Project Conversion

Project Conversion


A Bone to Pick with the Goddess

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When I was 14 I wanted a pair of pants so badly, I would do anything for them. I begged my mom fro them day and night. She didn’t particularly like how baggy they were or that they were associated with punks and miscreants, but she figured it was just a phase. So she gave in.

Remember JNCO jeans? Yeah, the ones you had to trip over to be cool...

But soon, as I limped around tugging at the waistline and dragging my feet and the hems of my new jeans across the pavement, my attitude changed. I turned into something I wasn’t. Mom and I argued a lot and she was heart-broken over what I had become. Mom’s love us so much, they’re willing to do crazy things to protect us.

One day I got off the school bus and noticed a small fire in the front yard. I asked my mom what she was burning. She told me she loved me and walked inside the house. I looked down into the dying flames and noticed a button from a pair of jeans…JNCO jeans. We never argued over clothes again.

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” –Zara, from the play The Mourning Bride

We might say the same thing about the Goddess.

Last night was a full moon, the time each month when the energy flows at high strength, and the veil between worlds is the thinnest. Some follow the “Charge of the Goddess,” a literary work found in the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. Within, we find the Goddess speaking directly, in which she says:

Whenever ye have need of anything,
once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full,
then shall ye assemble in some secret place
and adore the spirit of me,
who am Queen of all the witches.”
–Doreen Valiente version

There are a few ways to practice on a full moon. Some set aside this time to commune with and meditate on the Goddess. Others, “Draw Down the Moon,” a ceremony which involves allowing the Goddess to come into one’s body. Because I am new at this, my Mentor advised simple meditation, but that was before I had a bone to pick with the Goddess herself.

Flashback.

Exactly one month ago today, I wrote a post called the Rebellion. One day I was at the River Temple meditating when I experienced something powerful and life-changing. Just when it became too much, I stopped and left the Temple. I knew that if I went back, things would never be the same, so I rebelled and promised not to return until at least the year was over.

Crossing the bridge to the River Temple

Since then, strange things have happened.

A few weeks ago, feeling particularly drained, I went for a jog…and kept going. I eventually felt drawn to an abandoned warehouse in the middle of the city. The place was run-down and disgusting, but I couldn’t resist and went inside. There, I found a place of meditation (more details in this post). There, I felt a quiet voice say, “You think I’m confined to a spot on the river?”

From that point until now, that spot became the Warehouse Temple: My place away from the River Temple. I thought I was given a free pass. But yesterday, on the full moon, everything changed.

Some things are going on with my family, things that could change how Project Conversion operates from now on, and I needed time to think. So I packed my bag and walked toward the Warehouse Temple to meditate. Instead, I found this:

A construction crew tearing down the Warehouse Temple

 This warehouse has stood for almost 30 years, and now they are tearing it down. My knees became weak and I almost collapsed. It’s the first time since Project Conversion began where something associated with the journey was physically destroyed. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Everything was falling apart around me.

Someone was responsible. Someone needed to answer for this sacrilege. I remembered that it was soon the night of the full moon, so I looked up at the cloud-veiled sun disk in the sky and muttered, “I have a score to settle with your wife.”

The celebration of the full moon is often referred to a specific type of Esbat where members of a coven (a community of Wiccans or Witches) gather for a joyful time of healing, spell-work, or other ritual. But I had nothing to celebrate. In fact, in my blind hatred, I considered ignoring the occasions all together. The sky was shrouded by thick clouds, as if the Goddess was hiding Her bright face from me. I made a promise though, to do whatever I had to for Project Conversion.

My set-up was simple. The kids had discovered a small concrete slab buried in the front yard between two Bradford Pear trees, so I set up my full moon altar there. Four tea light candles, three small bowls of water (to represent the waxing, full, and waning moon), incense, salt (for ground purification), and a glass “queen” from a chess set to represent the Goddess.

Full moon altar

There are specific rituals (such as “Drawing Down the Moon”) and incantations one can say during this time, but for some reason, none of that felt right. I was angry, frustrated, and I had a bone to pick with the Goddess in the vernacular. With the candles flickering, I was honest with Her. I asked why these things were happening. What had I done wrong? Did the Warehouse Temple have to fall? Was She forcing me to face Her at the river? I asked Her to talk to me, explain these things, to hell with fancy language and specific moves!

Smoke from the incense drifted toward my face and washed over me. Out of breath, I stopped talking and started listening–waiting. I sat forever. Then, a mosquito buzzed in my ear. I slapped the side of my face to kill the mosquito and looked up over my shoulder. A break in the dark, night clouds…and the moon, in all Her glory, shone through.

"I'm here..."

 That’s what I felt as I stared up at the moon. “I’m here.” With that, a warm calm came over me. She didn’t want to fight with me. I swung my fists and she just took it, waiting for me to tire down enough to collapse into Her embrace.

I finally took my meditation inside once the mosquitoes got too bad and just sat in the dark. The warmth continued. Peace…such peace, soothed my anger. I remembered that the Lady is change and the Warehouse Temple’s fall is only a part of that transformation.

Arise, and come unto me.
For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe.
From me all things proceed,
and unto me all things must return;”
–Charge of the Goddess

First, in Her motherly rage, she destroyed my temple. Next, she swaddled me in Her patient love. It was a sleepless night. I felt charged as if I had just consumed three cups of tea, but in the darkness, I felt peace at last…peace at last.

 



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abowen

posted October 14, 2011 at 1:35 am


Cindy,

You know, I was thinking about it the other day. The River Temple and the warehouse actually served two different purposes. The river seems more akin to an “otherness” regarding the whispers I’ve heard there. The warehouse on the other hand was almost like an extension of my spiritual ego. I made that place what it was, unlike the river which is in its state regardless if I’m there or not. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it seemed entirely appropriate for the warehouse to fall, but not for me to whine about it : )



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abowen

posted October 14, 2011 at 1:31 am


Joy R,

We all have those moments, don’t we? One day we’ll realize that throwing tantrums never solve anything.



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abowen

posted October 14, 2011 at 1:29 am


aka Cookie,

Nailed it!



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abowen

posted October 14, 2011 at 1:27 am


Sam,

Rumi always seems to have just the right words, eh? Thank you for the well-wishes! Hopefully we will all get through this a little wiser and not as crazy : )



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Sam Karvonen

posted October 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm


Andrew,

I am going to echo the wise sentiments of Theresa and Cindy here. The simple moral of the story: God is the Unconstrained, the Unconfined. We should not attach Him to any transient thing, place or object. As it says in one of my favorite prayers: “He is the most Manifest of the manifest, and the most Hidden of the hidden.” He is everywhere, yet His true nature is inscrutable to us all.

Like the great Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) wrote in his powerful poem “God” (“Allah”):

***

I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He was not there; I went to the Temple of the Hindus and to the old pagodas, but I could not find a trace of Him anywhere.

I searched on the mountains and in the valleys but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I able to find Him. I went to the Ka’bah in Mecca, but He was not there either.

I questioned the scholars and philosophers but He was beyond their understanding.

I then looked into my heart and it was there where He dwelled that I saw Him; He was nowhere else to be found.

***

Wishing you strength and perseverance to carry through your most valuable project. And also a trifle extra wisdom and leniency with your family (the only supporters of your project that truly matter). :)

You’re rendering a great service to many of us… As long as you don’t drive yourself or your dear family bonkers! :P

Sam



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aka Cookie

posted October 13, 2011 at 7:22 am


Yes, anger is like a tough piece of meat. We chew on it till there is no juice left and then we spit it out…Aloha



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Cindy

posted October 13, 2011 at 4:25 am


“You think I’m confined to a spot on the river?” You heard that message loud and clear and then you went headlong into confining the goddess/divine/WhateverYouWantToCallIt at the warehouse! A place like the river or the warehouse or a fancy church or temple feels more connected or spiritual because it’s something tangible for us to focus on. Our minds can’t quite comprehend the mysteries of the divine and it helps us to have something more concrete. That’s why we often look to the sky in prayer even though we know the divine is ever present and everywhere. That’s not to say that it’s wrong to be angry at the destruction of that physical place, but remember that it will rise again in another form – perhaps different for each one of us.

Sounds like one of the lessons to be learned here (for all of us!) is that the divine can’t be confined and will work in ways and methods that we may not understand at the time. In time, your experience at the river will be made clear to you. Sending prayers your way in the midst of all your struggles!



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Joy R

posted October 13, 2011 at 2:43 am


Thank you, Andrew. I too have recently wanted to “shake my fist at the sky” as it were wanting to know why things precious to me were taken away.
But this post spoke volumes to me (and some of your commentators as well – thank you).
So yes, your journey means something to others as well as you. I, for one, appreciate your sharing.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm


Theresa,

Exactly. There is something with the River Temple though. I suppose I’ll find out when I go back.



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Theresa Emily Ann

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm


You also realize there isn’t just One place you need to go to to find God/ the Goddess… in a way they’re connected to Everything… I don’t know if you need the river spot, and you were shown that you don’t need the warehouse… is there anyplace that you can go that you Wouldn’t be able to connect from?



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:09 pm


Robert,

You said it. Anger, frustration, confusion…these things can blind our reason and the truths we work so hard for, can’t they? We confer eternal wisdom upon the divine and therefore demand answers for all of life’s questions. I blamed the Goddess because she represents change itself, but it was an error. Her reply of “I’m here” was so pregnant with meaning and implication that it will keep me busy for a while. “I’m here” meaning she is not just at the Temple that I set up, but she was there with me under the moon, or wherever. She is saying that she is the destruction and creation of things, so why should I be upset? “I’m here” regardless of the situation. I am but a speck of life, and She is everywhere and in everything. Few words that indeed went a long way toward my education.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:04 pm


B,

You nailed it pal. I think the last time I really dealt with this heavy dose of change was, ironically, during my month with Buddhism when the divine wasn’t an issue. The fact that the Goddess in this context is constant change is similar to the Nataraj form of Lord Shiva, and why I think I’m connecting to Her fairly well now.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm


Evan,

Thanks for reading along! I try my best. How was Ramadan for you?



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm


Niki,

Sorry about the weather, sis. Perhaps it will break through soon…



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm


Art,

I knew I’d hear from you on this one, pal, and always something wise and true.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm


Rita,

Thank you so much. Blessed be!



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Robert

posted October 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm


What a fascinating read about this part of your journey.

I’m afraid that, for me, your view of the Goddess reminded me totally of my experiences of God during my Christian upbringing.

The Goddess is not the manager of Macey’s in the sky, giving things out when you want them or discontinuing products to annoy you. If you want to blame someone for the disappearance of the Temple, you’d best be talking to the digger driver, the construction company or, better yet, the multi-millionaire that is probably at the heart of the redevelopment of the plot into something that will make them even richer. To my mind, the Goddess had nothing to do with it at all, though I bet she nodded her head knowingly and maybe even a little bit sadly, that you should have blamed her for the free will of some faceless human redeveloper.

I’m so glad that the Goddess spoke to you. “I’m here” is a perfect way of introducing herself and it reflects my relationship with her too. I know that whatever the world throws at me, the Goddess and God will be there around me and in me consoling me, rejoicing with me and giving me strength to continue on my journey. I don’t call on them to fill my wishlist and I don’t go knocking on their (metaphorical) door complaining that this or that has happened as if it were their fault. Stuff happens. And when stuff happens, it is the Lord and Lady that are there beside me as I decide how I deal with the situation.



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Editor B

posted October 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm


One of the most fascinating aspects of this conception of deity is the association with change and flux. Very different than the constancy (I almost said stolidity) extolled by certain other traditions. Was the theme of ever-changing divinity present in any of the other months? I assume it’s in the mystical strains of most faiths, at least, but you generally haven’t explored those I don’t think.



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Evan

posted October 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm


Thank you for continuing with this project. I stumbled across it when I was giving Ramadan a go myself, and am so thankful I did. I’m sorry about the difficulties you’re experiencing, so please know that the project is meaningful.



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Niki Whiting

posted October 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm


So beautiful. I can’t see the moon here, too grey, too misty, too wet this month.



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Art Sherwood

posted October 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm


It’s important to remember that God is Love. Yes, even the wrath of God is still Love. There is nothing that God will do to us or let happen to us that is not in our ultimate best interest. Every experience He (or She) puts us through is for us to learn and grow and become who we are supposed to be.

It’s the things we do to ourselves that damage us. We are often our worst enemy. Thank goodness we have a loving parent watching over us and stepping in frequently to give us that much needed wake-up call before we do ourselves more harm.

So, when the trials come, when the jeans get burned, don’t get angry and ask “why?”. Just relax, sit ack and remember that it truly is for our own good. Then let the peace in.



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Rita

posted October 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm


Beautiful, sad, sweet, difficult, love is all around you.
I hope the changes you mention will be the best thing for you and yours… the rest of us will accept whatever there is for us and be blessed.



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