|"May the grace of the Valar protect you."|
For those of you who have heard a higher calling (no, not Ghostcrawler's) and chosen to play a priest, you are truly in an order of distinction. It is difficult to untangle a singular path of priesthood, and since history acknowledges several shifts of priests' and priestesses' roles. Ancient Egyptian priests were not conduits for people to gods, but solely the caretakers of the gods according to the linked source. In other words, buddy, you're eternal soul will just have to find its own way, these priests were busy tending to Ra and Pals. Other ancient priests were the scholars as well as caretakers, mastering medicine, language, and high places in society. In the Christian faith, the hierarchical order of priests manifested itself in many orders and offices* (page152), and created gender roles designated for separate service, varying levels of community versus contemplative work, and austerity. This is not the place to discuss sexism in orders of faith, however--again, like a priestess of Ra, I'll tell you you're on your own for that one. Suffice it to say priests are organized: the layers of heaven to hell are more maze-like than linear, and it seems to require mirrored human hierarchies to navigate these paths.
One thing I do know: Tolkien. His influence of modern concepts of fantasy, faith, and hero's arc is felt throughout our world. The religious connections between Lord of the Rings is no mistake either. Tolkien was pals with Lewis, and the two of them spent many an hour smoking longbottom weed and jawing over philosophical thoughts. (Apparently I am not the only one who sees this.) One distinct memory I have of my paternal grandmother was she loved to read Lewis, though I was never clear on her own faith or beliefs. Perhaps like an Azerothian priest, she too had a side that drew down the shadows. To understand light, one must control the darkness.
But the spirits of priests seem to walk alone, holding a beacon of light and showing the way, or working in the shadows with conflicted minions, unlike a warlock whose relationship with minions and succubi is transparent and sought-after. Shadow priests work like the lights at the Darkmoon Faire: the lights are on, but how come they still feel like little illuminated shadows? (There may be a poem or story in there somewhere, but that is how they feel to me: never truly healing the night, but adding more secrets...)
However, when I think of priests, the very essence of holy light, I think of the scene in Lord of the Rings where Awren tells Frodo to accept her 'grace.' This gift of light and healing, this grace, a blessing, is the pinnacle of light, love, and hope. Words like "penance"coexist with "benediction," and if all else fails, continue healing in angel form--power of light indeed.
Highly recommended reading:
*Bowker, John. World Religions. DK Publishing, 1997