Interview with a Water Priestess – Annika “The Sea Priestess”

Interview with a Water Priestess – Annika “The Sea Priestess” October 16, 2019
Image by Annika

The next Water Priestess interview is with the lovely Annika. Annika has been around for many years sharing her path and wisdom of the Sea Priestess over on her Youtube Channel! I have had the pleasure of getting to know Annika over the years through social media, as we moderate some of the same groups and always seem to be swimming in the same pond. So grab a cup of tea and read all about her path!

Please introduce yourself to us

My name is Annika “The Sea Priestess” I am a priestess of the waters surrounding the British Isles, particularly the English Channel which joins the Atlantic to the North Sea. Also the freshwater of the British Isles, particularly the area of Wessex, where we have many Holy Wells, rivers, and thermal springs. I make pilgrimages to Glastonbury and Bath, but my home is on the coast of Dorset.

I am building a Sea Temple on the West Cliff of Bournemouth, to honour the many spirits and deities of the sea. Our coastline here has a long history of smuggling and fishing, with pirates bringing in contraband from the continent during the 17th and 18th centuries. They carried with them the old folktales of sea creatures, mermaids, and such like. Before Christianity spread to this area, there were several pagan influences, from the ancient Celts, Saxons, and Romans.

The area of Bournemouth was for a very long time a wild heathland with forest and wetland. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers made temporary homes here but more permanent settlements were found to the west in Poole and to the east in Christchurch. When we go further back to the Mesolithic period we find that the English Channel formed after huge areas of ice melted and sea levels began to rise. Before that, the English Channel was just a river, and Britain was joined to the rest of Europe for herds of animals and human tribes to migrate with the seasons.

When I stand at the seashore I imagine a time when land stretched out to the horizon and a great river ran out to the Atlantic Ocean. I imagine a time when sheets of ice covered most of Britain and great wooly mammoths roamed the tundra. I imagine long before when a tropical heat turned this area into a jungle with massive scaly reptiles. The cliffs here are embedded with fossils to remind us of a time long before humans ever existed.

I imagine those tiny creatures that slowly developed over the millennia. I imagine the prehistoric sea creatures, the ancestors of whales and dolphins, the first mammals to crawl ashore.

When I look out to the sea, I behold the origin of all life on earth. The sea is the womb water of the planet. It is mother to us all.

What brought you to this sacred water place?

I was born in Plymouth, a little further west along the coast to where I live now. My earliest days were spent playing in the sand and toddling toward the waves. I have many memories of traveling back and forth across the sea, as my parents enjoyed holidays and trips back to Sweden where my mother is from. She was a teenager when she first met my dad here in Bournemouth. She was studying English, living with a host family. Bournemouth is always full of English students. You see great crowds of them wandering through the town with excited chatter. My dad came down here from London with his brother for a little seaside holiday. Bournemouth has always been a tourist attraction since it was founded in 1812.

Anyway, long story short, my parents decided to settle in Bournemouth in the mid-90s and it was around that time that my mum introduced me to the concept of paganism, and I became absolutely fascinated with ancient spirituality. I dedicated myself as priestess and witch at age 13. I created my own initiation ritual based on various examples I had read by prominent witches such as Doreen Valiente and Janet Farrar. I was a bit of a book worm and spent most of my teens alone in my room reading books on paganism and witchcraft. Interestingly, Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner had spent much of their time in Bournemouth and the nearby New Forest.

Image by Annika

How did you first discover you were a Water/Sea Priestess?

I had always been drawn to life by the sea, and learned that many of my ancestors were seafarers, going back to the Viking Age. Being half British and half Swedish, the sea felt like home to me, to crossover point between cultures. I have childhood memories of connecting spiritually with an ancient religion, one that regarded all of nature as alive with divine consciousness. I devoured books about paganism, hungry to learn about the many ancient cultures which influenced this island.
During my studies I came across many magical groups, online and in real life, so to speak. I found an internet forum dedicated to studying the work of Dion Fortune, in particular, her highly influential work The Sea Priestess. It moved me so much that I began identifying myself as a Sea Priestess. I received a lot of helpful instruction from my mentors online. I also encountered a coven of witches in the New Forest and a Goddess Temple in Glastonbury, which inspired me to move forward from solitary practice to organizing communal rituals. I realized my dream was to provide a space for people to come together, regardless of gender, race, or culture, to share their love of the sea and their devotion to this Blue Planet.

Who are you and how do you practice?

Sometimes I think about referring to myself as an hereditary witch, because my mother is a witch, and that’s how I discovered witchcraft. But I consider myself an independent witch, not bound to a lineage of tradition. I see my way of doing things as organically bubbling up from the deep subconscious, with the help of many books and websites. There are a few too many to mention, but I have been absolutely delighted to find that there are others out there who share my passion for Sea Priestessing and Sea Witchery.

I joke with people about being a mermaid, but truly there is a sense of otherness in me, that I am not a normal person of the land, and have never felt like I fit in with the general population. I see the popular way of life on land as problematic in so many ways. The consumerist culture of capitalist society is destroying the planet. People are holding on to illogical customs, based on the concept of upholding normality. It’s been very difficult for me to integrate with humans… It’s been a real challenge to learn their ways.  Yes I am a mermaid, a priestess, a pagan, a witch.

Perhaps the most important practice for me is acting with compassion, caring for people, animals, and the world as a whole. Many of us regard Water as the element of emotion, of feeling and connection. It is also the element of healing, which so many of us need desperately. I had my fair share of childhood trauma to heal from…. dark and scary experiences which haunted me for so many years…. were healed through my devotional practice.

The sea is deep, dark, and very frightening. It’s full of things that want to eat you alive. Make no mistake. It is dangerous. But it is also full of mystery and power, the potential for new life, for cleansing and renewal. It is the in-between place.

I stand at the edge of the water and I ask you to immerse yourself. I am The Sea Priestess.

Tell us about the work you do there now?

I hold rituals on the beach. They’re very simple. We get together and we talk, we say our prayers and make our wishes. I bring my little copper cauldron, fill it halfway with golden sand, a place a little charcoal disc inside. We sprinkle some herbs and resins in. The aromatic smoke billows into the salty air. There may be a libation, and offering, a scattering of rose petals on the waves. We might lay out some cards, practice divination, or simple gaze up at the stars and behold the rising moon.

Summertime is good for beach rituals because the weather is warm and the sea is lovely for swimming. Winter is more of a challenge. Try lighting a candle in the wind and rain as you peer from your parka hood! But there’s something very powerful about standing face to face with roaring waves which threaten to engulf the land. I love the beach in all conditions.

Some things are better done indoors. Especially if you want to avoid other people, as the beach is in near-constant use. We have a huge stretch of sand and cliffs which are split by chines. The River Bourne trickles through the center of town as a gentle stream surrounded by Victorian pleasure gardens. My house is between the gardens and the clifftop. It has a small garden facing south, the direction of the sea. I am working on building my temple here. I have admired several pagan temples in this country, and I feel that Bournemouth is an appropriate place for a Sea Temple.

I am in the very early stages of establishing the Sea Temple. It’s been a dream of mine for many years. Right now I am just renting a place, but I am saving for a mortgage so I can buy a house to keep as a permanent temple. It may take a couple of years or so to get to that point, but right now I am comfortably renting and decorating a large basement room to serve as a place of worship, healing, and magical rituals.

My goal is to provide a space that is open to public use and may be attended to by Temple Keepers. I want to foster a deep respect for the sea in the people of Bournemouth. As a tourist town, the beaches are subject to much abuse in the summer. The littering is awful. But I think people are slowly waking up to their ecological responsibility.  There is also a great responsibility to the people of the world, as this sea is our national border, and we have huge problems with the public opinion toward immigration and asylum seekers. I want to be able to open people’s minds to the fact that everyone who now lives in Britain had their origins across the sea. They may be first-generation, second, third, fourth, or five hundredth generation….. but at some point, someone stood at the edge of the water, and decided to venture across to make their home in Britain. We should all be granted the same freedom of movement and a chance to settle here as long as we like. But while we are here we must respect that this island is not ours to keep. It was given to us by the sea, and the sea will rise up and reclaim it if we continue to abuse our home.

How do you feel about the current attack on water? Standing Rock? And Pollution in general?

Our environmental crisis is paramount to my work as Sea Priestess. It is the reason that I transitioned to a Vegan lifestyle, and am currently transitioning into a plastic-free lifestyle. I am also an active participant in beach-cleans.  I feel that we can all do our little bit to make a difference in the world. I am hopeful for government action that will pressure corporations into compliance. I believe that voting for Green policies will get us closer to the goal, but ultimately the entire capitalist system must come to an end to prevent the drive for profit from leading to our extinction.

The sea knows all about extinction. It knows all about death and destruction. It remembers. It witnesses our crimes. It carries the lifeless bodies of our victims. It dashes their bones against the rocky shore. It delivers infant children face down in the sand so that we can see what we have done.

I am called to priestess a new way, to midwife a new age for humanity. There are many like me who hear the same call. The waves roar and crash loudly onto land, pushing and shoving us into action. They demand our attention. We must act.

Annika The Sea Priestess

Is there anything else that you might like to share with our readers? Special stories from the Water? Messages from Spirit? Or anything else you find important and want to share?

People may think that talking about mermaids and turtles and seashells is all very wishy-washy and shallow playing… laughing and dancing and having fun…. but let me warn you that the sea is extremely deep and things are very dark down there…

The sea bed is a graveyard and the fishes are worms that eat sunken corpses…. there is death and decay down there… death, darkness, an ocean of tears…. there are unspeakable tragedies absorbed by the water…. the waves know our secrets, our crimes, our grief…. the water absorbs all of this emotion… pain and suffering….. the sea takes it all in. 

We can all have fun on the seashore and dip our toes in the foam…. but who will have the courage to fully submerge? Who will surrender themselves to the dragging grasp of the currents? Who will cry and shriek like the seagulls? Who will allow themselves to be dashed against the rocks? 

The sea is both a bountiful mother and a robber of lives. Do not forget this.

Annika

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