The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk, began a transformation in my spiritual life: I abandoned the old Big Judge in the Sky and consciously, joyfully started reprogramming my practices, my intentions, and my mental imagery around The Goddess: a nurturing, immanent life force with many faces — some of them even male.
In a workshop for self-discovery and healing, I found myself falling in love with an acquaintance who may have encouraged me, for one brief moment.
Participants were blindfolded and tumbling around in a sea of crawling bodies. It was a familiar experience to me, to play with sharing weight with others; I’d practiced it, with dancers, as Contact Improvisation, and always found it consciousness-altering. On this occasion I felt like a kitten or a puppy, frolicking with others of my kind whom I had just discovered. The others, who had not practiced this game, were freed by the blindfolds and by the instructions of the leaders to let go into the experience, and so I had more fellow kitten-puppies to play with than ever before.
Still there were some who were more fun to tumble over and lean on and dance with; I finally recognized my heartthrob when I felt his necklace of wooden beads. And after we were all separate again and the blindfolds were removed, when we were not supposed to know who we’d been playing with … I found an opportunity to go up to him, slip my hand under the necklace, and lift it for a moment, as I looked into his eyes. So I knew he knew.
But that was all. He did not respond to my initiative, or interact with me at all any more. I couldn’t believe it. I felt such an overwhelming attraction to him. When we had moved our bodies together blindfolded, we had been exquisitely attuned to each other’s weight, each other’s moves, each other’s energy. How could he not want to sample what more we could do together? For hours I had trouble participating in the other activities; my pulse was pounding and my whole body vibrating. I felt charged but blocked, with no way to release the energy.
Finally evryone retired to our sleeping bags, and lights were dimmed — and still I lay there with my desire and my grief and my disbelief, too worked up to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, I realized that I was going to have to give up, to get over this desire. Once again I had let myself in for this fundamental agony. Into my mind again, from old nightmare, walked the dark-cowled, faceless figure I’d called “Mr. Right.” Clearly he was the agony: the habit of putting all my hopes for happiness into a relationship, into the hope of a relationship…. the illusion of a relationship, the right relationship: a fantasy, a trap, a myth that imprisons me.
I realized that this image/being was a major player in my life, and I needed to make peace with that fact. I remembered Don Juan telling Castaneda to invite Death to walk at his left hand, to advise him. “Old companion,” I said to Mr. Right, “Walk with me. Talk with me. Tell me what I need to hear from you. I will listen.” I didn’t hear any pearls of wisdom, but I did manage to rest for a few hours.
Then in the morning, in one of the first excercises, six or ten people gathered in a circle to support each other, one at a time, as the facilitator asked us to remember certain things, and experience our reactions to certain questions. All I remember was that I was right back into my craving, grief and despair; and I was trying to remember the patience I’d glimpsed finally during the night when I went walking with Mr. Right. But it was so faint…. Then suddenly something flipped, and I felt warmth and light, like sunshine bathing me in love and joy.
My new pagan programming kicked in, and I addressed the loving light as Bel, the Shining One, Consort and Lover of the Goddess. I relaxed into thankful appreciation, and then begged him not ever to leave me. This time I received a clear answer, although I didn’t understand it or like it very much: “That depends on you.” All I could think of to respond was “I make my heart your altar.” I’ve been trying to figure out, ever since then, how to do that.