This is the outline of a talk I gave to the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (DVAU). It was very odd discussing polytheism with a room full of atheists!
Copyright c 1988
R. Glenn Booker
All rights reserved
The following is an attempt to describe a special encounter with the Great Lady that I experienced on October 30, 1986. I realize that much of what I experienced cannot be described adequately in words, but I hope the images I saw and felt may be helpful to others; either by way of recognizing similar events you have seen, or to inspire you to seek Her out.
I had started studying with a San Diego-based pseudo-Gardnerian coven six weeks before this event. My studies had already included learning a technique to open one’s aura (which I am afraid I can’t share – you know Gardnerians…), and the daily use of morning and evening “prayers,” dedicated to the Lord and Lady, respectively, to help build a close relationship with them. I also had used the evening prayer time occasionally to work on memorizing some of the blessings used for the Full Moon and Great Rite rituals.
I was living in a run-down 28-year-old, 40-foot-long travel trailer, which I had recently moved with a great deal of tribulation, since the pickup I was using could barely move such a beast. I was an aerospace engineer in the Mojave Desert, single, and age 23. My religious upbringing was generic Protestant (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, whatever’s handy). Before this event, I was intrigued by, but still unsure of, the existence of a Goddess.
The day of October 30 was a good one for me. I had accomplished a lot of little tasks that I had been meaning to get out of the way; tidying up my home, getting letters written, and so on. And just for the record, I was under the influence of no drugs stronger than caffeine. Though it was slightly after midnight before I started getting ready for bed, I felt good and my mind was free from immediate concern. I sat nude on my bed, facing West, my left leg folded under the right. I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts and center myself. I opened my aura slowly, making sure I felt each part of me respond to the ritual before moving on. Then I started the evening prayer, which goes like this:
Glory be to Thee, Goddess of Light
Let Thy Light shine forth
To Illuminate my Darkness
(already I started to feel a wave of presence flow down my body. I knew something unusual was happening, and recognized the wave as being similar to that I had felt second-hand when someone nearby was doing an Invocation. I decided to flow with it and keep going uninterrupted.)
Grant unto me the Aid of my Higher Self,
That I may Realize the Throne of Thy glory
The Center of the Universe
Of Light, and Life
I paused, noting that my breathing had slowed to a deep, methodical pace. My heart pounded in a slow rhythm, reverently staying out of the way of what was going on so my attention could be elsewhere. I was clearly in a light trance.
I was drawn, almost forced, by the Presence into reciting the Great Rite blessing for the wine. With a shift of emphasis on “this cup,” the relevance of the blessing becomes obvious. It goes like this:
Isis, Isis, Holiest of the Holy
Perpetual Comfort of Mankind
Isis Athene, Isis Hathor, Isis Nut
Isis Sothis, Isis Sati
Natural Mother of all things
Mistress of all the Elements
Great Lady, God Mother
Accept this Self I offer thee
Fill this Cup with thy manifested Love !
My trance state had intensified all through the wine blessing; I breathed partially through my mouth to keep enough oxygen supply coming in. I felt my degree of concentration increasing to levels I had never experienced before. My body seemed rigid because any voluntary movement would have required far more energy than I could spare. I was briefly terrified to realize that I had completely lost control of the situation, and utterly vulnerable to Someone I never (?) met before. I was focused on the Presence, waiting to see what She would do. (I deduced it must be Her, in light of the blessing prayer as well as the tone of the whole evening.)
I looked upward a little bit and saw an intense white light flooding around me. As I got accustomed to its strength, I first realized that the amount of energy I was being mentally exposed to was just as much as I could handle. Any more would have been painful or simply overwhelming. I saw eventually that the light seemed to come from a point source, not very far away. Then the purpose of this demonstration hit me: what better way to demonstrate extraordinary power than to show someone exactly as much as they can comprehend, then point out that it only required a tiny fraction of what you can do!
I pondered this a few seconds, then the demonstration continued.
My eyes wandered around the room, with me still in the trance state as before. I focused on a small section of wall, which I knew to consist of a thin layer of plywood covered by many old layers of wallpaper. My eyes (point of view) started to dispassionately look through the wallpaper to the plywood, which I pictured to be full of decade-old dust. Not a pretty sight by most standards. Then it was as if a nonverbal voice was starting to argue with me; she was insisting that the wall was a delightful and dear object. I looked through her eyes and saw the same wall but felt child-like joy at the pretty patterns in the wood grain. She was proud of the wall for the humble task it had done so well. I returned to my engineer self and argued that it was just a musty piece of of plywood, with certain mechanical properties and so on. She returned and repeated her points, looking on the wall with pride and affection. I felt silly trying to argue with her, since much of her argument came from her heart; mine came from Mechanics of Composite Materials. I soon concluded that it was pointless to continue, but thanked her for her perspective.
After a brief rest, my point of view shifted to as if I were sitting in the living room, facing West and a little South, out of the trailer. Outside it looked like daytime, and I looked around the trailer park. A small bird (a sparrow, perhaps) flew by slowly, almost in slow motion. I suddenly felt boundaries between things start dissolving; that is to say, everything still had its own distinct physical boundaries but they seemed to become less important, more receptive to interaction between them. My heartbeat became more intense, and the air around me seemed to become more in tune with my pulse; I could feel the air respond to my heart. And the walls of the trailer started beating in tune with my heart, too. The flapping of the bird’s wings left ripples that flowed through the air, through the walls, to my heart. And my pulsing heart responded with its own rhythm being transmitted through the air and wall to the bird, a tiny movement of the bird could be seen with each beat of my heart. A young tree, not too far away, seemed now to have its own very slow but brave beat; and its beat added to the chorus. The air, the walls, the bird, the tree, and me formed a continuous symphony as we all communicated to each other though the patterns of our respective lives. Then I realized that we really are All One, even if we don’t recognize it all the time. This interaction goes on all the time, and this was the first time I could experience it in a meaningful way.
And within this symphony I saw through Her eyes. I felt Her quietly savoring the interaction before Her. She looked in turn at the cast of this play with genuine Love and affection. I felt Her own rhythm quietly supporting each of them, without bias or preference. I felt Her Love expressed as tension, for She saw each going its own way, choosing its own path; She did not want harm to come to any of them, yet realized the importance of allowing each its own path. The Love She felt had to be tempered by allowing free will, and this produced the tension. A knot formed in my stomach as I felt the interplay between these forces. I realized that the intensity of the experience was because each of us in the cast of the play is Her child. She and the One are the same. All fear of death melted away as I realized that I am always in the arms of the Mother.
I “returned” to my body again for a brief respite. Soon I noticed the temp-erature in the room seemed to rise a fair bit (10 or 20 degrees). The air around me started to become thicker and almost sticky in consistency, like I was trying to breath a fluid. Surprisingly, I felt no panic at all, as though this were normal. The warm air started to press against my body evenly and lightly from all sides. I looked down a my left arm, half expecting to be covered in warm goo. There was none. I felt a new pulsing sensation in the background, slower than my pulse, deep and very comforting. My mind raced, trying to put together the pieces of this experience, when my head lowered and it finally hit me. I was in a womb !!! Soon, sadly, the sensations left me.
This seemed to be becoming a tour of the Goddess! I wondered briefly if what I was experiencing was related to an Aspect. (An Aspect in the sense I am using it is the ritual invocation of a Deity, generally for oracular purposes in the case of a Full Moon ritual.) Accordingly, I tried to move my lips to see if She had anything to say verbally. I could barely nudge any movement at all, not to mention speak. I dismissed this as a futile effort, especially since there was noone around to hear me if I spoke, anyway.
I thought over my 15-year involvement with Christianity, and felt profusely apologetic for not acknowledging Her before! I kept waiting for Her to chastize me or curse at me for ignoring Her for so long. She never did. As far as I could tell, She was just extremely glad that I had called Her again, and was having a great time giving me this “tour.” Her main message seemed to be “Welcome Back!”
I wondered briefly why She was doing this for me. I soon realized that She was just answering my prayer ! (Be careful what you ask for…)
My perspective shifted to as if I were suspended in the middle of the air, several feet off the ground and a hundred feet or so from the trailer, looking at it. Soon my trailer and pickup (parked in front of the trailer) and a huge hemisphere of earth under both of them – at least 50 feet across – seemed to be marked off with a thin line of white light. Then the hemisphere of earth and my home underwent a subtle change. It seemed that they were lifted up a tiny bit to mark them off, and then were left teetering on the head of a pin. A shiver went very slowly down my back as I realized that they were on the brink of being spun around like a top. Or of being tossed in the air. Or of being flipped over like a pancake. Or disappearing entirely. I saw everything I had worked for and taken to be so hard to handle being treated like it could be a toy. At first I was rather surprized by this attitude in light of the previous experience. Then I realized that this was to show a shift in perspective. The message was that there is immense power available to transform things – even things that we may consider insurmountable by our modest standards. Anything is possible.
I returned to my body again. My body started feeling stuffed in the sense of another being taking up part of every cell of my being. It was as if someone slowy “beamed” into the same space as my body. My arms felt full and heavy as this sensation finished filling me up. Oddly enough, when the process was complete, I started feeling very light. As though I were made of air. I looked around me in the bedroom, and felt the boundaries between me and the air become less important again. I thought about this in contrast to my schooling in engineering, which broke things down into distinct catagories so it can be analyzed properly. This beam is loaded elastically. This air flow is inviscid, subsonic, and 2-dimensional. This computer is digital – absence or presence of a signal is all that matters to it. Again I felt the Oneness from before; me and the air and the trailer and the earth are one, breathing together.
And with that thought, She slowly left.
I realized that She had gone. My mind was still racing to try making sense of what had happened and to remember it all. I slowly laid back on the bed. I summoned the strength to lift my head and look at the clock on my nightstand. The entire experience had taken twelve minutes.
2/16/12 – Power Animal Dance at PSG
It was the late 80’s, at a Pagan gathering in Wisconsin in June. Three hundred leftover hippies, Dead Heads, and rebellious or curious young adults, in a gently rolling campground normally occupied by other extreme radicals such as … Boy Scout troops. Pagans learn from any tradition too slow to run away fast enough, and we were blessed with some genuine Native American souls at this particular gathering. They organized a power animal dance for one evening. The idea is to let your power animal (or kindred spirit) take over your body for a little while, to learn from each other and exchange perspectives.
That night was a little cold, with more than hints of rain possible. I really wanted to participate in the dance, but the weather was icky and I didn’t want to be very active physically. So I got a bright idea! I decided my power animal for the evening … was a tree. Ok, I have to admit I had never heard of a plant being a power animal before, but everything’s part of nature, therefore is part of the divine, so why not? I had a brown poncho, so that would double as rain protection and vaguely look like a tree trunk. This could work!
So I put on the poncho and started walking to the ritual space. But being a tree, I walked slower than I Ever. Have. Before. Each step became a new investigation of my feet, slowly shifting my weight from one part of each foot to the next until it could take my full weight. This took forever, so naturally I was one of the last people to get in line for the dance. As I approached the ritual space, the ground shook gently, rhythmically from powerful drumming, and for quite a while I couldn’t tell what was up ahead. When I got close enough, I saw that people were being squeezed one at a time between two of the drummers. Birth. A human birth canal had been created, between the driving heartbeat of the drums. And so I was delivered into the sacred space.
I walked slowly to one side of the space, and planted myself (ahem) with a good view. Around me people were jumping and growling and leaping and interacting with each other in their animal forms. But as a tree, I couldn’t make a sound. Or move. Some approached me, sniffed about, then went on their way. I was surprised to realize that, as a tree, I had become supremely vulnerable. No defenses, no running away. Exposed to anything that could walk up to me and do anything they wished. And as interesting as my neighbors were, there were none of my kind present in the dance. A twinge of loneliness pulsed through me.
I observed the dance for a while longer, and then heard a strange and unfamiliar sound from the middle of the space. It repeated, or maybe continued, and only then I realized it was English. I had drifted into the dance so far I couldn’t understand language for a while. And as our common bond of language was reinstated, I realized and felt a connection to all the critters dancing around me. We. Are. One. The enormousness of that utterly simple statement came crashing in around me. I slowly eased myself to the ground, waves of sobbing, my body convulsing with the relief of no longer being alone.
After a while, a couple of people came to check on me. One asked, “Are you alright?” I nodded slowly and thought ‘Oh yes, like never before.’
2/29/12 – Marilyn
At first glance you’d be much more likely to assume Marilyn was someone’s Grandma, ready to bring a tray of chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven. Fairly tall, maybe 5’8″ or so, she had gentle round curves that make you think she’d give the warmest hugs you could imagine. In her arms, the boogie man couldn’t get near you. Only when close to her could you pick up her scent, a delicate blend of simply clean plus a hint of floral perfume. She clearly knew what worked for her, and didn’t have to be overbearing or obnoxious to make her point.
She was in her 50’s, with wispy thin white hair that she tried to corral into a perm, with limited results. Her voice matched her body – soft and calm and gentle. She spoke slowly, with the confidence and maturity of her years behind her.
She told me of her first event with the Church of All Worlds. Someone was hosting a hot tub party; not exactly a rare event in Northern California. Being new to the area, and this being the days before GPS, she got lost and was quite late.
Getting to the party, she found everyone was in the back yard in a large homemade hot tub. An oval tub with slightly rusted galvanized steel walls, it was probably designed for eight people, and currently held at least twelve happy naked souls already. Ever polite and gracious, Marilyn assumed out loud that there was no room for her large frame, but the partiers would have none of that. They insisted there was plenty of room for her – in the middle of the tub.
Quietly and modestly, she disrobed, and after a brief flurry of activity, she stepped between a couple of people and eased herself into the middle of the tub, half standing and half lying across several people’s legs and laps. The commotion settled down, and a pause of quiet emerged. With a hint of pleasant surprise and a gleam in her eye, she quietly stated “Well, someone’s foot has found the right spot, but at the moment I’m not sure if I’m straight or gay!”
2/19/12 – bumper stickers
My first vehicle was a beige full size pickup (1985 Chevy, to be more exact). I soon had a few bumper stickers on it, including “Ankh If You Love Isis” (because we need more Egyptian puns, and Isis is wonderful) and one for the California Association of Midwives, of which I was a supporter and student member.
Being on a full size pickup, I had to stop often for gas, and two of them were memorable because of those bumper stickers. Once I was minding my own business at the gas station, and a young lady approached me and said she was a photography student at nearby Cal State Northridge, and she wanted to take a picture of my bumper stickers. Naturally I consented. Then she walked up to me and asked what they meant! After giggling to myself, I patiently explained the pun (Honk if you love suchandsuch), and she wandered off.
The other time another young lady asked about the midwifery bumper sticker. She asked if my wife was a midwife. I said no, I wasn’t married. She asked if my ex-wife was a midwife. I said no. She paused, and asked if my sister was a midwife. I said no, and wondered how many iterations it would take before she found the right answer. As the poor thing stood there completely perplexed, I finally decided to be kind and told her *I* was a student midwife, the bumper sticker was mine. I heard her paradigm shift without a clutch, and she walked off more than somewhat confused.