Priestesses: a Door of Opportunity

Priestesses: a door of Opportunity

A priestess is quite distinct form a woman priest.
A priestess is quite distinct form a woman priest.

How on heaven or earth did we invent women priests?

Pope Francis is quite clear on this: there will be no women priests in The Roman Catholic Church.   For Christian denominations who don’t have priests, but who have ministers or pastors, there is no problem: either term can refer to a man or a woman.  “Priest”, however, is gender-specific and can only refer to a man.

Women who are priests are actually priestesses and that, as the tarot card above should remind us, is a very different role indeed. Women have Wisdom in a way that men do not, they are fountains of nourishment in a way that men are not and love pours from women by their very nature in a way that in men it does not.  The priestess embodies the feminine nature in all her richness.  Women are a total mystery to men until they  discover the feminine within themseves: which some never do, especially if they live their entire adult lives in a society of men.


A woman dressed as a priest
A woman dressed as a priest.

That door is closed.

Pope Francis, six months into his Papacy, said,  “With regards to the ordination of women, the church has spoken and says no. Pope John Paul [II] said so with a formula that was definitive. That door is closed.”  There is, however, no reason whatsoever that new doors might not open which recognise the priestly role of women.  One of these is suggested by Cynthea Bourgeault when she writes, “ It is through his anointing at the hands of Mary Magdalene that Jesus is sent forth to his death, sealed in the fragrance of love. And it is this same fragrance–borne in the same anointing oils, by the same set of loving hands–that awaits him in the garden on the morning of the Resurrection.

mary magdalene

It is by amazing sleight of hand that the Catholic Church usurped the two sacraments of annointing from the priestly role of women: the annointing of the sick and confirmation.  Indeed it is this sacrament of confirmation which, above all, should be in the hands of women, being the sacrament of coming of age, or releasing and being released from childhood.

Let us open new doors: bring back the Priestess.

I feel that women, especially those who value their own special gifts as women, should be arguing the case for priestesses not women priests and exploring all the possibilities of a thoroughly feminine role as leaders of Christian communities.  Perhaps we need another good look at the sacraments to bring them back to the people as real parts of their lives, as real nourishment and fountains of motherly, as well as fatherly, love.  As for us men, we need to let new doors be opened and create new spaces.  As it is at present, women who are priests are just taking the places men once occupied; including, I expect, in the next few years that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This, to me, makes God’s Kingdom seem very small and limited. There is plenty of space for proper Priestesses with all their mystery and wisdom and insights.

La Dama de Baza,  Iberian statue of a priestess.
La Dama de Baza, Iberian statue of a priestess.



a blog post to accompany this:

Morning time – first thoughts

Morning time – first thoughts

A new day.
A new day.

A prayer adapted from words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta.


May Peace reign over this day.


I trust in God that I am here, exactly where I am meant to be:

And that I won’t forget the infinite numbers of possibilities which are born through Faith.

And that I will use the gifts I have received and share the Love that has been given to me.

And I am happy to know that I am a child of God and I long for this Presence to live inside my bones and loosen me up and set me free so that I will sing and dance and love and pray…… and enjoy,

With my heart open to each and every person I meet today.

mother T

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

"Do this in remembrance of me."
“Do this in remembrance of me.”


Breaking bread and bones.

I remember attending a Hibs v. Dundee match in 1968 where, in one of those rare moments of silence in a game,  Dundee’s great goal scorer, John Duncan, was heavily tackled,  right in front of me.  The Easter Road stadium resounded with a crack as his tibia broke.

Many years later at a passover meal I was reminded of that moment when the matzo was broken with a sharp crack.  Matzos break with the same sound as bones break.  My memory reminded me of the moment the player broke his leg. The scriptures, especially John’s gospel,  make it clear that Jesus did not have any of his bones broken.  At the last supper Jesus broke the unleavened bread, undoubtedly with a sharp “crack!”.

Matzos, Jewish unleavened bread.
Matzos, Jewish unleavened bread.

What Jesus then said was,  “Do this in memory of me.”

Broken bones or not, we have made a lot of doctrine and talked a lot of Theology about the Last Supper but these words leave no room for misinterpretation.  When I was walking through Spain on the Way of St. James last month,  bread was the core of my diet along with fruit picked on the roadside.  So whenever I sat down to eat, I would take the local bread and break it very consciously recalling Jesus’  words.  The walk was over 500 miles and I can’t remember just when I began to do this but it was early on.

A wonderful bakery in Grañan, on the Way of St James.
A wonderful bakery in Grañan, on the Way of St James.

In doing, memory brings us into Christ.

For days and weeks, sitting on stones or walls, or benches or trees I broke my bread letting the Last Supper of Jesus fill me.  In the doing itself images began to give way to presence, simply being subsumed in the act of breaking the bread into a oneness for which I have no words.  I had emotions of all sorts from tears to joy and always peace,  deep quiet peace and a heart touched by Love.  Maybe we should throw our breadknives into the recycle bin and use our hands to break bread always.

When I would find a Mass,  I would go to it, pleased to join others in this memorial act which brings us together always as one in Christ.

It seemed fitting to me that other pilgrims would share the bread although I know they were not always Catholics.  Breaking the bread is not about breaking bones at all, or breaking anything for that matter: it is about making One.

A Pilgrims' Mass ends in Roncevalles at the start of the Way of St. James in Spain.
A Pilgrims’ Mass ends in Roncevalles at the start of the Way of St. James in Spain.