Last summer, I became a priest. Not ordained clergy as most would understand it, but a servant of the Gods in the ritual sense; kind of like a deacon.
This was the first rite of passage that really filled me with apprehension. Leading up to my training I was excited, I was anxious. I wanted to fully serve the gods with all my heart, all my mind and all my body. I wanted to be a priest the way a gosling wants to be a goose or a kitten a cat. There was no doubt – I just was. Then I stood in the thick of my initiation and something in me froze. The vows became heavy as I spoke them. The truth that this was no longer hypothetical – that I was now beholden to all the things I had quietly longed for – became frightening.
I carried that worry through my public consecration, when I picked up my W’ab tools. What if I was in over my head? How could I let the Gods down? What if I just wasn’t good enough? I felt like I was destined to fail. It took until December for me to be cleared to open my State shrine and start the ritual portion of my job. That in and of itself felt strange. I opened the Shrine and then the next day, proceeded to become ill and unable to do anything in shrine for a week.
I have had tremendous successes. I have served my gods daily and diligently. I have had messages come through; I have been given instructions by the Gods that are baffling and esoteric. I have also had spectacular failures. I have been unfit for shrine thanks to either physical or mental impurity, and I have beaten myself up over it. I have allowed duty to overwhelm love in what I do.
It’s a mystery, the priesthood. I am still learning to synthesize my service to the gods with my mundane life. I am learning not to beat myself up when life keeps me away from ritual. I was unable to be in shrine for most of this month, thanks to work, health, travel and family. I worried how I would adjust, but I found it a kind of blessing – being given the opportunity to re-work the love I have had for the Gods into the duty I am obligated to uphold. It’s a blessed burden, and a joyful duty.