I find it sort of amazing that I never explored any of the goddess religions until the spring of 1997. In fact, I'd not heard the word "pagan" until just a few months before then, and, like many people with strong Judeo-Christian roots, it conjured up all sorts of disturbing images. As even the word seemed to somehow border on the satanic, I was pretty sure that this was not a "road" on which I'd long linger.
But driven by curiosity (yes, yes, I know about the proverbial cat), I started reading anything I could get my hands on, in order to understand just what this belief system was all about. As we were with AOL at that point, I also started frequenting the pagan message boards found there, asking questions and seeking input from those who were quite committed to this spiritual path.
I'd always been drawn to certain crystals and gemstones--and just liked collecting rocks!--so I especially enjoyed emailing with a woman who was quite knowledgeable about stones. She was also very open about her "earth-based" religious beliefs, and she quickly squelched my concerns about any sort of satanic implications. The more we exchanged emails, the more she became my "mentor" as I explored various aspects of goddess religions (in particular).
As I came to learn more about paganism, I realized that some aspects of it didn't hold any appeal for me, while other parts seemed very, very "right." I learned (for example) that while all Wiccans are pagans, not all pagans are Wiccans; paganism covers a very broad spectrum of beliefs and peoples, ranging from Druids to Native Americans--and all points inbetween.
I read several books that gave accounts of pre-Christian religions, and I also rented a video entitled "The Burning Times" which had a significant impact on my understanding of many things in religious history. While some criticize this movie as being Wiccan propaganda and full of inaccuracies, I think it bears watching....and watching again.
Gradually, the Goddess began to be incorporated into my beliefs and knowings. I continued to read and to talk with my new online friend, and I developed a far better understanding of what it means to be "pagan."
That summer, I found myself at King's Dominion (a theme park) with my children and some friends, and in one of the gift shops I saw a selection of goddess pendants. I'd looked at them before in other "new age-friendly" stores, but was either put off by the price or by the design.
There were several different styles in the shop at the theme park, and I was drawn to one, in particular, which was a stylized and "modest" pewter figure, with arms upraised. It was reasonably priced, so I bought it and wore it home.
Since wearing it was an outward symbol of an inward change, I decided to further enhance its personal significance by having some stones added to the chain. I wasn't quite sure how to go about this (since I figured I'd need to use beads) but I knew I wanted to have amythest on either side of the pendant, and then perhaps include moonstone, hematite, and possibly rose quartz.
As I thought about this--which stones to add and the best way to do it--I checked with my "mentor" to ask about these stones and their properties. In my email I mentioned that I had bought a goddess pendant, and told her that the stones were to be added to the necklace.
My friend answered my questions about the stones--and then said she was very curious about the pendant. She wanted to know what, specifically, it looked like, and how it had been packaged when I bought it. I emailed back and described the pewter goddess figure, and said it had been on a white card with purple writing when I bought it.
A cosmic belly laugh must have rippled from California to Virginia: my online friend emailed me back, telling me that she had designed the very pendant that I was wearing!
I didn't know, before then, that she was a jeweler, as our emails had just focused on crystals and paganism. She said that she still made pendants in that design out of gold and silver, but she had sold the rights to the pewter ones to a company, and received royalties for them.
We both were amazed by this episode of "coincidence," and coincidental events related to goddess worship and paganism continued to happen throughout that summer.
Learning about this belief system--and incorporating aspects of it into my personal beliefs and knowings--have given me a much better understanding of the "elephant."