Does one remember the exact moment one falls in love with the Goddess? I do. I recall a dreamy 7-year old creating her own. She was made of half a coconut shell with some wet glop of garden clay slathered over, and scarlet black seeds of the poisonous abrus for eyes… She was my own. And I worshipped Her in secrecy, under the shadows of the guava tree that dripped over a corner in the terrace of my home…
The Goddess, she has always been around – hidden but always waiting.
On the pilgrimage trail in Northern Spain
I remember when I left home at 18 to live in a city far away, alone in a hostel with no grandfather to confide in. There I discovered Gayatri – I had surreptitiously learnt Her mantra from an old Sanskrit prayer book. It was never meant for girls and I was angry about that, and that the elders had permitted this outrage. So in college between classes or the wards, I would silently chant Her invocation under my breath… And slowly, She came alive, my Gayatri, daughter of the Sun. I could see Her red ruby face glowing in the misty haze, full of love, kindness, and the sweetest smile.
I yearned to be like Her.
Then it was time to cross the oceans. And then for a while She abandoned me. Years later as I crawled naked into hide-covered kivas on full-moon nights and sweated in the dark steaming womb of Mother Earth, She touched me again. This time with eagle feather and smudging smoke of sweet grass…
She is mysterious, my Goddess. She teases me often and it gets unbearable, Her beauty and love.
Years ago, after I had returned to Auroville, and on a school trip when we had stopped by to see Her where the three oceans meet, She caught me once again unawares. It was one chill December evening, at a strange twilight hour circumambulating Her shrine alone having strayed away momentarily from my group, She revealed her glory.
This time, a fiery and explosive revelation as temple bells pealed, drums rolled, and the fragrance of camphor and sacred ash flooded my senses. All stood still – just the beat of my heart and the searing white light of the diamond on Her nose.
The damsel, Kanyakumari, She enslaved me then.
Two years ago, walking in Spain along an old saint's path, in search of Her again – this time as the Virginal Mary – slipping into chapels and cathedrals with breath-held, hoping, just hoping to get one moment with Her in the busy gilded retablos, or perhaps glowing through stained glass.
And yes, She met me, my Magdalene; bare-breasted and regal in Viana, like her South Indian sister, smiling down in recognition. And later, in Estella, cradling the babe Bom Jesus, her breasts now full and spilling with milk…
Finally at Finisterre, when my pilgrimage ended, the edge of the world where the shores of Europe disappear into the Atlantic , it was the wild spirit of the Celtic Goddess who greeted me. Hovering in the salt-laden air, her foaming medusa tresses lapping with the waves, she otherwise remained invisible.
Perhaps it was not yet yet my time, but I know She waits for me, in her aspect as the Crone...
Name withheld on request