Laurelei's daughter just celebrated her tenth birthday. Milestones like that are cause for reflection in everyone's lives, and it made me think about when I was ten years old. Specifically, it called to mind my first ever forays into Paganism.
When I was in fourth grade I was crazy about mythology. The library at school had gorgeous hardback copies of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths and D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths. I checked them out in rotation each week. I attempted to memorize every page. Every story, every illustration, every family tree. My first thoughts on comparative religion came from wondering why the punishments of Prometheus and Loki seemed so similar.
I was dazzled by the remarkable illustrations. There was Echindna nursing the young monsters of Greek mythology, Loki transforming into countless animals, Aphrodite rising radiant from the sea. Slepnirr galloping eight-legged across the sky. Sif's golden hair, and Gaia smiling up at Uranos. I recall that I was especially fond of Hermes, that youthful God of cleverness.
I wanted desperately to be favored by the Gods as were heroines like Medea, or Ariadne. I was enamored with the Pythia of Delphi, sitting on her tripod and murmuring the future. She was Apollo's chosen voice on earth! My very first prayer, sincere in a way that only a ten-year-old girl's can be, was to Apollo. I was on the bus going to school and was watching the sun rise. I knew that I wasn't supposed to look at the sun, that I would go blind. So I prayed to the Lord of Light to take my sight and give me second sight. At ten years old I prayed to become an oracle of Apollo.
Did the prayer work? Well, I did end up needing glasses, which, combined with my odd bookish nature, made Junior High a singularly awful experience. When I was sixteen I was gifted with my first set of Tarot cards, and over the years I've become surprisingly proficient with them. Does this make me an oracle? Hardly!
So did the God hear my prayers? I am certain of it. Inspired by Medea, and a series of events that I will relate at another time, I became a Witch. Honest to goodness. I have papers of pedigree and everything. And then, only last year, the most remarkable thing happened. The Greek Gods came back into my life. In my life as a Pagan up until that point I had been neglecting them. I thought them to pedestrian for my notice. They were the Gods of my childhood, Gods that people learned about in school. I wanted exotic Deities whose names resonated with darkness, night, and deep magic.
And then Athena showed up. I was immersed in totemic owl work, and serpentine magics, and Goddess spirituality. And there she was, owl-eyed and Amazonian, and gorgon-bearing, and glorious. With her came the others. Dionysus, compelling me to run wild through the forest, wine-soaked and half-mad at festival. Hera, demanding a Goddess retreat in her name. Aphrodite, spinning my love life into new unexplored dimensions. Demeter, teaching me how to be a mother, when I had expressly denied such a place in myself existed. Soon I couldn't deny it, I had become a Hellenic Polytheist.
I purchased a copy of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths at the used bookstore that seemed to have been waiting for me. I share it with Laurelei's children, the oldest of which just turned ten. I marvel at the circle.