Tuesday, July 6, 2010
My Journey to Athena
Three years ago I began to open myself to the wisdom of the Greek pantheon. I had made a pilgrimage (hopefully the first of many) to the Nashville Parthenon, where I was struck with wonder at the awesome power of Athena for the first time.
I've worked with Owl as a primary totem since I was a dabbling teenager, my magical working name has always been Latin for the little owl, but I was not yet ready to accept that Athena had a place of prominence in my life. I had worked with the Goddess Lilith for many years with mixed results, and I resisted the Greek Gods as the stuff of my childhood. I had worshiped them when I was barely ten years old. They were my first forays into Paganism. Their myths were taught in public school. I sniffed at their commonness in my life. I was too blinded my the allure of the exotic to understand that what I mistook for commonness was nearness and affinity.
When Laurelei came into my life a year later she brought an enthusiasm for Aphrodite that was alluring. She also brought up some rather nasty conflicts whenever I channeled Lilith. My relationship with Lilith had been wearing thin for some time. She is wise, powerful, beautiful... but also jealous, cruel, and rapacious. Although I knew that ours was a poor relationship it was one I had cultivated over many years, and my own personal mystical symbolism had become intertwined with Lilith's. Owls, snakes, the Burney Relief, the apple, the Tree of Life, the cloak of protection offered by Her dark wings... these were ingrained in the very fabric of my spirit.
It seems now as if I had all of the pieces that should have led me naturally to Athena, yet still I resisted. I began to have visions of Hera, both waking and in dreams. She asked, no, she demanded that I found a women's retreat. I began work on that project, and it changed my life.
Then one night I had the dream. She was huge. Massive. As grand in scale as She was in Nashville. And yet, I could look Her in the eyes. She wore a garnet red peplos and carried a bronze spear that seemed to also serve as a spindle. Her hair was long, dark, and tightly kinked, like that of an African beauty. Her skin was rich bronze. She had a narrow full lipped mouth set above a strong round chin, a very noble high set nose that jutted forcefully from Her forehead. Her cheekbones were high and Her face was a gentle oval set upon a long regal neck. But what I will never forget, what is a blessing that will stay with me all of my life, was Her eyes.
They were deep set and very wide. Unblinking, steady, and shifting in color. One moment they were liquid sliver, like mercury, the next they were stormy, full of dark clouds and flashing lightning. Then Her eyes were the dark milky midnight blue of a barred owl's, and then the sea green of a deep pool or a "blue hole". When I think of them now my heart sings "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", so brilliant do they sparkle, so much like the heavens they shine. They were all eyes I had ever admired. The eyes of the National Geographic Afghan Girl, the eyes of a boy I knew in high school, the eyes of my mother and my father, the stylized eyes of the Buddha, eyes of timelessness, eyes gray with the silvery gray wisdom of the sphere of Chokmah. Athena Glaukopis, I would later learn was Her proper name.
She said nothing. She didn't need to. In my heart I felt that She had always been with me, that it was Her mark that had left strange symbols in my soul... owls, snakes, the Burney Relief, the golden apple, the olive tree, the cloak of protection offered by Her aegis, the burning, blinding quest for knowledge that defines me. Athena abides and perceives. I am honored to serve Her.