the joy of a monastic life

Life in a cloistered monastery is often lamentably predictable. Up at 4AM, hours of meditation or worship, then a day filled with dishwashing or filing or child care. After another couple of hours of worship, it's a communal dinner and then a couple of hours of knitting or TV before retiring early to do it all again. Such a life is soothing and satisfying to some, but for many aspiring monastics, it falls far short of what would be most fulfilling to us.

Luckily, as a monastic at Grey Priestess Abbey, you don't have to seclude yourself away from everyone and everything you love. We are mystics who relish our participation in society. Your vows are a private matter, and they don't interfere with you marrying your soulmate, publishing your magnum opus, or dancing the night away with your friends at a smoky lounge in Brooklyn. You're free to live life according to your own ideals and what you feel is right - and we'll be right there to support you.

So what's it like to be a monastic at Grey Priestess Abbey? The cornerstone of our lives is our contemplative practice. Through a daily meditation practice, we develop a safe space for us to get silent, get still, and learn to trust ourselves. Contemplation becomes a refuge, a blissful practice which grounds and strengthens us. Daily meditation also nourishes the higher mind functions of the brain, increasing intelligence and intuition. Our mystics often choose to supplement this practice with other tools, including:

  • yoga
  • pranayama
  • chanting
  • power-building exercises
  • visualization.

As part of your membership in Grey Priestess Abbey, we'll act as your meditation guides, teaching you powerful meditation techniques and guiding you if complications arise.

According to the ancient mystery schools, taking initiation involves two cornerstones of spiritual evolution: study and service. Sacred scriptures are perfect for meditating on, and often lend themselves to journaling. Through studying the scriptures, including modern works on social and cultural issues, you become wiser and begin to understand the human condition on a deep level. As part of your membership in Grey Priestess Abbey, you will be introduced to books that may change your life. Finally, as a member of the Abbey, you'll get first access to the books that the Abbey's founder, Helen O'Neil, has written on subjects like mental health, initiation, and identity.

GOOD BOOKS TO START WITH: the Corpus Hermeticum: The Divine Pymander - the Tao Te Ching - On Becoming An Alchemist, Catherine MacCoun - The Priests and Priestesses of Ancient Egypt or Shetaut Neter, Muata Ashby - the work of P.D. Ouspensky - the Bhagavad-Gita-as-it-is - Sacred Woman, Queen Afua - Esoteric Healing, Alice A. Bailey - the work of Pema Chodron - the works of Noam Chomsky or Christopher Lasch

As the Bhagavad-Gita teaches, sacrifice and sacred duty are a wish-granting cow, and service is the backbone of both. The core of the spiritual identity is the Divine Ego, as opposed to the Freudian ego, and these pursuits define the Divine Ego. Proper submission to the Divine Ego transforms the blood and body of the initiate into that of the Christed Yeshua, or the anointed priest, which deepens and intensifies her empathic understanding and heightens her personal power. Some mystics choose to work in service professions like social work or medicine; some enjoy volunteering or missions work; others choose to serve their communities indirectly through excelling at their careers, creating art, or even raising heroic children.

Finally, being around art feeds the soul and helps one stay connected to the Divine. Many mystics write, paint, create music, knit, act or dance practically from birth. In addition, we often crave music, literature, art or performances which inspire and move us. One of the greatest joys of being a lay monastic is that you can devote much more of your life to art than you would be able to if you were living in a traditional monastic community. For creative mystics, it's essential to make time for the art which nourishes our soul and helps us channel divinity. Helen has developed an extensive collection of artworks, albums, books and other creative works that you will have access to as a member of the Abbey. Enjoy a selection from her prophetic hip-hop collection below.