Beltane 2012: I did not sleep well the night before. In fact, I switched off my alarm before it rang and jumped out of bed 15 minutes early. I showered and put on in the same dress I wore to my Methodist confirmation seven years earlier. I slipped out of my dorm room, no makeup with damp hair. I carried a bag of tools I had packed the night before. It was exactly fifteen minutes before sunrise, and I was headed for a park near my university. I was twenty-one years old and have decided to dedicate my life to the Goddess.
This decision was excruciating for me. I was a fifth generation Methodist. My mom’s parents are ministers, and my dad was a minister. I lived in church housing my entire young life, until I was twenty when my mom and I vacated the parsonage six months after my dad’s death. Despite all this exposure to Christianity, I was a perpetual skeptic. I remember trolling my dad during children’s sermons at six. Yes, at six I knew that Christianity wasn’t for me. But what really brought the point home was the night before my Methodist confirmation. I lay awake for hours, downing in guilt because I was about to promise God my faith in something I did not believe in. I felt like a liar and held on to that identity for another decade and a half.
But I could not lie anymore. Two years earlier on a warm summer’s night, I found the Goddess in a field of fireflies and therefore had found myself. And that scared the shit out of me. That who I was had nothing to do with the life I had, aside from my love of my family, friends, and the written word. That what I held as sacred did not reflect the culture I was raised in. That I did not think the same as my mother and grandmother. That the values of skepticism and conformity and perfection that I held no longer served me, and in fact worked against me. This fact scared me so much that I tried to ignore who I was. I tried to stuff it down and go forward with the plans I made before the Goddess called.
Yeah, that did not go well.
Now as I was denying my connection to the Goddess, my father was dying. I did not know that when she called, but in retrospect it was so fucking obvious. He had cancer, and with every passing week my daddy was shrinking. By the time the Goddess called, he was not the man who had taught me how to cook and shared with me his ideas about good music and the kind of men he wanted his daughters to end up with. My dad was going, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. And I tried. I did every healing spell I could find on the internet. I was happy and pleasant and perfect for him. I got good grades and called home from college often. But even as I tried, I knew it was dust. I now know that he was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression that he was hiding my entire life, and that when he developed the infection that killed him he let himself find a peace he could not find in this life. But then, I thought only that he left me.
Note to my lovely readers and to myself: never take another person’s death personally. They love you. Not even a question. But it is just their time to die.
It took me months to be okay again. Even as I had the opportunity to move to the Netherlands and to fulfill my dream to live abroad, I could barely move. Now I was in a depression and needed help. And guess who was there for me? The Divine Feminine. The Maiden, the Mother, the Crone. Brigid, Persephone, Inanna, Isis, Yemaya, Hathor, Hestia, Aphrodite. The Goddesss. I realized this in my dorm room in the Netherlands on my yoga mat. Exploring the tarot. Seeing Goddess blessed places in a land not my own. My dorm room was my crucible. It allowed me to explore and transform, so when I headed home to the United States I could stand on my own. But actually, with the Goddess.
So a year after I got home from Europe, I sat in a park under my favorite willow tree. I anointed myself with oil and just allowed. I heard birds in their early song, dogs on their first walks of the day, the hum of bees, and the beating of my own heart. I felt the dew on my legs as I settled into the grass. I donned an obsidian beaded bracelet, which I wore every day for a year and still have in my jewelry box. And through opening my life to the Goddess, I became myself. I became whole.
© Ariadne Woods