I am back from my travels and settling back into busy life here on the farm. There is a lot to do, and to some extent I’ve slipped easily back into my routine, although it’s just about Summer Solstice and the world wakes me up crazy early these days. 
But something has changed.
My partner noticed it as soon as I got back. Yes there has been a lot going on astrologically recently, if you believe in that sort of thing-and one comment I read said that the Queen of Heaven, Venus, is getting ready to transmute herself into the wisdom of the Evening Star…I hope that bodes the same for me.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for something, and I haven’t known what, for quite a while now, years in fact. 
I’ve lived in this current house, on this farm, for just about 5 years. In that time, I have “settle down” mentally and physically. I’ve learned to be still and listen.
As a student of Druidry, I am these days paying more attention to learning about my culture, my ancestry, history in general, and am not paying much attention to God, or to the Gods and Goddesses…I just haven’t consciously been working with anyone-or wasn’t when I first got here. 
I’m an equal opportunity spiritual learner, so if a spirit or goddess or God wants to approach me, I try to be all ears no matter the tradition. But sometimes they come out of the most surprising places, or the strangest (to me) of traditions.

Just before I moved back out west (which is where I was raised) after twenty-two years in the South, I had an encounter in a class i took, with what I’ll call “My Higher Self”. It was pretty cool to journey to a place where I could meet her, and I planned to keep in mind the vision I had had after I left the class. When I arrived back to the car where my partner was waiting, he had a random free magazine with him, and there, on the cover, was my Higher Self. It was literally exactly what I had just envisioned-right down to the crystal light in her hand and the white streak in her dark hair! I was floored, but greeted that as good news that I was on the right track. 
I called her Lilith and she served to get me back to California, but she and I didn’t really have much of a thing after that. Honestly, I just don’t “get” women as a general rule, and I figured maybe another Goddess would come along, who I could relate to better. But no one showed up. 
I got into Ayurveda, and checked out a few women Hindu saints, but nothing clicked.
And then I met Maharajji (Neem Karoli Baba) in my dreams. Apparently it’s a common occurrence, since he’s been out of his body since 1973. 
And he had a TON to teach me. Surprisingly not about Hinduism, but about men. Suffice it to say that I consider Maharajji to be my “guru” and I trust him. For me, he is a father figure, a trusted elder-and trust was hard for me to give, because I don’t trust men. But he’s been a good teacher and it’s said that once he finds you he doesn’t let go. So I come and go, mostly like a bad bhakta, but I adore the man or rather, the guru-the spirit that transcends the body he was in. He is the god incarnated, for me. He is someone who I can relate to, and learn from. So I do. We’re good. And I am not the only Druid with one foot in Druidry and one foot in the dharma/Hindu stream. Somehow it works just fine.
But the Goddess has eluded me. Like I said, I don’t “get” women-and I would guess that Goddesses could be tricky…I’ve looked and looked for someone I could relate to-someone who could show me, through the body of work about that deity, no matter what tradition they come from, how I could be a better person-shining more light into the world instead of going around like a grumpy bitch. No seriously, I’m a master. I mean, it doesn’t help I’m in the middle of menopause. I have my St. John’s Wort and a stash of chocolate, but, my people were never the jovial, laughing type. We are the sour-pusses, the skinny, dour sentinels of generations past and present. We don’t do much happy-and frankly, most of my ancestors never had much to be happy about. They were poor and had hard lives.

I have, in the last year, been quite happy working with OBOD’s Bardic course, and getting to know my ancestors better, as well as Spirits of Place and Spirits of Tradition-all who have showed up in droves to say hello-positive and negative. And I still have my connections to Maharajji, and I’m happy with what I have-no goddess is missed. I figure if one wants to show up because she has something to teach me-come on down, I’m open.
And so I went back east recently to attend a wedding, visit some friends, and visit my beloved mountains. I did all of those things and they were all wonderful, soul-filling moments. And then I had two days to kill in a small city that I lived in and near for a total of about 13 years.
It’s a conservative Southern city, but I actually really liked it when I lived there. It had enough nice things like a beautiful four-story glass library and a park with a waterfall, good coffee shops and restaurants, and I loved the job I had the longest there…But that town is where not one but two of the worst, no, THE two worst events of my life occurred. One, I just don’t dwell on. That one is locked away in a closet. But the second, which happened to me in January of 2002 I can look back on now without problem, because I can see the great gifts that shitty year had to teach me. And I am oh so grateful.

Long story short, I met a man, had a crush on him (he was a performer) and I got pregnant-about that fast. I was 41 and floored by everything that was happening. I had never been pregnant, I didn’t really know him, could not wrap my head around being a mother to a child at my age, and felt like my world had flown apart like a tornado. 
And it got worse. We made plans for me to move to his place and we were going to raise a child. But then I miscarried. And, while I was in the process of losing that pregnancy and all of the horrible hormones and psychological trauma that comes with it, I also figured out that this man was a lunatic-likely schizophrenic, and was a fabulous liar. There were at least two, if not four separate personalities going on there, and I was just stunned and confused. I had quit my job, sold my car and lost everything and was in physical and mental danger. I cried constantly, had no friends, no job, no money, and was physically abused. I saw bugs that weren’t really there. I started going to AA because it was free and I needed some sort of help. One night, I came a second phone call away from having a fellow AA’er drive me to a mental hospital. A few weeks later, after finally getting a counselor to talk to, who insisted the crazy baby-daddy and I have a few days apart, I spent an entire day and night contemplating suicide. That was my ultimate bottom.
Thankfully, I crawled out that night rather than taking a knife to my arms, and the next morning, I made a deal with whatever existed out there to help me, that I would do what I could but I needed a ton of help. I called my old boss and asked for my job back. He said yes. I called my old roommate back and asked if I could stay there, rent free, until I could get on my feet. He said yes. I asked another friend to drive me three hours back to that little conservative city and he did. So I had crawled out of my hole. That was November of 2002, and it would take me another six months to get a grip, and stop my daily crying jags, and get on with my life.

By December of that year, I at least felt safe, and like I had swum back up to the surface for air. I had a job, I had a roof over my head, and my sanity was slowly returning. I felt like maybe some day the sun would shine again.

Just before Christmas that year, I went out to buy a small gift for a friend and was walking downtown. It was really cold, spitting rain and just about dusk, but I was in a good mood-perhaps the first real one in almost a year. I had stayed in AA and attended meetings daily, and I had found some hope. That moment on the sidewalk at dusk, was a sweet moment of clarity. Life was getting better.
And then, along came this young woman. I had seen her once before and I knew that she and her partner had started a business near by. She was young, maybe 24 and had dark blond hair in a style that, well, without getting too specific, set her apart from other people in town. And so with a glimmer of recognition, I made eye contact-not something I had done much of lately, because I was in so much pain. But as I walked past this mere girl, she looked right into my eyes, and smiled at me. And I have no words, to this day, for that smile. She looked at me as if God himself had sent her to send me a silent message, that I was loved, and life was, indeed, still good. Something shone through her-not from her-I was sure of that-like she embodied and radiated the sun in her smile.
It only lasted a second, but I remembered that girl for a long time. She knew something I didn’t then about being happy-but I felt like that smile, that moment was my wake-up call. I needed to know where that came from. I desperately longed to know where that kind of happiness came from. No this was not “girl crushing”. This was something deeply spiritual. So I remembered her.
Flash forward to my trip back east, last month, May 2016. I had a day and a half to kill and my friend had things to catch up on, so I was free to sleep in, eat where I wanted, and just wander around town. I stopped at my favorite coffee house, which was still there, after 13 years-exactly like I left it. That was really cool. It made me feel so welcome.

Many things were exactly the same, and I drove around town, taking photos, my brain on auto-pilot because I still knew every side-street and short-cut around that town. I still remembered where the tile shop was, the best place to get gas, and where to eat. It was utterly lovely.

I thought about the fact that this trip has been a tremendous lesson for me. As I was organizing my itinerary before I left, I realized how much I had driven, up and down the freeways, around the back roads, and how much I had processed, and grieved in that little area of the world. I had gone through two divorces, a bad time of being a horrible alcoholic, and the crazy life upheaval I mentioned before, and now, here I was, a completely different person-walking the same streets, but in joy and gratitude, and at peace, and embodying who I am. I almost half expected to pass the 13 years younger me on the street. She wouldn’t have seen me anyway-she  wouldn’t have made eye contact. She was damaged, and making her way out of one hole after another, after another.
It felt SO good to walk around town. The day was perfect and sunny, the temperature just right, and I was happy to be participating in this interesting review. I stopped in one of my favorite shops, still going strong after 24 years, and purchased a few things, chatted with the girls behind the counter-because people do that in the South, they chat, and continued my stroll. I walked around the entire area, looking at what had changed and what was still the same, and toward then end, I spotted another shop I remembered from 13 years ago.

I stepped in, and the shop was cool, dark and smelled lovely. Music was playing and the whole place had a very chill vibe. A woman in her mid-thirties behind the counter greeted me, and I continued to look, and even tried on some clothes. I could have stayed in there all day. The place had such a…chill vibe. It was like as if someone sprayed air-freshener but instead of a smell, you got a feeling. And that feeling was total relaxation. 
I handed the woman my purchase and she rang me up, and we chatted, and I noticed, really, the chill vibe was coming from her. In comparison I felt like a gawky kid who’d drunk way too much coffee, but she was kind, and asked where I was visiting from, and, rather than look weird and ask if I could pull up a chair and stay the afternoon, I left.
I headed back to my hotel, just to relax. It had been a busy few days with the wedding and visiting friends and I had leftovers to eat and photos to go through from the wedding. 
I tried on my new clothes and loved them, and so I just relaxed in them. I was in a hotel that I had not planned on, that was extremely posh, because the first hotel I made a reservation at turned out to be a prostitution hangout, so I was staying in the lap of luxury and enjoying it all. 
I thought about what I would do until lunch the next day when I was to have lunch with a relative, and I thought that I just might go back to that store again-because they had jewelry that I liked and I wouldn’t get another chance to look, and, after all, it was so chill.

And somewhere along in my evening there, it sort of slowly dawned on me, and the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that it was true. 
The woman in the store with such a chill vibe, was, in fact, the same young woman I had passed on the street in December 2002. The one who shone like the sun. By the time I went to bed that night, I was sure of it. And in awe that like many things in that town, she had not changed. 
I counted the years I’d been gone, added them to the age I thought she was back then, and calculated that as far as age goes, that could be her. And I knew back then she had owned a business there, and she still did. But the smile. I was absolutely positive about that smile.

So I had breakfast with a friend, and then stopped by that store. She was busy with a customer, so I browsed and looked, and when she was done, she came over to help me, and I told her my story. When I said that I was sure now that the woman so long ago, who so inspired me with her sunny smile was her, she broke into the biggest smile. It was a compliment well earned. That was all I needed to do, was tell her that her smile helped someone in a horrible crappy hole 13 years ago, and I was so glad to see she still had it. She still had her hairstyle too. Knowing how much I have changed and morphed over and over again in 13 years, I wondered at where you have to be as a person to stand in that kind of light for 13 years. I want to understand on a deeper level where that kind of consistency comes from.

I had lunch and drove out of town, off to the last hotel before I caught my flight back to California. But that smile changed me this time too. 
I thought about her a lot. It was clear to me now that I understood where it comes from in someone that they can smile like that. They have faith, they have peace, and they have love. They do not hold onto anger and they have enough love to overflow it into the world. They shine. And that comes from within-how ever you want to define it and wherever you think the Source is, I know it comes from within. No person, no situation, no book, no stuff can make you happy like that. What a gift!
I thought about the fact that I don’t smile enough, and I need to remember this goddess of a woman, and smile more often. She was a teacher 13 years ago, and her inspiration could be my teacher now. So I brought her home in my heart-this Goddess. And decided that indeed a living woman could stand for The Goddess-could be my symbol and my inspiration to be more of a goddess in my own life, daily. 
Within two days of being home, my partner said he could sense a difference in me. Yes, I still have my grumpy days, but even I can feel something has changed.

One thing that’s helping is to wear better clothes around the house now. I don’t dress like an old hobo ready to paint the barn. Now I dress like a goddess. And it makes me feel good. I wear jewelry and skirts and I wear my hair like hers, sort of. And I feel it. I FEEL the Goddess working within me. I feel my connection now to The Feminine. I feel I am embodying it daily. I am the Goddess now.  I still have a lot to learn. But I am her. 
I am the woman that shines the sun, the Goddess incarnate.