Finding My Goddess; or “The path to Hecate was littered with shitty fanfiction. And I wrote most of it.”

I was sitting on my toilet earlier and thinking, as one does when waiting for their loving spouse to locate a roll of toilet paper for those emergency “Why the hell didn’t you replace the roll after using the last of it you dipshit!” situations, when a thought occurred to me that I forgot about until a few minutes ago while browsing Twitter (no, not while on the toilet).

The gods (or God, whatever your belief) come into our lives at such strange times and we often aren’t even aware of it until years later. I’ve said before in passing that Hecate is considered my household’s patron goddess, and has been for my mother and I since before I married. Since before we came back to Georgia in 2010. I’ve also told my long, winding spiritual journey and yadda yadda yadda. That’s the “official” version, at least that’s what I call it. It’s got the main plot points, the important details, but lacks the down to earth, slice of life details and stories between the major plot points. This is one of those little, silly detail stories.

My mother’s a Christian again, but not the sort to completely ignore or rally against what she believed before. It was a natural progression for her, and it makes her happy. And I’m happy that she’s happy, too. But that’s just here for context. Before she returned to Christianity, she worshiped Hecate. And through the part of her life that she did, Hecate was what she needed most. And I am happy that the goddess welcomed her and helped her through a very troubled and dark time of her life in ways that I could not be there for her.

And while I do not consider myself a devotee and have her as my main deity – she is among my personal pantheon and does fill the role of primary goddess in it, with Death itself as the god role (which for my personal spiritual practice takes a more prevalent position in my worship. More on THAT in another post on another day). So, in my practice and worship, she’s around and pops up when she feels she needs to.

But it occurred to me earlier, and again right before making this post, that I was drawn to Her long before I knew anything about paganism beyond basic Greek and Roman mythology we learn in grade school.  Bizarrely, this particular stroll down memory lane takes a sudden and sharp turn into the world of Fanfiction. I’ve mentioned before that I write the stuff (but I do not post it to this blog). But first, a bit of context as to how this links up with the rest.

I love books and I love learning (despite what all of my teachers in the past were led to believe). I would think of a subject, and look it up in the dictionary, then thesaurus, and eventually the encyclopedia. When I had a chance to go to the library, I’d take a notebook and just do as much research from as many different sources as I could. I didn’t have to, no one made me, but I just did it. I would devote entire summers to learning about a subject as much as I possibly could. This continued from second grade all the way up until part way through college and I had a job that took most of my time away from my academic leanings.

In 1997, my family got our first computer through the Finger-Hut catalogue. Technically it was my mom’s, but we kids were allowed to use it for school and a little bit for the internet (mostly, again, for school). A family friend set it up for us, and he gave us some nifty programs for it, too. One of them was an encyclopedia program. Needless to say I was the most excited of all of us over that one. Mind you, Wikipedia would not be launched until 2001. So this program that I got for free was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. The summer of ’98 I used that encyclopedia program to do a lot of reading. Every subject I could think of until finally, I settled on Greek and Roman mythology. At the time I already had a basic grasp on it, a little more than my peers, but only because my favorite anime or all time had been (and still is) Sailor Moon, who’s characters’ super heroine forms are named after the planets and have attacks based partly on the elements and partly on the particular gods/goddesses associated with their planet (except Saturn and Pluto. That one gets a little weird and mixed up – but the rest are pretty close to the mythical origins to an extent). It was also around this time I discovered… Fanfiction. See, I told you it would all connect together.

One of the main plot points of Sailor Moon is the love story between Princess Serenity of the Moon Kingdom and Prince Endymion of planet Earth. I had never heard the name Endymion before, so I was curious to see if like many other aspects of the show, it was based on mythology. Imagine my middle school aged surprise to learn there was more than on goddess of and/or associated with the moon. I read up about the Selene and Endymion myth, which led me to an entry about moon goddesses in general. This entry, of course, led me to Artemis and Diana (funny enough, the names of 2 of the 3 talking cats on the show). However… in a footnote among other articles and names of gods and goddesses in the “See Also:” section was Hecate. I’d already decided to go through every entry even remotely linked to Greek and Roman mythology that I could uncover, but that entry in particular caught my interest.

And later that summer, when I decided to try my hand at Fanfiction, it was with my fanmade character Sailor Dark Moon, Princess Hecate. A dark and edgy version of Sailor Moon who came from the dark side of the moon. Yes, very original, I know. Go ahead and get your giggles out now.

Take a breath. How about some water? Need a bit of air?

You good now? No?

I’ll give you another minute to compose yourself.

Okay. Let’s continue. Yes, that was a very awkward period of my life and I am insanely grateful that I never committed any of THAT fanfiction to digital format. The handwritten stories that were circulated among my friends now no longer exist, thank the gods. I burned every single last copy. The take-away from that experience though is that I devoured the information more than I had any other of the gods and goddesses in the encyclopedia at the time. And over the years, when I happened to come across information regarding Hecate, I’d read through it. I didn’t seek it out though. Just one of those “Hey, random article about this subject cites this other article about Hecate. Neat. Wonder if there’s anything in the Hecate article I don’t already know.” And so I’d click it to read it. But I never went out of my way to look for information after that summer.

Well, after that summer, I really didn’t want to go to church anymore. I wanted to branch out and explore other beliefs. But at the time, my hands were tied and I kinda had to go to church if I wanted anywhere to go out and do. It was the only way we could afford things like bowling or skating at the skating rink, etc, as part of church trips. A few years later, around early 2000, I didn’t have to go to church anymore, and this afforded me the freedom to explore other beliefs. So I read a lot. Went to the library, and checked out any book I could about all kinds of beliefs. At the time my library wasn’t even close to being as big as it is now, but it was better than nothing. It was nice. Of course, I looked up old Hecate when I explored Greek/Roman polytheism and at the time it really didn’t connect with me all that much. Still, it was an interesting read to me at the time.

A few years later in early 2003 (my 16th birthday no less) my family moved to Florida. Much of the first few weeks I try to block out of my mind. However, where we lived – we were very close to a little store within walking distance of my house called The Purple Door. And it was run by a nice Wiccan named Gretchen. It had all manner of pagan stuff, and it was here that my mom found her path, or rather, the path that was needed most at the time. We stopped in just because “Hey, there’s this place that literally has a purple door.  They’ve got neat stuff in the window. Let’s stop in and see what they do there since we have time to kill today.” and it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it really was. My mom went back, bought a couple of books. Talked with Gretchen a bit. Of all my mom’s kids I was really the only one who had an interest in her newfound spirituality because I was the only one who’d really tried to branch out and find something new for myself. And I felt she needed at least someone in the family who was supportive of her in this regard that she could talk to with no judgements. She experimented with different gods and goddesses, until at last she had settled on with Hecate. Boy was she surprised when she told me about Hecate and I went and told her even more (at least in the academic sense).

At the time I remember thinking it was pretty funny because of my silly little Sailor Moon fanfictions that were inspired by Hecate. And while she wasn’t exactly one of my personal pantheon at the time, she was still an influential deity of my spiritual life at the time because she was the one to which my mom turned in her faith and belief (alongside Hestia and other home-maker type goddesses to a lesser degree).

Ten years later, after meeting my husband and right around when we started dating (right before we “officially” started dating. He actually courted me. It was cute. This next bit is during that “courting” period which lasted about 2 weeks) I’m over at his and his mother’s house for dinner. Somehow we got on the topic of spirituality and witchcraft and Wicca in general (I must note, by this time I firmly identified as not Wiccan) and something I said must have impressed his mother quite a bit because she actually started going pretty in-depth into the topic with me, and later said it was a better conversation on the subject than she’s ever had with any of my then-almost-boyfriend’s past girlfriends. And of course, given the subject matter, Hecate’s name came up. She might have been impressed with the fact I didn’t do full on woo-woo new age sparkly glitter about the sparkly glitter version of Hecate that most of the fluffy woo-woo types go on about, and more on the realistic expectation of personal belief plus the academic perspective. At least, I like to think that’s what it might have been. I know she was surprised that I knew some stuff that typically doesn’t come up on a surface level Google search. Whatever it was, she was satisfied that I gave the goddess her proper respect and reverence, so I guess that’s a tick in a win column somewhere.

But thinking back on all of that, earlier today, it makes me want to giggle. Because again, you never know when the deities you may or may not believe in will step in, make themselves known, and then just kinda poke their head in from time to time whether or not you actually believe in them. Needless to say, by 2013 Hecate had become part of my personal pantheon as the main goddess among them, where she continues to be to this day.

But it’s just a little funny that for me, the road to Hecate started not with a dire need for something to believe in. Nor was it a deep spiritual devotion and hours upon hours of meditation. It started with a 1997 no-name computer from a mail order catalogue, with 1997 encyclopedia software, and an obsession with the anime Sailor Moon.

Recent thoughts and a small life update.

I’m feeling much better after that bout of the flu. My son is feeling a bit better, too. His 6 month dental check up went so well that it took less than 20 minutes. He’s a biter and a fighter. Because of this, the dentist decided it would be best if we countinued with how we did it before. I hold him as he is leaned back across the dentist’s lap and the doc goes to work while I keep the tot’s hands out of the way. It wasn’t easy, but it was quick and thorough. His teeth are healthy, perfectly spaced, and strong! He got a prize for being a big brave boy and off we went. In and our in a grand total of 19 minutes!

So there’s the life update. Now on to content that’s been weighing on my thoughts recently.

Over the last few months I’ve been conversing on a forum with a young man aged 17. I’ve made it known that I am nearly 30, married, and with a kid. There is only friendly comraderie between us. I’m not going to go into great length or detail of the things that we discuss, but he’s going through a really confusing and hard time.

See, the age gap is important here in that I’ve been where he’s been recently enough to be able to relate better than those older than I am. Better able to relate even than my nearest older sibling (5 year gap between me and my next oldest sibling. A 2 or 3 year gap between her and the sister I kicked out last year). It’s also important because my age grouping grew up in a period I personally call the “Social Transition”. My parents grew up in the age where you still had to actually interact with people in a more personal manner. Such as speaking in person or on the phone. The generation that comes after me is raised in a time where you hand a toddler an iPad and they seem to instinctively know what to do with it. Raised on technology so they see no issues or problems with it. They see it all as quite normal.

Yes, this is one of those “old people” rants, I guess. Anyway, this young man is from an age group that all social interaction is done through technology. Where your internet friends are pretty much your only “True” friends. I grew up in a time where we saw the transition, were part of the transition, from personal interaction to faceless interaction with complete strangers. Personally I don’t see that as a problem, as even in my childhood we did this. It was called pen-pals. We could become best friends with someone clear across the globe through letters and packages only. So it’s not a wholly new thing, merely the method and ease with which it can be done. THAT is what I take issue with. And cases like the young man I’ve been talking to highlight this problem for me.

This young man got into an argument with one of his internet friends. As a result, the entirety of the rest of that circle of friends no longer speak to him, and he has become isolated from them. Further attempts to talk to others not associated with that group have all ended in disaster. Through our conversations back and forth, he has expressed that he doesn’t really have friends outside his internet life. He’s got a few, but all attempts to meet with them and hang out fall flat. He feels completely isolated from the world now, due to a single argument with that 1 internet friend.

Now, while losing friends at his age is a normal process – he’s on the cusp of adolecense and is about to transition into early adulthood; about to leave gradeschool and enter into college or the work force – it’s normal to lose contact with others as they are going through the same process. But the lack of personal communication and interaction skills has in the past generations shown to hinder rather than help. And this has become even more apparent in my own generation and the one that comes after me. We have a difficult time dealing with people because we take the easiest route possible – dealing with people online who, if we have a problem, simply ignore them and cut them off. Cut them out. So that when faced with the problems of dealing with real people in the real world, we can’t just do that. We can’t just ignore them or cut them out or block them. We are forced to deal with them – and often have much difficulty doing so, lacking the experience that we should have built up at that point.

While technology, in and of itself is a good thing. Progress in and of itself is a good thing. Without them we would be unable to do many of the things we do today. We would be unable to communicate across the globe as easily or effectively. However, it has also stunted our normal development. Now young people are investing so much time and energy into internet relationships that often those in the real world that also need attention and nurturing are damaged or simply do not develop. We are losing our interpersonal skills. And it’s getting more and more obvious as time wears on.

I’m not calling for completely abandoning technology and social media and all that. I’m simply suggesting that we need to balance the value we place on it with our everyday real-world based lives. Moderation in this, like in all things, is key to being able to be happy with or without it.

As for the young man, he’s doing alright. It’s hard for him sometimes to understand that what he’s going through is actually quite normal for his age, but he’s working through it. He doesn’t really have anyone other than his parents to talk to about things, but when I’m like “I honestly don’t know. I think you should really talk to your mom and dad about this. They’ll be able to explain it/help you with/find out/etc. better than I can.” he’s got no problems doing just that. He’s also learning to work on himself rather than dwell on what he doesn’t have anymore, and is rebuilding his confidence and self-worth now that it’s no longer based solely on what a small group of people online think of him.

Anyway, that is what’s been on my mind lately.