As I ruminate on the subject, I realize that my first contact with the divine came well before the events that make better stories. I can’t actually find the event in my journals, so I am uncertain as to the exact date. I know it was the Spring Semester of 2008 or 2009. It was a beautiful day: the sun was shining, the grass was green, and I was meditating on the lawn at Maple Woods Community College – trying to balance myself between Earth and Sky. I felt something move beneath me: female, more spiritually massive than anything I had ever encountered before, and waiting for me. I didn’t fall over, but it was a near thing.
All my life, I have sworn that I would honor any divinity that deigned to seek me out, and I will confess that I was somewhat concerned as to how I might be held to that oath. I felt that presence several times – always patient, always waiting, inscrutable and distant beyond my ability to comprehend or express – before the definitive encounter in November of 2009.
That encounter came at a workshop Aradia and I attended at the local New Age bookstore. A lecture on Qabalistic thought and the 10 Sephiroth concluded with a guided meditation to the Sphere of Malkuth. Oddly, this involved first ascending to Yesod before descending back to Malkuth. Perhaps this is simply the best way to do things – either in general, or in the case of an open workshop where many are unfamiliar with the Qabala. Moreover, it has been suggested to me by a Chirotus that there is a second Tree of Life, inverted below the first, and that I somehow descended to that lower Malkuth. I wouldn’t know: my ignorance of High Ceremonial Magic is vast.
Ultimately, the mechanics of the experience are a little bit beside the point. I descended to the underworld, where I was led to a sacred grove and a pillar of light. I rode the pillar of light up, then down. And down. And down. And someone was waiting for me.
A gigantic queen reclined before me, gloriously nude except for her crown, flanked by lions. I had done some research in the preceding year, regarding goddesses of the deeper earth: I knew the iconography. Even had I not, her name echoed in my mind. Rhea.
I do not know how to describe our exchange, precisely. My notes record that I petitioned for her patronage*, but it would be as accurate to say that she claimed me for her own. Either way, a bond was forged – my first formal bond, though I had served Dionysos and Hephaestos in word and deed for years. Then she sent me on my way, long before the others were done with their journeys.
Since then, she has made frequent appearances in my explorations of the Underworld. When I journeyed in preparation for my initiation, it was to her temples that I was led. Later, she instructed me to inform an Earth-worshiping friend – a monist, actually, who has expressed discomfort distinguishing individual deities – that she was waiting and that it is to be my task to introduce them.
Despite all this, I have not yet succeeded in incorporating her into my ritual practice. I need to find or make an idol, sooner rather than later. Fortunately, the Magna Mater is patient beyond mortal comprehension.
*”Matron” might be more literally correct, but that word means something else in English.