has dedicated her life to The Craft. She has studied, trained and walks the path, incorporating witchcraft tradition into her daily life. She is often gifted in the Esoteric and fluent in the Occult. She has been groomed for many years by other witches, often in a Coven, to become a High Priestess. The High Priestess earns her title with formal initiation. She does not need to be ordained and is never bound by religion. Her role is to follow the traditions of the Coven and Craft. With this title, she is also granted the authority and formal titles of Healer, Teacher and Leader. Teaching and ceremony are taken very seriously. The High Priestess is entrusted to teach the authentic and genuine truths of ancient Witchcraft. She is also granted the jurisdiction to perform Handfasting and other traditional ceremonies and rituals.
The High Priestess is seen as the Goddess Incarnate. She is the Spiritual Center and the energetic force of her Coven and within the Witchcraft community. She wears many pointed hats! First and foremost she must be a healer. She offers emotional, spiritual and mental healing. Quite often you will find that a High Priestess works in a caring profession in her daily life such as a Nurse, PSW, Social Worker, ECE, etc. Her main role is to provide guidance to the members of the coven as they journey on their own spiritual path. She is generally (but not always) considered a crone. She is a woman who leads others to find their truth. She is supportive and never judgemental, especially where it pertains to her members journeys.
In addition to the formal rituals that the High Priestess leads, another role of the High Priestess is to perform Dedication Ceremonies for witches ready to commit to their craft. Many new witches seek guidance and approval from the High Priestess. She runs formal classes and workshops, passing on her wisdom and knowledge. She believes there is no silly question. If she doesn’t have the answer, she will seek it out. She learns and walks her path daily. She realizes there is no room for competition when it comes to her work. As much as she is in charge of her own community, she will always welcome the support and advice of other High Priestesses who share the same path. She understands the importance of all paths and knows we all work together for the benefit of Mother Earth.
Occasionally the coven will have a High Priest as well., depending on the size of the coven. However, even if the coven has a High Priest, the High Priestess will always be the one in charge. The High Priestess often assigns the role and title of Elder to a coven member. The Elder takes her direction from, and assists the High Priestess. The Elder is not a teacher but is often seen as a way of learning the role of High Priestess. The Elder is never a teacher, as they are (by the same name) in Indigenous tradition. Their role is “helper.” An Elder is given tasks by the High Priestess such as setting up and tearing down ritual.
Not everyone is cut out to be a High Priestess. It can be a hard road to travel. Often, the person most qualified doesn’t want the title due to the amount of time and energy it can take. Quite often the unqualified are eager for the role. Most newbies only notice what they believe is glamour and power of the position. They ignore or forget about the years of training, the hard work and the tireless dedication the High Priestess has endured to hold the position. The High Priestess is the flame of the coven and witchcraft community. The coven and community is the candle. If good leadership is not shown, the ritual will be cold and lacking in heart. With too much control, the covens work will be burnt away. As with life, balance is always the key.
Author: Karyn Williams is a full-time Social Worker, currently training for her Death Doula certification. She is an intuitive, third generation Witch who began her training under her Mum and Grandmother. She has been in the same coven for close to thirty years and just over twelve years ago, was formally initiated a High Priestess. Karyn facilitates numerous rituals and workshops at The Zen Shop and is Co-Founder and instructor at The Oshawa School of Witchcraft.