Pythian Priestess Ashley Ryan Chats With Us About Season 2 Of Her Popular Podcast ‘The Occult Unveiled’

Many women today who identify as witches associate more closely with feminism than burnings at the stake or boiling potions with an eye of newt. These women are a part of collective consciousness, harnessing the power of the occult to foster spiritual growth and authority over their lives, on their terms.

Ashley Ryan, also known as Pythian Priestess, a practicing occultist, and teacher of magickal practice, is at the forefront of this trend.

Like many others, Ashley’s path to the occult was borne out of disaffection with traditional religion. Raised in a strict Catholic environment, Ashley rebelled against the rules and practices that she felt from an early age limited her ability to find and be her true self.

As she sought out a spiritual identity of her own, majoring in theology in college, the teachings of the occult resonated with her. She knew she’d found her path.

As host of the podcast The Occult Unveiled, Ashley enters into their second season. Starting off with only 2,246 downloads in the first month of production, the podcast now has over 11,300 downloads to date. The Occult Unveiled walks us through a rare insider’s look at secret rituals. It mostly turns long-held assumptions about ‘the dark side’ on their head.

“Darkness is not inherently evil or malicious,” says Ashley, who we had the chance to speak with and bust some myths about darkness, the occult, witches and more in our fascinating interview below!

Congrats on Season 2 of ‘The Occult Unveiled’! How does it feel to see your community of listeners continue to grow over each episode?

It makes me feel joyous! I am so blessed to be able to share different modes of spirituality with people from around the world. I am so grateful to everyone who tunes in every week to listen. 

You were raised in a strict Catholic environment, but never felt comfortable being part of religion in this way. Can you share more on how that upbringing impacted where you are today? 

Religion permeated every part of my life when I was growing up. I don’t hate Christianity; I think Jesus was a wonderful magician. However, I think that the political nature of the Church and the dogma that is spewed can be very hurtful to others.

I think the most impactful moment was when I was four years old, my two great aunts (who were Benedictine nuns) asked me if I wanted to get married to Jesus (which meant becoming a nun), and I said, “No, I want to be a priest.” They told me that only boys could do that. 

I felt let down by the Church, I wanted to foster and grow closer with the Creator, but I could only do so on their terms. I knew in my heart that I was supposed to be doing what the priest was doing, teaching others, and communing with Spirit (or God).  But I didn’t know how or where, so I went on a journey to search for a deeper understanding of the world.

A journey that took me over half my life (and is still ongoing), I studied philosophy and comparative religion in college, bringing me to Esotericism and the occult. If it were not for the rigidity of the Church, I don’t think I would have ever been pushed to look for more. 

What is it about strict religious environments that tend to lead people in the opposite direction? 

Quite simply, the feeling of rejection. No one wants to be rejected (or, at worst, condemned to eternal suffering) because of their gender, sexuality, or their interests (such as rock n’ roll). 

What were you taught about the occult growing up Catholic? And what myths did you learn to dismantle the more you explored it on your own? 

Catholicism has its own form of mysticism. The only bit of it that was revealed to me as a child was “the mysteries” of the rosary (The Joyful Mysteries, The Sorrowful Mysteries, and so on). These are the miraculous events in Jesus’s life that have a deeper meaning hidden within. As a child, I didn’t understand that, and I would tell the nuns, “These aren’t a mystery at all! The Bible tells you exactly what happened.” 

I am still working through my own Christian trauma. But I am not dismantling any myths. I think myths are important in every tradition. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, explains that myths are a cultural framework for a society or people to educate the youth and to provide them with a framework for their passage through the different stages of life.

In fact, many myths (or stories) are represented in different cultures, sharing the same story and theme but with different characters. One of the most famous examples is the mythical flood that destroyed the world. 

It is easier for me to connect the ancient Egyptian mythology/characters (the predecessor of many Christian myths, which has been actually very healing). 

On the podcast you discuss secret rituals. What has been the most fascinating ritual, and perhaps even eye-opening ritual you’ve learned about? 

One sacred ritual that Mawiyah Bomani, a Priestess of the Orisha Oya, shared with me was very eye-opening. It ic called an Ẹsẹ̀ntáyé. The literal definition of Ẹsẹ̀ntáyé is “touch the feet to the earth.” This is a sacred Yoruba ceremony where the infant’s feet will touch the earth for the first time, done to find out a baby’s purpose for coming into the world.

 In order to protect the destiny of the child and avert interference from ill forces, this sacred ceremony is restricted to only include the child’s parents, grandparents, and the appropriate attending Priests. During the ceremony, we discover what actions need to be taken (or avoided) to support the manifestation of the child’s destiny.

The child is given the tools it will need to achieve its life destiny. Sometimes those tools are hidden in the home, and the child finds them or is given them at certain points in their life.

You also explore the idea of “darkness” away from what society typically thinks. Can you share more about this? 

I do not subscribe to the dualist ideology that “light” is good and “dark” is bad. First, there was Darkness. Darkness is primordial, it is the beginning. Light comes from Darkness, and one cannot exist without the other. Everything that exists out in the Universe also exists inside of you. Every energy, force, and archetype lives in you.  While I believe yes, there are spirits that can be malicious, they do not create evil in this world. Humans create evil. 

We would not call a force of nature (hurricane or tornado evil), but we would call human trafficking, corporate greed, and murder evil. If humans do not work to purify their hearts and minds, they will succumb to these forces, they will create evil. 

My magickal work with daemons (the Infernal)  is not evil. I do not throw curses or hexes with “dark” energy. Daemons are Earth spirits and can offer education in occult subjects and protection. However, they can be very tricky and offer temptation. I have purified myself of the temptations those particular spirits offer. Thus they respect me for it and work cooperatively with me.

I do not recommend this kind of work for beginners. It is like playing life on “expert mode” when you choose to work with the infernal. 

We are seeing a resurgence of positivity toward witches among many feminists, who are also shedding light on the patriarchal ideas that allow witches to be seen as inherently bad throughout history. Can you talk more about this and what you think about more people’s exposure? 

The Occult and witchcraft have been seen as “devil-worshipping”. Even working with herbs was condemnable! This is because whenever women or any minority is given a form of power (in this case, supernatural), it is seen as a threat. Each one of us, regardless of race, gender, or age, can practice magick; it is our birthright. I think the mass exposure to the occult is a turning point in history. 

We live in such a special era where we have over 50 centuries of knowledge available to us with a click of a button.  While the atrocities of the past cannot be erased, they can be exposed, and armed with knowledge, we can write a different future.

But we cannot forget that even though magick is popular, it is still dangerous. It can cause both joy and great harm to others. Traditionally in Covens or Magickal Orders, there are high ethical and moral standards, and thus magick was used to develop and purify that practitioner’s soul. Today many practitioners do not have a strong ethical and moral code, they can fall into the trap of abusing the power they have been blessed with. 

Without a moral code to live by, practitioners can warp ‘Justice’ and ‘Divine Guidance’ when they start focusing on what we want on this plane (money, fame, to hurt others) and not the Spiritual work of maturation of their souls. Spirit should not be used as a warfare tool.

Your official title is Pythian Priestess. What does this mean? 

Pythian Priestess is not my Spiritual name.  I am bound by oath to keep that name secret. Nevertheless, I am a Priestess.  I have been initiated into an order where I was given the title of Priestess. The user name Pythian Priestess came about in 2013 during my Philosophy of Religion class as an undergrad. When I learned priestesses did exist. 

In ancient Greece, there were three priestesses to Apollo at Delphi. Pythia was the name of the high priestess, also known as the Oracle of Delphi. She served as an oracle whose wisdom was respected by the greatest philosophers, Kings, and Generals of the Ancient World. The long-dead dream I had as a child was brought back to life. I was obsessed with the Pythia Priestess, she was like my Disney Princess. I made a Gmail account using the name ‘PythianPriestess’ that day after class.

In 2019, I started my TikTok account; I knew I wanted to make esoteric content; the name ‘PythianPriestess’ was a perfect fit.  I  am grateful to the women who served as the Pythia in ancient Greece. Their divine work brought my inner child’s dreams back to life and inspired me to share my passion for the occult with the world.

What do you hope new listeners will love most about ‘The Occult Unveiled’, and come back for? 

I hope the listeners will love the range of practitioners I interview. I talk to people who practice chaos magick, traditional Gardeianian Wicca, Hoodoo, and Vodun, the list keeps growing!

The Occult Unveiled is a platform for witches, magicians, and sorcerers of all backgrounds and cultures to share their sacred traditions and journeys. We will be sharing a new perspective with a unique individual who has something to share and teach you about!

Get familiar with the work of Ashley Ryan, aka Pythian Priestess, and subscribe to ‘The Occult Unveiled’ HERE.

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