At this very moment, my altar is pieced together and looking quite well. My statuette of Cernunnos presides proudly at it's center, deer antlers on either side and a number of other affiliated knick-knacks completing my sacred space in a woodsy bohemian feel with middle eastern accents that feels wholly my own. My significant other having heard I needed more space, moved the bedroom furniture to give me what I needed, carefully rearranging things to take up the new space in such a supportive way I felt my eyes water as soon as I saw how he'd spent his Sunday while I was at work. All of that, all of this, has come so easily to me it feels like I've done this before. Like I've walked this path before. I've instinctively placed pagan items in my decorating, not realizing what I was doing until now.
But what I find myself struggling with, seems to be the portion that most women are able to do far better than I ever have. Communicate with their femininity, and through this, the Goddess herself. It isn't that I'm not feminine. I wear make up, jewelry, skinny jeans and cute blouses. I follow the fashions, I sing, I love with my heart on my sleeve, I mother my children. All of these things are stereotypical female things to do. And yet, I find myself struggling to envision a maternal source of divinity. I know where it comes from. I know this is going to be painful...and I thought I could avoid it. But it seems the Goddesses have other plans for me.
I should backstep here, explain my origins so that my difficulty makes sense. I will be vague, giving the details feels a little too vulnerable- and there are a lot. Too many to make up a believable story, but then, that is the oddity that is my life. I grew up in an abusive home with two female caregivers, both of which were severely mentally ill, only one of whom actually sought diagnosis and treatment. I was neglected on a criminal level, me and all six of my siblings. Abused also. Thus my connection to a maternal source is fraught with difficulty. So much so that when I adopted my own children, it took months to form a maternal bond, and I'm not certain it went deep enough. I love my children, I have sacrificed so much, and would sacrifice anything else in order to make their lives better, but the warmth I know is lacking. I don't naturally have the affection, patience and unconditional pride in my children that I imagine most mothers have. I'm proud of my children's accomplishments, I help them with their homework and encourage them(sometimes light a fire under their little behinds) to succeed. But again, the warmth in my heart is lacking.
I came to look on my own mother as a disappointment in many ways. I was told from a young age because of my wanderlust(constantly exploring the desert and bringing home cool rocks and small animals), my general obnoxious sense of humor, my eagerness to wrestle and my odd way of peacemaking by trying to teach others common sense(doesn't work by the way) that she did not know how to love me. If I ever tried to appeal to her about my unhappiness that she never wanted to hear about my day or talk to me the way she chatted with my sister, I got the feeling I had just broken her heart. So I learned not to seek her attention, or the attentions of any mother figure. I learned to dislike women as a whole, seeing them as petty and vindictive creatures like my mother and sisters and avoided every older female I could. I had a few female friends during my school years, and we stuck to each other like glue. They are still my friends today, but in my mind women were untrustworthy and so those friends were the exception, not the rule.
Of course as an adult I realize that isn't the case. Some women are indeed petty and vindictive, most are not. Some older women are impossible to please and will never love me. Some older women love everyone unconditionally until given reason not to. But those early experiences certainly shaped my ability to befriend, believe in, and love a source of maternal love. So until a day ago, any depiction of a Goddess felt foreign, frightening and cold to me. Impossible to imagine and impossible to pray to. Then I listened to a book on tape describing Brigid, her love for all mankind and how she went about expressing that love. I felt a surge of admiration and respect, and it was as if a wall I hadn't realized I'd constructed was taken down. I feel warmth, fascination and excitement and love for the feminine side of myself, and for my exploration of what it means to believe in the idea of feminine divinity. It feels right.
This journey has been such a peaceful one. I have found parts of myself so quickly that I didn't know I had. I have come to love myself and build a joy in me that I have never felt. Religion has been such a painful presence in my life. All my life I have been trying so hard to be 'enough'. Good enough, righteous enough, smart enough, pretty enough, fast enough, strong enough. All of this enough, so that I can feel like I belong somewhere, anywhere- just somewhere. And as I start down my path as a Pagan...I feel like I belong. I feel like I am 'enough' just as I am, for the first time in my life. I feel like I am home, and I don't have to do a damn thing other than being myself. I'm a big believer in serendipity. Sometimes things are an endless struggle because you are fighting against your true nature. Sometimes letting go of what you desperately wanted for yourself can lead you to the exact path that will bring you peace. I had no idea this would ever be my path, but I'm so glad I found it.