Beginning the Quest

Like many people, I knew from early childhood that ancient religions like Egypt and Greece and Rome had myths of many different gods and goddesses. From Sunday school, I knew that there were people in the world who weren’t Christians and that they needed to be saved. We collected our pennies and nickles in little cardboard boxes to send to the missionaries so that other little girls and boys could stop not worshipping Jesus God and join us in heaven. I remember overhearing adults discussing the Jews and wondered why they weren’t Christians, like Jesus. I remember teenaged boys being turned away from the door because they were Mormons, and I wondered why we had to be saved because we were Baptist/Methodists and so we were Christians and were already saved. Maybe it was the boys who really needed saving.

It never occurred to me that the ancient myths represented a religion that real live people followed everyday, that they offered thanks for their food like we said grace before meals, that their mothers tucked them into bed after they had prayed to their gods and goddesses for blessings, that there must have been an equivilent of “Praise Jesus!” “God damnit!” and “Gesundheit.”

As a young person I loved reading about ancient civilizations. The very first book I remember reading was “The Cave Twins” By Lucy Fitch Perkins about a boy and girl who lived back in the caveman days and got into mischief involving sabertoothed tigers and such. They worshipped the spirit of nature and earth and in the back the author wrote a little poem about the dawn of the earth and mankind starting “the weary climb from wild beast up to God.” So I knew the cavepeople would have been Christians if they knew about Jesus.

Egyptian civilization was particularly interesting to me. I suppose movies like “The Mummy,” “The 10 Commandments,” and “Cleopatra” had something to do with it but reading about the archeological discoveries, seeing pictures of relics, tombs, cities recovered from the sands of time – these fired my imagination and curiosity. I so wanted to be an archeologist and didn’t have a clue how to go about doing it.

My first realization of a Goddess as a personal deity came while reading Andre Norton’s Witch World series. The book was probably “Year of the Unicorn” and at some point the heroine offers a prayer to Gunnora and I suddenly realized that a female non-Christian deity could be real in a person’s life and heart. But it was a realization that seemed to show light on something I had always known or felt in some corner of my soul. From then on, I was aware of looking for something beyond a Sunday school Christian god who didn’t like girls because they had been naughty in the dawn of time and led all the boys astray.

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