December Plan Day 2: You are your own priest/priestess

I stopped going to church my sophomore year in college. Nothing unusal there. Despite the fact that our parents sent us to a Catholic University so we wouldn’t lose our faith, everyone I knew stopped going to church their sophomore year.

I made a big mistake, though. The mistake wasn’t stopping going to church. That, I think, was a natural evolutionary step in my teenage struggle to differentiate myself. The mistake was tossing out the proverbial baby with the proverbial bathwater. With one giant whooosh, the whole thing flew out the window. I consciously wanted to toss out the dogma and theology and obligation and endless focus on sin, but in the same motion I threw out all the beautiful practices, all the prayer, all the mystical symbols and songs. I threw out every method I knew to connect with the divine.

It wasn’t until I woke up 40 and pregnant that I felt an urge to reconnect. I tried going back to the Catholic church, but it didn’t fit. Then, I tried Episcopalian and that went pretty well until one Sunday my 3 1/2 yr old asked as the priest completed the benediction, “Where’s God the mother?”

Good question.

That sent me searching for a feminine diety. And when I discovered that not only was God originally the Goddess, but she was served by priestesses, well, I was tickled pink. Bye-bye all-male priesthood. Bye-bye only-male altar boys. Bye-bye boys in charge. The girls are back!

But you know what? That felt great for a couple years but not for long. It was still an us/them conflict. It just had the “us” I prefered. But was it really any better that girls and only girls were in charge of dogma and theology and practice? Why did it have to be one or the other? Why did one have to exclude the other? Why couldn’t we both be emissaries to the divine?

Last week as I was having chats with my best friend, my loving wise Voice, a phrase popped onto the page: I am my own priest. I sucked in my breath when I saw it. The seven-year old “good little Catholic girl” who still resides deep under my skin was scandalized. “Whaddya mean, I am my own priest?” I wrote.

But of course, the Voice is right. I am, you are, we all are, we all have to be our own priests/priestesses/shamans/rabbis/imams. No intermediary is required. No intermediary is necessary. Maybe no intermediary is even desired.

It’s lovely, it’s true, to pray alongside someone who has a profound prayer practice. It is divine to be in the presence of someone holy. It is comforting to hear someone else’s words of prayer and hope. BUT, you can do it all by yourself. You can do it right now. In your kitchen. At the computer. Lying in bed in the dark. In the shower. Driving to work. Folding the laundry. You have direct and immediate access to Spirit. We all do. We just forgot that for a few thousand years.

I find this a relief. It’s not about finding the “right” priest or shaman. It’s not about finding the “right” religion. The “right” prayers. The “right” ceremonies. It’s about connecting. It’s about standing in the sacred space that you create, calling forward the words that come from your soul. And connecting, really deeply and truly connecting with that which is holy.

That’s what we’re doing today on day 2 of the December Plan. We are all becoming our own priests, our own priestesses, our own shamans, our own rabbis. We are all stepping into our own divine power and saying to our divine Source: here I am. How can we get closer?

How are you connecting this December?

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4 Comments on “December Plan Day 2: You are your own priest/priestess”

  1. Linda Bryant says:

    Janet:
    I have worshipped off and on with the “unprogrammed” division of the Society of Friends, the Quakers. This is what they believe. In an unprogrammed Quaker Meeting (their word for church/congregation), their is no minister. Worship on Sundays is sitting in silence and only speaking when “moved to speak” (like when the Voice comes through.) There are no creeds. It’s all about the inner teacher.

    • janetconner says:

      Linda: I’ve never been to a Friends meeting, but I’ve often wondered about the parallels between writing down your soul and the Quaker method of sitting and waiting for something to come through. When we write this way we pick up a pen and Spirit comes through usually quite quickly, not a whole lot of sitting and waiting, but I”ve had months of sitting and waiting, too. The dark night of the soul. Love to hear more about the Quaker experience.

  2. Linda Bryant says:

    I think there are some definite parallels. Quakers are big on the inner-teacher, the presence within. I think one reason why I responded so well to Writing Down Your Soul (seemed like the Voice came in pretty quickly) is because of the experience in Quaker silence and discipline. But as a writer, your method was a great revelation because I can’t say as though I understood or “got” that I could dive into the chaos of my mind and soul while writing and find the peaceful voice within on the page. I kind of knew, but not really. But you certainly do learn to tell the difference between your “monkey mind” thoughts and the Voice with a Quaker practice. It’s sort of like a Western form of Buddhism. I have been going to Unity churches as well as Quaker meetings for the past couple of years, because I need to exuberance of a larger metaphysical bunch, but I have to say when people ask me my spiritual beliefs/religion, I almost always say Quaker. I have given myself permission to have a touchstone practice, an anchor, and at the same time explore all kinds of other paths and options.

  3. Gwynneth Kelley says:

    I enjoyed reading Linda’s response. Took me back to memories of my aunt who worshipped quietly with the Quakers.
    Even more I remembered how as a child my parents were members of a religious group called The Moral Rearmament (MRA) during the late 1930, early 40’s. We would sit for 30 minutes or more during our daily family Quiet Times listening to God’s voice with pen and paper. I was very attentive and learned at an early age the presence of God’s voice in my life. Sometimes I have resented this as a form of parental manipulation, but in a more profound way, I realize what a gift they gave me.


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