A High Priestess
trains a Priestess to be spiritual mentor and leader in their own family and community.
A High Priestess is responsible for passing on the knowledge of how to be a spiritual leader in the family or community. The High Priestess is in a position of service, at every level. It is possible for a High Priestess to also serve as a Priestess as that knowledge must be there in order to teach others how to Priestess but it is normal for a Priestess to only serve a limited number of people. By limiting the number of people to a family (hereditary witchcraft) or a small community that extends to friends outside of the family (traditional witchcraft), the service to the people is of the highest quality and it keeps the Priestess from becoming drained.
Likewise, a High Priestess should not take on more than 12 student Priestesses within a year, with the coven including the High Priestess totaling 13. The reasoning is that each student would have a year (or more) to learn from the High Priestess and the coven through observation and participation, and the final month being a more in-depth evaluation by leading. This is one model, but it is not the only model.
In Traditional and Hereditary witchcraft, it is more common for an apprenticeship between one soon-to-be Priestess and the current elder. This is a single student apprenticeship. In this scenario, the elder is a High Priestess now teaching the apprentice on how to become a Priestess. This is necessary in small communities or in families where an elder needs to pass on the knowledge so that the knowledge is not lost.
Specifically in Hereditary witchcraft, you would assume that it would be a parent and child relationship that would assume the training of Priestess. But not all witches are called to Priestess. Instead of a single ‘elder wise woman’ in a traditional witchcraft path taking on the role of magic, spiritual leader, healer, and so on, Hereditary Witchcraft splits the roles between members in the family and shares the responsibilities. This follows the line of more of an apprenticeship, but one where children in the family spend time with each family member and learn a little bit about each skill until they find one that they are most drawn to. If a child has traits that leads them to Priestess, then that apprenticeship is assumed. And a backup High Priestess is also trained, for unforeseen events.
In my own families situation, most are surprised to learn that my mother was not the High Priestess of our family and community. Instead, my Aunt was the High Priestess. She taught her son the path to become a Priest and I also was taught how to Priestess. Ultimately, her son did not wish to take up the torch and so it has been passed on to me. Now, later in life, I feel called to teach more about witchcraft and to help as many as possible find their path. Yes, I did receive counsel and permission before starting HFS under strict instructions that I would protect the identities of our family so that no harm would come to anyone.
I do not consider or call myself a High Priestess. I am teaching my daughters witchcraft but they are not learning how to Priestess currently. And while I do fall under the technical definition of a Priestess because I am giving information to others (on the internet) on how to lead their families in building a Tradition, I am not a Priestess to any HFS students either. To be a Priestess, you are responsible for the full education and personal growth of each individual that you Priestess for. You’re also responsible for the outcome of that student and how they Priestess. And while the internet makes it possible to disseminate information – a Priestess must be taught hands-on and with one-on-one instruction to be properly trained. For those reasons, I am not a High Priestess. I am a Priestess to my own family and that is all.
It takes many years of training or experience to become a Priestess.
No one has to train you as a Priestess in order for you to be the spiritual leader of your family.
It takes a lifetime to learn how to become a High Priestess.
Again, no one has to train you to become a spiritual leader of your family, but it certainly helps.
If a High Priestess is no longer responsible for the education, mentorship, and growth of another Priestess, then the title of High Priestess is no longer appropriate and is dropped. It is not a permanent title. In traditional and hereditary witchcraft, the distinctions between roles are learned and understood but it is rare to hear anyone say these titles or refer to a person by these titles aloud. The general sentiment is that if you need to be addressed by the title, that role isn’t for you because you’re not coming from a place of service.
At HFS, we teach witchcraft so that people can practice as oracles, seers, sorceresses, enchantresses, and follow traditional forms of witchcraft to protect and bless their families and communities.
Some witches do not wish to serve as a Priestess – a spiritual leader, or to teach others how to become spiritual leaders. Not ever witch is a Priestess, not every Priestess becomes a High Priestess.