The Contemporary Priestess: About the Ministries

Introduction

The Contemporary Priestess is a ministries-related servicemark used by Willow, who is a licensed priestess in affiliation with Belladonna Sanctuary, an ecofeminist pagan religious organization that was founded in Berkeley, California (and now is based in North Portland, Oregon).

However, my vocation and approach to priestesshood differ from the paths of most neo-pagan and Wiccan priestesses. For one thing, my ministries are largely educational in nature and are less focused on rituals or emotionally-driven spiritual experiences. I value sound scholarship as someone who is trained in theology, and my vision is to be the “Jesuit” of the Goddess religion (for the lack of any better analogy!). Like Jesuits, I am focused on scholarship, education, social justice, cross-cultural studies, and spiritual directions — but no so much on pietism, esoteric experiences, or ritual observances.

Another unique feature of this blog is my New Thought influenced take on Goddess spirituality (and conversely, a religious feminist take on New Thought teachings). While the New Thought movement teaches that it honors all paths to the Divine, because of its cultural and historical background, most New Thought teachings heavily rely on the language and cultural trapping of Christianity. But we also know that other forms of adaptations are possible: for example, Seicho-no-ie is a Japanese New Thought organization with a large membership, that successfully contextualized New Thought teachings into the language and observances of Shinto and Buddhism.

It is also worth noting that New Thought churches were largely founded under female leadership and were among the first to ordain women at all levels of ecclesiastical leadership. Many early New Thought leaders also participated in the Women’s Suffrage movement and other feminist causes.

To this end, I draw also from The Clear Recital, a collection of sacred texts that originated in the 1970s England and was originally circulated by a lesbian separatist commune. While this book has been used by a number of sects over time with varied interpretations, I have come to believe that a careful reading of these scriptures point to fundamental teachings that share common roots with New Thought churches.

This is not to say I endorse, or am affiliated with, any other religious sects or intentional communities that profess to follow the teachings of The Clear Recital. Many of these organizations and people espouse a highly misogynist view of womanhood (which they falsely call “feminine essentialism”) and heteronormative and stereotypical idea of “femininity.” I do not advocate for their erroneous teachings and observances.

One more thing: You will see from time to time references to Artemis. This is not because I espouse polytheism or an imagined “reconstruction” of ancient Greek religion, but it is because the symbolism of Artemis captures a kind of Goddess imagery that I can relate to the most. I reject the sexist, ageist, and heteronormative idea of triple Goddess (“Maiden, Mother, and Crone”) that was invented by a man named Robert Graves in 1948. Rather, like Lasara Firefox Allen, I favor a model that does not reduce females to mere reproductive functions. I also find that the imagery of Artemis, being free of patriarchal gender norms, is an apt “eternal maiden” Goddess metaphor for queer femmes and nonbinary folks. Beyond that, I believe that there is only one power and presence in this universe, which may be called Goddess, God, Divine Presence, or whatever depending on one’s culture and language.

If you would like to contact me for prayer, spiritual direction, or anything else, feel free to keep in touch on Telegram (salixlucida) or on XMPP (willow@securejabber.me).

Ministries

The Contemporary Priestess is not a church or a religious organization. Rather, I am just an independent minister who is offering an outreach/parachurch-like service to the community and individuals at large.

I approach my ministries from a feminist perspective, and in particular, I have a heart for those who occupy the margins of society for social, economic, or political reasons.

I try to keep my work on the practical side of things, rather than touchy-feely and emotionalistic kind of spirituality that seems to appeal more to those with white and middle-class privileges. Also, while I appreciate and value the power of well-designed rituals and symbolism, I am not into empty observances as feel-good activities.

At the same time, however, I believe in a holistic and integrated view of spiritual life that encompasses work, intellectual discourse, sound academics, social actions, life ethics, communion with nature, and physical activities. As an androgynous/femme, solo-poly queer POC who is also neurodiverse, I understand a wide variety of challenges that people on the margin experience around self-image, personal narratives, identity, sexuality, and "fitting in" in the context of a larger society.