Searching for a Goddess
By Kristina Campbell. Join Kristina and Louise Amuir, August 15–18, for Inner Wisdom: Goddess Training 101.
Once upon a time I had a daily walk across a curved beach on a small bay near where I lived. Exactly halfway across the beach was a high rock out-cropping that would completely block my passage across the beach when the tide was high. Many times, I would feel my disappointment when I came through the trees and could see the waves breaking on those rocks. And I would walk to the rocks, turn on my heels, returning safely the way I had come.
Occasionally I would clamber up the rocks looking for a safe passage over them, unable to find one. Perhaps only 12 feet up, they were high enough and steep enough that my sinking fear of heights and of falling would clench nauseously in my belly. If I persevered, ignoring the physical revolt of my shaking legs and clenching guts, eventually my internal voice would escalate in volume and pitch, listing off the catastrophic consequences of my continued pursuit of my goal. These rocks are steep and slippery. You will fall. You will break your neck. You will knock yourself unconscious. You will drown. You will die.
I would retreat.
One day, out of frustration with my chicken heartedness I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my Lulu Lemons and waded around the rocks through the thigh-high frigid ocean water. My sodden pride at having rebelled against these inconveniently located rocks seeped home with me. For many walks after that I would repeat this detour, less shocking in the balmy summer than in the jowls of January.
One spring evening I set off for my walk just at dusk. As I descended the steep stairs down to the beach, I could see that the tide was up. About halfway across the beach in front of me walked a woman. As we approached the rocks, I waited for her to double back towards me.
To my amazement when she reached the rocks she just walked up them, standing straight up and stepping confidently across them, disappearing down the other side.
Hummpf. She didn’t even hesitate.
As I approached the rocks I debated. Could I do the same? She made it look so easy, just stepping across them without even looking down the front face to where the waves crashed. Inspired by her I decided; tonight’s the night! I reassured myself with the fact that if I fell, I could scream and she would hear me and save me. Maybe.
Up I went.
The initial climb was okay, my hands were on the face, ensuring that my center of gravity was tilted into the rock, and my feet were comfortably finding toeholds. When I reached the top, where I had watched her so effortlessly step across, my churning guts got the best of me and I quickly sat down, my fear induced vertigo diminishing as I clutched the solidity of the rock beneath me. I peered over the edge at the cold dark water below. Once again I tried to stand up, my hands refusing to leave their stable comfort. Fear brought me to my knees again. The voices in my head were screaming a litany by this time. What the hell were you thinking? Are you a complete moron? You deserve to fall! You are so stupid!
I debated retreating.
Instead, seated on my bum, hands and feet in firm contact with stone, I crab scuttled sideways across the top of the rocks, my eyes unrelentingly focused on the sharp edge of the sheer drop down to the water. Once I had crested the top of the rock, I made my way back to my feet and scurried down the other side. As my feet reached the safety of the soft sand I took a deep breath and lifted my gaze as I shook off the quivering tremors of the residual adrenaline coursing through me.
My eyes scanned the beach for my improbable inspirator. There was no one there. The sinking light was not hiding her in the shadows, eerily alone I was.
I never did it again. There was a feeling of elation at having faced my fear, even for just that once. I didn’t do it gracefully and full of confidence. I probably looked ridiculous.
She was my Goddess in that moment. Inspiring me to try something that lay far outside of my comfort zone. Walking before me to show me how easily it could be done.
When I think about women that I admire, who have led the way for me, I think of the qualities they embody that give me permission to want something for myself. To know that it is possible. To give me the impetus to reach out, or to step forward even when every cell in my body is screaming “Retreat!” My intuition prompted me to climb those rocks in spite of my fear. Watching her inspired me to believe it was possible. I think of the parental enquiry “ …and if your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it too?” For me there can be such a fine line between recklessness and inspiration, foolhardiness and courage.
How do I recognize the conviction of my soul-footing?
How do I know when it is time to stay or to go? To hold on or to release? To stay silent or to scream? To take much or ask for little? The voices in my head have no answer for me, my thoughts a jumble of what ifs, recriminations, admonishments, and cautionary tales intended to frighten and contain. What if I fail? What if I get hurt? What if I die? What if I die of embarrassment? What if someone doesn’t like me? What if I don’t like me? The relentless cacophony is enough to keep me hiding in the safety of my bed. I don’t even need someone else to tell me what I can or cannot do.
Each decade of my adult life I have re-read Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. Each time I read that book it is as if it has been re-written in my absence. As I grow myself up, there is another layer of her wisdom available to me. Pinkola-Estes uses mythology and fairy tales to reveal the hidden messages of inspiration that are available within every woman to release their inner wisdom complete with good instincts, passionate creativity and ageless knowing. She is a Goddess.
Pinkola-Estes describes the power in ancient forests and ancient women, often dismissed by the fatal indifference and insatiable quest for more of the culture we exist in. Through her stories she leads the reader to the domains of the Goddess, neglected and shamed into hiding and yet ever present.
I find my own dwindling vitality renewed by her guided excavations to my soul, and in this place I am able to reconnect with my fierce discernment, resilient compassion and my mischievous ever-loving heart.
I wish I could remember to visit daily. She waits for me, holding her secrets for when I make time to visit, to listen and to play outside of the boundaries enshrined by civilized domestication. Singing, she leads me to the forest, the ocean, to the full moon risings and the contentment of a profound knowing of my place in this vast and beautiful world.
She is free, and when I am with her, I am too.
Join Louise Amuir and me, August 15-18, for Inner Wisdom: Goddess Training 101.
Our time together will be spent inspiring each other to trust the intuitive wisdom of our own Goddess. We will wait for you, holding space for you to visit and listen to the ancient strength within. With singing hearts we will join you in the forest, the ocean and the return to your place in this vast and beautiful world. Join us, rediscover your lusciousness, rekindle your sensuality and release your secret intuitive and creative energy.
Looking for your Goddess? Come find yours at the Haven, August 15-18.
Did you enjoy your read? Get bi-monthly updates straight to your inbox. That's right, just one email every two weeks with a collection of great new content, plus an invitation to contribute too!