[This issue, we sit down with author and witch, Lady Haight-Ashton. Here, she discusses her new book on priestesses; her previous book on Lilith and Eve; and her upcoming projects.]
ev0ke: How do you define your personal spiritual practice? Does it have a name, or is it more intuitive and eclectic?
Lady Haight-Ashton: I am a Witch who is out of the “Broome Closet” and I practice Witchcraft. In addition, I am a Psychic, Oracle and Medium. As a Psychic I am Claircognizant which means that I have a knowing. It is almost like automatic writing, except it is automatic thoughts. There are no voices in my ears or visions, I just know. Beyond being a Psychic, my ability to channel the Goddess within trance meditation allows me to receive her valuable Oracular messages. I believe everyone has an intuitive ability to some degree, but most people fear what they don’t understand and thus block out any feelings or simply wear blinders.
I have always been attracted to alternative spiritualities. Witchcraft honors the Goddess and the God in a balanced way while honoring the earth, the seasons and the Magick of the universe. Not all Witches are psychics and not all psychics are Witches. I am an initiated High Priestess in three Witchcraft traditions. The best way to describe the ancient practice of Witchcraft is with these powerful phrases.…”In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust…If Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”.
ev0ke: Which Deities, powers, or other spirits do you honor?
LHA: I am an ordained Priestess of the Goddesses Lilith, Hecate and Selket. In my Goddess Room I have altars devoted to various ancient Divinities with my statute of the Goddess Isis prominently shown. She is the Egyptian Goddess of ten-thousand names, a Moon and radiant Solar Goddess and one of the most revered in all of antiquity. Recently, I have been attuning to the Goddess Sophia. Within Gnostic texts, ancient Jewish tradition and also in early Christian writings the Goddess Sophia is described as the Creatrix, and Celestial Goddess of Wisdom. And to keep the balance between the feminine and masculine I have an altar to the Greek God Pan, the erotic God of the wild and companion of the nymphs.
ev0ke: If you could correct one misconception about oracles or psychics, what would it be?
LHA: The most common misconception is that most people do not believe. They are afraid of what they do not understand. What seems natural to me is not so with most people. I do not claim to be an all-knowing being. I am just simply a woman who has a unique spirituality, is an author and Sacred Dancer, does community volunteer work and who just happens to have a few extra abilities. Some of us of like minds are very open to receiving information. We do not fear, we welcome. I feel sorry for those who limit their understanding of the world and feel they have to judge.
ev0ke: Your new book Pagan Portals: The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity has just been released. First, congratulations! Second, how did this book come about? Why a book about ancient priestesses?
LHA: I write about Priestesses because I am one. I have always felt a strong connection to these ancient women. As a Sacred Dancer, the Dancing Priestesses of the Egyptian Goddess Hather are my ancestral sisters. When I beat the sistrum, their sacred musical instrument, I feel like I am dancing in their processional footsteps. The ancient Oracle Priestesses of Delphi and the Vestals of Rome all call to me to tell the stories of their sister visionaries and to bring them back to life. The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity tells the story of these Oracles and Sibyls, Seers, Psychics, Sacred Dancers and Healers of ancient civilizations. They were empowered Priestesses who enthralled those who sought their advice and served the Goddess they revered. I count myself among the archaeologists and historians who have been fascinated with their stories for centuries. These Priestesses lived, prayed and worked in complex temple structures above ground and in underground cavernous tunnels. Some were well-known and others forgotten to the centuries. We are at the dawn of acknowledging the magnitude of their role in ancient religious beliefs. With the emerging story of the allusive Priestesses before us, we can now become travelers through the herstory of antiquity.
ev0ke: While many of the priestesses you profile lived in the ancient world, there are others from the Middle Ages and even the contemporary world. Have you found anything that unites these women? Qualities or circumstances that cross time, culture, and religious tradition?
LHA: Though I devoted this book mostly to antiquity, I do have a final chapter that profiles the more current Psychics and Oracles, many of whom I am honored to know. As with any creative or artistic ability, Psychics, Oracles and Mediums from every century each had their own unique gifts that allowed them to achieve the same goal. There are mystical threads connecting us to our ancestral sisters that have been woven through the millennium binding us to each other.
ev0ke: What sort of research went into Temple Priestesses? Long hours at the library? Stacks of books? Lengthy conversations with scholars and witches?
LHA: I am very solitary in my research and writing. When ideas begin to flow, I am relentless in my passion. I channel just where the information I am looking for can be found. Always an avid reader I am surrounded by stacks upon stacks of old and new reference books. When I wrote “The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve” most of my research was through books of biblical texts and uncovering ancient stories wherever I could find them. Time is moving quickly and with online sources such as the Connelly Library listing an abundance of biblical and religious research sites, plus other sites such as the HathiTrust Digital, one can now have unlimited resources at their computer.
ev0ke: Which one historical tidbit did you absolutely have to include?
LHA: The Oracle Priestesses who worked underground in ancient labyrinths of tunnels and caverns is a captivating “tidbit”. The common assumption has been that ancient Priestesses lived and worked in glorious temples and luxurious surroundings. But that is not entirely true. Many of these Priestesses’ Temples were below the surface, where they toiled in dark and hot conditions in trancelike states to practice their trade. There was a great mysterious allure in these labyrinth underground Temples that brought a continuous supply of paying patrons. These ritual centers were thought to be sacred portals to other realms.
ev0ke: You also wrote Pagan Portals: The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve. What do you find so compelling about the story/stories of Lilith and Eve, and their relationship with one another?
LHA: Growing up Catholic I wanted to challenge the age-old stigma of “original sin” and to dispel the image of Lilith as a Succubus and demon. I am fascinated with the most ancient feminine myths. It was said in the beginning, in a garden called Eden, that woman was created at the same time as man, and not from his rib. Lilith, the first female, was created equal to stand as a partner. But she proved to be a person so troublesome that she vanishes from her rightful place in civilizations’ mythological legends in place of Eve, the first wife who was not created equal. With her younger sister Eve’s story heralding the future of all womankind, Lilith and her story stands alone as a testament to the Sacred Feminine and man’s fear of the mysteries that lie within her. I hope The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve becomes a gateway to a provocative awakening.
ev0ke: Which book fairs, conventions, or other events are you planning to attend in the foreseeable future?
LHA: I am in the process of scheduling book signings at The Hermetic Arts Learning Center and Enchanted in Salem, Massachusetts. I will also be giving at least one lecture and teaching “Psychic/Mediumship,” a 4-week course also at The Hermetic Arts Learning Center. Please check out my blog for further updates.
ev0ke: What other projects are you working on?
LHA: I am working on a new book right now The Fallen Women of Mythology: Goddesses, Saints and Sinners. It is almost half completed and I hope to finish it by the end of the summer. And I would also like to publish another volume of Faerie Tales. My first book which is now out of print, If Mermaids Could Dance, is so dear to my heart. Also, as an adjunct faculty member of Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, I will be teaching “Introduction to Egyptian Mythology” in the Fall and my newest course, “The History of Gardnerian Wicca” in the winter 2023 session, along with my other course, “Sacred Sites of the Ancient Temple Priestesses”.