5 real-life skills you’ll learn at Urban Priestess Mystery School

UrbanPriestessSchool_spiritualityAshley Turner and Sianna Sherman aren’t just two of the nation’s most in-demand yoga instructors—they’re also highly trained priestesses. (Yes, really.)

Starting on October 12, the Los Angeles-based pair, along with guest teachers including Marianne Williamson and Gabrielle Bernstein, will be passing on their mystical secrets to the masses via Turner and Sherman’s newly minted Urban Priestess Mystery School a year-long course in the rites, rituals, and big ideas that lead to Beyoncé-level feminine empowerment.

And with hundreds of women from around the world having already signed up for the online curriculum, from yogis and spiritual guides to CEOs and 20-something professionals, it’s clear that the hunger to understand life’s mysteries is hitting a high note.

“The word ‘priestess’ carries a certain resonance that women are really intrigued by,” explains Turner, who’s also a registered psychotherapy intern. “There’s some sort of knowing that there are these tools that have been around for thousands of years to serve us in living more skillfully. A lot of women are really interested in diving in and applying these tools to their lives.”

According to Turner and Sherman, a priestess is someone who’s in touch with her intuition and sexuality, in tune with nature, skilled in transformative crafts such as incense blending and tantric meditation, and deeply connected to a higher power—a potent mix that helps her navigate issues in relationships, health, money, body image, and career without anxiety.UrbanPriestessSchool_Turner

“When we have practices to fortify us, it helps us be more confident and courageous in our choices,” says Turner, who met Sherman at a yoga festival in 2012. “The word ‘urban’ connotes a modern priestess. You don’t have to move to an ashram; you can weave [these teachings] into your daily life.”

In other words, the course is about much more than making dream catchers and chanting (although there will be plenty of that, too).

Here, the pair break down five things every woman should know about cultivating confidence, happiness, and success—even if she doesn’t consider herself a priestess (yet).Erin Magner

1. How to apply ancient wisdom to modern life. The Mystery School schedule is filled with terms like “vision quest”, “dream tending,” and “trance work” (left-brained ladies, we see your raised eyebrows). But as esoteric as these concepts are, says Turner, “we’re focused on practicality—like, if you’re going through a divorce or struggling with credit card debt, what are the tools you can use to transform your state of mind, take different actions, and get different results?” One example: a session on the chakras runs alongside a lecture on science-backed hormone optimization from Harvard-schooled MD and best-selling author Sara Gottfried.

2. How to plan your calendar by the moon. The course and its four optional live retreats are organized around the astrological calendar, with each new module starting on the monthly New Moon. Why? “The lunar cycles govern our biorhythms,” says Turner, who studied this concept a decade ago during an apprenticeship with priestess Ariel Spilsbury. By aligning with these monthly phenomena, she claims, we begin to notice patterns—when we’re especially energized or when we’re more inclined to turn inward—and can plan for the future more strategically. “If you can start to align your activities around those cycles, it really helps you on all levels,” she says.

3. How to listen to your gut. We’re (problematically) taught to rely on other people to tell us what’s best for us, say Turner and Sherman. But priestesses learn “your body has all the wisdom and answers you need. We’re teaching you how to get into an intimate dialogue with your own psyche so you base your decisions on your inner voice instead of any outside authority,” says Turner. (That could help take care of some therapy bills, too.)


4. How to ditch your inner mean girl and find your tribe. “We’re so set up as women to be competitive with each other,” says Turner. “Our passion is to empower women to boost each other up.” The school’s quarterly, four-day retreats at California’s Mount Madonna Center are the best opportunity to do this, says Sherman, who spent the mid-‘90s with a group of women learning herbalism, ceremonial rituals, and more from a Celtic priestess in Ireland. “It’s like an alchemical chamber when women come together to do this kind of work,” she says. “Everything is amplified.”

5. How to accept your body, once and for all. According to Turner and Sherman, the school’s first crop of attendees range in age from 20s to 70s. “We want to empower every stage of life,” says Turner. “Our society has a very narrow view of what’s beautiful, and a big piece of this training is exploring how women can heal our relationships with our bodies.” Expect “body love rituals” and a lesson in sensual movement and dance—Queen Bey would most definitely approve. —Erin Magner

Enrollment for the Urban Priestess Mystery School is open through Sept. 25, 2015. Prices start at $2,100 for the online curriculum. For more information, visit urban-priestess.com

(Photos: Turner and Sherman)

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