The Priestess and the Eclipse

By Amanda Moreno

I’m really trying to get my digital addiction to relax a little. It’s not really working, but I managed a few hours today without checking my email, and when I did I was delighted to see several emails pertaining specifically to the eclipse on April 4. I’ve been feeling hot rushes of anger swirling through me in cycles this week, some with triggers and some without. Therefore the contextualization provided by other astrologers is very much appreciated.

Photo by graywacke/A Landing a Day

Photo by graywacke/A Landing a Day

I’m reading a lot about balance; about a tendency towards being resistant to the view of the other, with relationships at the focus. The self vs. other (Aries-Libra) polarity and mediating conflict with kindness in relationship seems to be the tip-of-the-tongue suggestion.

All of these are good insights. It also seems that so many of the email lists I subscribe to, be they astrologically focused or not, are providing totally generalized recommendations to really tune into the ‘love’ tones, to the heart, to try and greet every stimulus from a heart-centered, loving perspective.

I get it. It all seems like great advice. It also brings to mind what I lovingly refer to as “the priestess complex.” And let me tell you: those of us displaying that priestess complex, or those of us really working the relationship-karma-patterns angle, can get a little confused when we see things like “remember to be balanced and kind in relationship” — mainly because our go-to place is one of quite unconsciously surrendering to the needs of the other.

So what do I mean by “the priestess complex?” Well, it’s a term I probably shouldn’t just throw around casually, but I just did and so I’ll try to unpack it in a quaint, if not ridiculously generalized, little summary. I’m going to frame it in historical terms with a few basic assumptions: that my historical preview is limited in scope, and that even if you don’t believe in reincarnation and the effect of past lives on the current state of the soul, the story is a relevant tool for illuminating themes and concepts.

Let your mind spin backwards in time for a moment. Back way more than 10,000 years — which, by the way, is the average time span historians study, with anything before then being considered “pre-history” and therefore not worth studying. Imagine back to the time when the goddess reigned. Ok, wait — she didn’t really reign. That’s more of a patriarchal concept. Back when the life cycles, Moon cycles and natural cycles were revered.

The ‘goddess’ is depicted in bulbous statues and cave paintings. She has mega-curves. Humans begin to become conscious, to project onto nature and the sky; they develop practices and initiation rites. As consciousness becomes concretized within spiritual systems, ‘Priestesses’ initiate men into their sexuality (although sometimes, let’s face it, men were initiated through fairly brutal walk-abouts and rituals that involved blood and circumcision and sometimes resulted in death).

The sexual initiations, at least as far as we can gather through artifacts and modern interpretation, existed to initiate men into right relationship with sexual energy. But then, around the time of Babylon and its temples of ‘sacred prostitution’, the myth begins to change. Patriarchal themes begin to arise, the hero’s journey monopolizes the monomyth. The Babylonian Ishtar, turned Phoenician goddess Astarte, becomes Astaroth, a demon.

It all just kind of derails from there — although I’m a fan of thinking of the patriarchal cycle as a necessary part of our evolution. The priestesses and all of their lovely, chaotic, healing, devotional energy gets distorted to somewhat of a culmination in the Roman temples where the Vestal Virgins are the ‘keepers of the flame’ (see Eric’s article The Sacred Space of Self). Their chastity, their maintenance of that inner flame, and therefore the safety of civilization is valued above all, and yet…they are still used to ‘heal’ warriors coming home from war. And when they are caught in sexual acts they are buried alive. Good times.

There are also events like Beltane rituals, which still honor cycles of fertility, penetration, reception and sexual initiation. But by and large, it is changed. Control, possession and the cultivation of devotion overlaps with themes of chastity, purity and an utter distrust of raw, feminine power, which is unpredictable and chaotic. Even metaphorically speaking, these conflicting themes create distortions in the psyche.

Bringing it back to present — thank you for bearing with me — I have discussed the rising of the feminine here several times: the anger, the chaos, the ‘irrational’ cycles and patterns. It feels like for so many of us — men, women and gender-queer alike — we are remembering the force of so much power that has been repressed and distorted for so long. The snake is rising.

It can be terribly confusing, among other things. Then again, collective memories of being buried alive for helping to heal and for having sex as a means of healing can cause some confusion.

Bringing it back to the beginning of this article, to the ‘remember love’ thing, I had a moment earlier when I started laughing because, well, I have no problems remembering love or remembering to connect to the heart. I am so open and accepting and full of forgiveness and connection with the possibilities and ideals of people and of life, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, that I can deal with pretty much everything with devotional perseverance.

The problem is that that this devotional perseverance is completely undiscriminating. Or at least it has been in the past — I’m learning. For the ‘priestess,’ everything is about unconditional love and healing to the seekers. OK, maybe that is yet another over-generalization, but it is an important point. Especially, I would say, for the Pluto-in-Libra and Pluto-in-Scorpio generations. We are so geared towards relationships and merging that we lose sight of ourselves, our goals and our sense of discrimination very easily.

The fact is that the priestess complex carries all of the karma or patterns of betrayal and oppression and repression as well. The ability to trust the other, the instincts — and god, for that matter — is buried underneath centuries of distortion.

The fact that I embody so many shadowy Libra qualities of placation and surrender is quite the difficult confession for me. I’m a woman who has lived on her own and been quite independent for…well, my entire life. I’ve always shied away from Feminism because the practice of it speaks to me of victimization instead of the original ethos of equality for all, and I have never identified as a victim. But as I progress through life and relationship, I get more in touch with my own capacity to put the other ahead of myself, especially without receiving in equal measure, and it seems so unconscious that I am consistently surprised at its manifestations.

In that sense, embodying the Aries energy of the astrology right now seems so very appropriate, if not a little confusing and foreign. Remembering to keep the balance, to have patience, to take the point of view of the other in stride is, of course, prudent advice.

I’m also aware, however, that the anger is rising within me more fluidly lately and as far as I can tell I’m not alone in that. Figuring out what to do with it, how to channel it and how to avoid immediately projecting it onto the other is difficult, especially because of the discernment issue — when should it be discussed and worked through with the other, and when is the other just a catalyst for clearing my own stuff? How do we reconcile what feels like eons of repression and exploitation?

Listening to which parts of the anger are connected to my personal experience and what parts seem to be more of a collective channeling requires a brand of honesty that I strive towards but still fumble with. It’s worthy work, as the reclamation of the feminine in her true and robust form is so vital to constructively merging it with the masculine will in consort with divine will; or, more simply stated, in consort with a vision of a world where all parts are respected, loved and used for the highest good.

And so for me, at least at this point (writing three days before the event), this eclipse is very much about taking all of that love and light I ritualized into my life during the last eclipse (was it just two weeks ago?) and making sure it’s met with discernment, that my needs are being met in relationship, and that I am playing my part in evolving the priestess complex in constructive ways.

The priestesses are back, no matter their form and whether we take that metaphorically or literally. That devotional energy has to find its place among people who are willing to give and receive in heart-centered, equal exchange. It cannot be one-sided any longer. So here’s to using this eclipse energy to working together in ways that are discerning, discriminating and effectively loving.

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About Amanda Moreno

Amanda is an astrologer, soul worker and paradigm buster based in Seattle. Her adventures in these forms of ‘practical woo’ are geared towards helping people to heal themselves and the world. She can be found in the virtual world at

27 thoughts on “The Priestess and the Eclipse

  1. Len Wallick

    Amanda: Thank you for sharing something of your “worthy work”. More than worthy indeed, and welcome. From putting the kibosh on “pre-history” and reminding us of the long expanse of time when, for our kind, “…the life cycles, Moon cycles and natural cycles were revered”; to teaching me new levels of discernment where past and present intersect, you have admirably captured and conveyed something which appears to be the gist of our time. An inestimable achievement to have done so much so elegantly in so few words.

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Thanks, Len. I had to keep reminding myself that I can revisit the theme in many different ways on many different occasions, with the continued influence of the insight gleaned from the other incredible writers here on PW…

  2. pam

    Sarah it is important to express anger. Anger damages (erodes corrodes), so expression as transitional expression ( ie true movement rather than aiming at a target). Aiming to get beyond release to the point where anger is used to stop, make hesitate, unblock, up conscious awareness etc etc and can be at low volume/energy.

    Relating to people who don’t know what they don’t know, ie are not even aware there is something to be aware of, the work is not anger but chipping away at this, looking for the expression that enables the person in front of you to see larger.

    Of course there is a problem when people don’t want to know and their ignorance is actually suffocating or damaging someone, and the closer the ties the harder it is.

    The little I know of this is from relationship. i stopped looking for romance many years ago – awareness seemed to be more important – certainly that I become/remain aware (jupiter neptune stuff in my natal chart). But it applies to the other and ‘society’ too?

    I enjoyed reading your piece. like you I’ve never gone for feminism, and finally the lowest common denominator seems to be creation rather than gender, humanity, etc etc. And looking for the small adjustments that have big pivotal effects.

    (If it doesn’t work, why and what to do practically to facilitate or arrive at break through).

    If Len is right about the 28 Sep eclipse as the end of a cycle it seems to me there is a lot of positive feminine alignment in that chart – partly anchored by saturn.


    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      And perhaps the Saturnian anchor underscores what I see as the fact that it’s not just the divine feminine rising up in all of her dark and light ways, but more importantly the merging of that energy with the masculine so that right will can be achieved. We have to get out in front of our creations if we’re going to get out of the mess we’re in, and so the capacity to trust instinct has to be met with the ability to act on it.

  3. KatSvU

    Thank you , Amanda! Helped shed some light into this swirling, chaotic time — “feeling hot rushes of anger swirling through me in cycles” — not only anger!
    Relationships and the “priestess complex”: excelenet reminder, though I call it the Big Mother Complex! Nurturing, sexual and otherwise, and so much of the time losing oneself in all this “selflessness”!

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Yeah… ‘the priestess complex’ can definitely be read in many different ways. I’m specifically interested in the aspects that deal with sex and sexuality, however, which I see as being somehow different from the more overt complexes that stem from ‘mothering.’ I guess it’s the difference between Vesta and Ceres – at least the aspects I’m working on in my own life. The two can definitey swirl together. Astrologically speaking, I’m looking a lot at Vesta, Isis, Sophia and Aphrodite in my charts, client charts, and in their own ‘discovery’ charts. All of which tell very compelling stories. 🙂

      1. KatSvU

        Well, I got got caught up, or rather, down—”quagmired”, Carolynkc!— got very sick, on an overload of Big Motherness. Now, I’m actually recovering through discovering the positve of the Priestess, in the sense of sexuality, but in attendance to myself (“the sacred temple of my body”). What you say of Vesta and Ceres, Amanda, I agree, but in my case – too much cereal, not enough fire! ;)))
        My body, my creativity… baby-stepping back, and … oh dear! “baby” … there goes Big Mother getting into Vesta’s act again! But working my way back to doing my art, and a big help has been through a reunion/reconnection, or a discovering , of myself through sexuality.
        Thank you for your articles: they always seem to beautifully articulate and resonate with what I’m going through, so help in clarifying and opening new paths!
        (will check out “the girls” in my chart — scratch my head over it, but see what comes to mind!)

    2. Amanda Painter

      KatSvU & Amanda: yes, I’ve definitely experienced that the sexual/Vesta and mothering/Ceres varieties of “selflessness” can easily become intertwined, and they seem to be especially sticky and hard to untangle. And then part of that untangling process is putting each (and the people I had engaged in the complex(s) with) in their proper place — which was NOT at my center/core. That’s where *I* belong.

      I’d be curious to hear from other women to know if the intertwining or confusion of the respective Vesta and Ceres complexes seem to happen more often with women who have or have not had children — or whether it seems more related to their placement in a woman’s chart?

      Personally, I have not had children. And though I can’t say I’ve been “truly”/fully/consciously celibate, I’ve had phases that I might argue count for particular reasons.

  4. Jennifer

    Amanda – this article rocked me and spoke to me. I checked the ephemeris, and I have Vesta conjunct a handful of planets! This explains so much to me.
    – I’ve had great periods of celibacy, even an 11 year one within a ‘marriage’.
    – I struggle with what I have termed ‘codependence’ – taking care of others, and putting them first.
    – Sex is sacred and profound!
    – I’ve had a variety of partners and lovers, but have always been on my own.

    Nice to be able to look at the big themes of Vesta and realize I am ‘connected to the higher cosmos’. And connected to other vestal virgins like you.

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Ha! Welcome to the tribe 😉
      I had no idea I had Vesta prominent in my chart (way up there at the top, conjunct Chiron) until a few days after I experienced a particularly horrendous past life regression. I then came across Eric’s article above, looked it up in my chart and went “oooooOOOOOOOOOOOoooooh. I get it.”

  5. Yoniyoganidra

    Thank you Amanda. Such a lovely article on the influences that abound; planetary, psychological, mythological and sociological. And thank you for being another influence that speaks to what a great resource a women’s sexuality is to her self development.

    My work with women generally leans in the direction of differentiation. Guiding them to differentiate from their Mother, Father, lover, husband, profession and most importantly, their acculturation. To differentiate from another’s view so as to develop their own.

    Here’s to the Priestess finding her inner Queen as mentor and friend.

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Yes! Inner Queen as mentor and friend…
      I’m also reminded of some work I did last summer in which I had some energy work done, and there was an image that, boiled down to its essence, spoke of my inner masculine waking up (actually, he thawed out). There’s something to having that inner masculine alive and healthy that made me feel protected and safe within myself. Like he was staking out the boundaries. Just thought of that and so had to share.

  6. pam

    And what we do with/in the raw material that comes to us, what we make of life. How best to land it.

    Gestalt at Sixty by May Sarton

    For ten years I have been rooted in these hills,
    The changing light on landlocked lakes,
    For ten years have called a mountain, friend,
    Have been nourished by plants, still waters,
    Trees in their seasons,
    Have fought in this quiet place
    For my self.

    I can tell you that first winter
    I heard the trees groan.
    I heard the fierce lament
    As if they were on the rack under the wind.
    I too have groaned here,
    Wept the wild winter tears.
    I can tell you that solitude
    Is not all exaltation, inner peace
    Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
    Solitude exposes the nerve,
    Raises the ghosts.
    The past, never at rest, flows through it.

    Who wakes in a house alone
    Wakes to moments of panic.
    (Will the roof fall in?
    Shall I died today?)
    Who wakes in a house alone
    Wakes to inertia sometimes,
    To fits of weeping for no reason.
    Solitude swells the inner space
    Like a balloon.
    We are wafted hither and thither
    On the air currents.
    How to land it?

    I worked out anguish in a garden.
    Without the flowers,
    The shadow of trees on snow, their punctuation,
    I might not have survived.
    I came here to create a world
    As strong, renewable, fertile. As the world of nature all around me—
    Learned to clear myself as I have cleared the pasture,
    Learned to wait,
    Learned that change is always in the making
    (Inner and outer) if one can be patient,
    Learned to trust myself.

    The house is receptacle of a hundred currents
    Letters pour in,
    Rumor of the human ocean, never at rest,
    Never still….
    Sometimes it deafens and numbs me.

    I did not come here for society
    In these years
    When every meeting is collision,
    The impact huge,
    The reverberations slow to die down.
    Yet what I have done here
    I have not done alone,
    Inhabited by a rich past of lives,
    Inhabited also by the great dead,
    By music, poetry—
    Yeats, Valery stalk through this house.
    No day passes without a visitation—
    Rilke, Mozart.
    I am always a lover here,
    Seized and shaken by love.

    Lovers and friends
    I come to you starved
    For all you have to give,
    Nourished by the food of solitude,
    A good instrument for all you have to tell me,
    For all I have to tell you.
    We talk of first and last things,
    Listen to music together,
    Climb the long hill to the cemetery
    In autumn,
    Take another road in spring
    Toward newborn lambs,

    No one comes to this house
    Who is not changed.
    I meet no one here who does not change me.

    How rich and long the hours become,
    How brief the years,
    In this house of gathering,
    This life about to enter its seventh decade.

    I live like a baby
    Who bursts into laughter
    As a sunbeam on the wall,
    Or like a very old woman
    Entranced by the prick of starts
    Through the leaves.

    And now, as the fruit gathers
    All the riches of summer
    Into its compact world,
    I feel richer than ever before,
    And breathe a larger air,

    I am not ready to die,
    But I am learning to trust death
    As 1 have trusted life.
    I am moving
    Toward a new freedom
    Born of detachment,
    And a sweeter grace—
    Learning to let go.

    I am not ready to die,
    But as I approach sixty
    I turn my face toward the sea.
    I shall go where tides replace time,
    Where my world will open to a far horizon.

    Over the floating, never-still flux and change.
    I shall go with the changes,
    I shall look far out over golden grasses
    And blue waters….

    There are no farewells.

    Praise God for His mercies,
    For His austere demands,
    For His light
    And for His darkness.

  7. Pisces Sun

    Amanda, fantastic article. I think you have hit so many critical points and themes and know that I could not succinctly and eloquently address them all here, but would love too! I offer a couple of thoughts however: it is my belief that we ARE at the tipping point of experiencing the sacred feminine in all her glory, maybe already crossed the threshold. — We are confused because we do not know how to come to terms with her and all that she has to offer us to transition to a higher form of conscience. As you said, we needed to go through a patriarchal system for our evolution. From a spiritual perspective, we are birthing, feeling the agony, pain, excitement and glory, all while being confused, elated and fearful with the new sensation.

    I am seeing evidence of the sacred feminine rising all around and within me. I just finished a sacred feminine leadership course where 79 women embarked upon projects to help heal the earth/humanity, each organized in very different forms but all in a direction toward expressing feminine power, such as nurturing, cooperation and collaboration, transparency, sharing, honoring the sacred, for example. These women described other feminine power circles abounding, and chatter abounds with more and more of the world listening to women and girls who are speaking out and making a difference. There is a lot of promise and a lot of hope, I can feel the higher octave.
    One thing the digital age is providing is the fact that we will not be relying upon brute strength for work or jobs. Labor is shifting to the intellect “knowledge economy,” and from there, women are achieving, and in many areas exceeding, their male counterparts. Eventually, the male and feminine energies will re-unite and become sacred again, perhaps that’s the significance of Sun conjunct Uranus, the solar eclipse in the last degree of Pisces, quickly followed by the equinox and then lunar eclipse and all the other unbelievable astrological happenings this past month? So much symbolism and energy swirling. We are swimming in an energy of metamorphic soup, so its best for all of us, at this point to stay tuned and go with the flow while working on our inner self, I think. The strength we gain from being whole will allow us to endure even greater challenges and opportunities coming our way as we transition with the feminine goddess.
    Thought-provoking writing Amanda, thank you.

    1. Amanda Moreno Post author

      Fantastic insights, and I’m particularly struck by that “knowledge economy” idea.
      Another thought also stirs as I read about your 79 women. Let’s see if I can put it to words (I’ve been working on my taxes. Blargh.) – I think part of the trickiness of the ‘priestess complex’ does have to do with the fact that the individuals who are waking up and healing this particular brand of trauma do have the knowledge, compassion, insight and ability to see through to the core of who someone is, and therefore their love can bring a kind of redemptive quality to the mix as they/we hold space for others who are attempting to heal and plunge into their own depths. Especially as their fears and hates and angers arise. The ability to hold loving and non-judgmental space is such a precious one. But…perhaps it’s easier to hold that space with clients and friends and people in workshops than in intimate relationships? Perhaps it’s *better* to do it there? It gets so sticky in the interpersonal web. But then again, how to differentiate and discern?

      Hm. Thanks for giving me more to think about, especially on the eve of needing to write another column. 😉

      1. Amanda Painter

        “The ability to hold loving and non-judgmental space is such a precious one. But…perhaps it’s easier to hold that space with clients and friends and people in workshops than in intimate relationships? Perhaps it’s *better* to do it there? ”

        Definitely something worth thinking about. It definitely seems to take much clearer and stronger inner boundaries in intimate (esp sexual) relationships — and that those seem to be some of the first ones that can get blurred and sticky when we “fall in love.”

        But then, what’s left of intimacy and true vulnerability if we don’t bring “the knowledge, compassion, insight and ability to see through to the core of who someone is” if that’s something that we can do? Hmmmmmmm…. conundrum!

        That said, I’ve had the experience of the healer/counselor I work with helping me to become aware that I’d let my compassion completely flood a relationship with someone, to detrimental effect — it was causing me to get too wrapped up in “his stuff” and lose my center. It was incredibly eye-opening for he and me to practice, in a session with my counselor, what it felt like energetically and spatially if I pulled back into a more neutral, balanced love (rather than the all-permeating compassion blasting out of me to him). And then we practiced coming into and out of relationship together from that more balanced, neutral space of love.

        It was so great for both of us to discover how much better — how much more grounded, stable, comfortable, effortless, secure, peaceful — we *both* felt when we allowed love, but did not get all clingy and up in each other’s business energetically.

  8. Pisces Sun

    Thanks for your comments Amanda. Yes, the intimate is always the stickiness because it is so much more personal. The shadow effect of the goddess, it would seem disappears, when light is fully shone. There is no shadow cast (or at least very little) at high noon. To heal, transparency is required. It begins with revealing the nature of the problem and then addressing it. The key is to what extent can we remove our judgment? Len wrote a great article about going with the flow this weekend. When you go with the flow, you move around obstacles or you do not have obstacles. Either way, its done without judgment. The key is not to judge yourself first because we usually do a good job beating ourselves up first before we move onto others, don’t we? I think it really comes down to one’s intentions. I have heard Eric repeatedly say that astrology is meant to guide but it’s not fortune-telling, you always have a choice. When you set your intentions to be non-judgmental and work on yourself, you begin to have an honest relationship with the cosmos, I believe.

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