The High Priestess
by Rosalyn Grady, Women of Wisdom Participant with Kutira in Bali
I approach the long flight of stairs to the temple with my prayers held close to my heart.
376 stairs will take me to one of the two remaining high priestesses in power on the earth.
My prayer – To free my sisters. Freedom for my sisters, their children and their lovers. Sisters from India, Afghanistan, China, Africa, North America – all over the world. Freedom for those who need to know that you – a high priestess in power – continue to exist.
In my hand I carry my favorite crystal plus 3 others which have been blessed and carry prayers from across the sea.
I enter the gateway walking through the mouth of the dragon and with each step I hold my head erect.
Arm in arm with a newly found sister, Sophia,
I finally reach the top.
A slight pause – a namaste, and I check my heart for purity.
Then for a moment I allow myself to remember why I am here.
The little poverty ridden dirty village in the north of India where in the middle of the huts sat a nest of twigs and branches where the women were sent to sleep when on their moon time.
The children in Bodgaya – the place of Buddha’s enlightenment – who ate from the dump alongside wild boars and human excrement.
The many women in the market burned beyond recognition from the so-called kitchen fires.
The monument in Rajasthan, honoring the dignity of the 17 year old girl who had been thrown or thrown herself on the burning pyre of her husband’s cremation fire.
The startled eyes behind the burka as I stode side by side with the woman in black while men cackled and followed at our heels.
The burning memory of my own rape as a teenager and the repeated dismissal of me as woman – innocence both gained and lost.
A deep breath
And I enter the sacred space of the woman I longed to see.
She is exactly as I hoped – small yet large, sweet yet solid, graceful yet awkward – a Balinese mother Theresa wrapped in a white sheet with buck teeth and a huge smile.
My legs quiver as I approach her with my offering.
This is the moment of completion and the beginning of freedom.
Here I will give my prayers – That every woman has the freedom to dance.
Here I will begin my own dance of compassion now empowered by this pilgrimage and the existence of this small woman in white who has dedicated her life to prayer.
I look her in the eye and say simply, “This is the crystal I have prayed with for a very long time. Thank you for your existence.”
A single tear slides down my cheek and rinses my heart.
She holds the crystal and says to the translator for me to hear. “This is a very clear crystal. This is a yoni crystal and this crystal belongs in the highest of high places, on the top of Shiva’s head – or in his lap”.
Touched, I now watch as she kindly but firmly declines the demand for a crystal from one of the priests who has jumped up on the alter with her and examines the stones. She shakes her head and says that she has plenty of sons and daughters that she can pass them on to should she wish.
Blessings and blessings of holy water, flowers and prayers. She prays from behind us so that I can feel her songs pass through me and over us.
Each of my sisters, rinsed, adorned and sang to. As I exit the great temple emptiness consumes and embraces me.
I remember my feet – glance down to the grown and retrieve what looks like an old and ancient coin.
It is a coin from the I Ching – an oracle.
I descend from the temple, coin in hand.
What comes next?
I came for them but also for me.
Freedom and peace my heart’s loudest plea.
Rosalyn lives in Nelson BC with her husband, Duncan Grady. She facilitates Trancedance, teaches and offers workshops and courses for couples and for women.