Learn all about the priestess archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Magician archetype.
What is the Priestess Archetype?
The Priestess archetype is one of a woman who has a deeply felt connection between the sacred, spiritual realms and the more mundane, normal aspects of life.
As such she is the natural spiritual leader of the community to which she belongs, whether in a formal or informal manner.
People feel drawn to her spiritually, and she in turn finds her fulfillment in life through using her connection with the Divine in service of her congregation or community.
She has and uses her knowledge of spiritual rites and ritual in the aid of others, demonstrating a high degree of selflessness, dedication and self-sacrifice in doing so.
Archetypal Priestess through History
Throughout history the archetypal Priestess has gone through persecution in societies throughout the world as a result of their power. Their trust of the unknown, spiritual and Divine has led them to be targeted by the authorities as dangerous and the potential inspiration for civil uprising.
Their wisdom, intuitive powers and in particular their sexuality has made them appear dangerous to those who seek power for themselves and this a target for oppression, despite their overtly good intentions towards others.
The manner in which they inspire people to seek them out and in which they draw communities around them makes the patriarchal authorities perceive them as a threat which must be quashed, and it is this above all which has led to their persecution.
Archetypal Priestess Roles
Over the centuries the archetypal Priestess has played a key role in the well-being of communities across the globe, both the physical, spiritual and mental well-being of the societies in which they live. Her community will seek her out on a range of issues, such as:
- health problems and medication
- relationships and marriage.
She may often officiate at sacred rituals such as marriages and funerals, using her connection to the spiritual to deliver a deep, profound spiritual message of comfort. The Priestess archetype is able to stand firm and centred amidst trouble, sadness, fear, terror and anxiety. In doing so she acts as the anchor for her community.
Priestess Archetype Characteristics & Traits
- The archetypal Priestess can often be found engaged in prayer or meditation.
- She may possess her own ceremonial, Church or Temple like area equipped with an altar or other similar items.
- She may retreat to such an area on a regular basis for focused private meditation away from the world.
- She may also be adorned with particular physical items which are indicative of her role in the world such as feathers, crystals, tattoos, other animal memorabilia such as fur, shells and other items from the natural world as well as similar personal effects.
- She is both physically and mentally in tune with the natural world as well as the spiritual world, and as such is likely to embody the natural world in her physical appearance by qualities such as wearing natural materials and eating organic, natural foods.
- She is conscious of the importance of maintaining her own physical wellbeing as well as her spiritual wellbeing.
Priestess Archetype in the Modern World
- The Priestess archetype in a more modern form is likely to be a woman whose family or friends regularly approach her for advice and is the lynch pin of the social circle in which she exists.
- She is a leader, both spiritually, emotionally and in the physical development of the groups in which she is part.
- She enjoys involving herself in the spiritual lives of the community, not necessarily through organized religion (although this can be part of her life) but perhaps through activities such as yoga, meditation, group therapy and similar spiritually focused group activities.
- In doing so she makes herself a spiritual servant to others and finds fulfilment in doing so.
- She is an intuitive problem solver, making her an asset to employer as well as her social groups.
- She is a strong communicator, with a knack for assessing body language and tuning her communicative style to the needs of those around her.
Divine and Spiritual Realms
The archetypal Priestess has some challenges which her qualities present to her. She can find it difficult to stay grounded, with her contact to the Divine and spiritual realms making her feel above the world in which she exists.
It is easy for the Priestess to lose herself, and become self-obsessed with, the energetic dimension of her life. In doing so she neglects the important element of her life as a leader in her community and as an educator.
The Priestess can also struggle to control her ego – the power and seeming adoration which her central role in a community imbues on her making her over-confident. She can develop a love for the power and control which her role brings her, making her feel self-important.
At it’s most extreme when it remains unchecked this tendency can make her tempted towards the abuse and manipulation of others. She can develop delusions of grandeur, getting ideas above her station and making her willing to exploit the reliance of others on her in order to achieve what she thinks is due to her.
Priestess Archetype Examples
An example of the Priestess archetype is the priestess Pythia.
The Pythia (or Oracle of Delphi) was the priestess who held court the sanctuary of the Delphinians, known as Pytho. The sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Pythia were held in high esteem by the citizens of Ancient Greece for channeling prophecies from Apollo whilst in a dreamlike trance.
A Pythia was chosen among the priestesses of the temple upon the death of the previous Pythia. They were chosen for their moral character, which was of the highest importance.
If the Pythia was married and/or had a family she was required to give up all her familial ties and duties to fill her role.
Further reading on the priestess archetype includes:
- The Sacred Call of the Ancient Priestess: Birthing of a New Divine Feminine Archetype – by Elayne Kalila Doughty and Becky Cavender
- The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine – by Sharron Rose
- Archetypes: Unmasking Your True Self – by Brian Dale